Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property
rights, human rights must prevail
...Jefferson party were formed upon its ... superior devotion
to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of
property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior [...]
for both the man and the dollar; but in cases of
conflict, the man before the dollar...
Springfield, Ills, April 6, 1859
To make laws that man cannot, and will not obey,
serves to bring all law into contempt.
"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in
this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a
profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the
courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the
future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public
interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law.
Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court
and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
Down with the obsolete laws!
What is `Copyright'?
There is nothing more important than
Freedom, so whenever we introduce a law
which limits it, we should think long and hard and make sure that the
benefits are truly significant.
The idea behind the copyright laws is that if everyone can freely
copy the original work, the author would be deprived from the just
remuneration for his or her work.
This was relevant to writings since the invention of the printing press
(before that, book copying was far too expensive),
and became relevant to music since the invention of the vinyl disks and
later the magnetic tape recorders.
Let us look at how it was and is done.
When copyright laws were first introduced, they were similar to
patent laws in intent and purpose: the former protected the writer, like
the latter protected the inventor. The authors were being
protected from the piracy of the publishers. Note that the law
was restricting the rights of the few owners of the printing presses
while protecting the creative cream of the population by preventing
publishers from eating each other's guts.
Now the situation has changed dramatically. With the invention of
the cheap photocopying technology (aka "xeroxing") and electronic
information storage, the laws are restricting everyone who has access to
such equipment, i.e., virtually everyone in a modern
Who are we protecting with the copyright laws now?
Not anymore! The authors can sell their music and writings over the
Internet, they do not need the publishing or recording industry.
The copyright laws are protecting the industry from the
Well, maybe this is a good idea -- after all, there are people
employed there, jobs are at stake? No way! Did we decide to kill the
nascent railway and car industries to protect the horse-driven
communications? No! So why should we stifle the Internet by keeping
the recording and publishing industries on CPR? Printing press killed
the scribe, Internet is killing the printing press - so be it!
We are being robbed to feed the fat cats -- how do you like it?
- In Canada, the writable CDs are slapped with a 100% tax, the
proceeds going to the recording industry; this repeats the
situation with tape cassettes just about everywhere.
- In the US, the copyright is extended further and further, so that
nothing created after 1923 will ever go into the public domain.
See Eldred v. Reno
for a failed attempt to overturn this.
to this list
We should go back to the idea of protecting the authors (from the
public, if necessary). The duration of the copyright should be limited
by a fixed term, say, 10 (5? 15?) years (adding the author's lifetime,
as is done by the current laws, seems to be wrong: it would encourage
killing the authors; it doesn't seem to be happening now though,
possibly because the constant extensions of the copyright term make that
Consider an author selling his or her music
(in mp3) or book
LaTeX or whatever) over the
Internet. Is piracy a problem? Not really: if the item is really
popular and the price is reasonable, would you search the Internet for
the pirated copy instead of paying a couple of bucks? Of course not!
And the popular item will elicit many downloads, thus bringing much
revenue. If the item is less popular (should we say "elitist"? :-) it
would be harder to find a pirated copy on the Internet, thus the author
would be able to set a higher price, getting a similar revenue.
- Jaron Lanier -
computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.
- Project Guntenberg
- on-line books in electronic format.
- Maxim Moshkov's
library (mostly in Russian) -
on-line books in electronic format.
- The Free
- Copyrighting fire
- Recording industry is trying to kill mp3
- UCITA -
- Software Patents in Europe
- Electronic Frontier Foundation's
Campaign for Audiovisual
- Open Source community and DVD
- Richard Stallman
-- Why We Must Fight UCITA
- Bad Software:
What To Do When Software Fails
- Copy Catfight:
How intellectual property laws stifle popular culture
- OpenLaw project
is also fighting
Millennium Copyright Act -
of the GNU Project and especially
- Information as a global public good: A right to knowledge and
- The Limits of Copyright
- The Letters of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): No Patents On Ideas
Death of Copyright [2000-07-13]
- Selling Wine Without Bottles -
The Economy of Mind on the Global Net by
Perry Barlow [2000-07-14]
- Against intellectual property, Chapter 3 of
Information Liberation, by
- Boycott RIAA Recordings
And Bands From Aug 1 - Aug 31 - Show the RIAA and the world who
really controls the music industry in this country. The FAN!
- Library System Terrorizes Publishing Industry
- Why copy protection is
- How things would
work in a copyright-free universe [2001-01-27]
- proposals for changes to the fair use doctrine in the context of
digital and Internet media, by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) [2001-03-08]
- Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Law after Napster
by Fred von Lohmann
Attorney-at-Law and Visiting Researcher Berkeley Center for Law &
Industry Plays Both Sides - after suing
Napster for copyright violations,
they want to distribute songs without paying to the authors!
- Publish Free or
Perish: Scientists Demand Open Access to Research.
The lesson that "you don't have to give up all your rights to your
work in exchange for publication" is one that musicians could
stand to learn as well. It appears that the scientists are faster
- Patents Are
An Economic Absurdity [2001-05-24]
- Harm from the
Hague - an international treaty threatens freedom of information
- Illegal Prime - under the DMCA, it is illegal to possess
this number [2001-06-14]
- Anti-DMCA - it's
your freedom! [2001-07-27]
- The End of Innovation? [2001-08-10]
in action: Silenced by the DMCA by
Niels Ferguson [2001-08-20]
- Under today's copyright laws, you are guilty until proved innocent
workers: Copyright law stifles [2001-09-10]
biz wants tougher DMCA - "privacy laws are our biggest impediment"
- Intellectual Property
Counter-Essay Contest [2001-10-29]
- Hacking the DMCA
- it appears that DMCA kills copyright! [2001-11-28]
- Lawrence Lessig answers questions on copyright [2001-12-22]
- Control & Creativity -
The future of ideas is in the balance By Lawrence Lessig [2002-03-14]
- The Mouse That Ate The Public Domain [2002-03-14]
- Patent nonsense:
Companies now demanding intellectual property rights were built up
without them [2002-03-14]
Absurd: Too many patents are just as bad for society as too few.
Triumphant: Free Software and the Death of Copyright [2002-06-15]
Internet Debacle - An Alternative View [2002-07-10]
Testifies to Stop Ride Sharing "Three sometimes four people are
sharing rides. Less wear and tear on the cars means fewer new car
purchases. That's revenue that's being robbed from Ford"
- "freedom to tinker"
- the right to understand, repair and modify one's own equipment - is
crucial to innovation, and as valuable to society as the freedom of
Abuse of Copyright [2002-10-14]
swap nets will win, DRM and lawyers lose, say MS researchers:
- Embrace file-sharing, or die:
"How can 50 million people (over 200 million worldwide) be wrong?
How do we reconcile the reality of downloaded music with the idea of
intellectual property?" [2003-02-02]
- The Copyright Cage [2003-08-06]
Are Not the Devil by Orson Scott Card: "the people
complaining about all the internet 'thieves' are, by any reasonable
measure, rapacious profiteers who have been parasitically sucking the
blood out of copyrights on other people's work." [2003-09-16]
Promise of a Post-Copyright World "copyright was designed
by distributors, to subsidize distributors not creators"
Innovation and Economic Growth: The Special Problem of Digital
Intellectual Property [2004-03-01]
dealt serious blow by Sixth Circuit Appeals Court [2004-11-01]
- Breaking The Law
- Downhill Battle [2005-05-25]
- Piracy unpreventable. Plan B: Just make music free:
Musicians give away recorded music to build their reputation. They
make money from concert tickets, licensed merchandise, selling rights
to their songs for TV commercials and movies, and anything else that
can't be undermined by free online distribution.
Today, the vast majority of musicians -- even big names -- don't make
much money from the sales of CDs. Almost all those profits are kept by
the record labels. But the labels don't get a cut from concerts and
Creativity, Computers and Copyright [2005-07-29]
- With technology, it's easy to break the law
- Owning ideas [2005-11-20]
Broadcasting Treaty seen as severely limiting essential freedoms
- Speak Free Music: Music
reviews and music business insight supporting the Free Music Philosophy
A Music Tax Is A Bad Idea [2008-12-11]
Say Copyright and Patent Laws Are Killing Innovation; Hurting Economy
book calls intellectual property an unnecessary evil)
- Against Monopoly:
defending the right to innovate [2009-03-11]
and Copyright, (HBS Working Paper 09-132) [2009-06-18]
- A copyright black hole swallows our culture [2009-09-09]
- 100 years of Big Content fearing technology - in its own words [2009-10-13]
- Against Intellectual Monopoly:
It is common to argue that intellectual property in the form of
copyright and patent is necessary for the innovation and creation of
ideas and inventions such as machines, drugs, computer software,
books, music, literature and movies. In fact intellectual property is
a government grant of a costly and dangerous private monopoly over
ideas. ... intellectual monopoly is not necessary for innovation and
as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.
- Copyright and wrong:
Why the rules on copyright need to return to their roots [2010-04-09]
- Computer & Communications Industry Association:
Industries that rely on fair use exceptions to copyright law
grew faster than the rest of the U.S. economy from 2002 to 2007,
expanded 5 percent and accounted for 23 percent of real economic
growth, according to a new economic study. [2010-04-28]
- 'Hollywood Accounting' Losing In The Courts,
RIAA Accounting: Why Even Major Label Musicians Rarely Make Money
From Album Sales [2010-07-13]
intellectual property laws are blocking innovation. [2011-02-14]
- music, movie, and software piracy is a market failure, not a legal one
Contrary to repeated claims that there are strong links between
piracy and organized crime, no such link exists.
No evidence that anti-piracy "education programs" have any
discernable impact on consumer behaviour.
The report also rejects the conventional wisdom that tougher
penalties provide a strong deterrent to piracy activities.
The pirate market cannot be said to compete with legal sales or
generate losses for industry. At the low end of the socioeconomic
ladder where such distribution gaps are common, piracy often simply
is the market.
Even in those jurisdictions where there are legal distribution
channels, pricing renders many products unaffordable for the vast
majority of the population. [2011-04-04]
- Copyright isn't just hurting creativity: it's killing science [2011-04-27]
- Survey Shows Piracy Common and Widely Accepted
...copyright infringement among family and friends is common, ... 46%
of adults and 75% of young people have bought, copied, or downloaded
some copyright infringing material. 70% of those surveyed said it's
reasonable to share music files with friends and family. Solid
majorities of American Internet users oppose copyright enforcement
when it is perceived to intrude on personal rights and
freedoms. Support for internet blocking schemes was 16%.
Copyright Infringement and Enforcement in the US
- Internet Regulation & the Economics of Piracy:
SOPA and PIPA would be ineffective mechanisms for addressing the
problem, and a terrible idea for many other reasons...
No matter how bad last season's crops were, witch burnings are a poor
policy response. [2012-02-01]
Of PC Users Are Pirates, Says Study [2012-05-22]
- Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively? [2012-10-04]
the BBC, CNN, and Wikipedia distributing illegal copies of Windows 8?
Nope, it's just another example of the Copyright Cartel gone wild
- add to this list