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What can academics contribute to the debate? March 25, 2009

Posted by Dominic in Uncategorized.
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I have just been reading an exchange in the blogging pages of the Daily Telegraph between an academic and a musician. The academic claims the musicians won’t receive very much so it’s not worth giving it to them. The musician claims that musicians deserve every penny and that this whole process has increased their negotiating power.

What is striking is the difference in the construction of the two arguments.

You would expect an academic to have researched the subject, considered all the arguments and interrogated the evidence in order to synthesise it into a valid conclusion. You might expect the musician to rant on about past injustices and declare that the whole world was against him. You would be wrong on both. If anything those stereotypes are reversed. The academic portrays himself as an injured party and the musician sets out a series of cogent arguments in favour of extending copyright term.

Then, up pops an open letter signed by a long list of academics and published in The Times. You don’t have to excavate very far to reveal that this letter, which bemoans the abandonment of the CIPIL study on copyright term, was penned by the author of that very same study.

Leaving aside the sour grapes factor, what is really depressing is the dearth of informed commentary on the creative economy. What is the point of expostulating on the esoterics of creativity without reference to the thousands of musicians, artists, painters and photographers who put their reputation on the line every time they go into the studio? Our creative industries are the envy of the world. Does that not warrant serious study by academics genuinely interested in understanding and revealing the dynamics of our creative successes? It might even help us out of the current recession a little more quickly.

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