David Bowie In 2002: ‘I’m Fully Confident That Copyright Will No Longer Exist’

David Bowie Predicts a Dire Future for Copyright

…from an prescient interview with David Bowie by the New York Times, June 9th, 2002.

”I don’t even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don’t think it’s going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way.  ‘The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it.  I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen.”

“I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.”

“Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.  So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again.”

“You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.”

“It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

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Earlier this month, data revealed that 52% of every dollar spent on music in the United States in 2014 went to touring.  In 2016, copyright remains under attack, and increasingly difficult for artists, labels, and others to monetize.

 

Image by Vectorportal, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

28 Responses

  1. Name2

    Unfortunately, DB couldn’t or wouldn’t tour after his own 2004 tour ended two years later. The outing was plagued with physical malady: an emergency angioplasty, and a lollipop stick right in the eye thrown by a “fan” in the audience. His daughter would have been 4yo at the time, so there’s that, too. No one could be blamed for deciding not to die on the road.

    A piece in the new “New Yorker” magazine indicates (indirectly) that Bowie’s people kept busy getting his music placed in films. Lots of them, apparently.

    Reply
    • He Also Said He Wouldn't Chose To Be A Musician...

      In the same interview, Bowie said if we was 19 at the time of the interview he also would not chose to be a musician. That’s a huge loss for all of us and an important lesson as the flipside of his prediction.

      He confirmed two things at the same time, devaluing copyright and artists rights (which he benefited from) would also remove the incentive for talent such as his to contribute in that field.

      That’s a huge loss of all of us culturally, which now begs the question who are the Bowies of today that we’ll never know…

      Reply
      • Name2

        In the same interview, Bowie said if we was 19 at the time of the interview he also would not chose to be a musician. That’s a huge loss for all of us and an important lesson as the flipside of his prediction.

        That’s also a huge time/culture shift, over which music went from being the entertainment focus for 19 year olds, to being in competition with movies, games and the Internet. So Bowies are lost to us every day for lots of reasons.

        Some of these reasons are by the design of the traditional music business brain trust. DB didn’t crack the Billboard Top 10 album chart until 1974. Who gets to fart around that long at the lower rungs today?

        But those copyrights? Still getting extorted for a chance to get into the casino.

        Things that make you go Hmmmmmm….

        Reply
        • No ROI = No ROI...

          “Some of these reasons are by the design of the traditional music business brain trust. DB didn’t crack the Billboard Top 10 album chart until 1974. Who gets to fart around that long at the lower rungs today? ”

          No return on investment (due to piracy and pilfering by web/tech) means no investment into artists like Bowie. So you are correct in acknowledging his understanding that if his work would be so devalued, he’d have no interest in pursing that path.

          That is a loss for all of us. Sadly, many can not grasp this simple fact.

          Reply
          • Name2

            I paid for all of my David Bowie albums.. and singles… and CDs.. and concert tickets.

            So go chase somebody else off your lawn.

  2. Name2

    Also, his online fanclub was still running in 2004, with paid-membership value enhanced by ticket presale passcodes.

    Reply
        • Name2

          Well, I didn’t know it was a copyright-nutbag site. That would have saved me some time. The title of the entry also should have been a tip that he had nothing to say.

          But for someone chasing desperate oddities, they might find something special; something even more empty and dead than a Lefsetz rant: a Bowie-death-clickbait story with a copyright lecture payload. Like a Sony rootkit for the brain. Or getting rickrolled into a stream of “Don’t copy that floppy!”

          Reply
          • Me2

            I read this article and don’t see anything click-baity or Sony-esque about it. Seems very rational and the nsite is obviously in support of artists and artist rights (which happen to include copyright btw).

            Maybe you don’t like it, but I only see one nut bag here.

          • Name2

            Like a good little fundamentalist, you don’t see a problem with manipulating every attention-grabbing event into a chance to tell people they gotta get right with Jesus.

            Well, that’s the charitable interpretation, anyway, and I’m in a generous mood.

          • Me2

            If you think presently discussing Bowie from a copyright perspective is some low sort of opportunism, you surely have been doing the same.

          • Me2

            Ok, what lies? You seem to jump around from one accusation to the next, but never seem to provide any hard fact or detail when pressed. It’s a pattern.

            I suppose if we didn’t have trolling, baseless opinion, it wouldn’t be the internet.

  3. DavidB

    Much as I admire my namesake, in 2002 he was speaking a few years after the creation of Napster, so his comments on copyright were not so much prophetic as historic. If anything, the long-term prospects for copyright have improved since 2002, and they would have been even better if SOPA (in some suitably revised form) had not been shouted down by Google’s lynch-mob. As for touring being the future, it certainly wasn’t his own future. Bowie’s case highlights the fact that a large number of artists are in no position to tour constantly: they may be ill, they may have young children or other family responsibilities, or (most conclusively) they may be dead.

    Reply
    • Name2

      SOPA was ugly and its mother dressed it funny.

      And really. “lynch-mob”? Really?

      Reply
      • DavidB

        Well, as you’re an expert, maybe you could tell the rest of us what was so bad about SOPA. I mean the actual Congressional Bill, not the 12-horned monster version dreamed up by the tech lobby.

        Reply
    • Me2

      It’s completely understandable that he would have said these things at the time. Napster was still new and these ideas were cutting edge, fanciful flights of thought.

      Astonishing that some continue to be so conveniently naïve in 2015.

      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    He was simply making the same observation many in the tech world were simultaneously making. He ended up being wrong. No biggie, still an incredible artist.

    Reply
  5. Versus

    With all due respect to the late Mr. Bowie, but he was wrong in this prediction.
    Copyright exists, and serves an important function, for all intellectual work, not just music.
    Now it needs to be better enforced.

    Reply

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