A is for Abolition
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
We must abolish copyright.
This is a conclusion anyone can avoid coming to – if they covet copyright’s corrupting power to constrain all others.
B is for Building
Build upon my published work!
Build upon everyone’s published work. You are naturally at liberty to do so.
C is for Copying, not ©
Copy and communicate all published works, yours, mine, everyone’s – to the far corners of the earth.
D is for Derivatives
Nothing is new under the sun. Nothing is 100% original. Everything is derivative in some way. Mankind progresses by building upon what has been done before – through exploration and improvement. There is no wrong in this. Develop derivative works of your own, however similar or dissimilar to those you’ve been inspired by.
E is for Enjoyment
Enjoy your natural liberty. Enjoy your own culture. Enjoy sharing in it with your friends. Enjoy sharing it with everyone!
F is for Funding
Feel free to fund my further work if you fancy more. Feel free to fund any artist whose work you would have more of.
Pay others for what you cannot or would rather not do yourself. Pay artists for their art. Pay printers for prints. If you can make your own copies and prefer to, do so. Ignore any state granted monopolies that prohibit such liberty.
Liberty does not mean artists work for nothing, even if monopolists may not profit so much. Even so, it may sometimes be prudent to give your work away to promote yourself, to win fans, and future funding. Free as in free speech, not as in free beer.
Copying is not a crime, nor does it pilfer pennies from the pockets of the poor – except in the eyes of those who covet copyright.
G is for Gutenberg
Gutenberg started the printing revolution. The Internet put the revolution into hyperdrive.
18th century privileges designed to quell sedition and piracy are running on empty.
Project Gutenberg is helping to demonstrate that paying authors to write novels is not precluded by ending the practice of purchasing books from those privileged by a monopoly or paying them for permission to print copies.
Copyright is a brake on the wheel of the communications revolution. Only the corrupt few can profit from the energy they sap, even as so much progress is lost as a consequence.
Set us free. Set our culture free. See how much faster we go.
H is for Honesty
Honesty is a moral obligation.
While you are at liberty to use any published work as you see fit, such liberty naturally excludes dishonesty, e.g. misattribution or misrepresentation.
As credit is a gift, and citing sources is a mark of respect (though fraught with peril today as it risks inviting copyright litigation), so appropriate attribution is up to you. A lack of attribution is not a priori dishonest. You have no moral obligation to provide attribution, but neither deceive your audience, nor be so neglectful that you cause confusion in this respect.
Misrepresentation would be where you might use an artist’s work in a way such that others are likely to incorrectly infer the artist endorses a product or political point of view.
It is in this aspect that moral rights can be identified and enumerated. Unfortunately, they tend to be corrupted by copyright-based thinking into yet another set of proprietorial privileges. For example, your moral right to integrity is not the power to veto changes another artist may choose to make to your published work, but the other artist’s moral obligation not to misattribute the changes they are at liberty to make to your work as yours, or authorised by you. It is a matter of truth, not of power over others (granted by the state).
I is for Intellectual Property
Intellectual work may be property, but copyright is an unnatural monopoly.
The intellectual work contained within the unpublished manuscript in your desk drawer is undoubtedly your intellectual property, but if you sell or give it to someone, or a copy thereof, it becomes their property – even if it is not their work.
The reproduction monopoly arising in an ‘original’ work, granted by the state, that empowers the copyright holder to sue infringers, is unnatural, nothing to do with property (except in attempts to corrupt the term), and hence an unethical derogation of an individual’s liberty – to copy or communicate that which they’d otherwise be at liberty to.
J is for Justice
Justice is expected through the instrument of government, but its privileges are instruments of injustice.
Wikipedia: Human rights originate in Nature, thus, rights cannot be granted via political charter, because that implies that rights are legally revocable, hence, would be privileges:
It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few… They… consequently are instruments of injustice … The fact, therefore, must be that the individuals, themselves, each, in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
K is for Kickstarter
Kickstarter and other such marketplaces enable artists to exchange their work for money, not a state granted reproduction monopoly for a pittance from a publisher plus their over-hyped possibility of the ‘lottery prize’ they call royalties.
These marketplaces will become more numerous, more sophisticated, and will represent a return to the pre-copyright method of funding. Instead of monopoly profits, a few patrons, or millions of fanatic micropatrons, or simply, fans, will offer funds in exchange for the artist’s art. Art for money, money for art.
It’s not simply ‘give it away & pray’, whether giving away your art to your fans, or giving away your money to your favourite musicians, but as in any market, it’s about coming to an agreement, an equitable exchange.
Don’t forget though, caveat emptor and caveat venditor still apply.
L is for Learning
Learn is from leornian – to tread in another’s footsteps, to copy another’s path.
But, as modern dogma has it, ever since Queen Anne first let slip the pretext that copyright would result in the Encouragement of Learning, we will be more encouraged to learn from each other because we are prohibited from copying each other.
The first question that should spring to mind is “What kind of law is it, that must be preceded by an unfalsifiable excuse?”. What other law, whether it be against theft, violence, kidnapping, or fraud, must have its enactment preceded by a claim that it will be for society’s benefit?
Even copyright’s fiercest critics still accept its pretext, that its purpose is philanthropic, and that the privilege may continue to be judged upon its mythical benefit to society, despite the fact that we have not witnessed the supposedly dystopian society that has long existed with printing, but without the alleged benefit of a privilege prohibiting piracy on its statute books.
How do we know we are benefiting from copyright if we’ve never known what our culture could have become without it? How does a slave know they are benefiting from their master’s care if they’ve never known what it’s like to find employment in a free market? It’s not a matter of benefit, alleged or imagined. People instinctively recognise the liberty they are born with, and are driven by the imperative to exercise it. If some want to pretend they must ask permission for their liberty, that a need to obtain such permission benefits them, then let them indulge in such a pretence, but do not let the state visit such injustice upon all.
If you look into copyright, if you dare question its pretext, then you should learn that its origins were entirely mercenary, in the interests of the state – and the press it would have beholden, and obedient to it.
That copyright encourages our learning, and feeds poor starving authors to so enlighten us, is a fairy tale once told by a wicked queen, and her successors for three successive centuries.
If we all dare admit the empress is naked, her empire ends.
M is for Monopoly
There are three notorious state granted monopolies: Copyright, patent, and trademark. Each monopoly differs somewhat in its concern and modus operandi, however, whilst some may claim they protect natural rights they are wholly unnatural, being unethical privileges enacted for the benefit of the state and the enrichment of those who lobby for them.
Copyright is not designed to help the individual author against the theft of their unpublished manuscript. It is a monopoly provided for the wealthy and powerful publisher to police the marketplace against competition (pirate printers). Contrary to dogma, it does not encourage learning.
Patent is not designed to help to the individual inventor against the theft of their unpublished invention. It is a monopoly provided for the wealthy and powerful manufacturer to police the marketplace against competition (especially foreign). Contrary to dogma, it does not encourage innovation.
Trademark is not designed to help the individual against passing off by unscrupulous competitors. It is a monopoly provided for the wealthy and powerful merchant to police the marketplace against competition (better value for money imitations). Contrary to dogma, it does not protect the public against fraud.
N is for the Nature of Rights
If copyright encourages anyone to do any learning, it’s learning about copyright, learning about its origins, learning the reasons for its injustice, learning about rights, what they are, where they come from, whether they can be granted, bought, sold, or taken away, and who by, e.g. gods, queens, governments, ourselves, mother nature, or accident, etc.
Thomas Paine has written about rights, as have others over the millennia preceding copyright. Obviously, those interested in continuing to enjoy copyright, ‘The Copyright Cartel’ we might call them, have also written about rights – in these last few centuries since 1709.
Depending upon whose writing you read, you will either learn that it is your human right to prevent others making unauthorised copies of your published work, or that it is a right granted by Queen Anne, that may be bought, sold, assigned, licensed, reserved, waived, or any manner of other things. You will also learn that copyright is a good thing, or that it is a bad thing, or even that it is a ‘necessary sacrifice’ for the greater good.
If you don’t want to risk shifting paradigms, and prefer the comfort of ignorance, then stick to the dogma you thus know and love. If you realise there are problems relating to copyright, and want to know whether those problems are with the people who disobey it or the privilege that is used to prosecute them, then learn on.
O is for Originality
Thanks to copyright’s inculcation, originality may now be a common artistic aspiration, and something copyright lawyers will pretend happens every day, but it is unobtainable. The idea that it exists can be legislated, but then the law is an ass, made so by asses. Of course it shouldn’t be legislated, nor should we wish it to be.
P is for Privacy, not Piracy
Privacy is the root of property, and the only natural right an author has to exclude others from their work. One cannot both publish and remain proprietor. In other words, one cannot include AND exclude someone. You cannot tell someone something AND deny them their liberty to tell it to others – much as you might covet such a power.
Predictably, publishers pretending proprietorship will perforce pejoratively proclaim as pirates those folk who would enjoy their natural liberty to make and distribute copies or derivatives – contrary to the usurping proprietor’s presumption of propriety.
Daniel Defoe was there at the beginning of both copyright and piracy, and may even have some posthumous resonance at their ending: shipwrecked in a pirate bay, and naming a party of pirates campaigning to cease copyright’s punishment of individuals who engage in fileharing.
Q is for Queen Anne
Queen Anne established the privilege we call copyright in 1709 – the root of all laws that prohibit one person from copying another. From 500,000BC to 1708AD, Homo Sapiens developed into a civilisation through copying, learning, and improving upon each other’s work. From 1709 onwards, we suffer the legacy of a legislative misadventure, a privilege that should have been abolished along with slavery, not one that should have been re-enacted in 1790 by a government supposedly created to secure its citizens’ liberty and the ending of monopolies (such as established by Britain’s Tea Act).
R is for Reform
Reforms of copyright are generally proposed by those engaged in doublethink – that it is possible to have a monopoly and cultural liberty.
One of the most popular kinds of reform is that of term reduction. This is presumably based on a supposition that if copyright only prohibited the copying of a work for a decade or so, as opposed to a century or so, that people would be more likely to respect the 18th century privilege, obeying it, than to disrespect it, ignoring it.
Piracy has occurred before, and where the state has realised copyright is too clumsy or ineffective (but never unjust), it has introduced compulsory licensing. There are those who suggest this applies to the Internet, and so a compulsory license fee (or mulct) should be levied upon all who use it, to be disbursed to poor starving artists (aka publishing corporations and collecting societies) according to the proliferation of their work. This idea for reform has not gained much ground because no-one has yet figured out how to accomplish it without making it easy for people to see that 99% of the mulct ends up in the pockets of corporations rather than individual artists. Further reading: The nature of intellectual property in the mid-twentieth century
There is, as it happens, one reform of copyright that does make it possible to have a monopoly and cultural liberty. This is where individuals (persons born with liberty) are exempt from copyright, but corporations (artificial entities unethically recognised as persons by law) are not exempt. So, human beings enjoy their natural right to liberty, and corporations enjoy the monopoly they so enthusiastically lobby for.
Generally, copyright reform is a conceptual trap, a means of lumping together those who’d abolish copyright, with those who’d change or replace it, with those who’d extend and enhance it. Reform is always on the cards. The state will get round to listening to people’s concerns in due course – invariably producing legislation that panders to the concerns of the incumbent powers, not those of the subject populace, e.g. The UK’s Digital Economy Act
If you campaign for copyright reform, at best you campaign for nothing, but the status quo, at worst, for the ratcheting up of that which concerns you. Obviously, if you support copyright, ‘best’ and ‘worst’ should be interchanged.
S is for Software Freedom
Software engineers, notably Richard Stallman and the copyleft movement, have helped demonstrate that copyright is socially counter-productive and uneconomic – however lucrative to the few monopolists in a position to exploit it.
Unfortunately, copyleft has also created a perverse dogmatism that the privilege of copyright is necessary for software freedom. I try to present the arguments against this misunderstanding in Copyleft Without Coercion.
T is for Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine provides a good understanding of natural rights, and helps explain why privileges that annul natural rights in the majority (such as our right to copy) in order to leave them, by exclusion, in the hands of a few (copyright holders), are consequently instruments of injustice.
Also see Thomas Edison’s commendation The Philosophy of Paine
Tom Paine has almost no influence on present-day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, ‘the United States of America.’ But it is hardly strange. Paine’s teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind.
We never had a sounder intelligence in this Republic. He was the equal of Washington in making American liberty possible. Where Washington performed Paine devised and wrote. The deeds of one in the Weld were matched by the deeds of the other with his pen.
U is for University
Universities are supposed to produce and disseminate mankind’s knowledge, not to hoard and guard it, martyring those who would disseminate it – such as Aaron Swartz.
Are you really sure copyright encourages our learning?
V is for Value, not Vendetta
Value is subjective, but don’t confuse the value of the work with the value of the copy. Artistic work is typically expensive and highly skilled. Copies are typically so inexpensive and easily produced that machines can make them by the million.
Pay artists to produce art. Pay printers to produce prints. But for your liberty to make your own copies, pay copyright holders nothing but contempt.
If someone has copied you (without dishonesty/plagiarism), or is selling copies of your work, they are promoting you and to be praised, not to be punished or otherwise persecuted – however much power to do so you imagine copyright says you deserve. Value the contributions of others, don’t be vindictive against them, nor wage vendettas against those the demon of copyright is persuading you are unfairly profiting from your hard work.
W is for Work
Work does not constitute entitlement to payment. One must find those who want the work done, who would pay for it. Being paid for your work is about finding an agreeable, equitable exchange in a free market. Your right is to be at liberty to do so, not to abridge the liberty of others to do so – who may be paid to add value to your work or build upon it.
X is for Xerox
Xerox marked the spot at which making one’s own copies became cheaper than buying them, the moment at which the fate of the 18th century reproduction monopoly became sealed.
Y is for You
You are naturally at liberty to copy – that which you have found, that which you have been given, or that which you have bought. Your natural imperative is to share and build upon your own culture – to ignore copyright. Your natural power and right to copy is in your own hands. That you have been fooled to believe it is instead in the hands of a copyright holder is within your power to remedy. You must snap out of this delusion.
Z is for Zygote
The zygote is a clue that copying and derivation is so much a part of nature that it is essential for the progress of life itself. To copy is in our genes. To copy is human.
That a prohibition on copying, the abridgement of our liberty, is necessary for mankind’s learning and progress, is the lie of all monopolists corrupted by power, from Queen Anne and James Madison to The Estate of Martin Luther King.
Whereas slavery takes all liberties from a few, copyright takes a few liberties from us all.
Learn about liberty, your liberty to learn through copying, your cultural liberty.
The abolition movement continues…