What is a Rightsholder? · Tuesday February 10, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch
A ‘rightsholder’ is a euphemistic term for someone who is privileged with the suspension of your rights and the commercial exploitation thereof, e.g. as in ‘testiclesholder’ (it is not their goolies they’ve been granted a grip on, but yours).
Thus those who are privileged with the holding of your right to copy or build upon the works of art you may purchase are known as ‘copyright holders’. This is because your natural right to copy was suspended in the 18th century to create this privilege of ‘copyright’. Your right to copy, like all natural rights, is supposed to be inalienable, but such wee technicalities may be pushed aside in the favour of commerce and those merchants who lobby so handsomely.
Let’s see how those who enjoy holding your rights like to allude to a vague justification for their privilege of doing so:
How are “rights” defined?
Under the United States Copyright Act found at Title 17 of the U.S. Code, a creator of original materials is granted a package of exclusive rights, the entire package of which is generally referred to as the creator’s “copyrights.”
Ahem. No. A creator of ‘original materials’ is recognised to have an exclusive right to their work. Moreover, this right isn’t bestowed by a paternalistic state, but is recognised as natural and self-evident by an astute and percipient constitution. Rights cannot be granted. Thus this exclusive right, like any right, should not only be secured, but should remain underogated.
Most critically, ‘exclusive rights’ are not ‘copyrights’.
Copyright may well be a privilege that helps secure exclusive rights, but the privilege of copyright remains a suspension of others’ right to copy. In other words, copyright is not the right to copy but an abrogation of it. Therefore one cannot refer to exclusive rights as copyrights. This is unless, of course, one would like to confuse people into believing that copyright was a right and therefore supposedly natural and self-evident.
Anyway, while there may be many who would nefariously encourage the terming of exclusive rights to be ‘copyrights’ and who would also wish to cement this as the general understanding, those exclusive rights remain rights. They are not privileges, and nor are the privileges that help secure them therefore the rights that are secured.
- A constitution recognises rights.
- The legislative enaction of a privilege is a derogation of those rights.
Thus the US copyright act of 1790 shamelessly derogates the natural right to copy (part of the right to liberty and free speech) in order to bestow it as a transferable privilege for commercial exploitation by those who own printing presses – on the pretext that this helps secure an author’s exclusive rights (recognised by the US constitution in 1787).
- Rights are imbued by nature and constitutionally recognised.
- Privileges are granted by kings and unscrupulous states.
So, an author has a natural exclusive right to their writings.
Whereas printers are granted transferable reproduction privileges (initially assigned to each original work). They are not granted ‘rights’, but the exploitation of others’.
“Hang on, hang on. So what is the difference between an author’s exclusive right and the transferable reproduction monopoly known as copyright that is automatically attached to an author’s original works?”
- An author’s exclusive right is that they may naturally and self-evidently exclude others from access, communication, reproduction, performance, possession, or any other use of their writings, i.e. those in their possession created by themselves (privacy extends this to others legitimately obtained).
- Copyright is a privilege granting the holder with the power to prosecute anyone who reproduces or publicly performs a particular work (among other uses), i.e. the power to enforce the suspension of the public’s right to copy, to share or build upon the covered works of art in their legitimate possession.
Clearly, copyright helps protect an author’s exclusive right to their writings, but it remains an unethical privilege with far more power than nature originally provided an author.
Nature doesn’t imbue an author with the power to control what the public may do with the writings they give them, but with the power to exclude the public from the writings that the author has. This is also known as the right to privacy – the power to exclude the public from one’s personal space, one’s home and its contents. It is not the power to invade the homes of others nor to suspend their liberty to reproduce or perform published works – the public’s culture.
It is so sad that people will fight so fiercely for our immortal publishing corporations to retain their 18th century privilege of holding our family jewels, our cultural commonwealth, in the misguided belief that this is in our interest…
All rights inalienable, no privilege recognised.