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The only public policy argument that can be made in favor of draconian opposition to fair use sharing of work online is that if too many people share it, more won’t be created.
Copyright is part of the US Constitution NOT because the founders were trying to make Ira Gershwin’s great grandchildren happy, but because they believed the entire community would benefit if authors of creative works benefited.
Go check out gimmeshiny.com. One stunning photo after another. Or consider the new WordPress plug in for the brilliant Compfight tool, which makes it easy to find and use Creative Commons photos in your blog posts.
Or take a look at all the previously unknown artists fighting to give away their music on YouTube.
Or the countless free or nearly free ebooks on the Kindle.
Is there a shortage? I think it’s trivial to show that more interesting photos are being taken and published by more photographers than ever before.
And probably more interesting music is being made as well.
Sure, there’s more junk than ever before, because without a curating filter, the obvious junk gets through. But you know what? In addition to junk, that conservative curator also kept us from seeing and hearing things that today we are amazed and delighted by.
Once we start running out of photos or music or writing or poems, then yes, please alert the authorities! Until then, the facts speak for themselves–sharing fair use ideas (and making it easy for authors and musicians to share) increases the quantity and interestingness of what’s out there.
It might not be fun for those that have committed to making a living at this, but that only pushes us to find new ways to monetize our passion. And back to my point: making it fun for those in the field isn’t the point. The point is creating a useful and interesting flow of creative works. And that’s precisely what’s happening.