If you follow copyright you may have noticed some more interesting news on the lawsuit against Georgia State University by three large publishers and the Copyright Clearing Center. While the plaintiffs won a reversal of a lower court decision, they lost their larger goal of severely restricting Fair Use and affecting a monumental change in Fair Use law. Kevin Smith has a good summary here. While it is no surprise that publishers want greater restrictions than ever, it is also difficult not to at least recognize some of their fears as recent news about the falling profits for indie authors in subscription services like Amazon's merit such fears.
Authors and publishers are trying to avoid the now monotonous and entirely predictable articles like this one from Nashville. The music economy seems to be mirroring the broader US economy as its middle class is evaporating. The fundamental problem for all artists in any medium is compensation for work rendered. Now most artists I know do not expect state subsidies or a free handout, but they would hope that we the general public, or more specifically, the library community, would recognize the struggles of monetizing artistic creations and the residual benefits that come from a thriving arts ecosystem. I say "ecosystem" rather than economy, because my goal is to consider the social and educational components of the arts as much as the economic. I want to have a broader understanding and build a better ecosytem. The problem that I have not been able to solve is fairly simple: How do you define an healthy information ecosystem? Our frame of reference, the 20th century is really an outlier, rather than the norm. Prior to the 20th century there was not much of an entertainment industry. A few authors, painters, and poets, made a living off their art, but it was not until the 20th century that the industry/economy became the juggernaut it is.
So it is hard for me to quantify and even identify the variables in the equation. I can assume that most of us would like to keep the vibrancy and accessibility to art, books, music, and movies the 20th century created. One significant component of defining a healthy ecosystem revolves around the issue of compensation for art and the capacity of that ecosystem to create self sustaining artists. Many in the tech world point to the Susan Boyle's and PSYs of the world as evidence that the system is working fine and will fix itself. But others, typically within the arts community point to articles like the one above from Nashville as evidence that the greater ecosystem is suffering. I personally don't have an answer, but I can say that my work as a librarian is to solve this ecological problem so that I can continue connecting patrons to artists. Think about these issues as you enjoy the fascinating remix album artwork below that imagines classic heavy metal albums as jazz artwork.