Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sir Cliff's Law

The recently passed EU Directive will allow performing artists to draw benefits from their performing copyrights for another twenty years. Three cheers for Cliff Richard, the surviving silver(-haired) Beatles and others. I do not begrudge them their millions. But I am sad, because I will not get a free recording of “Love, Love Me Do”, which was specifically promised to me next year (the song was to be out of copyright after 50 years).
I am told there exist artists who:
1) will never get out of their bed to do anything for less than 1 million (dollars or pounds, I am not sure),
2) even if they stay in their beds, they still make a lot of money.
(I am not discussing whether it is good or bad for their creativity)
Society allows them to live like this, because we love them very much and would never swap their music for something novel and more original. We are lazy and thus it is only us who are to blame.

Has it always been so?

What is good for the contemporary pop artist, should be good for Socrates.
But Socrates, the most famous performing artist of his day was put before a court and asked to propose his own punishment. He suggested a wage paid by the government and free dinners for the rest of his life instead, to finance the time he spends as Athens' benefactor. This proposal did not go well with the judges and probably speeded up his death sentence. He simply pissed the judges off. They did not subscribe to the view that society owed an artist a living.

Socrates never wrote anything and the royalties would have to go Plato (some to be shared with Xenophon). But surely he did perform a lot!