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Pirate Party Rep: Artists Don’t Have “the Right to Get Money”

I suppose it should come as no surprise that Amelia Andersdotter, a member of Sweden’s Pirate Party and the youngest member of the European Parliament, is hostile to the very idea of a music industry, but comments attributed to her yesterday by The Independent still made my jaw drop a bit.

On a visit to England to take part in a debate on media piracy, “Ms. Andersdotter said musicians and film-makers had no right to charge people for downloading their work for non-commercial use, and the public should be allowed to interact with it for free,” according to The Independent’s Ian Burrell.

“You don’t have the right to get money,” Andersdotter said. “If your idea was commercially uninteresting then maybe you need another idea.”

Here’s a thought, Ms. Andersdotter; if a musician or artist’s idea is that “uninteresting” to you, perhaps you could not download it in the first place?

It’s a wacky thought, I know, but to some of us, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that a song could be worth your time to listen to, worth the space it takes up on your hard drive (or in the space taken up in “the cloud,” if that’s how you roll), worth the time it takes you to listen to it (perhaps repeatedly)… but, somehow, not worth a buck or two.

I’m open to the idea of copyright reform that would create lesser penalties for non-commercial file sharing. I’m open to the idea that many individual pirates are also major purchasers of music and other copyrighted works. I’m open to a lot of things that many people might not expect from someone who works at a company that provides DMCA takedown services, and who makes his living by helping rights-holders enforce their copyrights.

What I’m not open to, and will never be open to, is the idea that what a musician or artist does isn’t worthy of compensation. Yes, close-minded brute that I am, I’m absolutely closed to the notion that musicians, artists, authors and other creators of copyrighted works should have to rely on some limited, watered-down version of the revenue streams available to them, simply because a lump of consumers have unilaterally decided that entertainment is simply information, and that “information wants to be free.”

While we’re on the subject of money, it might be worth noting that as a member of the European Parliament, Andersdotter earns around 7,500 Euro a month (roughly $10,300 in U.S. Dollars).

So let me get this straight; musicians have no “right to get money,” but politicians do, even if their own party’s whole reason for existence flows from the enforcement of intellectual property rights? After all, if copyright and other bodies of IP law were to be abolished tomorrow, what possible relevance could a “pirate party” have then?