I've sat through more presentations about the way to solve the copyright wars than I've had hot dinners, and all of them has fallen short of the mark. That's because virtually everyone with a solution to the copyright wars is worried about the income of artists, while I'm worried about the health of the internet
Oh, sure, I worry about the income of artists, too, but that's a secondary concern. After all, practically everyone who ever set out to earn a living from the arts has failed – indeed, a substantial portion of those who try end up losing money in the bargain. That's nothing to do with the internet: the arts are a terrible business, one where the majority of the income accrues to a statistically insignificant fraction of practitioners – a lopsided long tail with a very fat head. I happen to be one of the extremely lucky lotto winners in this strange and improbable field – I support my family with creative work – but I'm not parochial enough to think that my destiny and the destiny of my fellow 0.0000000000000000001 percenters are the real issue here.
"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back." - Robert A. Heinlein
Ok, this is a very interesting read and I highly suggest you read the full article. It's such a hot-button issue for content makers on the high end. Yet that quote PERFECTLY describes the problem in the world and the fear that these people have. I've always said that the only people who should fear piracy are the ones who don't have a product worth buying.
I feel like that's kind of what the entertainment has largely become. A mash up of mediocre content that is only sold as amazing content because of crazy awesome graphics and good PR. There aren't many movies, games, TV shows or the like that actually make a person think. In fact, a lot of people covet these entertainment mediums for doing the exact OPPOSITE.
Many of my friends find it annoying to try and get me to go to a movie, and when I do, it's even more difficult to get me to enjoy it. It's hard for me to suspend belief and just turn off my brain to allow that story to take me where it wants. I don't WANT to turn off my brain. I want to continue to think and delve into that world with my own perception.
This makes it even more astonishing that I don't read books very often. Yeah, I know. I'm a science-fiction writer that doesn't read very much. I've been trying to read Empire by Orson Scott Card for a couple months now and I can't get myself to pick it up very often. I have to be EXTREMELY bored to want to read.
To be fair, it's the same case for Games, TV, and Movies. There just isn't much content out there that can hold my interest and really poke my brain. Really give me a reason to care about the characters, or the world they live in. It's not to say that I don't enjoy some content. I can name off one movie I recently watched again because I loved it so much. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
This all leads up to my main point: You can't expect everyone to like your work enough to buy it! But that doesn't mean you shouldn't want EVERYONE to read it! I will concede that there are going to be people that LOVE your work, but don't pay for it. That's just how the cookie crumbles. Some people are just like that.
However if I can get my work out to 100,000 people for free, and only 10,000 people buy it, that still may be CONSIDERABLY MORE people buying my content than if they couldn't read it before they did! The beautiful thing about the internet is it gives us the ability to have that kind of exposure! Word of mouth is THE MOST VALUABLE MARKETING ASSET EVER and it's because of the internet! Instead of a friend telling you "You gotta check this out! But you can only go to X location and pay Y amount!", a friend can say "Check out this awesome thing! It's available ANYWHERE you have internet, and for free!"
We don't live in a time where we have to pass messages across days of physical interaction. We live in an era of easy distribution to ANYONE willing to look for it! This is my hope for success in the ever-increasing competition of the Entertainment market. And honestly, I don't feel like I need to worry about much. Especially with websites like www.kickstarter.com giving people the ability to raise funds for their projects.
In closing I will just remind everyone to keep an open mind. We don't live in the 80's anymore. We don't live in a world of lack of exposure. We live in a golden age of information being spread across every possible mind. Benjamin Franklin would have KILLED to have this kind of asset! Seriously.