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Key Arguments Against Copyright · Friday February 16, 2007 by Crosbie Fitch

What are the key arguments against copyright?

Copyright is not a right

Copyright is not a right, but a commercial privilege for the benefit of publishers (it’s simply initially assigned to the author – only a tiny minority of authors such as JK Rowling have sufficient funds to hire their own legal team to enforce it). Publishers are naturally keen to portray copyright as an author’s right, and the only source of income for an author (which is only true if the author only approaches publishers – rather than their audience directly).

An artist’s rights are human rights

Rights are inalienable and to be enjoyed by everyone. It is these rights that form the fundamental constraints against natural, lawless freedom.

Everyone has a right to life, privacy, truth, and liberty (in that order).

As constraints:

  • An artist should not produce art that directly endangers or impairs another’s life.
  • An artist should not invade or violate another’s privacy in order to produce art.
  • An artist should not impair truth in their art, e.g. misattribution, plagiarism, misrepresentation, libel, etc.
  • An artist should not otherwise constrain the liberty of anyone.

Copyright is unethical

It is not ethical to suspend the public’s freedom to enjoy, share, or build upon human culture, nor to grievously punish members of the public when they do assert their right to freedom.

A few commercial printers/publishers may have once willingly embraced copyright, but this cannot be extended to the public at large – even if everyone has now become a self-publisher.

Copyright unethically suspends artists’ rights in order to create a privilege for publishers

  1. Copyright impairs people’s lives by fines or imprisonment simply for the act of sharing/promoting published works of art.
  2. Copyright violates artists’ privacy by prohibiting them making copies or preparing derivative works of art in the privacy of their own homes.
  3. Copyright impairs truth by dissuading artists from crediting their influences for fear of being accused of copyright infringement.
  4. Copyright constrains the liberty of artists by preventing them publishing works that incorporate or build upon others (unless authorised).

Copyright is not necessary to artists or their audiences

Copyright may have been useful to publishers, but then publishers are no longer necessary.

GPL software is a thriving industry, and yet the GPL is effectively a nullification of copyright.

It is possible for an artist to sell their work directly to their audience – without needing to prohibit their audience against making copies or derivatives.

Copyright is no longer effective

Copyright only worked among a few publishers. When all people are also publishers, any attempt at enforcement is simply shooting fish – unlucky for the fish that get shot, but the fish population remains unaffected.

The Internet is an instantaneous diffusion device. You cannot control distribution, and yet copyright is supposed to enable exclusive distribution privileges.

To attempt to police the duplication of binary digits in the the digital domain is ridiculous.

Any more?

I’m bound to have missed some. Please let me know.

Steve R. said 4558 days ago :

Good statement:“Copyright is not a right, but a commercial privilege for the benefit of publishers”

Amanda Chapel said 4534 days ago :

You’re high.


Amanda Chapel
Managing Editor

David said 4348 days ago :

Keep em coming. I own a linux-box, and I know exactly where you’re coming from.

Henrik Magnusson said 4083 days ago :

So let me get this straight, if I have gotten this Anti-Copyright thing down, what it basically comes down to, is that you want to be able to take other peoples creations, and give it out, without any compensation to the creators, because you are either too cheap to pay for what they have made, or because you’re on some moral high horse that let’s you justificate stealing?

Crosbie Fitch said 4082 days ago :

Not at all. There is absolutely no justification for stealing someone else’s intellectual property.

The whole ‘anti-copyright thing’ is about emancipating those people who have purchased someone else’s IP to use it without constraint. Just as those people who have purchased someone else’s material property can use it without constraint.

If you purchase someone else’s chair, you are not constrained as to whether you use it to prop a door open, burn it for heating, turn it into a cricket bat and stumps, or use it as a model for producing five more dining chairs to make a set. Even with no constraint applying to chairs, there’s still no justification for stealing them.

Digital Productions is dedicated to the research and development of revenue mechanisms that operate without effective copyright. These provide compensation to creators of digital artworks who do not wish to use copyright to sue members of their audience. It is also worth exploring whether there is any ethical basis that should impel one artist to sue another for sharing or building upon their published work.

Project Champernowne said 3703 days ago :

I agree with the following statement:

“To attempt to police the duplication of binary digits in the the digital domain is ridiculous.”

I don’t need to download music. I demonstrated in the past (ca.1980,2000)that Champernowne’s Constant was a simple obvious source of all data, though not most useful and efficient. I can easily arrange millions of bits to create any sound, compress any song into 64 kilobytes, and even write small programs that fit on one screen to generate any “raw” data file which I have yet desired to do. Obviously the whole set of binary integers from all zeroes to all ones is public domain. My programs evolved to the point where they can even output data without even storing (a copy of) it, instead by serially calculating output to a speaker or line printer.

Anthony said 1919 days ago :

I too am against the copyright laws currently being enforced, and agree with these statement as, jaded, biased, opinions. As ineffective as copyright is, you don’t offer up any facts to back your opinions, which lets be honest most people don’t care about. Demonstrating statistics, or talking about the actual laws would also help, you fucking moron. I gaurentee, if you were to bring this case, these justifications before a judge, he would actually laugh at you, you cant make a serious argument with only subjective facts.

Richard said 1819 days ago :

I have found that people who put up these arguments against copyright etc. are usually nothing more than cheap lowlifes who have nothing to contribute to society and they therefore think that they should be able to have everything for free.
None of your points are valid. Why should you care about copyright? You want to make yourself feel better about stealing other peoples’ hard work?

I have much to say to the world through music but it costs a lot of money to produce and get that music out there and without protection it would be a free for all and I would have no way to help recover some of the costs of production, which by the way, keeps a lot of people employed and off of the street and out of food lines.
Go and create something of your own, if you are able, instead of trying to convince others that stealing is ok.




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