Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Thoughts on Copyright.

**Work in progress???*
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back
- Anonymous, 17th Century folk poem against enclosure

A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.
- Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value

History of Copyright:-

"There is little evidence, outside of top-selling artists, that creators benefit from substantially extended terms"

"But there is also something obscene in this: Marx’s political awakening, and some of his earliest thinking about private property, was based on the abrogation of the rights of peasants to use wood fallen in common lands. To suggest so regulated, enclosed and rent-seeking a form of access is a model of a ‘commons’ is to spit in his face, and ours."

"The young Marx knew about dusty collections of weighty tomes: ‘You do not need to read the books; their exciting aspect suffices to touch your heart and strike your senses, something like a Gothic cathedral. These primitive gigantic works materially affect the mind; it feels oppressed under their mass, and the feeling of oppression is the beginning of awe. You do not master the books, they master you.’ That’s in the first volume of MECW, until recently available at the tap of a few keys from my home computer. Under L&W’s new ‘access’ system, I’d have likely never read it. It seems the publishers want their edition to sit in a library as beautiful and useless as a Gothic chantry, a memorial to dead men, rather than a tool in the hands of the living."

"Ultimately, this is a political conflict. Lawrence and Wishart suggest that the work of Marx and Engels isn’t the ‘birthright’ of the radical left; we think it is, and we think their work is foundational to the communist movement, and ought to be as widely and openly accessible as possible. We think their arguments for entitlement to rent rank a poor second alongside this, and are a betrayal of the impetus for the MECW’s production in the first place."

We should look at the historic development of copyright to see whether it's questionable.

  •  "In the Middle Ages in Europe, there was generally a lack of any concept of literary property due to the general relations of production, the specific organization of literary production and the role of culture in society. The latter refers to the tendency of oral societies, such as that of Europe in the medieval period, to view knowledge as the product and expression of the collective, rather than to see it as individual property. However, with copyright laws, intellectual production comes to be seen as a product of an individual, with attendant rights. The most significant point is that patent, and copyright laws support in fundamental and thoroughgoing ways the expansion of the range of creative human activities that can be commodified. This parallels the ways in which capitalism led to the commodification of many aspects of social life that hitherto had no monetary or economic value per se".
  • " During the Roman Empire, a period of prosperous book trade, no copyright or similar regulations existed"
  • ".. governments established controls over printers across Europe, requiring them to have official licences to trade and produce books. The licenses typically gave printers the exclusive right to print particular works for a fixed period of years, and enabled the printer to prevent others from printing the same work during that period. The licenses could only grant rights to print in the territory of the state that had granted them, but they did usually prohibit the import of foreign printing".... " or
  • As the "menace" of printing spread, governments established centralized control mechanisms, in 1557 the English Crown thought to stem the flow of seditious and heretical books by chartering the Stationers' Company. The right to print was limited to the members of that guild, and thirty years later the Star Chamber was chartered to curtail the "greate enormities and abuses" of "dyvers contentyous and disorderlye persons professinge the arte or mystere of pryntinge or selling of books."...
  • "Copyright initially was conceived as a way for government to restrict printing"
  • " Charles II of England was concerned by the unregulated copying of books and passed the Licensing of the Press Act 1662 by Act of Parliament,  which established a register of licensed books and required a copy to be deposited with the Stationers' Company, essentially continuing the licensing of material that had long been in effect."

  • Copyright developed to  control.

    On Copyright:

    Ideas cannot be owned and should be open to all
    • I support the Free Culture Movement.
    • are copyrights capitalist? Don't they feed into enclosure/ privatization and commodification? 
    • copyright is a misguided attempt to prevent plagiarism by monopolizing ideas  
    • copyrights allow massive accumulation of wealth.
    • "but it's original "- 'originality' is questionable
    •  "It's MY product"- the concept of 'author' is questionable since it is collective product of the history of the world. You merely selected elements already existing nd re-arranged them.
    • "I made it so I should control it"  but if your control means others re denied use of it. 
    • big corporations use copyright to control.
    • What if I want to make money out of it?  fine but why do you need copyright. David Rovics makes money without copyright. People still buy his stuff. Or he makes money on gigs etc.
    • why not use "not for commercial use" or creative commons?
    • I oppose plagiarism especially when others make money out if it .
    • Why does making a  copy take way from the original  or is 'theft'? This all sounds very platonic.
    • Copyright ensures money goes to publishers and record companies.
    • " Industry proponents of the reform of copyright law are attempting to uphold the future revenue in the face of declining respect for intellectual property rights. Increasingly the music industry is adapting pragmatically to the fact of copying, and seeking to make revenues in advertising - as commercial radio did - or other business models of marketing premium content."

    argument's of others:-

    • "Indeed, given that human knowledge is such an enormously socialized (and historical) creation, no invention can be said to be independent. The need for capital to harness such creations to make a profit is indisputable, and we should never forget the crucial question: "quo vadis?" ("who gains?")." 
    • Copyright results in a weaker incentive at creativity"-  "The evolution of copyright from an occasional grant of royal privilege to a formal and eventually widespread system of law should in principle have enhanced composers' income from publication. The evidence from our quantitative comparison of honoraria received by Beethoven, with no copyright law in his territory, and Robert Schumann, benefiting from nearly universal European copyright, provides at best questionable support for the hypothesis that copyright fundamentally changed composers' fortunes. From the qualitative evidence on Giuseppe Verdi, who was the first important composer to experience the new Italian copyright regime and devise strategies to derive maximum advantage, it is clear that copyright could make a substantial difference. In the case of Verdi, greater remuneration through full exploitation of the copyright system led perceptibly to a lessening of composing effort."
    • "copyright is invalid because, unlike physical property, intellectual property is not scarce and is, they claim, a legal fiction created by the state. That is, infringing on copyright, unlike theft, does not deprive the victim of the original item, and so enforcement of copyright law constitutes aggression on the part of the state"
    • "Hipatia argues that this would "provide the ethical principles which allow the individual to spread his/her knowledge, to help him/herself, to help his/her community and the whole world, with the aim of making society ever more free, more equal, more sustainable, and with greater solidarity."["
    • "Since TRIPS came into force it has received a growing level of criticism from developing countries, academics, and non-governmental organizations. Some of this criticism is against the WTO as a whole, but many advocates of trade liberalization also regard TRIPS as bad policy. TRIPS's wealth concentration effects (moving money from people in developing countries to copyright and patent owners in developed countries) and its imposition of artificial scarcity on the citizens of countries that would otherwise have had weaker intellectual property laws, are common bases for such criticisms.Peter Drahos writes that "It was an accepted part of international commercial morality that states would design domestic intellectual property law to suit their own economic circumstances. States made sure that existing international intellectual property agreements gave them plenty of latitude to do so."[26]
    • Daniele Archibugi and Andrea Filippetti[27] argue that the importance of TRIPS in the process of generation and diffusion of knowledge and innovation has been overestimated by both their supporters and their detractors. Claude Henry and Joseph E. Stiglitz[28] argue that the current intellectual property global regime may impede both innovation and dissemination, and suggest reforms to foster the global dissemination of innovation and sustainable development."
    • "traditional anarchists, including Leo Tolstoy, expressed their refusal to accept copyright"
    •  "Lawrence Lessig, along with many other copyleft and free software activists, has criticized the implied analogy with physical property (like land or an automobile). They argue such an analogy fails because physical property is generally rivalrous while intellectual works are non-rivalrous (that is, if one makes a copy of a work, the enjoyment of the copy does not prevent enjoyment of the original)"
    • " Other arguments along these lines claim that unlike the situation with tangible property, there is no natural scarcity of a particular idea or information: once it exists at all, it can be re-used and duplicated indefinitely without such re-use diminishing the original."
    • "Lawrence Liang, founder of the Alternative Law Forum, argues that current copyright is based on a too narrow definition of "author", which is assumed to be clear and undisputed. Liang observes that the concept of "the author" is assumed to make universal sense across cultures and across time. Instead, Liang argues that the notion of the author as a unique and transcendent being, possessing originality of spirit, was constructed in Europe after the industrial revolution, to distinguish the personality of the author from the expanding realm of mass-produced goods. Hence works created by "authors" were deemed original, and merges with the doctrine of property prevalent at the time.[25]
      Liang argues that the concept of "author" is tied to the notion of copyright and emerged to define a new social relationship - the way society perceives the ownership of knowledge. The concept of "author" thus naturalised a particular process of knowledge production where the emphasis on individual contribution and individual ownership takes precedence over the concept of "community knowledge".[25] Relying on the concept of the author, copyright is based on the assumption that without an intellectual property rights regime, authors would have no incentive to further create, and that artists cannot produce new works without an economic incentive. Liang challenges this logic, arguing that "many authors who have little hope of ever finding a market for their publications, and whose copyright is, as a result, virtually worthless, have in the past, and even in the present, continued to write."[25] Liang points out that people produce works purely for personal satisfaction, or even for respect and recognition from peers. Liang argues that the 19th Century saw the prolific authorship of literary works in the absence of meaningful copyright that benefited the author. In fact, Liang argues, copyright protection usually benefited the publisher, and rarely the author.[25]"

    Copyright law in the UK.

    "The 1886 Berne Convention first established recognition of copyrights among sovereign nations, rather than merely bilaterally. Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative works do not have to be asserted or declared, as they are automatically in force at creation: an author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Berne Convention"

     UK Copyright Law
    "Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not."
    "It’s OK to use copy or publish other peoples work if I don't make any money out of it
    No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.
    If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties"

    Further commentary :

    The RIAA vs. the World - David Rovics ,

    Intellectual property rights: a debate -

    Copyright and the declining authority of private property - James Heartfield

     Letter to the Free Age Pressby Leo Tolstoy.

    Fears; Copyright Does Not Protect Much Now-

    Control vs Freedom redux; Commercial or Noncommercial-

    All Creative Work Is Derivative -


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