The copyright industry has long repeated the claim to politicians that the copyright monopoly is necessary for any culture to be created at all, to the point where politicians actually believe this nonsense. Actually, their ‘lie’ is divided into two parts:
The first falsehood is that authors, makers, and inventors must be paid for anything to be created at all. This lie is actually rather obscene coming from an industry which has deliberately created structures that make sure 99.99% of musicians never see a single cent in royalties: 99% of good musicians are never signed by a label, and of those who are, 99% never see a cent in royalties. So it’s quite obscene arguing that culture must be paid for, when this very industry makes sure that less than one artist in ten thousand get any money for their art.
The second lie is that the only way for artists to make any money is to give the copyright industry an absolute private governmentally-sanctioned distribution monopoly, the copyright monopoly, that takes precedence over any kind of innovation, technology, and civil liberties. This is an equally obscene lie: all research shows that artists make more money than ever since the advent of file sharing, but the sales-per-copy is down the drain. The fact that the parasitic middlemen are hurting is the best news ever for artists, who get a much larger piece of the pie. Of course, the copyright industry – the parasitic middlemen in question – insist on pretending their interests are aligned with those of the artist, which they never were.
Therefore, in believing these two lies combined, politicians grant this private governmentally-sanctioned monopoly – the copyright monopoly – in the belief that such a harmful monopoly is necessary for culture to exist in society. (Just to illustrate what kind of blatant nonsense this is, all archeological digs have been rich in various expressions of culture. We create as a species because we can’t exist in a society and not express culture – it’s because of our fundamental wiring: not because of a harmful monopoly.)
So what could act as conclusive proof that these lies are, well, lies?
In the construct of Creative Commons, you have placed the power over this monopoly with the authors and makers themselves, rather with the parasitic middlemen. And the interesting observation is, that once you do, millions of creators renounce their already-awarded harmful monopolies for a number of reasons – because they make more money that way, because they prefer to create culture that way, or because it’s the moral thing to do.
Once you point out that the actual people who create are renouncing their already-awarded monopolies, and are doing so by the millions – actually, more than an estimated one billion works of art according to the Creative Commons organization – the entire web of lies falls apart.
The copyright monopoly isn’t necessary for culture to exist. It was always tailored to benefit the parasitic middlemen. And these middlemen have tried their damndest to prevent actual artists from seeing any of the money.
Now, you could argue that specific expressions of culture couldn’t exist. You’d be easily disproven – for example, most multimillion-dollar blockbusters make their investment back on opening weekend, far before any digital copy exists as a torrent. Besides, why would you prop up and lock in a specific form of culture with a harmful monopoly, when forms of culture have always evolved with humanity?
Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.