Shakespeare Needed Paywalls —and We Do, Too

Piracy could've stopped great writers' careers before they began
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2011 11:00 AM CST
William Shakespeare.   (Wikimedia Commons.)

(Newser) – The recent discovery of earthenware knobs in England—a distinctive feature of the moneyboxes used to collect admission for theaters in Shakespeare's time—prompts a reflection from author Scott Turow and Authors Guild chief Paul Aiken on the link between commerce and creative culture for the New York Times. Think of those moneyboxes as paywalls—they kept out the non-paying public and helped create a market for artists. Soon, a new wave of writers including Shakespeare emerged to service the demand.

"The stark findings of this experiment?" they write. "As with much else, literary talent often remains undeveloped unless markets reward it." Copyrights eventually emerged to serve the same principle, but today, thanks to Internet piracy, the idea is falling apart. "Clusters of overseas servers can undermine much of the commercial basis for creative work around the world, offering users the speedy, secret transmission of stolen goods." A rich culture needs artists. Without proper protection, those artists will never emerge.

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