Wednesday, April 27, 2005

World Intellectual Property Day

From Slashdot:

Posted by Zonk on Wednesday April 27, @07:52AM
from the break-out-the-party-hats! dept.
Dotnaught writes "The Business Software Alliance wants everyone to know that today is World Intellectual Property Day, 'an initiative to educate young people about how intellectual property rights foster innovation, creativity and economic opportunity.' To mark the occasion, CopyNight, a monthly gathering of people interested in restoring balance in copyright law, is hosting a get-together tonight in various cities throughout the U.S."

Which led to this comment:

A Bitter Protest Against Copyrights (Score:5, Interesting)
by argoff (142580) Alter Relationship on Wednesday April 27, @10:18AM (#12354088)

Well I for one intend to celebrate by reposting this ....

A Bitter Protest Against Copyrights

If they said there was no incentive to do good things unless the government could choose your religion ... or they said there is no incentive to grow food, unless farmers could rip up your garden ... most people would see these as the awful values that they are. But if they say that there is no incentive to make beneficial or creative works without the power to restrict what people copy (copyrights), then all too many people just take it on faith. They don't even question it, as if incentive makes rights, as if society would fall apart without them. But just as much of the Renaissance happened without copyrights so should the information age.

Calling copyrights "intellectual property" is intellectually dishonest. The moral and historical foundation of property derives from mutual respect and the fact that not everybody can posses something at the same time. The foundation of copyrights derives from kings who granted publishers monopolies in return for not publishing bad things about the monarchy. Copyrights are about control, censorship, and not a free market property. In fact, they cheapen property rights by treating things that have natural limits in supply such as food, shelter, and medicine like information that does not.

Worse, is how people who copy are slandered with names such as "thief" and "pirate", as if copying was akin to boarding a ship and murdering people. They are even accused of stealing food out of the mouths of starving artists. Yet these verbal assaults hide a cold and calculated lie, the one that says "copyrights benefit creative people". The truth is that for every artist or writer that has made it "big", there are unmentioned thousands whom copyrights haven't helped a bit, hindered, or even destroyed. Some are even barred or sued from sharing their own creations in public, while others die with the world never truly knowing their artistic genius as the mass media drowns them out. Most creators are far better off sharing and distributing their creations freely to make a reputation for themselves. Copyrights not only cause them to be drowned out in a sea of hype, but do so deceptively.

However, these aren't the only problems related to copyrights. They are just a sample of many that are constantly blown off, glossed over, or ignored. Like the failures of Hollywood culture, the failures of big media to offer quality material, the failures of the market to offer competitively priced books for college students while tabloids are dirt cheap, and massive anti-trust behavior in the software industry to name a few. Their hypocritical pleas like, "how will we make money without copyrights?" is like a mobster asking "how will I make money with out victims to extort?"

The burdens of imposing copyrights might have been bearable a quarter century ago when the biggest issue was copy machines. But today in the information age there is no technical distinction between copyright content and free speech content. Information is so easy to copy and manipulate, there can be no "middle ground". Our society must make a choice: Our communications will either have to be monitored or free, our privacy will either have to intruded or protected. Our speech, writing, and free expression will either have to be abridged or unabridged. Any institution that has the power to control one, must have the power to control all. Copyrights are like a vine that will never stop growing to choke off our freedoms until we cut it off at the root!

Consider parallels to other periods of transition like the industrial revolution:

History teaches that during the 1800's there were many people who believed that the entire meaning and purpose of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton gin to expand their plantations for unlimited growth and profit. Ironically just the opposite was true;the industrial revolution demanded a mobile and skilled workforce.

First, they responded by making slavery last forever, and making laws so harsh you couldn't even teach a person of color how to read. Then they responded by trying to micro-regulate the northern states, then they responded by trying to break off from the Union and fence themselves off from the rest of the world causing all hell to break loose.

Today many in media circles believe that the entire meaning and purpose of the information age is to use inventions like the Internet to leverage their copyright holdings to the far reaches of the Earth for unlimited growth and profit. Ironically, just the opposite is true; the information age demands the unrestricted flow of information.

First, they responded my making copyrights last effectively forever, then they responded by making it so that illegal copying could be punished worse than rape, then they tried to micro-regulate the technology industries with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and now they are trying to fence the information they control off from the rest of the world with Digital Rights Management (DRM). We are now at the point where society must tell them to go to hell.

Just because an institution calls something a property right doesn't mean that it is. Just because an institution calls something an incentive, doesn't mean that it is. Just because an institution looks successful on the surface, doesn't mean that is is. Just because an institution has been around awhile, doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't fail. An institution backed up by law and the full force of government is worthless if it is unjust. It is time for time for the institution of copyrights to die in the history of the information age!

Unethical laws like the DMCA, endless copyright extensions, billion dollar lawsuits, are not just about problems that haven't been worked out yet, but symptoms of a poor belief system being brought to its logical conclusion. All efforts to find a "middle ground" have failed. All those who've tried have been exploited to pacify the masses as the next generation of restrictive laws is rammed down our throats. But they have failed not in that they have lost the "middle ground" but that they have not seen that contrary to copyright monopolies, the right to copy, share, and distribute information is a right!

Like freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, the right to copy things is a moral right, a right that exists above government. It is an inherent right that describes a nature of human existence that lives in us from the time we are born. If the rules of politics were created because it is better to fight wars with information and discussion than with bloodshed, the rules of copyrights must die because it is better to fight unjust control of these with defiance than with systems.

Defiance by believing that people have rights even when they appear contrary to the system or the popular mob. Defiance, by shedding the guilt and shame that those who impose copyrights try to impose on us and understanding that they are the ones who should feel guilty and shameful. Defiance by believing that free markets are about just property rights and economic freedom, and not fraudulent "property" definitions. Defiance by using and making free software, media, and open formats whenever possible. Defiance by copying and sharing creative works whenever able, and embracing new technologies like peer-to-peer networks. And finally, defiance by rejecting and challenging such lies as - copyrights "benefit artists", people who copy are "pirates", copyrights are "intellectual property", copyrights are "protection" ... and so on.

In my humple opinion, only then can society reap the benefits the information age has to offer.


David Christy

Man, I love Slashdot.

No comments:

Post a Comment