image Mike Masnick at TechDirt links to an article by Martin Bosworth, the managing editor of, entitled “The Creative Class War”. (Sadly, Bosworth passed away the day after writing this piece.)

After discussing a novel set in a dark future world, which involves a copyright enforcer hunting down and killing copyright violators, Bosworth puts forward the thesis that “there’s a long-simmering resentment of people that actually make art, and the Internet has brought it to the surface in a way we’ve never seen before.”

(On reading this, I couldn’t help but think of the title of Ficbot’s frustrated rant of a few weeks ago about how many authors and publishers ignore readers’ complaints about the poor quality or unavailability of their e-books: “Maybe we should be hurting the authors.” Though in actuality Ficbot’s article did not express the sort of resentment Bosworth postulates.)

However, Bosworth does not use this as an opportunity for putting down either the content creators or the people who “resent” them. He simply discusses the issues, and concludes

For now, I’ll just say this — creators and fans should not be at war with each other, especially when the real culprits are the bean-counters, the middle managers, and the corporate structures that siphon away as much profit from the creator as possible while ensuring maximum value return for their work.

Bosworth stated in closing that he planned to write more on different aspects of the issue. It is unfortunate that he never had that chance.

But in his TechDirt response, Masnick disagrees with Bosworth’s central point. He believes that critics of copyright enforcement are critical because they fear it will harm that which they love. And if authors are shown to respect fans, those fans then become extremely loyal—possibly even hero-worshipful.

I’m not denying that there is some resentment out there of successful people. There are always some people who are resentful of others, but I just don’t see that as a driving force in the criticism of content creators who choose a path that is anti-fan.

Regardless, recent events in the world of publishing have brought out consumer aggravation with publishers in ways that I do not recall having seen before. I would like to think those publishers will take notice, but they seem ready and willing to make the same mistakes the record and movie industries have made before them.


  1. One only has to listen to the virulent criticisms of best-selling authors to suspect that non-creators hate creators… but I think that’s too simplistic a view. I don’t believe non-creators have a deep-seated hatred of those who create, any more than they hate their local auto mechanic because he can fix their car better than they can.

    The hatred always surfaces where money is concerned, and it is always related to the purchaser feeling they are not getting their money’s worth. Taxes… fees… delivery charges… extra charges that do not seem to add value to the object of purchase are the things that upset customers, usually because the businesses refuse to enlighten them as to why those services are needed, and why we therefore have to pay fees for them.

    Bosworth’s blaming the “bean-counters and middlemen” (it’s clear where his ire lies) is also unfair, because it is often those middlemen who managed to get the creator’s material to their fans, and without which, there would be no creation to argue over at all.

    There will always be people who believe, without reservation, that “middlemen are parasites” to the creation and distribution process. It is usually this idea that needs to be addressed by both sides: The middlemen need to demonstrate their worth; and consumers need to recognize that a few (okay… sometimes a lot of) bad apples doesn’t spoil the entire barrel.

    Fortunately, though, we are also in an age and technological state where creators can remove many of those middlemen, and the resultant fees, if they want to. For instance, selling books through self-created websites, as I do, removes a horde of middlemen, and puts me in control of which middlemen I want to deal with. I can take on the jobs of some of those middlemen (for instance, cover artists, formatters, advertisers/promoters) and further cut down on costs.

    I do agree that my efforts have value, so I am justified in asking a charge for my work… and the consumer is free to say “No, thanks.” I also agree that middlemen provide value to a work. The key is transparency: When people understand (and believe) the reason for the fees, they are less inclined to anger or resentment, and therefore less inclined to take advantage of a creator, or by action to spite a middleman, hurt a creator.

  2. I agree that artists are resented. People feel that art is something you create for fun–and people who are doing fun things shouldn’t expect to get rich for it. Especially for those whose own jobs are hateful or boring, it isn’t hard to feel resentment against those who make ten times as much for having fun. For at least some, this resentment gets entangled with other prejudices considering that the creative class tends to be better educated, giving them choices the resentful never had.

    Compared to where we were a generation or two ago, however, I think this reverse snobbishness is less than it was so perhaps we’re moving in the right direction.

    Of course I agree with Steve that us middle-men add value.

    Rob Preece

  3. I don’t resent authors. I think they’re generally underpaid and exploited.

    I can’t believe how many authors who have signed with the megapublishers are siding with them and are acting so consumer-hostile, given how they are generally treated by the megapublishers.

    Of course publishers add value. I’m sure they all do, if they’re staying in business. The question is how much of their value goes to self-indulgent stuff like this?

    how much of it goes to huge corporate salaries? And how much to layers and layers of management and old school networking?

    That money should be going to authors and/or being used to reduce consumer prices.

    Lean, efficient, customer-centric (their customers are authors AND readers, in my opinion) publishing companies should be our future. It probably will not turn out that way, but I can dream.

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