How do we ensure that content creators and creatives are rewarded adequately in a digital age?
The Danish Ministry for Culture recently hosted a very topical and interesting debate on digital distribution and intellectual property rights in their series of talks named Kultur på kanten (Culture on the Edge). When we talk about digital in relation to creative industries and the arts it is useful to distinguish between whether digital is an end in itself or just means to an end. Minister for Culture, Uffe Elbæk, said very clearly that for him the debate around digital is not in any way a debate about artists giving up their intellectual property rights to their work.
The whole debate seems more around revisiting the ways in which creatives distribute their work and how they are paid royalties for their work. One example of this is traditional hard copy library books which only circulate in a limited number of copies for a certain work. With the introduction of digital ebooks, libraries could potentially lend out umlimited copies of each book with the result that their budgets would be overspent if a system is not in place to monitor and control the spend. Some artists in the audience were very sceptical of stories in the media of how artists on music streaming services are only paid a fraction of what they are used to and clearly some of the business models need to be fine-tuned.
However, it is very clear that the internet has kicked off a revolution in how we consume creative content but as one author assured us stories have existed thousands of years before Guthenberg and will also exist in the new digital medium – the task now is to assure that the right people are being rewarded for their work. Digital will in some ways cut out the middle man – big record companies are no longer gatekeepers between bands and their audience. We need to adapt business models. I think that this is a welcome opportunity and I am also quite sure that there will be room for anyone who adds true value to a product or experience along the value chain.
Finally, how should we reward artists and creatives who decide to create in the digital medium as a way of working. That I think probably deserves its own blog post one day.