A Responsible Citizen Not Only Shares Culture, But Destroys The Copyright Industries

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Do you remember the start of large scale file-sharing? Just in the borderline between the dial-up BBSes and internet-connected systems, as Napster just was gaining critical mass? As people learned the skills of sharing culture, the copyright industries didn't think people would keep doing so for long, that people in general would prefer to remain "honest".


This word was used by the copyright industry, to try to get citizens to do their bidding. Honest. Could you believe that today? This industry dared take that word in their mouths?

For some time, it may actually have worked. Not for us who worked with technology and knew sharing as natural and human, and who set the standards of tomorrow, of course, but I got the perception that “following the law” was associated with “being honest” in parts of the population.

That quickly waned.

People realized that “being honest” had absolutely nothing to do with “accepting serfdom in a rigged system” and “doing the wishes of a thoroughly corrupt industry”, quite regardless of the wording of mail-order legislation that had been created at the copyright industry’s persistent tantrums. Following the law and obeying the monopoly became the opposite of being honest.

So the concept of honesty in the debate was replaced by one of humanity and friendship – that good people share, regardless of larger ramifications to society.

As that went on for a few years, more and more people realized that the sky wasn’t falling as had been claimed. Moreover, culture and small bands actually benefited greatly from circumventing the previous gatekeepers. The ramifications weren’t negative. They were overwhelmingly positive.

This view was reinforced by the copyright industry’s attacks on all alternate distribution channels that allowed creative artistry to bypass the middlemen’s skimming of the 90-95% of the pie that they had previously grabbed for themselves.

Something else happened, too: old digital formats went out of fashion. The industry-issued copies became unplayable, especially with silly playback protection methods that never work anyway. All of a sudden, us who had shared culture had done something more; we had also preserved culture. If it weren’t for the so-called pirates, our cultural diversity would have been lost on technology’s scrapheap.

So sharing became a matter of being responsible as a citizen. Sharing culture was not only a good deed in humankind, it was also taking civil responsibility for preservation of our common heritage, a responsibility that neither the industry nor governments took on themselves to fulfill.

But the copyright industry’s war on the people continued.

A very astute observation by Ithiel de Sola Pool in a book from 1984 noted that the copyright monopoly can’t survive in the digital age as it creeps into our everyday activities without heavily regulating conversation itself. This is exactly what the copyright industries have tried to do, and therefore, this monopoly and its industry have become an enemy of our very freedom of speech.

By 2010, about half the population was directly or indirectly involved in this preservation or sharing of culture: many in a household gain from one person taking such civic responsibility. In Europe, that means 250 million people. Put another way, it means 250 million votes.

250 million European votes trump 250 million Euros in lobbying money, every single time.

And so, with the copyright industry’s outright war on the people, on our culture, and our civil liberties, we have arrived at a point where responsible citizens not only share and preserve culture, but also act in defense of society to destroy the copyright industry.

Every act towards that goal helps, and is now an act of everybody’s civic responsibility. 250 million Europeans doing something small every day to destroy this corrupt industry that stands between us and our future makes a lot of difference at the end of the day.

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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