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Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing · Monday August 15, 2011 by Crosbie Fitch

“I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt and asked you nicely; but to be clear: if you spam this blog again you’ll be blocked”

So says Andy Mabbett in his blog post about The BBC’s fundamental misunderstanding of copyright – fundamental misunderstandings of copyright being a subject I’m especially interested in discussing.

This makes it particularly difficult to respond to other commenters who’ve replied to me or asked me questions, but Andy has a solution : “I see you have a blog. Please kindly use that, and not this one, to promote your esoteric opinions on copyright issues and apparent desire to change the status quo. I trust everyone with an interest in hearing them will join you there.”

So, I will have to answer the following commenter’s reply to me here (I posted it, but it was blocked):

Stephen Booth says:
August 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm
Crosbie,

Copyright law has been around for more than a couple of decades. You admit your self that it was around in the 18th century, I myself have books dating from the early 19th century with copyright notices in the front. Copyright law was only regularised around the world in the 20th by the Geneva Convention on copyright and there are still some countries not adherant. but it’s getting there.

The intent of copyright law is to support the creators of works, to allow them and their dependents to benefit from their work. It originated not from the desire to stop people running off copies at home but to prevent any yahoo with a printing press running of copies of the latest best seller to sell in the streets without making payment to the author.

Whilst it may be understandable that individuals at home may not understand the details of copyright law and how something enters the public domain. It is entirely reasonable to expect that they should know that copyright exists and at least do a Google search if they are doing anything that think might be related. It is entirely unreasonable to expect that the BBC would not, as an organisation, be aware in great detail of copyright law and how something does and does not enter public domain.

Stephen

Stephen, there are pretexts as to what copyright’s intent is, and there are the actual motivations for its legislation – beware of confusing the two. If you find my explanation as to copyright’s origins too ‘spammy’, you can get a second opinion from Karl Fogel.

It is NOT reasonable to expect people to be aware of a law that prohibits their free engagement with their own culture.

It is publishing corporations who insist it is reasonable of course, but as you see, they will only respect the copyright of other publishing corporations with a comparably sized litigation budget.

I suggest that you don’t waste time trying to educate corporations to respect their own privilege (when in the hands of hobbits), but simply disrespect this 18th century anachronism yourself. Share and build upon the BBC’s output freely. As a license payer you have already paid for it anyway.

Update

Then Pongolyn posted a really good comment in reply to Dave Cousin but it was soon deleted/hidden:

Pongolyn says:
August 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm

That’s a noble sentiment (i.e. creative people should be properly attributed and compensated for their work), but unfortunately copyright law ensures nothing of the kind. It was created in the 18th century by publishers (not artists!) as a means of censorship and monopoly on the means of reproduction (i.e., the printing press). On the other hand, creative people were making livings off of their works for centuries before the Statute of Anne—the argument could be made that they did better then than now! There’s since been a huge cultural shift in the perception of “intellectual property” and the place of derivative works and reproductions in our society. Copyright law’s in need of some huge reform, especially now that technology has evolved to facilitate cheap and ubiquitous reproduction of information. It’s a complete falsehood that copyright is needed, or effective, at protecting the livelihood of artists.

Andy Mabbett really must like copyright a great deal if he would block and/or censor those who’d disagree with him. Evidently, a rather different ethical framework in operation.



 

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