Why Are People Resigning Before The Copyright Industries’ Will?

Opinion

Defeat in a single battle in the war over net liberty doesn't concern me too much. I know that the net freedom forces have the strategic and intellectual upper hand in this war over our freedom, but there is something else that concerns me gravely. Why are people seriously thinking that the copyright industries have the final say in shaping society?

In a discussion thread concerning a recent book from myself and Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament, people were concerned. The book is titled “The Case For Copyright Reform”, and is a collection of the most relevant essays over the past year, as well as reproducing contributions from Mike Masnick, Ernesto and Michael Geist. (Did I mention it’s available for free download? Copy and seed.)

The political proposals in the book are also the ones carried by the Green group in the European Parliament, though they originate with the Pirate Party.

Extratorrent did a story on the book, and Reddit got a story linked there with a title saying “Copyright protection is suggested to be cut from 70 to 20 years from publication”. (Which is factually wrong – the proposal is to reduce from life plus 70 to a baseline five years, extendable to 20 through registration, limiting the monopoly to commercial uses only – but still.)

What strikes me as odd, and indefensible, are the reactions of resignation in the Reddit thread.

This is a selection of the highest-voted comments:

- Nice, but it won’t happen. Publishing companies would scream bloody murder.

- This would be fantastic but will never happen because companies have a vested interest in maintaining their ability to collect royalties indefinitely.

- They can suggest anything they like, but I really see no reason why the RIAA or MPAA would listen to anything but making it longer.

I am absolutely flabbergasted that this seems to be the prevailing view. When did people forget that legislators, and not corporations, have the final say over our laws?

The copyright industry is not a stakeholder in the copyright monopoly. They are a beneficiary. Of course they’ll want more benefits.

Who gives a rat’s ass what the copyright industries want?

Their interest is not the public interest. The only reason they have been getting their way in lawmaking is that legislators have believed – up until pretty much now – that this issue is completely peripheral in public opinion, so they haven’t cared about it at all, and they have ignored this field of policymaking to let it be run by easily-lobbied public servants.

To see people confuse corporations for legislators to this degree frustrates me. There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t hold legislators accountable for every single button they press – and let them know that it is us, not a special interest, that determine whether they keep or lose their job.

Failing that, one can also replace them entirely, as I set out to do with a movement that has now spread to 50+ countries. That also gets their attention. Guaranteed.

But no matter what, don’t ever accept the resigned position that the copyright industries determine law. They don’t. They’ve gotten away with wishlists because politicians haven’t cared. They do care when tens of thousands of people make noise, and we can do that. We know absolutely well that we’re capable of that and much more.

If the copyright industry collapses – who cares?

The job of every entrepreneur is to make money given the current constraints of society. They don’t get to dismantle civil liberties if they fail to make money – especially if they fail to make money. No entrepreneur has the right to shape society to guarantee themselves a profit.

There will always be culture, and the artists are doing better than ever. It’s more than time to rid our economy and our net of the burden of these parasitic middlemen – and don’t ever dare think you’re powerless to do exactly that.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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