Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New York Times - Off-Base Once Again

Once again the New York Times has written an article that purports to document how content creators, artists in this case, are getting screwed. In the article, "Use Their Work Free? Some Artists Say No to Google" , the Times quotes one of the artists as saying: “You’d think that if anyone can afford to pay artists and designers it would be a company that is making millions of dollars,” Mr. Ciardiello said in an interview."

Further down in the article the NYT writes: “There’s a lot of concern that newspapers and all of print is becoming a bit of an endangered species,” said Brian Stauffer, an illustrator based in Miami whose work has appeared in publications including Rolling Stone, Esquire and Entertainment Weekly, and who also rejected Google’s offer. “When a company like Google comes out very publicly and expects that the market would just give them free artwork, it sets a very dangerous precedent.

Based on the tone of this article, the Times is once again attempting to foster the concept that the Internet is costing artists their jobs. This is disingenuous subterfuge to elicit sympathy for the "starving artists" and to distract the public from the reality that the newspaper industry is dying and can no longer support the number of artists wishing to be employed.

First, this article is logically flawed. Google is at liberty to solicit free content from anyone. If you don't want to work for free then you are free to decline. This is not, as the Times attempts to portray, about the obligation or capability of Google to pay artists for their work.

Second, look at the employees of the automotive industry. They are being laid off left and right due to the economy and the industry's obsolete business model. The content industry, like the automotive industry, is dying based on changing technologies and an obsolete business model. So why should it be any different if you are an artist and the newspapers can not afford you? As with any profession, you are not entitled to paid work.

Yes, it is depressing not to be able to get paid for producing content, such as artistic works. But we live in a free market system that is competitive. If the market doesn't value your work, to the point that you can make a living at it, then it is time to seek another employment opportunity.

Google does not have an obligation to only use paid employees. If people are willing to work for free, based on their love for the art, and contribute to Google, good for them. If you don't want to work for free then don't. The Times just does not seem to understand that content producers do not have a special right to paid employment.

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