Rick Falkvinge: Creative Commons Torpedoes Copyright Industry Lies

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?

Creative Commons.

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 focuses on information policy.

(via TorrentFreak)

digital commons group at green academy

At the end of august I was invited/applied to Green Academy at croatian island Vis. It was a great and inspirational experience all-in-all. One of many things that came out from discussions within ‘digital commons group’ was also some kind of report, which I’m publishing here in a very raw form.

In the general world of commons problems are mostly localized and are sometimes addressable locally. The digital commons debate is already lasting for some time and the problem is that digital enclosures are conditioned globally through harmonization of intellectual monopoly regimes, limiting the capacity of localized action.

What are digital commons?:

  • culture, science & knowledge without property exclusions, limited by copyright regulation
  • a positive message relating to digital commons is that there is already abundance in the digital. It makes it more visible as a contradiction between property and social use and thus makes it more immediate to intervention by the commoners. Therefore, we have seen communities transforming the institutions.
  • protection of copyright monopolies expensive both socially and economically
  • there’s good things about digital commons and bad things: openness and universal access vs. commercial capture through monetizing of our relations to one another as in the example of Google’s page-rank –> our relationst to objects of the world are commodified by Amazon and our relations to our fellows is commodified by FBook

How is this changing the world of information, culture and knowledge?:

  • Free Software movement as a model of struggle against enclosure: it was an avant-guard movment as it gave a gift to the world, and then gift got split: big beneficiaries are proxies and commercial entities, but some of these gave us benefits too – however, given the opportunity they will move it back into an enclosure
  • this is an interesting lesson for other commons movement how commercial entities capture commons
  • a big commons built upon free software is internet

How this got replicated onto other fields beyond:

  • communities: free culture (Wikipedia) and piracy (ex Gigapedia/ LibGen/
  • institutions: open access to scientific journals, open education resources, public sector information & open governance/consultation/democratic procedures (Icelandic constitution writing process)
  • those initiatives and commons struggles that emphasized the user rights changed the perspective on copyright that prioritizes monopoly of right holders, and bottom-up initiatives to reform copyright (open content licenses and institutional mandates) should and could prove successful with institutions with a public mission
  • commercial approach is dominant in these institutional fields (commercial academic publisher) and we are now trying to revert the predatory practices of commercial actors

Looking forwards towards the future:

  • proxies such as big internet companies appropriate the commons, then the question becomes how do we reappropriate
  • proxies replace proxies, but can p2p replace Google and the question is then how do we produce that desire
  • observing the problem of commons in the digital domain reveals their common character on a global scale, however local they may appear observing other commons.

Thanks to: Marcel Mars (Nenad Romić), Tomislav Medak, Vuk Čosić, Jodi Dean and everyone else in the digital commons group.

Kiberpipa o sporazumu ACTA

ACTA je trgovinski sporazum za boj proti ponarejanju, ki je v nastajanju že več let in je v zadnjem času – predvsem pa po podpisu Slovenije – prejel veliko pozornosti predvsem zaradi strahu, da bo omejil svobodo govora na medmrežju. Gre za multilateralni sporazum, ki med drugim predlaga uvajanje novih mednarodnih kriterijev za uveljavljanje avtorskih pravic ter zaščite intelektualne lastnine.

Menimo, da gre pri sporazumu za več nedopustnih postavk, saj ACTA predstavlja ogrožanje zasebnosti, omejevanje inovacij in škodovanje mednarodni trgovini. Samo besedilo sporazuma je nejasno, dogovorjeno je bilo za zaprtimi vrati, večina držav v razvoju pa je bila izključena iz pogajanj.

Sporazum ACTA pomeni resno tveganje posledic zaradi neuravnoteženosti med varovanjem pravic, izhajajočih iz intelektualne lastnine in ohranjanja in varovanja temeljnih človekovih pravic, kot so svoboda izražanja, dostop do informacij in kulturnih dobrin ter pravice do zasebnosti.

Kiberpipa se zavzema za javno razpravo, predvsem pa za jasno zavrnitev sporazuma s strani Evropskega parlamenta. Kiberpipa se pridružuje mnenju La Quadrature du Net, da “je sporazum ACTA nastal skozi pogajanja za zaprtimi vrati namesto skozi demokratično razpravo in s tem zaobšel parlamente in mednarodne organizacije z namenom diktiranja represivne logike, ki jo vsiljujejo zabavne industrije. ACTA, podlaga za zakone kot so SOPA in PIPA, skozi kriminalizacijo prisiljuje medmrežne akterje k nadzoru in cenzuriranju komunikacije na spletu. S tem predstavlja grožnjo svobodi izražanja na medmrežju in ustvarja pravno negotovost za ponudnike interneta in ostala spletna podjetja. V imenu blagovnih znamk in patentov bo zagotovo ovirala dostop do generičnih zdravil v revnih deželah.

Na spletu in v javnosti na tak ali drugačen način že poteka javna razprava, specifično pa pozivamo:

– na javni protest 4. februarja ob 12h na Kongresni trg v Ljubljani
– na okroglo mizo v torek 7. februarja ob 19h v Kiberpipi
– na mednarodni dan protestov proti sporazumu ACTA 11.februarja
– da pišete našim poslancem v EP

pobuda za javno razpravo o sporazumu

Informacijska pooblaščenka RS o sporazumu ACTA

E-demokracija & Access Now o sporazumu acta

Helena Drnovšek Zorko: Zakaj sem podpisala sporazum ACTA

Analiza sporazuma na Slo-Tech

Evropski poslanci:

Mednarodni protest 11/feb

does software (re)produce identities and ideologies?

Situated on the “freedom” side of technology, the Free Software movement strives for equal possibilities of all citizen to use, modify, adapt and copy software for their purposes. Even if Free Software is open to everyone’s use and contribution, this is hardly the case in reality. On the opposite, it is seen as a closed movement of people with often a similar description: mostly white, mostly young, mostly Western country citizen, mostly male. Why is free software associated with this white-young-male personality and not with something else? Does software reproduce identities and ideologies, and if so, how can contributors and users of Free Software change the stereotype?

Keynote: Hackers for Social Justice by Christina Haralanova

we need to use social networks to get heard and this forces us into digital serfdom

You can turn your back on the social networks that matter in your field and be free and independent running your own site on your own domain. But increasingly that freedom is just the freedom to be ignored, the freedom to starve. We need to use social networks to get heard and this forces us into digital serfdom. We give more power to Big Web companies with every tweet and page we post to their networks while hoping to get a bit of traffic and attention back for ourselves. The open web of free and independent websites has never looked so weak.

Facebook’s Open Graph technology allows third-party websites to tell Facebook what people are doing. It extends Facebook’s Like button to include any action that the site owners think might be interesting to Facebook. Play a song and your music streaming site tells Facebook what you’ve played. Read a newspaper article and Facebook knows what you’ve read. LOL at a lolcat and your LOL gets logged for all time on your indelible activity record. Facebook calls this “frictionless sharing”, which is their euphemism for silent total surveillance. Once you’ve signed up for this (and it is optional, at least for now) you don’t need to do anything else to “share” your activity with Facebook. It’s completely automatic.