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Ship of Fools · Thursday July 09, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

Paul Sanders brings my attention to a PlayLouder blog item concerning a speech by Viviane Reding, where she says:

If we do not, very quickly, make it easier and more consumer-friendly to access digital content, we could lose a whole generation as supporters of artistic creation and legal use of digital services.

If we do not stop flogging the dead horse of forcing people to pay for copies they can make themselves for nothing, and start helping people pay artists for the art they want from them, then we’re not doing much to help either artists or their audiences.

Unfortunately, the interests of the artists and their audiences aren’t on the radar of the EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media.

All lobbying is driven overwhelmingly by manufacturers of copies and others privileged with monopolies over the use of published works (copyright holders).

And the one thing the lobbyists and lobbied cannot even conceive of let alone confront is that the market for copies has ended. Their monopolies, their centralised control over the people and the people’s culture, have become impotent. Fortunately, there’s at least one European I know who Viviane could consult regarding the end of that control.

Viviane does at least reveal some glimmer of recognition of this predicament:

Digital Europe can only be built with content creators on board; and with the generation of digital natives as interested users and innovative consumers.

I suggest that a necessary precursor to this is to first get the publishers and collection societies currently on board to walk the plank. Whilst they still have the ear of the captain the ship will stay lost in the doldrums and eventually sink.

It would also give her lip-service a little more credibility if she stopped using terms such as ‘content creators’, ‘natives’, ‘users’, and ‘consumers’. These are the derogatory terms of publishing corporations and their enforcers (aka policy makers). I recommend less distant and more human terms such as ‘people’, ‘artists’, ‘art’, etc. After all, it is people we’re talking about, innocent families faced with million dollar fines, not producers and consumers of content (whether she means soma or filler is not clear).

It is necessary to penalise those who are breaking the law.

Is it? And what if the law the people are breaking is an unethical 18th century privilege that tramples over the ancient and natural law that predates it by a few ice ages?

People have been copying stone tools, baskets and cave paintings from each other since the year dot. People have been sharing their art and knowledge among each other and building upon it since we had two brain cells to rub together. The policy makers who believe that mankind progresses by enacting laws to prevent this from happening are either brain dead or in the pay of corporations.

Restore to the people their cultural liberty.

Abolish the privileges of copyright and patent.

That will stop people breaking the law.

Steve R. said 3540 days ago :

Respect for the law depends on its acceptance by society. Once laws become irrelevant, people begin to ignore them. But those who are “behind” the law will continue to assert: “It is necessary to penalise those who are breaking the law.” Unfortunately, too many people unthinkingly ascribe to literally following the law without questioning its rationality.

Of particular concern, modifications to laws that further reduce the rights of the public to use content, such as diminishing the concept of “fair use” and extending the length of the copyright privilege.

If we are to have meaningful laws that will be accepted by society, onerous laws need to removed from the books, especially those that are aimed at depriving the public of its rights to use content.

fungo said 3538 days ago :

Well said.

What’s often called the “content industry” was actually the content DISTRIBUTION industry. But the cost of distribution has now fallen to essentially zero; hence this industry no longer contributes any value. But it refuses to go away, and in fact insists on being paid perpetual blackmail for not PREVENTING distribution from taking place.

It’s not a moral issue, and it doesn’t need to be a legal issue. It’s just the future trying to happen.



 

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