A classic post on the origins and future of copyright

I just came across this very wonderful post on copyright, excerpted here. Read the rest of it, its a classic, and do spread it.

A Crescendo of Copyright

Natural Finale and Reprise

Rejected by The Rethink Music Conference, April 2011, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Abstract

  • A prologue – mankind’s culture and copyright in perspective

Copyright’s 18th Century Overture

  • 1709 Queen Anne’s privilege of copyright
  • 1787 the philosophy of Paine and the (natural) rights of man
  • 1790 the prestidigitation in which a privilege is inveigled as a natural right

Copyright’s Confrontation with Cultural Liberty reaches a crescendo

  • C19-20 the printing industry’s exploitation of its privilege
  • 1990s the propertisation of published intellectual works as an entrenchment
  • 2000s the piracy of published intellectual works as a natural liberty
  • 2010s the persecution of the people for their piracy (cultural liberty)

Copyright’s finale, and the reprise of natural rights

  • 20?? the prospectus for mankind’s future

Prologue

The extent of mankind’s primordial cultural activity stretches back at least half a million years, but thanks to repeated erasure by glaciation we start the notable cultural events calendar at 50,000BC.

51,709 years later a nascent empire and its pampered press have the impudence to decide that mankind’s cultural commonwealth would be so much better if a law was created to prohibit people from copying each other.

There are a few words for the precursory, unbridled cultural intercourse that still remain in the English language, though they are almost obsolete: ‘folksong’, ‘folkmusic’, ‘folktales’, and ‘folklore’. These primeval springs are still known to a few among us and can be found seeping through the pre-renaissance foundations upon which our modern culture stands.

Today we have the luxury of looking back over the last three centuries of ‘protection’ to see how much richer our culture has become, being effectively manacled and enclosed by corporations such as Disney. Permitted the liberty only to create purely original works, albeit with some tolerance for cultural cross contamination (if not too flagrant), we enjoy a far more creative and diverse culture. Or rather, this is what Queen Anne’s Stationers’ Guild and its descendant publishing corporations would persuade us is the consequence of her wise enactment of law to ‘protect’ published works from the grubby hands and mouths of the great unwashed.

Nothing to do with the printers’ monopolies then…

Let us see the historical accident of copyright in perspective:

65,000,000BC Primates
2,000,000BC Homo Erectus
500,000BC Division into Neanderthal & Homo Sapiens
200,000BC Homo Sapiens’ ancestral basis
140,000BC Glacial retreat after 40,000 year long glacial period
50,000BC Dawn of mankind’s culture: language, music, drawing, etc.
32,000BC Cave paintings
30,000BC Neanderthals extinct
20,000BC Glacial retreat after 50,000 year long glacial period
17,000BC Lascaux Cave Paintings
10,000BC Holocene – modern epoch
9,000BC Jericho
8,000BC Stonehenge site’s significance
3,100BC Stonehenge construction begins
2,611BC First Egyptian Pyramid
753BC Foundation of Rome
300BC Library of Alexandria
48BC Library of Alexandria accidentally destroyed by Julius Caesar
300 Book format outnumbers scroll format
1282 Water powered paper mill
1403 Corporation of London forms Stationers’ Guild
1440 Development and use of printing press begins
1492 Europeans discover New World
1536 Erasmus dies – 750,000 copies of his works sold
1557 Stationers’ Guild granted control over all printing
1572 Fall of Inca Empire
1695 Stationers’ Guild loses control upon expiry of the Licensing of the Press Act 1662
1703 Daniel Defoe endorses commercial piracy of his work – if true copies
1709 Queen Anne Establishes the Privilege of Copyright
1787 US Constitution
1790 Madison re-enacts Statute of Anne (tweaked for the US)
1791 Thomas Paine deprecates privileges
1814 Steam powered printing press
1837 Babbage designs Analytical Engine
1937 Relay computers
1943 Valve/Tube computers
1953 Transistor computers
1969 Internet begins with two nodes
1971 Microprocessor computers
1991 World Wide Web begins
2000 The people obtain the means of mass reproduction and communication
2010 The successors to the Stationers’ Guild seek possession of the Internet via ACTA
2011 Copyright recognised to be ineffective vs the people’s cultural liberty/piracy
2015?? Copyright is reformed to exempt individuals in the digital domain
2020?? Copyright is reformed to exempt individuals
2025?? Copyright is reformed to exempt the digital domain
2030?? Copyright is repealed
2031?? The author’s exclusive right to their writings is properly secured at last – ethically

Seen in a proper perspective, copyright is a legislative misadventure borne of political expediency and commercial self-interest. It is a hiccup in mankind’s history and, in the face of the diffusive nature of information, is coming to an abrupt and natural end.

[…]

read the rest of this epic, classic, brilliant, informative and insightful post here:

http://culturalliberty.org/blog/index.php?id=276

No wonder it was rejected, it is so true it jumps off the screen and knocks you off your chair!

Advertisements
About

We are the best.

Posted in Uncategorized
%d bloggers like this: