Who is Liberty?

Intellectual Property — Who’s Is It?

Posted in Copyright, Protecting Yourself by Christopher Sarda on July 27, 2010

The little machine I’m typing this on has created quite the stir the last decade or two. With this tiny little thing I basically have access to the vast majority of human thought. As for the classics Gutenberg is only a click away, and I have access to Shakespeare, Dante, Chaucer and a whole mess of other stuff I can care less about.

The stuff on Gutenberg.org is great, but it’s not a problem, there’s no question about the legality of Gutenberg, Shakespeare long ago fell into the public domain, but what about Stephen King’s It or The Matrix ? Today I can hop onto Isohunt and download either one free of charge. Is it stealing? Do most who do it feel like thieves?

Copyright law is broken.

Let’s just assume the government has the resources to start cracking down on all these criminals, is that the world we want to live in? An active government getting into computers to make sure we don’t have an illegal copy of the latest cartoon? What else are they going to look at? How else will they incriminate you? What if you’re innocent, but they check anyway? Would that be justified? For the greater good?

We’re in limbo right now. Copyright policy REFORM is the only answer. Without it, staying in this limbo can be fatal for both sides. My freedoms are in danger for reasons mentioned above, but the whole entertainment industry is also at risk. A business needs to know the rules in order to operate, and the rules we have now are fuzzy and unenforceable.

The basics of my plan are to admit that private personal use is free. There’s no getting around it. What should remain copyright protected, is the right to make money off of your intellectual property. If you write a book, I’d be able to download it and read it in my home, I prefer to buy them and hold them though, but I couldn’t turn it to a hit special effects summer blockbuster, without buying the right from you. Now after you’re paid and someone does buy those rights, I could download the film at home for free, (although I do prefer to go out some nights with my wife and watch a movie in an actual cinema) but I could not create action figures, and lunchboxes with characters from the movies and make a profit.

It’s true though, that in my pretend world, there would probably be less summer blockbuster 200 million dollar special effect bonanzas, and artists with the popularity levels of The Beatles and The Backstreet Boys would go the way of Conan on NBC. No matter what changes, PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP WRITING BOOKS. PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP MAKING MOVIES. PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP COMPOSING SONGS.

I would argue that there would be more to chose from and more niche markets. But…

WE WILL NOT STOP CREATING.

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