A Blog Is Not A Loaf Of Bread

We hosted a raging, if not painful, debate on intellectual property in this space last night. There are strong opinions on both sides.
Piers Fawkes, writing in our comments section said:

If I copied music, then sold it in its entirety – is that ok because it helps the flow of creativity? Should I be able to pinch anything I want from a clothing store because it’s not locked down and it will bring fashion to my life and everyone who sees me? Should I be able to reblog anyone’s work in their entirity because it will help me with a future job promotion?
There’s arguements for and against everything. I am for the spread of ideas, but against the exploitation of creative people.

Piers believes cut and paste blogging is stealing—exactly the same as lifting a loaf of bread or pair of jeans from the store.
Here’s what Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy had to say on the subject in Wired:

A piece of art is not a loaf of bread. When someone steals a loaf of bread from the store, that’s it. The loaf of bread is gone. When someone downloads a piece of music, it’s just data until the listener puts that music back together with their own ears, their mind, their subjective experience. How they perceive your work changes your work.
Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator.
People who look at music as commerce don’t understand that. They are talking about pieces of plastic they want to sell, packages of intellectual property.
I’m not interested in selling pieces of plastic.

What can I possibly add to Tweedy’s brilliance? Nothing. Doing so, would be like pouring A1 on a perfectly prepared kobe filet.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today, as head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon, I'm focused on providing affordable and effective integrated marketing solutions to mid-market clients.


  1. Well, I’m still a little conflicted on this. I mean, what if I downloaded all of Random House’s authors’ work? I mean, “it’s just data until the listener (reader) puts that music (those words)back together with their own ears (eyes), their mind, their subjective experience.”
    I guess it’s a case-by-case thing.

  2. No one should be confused or conflicted. It’s really quite simple and revealing: It’s the money, stupid!

  3. I love how you get to the heart of the matter, Tom. There’s no question it’s about the money. My point on that point is digest what Tweedy is saying (that one’s audience is a collaborator), and the money will come.

  4. There’s a huge difference between musicians and authors. The big one being that Jeff Tweedy and Wilco can give their music away for free because the majority of money they make each year comes largely from touring, an economic enterprise totally and completely separate from their record company.

  5. A difference, yes. Huge, no.
    Whatever art you’re creating, you want the largest possible audience for it (if making a living from it is the goal). Giving it away helps achieve that, whatever “it” is.