The Null Device

Micro-slavery

An Indian singer without a record deal is financing his career by selling shares in himself on eBay. £3,000 will get you 0.25% of Shayan's total earnings in music (including copyright and writing royalties).
"If you put £3,000 in me, and I sell 100,000 albums, you double your money," he added.
He pointed out that, while the investors were taking a big risk, they were getting investment in the copyright, which exists 70 years after his death in the UK, and 60 years in the US.
Which sounds like an argument for perpetual copyrights; there is no reason for an artist to have the rights to their works for 70 years after their death, though if they can trade part of those rights away, they can make money earlier. And the longer the rights last, the more they're worth being traded away.

Though before embracing the new share-selling future, it may be worth considering the implications of such a model spreading. Imagine, in future, if instead of government-funded education (please stop laughing, Americans Australians in the audience) or student loans, students wishing to undertake expensive university degrees sell shares in themselves. The shares entitle shareholders to a slice of one's future income. To protect their investment, shareholders have power of veto over lifestyle choices which may impair income; this can include everything from the ability to sue an asset who decides to get a tattoo to, if you're majority-owned by others than yourself, the ability to relocate you to a highly profitable hellhole where their investment can be maximised. Which sounds rather like a finer-grained slavery, though think of the efficiencies it'll bring into the marketplace.

There are 5 comments on "Micro-slavery":

Posted by: Loki http:// Wed Jul 20 03:02:22 2005

It occurs to me that, for an artist, selling shares in a particular work might be better. That way they don't own *you* outright.

I'm now speculating about releasing myself under a Creative Commons License...

Posted by: amby http:// Wed Jul 20 03:29:17 2005

If the individual makes unprofitable lifestyle choices, I think the shareholders will just sell and not try to vote for changes. Individuals are a lot less responsive to coercive action - just try making a child go for sports practice/ piano lessons.

And think of all the potential conflicts of interest. If I sold shares of myself, I would probably spread a photoshopped pic of myself dealing in something illegal, initiate massive buybacks, and then start my high flying consulting/legal/entrepreneurial job. When the company and the management is the same person, the shareholders are going to get a really bad deal....

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Wed Jul 20 08:52:28 2005

If you did that in such a system, you could probably be sued, if not for fraud then for not exercising due diligence to your shareholders.

Once someone owns shares in you, your life is no longer your own, and anything you do that damages shareholder value opens you up to lawsuits.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Wed Jul 20 08:54:25 2005

Loki: selling shares in a work is one matter; what Shayan did was sell shares in his entire future musical career.

Posted by: glory http:// Sat Jul 23 14:09:07 2005

On personal securitisation http://www.fenews.com/fen44/capital-notions/capital-notions.html "In his latest movie, The Girl From Monday, renowned independent film director/writer/composer Hal Hartley creates a science-fiction dystopia where people have been securitized and are bought and sold on financial exchanges like pork belly futures or shares in Martha Stewart." :D

btw http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/movies/features/10951/ - "What Ever Happened to Hal Hartley?"

cheers!

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