The parroted question-and-assertion from the copyright industry continues to be “authors must be paid” and “how will the authors get paid?”
This question-and-assertion isn’t just irrelevant, it’s also a sickening existential defense from an industry that makes sure that 99.99% of music authors never see a single cent in royalty. (A more proper question would be how a music author or composer can possibly earn a living with the copyright industry still in existence.)
Nevertheless, the question and assertion assume that the copyright monopoly exists with the purpose of making sure somebody gets paid. That’s not why it exists. More importantly, the question and assertion also assume that no culture, knowledge, or technology would get created without the copyright monopoly (or outside of the copyright industry).
The purpose of the copyright monopoly is clear: it’s worded quite explicitly in the United States Constitution, article 8. Its purpose is “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts”. The purpose is not for anybody to get rich, or make a living, or paid at all. The purpose is and was always to benefit the public. To generate progress, with the implicit meaning of making that progress available to everyone (or it wouldn’t be progress in any meaningful sense of the word).
Now, it has been assumed – as asserted by the copyright industry – that the only way to achieve this effect, across all fields and disciplines, is to lock the authorship up in a time-limited* monopoly. Various government officials have accepted this narrative.
The copyright industry therefore has two customers: first, it sells the idea of its unique capability of producing culture and knowledge to the government, in exchange for a monopoly when it does so. Second, it sells monopolized copies of that culture and knowledge to people in exchange for money. It’s important to realize that the copyright industry has two different sets of customers, and the first set has every reason to revisit the dishonest deal and get a new supplier.
Linux and Wikipedia (as well as other, less known achievements) show unambiguously that the idea of requiring any kind of payment for great tools, culture, or knowledge to come into being is an utter falsehood. It may be true in some cases. But the cases where it hasn’t been true have all shown that the basic premise, that the copyright monopoly is any kind of necessary, is the purest oxen fecalia.
And these projects, free in all aspects as they are, now underpin the Android operating system which powers three billion smartphones and well over half of the world’s servers in various incarnations of the GNU/Linux operating system. They support every lower- and higher-level education on the planet.
According to the copyright industry, these projects do not and cannot exist, as the authors weren’t paid.
According to reality, the copyright industry is wrong.
Let’s be clear here: the most common operating kernel for servers and mobile smartphones, which underpin the entire IT industry today, was written completely outside the copyright monopoly context with no need for anyone to get paid. The richest source of knowledge available, which underpin all college educations even if unofficially, was written completely outside the copyright monopoly context with no need for anyone to get paid.
This doesn’t mean that nobody should be allowed to sell anything. Quite to the contrary! But it can be conclusively deduced that government officials have been completely in the wrong when accepting the copyright industry’s assertion that nothing will ever get produced without a strong copyright monopoly. It can also be conclusively deduced that the business models that are based on free tools, culture, and knowledge are worth enormously much more to the economy than a manufacturing industry still trying to sell round pieces of silly data-carrying plastic when their competition ship the medialess information across the world in seconds.
Government officials should just stop buying the idea from the copyright industry that a monopoly is required for progress to take place. They should get a new deal from another supplier, and as is the case when this happens, the supplier being ditched – the copyright industry – has no say whatsoever about the new supplier or the new deal. More specifically, it’s more beneficial to a government to not hand out any kind of copyright monopoly at all, as more culture and knowledge – more progress – is created without it.
The copyright monopoly has demonstrated that it’s not just unnecessary, but downright harmful to progress, to the economy, and to civil liberties. The copyright industry should not be allowed to get away with its further Norwegian Blue parroting of “how should the authors get paid”. The question is not relevant.
Any honest business model is built without a legal monopoly in any case. Make money, good for you. But you don’t get to do so with a monopoly that cuts down on my rights, especially not with blatant lying.
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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