“When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain”

Renowned Shakespearean scholar and former Dartmouth professor James Shapiro has this oped in today’s New York Times:

Almost overnight [in the 16th century, when audiences in Britain began having to pay to watch plays], a wave of brilliant dramatists emerged, including Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Ben Jonson and Shakespeare. These talents and many comparable and lesser lights had found the opportunity, the conditions and the money to pursue their craft.  The stark findings of this experiment? As with much else, literary talent often remains undeveloped unless markets reward it.

Shapiro co-authored the oped with Scott Turow and Paul Aiken from the Authors Guild.  The three go on to argue for better legal protection of copyrighted work, especially online.  The gravamen of their focus is legitimate, though their casual dismissal of the counterproductive role played by a backward-looking music industry during the past decade is unfortunate.  (For more about the music industry’s errors, click here and here.)

Still, as Shapiro showed in Contested Will, few people are his peer on matters of the Bard.  What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boots not to resist both wind and tide.