Here’s more grist for the comment war that broke out over my Nieman Journalism Lab piece on photographer Gage Skidmore’s practice of giving away his pictures of Republican politicians, and thus theoretically harming paid photojournalists.
The New York Times reports on singer Amanda Palmer’s invitation to local musicians to join her on stage during her latest tour. The compensation: “joy and beer.” The Times blog post, by Daniel Wakin, continues:
Some musicians are enraged, flooding her Web site with angry comments saying that she should pay her backup band. At least one musicians union, Local 76-493 in Seattle, has been sending out Twitter messages denouncing the move and calling for people to post the comments.
Clearly there are some differences between the two situations, but what Palmer is doing raises a few of the same issues.
On the one hand, at a time when free is becoming an expectation in some parts of the economy, aren’t people like Skidmore and Palmer undermining folks who are trying to make a living as photographers, musicians, whatever?
On the other hand, why shouldn’t a creator have the right to give away his work if that’s what he wants to do? Why shouldn’t one musician be able ask others if they’d like to join her on stage without being denounced as a rapacious exploiter?