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Copyleft vs CopyZeroFriction · Thursday June 04, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

I’m obliged by Lucas Gonze to reappraise CC0 having read his blog article entitled advocacy for CC 0 over BY-SA which responded to Victor Stone’s article Consider: Zero.

I think we’re seeing the crossover of friction vs constraint between software and other art.

The GPL is a license that restores liberty to the public (otherwise suspended by copyright and patent), albeit at the expense of friction (easily surmountable by coders used to it). CC-SA is somewhat similar.

The CC0 is a license/waiver that unencumbers the art from constraint by the author’s copyright, and friction due to (well intentioned) licensing conditions, albeit at the expense of not being able to liberate anyone apart from the immediate users. It may be that opprobrium will be enough to prevent derivatives of CC0 works from being re-encumbered with copyright.

There is a similar issue (and confusion) between manumission and laissez faire between the GPL and BSD licenses (as between CC-SA and CC0). The GPL is actually freer (in restoring more people’s liberty), whereas the BSD is least encumbered by licensing conditions (the licensee is free to suspend others’ liberty).

There is a FAQ for the CC0.

It is disheartening that in conflating legal rights (privileges) and natural rights (moral rights, etc.) CC is giving ‘rights’ a bad name by suggesting that CC0 is a way of surrendering/unreserving as many rights as possible, as if this was a worthy aspiration. It compounds this insinuation by saying that in some jurisdictions it is difficult or impossible for some rights to be waived or licensed. That’s because they are natural and inalienable rights, not commercial privileges!

As I’ve often said before. Artists should surrender none of their rights. They should divest themselves only of their privileges, and by so doing restore the public’s rights their privileges would otherwise annul. Rights are good (natural rights and derivatives), privileges are bad (copyright and patent).

Copyright (via CC license) may provide a holder with the apparent ability to demand attribution, but there is no natural right to it. What there is a natural right to is truth, and thus a right against misattribution. Lawrence Lessig created this confusion in the first place, and now people who are relinquishing their privilege to demand attribution will assume they are also relinquishing the right not to be misattributed.

Somehow I suspect CC has a hidden agenda in conflating the privilege of copyright (and all the ‘legal rights’ it engenders) with inalienable, natural rights, i.e. that it wishes to cement the popular delusion that copyright is a natural right, in order to facilitate legislation that secures it as if a natural right (making infringement a crime). To thus provide liberal licenses/waivers with one hand whilst reinforcing the privilege as if a right with the other hand is crypto-IP-maximalism.

Copyleft Is Not Enough · Thursday June 11, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

There are always those in pursuit of power who will corrupt the meaning of freedom toward that end.

I am dismayed to read an example of this corruption in a comment by Thomas Lord as blogged by Michel Bauwens in Why We Need Free Network Services, and not just Copyleft.

Freedom is not about having power over someone else (or what someone else has), it’s about oneself (and one’s possessions) being free of someone else’s power.

Copyright and patent are privileges that give holders power over others (and what they may or may not do with their possessions). Copyleft is about restoring the individual’s freedoms suspended by these privileges. Copyleft is not about giving the author, recipient or user of software, power over others or others’ computers.

There is admittedly a misguided movement in pursuit of that end (qv Affero), but instead of corrupting the meaning of the term ‘freedom’ they’d be more honest to label the power they covet as a privilege: to control others’ computers upon which certain software runs and to place constraints and obligations upon the owners of those computers. The means of simulating such a privilege may well be found within the privilege of copyright, but simply because a license that obtains a specific power operates in a similar way to copyleft doesn’t make such a license wholly ethical or solely a pursuit of freedom rather than freedom+power. And the argument that the power sought is ethical because it is socially beneficial is the same as the one used about the power to prevent copying.

In general, simply prefixing a power with ‘freedom to’ doesn’t mean the would be recipient of that power has a natural right to it. This is one of the problems with the term ‘freedom’, it can be abused as a carte blanche entitlement to power, e.g. “I should have the freedom to control the software I run even if it runs on your computer” should actually be read as “I should have the power to control the software I run even if it runs on your computer”. Sadly, ‘freedom’ can be used as a weasel word.

If the term ‘freedom’ is going to be used ethically it should be used to indicate the seeking of escape from someone else’s unnatural power, not to indicate the pursuit of unnatural power over someone else. We often see this when people suggest the BSD is freer than the GPL, e.g. “Unlike the GPL, the BSD license permits me the freedom to re-apply copyright to my derivatives, which is the power to prevent you making copies.”

So, if we don’t start looking a little more deeply into what is meant by ‘freedom’ (escape from another’s privilege) we might as well redescribe copyright in the same corrupt language, e.g. “I should have the freedom to prevent the reproduction and public performance of my original work by those to whom I distribute it”. And, unfortunately, there are many people who would see nothing wrong with granting such privilege, nor anything jarring in the use of the term ‘freedom to’ in place of ‘power to’.

You should be free to do what you are naturally free to do, which is that which you would be free to do but for unnatural privileges granted to others that suspend that freedom. In other words, you should be free from another’s unnatural power over you. For example, you may be prevented from operating someone else’s computer not by any unnatural power they have in the form of a state granted monopoly, but by their natural right to privacy. To seek freedom from someone else’s privilege is the ethical pursuit of liberty, to seek freedom to do something that is prevented by another’s natural right is to seek privilege, and is the unethical pursuit of unnatural power.

But, back to the title of the article. I agree that copyleft is not enough, but what is deficient about it is not its inability to give the individual more power to control the software they use and the computers it’s run on, but its inability to restore the public’s freedom from copyright and patent completely. To completely restore the public’s liberty requires more than a copyleft license, it requires abolition. It requires that those privileges of copyright and patent are abolished.

  • If you don’t want someone else to be able to make copies of your work then don’t give it to them.
  • If you want to control the software that you use or the computer upon which it is run then run it on your own computer.

You don’t need, and shouldn’t have, any unnatural power to control someone else or stipulate what they can or cannot do with their own property.

yungchin said 4150 days ago :

I agree with your point that Affero licensing does not extend a natural right – I had never given this enough thought, quite interesting!

However, when you then go on and completely abolish copyright, doesn’t that create a very big problem with any sort of network service? If I store my data with them, I’ve given them a copy, but because there’s no concept of ownership for the copy, it’s now their data, not mine. I guess that would mean we wouldn’t have too many online services in such a world.

I guess a lot of innovative services would have been lost on us, or?

Crosbie Fitch said 4150 days ago :

Data or intellectual work belongs to its natural possessor, i.e. barring theft or other privacy violation. So if you convey a copy of your data to someone, they own that data. That doesn’t interfere with your rights to the data you possess. Naturally, you cannot control what another person does with the information you give to them. However, they are still precluded from falsehood, e.g. claiming you are married if in fact you are not, etc.

When it comes to network services and personal data we need to be very clear whether we are attempting to control individuals (unnecessarily interfering with their liberty) or whether we are in fact regulating corporations treatment of that data and their obligations to adhere to their privacy policy (maintaining confidentiality) and to make transparent any software they’re using should it be critical to the protection of individuals’ rights.

Being immortal, corporations can be regulated until the pips squeak. Such regulation is necessary to protect individuals against the sociopathic depredations of immortal entities whose primary objective is profit.

The problem with the Affero license is that while it could be seen as an attempt to regulate corporations’ provision of network services, because it is based upon copyright it applies to individuals as much as corporations and thus interferes with an individual’s right to privacy. Copyright should instead simply be neutralised with a copyleft license, and any regulation requiring corporations to disclose their software should only apply to corporations and only in those situations where the corporation could be seen to be antisocial, e.g. providing free services in order to entrap users and exploit their dependency.

drew Roberts said 4002 days ago :

Could it be that Affero is the sort of thing that can make things better so long as we have copyrights in force and especially automatic ones?

I get that you don’t buy copyrights at all…

Crosbie Fitch said 4002 days ago :

The GPL attempts to neutralise the unethical constraint of copyright on an individual’s natural liberty to make copies of works in their possession.

The Affero attempts to neutralise the ethical constraint of one individual’s natural right to privacy against another’s wish to seize copies of their unpublished work.

Consequently, the Affero license is unethical, an instrument of injustice.

If you covet someone’s unpublished work then offer to purchase it, don’t attempt to use unnatural privileges to seize it.

Some people with a utilitarian perspective may believe all developers of software (publicly distributed/utilised) should be forced to publish their source code. However, the principle of natural rights recognises an individual’s natural right to privacy. You can regulate corporations to disclose source, but do not attempt that upon an individual.

drew Roberts said 4001 days ago :

I figured roughly what your reply would be and I was roughly correct, but you do not actually address my question.

Would you kindly try again?

all the best,

drew

Crosbie Fitch said 4001 days ago :

Yes, I know I didn’t answer your question. It is not particularly answerable.

Nuclear fission can provide a power source that can make things better, but it can also be used for ill.

In a similar sense, Affero is the use of an unethical privilege that is not guarded to prevent abuse against individuals. Some may feel (as Boromir) that an unethical weapon in the right hands can be used to a good end.

So I’d advise that the ring of copyright should be thrown into Mount Doom, and if not, corruption will ultimately befall those who attempt to wield its corrupt power. Others may feel that its power could be used to restrain the predations of immortal corporations, and for a while it might.

Even today people still think that unadulterated copyright is a weapon designed for an author to defend themselves against unfair exploitation by publishing corporations (though it is quite the opposite).

The GPL is a neutralisation, but the Affero is a chink that has been re-opened by those unwise soldiers who feel just a little bit of power might be put to good use.

If you want a plain answer: no, even whilst copyright remains enacted, the Affero clause is unethical. However, it could be made safe by making it applicable only to corporations, but then they would simply use a human shield. So, really it’s best to simply abandon Affero entirely.

It’s best to start thinking entirely without copyright, learning to live without the illusion of its supernatural powers (that can be effectively wielded only by corporations).

The Copyright Bubble · Monday January 11, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Free software engineers have been one of the largest sectors (in the industry of intellectual work) to grok the iniquity of the 18th century privileges of copyright and patent a few decades ago (and contrive a partial remedy), but every day more and more geeks are ‘getting it’. More and more people are realising that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, realising that an unnatural monopoly that criminalises the cultural and technological exchange that has come naturally to people for aeons, indeed has been critical for mankind’s cultural and technological development, cannot be as good as people have been brought up to believe.

Here’s a recent “Copyright is our liberty!” qua ‘Soylent Green is People!’ revelation from a commenter on Slashdot (Hat tip p2pnet):

The Copyright Bubble

by girlintraining on 17:29 09 January 2010 (#30708172)

I’ve posted most of this before on slashdot; This is just a cleanup of previous posts — it has details of why the ACTA is secret.

A Private War

I used to read stuff like this and get upset. But then I realized that my entire generation knows it’s baloney. They can’t explain it intellectually. They have no real understanding of the subtleties of the law, or arguments about artists’ rights or any of that. All they really understand is there is are large corporations charging private citizens tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, for downloading a few songs here and there. And it’s intuitively obvious that it can’t possibly be worth that.

An entire generation has disregarded copyright law. It doesn’t matter whether copyright is useful or not anymore. They could release attack dogs and black helicopters and it wouldn’t really change people’s attitudes. It won’t matter how many websites they shut down or how many lives they ruin, they’ve already lost the culture war because they pushed too hard and alienated people wholesale. The only thing these corporations can do now is shift the costs to the government and other corporations under color of law in a desperate bid for relevance. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.

What does this mean for the average person? It means that we google and float around to an ever-changing landscape of sites. We communicate by word of mouth via e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking sites where the latest fix of free movies, music, and games are. If you don’t make enough money to participate in the artificial marketplace of entertainment goods — you don’t exclude yourself from it, you go to the grey market instead. All the technological, legal, and philosophical barriers in the world amount to nothing. There is a small core of people that understand the implications of what these interests are doing and continually search for ways to liberate their goods and services for “sale” on the grey market. It is (economically and politically) identical to the Prohibition except that instead of smuggling liquor we are smuggling digital files.

Billions have been spent combating a singularily simple idea that was spawned thirty years ago by a bunch of socially-inept disaffected teenagers working out of their garages: Information wants to be free. Except information has no wants — it’s the people who want to be free. And while we can change attitudes about smoking with aggressive media campaigns, or convince them to cast their votes for a certain candidate, selling people on goods and services they don’t really need, what we cannot change is the foundations upon which a generation has built a new society out of.

Culture Connection

Just as we have physical connections to each other, we now have digital connections to one another. These connections actively resist attempts at control because it impedes the development and nature of the relationships we have with one another. People naturally seek the methods which give them the greatest freedom to express themselves to each other. That is a force of nature (ours, specifically) that has evolved out of our interconnectedness. Copyright law has been twisted to serve as a bulwark against the logical result of increasing social interconnectedness between people and computers: Access an ever-increasing amount of humanity’s history, knowledge, and culture. Ultimately, this is a battle they cannot win — they can only delay, building dams and locks to stem the tide, but they will fail. It’s how, when, and where it fails that will decide the fate of economies worldwide.

Every law advantages one group while disadvantaging another. And every engine, be it physical or social, functions because an energy imbalance exists and by moving energy from one potential to another, we can skim some off to do useful work. Laws work the same way — by creating artificial differences between groups of people, society produces goods and services. This is why we will always have new Prohibitions. It’s not a comfortable or politically correct thing to admit, that for societies to function there must necessarily be inequality between people. It is nonetheless true.

This is not a reason to give up hope or be cynical! We are in the middle of a social revolution that has few outward signs. Unlike generations past, the revolution that is happening now exists in fragmentary communications by a collectivistic movement that lacks any real core. It has been created by an unspoken understanding between its participants. That is to say, the participants of the digital community to varying degrees develop the same coping mechanisms to frame their understanding of this environment. These coping mechanisms develop into ideas and beliefs that we then form the basis of our interactions with other members. Put another way, these coping strategies that we interpose between ourselves and our environment form the basis of culture. The interesting part is, this change occurred without any indoctrination or central leadership to accomplish. Mere exposure to the environment alone seems to predispose people to a certain kind of thinking that cuts across barriers of country, culture, sex, and race.

There are no real leaders for the digital culture, yet the culture is there. This is unprecidented. There are very, very few social movements that organize around principals instead of individuals who exemplify those ideals. Whether you live in Iran or America, Africa or Europe, the same values systems are spontaniously developing in reaction to exposure to the digital environment. And while the state of the art has advanced at an incredible rate, our methods of understanding and interacting within the new social spaces created by that aren’t changing that much. It’s a stable environment evolving at rate sufficiently slow to allow culture to form.

That, in and of itself, is amazing. Forget copyright for a moment and consider all the other social advances that are taking place because of our digital interconnectedness — and then realize that there are only a very few friction points in this revolution! That is also unprecidented in modern history.

The Bubble

Copyright won’t end anytime soon, but I’m suggesting we look at the fundamentals here: it is an artificial construct within the digital environment. It’s something we built extraneous to it, and in fact is antagonistic to it. The exchange of information is fundamental to the existance of the internet. Copyright is not. Copyright is an institution, like marriage, the church, the government, etc. Like those things, it has a maintenance cost. It is a coping mechanism. That’s not a judgement on its sustainability nor its justification for existance (or lack thereof).

Copyright is an institution and like all social institutions remain in existance only for as long as its members continue to support it. There is a substantial and growing number of digital identities (people, organizations, projects, etc.) that exist outside of that institution. Why? Because information is very, very cheap to replicate. Production of that information however can vary in cost. Everybody agrees that there must be some compensatory mechanism, however artificial, to reimburse people for the effort invested in the production of the goods and services that copyright protects. If there is no protection at all, many staples of modern life cease to exist. This is the loci of why copyright exists.

The cost to society now outweighs the benefits and we exist within a market bubble right now: A copyright bubble. Large corporations and governments alike have bought into it and driven up its cost. Like any market-driven force however, it will eventually return to equilibrium. We had the dot com bubble, and the housing bubble, but that’s nothing compared to what’s going on right now — we lost billions when that one burst. We stand to lose trillions when this one does. And, ironically, it will be burst by the very forces that businesses are embracing right now — labor capital in the third world.

Which is exactly why, right now, governments around the world are drafting a copyright treaty between themselves in secret. They know that as soon as the lesser-developed countries have come forward a bit more infrastructurally, they’ll be at a point where they can leverage a free flow of history, ideas, and information to dramatically improve their economies. Just as plans for the machinery that powered the industrial revolution was witheld from countries that didn’t have it, so too have the tools to begin the information revolution been witheld.

Let’s face it — less developed countries are not going to pay licensing costs and fork over the money circulating in their economy back to us: They’re going to pour it back into modernization of their own economies. The only way they can do that is by asserting sovereignty and independence from the global copyright framework being developed. That’s why there’s such a push right now to lock them out if they don’t join in the global copyright racket. If this effort fails, the bubble will burst and trillions of dollars will drain out of the economies of the western world like someone pulled the plug out of the bathtub, because the marketplace will be much, much bigger. That’s why if you ask for copies of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the government will tell you it’s unavailable for reasons of national security. But you don’t need to have the text to know what it intends to do.

The chinese are already producing very cheap material goods. What do you think’s going to happen when they start producing very cheap services as well? Nobody’s going to pay $400 for an operating system; Not when the Chinese have their own that sells for $5 each on a DVD. They have more honor students than we have students — and each will work for dollars a day.

Steve R. said 3916 days ago :

Very eloquent narrative.

You wrote on “Against Monopoly” as an illustrative comment that: “The problem with trademark is that holders overreach its purpose to prevent confusion and deceit, and attempt to claim exclusive use of their mark in all contexts.” While the narrative above is not limited to trademark; trademark is only one of many examples were content creators have aggrandized the use so-called intellectual property laws to claim exclusive control even to the point of restricting post-sale use.

Furthermore, the “proof” for infringement seems to increasingly short circuit the legal process itself and the penalty for “infringement” is becoming ever more onerous. A legal system that works only to benefit one segment of society will eventually implode.

Crosbie Fitch said 3916 days ago :

Copyright works only to benefit immortal corporations (evidenced by the immortal span of copyright).

What’s more, corporations aren’t even a segment of society, they’re a legally created golem, a charismatic psychopath with the creator’s mission to ‘profit at all costs’. Human directors are actually prosecuted if they deviate from this mission. So, there’s no point looking to any lesser staff to make the organisation more socially considerate or humane. Any appearance of such humanity is simply a PR strategy – and it fools far too many inside and out.

So it’s not surprising that corporations collaborate in common pursuit of ever greater powers to obtain ever greater profits. That includes overreaching trademark, copyright, patent, or anything else that comprises a grant of unnatural power, especially over people. People are cattle (consumers) to be exploited by corporations.

The solution is obvious. Abolish unnatural privileges and pull the plug on corporate personhood. Change corporations into associations of individuals with collective responsibility for whatever objective they agree to pursue.

Unfortunately, it’s going to require a lot more social depredation on the part of corporations before people are roused into realising such a solution is needed.

Corporate totalitarianism here we come.

In Whose Interest Is Copyright? · Friday March 12, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

It is sad that so many persist in thinking that copyright is a right created for the author, and a right that belongs to the author. It should be strange that it must be created for them, and very strange that they can sign it away.

As everyone should know, rights are not created – we are born with them. Privileges are created – through the derogation of the rights we already have. These privileges are like rights, but they are created through legislation, hence lawyers prefer to term them ‘legally granted rights’, ‘legal rights’, or simply ‘rights’. Because (thanks largely to copyright lawyers) the latter usage has now almost superseded the original, natural meaning of right (much to copyright holders’ pleasure), too many people use the word ‘right’ interchangeably without realising that right qua privilege is completely antagonistic to right qua right.

Now that people are twigging that something is going fundamentally awry with respect to children being sued millions for file-sharing and copyright considered a fundamental right of the artist (that prevents them starving), it’s more important than ever to resurrect the distinction between a (natural) right and a ‘right’ (crown privilege). We cannot continue to use a homophone for both.

Copyright is called ‘copyright’ because it is the suspension of the people’s right to copy, in order to reserve it into the hands of those privileged with it, who hold that privilege, hence ‘copyright holders’. We have Queen Anne to thank for granting the privilege.

For a little history concerning who copyright was created for (neither the author, nor the encouragement of learning) I’ll hand you over to Karl Fogel. Copyright actually discourages learning by impeding the free flow of ideas and communication of knowledge, because I would normally be committing copyright infringement in order to present an extract from his Question Copyright website:

Around 1700, political changes caused the government to loosen its control over the press. No longer desiring strong censorship, the government decided to allow the Stationers' monopoly to expire. This was a direct economic threat to the Stationers' monopoly-based livelihood, and they responded by proposing a compromise: they argued that authors have a "natural right" of ownership in their works, and that furthermore this right could be transferred to others by contract. The placement of original ownership with the author was a smart political ploy, by which the Stationers avoided charges that they were attempting to resurrect the old (and unpopular) monopoly mechanisms. But the stipulation that these new copyrights were a form of property, and therefore transferrable, showed the real motive behind their proposal. The Stationers correctly foresaw that authors would need to transfer copyright to a publisher as an inducement to print, and that therefore the publishers' position would about the same as it had been before. Indeed, their hand would be strengthened, because now the exclusive "ownership" of a work would now be based on well-established property law, instead of the temporary whim of the government.

The Stationers managed to persuade Parliament, and the result was the Statute of Anne: a copyright law created by the publishing industry, for the benefit of the publishing industry, and modeled on a defunct censorship system. The closest the Stationers ever came to talking about copyright's benefit to society was in arguing that they could not afford to print books (and thus encourage authors to write books) without protection against competition. Why books were to be considered different from other kinds of goods was never satisfactorily explained — one is left with the distinct impression of a monopoly-softened trade group in a panic at suddenly being asked to survive without special protections.

All this is a far cry from what the copyright lobby wants you to believe. There was no uprising of writers, clamoring counterintuitively for the right to prevent people from copying their works. The writers themselves never really participated in the debate around the creation of copyright. The argument was crafted and presented by publishers.

Copyright is not about subsidizing creators, it is about subsidizing distributors.

For further reading I highly recommend “The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World” by the same author.

Constructively Criticising Copyright · Tuesday April 20, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

I post this here, because ORG’s Jim Killock finds my comment below too offensive to permit to appear beneath his recent blog item entitled When Copyright Goes Bad

Copyright isn’t going bad – it’s always been bad, ever since the privilege was granted to the Stationers’ Guild by Queen Anne in 1710.

What’s going on is that more and more people are discovering that their natural liberty to share and build upon their own culture has been suspended by an iniquitous 18th century anachronism.

It seems ORG doesn’t mind comment as long as it’s ‘on message’, i.e. remains in accord with ORG’s support for copyright. A rather peculiar policy…

Update 22 Apr 2010 · 1:53pm

As Ibutton77 kindly brings to my attention, ORG has now relented and permitted my comment to appear. Whether their embargo of my comment would ever have been lifted had I not blogged my comment here is open to conjecture, but a discriminatory embargo isn’t much better than discriminatory ‘moderation’.

SteelWolf said 3841 days ago :

It’s unfortunate that organizations like this are so enamored by the institution that perpetrates the very grievances they fight against.

The idea that “IP” is inherently a good thing is never questioned, despite the horrendous mess it has become. Rather than fixing the real problem, they want to minimize the symptoms through reform or limitation. I think such a strategy has even less of a chance of working in the long run than outright elimination.

Crosbie Fitch said 3841 days ago :

The Pirate Party suffers from it too. It’s a sacrifice of principle in pursuit of membership. If such organisations perceive popular support for copyright simultaneously with popular outcry against its enforcement, then they believe they too must engage in such doublethink. They must shun the ‘extremists’ in order to focus discussion on reaching a prophesized balance between the interests of publishing corporations in enforcement and the interests of individual copyright aspirants in one day enjoying their privilege (as all hope for stardom).

The Pirate Party UK has now excluded me from access to my discussions critical of copyright on their forums (unless I pay to become a member of a party whose support for copyright I object to). ORG has ejected me from their discussion list, censured me on their web based forums, and informs me my comments are not welcome on their blog articles.

It’s not very inspiring is it?

Even Nina Paley notices the stigma against copyright abolitionism:

“I’m now artist-in-residence at QuestionCopyright.org, and do what I can to promote alternatives to copyright. (Actually I’m a copyright abolitionist, but many find that identification unpalatable.)”
AgainstMonopoly.org

If the likes of PPUK and ORG try to play down or suppress the existence of abolitionists and the natural rights argument against copyright, are they really demonstrating they will act in the best interests of the public they court?

Even lawyers have led a sheltered life in this respect – see
‘Copyright Abolitionists’ Fight for Freedom-Based Distribution of Artistic Work

Ibutton77 said 3840 days ago :

Bwaha, you’re comment is showing at their article presently. It claims circa 10:36am.

Now how do we get your blog to display time in addition to date, demonstrating you posted this before they let your posting through on that end? ;3

I would very much like to know what prompts Lawrence Lessig to cling to his middle-ground stance. I have heard him say on many occasions that reform is good and abolition is bad. He seems eager to present a strong foundation for his case against (strong) copyright, just as we do, however I want to know what his specific argument is against abolition.

Do you guys happen to know if he’s gone about clarifying that anywhere yet?

Steve R. said 3839 days ago :

@SteelWolf: The reason why the validity of “IP” is never questioned is because in the US you are “born” with it. Not “born” in the literal sense, but burned into your mind as part of one’s education. The concept behind “IP” is really quite simple and carries significant moral/ethical weight. Don’t artists deserve some sort of limited “protection” for creativity? Even I wouldn’t argue against that.

However, over the years, “IP” has morphed into a demon that now threatens our liberties. As you begin to observe and be affected by this increasingly onerous demon; the light bulb in your head finally goes off and you get around to asking the question concerning the validity of “IP”.

Since the video clip was made by experts in the field, this issue should have been further explored. In fact, I would say that this is a major shortcoming in the fight against oppressive “IP”. It leaves those favoring so-called “IP” with popular support that “IP” is a real property right that must be protected. The reality is that the thieves are the those asserting “IP” ownership since they are depriving the public of their rights. The public must be made aware of this.

Crosbie Fitch said 3839 days ago :

Ibutton77, as for Lawrence Lessig, given the extent of his career in law I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees law as an unimpeachably virtuous institution, and any social problems it causes as perfectly amenable to legal solution, i.e. in copyright’s case, Creative Commons licenses. I suggest that he is therefore a wholly committed advocate of copyright and supports the notion that an author should have the privilege of determining how their work may be communicated or exploited by society (despite the fact the privilege was created for the press).

So to copyright advocates, copyright abolition is pretty much heresy, and to support the proposition that copyright is an unconstitutional instrument of injustice would be akin to the apostasy of confessing to the pope’s fallibility and conceding that the Earth orbits the Sun.

As I said on his blog “If there’s any man who will have done more than any other to prolong the lifespan of copyright legislation more than a century beyond its 200 year use by date (1910) by popularising its use by impotent self-publishers, it’s Lawrence Lessig.”

Without Creative Commons, there’d be far less respect for copyright (see Creative Commons consolidates old-school copyright?). So it’s really just postponed the build up of social pressure for ‘something to be done’ about copyright. Perversely, the publishing corporations are doing an excellent job at stoking the furnace with ACTA, and the draconian copyright enforcement legislation it is intended to spawn, such as the UK’s Digital Economy Act. So, it is ACTA we can look to as a spur to copyright’s inexorable abolition.

As for how Lawrence Lessig prefers to argue against abolition, see Lawrence Lessig warns against abolishing copyright for an example. No doubt his argument has improved since 2008.

For comparison also check out William Patry’s book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars and a video presentation (W.Patry is someone else who developed a ‘Don’t publish Crosbie’s comments any more’ policy).

Crosbie Fitch said 3839 days ago :

Steve R, I’d readily agree that a great proportion of popular support for copyright and patent derives almost entirely from indoctrination. That’s why we get such unfounded justifications for it, e.g. “Creators deserve the reward of a monopoly: for their gift to mankind, and as an incentive to others’ creativity” and “To sell a copy is to sell another’s work, to steal the fruits of another’s labour”.

Monkey D. Luffy said 3833 days ago :

Considering how pervasive the pro copyright arguments are, even to the point where some claim it needs to be extended longer than it already is, I don’t understand why argument in favor of abolishing it is so frowned apon as to be banished from the debate by some copyright reform advocates. If nothing else, taking that off the table in the copyright debate is a terrible tactic. Look at the opposition – ACTA, DMCA, U.K. Digital Economy Bill, the pro copyright “as is” crowed has shown no lack of aggression. Even if an organization such as PPUK favours reform rather than abolition it should not stifle argument from people favouring abolition, if anything it should telling the whole pro ACTA Digital Economy Bill, three strikes side that if that is where they insist on going(which they are) then they (PPUK) will cease trying to compromise on copyright and push for an all out ban. The pro copyright people bring all their weapons to the table, the reform crowed should do likewise.

Crosbie Fitch said 3833 days ago :

Monkey, I see maximalism as aggression, reform as appeasement, and abolition as principled, but then perhaps I would…

I think reform organisations have given up hope (if they ever had it) of persuading the populace that copyright isn’t actually an individual’s right, but a privilege intended for the press. They focus on making enforcement a little more humane, if not more rigorously applied (instead of infringement being assumed, and innocence a matter for the infringer to prove).

Far more people need to question copyright – fundamentally.

Crosbie Fitch said 3832 days ago :

See Can Copyright Be Saved? for another example of people with the strange notion that the way to preserve a privilege is to prevent its detractors having the opportunity to raise arguments against it.

I’m referring in particular to Rick’s comment in which he requests: “Hey moderator! Can we please NOT have any more posts from C. Fitch?”

Jassmonsteret said 3832 days ago :

Hi, I’ve been reading this blog for a while and started questioning copyright myself as a result.

“What’s going on is that more and more people are discovering that their natural liberty to share and build upon their own culture has been suspended by an iniquitous 18th century anachronism.”

I have two objections, first, who’s to say that what’s natural is what is good? Or that when something is natural, it is the right thing to do?
The second one is that you claim copying a right we are born with. I think that we are not really born with any rights, just as we are not born with any language, but that we agree that we are born with them.

Crosbie Fitch said 3832 days ago :

Jassmonsteret, I suggest you search the web to consider and compare diverse explanations of natural law and natural rights (and criticisms thereof).

Primarily focussed in the digital realm, I exhort the restoration of the individual’s natural rights concerning the possession, creation, communication and exchange of intellectual work, through the abolition of the privileges that derogate from them (copyright and patent). I enumerate natural rights as: Life, Privacy, Truth, and Liberty. They are the innate needs, powers and imperatives of human beings if considered as equals in a harmonious community. Inegalitarian states can grant greater powers and privileges, but then these are not natural, and are, as Paine says, instruments of injustice.

For further reading I’d suggest The Ethics of Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

There’s always The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

Unravelling the Threads of the Copyright that Entangles us · Friday September 17, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

John Bennett in First (free speech) amendment trumps copyright reflects on Mike Masnick’s observation that certain parts of the Emperor’s modesty may be visible from certain angles:

Mike Masnick takes up the question of the conflict between copyright and freedom of expression link here. I have to admit it came as a revelation to me. Is there any way to argue that copyright doesn’t limit one’s freedom of expression? If you think it does as I now do, then your argument conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution which says “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech….”

This provision clearly conflicts with Article 1 Section 8 which gives Congress the power “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;….”

I am no lawyer, but since the first amendment was passed on March 4, 1789 after the Constitution was ratified on September 25, 1789, it would logically override that part giving Congress such power (for dates link here). Of course, there is never any certainty about how the Supreme Court may decide an issue.

Mike recommends a book which I haven’t read yet, but his statement is pretty strong. He says David Lange and Jefferson Powell, the authors of No Law, “spend the first half making the compelling and detailed (if densely written) case that copyright law absolutely violates the First Amendment.” They apparently backslide in the second half.

I do take personal exception to Mike’s comments on the State Department officials toadying to the IP interests. As a middle aged and fairly senior diplomat, I had to try to enforce our IP agreements with the Korean government. I had no option to express an opinion, but instead was told to enforce what I was told was the law.

I reply:

John, as you’ll see in the comments to that article, I argue that there is no conflict whatsoever between the 1st amendment and the clause empowering the securing of an author’s exclusive right to their writings.

The problem is between the unconstitutional legislation of copyright (re-enacting the Statute of Anne in 1790) and the individual’s natural freedom of speech and cultural liberty – from which the natural right to copy was derogated (to grant the privilege of copyright).

Natural rights do not conflict with natural rights. You can have no freedom to speak that which you do not know, nor liberty to make copies of that which you do not have. If an author can naturally exclude you from their writings then they can naturally exclude you from copying them. Such are the natural rights that a government is empowered to secure.

Copyright is nothing to do with such a natural right, it is not even the securing of such. Copyright is the holder’s privilege to prohibit people who have been GIVEN writings, from making copies of what is in their own, legitimate possession – a diminution of their private property comparable to a burglar’s vandalism and so a form of theft.

  • Copyright is theft.
  • Cultural liberty is copyright infringement.

The doublethink to the contrary (copyright encourages speech, infringement is theft) is so Orwellian purchasers didn’t even blink when copies of his books in ‘electronic’ form were ‘unpublished’ from their private possession due to a copyright licensing issue.

Copyright indoctrination is now so ingrained it constitutes hypnotism or brain damage. And as with subjects of hypnosis, inherent conflicts in what one ‘knows’ to be incontrovertible are impossible to resolve – until the hypnosis is undone, until the indoctrination is deprogrammed.

But for people to confront the possibility that copyright is as much an ethical offence against human rights as slavery1 is so terrifying, that “No! Copyright must be good. Copyright is good!” snaps people back to the comfort of their programming.

________________________________

1 Whereas slavery suspends all liberties from a few, copyright suspends a few liberties from all.

Laurel L. Russwurm said 3664 days ago :

“The doublethink to the contrary (copyright encourages speech, infringement is theft) is so Orwellian purchasers didn’t even blink when copies of his books in ‘electronic’ form were ‘unpublished’ from their private possession due to a copyright licensing issue.”

As I understand it, it wasn’t just Mr. Orwell’s ‘1984’ which was removed from the possession of purchasers, it was also their notes made on the Kindle as well. The removal of those notes from the Kindles of the people who wrote them ought to at least qualify as copyright infringement under the existing law.

It may actually qualify as theft since the notes were not merely copies, but removed and destroyed.

Crosbie Fitch said 3664 days ago :

The removal of notes is indeed theft – a violation of the individual’s privacy.

No doubt copyright, in being an intrinsic privacy violation through its prohibition of private copies and derivatives, would be argued to sanction seizure of the notes as unauthorised derivatives – without warrant.

This is the problem when wealthy and immortal corporations can use privileges against relatively poor mortals. No victim can afford to demonstrate that their natural rights should supersede mere commercial privilege, but then this is the definition of a privilege: law that annuls a right in the majority, to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – an instrument of injustice.

Copyright supporters would fatuously point out that things are fair because the note takers also have copyright available to them in that (if they can afford it) they can sue Amazon if they reproduce their notes.

It’s time people stopped believing in privilege, and recognised the rights to privacy and liberty they were born with. Indeed, much of copyright’s power comes from people’s erroneous belief in it as a fundamental right.

More than one Madison Confused by Copyright · Thursday September 23, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

In Moral Rights, Endowment Effects, and Things in Copyright Mike Madison exhibits a fair amount of confusion concerning the difference between a privilege such as copyright and moral rights. So, I’ll explain…

It is pretty straightforward.

There are privileges concerning intellectual works, and there are (natural) rights concerning intellectual works.

Copyright is a privilege granted for the benefit of the press (necessarily arising in each original work – a work that involves no copy).

Moral rights refer to the (natural) rights pertaining to an intellectual work and its use.

Unfortunately, in many jurisdictions the understanding of moral rights has been infected by the unnatural aspects of copyright and thus takes up a more proprietary aspect.

For example, instead of a moral right to integrity being a correctly understood as a matter of truth (that a work presented as the author’s is indeed the unadulterated work of the author), it is improperly taken to mean that an author has the power to veto any modifications or derivatives they feel to be insulting to their work or reputation.

In being indoctrinated to believe copyright is a right, people are then confused when confronted with a natural right. For example, people wonder how an author can have a perpetual right to identify themselves as the author of their work when they can only prevent copies of their work for a century or so. This is because the natural right to truth is inviolable and belongs to all, not just the author. Whereas, the privilege of suspending everyone’s right to copy is granted at law and thus arbitrarily limited. Authorship of a work is a fact and is eternal.

As for the ‘doctrine’ of first sale, it’s only called a ‘doctrine’ because some would like to undermine consideration of copies as the property of their purchasers. Copyright only suspends the right to make copies. It does not impinge upon the recognition of an authorised copy as the material and intellectual property of its purchaser. When you buy a book, you retain the natural right to exclude others from it. Only your natural right to make copies or otherwise communicate its expression has been abrogated by copyright. You at least retain the right to exploit and communicate the knowledge therein. So, selling what is your property (since no copying or communication is involved) cannot infringe copyright. What some claim undermines this is if a purchaser performs an act only permitted by a license attached to the work where that license is conditioned upon the purchaser consequently forfeiting ownership of the work. However, since no agreement or exchange actually occurs this is not a valid transfer of property. In any case, sale of the work simply means that the purchaser could not complete the conditions of the license and so has infringed copyright – not ‘disposed of stolen property’ (per inferred agreement to transfer its ownership).

Mike Linksvayer said 3476 days ago :

How do moral rights, as you think they ought properly be understood, relate to legal enforcement? Or do you only have normative and reputational remedies in mind?

Perhaps take integrity, which you seem to have reduced to not saying someone else wrote something that they didn’t.

Crosbie Fitch said 3475 days ago :

I think there should be legal remedies available for persistent/deliberate falsehood or deceit. When things cannot be resolved by communication or automated dispute resolution, then a tribunal could be provided where two parties support the truth of conflicting statements, e.g. “This is a poem by Fred” vs “No it isn’t, you’ve changed the expletives I used and the gender of the protagonist”.

When things escalate into fraud, e.g. an artist sells someone else’s work as their own, and serious amounts of fan-funded money are involved then it’s probably a matter for the courts.

Integrity is just a matter of truth. Copyright infects it with a proprietary aspect in that people think the right to integrity is the right to veto modifications (& copies thereof) – if they don’t like them. And then you have a defamatory aspect creeping in, with the idea that the artist can decide what modifications insult them or their reputation.

An author can authorise modifications, i.e. agree that the adoption of changes suggested by an editor preserve their work’s integrity, but this simply concerns this work as attributed to this author. It doesn’t preclude anyone else creating a derivative – as long as that derivative doesn’t pretend to be the original or the work of that author.

There is no right violated in putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa given no claim is made that it is the original painting nor that it is authorised by Da Vinci. And even if he were alive he has no right to forbid modifications he considers derogatory or that impugn his reputation (though he might covet such a privilege).

Philippines Telemarketing said 3294 days ago :

Moreover, moral rights are apprehensive with defending the individuality as well as the reputation of authors which is quite the opposite when it comes to the economic rights under copyright.

Crosbie Fitch said 3294 days ago :

Philippines Telemarketing, one might better say that, being a monopoly, copyright was an economically useful privilege – at the expense of annulling the right to copy or communicate covered works.

Moral rights might help protect an author’s reputation, but the author has no natural right to protect their reputation per se.

Theft of Intellectual Property vs Copyright Infringement · Monday October 04, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

I’ve had a little discussion with Nick R Brown and George Ou on the DigitalSociety.org blog in the comments to Nick’s article “Whoa Shelly Roche…Stealing Does Not Equal Free Speech”. The blog says it is “Pro-Culture, Pro-Commerce”, and that’s what I am, so what could we possibly have to argue about?

Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions in your country, Nick’s and George’s comments cannot be shown. However, thanks to the sophistry of the so-called idea/expression dichotomy some lawyers believe I still have the liberty to paraphrase another’s words (even though those paraphrasings constitute an act of unauthorised copying, i.e. a copyright infringement, which, if I could afford the spondulicks to take it to court, may be regarded by a judge as fair use/dealing).

I start the ball rolling with an example of the difference between ‘theft of intellectual property’ and ‘copyright infringement’.

27th September 2010 at 11:48am, Crosbie said:

If someone burgles your house, takes a copy of your diary, and then removes it as they abscond, then that is THEFT of intellectual property, but just you try getting the police to help you recover it.

If you publish your memoirs as an e-book and a purchaser thereof makes a few copies to share with their friends, then that is the infringement of an 18th century privilege your publisher enjoys – a reproduction monopoly established by The Statute of Anne in 1710 for the benefit of her Stationers’ Company. This was copied by James Madison and unconstitutionally passed in 1790 as the US Copyright act – the annulling of the right to copy in the majority, to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – an instrument of injustice (per ‘Rights of Man’ by Thomas Paine).

Preventing copyright infringement is therefore a derogation of the right to free speech.

Securing the author’s natural exclusive right to their writings (against theft or copying by burglars) is NOT a derogation of the right to free speech – we can have no liberty to speak that which we do not know, nor liberty to communicate or copy that which we do not have.

27th September 2010 at 2:29pm, Nick’s comment, paraphrased:

Copyright is the law!
For better or worse, all must obey.

27th September 2010 at 3:15pm, Crosbie said:

Not so long ago Nick, someone liberating a slave was considered to have stolen property from the cotton farmer.

Reclamations of liberty do tend to be perceived as theft by those with privileges derogating from it.

Whereas slavery suspends all liberties from a few, copyright suspends a few liberties from all. So it’s a little more socially tolerable.

Remember that copyright even suspends the author’s liberty to copy their own words. Moreover, if they produce a work for hire or sell their copyright to a publisher, they no longer even have the privilege of copying their own words.

Would you still call it theft for an author to make a copy of their own book – contrary to their employer’s or publisher’s privilege?

Copyright indoctrination corrupts our language into a newspeak Orwell would be unsurprised by. We use ‘right’ in place of privilege, ‘steal’ in place of copy, ‘theft’ in place of infringement, and ‘piracy’ in place of cultural liberty.

Prior to 1710 every individual could share and build upon mankind’s folklore, folktales, and folk song. Today only the likes of Disney are permitted such cultural liberty. Human beings must sit back on their couches, pay through the nose, and consume, but not touch, the content that is delivered to them by multinational publishing corporations. ‘Soma’ as Huxley would term it, but ‘content’ works just as well.

27th September 2010 at 5:16pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Copyright is nothing like slavery!
An author doesn’t have to part with their privilege.
You can still derive from Grimm even if not Disney.

28th September 2010 at 5:14am, Crosbie said:

I think I was contrasting the quite different way in which liberty is abridged today than it was a century or so ago.

Instead of brutal coercion by slave owners, today we have the kindness of the judicial system dragging youngsters through the courts to fine them millions of dollars for sharing music, imprisoning cinema goers for pointing their iPhones at the cinema screen, recording industry lawyers’ litigious extortion bankrupting thousands of families unable to afford to defend themselves, and soon, households to be disconnected from the Internet merely upon accusation.

So today, yes, it’s a lot more civilised. The enforcement of copyright’s suspension of individuals’ liberty is removed from the crude agricultural environment and hygienically institutionalised behind closed doors – and there but for the grace of God go us all.

One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, had this to say about privileges in his book Rights of Man:

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.

28th September 2010 at 5:58am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Million dollar fines are ridiculous, but settlements are reasonable.
No-one goes to jail for camming in cinemas!
The mob has no right to take wealth from wealthy.

28th September 2010 at 8:47am, Crosbie said:

You can finesse everything I write as hyperbole, as no doubt apologists for injustice would have done in centuries past, but at some point your suspension of belief must give way to the rising tide of reality.

Emmanuel Nimley: Graduate who used iPhone to record blockbusters inside cinema is jailed for six months in landmark ruling. Not everyone is so enthusiastic to mete out Queen Anne’s 18th century ‘justice’, see Why I am not ashamed of Emmanuel Nimley.

This is nothing to do with envy of others’ accumulation of wealth through the exchange of their labour in a free market, but the exploitation of monopolies obtained through the abrogation of everyone’s liberty to share and build upon their own culture, upon mankind’s science, technology, and arts.

28th September 2010 at 3:50pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

The Nimley case is a one-off.
You’re suggesting copyright enforcement is violation of human rights.
For my views see “A kinder graduated response system”.

28th September 2010 at 5:28pm, Crosbie said:

I cited the Nimley case because it was the most recent.

This has been going on for years.

Try a search:

Yes, copyright is an intrinsic “violation of human rights”, I’ve already agreed this, that it’s a derogation of the natural right to copy from the individual’s liberty. Imprisoning people for pointing their phones at films is extremely offensive. Suggesting that people should have their cultural liberty restored to them is rather kind I’d say. What do copyright holder’s lose except an ability to sue, fine, bankrupt, levy, disconnect, or imprison members of the public? Authors and artists retain the right to exchange their labour, their intellectual work in a consequently free market – and if you have a thousand fans commissioning your work at $10 each, that’s a pretty good deal compared to a 1% royalty from a publisher (if you’re lucky).

29th September 2010 at 1:10am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Do you really think artists can make a living without copyright, on live performances alone?
I maintain there should be reasonable penalties for infringement.

29th September 2010 at 6:37am, Crosbie said:

On the article of yours that you linked to you say “Now I want to be clear that I am not talking about pirates that are making mass illegal duplications and selling them. Those people need to be severely fined and jailed.” It’s a bit of a challenge to reconcile that with “I personally oppose criminal penalties for copyright infringement or outrageous fines”.

Bear in mind that every youngster auditioning artists’ work via BitTorrent is typically engaged in mass illicit duplications and selling them in the sense of exchanging their valuable bandwidth (sale/commerce is exchange).

Civilisation cannot progress if mankind has perversely enacted laws that prohibit cultural or technological exchange.

If copyright and patent holders’ only source of income is obtained through the exploitation of their privileges then they cannot survive without them – so yes, they need to stop being parasites and find something productive to do that people will pay them for willingly, not through extortion, monopoly, or licensing people’s liberty back to them.

Creators, intellectual workers, authors, inventors, sure, the last things these productive people need are laws that prevent them exchanging, improving, or building upon culture and technology. They can then exchange their labour in a free market.

Copyright and patent are the regime. Their absence is the absence of a coercive regime, a restoration of cultural and technological liberty, leaving us only with our natural rights to be protected by law (not privileges).

As for live performances, who said anything about performances having to be live? A musician can perform in a recording studio as well as in a concert hall. A thousand fans can pay $10 a piece for the recording of a studio performance as much as of a live one. The privilege of a monopoly in copies thereof may well be lucrative to whoever can win that favour from their Queen, but it remains an instrument of injustice. The musician is still able to exchange their labour in performing their music for $10,000 from their thousand fans. If they do not have a thousand fans they are in the same predicament as any craftsman with insufficient demand for their products or services. There is no right to be paid for your labour, only to be free to exchange it for whatever the market will bear. I have no right to be paid for my comments here. Indeed, instead of giving them freely I could have withheld them and instead invited you to commission my participation in discussion with you. There’s nothing wrong in commerce concerning intellectual work, only in the grant of mercantile privileges such as monopoly. Have you not heard “Free as in free speech, not as in free beer”?

29th September 2010 at 10:57am, George’s comment, paraphrased:

Taking work is not cultural exchange. It’s theft.
Copyright and patent were enacted to promote culture and technology. Monopolies encourage giving it away.

29th September 2010 at 12:31pm, Crosbie said:

It is strange that I am the one who must convince you how draconian and severe the measures are that copyright holders will resort to. If I can recognise the exchange of bandwidth as commerce do you think industry lawyers will hesitate to do so too?

While the weapon exists the unscrupulous will wield it, and copyright is indeed a weapon, a most iniquitous instrument of injustice.

If you wish to believe that cultural liberty is theft, that prohibitions against people’s use of their own culture and technology constitute incentives to do so, then such doublethink is your choice, but religious dogma will not get you to the moon. For such progress you must abandon your geocentric programming and dare to consider the heresy of heliocentricity.

The comfort of the blue pill, or the paradigm shift of the red pill?

30th September 2010 at 10:08pm, George’s comment, paraphrased:

It seems you hope for more draconian legislation so you can argue for abolition. I support neither extreme.

1st October 2010 at 1:14pm, Crosbie said:

The copyright maximalists WILL take a harder stance: DMCA, ACTA, COICA (and others like INDUCE). There will be more injustice to come. I’m expecting ‘possession of unlicensed copies of copyright protected works’ to become a crime comparable to ‘possession of a proscribed narcotic with intent to supply’. And I’m expecting you to have your work cut out arguing for leniency, shorter jail terms.

This trajectory is not a matter of hope, but inevitability.

I am not in the business of hoping or lobbying for ever more draconian legislation, but in solving apparently intractable problems, inventing what is necessary, and arriving, when the impossible has been eliminated, at what must be the truth (however incredible or ‘extreme’ you might find it).

The monopoly of copyright is at an end. It cannot be resurrected through argument. However, for the sake of fundamentally innocent people the world over, it can be argued to be abolished – sooner rather than later.

Paul Lockett said 3674 days ago :

Great reading as always.

Cultural Liberty: Copyright's Antithesis and Nemesis · Monday November 08, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Lessig Calls For WIPO To Lead Overhaul Of Copyright System

Lawrence Lessig is a copyright theist. That means that despite the roaring silence of evidence in its support, and the mute testament of victims suffering its depredations against the people’s cultural liberty, he remains a stalwart supporter of an 18th century privilege and instrument of injustice that enriches the legal profession almost as handsomely as its plutocratic and immortal clientèle. He has adopted the strategem of embracing the case against copyright as the case for its retention, albeit reformed. The best argument he has against restoring the people’s cultural liberty through repeal is that this would be extreme and destroy copyright’s core value.

What core value?

Copyright didn’t even make sense in a tangible/non-digital environment – it was simply an unethical privilege that was feasible to enforce.

Annulling the right to copy in the majority of the inhabitants in order to leave this right by exclusion in the hands of a few would by definition produce an instrument of injustice.

People are born with their right to liberty, and copyright’s derogation of an individual’s cultural liberty is a corruption of law to favour the state via its beholden press. Suspending the public’s cultural liberty, their right to learn and develop through copying, cannot benefit the public except in the corrupt argument of those few who stand to lucratively benefit.

In the early 20th century the countryside was being scoured for folk songs and folk music that could be registered for copyright’s ‘protection’ from further cultural engagement. This is the true theft – not file-sharing. Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a victim of injustice, not the incorrigible delinquent the copyright industry would portray as deserving of $1,500,000 in damages. Ask the RIAA:

We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant’s misconduct. Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions.

The digital domain and the rapid advance in communications technology simply betrays the iniquity of copyright. The privilege was never a just law. It is now ineffective as well as unethical. All that remains is to abolish it.

A War on Piracy is a War on Liberty · Friday November 12, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Ahmed Abdel Latif responds to Lessig wondering why WIPO is unable to succeed in its objective of global copyright reform, and whether the remaining need for such can be reconciled with the zealously prosecuted ‘war on piracy’.

How do you tell a child that there is no way of saving the sandcastle they’ve laboured long and hard over from the approaching tide?

Question the assumptions, even the language, and you might get closer to a truer understanding, and realise that a war against piracy is a war against liberty, a war against human nature and natural law.

This is a war that Canute would wage against the tide. The inexorable tide in turn, takes the liberty of eroding the fiat sandcastles of mercantile privilege.

There’s a reason rights holders are so called. These aren’t rights they are born with but rights annulled in all the inhabitants, to be held by a few. In 1709 Queen Anne derogated the right to copy from the individual’s right to liberty, and it is this that publishing corporations purport to hold. But of course, they do not. It is inalienable, and all the privileged hold is the power to persecute the disobedient.

There is no power on Earth that can subjugate the people to refrain from communicating, sharing, developing, copying, learning, or progressing, in order that monopolies may persist unchallenged. Giving them pretexts may smooth the passage of their legislation, but they don’t actually make monopolies do the opposite of what they do. If you want progress or learning you do not put a brake on it – you only do that if you wish to quell or tax an activity.

The only reform that fixes copyright and eliminates piracy is its repeal.

 

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