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The Market for Digital Art · Monday April 28, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

A digital artist creates works of digital art. They do not create copies.

People have got a heck of a lot of copyright deprogramming to go through if they persist in thinking of the creative process as an artist creating ‘the first copy’ and then ‘making and selling copies’.

The ‘copy’ as a first class concept in our digital domain is disintegrating before our eyes and yet people stubbornly persist in thinking of digital art in terms of copies.

We are rapidly moving toward a digital production process that produces digital art in only three phases:

  1. Non-existent
  2. Created (private/unpublished)
  3. Published

There is no ‘copy’. There are no ‘copies’ to exchange or purchase. There is no market for ‘copies’.

Except as a fundamental operation to computer scientists, even the term ‘copy’ will soon lose its original meaning and deteriorate into an archaic term for ‘private sharing’.

For example:
“Do you have a copy of the artwork?” will become an old fogey’s way of saying “Are you privy to the artwork?”,
and “Then would you please give me a copy?” will become an old fogey’s way of saying “Then would you please make me privy?”.

For published art the word ‘copy’ disappears even from old fogeys’ vocabularies, e.g. we’ll just hear them saying “What was the name of that piece? Who’s the artist?”. However, I suspect even those queries will be ever more rarely spoken given pervasive access to metadata for all media, e.g. “Who sang the second song I heard in the coffee bar yesterday morning?” will be a thought easily answered on one’s PDA (and the singer consequently micropatronised).

So, if you want to understand the future market for digital art then you have to stop trying to understand it in terms of a market for copies. There will be no market for copies. The market for copies has ended.

The future market for digital art will involve exchanges between the artist and those who value their art (nothing to do with copies). Exchanges will occur between the three key phases I outlined above, i.e. payment to create art where it did not exist before, payment to become privy to art to which one is as yet not privy, and payment to publish private/unpublished art.

There is no copy.

This article is based on my comments at Against Monopoly Thanks to ‘Kid’ for prompting them.

Solomon said 4918 days ago :

Great article, which hits the nail right on the head! I have heard so much on this subject lately, and I was wondering when someone was going to seriously address it.

The other serious subjects need addressing are the galleries and institutions, which will be there to offer permanent credibility to creations of this emerging digital media, specifically for the public and private marketplaces.

Crosbie Fitch said 4918 days ago :

Thanks Solomon. One of the very few galleries I’m aware of that exhibits published digital art without recognising any significance to copies thereof is Jamendo (music recordings). I’d be interested to know of any similar galleries for other forms of digital art such as images.

Phil Bradley said 4916 days ago :

If ‘there is no copy’, could I please ‘make others privy’ to this great post by reblogging it?

Crosbie Fitch said 4916 days ago :

Of course Phil. :)

I’d be very grateful.

NB Although you’re probably already appreciative of this, while I encourage you or anyone to reblog all my published works without needing to seek approval, you are reminded to be accurate in any attribution (even if implicit by omission).




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