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Fundamental Rights that matter to artists-authors

[Escucha el podcast EN ESPAÑOL]

The fundamental rights of every human being are recognized by Law in every country. They are different from universal rights because they are not the same in each country, but they can be defended in the courts of every country. Therefore, fundamental rights are individual rights we have as citizens, with characteristics according to each culture and country. That is why, even though they are closely related, the human rights’ list is always longer than the fundamental rights one.

Why do our fundamental rights matter on the web?

We all usually take our fundamental rights for granted, and we do not normally think in defending them until we are deprived of them.

Since the Internet was born, laws and regulations have tried to prevent and stop on the web the violation of rights and rules that worked in the physical world but which were easy to break with technology. However, from a practical point of view, the legal protection has been mostly disappointing, especially for the final user, who is completely vulnerable to most of the problems he/she encounters on the web.

As artists-authors, some of the rights that affect us the most have been, and are still being today, abused on the Internet without a proper legal answer.

Here, I am going to talk about the fundamental rights that I believe are the most important and essential to artists in their use of the Internet:

· Intellectual Property,

· Free Speech

· Privacy

I will also bring a few ideas on how to get started defending them straight away.

Intellectual Property

On our computers, we authors save our documents and files with great care. That is because we are conscious of their possible value (if it is a draft, or a project), or their real value (when it is a finished work).

The moment we upload these documents to the web (be it in a cloud, our website, a social media, etc…), their security is already compromised because we are using a service that can be cyber-attacked, and in the case of social networks like Facebook, we even lose our copyrights.

Moreover, there is the case of platforms of sale, distribution and promotion of your work. On those, you do not usually lose your intellectual property, however you give up the exploitation of your copyrights, in exchange of… well, that depends on the platform. The most popular ones take the advantage of the artist in such a way that I am not going to comment about it… Thankfully, new platforms are surging that offer a more human, and dignified treatment to the artist. And yet, there is still much to do in order for authors/artists to regain these rights and manage them at their convenience.

My advice to protect your Intellectual Property. Use the web 2.0 only for self-promotion, without pretending to make a business out of it, because not even the most well-intentionned platforms are expecting you to be the main beneficiary. Nowadays, if you need the web to make a living, find a medium that will enable you to: 1. access your followers’ emails, thus making yourself a real fan-base; and 2. know always how and with whom you are going to share the benefits of your work on the web, as well as be aware of how much you might lose control of use, and in a certain way your copyrights.

Free Speech

Censorship is the enemy of every artist, because it is inherently the enemy of creative thinking. Personally, I have never been interested in art with a “political message”, and yet I think it is essential that we eliminate self-censorship in the creative process, as well as “political correctness”.

This, of course, is a subjective point of view, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I believe the need to defend this right is unavoidable when we see that Speech is being channelled on the web by a handful of people, the ones who have the power of banning, deleting, or censoring whatever they want and whomever they want. When this happens, the shadow of totalitarianism appears, and artists need to be able to raise their voice with freedom.

My advice to preserve your Free Speech. Do not rely on any intermediary, especially if such intermediary does not allow you to connect with your audience directly. Social networks are places that enable you to promote yourself, sure, but be aware that they are dominated by a handful of people’s interests. They put their priorities first, thus making a series of “editorial lines” that limit Free Speech. Save your best messages, and your most valuable works for more free and private spaces… where you can connect with your audience directly, and if you can, save the best for the upcoming web 3.0.

Privacy

This is a right that has been greatly underestimated, whilst others have tried to delete it completely. And yet, it is one of the pillars of freedom. Without privacy, freedom is impossible. That is why we must defend privacy, and give it the greatest of priorities since childhood. Without privacy, future generations are exposed to an extreme control over their lives.

Privacy is also important in every authors/artists’ creative process, in those moments when confidential exploration is hugely important. Confidentiality can also be paramount when working in collaboration with someone. Nowadays, there is a lot of exposure of what we call creative processes, which is great because they can catch the attention and complicity of audiences who have the chance to engage in a more active way. However, not all creative processes are the same, and there are still works that are created from a certain sense discretion, because there is a need of solitary or collaborative exploration that cannot be shared with the audience, without a loss of wuality in the final deliverable art work. Moreover, when you have to negotiate with clients, be it a commission or on demand, privacy is a fundamental requisite. That might explain why many artists believe that it is not possible to make a good deal on the web, since everything is public, and so they turn to the physical world to earn a living, since they can negotiate and make deals in private.

My advice to protect the privacy in your artistic process. Make time for yourself, and try to reach your audience in a more private way. One-on-one exchanges are much more relevant, and they can help develop real collaboration relationships or contacts that will help you along your way. This is true in both the physical and the digital worlds. Use mainly your email, and start connecting with your audience through private and secure messages.

The Internet of Value is on the way, with solutions and answers that will enable us to get back our fundamental rights on the web.

BigTech companies’ abusive behavior against artists-authors can finally be stopped. Many platforms can already be substituted with services that are more respectful with your Intellectual Property, your Free Speech, and your Privacy, essentially, with your Freedom.

If you want to learn how to get your rights on the web control back, subscribe to this podcast-newsletter. What’s more, we can communicate directly through here!

Georgina Mauriño

Founder of Smartists on Stacks, for a user owned Internet!