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Posts Tagged ‘piracy

Abolish copyright?

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So we’ve got ACTA, PIPA & SOPA and Bakunin knows what else. All those controversial bills aim to defend copyrights owners interests (usually big businesses) and reduce our privacy at same time. Obviously that seems to be perfectly fine from the corporate point of view. It also fits in the current social-economic model. In other words the big companies can simply make more money.

What’s wrong with it?

The problem is copyright is not such a simple issue. Most people would say copyright prevents plagiarism and protect the interests of the authors. Well, in some individual cases yes that might be true, but in reality it looks a bit different. Let me make a few points on this below:

1. Copyright prevents progress – this is a major thing. We live in a pretty crazy world where you have to have the money (quite a lot actually) to use software, buy licenses, deal with patents, etc. It led us to the situation when the development can be achieved only if it’s profitable. From the technical point of view this is absolutely wrong and it actually kills thousands innovative projects every year. In fact you won’t be able to get investors involved in any project which is not based on profit. So you may know how to cure AIDS or how to create an amazing program that can make some people’s life way more easier but you can’t make it unless they can sell it. In consequences you develop some things to sell them not to make the world a better place. It means that all brilliant ideas that aim to improve our lives will never be created unless they can make some profit.

Also with copyright most of great solutions cannot be shared for free, you need to buy them. You don’t have the money? Well, get lost!

2. Culture is not a product – Now, they call us pirates. Sure, the law says that the people sharing music or movies or ebooks are criminals. The thing is the law is not always right and it’s influenced by business groups who have close ties with politicians. They call it business we call it corruption. However they forget that the song is not an iPhone. You can do a cover but you can’t really steal a song. You can copy Radiohead’s Exit Song but it doesn’t mean you own this song. Radiohead own this song and they will always do. That’s the thing with the culture. It’s created for people not for the market. A movie or a book are not products you can take off the shelf and hide it in your house. The culture is for everyone and had a key role in human history. But now, with copyright, they’re trying to tell us you can’t really listen to Radiohead unless you’ve got the money. You can’t watch the latest Scorsese movie unless you pay for it. So it becomes a luxury product only for those who can afford it. Now, try to work for low salary (as most of us do) and get a few new albums and new DVDs once a month. Can you afford it? The funny thing is at the same time when the corporations are using a “piracy” keyword they are actually able to make a deal where the author loses any rights to his song/book/etc.

The other thing is a slogan used by lots of people saying that the young or unknown artists lose their money. Well, I actually spent some time in the music industry and the truth is they are usually forced to accept ridiculous contracts. They don’t really see much of $ from it. There are better solutions that can be put in place to make sure the artists can actually live from music/films/books (such as self-organized publishers or music labels). You can call it Culture Fair Trade. I might write more about in the following weeks.

The final question here is though where will we be in 20 years if an access to the culture is so limited?

Absurd of buying – we got to the point where you might become a criminal if you wish to make digital copies of music/movies you’ve purchased. It also seems that we may have to pay a copyright fee every time we use anything copyrighted in close future.

In fact, copyright issues have turned into an industry VS consumer issue. Copy protection increases cost to consumers.

What are the alternatives?

Well, the alternative is a different understanding of economics and the importance of progress. Just like Anonymous said in their statement: In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost.So we have a coplyleft. Under copyleft, an author may give every person who receives a copy of a work permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute it and require that any resulting copies or adaptations are also bound by the same licensing agreement. Another thing is open source that is widely used around the world. It promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details. For example you’re fed up with your work and you want to start an e-commerce business. Normally you would need to pay some mad money for the e-commerce site. However thanks to the open source projects such as Drupal or even WordPress you can get it done for free and you have an access to the code. Or move from Windows to Ubuntu and see how many great applications you may get for free. You create, learn and share at same time.

In real life you have places like tech labs, hackerspaces or tech cooperatives where you can not only learn but also develop any ideas you can think of. They’re amazing source of knowledge but also cooperation and voluntary work in search of development. The other places are squats or social centres where you get a free access to any culture-related materials, cultural workshops, art lessons, etc. Another example are freeshops where you can fetch a CD, check it out or make a copy and bring it back when you don’t need it anymore. There are plenty of alternatives available. They just need to be developed.

Basically these examples show that skills sharing, transparency and open projects can seriously improve our ideas and in result our lives. They’re not made for the money though. The entire philosophy behind them is different from commercial solutions we know. Research & Development rather than profit-based thinking. Free access for anyone rather than excluding poor. And I believe that’s the way to go. The copyright limits us in general (whether you’re a creator or consumer) and it opposes a free thought that may create a different system some day. It doesn’t work for the benefit of people and artist/creators as well. We’ve got alternatives out there but we just need to move away from the current system and start using them.


Written by Kruk

March 18, 2012 at 12:54 am