Free Speech, or what is it worth to you

Monday, February 08, 2010
To be honest, I am completely out of patience with people who complain when they must pay for something that they believe, for whatever reason, that ought to receive for free. The contexts of this are many, but it has surfaced again and I figured it was finally time to say something about it.

If content creators—whoever they are, whether they provide blogs, videos, books, music, video games, or programming code—wish to provide access to their creations for free, that is entirely up to them. There are some interesting and reasonable arguments for doing this, but it is quite another for consumers of this content to expect and demand it. Do they expect to provide whatever services they perform for a living at no cost?

Boys and girls, it would be great if all games and content were free, but this is not yet the twenty-fourth century. People have mortgages or rent to pay and groceries to buy. The companies that provide the games you play have employees to pay and servers to keep running. None of these are free services.

Artists of any type are no different. Certainly, I can offer my fiction on the web at no significant cost. Any praise you might reap upon me, while much appreciated, does not keep my electricity on. Expecting all artists and organizations to provide you content for free simply because some do (and did you note how much of that "free" content is supported by bundles and bundles of often-intrusive advertising?

I really, really want someone to explain to me why I should provide them with access to my creations for free. I won't lead the witness here, although I have many more questions I'd like the ask. I just would like to understand.
  1. Putting my creations out there isn't to make you feel better, but to make me feel better. First, I don't expect to actually make money doing something that is more inspiration than perspiration. Then it's a JOB and you have to whip the muse, who will flee or revolt. Writing is something I like to do. However, I'm more than willing to pay for something creative that I can't do, like a work of art. It irks me to no end to actually pay for something that I know I can do a better job with. So if someone does it for free, and it sucks, then I don't feel so bad.

  2. And I'm perfectly okay with that if artists voluntarily put their work out there for free. That is their prerogative.

    What irks me are people who don't think they should have to pay for music, writing, and other artistic creations, despite the fact that someone's time and energy went into their development. It makes it extremely difficult for artists to make a living as an artist.

  3. Anonymous

    As a photographer, my feelings about this vary on the intended use. If it's a friend who likes one of my images, then I'm rather pleased they like something I've created enough to display in their home. No charge. If it's a photography magazine or website that will give me full attribution and shows work I respect, than it's an honor (as well as more exposure for my work) -- no charge. If it's a for-profit company that wants to use an image for a brochure so they can make more money, then I want some of that bacon. However, because there are so many compelling images readily available and free on the web, it is increasingly difficult for photographers to be paid for their work as in the third scenario. Too easy to lift stuff for free on the web, and typically, companies are willing to sacrifice aesthetics for something free and easy...than to pay a photographer who knows what they're doing (not counting myself in that latter group, btw).

    Only the really smart companies like Google can figure out how to gain from providing "free" stuff. Kills me how much people think things like search and FB are free and not realizing how much of their personal data they give up so easily. But that's another topic.