Against intellectual property
There is a saying that man cannot really own things. That property is
merely an illusion. Many an economist would argue that this is really
the case; property is an abstraction created to tackle the limited
nature of resources. I don't truly claim to own this laptop I'm
currently typing on, but to call it mine is a useful abstraction. It
is an agreement with the rest of the society. Everyone agrees that I
am responsible for the use of this laptop, for better or worse.
Intellectual property is also an abstraction, much more so than
An economic system deals with the problem of production and
distribution of goods. In the case of scarcity (there's more demand
than supply), you need to decide who gets the goods. Capitalism and
centrally planned economy are some of these systems. However, there is
no economic basis for capitalism or any other similar system in the
case of non-scarce goods. For example, there is no market (yet :) for
We live in interesting times, in the sense that technology is
being developed to work against other technological developments. I'm pretty sure it has happened before; the current example is copy protection and/or DRM. An essential ingredient of a technological utopia is the free flow of information, and now that we are finally reaching it with the Internet, many are opposing it. It's probably what car manufacturers initially faced from the
horse-carriage industry; an optimistic comparison because we know that technology won after all.
My basic arguments against extended copyright (and patents)
The purpose of a copyright law was to promote the production of creative works. This was considered beneficial for the society at large, since otherwise the creators might want to keep their works secret. The intention was not to protect or enrich a specific group of people at the expense of others, which is what it appears to do now.
It was a two-way agreement between the creator and the rest of the society: We give you exclusive rights to benefit from your creation, for a limited time. In return, we shall get the rights too, as your work enters the public domain after that time. In the original US copyright law this was 14 years, with an option to extend it into 28 years. Technology and society are now changing at a much faster rate, so in fairness the period should be much shorter now. Yet it is much longer.
Fairness against other professions
Most people get paid by the hour/month/etc. of work they do. At the end of that period, they get a fair compensation. However, the owner of creative rights may get compensated by work done many decades earlier. Of course, not every song turns out an international hit, so creative work is like lottery. Those who get lucky can make their living on something the worked on in their twenties.
This sort of a situation is hardly in accordance with the original intent of copyright. It is not encouraging people to create new things. Quite the contrary.
Due to the nature of creative works, though, some protection is probably in order, compared to other kinds of work. By my previous argument, the period should be less than 14 years, perhaps something like 5. If your work isn't selling during five years, maybe that's a sign to create something else.
Transfer of rights
A transfer of copyright dilutes the intent of promoting new creations.
In summary I would like to go a step further: I believe the ideas
of copyright, patent and trademark are bad. They had their moments,
but they are no longer appropriate with today's
society and technology. For just one example, they force people to
reinvent wheels and thereby waste resources. In this spirit I shall
rant no more, but let those who have put it better speak:
- Who owns a scientist’s mind?
Coelho Wants to Give The Interview Away Using BitTorrent “The
ultimate goal of a writer is to be read. Money comes later,” he said.
find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office
revenue. PDF by Prof. Koleman Strumpf
- An Open Letter to Chris Dodd by Eric S. Raymond
- File-Sharing Recognized as Official Religion in Sweden
- Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal
- Copyright isn't working, says European Commission
- Ericsson: File-sharing Is a Symptom Not the Problem
- Canadian-backed report says music, movie, and software piracy is a market failure, not a legal one
- "Big Content" Is Strangling American Innovation
- Music chief: preventing file-sharing is a "waste of time"
- Spanish Judges Liken File Sharing To Lending Books
- Why I Steal Movies... Even Ones I'm In
- The Right to Read by Richard Stallman
- The Problem With Music
by Steve Albini
- Record industry faces liability over `infringement'
- Economists Say Copyright and Patent Laws Are Killing Innovation; Hurting Economy
- History suggests copyright crusade is a lost cause
- Trent Reznor: If you wanna really support a band, "steal" their album...help bury the label...
- RIAA Not Sharing Settlement Money With Artists
- Better Than Free: When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.
- Everyday copyright violations
- Jazz is illegal
- TeliaSoneralta murskatuomio Lex Karpelalle ja tekijänoikeusjärjestöille
- Good Copy Bad Copy documentary film
- DMCA Architect Acknowledges Need For A New Approach
- Digital Sculptures
- Big labels are f*cked, and DRM is dead - Peter Jenner
- Ask Slashdot: A Working Economy Without DRM?
- A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing
- French court rules in favor of private P2P use
- Copycontrollin arvoitus (in Finnish)
- Kopiointi ei ole tavallinen varkaus (in Finnish)
- Intellectual Property Myths
let change happen
Intellectual Property Laws
Balancing Capitalism and Communism
Play, Trade, Repeat
Guardian: "When intellectual property rules diminish the supply of
new ideas, they steal from all of us."
- Digital Rights
Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world
Distribution [The future of copyright for the creators who make a
living by selling copies.]
- All Rights
Reserved? A stylish collection of essays/editorials in Finnish
Why free software is more free market
isn't a fundamental right
Reflections on Intellectual Property Rights
Downloading music from the Internet is not illegal. Plenty of music
available online is not just free but also easily available, legal and
— most important — worth hearing.
Good Bad Attitude —
"[Hackers] can sense totalitarianism approaching from a distance, as
animals can sense an approaching thunderstorm."
A Broken Contract with the Public
Risto A. Paju