Copyright: Protecting who from whom?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 13:58

As I'm not currently working on any suitable paper, I'll just post this to my blog so it does not completely slip off my radar ;-) Also, it might be interesting to my reader. Readers? Oh, there are two of you now? Good!

Yesterday, I learnt thanks to Beatriz Busaniche that a group of South American Free Culture activists launched number zero of a magazine that promises to be very interesting: Cultura RWX, cultura en modo lectura, escritura y acción (culture in reading, writing and action mode). Guys, best luck with this new project!

Anyway, reading it, I found this asseveration I want to keep at hand:

(…)cuando surge la industria musical aparecen los derechos de autor como forma de defensa de los productores musicales, específicamente los músicos. No tanto frente a los usuarios, porque hasta el “cassette” no existió posibilidad de copiar una obra musical. Era una defensa frente a las discográficas, que buscaban cerrar contratos muchas veces abusivos con los artistas.

— Música en Libertad: La industria musical frente al cambio de paradigma; Matías Lennie, adaptación: Sebastián Vazquez

Yes, yes, translating to English:

(…)when the musical industry was born, copyright appeared as a means of defense of the musical producers, specifically of the musicians. Not so much against the users, because up until the invention of the “cassette” there was no possibility to copy a musical creation. It was a defense against the discographic companies, which tried to close often abusive contracts with the artists.

Music in Freedom: Musical industry and the paradigm shift; Matías Lennie, adaptation: Sebastián Vázquez

I have argued (i.e. in here) in this same line regarding the birth of copyright itself — It was an arrangement that had to be made between writers and printers, back in the XVI/XVII centuries. Simple individuals were just unable to get anything of value out of the copying technology they had at hand.

Copyright was born in a time where reproduction required specialized equipment. Today, massive reproduction technology is a given for a good portion of the planet's population. Copyright now only defends big corporations — And will inevitably fade away as anachronic. Of course, it refuses to go without a fight... But it cannot win long-term. We cannot afford to allow it!

Joe Buck's picture

Careful what you wish for

Without copyright, there is nothing to compel people who modify GPL software to release the source code, and contracts could still be used to create a proprietary software world (you'd have to sign an EULA before receiving a binary and DRM technology could be inserted to track you).

More just arrangements are going to have to include something like copyright, appropriately restricted to prevent injustice.

gwolf's picture

Precisely.

Free / strong-copyleft licenses are –in my view– the best way to cope with the b0rken system we have. It would be much better not to need them — Yes, I understand your point; were it not for copyright, nothing would forgive people from giving us closed, binary-only blobs. However, I am sure there would be a clever hack out of that situation, just as the GPL is to the current one. After all, we live in a strong-copyright world, yet we have managed to create a complete ecosystem of free software, and the free culture corpii continue to grow. Why would it happen differently in the complete absence of copyright, or given a more adequate law to our reality?

Anonymous's picture

Distributing studio quality

Distributing studio quality work only at gigs is a good way to take back control. The average ear doesnt need high definition sound.

catsuit latex's picture

Christian Louboutin et toutes les chaussures de marque

the free culture corpii continue to grow. Why would it happen differently in the complete absence of copyright, or given a more adequate law to our reality?
there is nothing to compel people who modify GPL software to release the source code, and contracts could still be used to create a proprietary software world (you'd have to sign an EULA before receiving a binary and DRM technology could be inserted to track you).