Is the Copyright Monopoly Based on a Huge Lie?

Inasmuch as we seem to be featuring good ole timey values today, it seems appropriate to talk about a new value and its place in the pantheon of things. (Similar to the interweb of things except not.)

Stay with us now because this is cool:

copyrighandwrong

by Rick Falkvinge

The copyright monopoly is based on the idea of an exchange. In exchange for exclusive rights, the copyright industry supplies culture and knowledge to the public. It turns out that the entire premise is a lie, as untethered creators are racing to provide culture and knowledge anyway.

The copyright monopoly was reinstated in Great Britain in 1710, after having lapsed in England in 1695. It was enacted because printers (not writers) insisted, that if they didn’t have exclusive rights to boost profitability, nothing would get printed.

(Do note the difference between books getting written on one hand, and getting printed and distributed on the other. It was printers, not writers and authors, that drove the reinstatement of the copyright monopoly through the so-called Statute of Anne.)

The Parliament of Great Britain accepted this premise, and thus, the social contract of the copyright monopoly was formed: “In return for providing the only service that can make culture come into being for the benefit of the public, the publishers and distributors are awarded with time-limited exclusive rights.”

Note the very important assumption here: if the exclusive rights – the copyright monopoly – don’t exist, there will not be any culture. This is the contract which governments have been acting on ever since: in exchange for providing a magic service that calls culture into being in the first place, the publishers have enjoyed exclusive rights that allow them to punish and withhold.

The social contract between the public and the copyright industry is, that in exchange for exclusive rights, the publishers will make culture available, being the only ones who can supply such availability of culture.

It turns out the entire premise is bullshit.

With the advent of the Internet, we see that people are creating despite these exclusive rights, this monopoly, instead of because of it. Millions of creators – millions! – have publicly renounced their already-awarded exclusive rights by publishing under a Creative Commons license.

Read it all at Torrent Freak