‘Theft: A History of Music’ Could be a Lesson for Digital Comics About Controlling Content
“Theft: A History of Music” is a forthcoming graphic novel that takes aim at the popular music industry’s collusion with the governments of the world to control the way “consume” the music we hear. Created by James Boyle & Jennifer Jenkins and Keith Aoki, “Theft” examines this theme of aural control on an ambitious timeline that begins in Ancient Greece and ends in the present day, and does so by framing the debate in two extremes: on one side you have content owners — record companies — lobbying the government to legislate in support of an outdated business model. On the other, you have a population of anarchists and pirates totally unconcerned with supporting the creative artists whose work they possess or otherwise reconfigure to their own ends.It is fitting that this history of music copyright takes the form of a graphic novel. As we move inevitably towards comprehensive digital distribution, understanding the music industry’s failed mission of control is the comic book industry’s best hope for success.
Much has been written here at ComicsAlliance on the subject of digital comics, and speaking as someone who came to the comics media from digital music, our industry has avoided many of the mistakes that have left the popular music business in ruins. Of course the completed book remains to be seen, but if these “Theft” preview pages and the marketing materials are anything to go on, it’s a thorough lesson that we and comics’ decision-makers would do well to read.
There’s no excuse for comics suffering the fate of popular music as outlined in “Theft,” especially given the fact that it’s written in a language we can understand. The book goes on sale sometime in 2011.