Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Like Speech

Those who are familiar with the realm of Open Source have probably heard the phrase "Free like speech, not free like beer". The underlying concept here is that intellectual property should be easily and widely distributed, but still protected from abuse or profiteering by those who get their hands on it. I believe this concept relates to the music piracy issues of today, but it's hard for me to say - I'm not a huge music person. So I'll try to relate it to something I am passionate about - improvisational comedy.

In the spring of 2007 I started getting into improv. I came to absolutely love it, and I wanted to learn more about it. That fall a friend of mine lent me "Truth in Comedy", which can arguably be considered the Bible of improv. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and for Christmas my wife bought my the follow-up "Art by Committee". However, that was supposed to be used as a companion book and not strictly a sequel. So, I went online and bought "Truth in Comedy", along with another book or two about improv. I already have a small and growing list of improv books I intend to buy sometime this year.

The point I'm trying to make is the power of word-of-mouth. I was introduced to improv by word of mouth, and I was lent a book that I ended up buying. If I were to lend my copy to a friend who has no interest in improv then he might find it amusing or even enjoyable, but he won't buy it - unless, by my lending him the book, he becomes interested in improv and wants to become active in it. Either way, by my lending him the book I did not detract from the book sales, but I may have contributed to it. I believe this applies to most or all creative works, and the music industry needs to realize this before they end up shooting themselves in the foot.
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