Circumventing patents in South-Africa Edit
A constitutional court ruling in South Africa forbids the criminal prosecution and incarceration of people for civil debt. This is a significant loophole to exploit for the purpose of implementing patented ideas because patent infringement is a civil issue and not criminal. The only criminal aspect could be that a court order is ignored directing a company to cease production. This in turn is circumvented by using decentralized manufacturing and fronting companies, if one company or premise is shutdown, then start another one.
Justice Bradley 1882 on patents Edit
- See GPL and BSD GPL emulates the effect of a patent, access to the source is provided but its implementation is restricted.
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=09/09/08/1731257 "It creates a class of speculative schemers who make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement, and gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies, which enable them to lay a heavy tax upon the industry of the country, without contributing anything to the real advancement of the arts. It embarrasses the honest pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of concealed liens and unknown liabilities lawsuits and vexatious accountings for profits made in good faith." (Atlantic Works v. Brady, 1017 U.S. 192, 200 (1882)).
Nina Paley Edit
http://www.skepticaleye.com/2011/08/intellectual-property-is-theft.html ”Intellectual property,” exactly like your grandfather’s tariff, is just a restriction on who has the right to sell a thing in a particular market. IP performs the same protectionist role for transnational corporations that tariffs once performed for national industrial corporations.
The majority of TNCs’ profits are from royalties or licensing fees. The most profitable industries in the global economy are those with business models based on IP: Pharma, biotech, entertainment, software. Patents give Western corporations a lockdown on the latest generation of production technology, effectively relegating Third World countries to supplying cheap raw materials and sweatshop labor. Trademark and patent laws enable corporate headquarters to outsource actual production to job shops in China or Vietnam, while charging a 1000% markup in retail outlets.
Intellectual protectionism apologists tell us ignoring patent and copyright monopolies is theft. It’s not. It’s legitimate free market competition. “Intellectual property” is theft.
Thomas Jefferson on patents Edit
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possess the less, because every other possess the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
Why hackers will save the world - video Edit
- Ogg Theora video by Glyn Moody: http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.co.za/
- http://www.grancanariadesktopsummit.org/node/406 Moody describes how a hacker sequenced the genome with Linux before Craig Venter's Celera company could. Had Celera succeeded they would have patented preventing innovation in medicine.
Supreme court on copyright Edit
Interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: ... 'an infringer of the copyright.' ...
The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use. While one may colloquially link infringement with some general notion of wrongful appropriation, infringement plainly implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud. --Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, pp. 217-218
http://www.glenstark.net/ Intellectual Property This is another manipulative, loaded term. For a good discussion consult articles on the subject by Richard M Stallman, or the Free Software Foundation. Briefly though, the umbrella term “intellectual property” conflates a number of completely distinct concepts including copyright, trademark, and patent law. These things have far less in common than they have in contrast, but they are routinely lumped together. The reason such disparate subjects are grouped together in such a meaningless and confusing way is quite clear: copyright, patent, and to a lesser extent trademark law have morphed into gargantuan legal constructs which overreach their original intent, and far from serving their original function actually work counter to their original purpose. They have become a tool for large monopolists to control, restrict and parasitically profit from human creativity. This distorts our culture and slows our progress as a society. In particular the scope and implementation of copyright and patent law have reached such an egregious state they directly oppose our own common sense and innate sense of justice. As a result, the oligarchies whose profligate lifestyles depends on the exploitation of people using these laws require a powerful system of propaganda to maintain their positions of power and wealth. Since they control the media they have been largely successful in this. One example is the campaigns that confuse copyright-violation and theft (two completely distinct things). Another is the nearly ubiquitous use of the term “intellectual property” which serves two powerful roles: First, by conflating unrelated issues it makes it far more difficult to have a meaningful discussion on the subject, and second it creates an association between copyright, trademark, and patents with actual property rights.
Open manufacturing Edit
Copying isn't theft Edit
Theft is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak for copyright violation, along with the other newspeak vocabulary “intellectual property”. It’s a very deliberate propaganda aimed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_%28social_sciences%29 the discussion of copyright by mapping it onto a vocabulary which unconsciously prejudices our thinking, by bringing our cultural value of private property into play.
This framing, this point of view is completely and demonstrably incorrect. That fact that this propaganda is so successful has devastating effects on our culture, which will take years to properly understand. But the propaganda is highly successful, primarily because the dominant means for cultural dissemination (film, music, television) are controlled by large corporations. This structure is very effective at censoring and biasing the discussion. http://vimeo.com/14739677
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704881304576094221050061598.html is an article typical of discussing the reasons for social stratification but leaves out the effect of wealth concentration due to patents. Both black and white people will be divided into a super rich class and those on food stamps. This is not a racial issue but an ignorance problem with the news media creating a false dichtomy(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dichtomy) between white and black people.
hardware - software dichotomy is bogus Edit
http://ploum.net/post/working-with-patents hardware - software dichotomy is bogus
Gridlock economy Edit
In the second decade of the twentieth century, it was almost impossible to build an airplane in the United States. That was the result of a chaotic legal battle among the dozens of companies—including one owned by Orville Wright—that held patents on the various components that made a plane go.
- RobertSteele Adds additional insights and points out some weaknesses in Lessig's book such as David Weinberger on "Open Spectrum."
Patents are stifling innovation. The thesis is that too much ownership can work to 'gridlock' economic progress, investment and innovation. This is explored in how granting too large a bundle of rights for patents has hobbled many high-technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical development efforts, threatening U.S. prosperity and consumer well-being. Also, a fine chapter on how U.S. radio spectrum, subject for decades to FCC over-specification of permissible uses and politically-constrained allocation practices, is presently a mostly-wasted public resource. The chapter on Russia's efforts to adopt property rights in the retail and apartment markets alone is worth the price.
- http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/ Copyright issues
- http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/lu-16.html patenting of ideas
- http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Links_to_be_processed Links to links on software patents
- http://www.amazon.com/Free-Future-Radical-Chris-Anderson/dp/1401322905#noop Free: The future of a radical price
- Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars - book on Amazon
- http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/11/big-content-using-moral-panics-to-change-copyright-law.ars Google copyright lawyer
- http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Studies_on_economics_and_innovation and http://en.swpat.org/wiki/South_Africa
- http://ffii.org/ Prevented software patents in EU
- http://mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_1.pdf I also do not need to rely on “ownership” of my labor; strictly speaking, labor cannot be owned, and labor ownership need not be relied on to show that I maintain ownership of my property as I transform it.
- http://blog.mises.org/archives/011449.asp Good anti patent arguments
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property Initiated 1580 by Queen Elizabeth I. There did not exist such a thing is IP,patents or copyright 2000 years ago when the Lord Jesus walked the earth.
- http://techdirt.com/articles/20100302/0213558355.shtml Judge arguments on patents
- http://autonomo.us/2010/03/richard-stallman-on-saas/ 'Richard Stallman
- http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html Pro software patents
- http://www.osnews.com/story/23236/Why_Our_Civilization_s_Video_Art_and_Culture_is_Threatened_by_the_MPEG-LA Read only society
- http://www.gridlockeconomy.com/buy.html The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives (Hardcover)
- http://www.publicknowledge.org Opposes copyright
* http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail349.html * http://www.digitalmajority.org/swpatnews * http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090717043855128 * http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/280/5364/698 * http://opencopy.org/articles/disney-as-mass-deception/ * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_anticommons * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patents * http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/articlesmt/writing.shtml * http://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/copybot-roils-secondlife-economy * http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=09/03/10/239249 * http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/549822/?sc=dwhn * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act
Capitalism is not free market Edit
Patents and copyrights are preventing Green energy solutions such as StirlingEngine and less oil usage. http://techrights.org/2009/07/11/study-shows-patents-stifle-innovation/ "...The Japanese company is betting the rules will give an advantage to its expanding lineup of hybrid vehicles, and it also aims to boost revenue by licensing to other car makers the patents that protect its fuel-saving technologies.This all sounds wonderful for Toyota, but what about society as a whole?...."
Vast amounts of money are paid over to the middle east unavailable for domestic EU, African and American usage. This leads to scarcity of resources resulting in lower income people voting for the Democrats to implement socialist policies and redistribute and ever shrinking tax pool. Capitalism and socialism shouldn't be confused with the arbitrary restriction of ideas and their implementation.
Going green is presented by CNN as a moral issue and how evil oil consumers don't want to save the earth. The real problem is that Green energy BatteryTech and StirlingEngine aren't cost competitive with oil because of patent and royalties. On a monetary basis one would switch over to BatteryTech cars, but this can't be done because Oil companies are shackling the production of NiMH batteries via a patent. CNN never makes an issue about this fact because it would rally people to abolish patents and copyright. The mass media are protecting their own interests with imaginary property and creating a false Good/evil dichotomy with an imaginary problem - GlobalWarming. They tell us to "cut back consumption" which induces recessions , leading to boom bust cycles. With each bust the Fed has to enact stimulus measures increasing the debt burden. Less funds is available for destitute Africa, who cuts down trees PeakWood upsetting the global flow of moisture and rainfall patterns. All of this can be traced back to copyrights and patents.
If South-Africa could stop importing oil by extensive usage of BatteryTech and StirlingEngine we could implement socialist policies such as a basic income grant. Capitalist policies or socialist policies per se isn't the real issue, but the arbitrary restriction of energy ideas. The only crises the world really faces is an energy crises, Republicans and Democrat voters must realize that CNN and Foxnews is playing them for the fool, telling them what they want to hear, confusing the issues. Vote for a pirate party, vote for the EU and FED to buy out the 2000 StirlingEngine and BatteryTech patents.
http://www.capitalismhitsthefan.com is typical of the confusion between cause and effect. "...Wolff traces the source of the economic crisis to the 1970s, when wages began to stagnate and American workers were forced into a dysfunctional spiral of borrowing and debt that ultimately exploded in the mortgage meltdown...." Many of these same American workers complaining about their reduced purchasing power, were the fools given the right to vote to have Nuclear and Fossil fuel energy production destroyed. The cause was stupid people voting to gut energy production, the effect was stagnant wages from 1970: Don't confuse cause with effect. Capitalism itself mustn't be confused with the bribes paid to Bill Clinton by Arabs and Russians to prevent Alaskan oil exploration and with the evil people on the Supreme Court who effectively ruled in favor of software patents. Actions have consequences , when stupid people are given the right to vote the result is economic and environmental destruction as can be seen in Africa who are gutting their rain forests for energy because the Democrats think that eliminating oil will save the earth. It will destroy global weather and rain patterns actually.
The Bible says ".... my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...." This can be generalized: Americans are having their way of life destroyed not for lack of resources but for lack of brains. Only Americans have the power to vote for oil and nuclear energy in the USA, the rest of the world must suffer the consequences. This process where people voted to starve and freeze to death took place within a capitalist, democratic system. Germany has to import nuclear energy from France and so does the UK. England had to import 2GigaWatt through the Euro tunnel in 2010 because ignorant British voters prevented nuclear power. There can't be jobs and wage growth without energy.
Religious view on patents Edit
In not a single religion 2000 years ago was there any notion of forbidding people from implementing or copying ideas, books etc. Patents and copyright is a recently modern contrivance , the last 300/400 years. From the Bible theft is only defined as taking physical goods, one can't steal ideas in any form whether in books, digital etc.
Copyright is a form of freedom-of-speech suppression. One can't legally make a paragraph for paragraph comment on a book that pushes a particular view point.
One way around this:
- Scan the book with OCR and tag each paragraph and sentence with a number using the Python programming language.
History of copyright and piracy Edit
You can't own an idea Edit
http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/2009/07/patents-dont-promote-innovation-study.html "...If I write a book, or a song, I do not own these for the simple reason that they are built on the creations of my predecessors: there is no art created in a vacuum. Even if it reacts *against* something, that something was needed for the reaction, and so what I create is not purely due to me...." [Labor theory of property @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_theory_of_property ] >> When a person works, that labor enters into the object. Thus, the object becomes the property of that person.
Problem is that many work towards inventions, yet patent law gives it all to a single entity. For example, patent law takes away from the labor I did to create item X that ended up inspiring a conversation between you and someone, from which you got inspiration towards your invention. I contributed because without my item X, you would not have made that invention as/when you did.
IP on Green tech Edit
Patents solidify the positions of green IP holders preventing companies in less advanced nations by taking their cut of (or limiting production of) the "green" products that will be required to play in the newly-legally-mandated global green economy. CO2 policy could be used to keep richer nations dominant via IP. IP prevents industry from competing these days. From a macroeconomic point of view it's the equivalent of a heavy taxation scheme, and a very inefficient one at that, leading to higher costs in industry and workforce and rendering it uncompetitive.
Say, you have an idea for improving the efficiency of solar panels. Commercializing it will cost many millions of dollars, but there is a healthy expanding market. Why not? Well, if there are several patents held by other organizations on inferior solar panels, but including necessary aspects of your better design, this severely restricts future profits from sale of the improved panels, and the viability of development. Unfortunately, this is not just theoretical. It is the what happens time and time again. Often, the obvious aspects of some technology get patented early which makes it uneconomic to do the necessary optimization of the process for a decade or more.
Copyright and patents: A game with words Edit
http://eupat.ffii.org/patents/effects/ Changing copyright rules by means of patents: Microsoft has prohibited a Free Software programmer from writing import/export filters for its Advanced Streaming Format (ASF). The programmer wanted interoperability with a format that Microsoft is promoting. But for Microsoft, interoperability is in this case doubly disadvantageous: besides reducing the lock-in effect, on which Microsoft's platform strategy relies, it also can circumvent the locks on unauthorized copying, by which Microsoft wants to attract content providers to its ASF platform. Whereas in the DeCSS case a court ruling was necessary to enforce new draconian copyright provisions of the highly disputed Digital Millenium Act, in the ASF case a simple patent suffices to achieve the same legislative goal.
Viterbi patents Edit
http://eupat.ffii.org/patents/effects/ Viterbi: 1 Algorithmus, 4470 Patente: The Viterbi Algorithm helps calculate the probability that a sequence of observations represents an intended ideal construction (e.g. that a mispronounced word is actually that word). It was published in 1967 and has a vast field of applications. An exemplary case of software patentability was established around algorithm in 1992-1996 in Germany. At the EPO and USPTO the dam broke earlier, resulting in a flood of 4470 patents which clutter various fields from telecommunication, data transmission to speech recognition, text processing and business process optimisation. These patents are sometimes cited as an example of a kind of data processing that solves "technical problems" and can be distinguished from "data processing as such" or "pure business methods".
Not all rights are property rights Edit
You can't own an idea. Violating someone's copyright is no more "theft" than violating their right-of-way is. Not all rights are property rights. Legal firms would obviously not want the patent/copyright extortion racket to cease functioning. There is no such concept as "intellectual property" anywhere in the Bible. If something really belongs to you then how can a government official decide it only remains yours for 20 years? Lets take the first person who invented the wheel, it was his idea. Lets say it cost him three paw-paws and one tiger skin to perfect. He and five tribal wizards form a government and decree that henceforth he and his offspring must be paid for eternity royalties. So lets say half the planet are not his offspring, this half then has to pay the other half? Like copyright law, patent law was never meant to prevent the duplication of a product, process, or idea. http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=09/07/05/0714203 It was only meant to prevent the duplication FOR PROFIT. I personally met one individual who patented a method to modify carburetors to increase fuel mileage. He sold his patent to GM. The man still worked on cars, and modified those big Chevy Impalas to get 30+ MPG. If he worked on your car, he could not accept payment. Doing so would have put him in violation of patent law. But, doing the very same work for his own amusement was perfectly legal.
Paul Graham Edit
http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html In return for the exclusive right to use an idea, you have to publish it, and it was largely to encourage such openness that patents were established. .....Before patents, people protected ideas by keeping them secret. With patents, central governments said, in effect, if you tell everyone your idea, we'll protect it for you. Patents, like police, are involved in many abuses. But in both cases the default is something worse. The choice is not "patents or freedom?" any more than it is "police or freedom?" The actual questions are respectively "patents or secrecy?" and "police or gangs?" ....As with gangs, we have some idea what secrecy would be like, because that's how things used to be. The economy of medieval Europe was divided up into little tribes, each jealously guarding their privileges and secrets. In Shakespeare's time, "mystery" was synonymous with "craft." Even today we can see an echo of the secrecy of medieval guilds, in the now pointless secrecy of the Masons.
Counter argument to Paul Graham Edit
Graham wrote: ... .. The economy of medieval Europe was divided up into little tribes.....
The economy of Europe was dominated by 'guilds' not 'tribes' restricting the implementation of ideas. Italy persisted in guild while the UK disbanded them, allowing the free implementation of ideas and extending the UK economy while Italy's was hobbled. Patents and the GPL license provides the source, but restricts the implementation of the ideas. Furthermore patents get extended after expiry and provides powerful companies with a weapon to litigate against competitors for frivolous reasons with the intent of bankrupting them. He implies that products won't get to market which is incorrect.
His gangs/police is a false analogy. Police forces prevent the confiscation of physical property by gangs.
All the designs on StirlingEngines have been published something like 2000. The problem now that these patent holders won't allow their inventions to be commercialized at affordable rates because a patent holder had to buy out other patents and won't make a return on the capital employed. These 100 key patent holders is preventing the other patent holder from commercializing his design.
Thus no benefits in anycase comes of the inventions, had there been no patents , millions of perhaps less efficient than the Whispergen Wobble Yoke($22000 for 1kwatt AC) StirlingEngine would have at least been produced. We have a limited lifespan on this earth, what little benefit we could have had today is now lost for ever, patents might encourage innovation in the long run, but in the long run we are all dead as the breast cancer victims can attest who can't pay $3000 for a key breast cancer patented gene scan procedure.
It is one thing to come up with an innovation that cures all cancers that involved costs of say $2trillion in research, but the catch is now very few can use the innovation. Too little or no patents on cancer research might prevent research, but so does having 4million patents by 4million different royalty seekers each preventing the other from commercializing the inventions. The solution is to completely ban all patents and copyright, it might not be the best solution but is the best compromise.
Distinction between software and hardware patents is flawed logically Edit
There is no difference between software and hardware. Both are comprised of ideas which have been given form. Yes, the form of one is electrons, and the form of the other is atoms, but the base is the idea, and ideas have form only when people act upon them. Software is algorithms, which is maths, which cannot be patented, circuits are software made out of hardware, it follows that we shouldn't allow patents for circuits.
* http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/2009/07/no-patents-for-circuits-since-you.html * http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-171018/businessweek:are-patent-problems-stifling-u-s-innovation
From http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20071101145010612 we have this interpretation ".... software patents are even more foolish than physical world patents......" thus makes a logically erroneous distinction between "physical" and "spiritual"(software) as per this logic "....Patent law in most countries says that algorithms aren't patentable. This rule is left over from a time when "algorithm" meant something like the Sieve of Eratosthenes. In 1800, people could not see as readily as we can that a great many patents on mechanical objects were really patents on the algorithms they embodied....." from http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html. Which makes sense, when you patent a mechanical contraption , you are actually patenting an idea of it. In the same way you can't patent the world of software ideas. If one can't "steal" a software idea such as one-click from Amazon then by the same logic you can't steal an idea of how to make an electric car.
By this logic Slashdot's distinction between "software" and "hardware" patents is logically flawed.
https://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/10/02/1426208/Red-Hat-Files-Amicus-Brief-In-Bilski-Patent%7C "....0]I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Red Hat has filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court in regards to the In Re Bilski case, which has become incredibly important due to the possibility that it could redefine the scope of patentable subject matter in a way that affects software patents. In the brief, Red Hat argues that software should not be considered patentable subject matter because it causes economic harm due to patents being granted with vague subject matter, which makes it impossible to say that a given piece of software doesn't arguably infringe upon someone's patent. They also point out Knuth's famous quote that you can't differentiate between 'numeric' and 'non-numeric' algorithms, because numbers are no different from other kinds of precise information." Read below for the submitter's thoughts on an earlier amicus brief filed in the Bilski case by Professor Lee Hollaar....."
From [url]http://mybroadband.co.za/news/Software/9693.html[/url] [url]http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html[/url] "..... Are software patents a bad thing? According to Paul Graham, if you are opposed to software patents, you logically are opposed to patents in general. ...."
Which has been the point of many articulate authors as per [url]http://bit.ly/7JkmM[/url]. A Linux geek will hack a software patent but somehow feels it is immoral to hack Lipitor cholesterol drugs and giving these drugs away for free or at cost price. Both Lipitor drugs, Solar energy generation and Amazon's one-click patent is the implementation of an idea. It exists as an abstract concept in somebodies mind. The opensource Linux freesoftware movement isn't being logically consistent in their view that software(which is just an idea) shouldn't be patentable but making Lipitor (which is an idea) should be patentable. You can't have this both ways: Spoor & Fisher is correct in their view. If hacking the Lipitor patent is immoral then so is hacking the One-click Amazon idea immoral.
Now what is morality? That depends on your religious belief system. If you believe in the Bible then where does the Bible say copying somebodies idea is theft. If you know that doesn't view copying the formula for lipitor as theft and yet you as a sheister lawyer are using the Bible to convince Xtians that they are immoral in saving a person's life who can't afford Lipitor then you are a liar.
Theft in the Bible is only defined as taking physical property and deceiving other people as to what the Bible says so as to make money out of them is at the level of a false prophet. You can't own an idea. Violating someone's copyright is no more "theft" than violating their right-of-way is. Not all rights are property rights. As Richard Stalman said: "Pirates physically attack ships, giving away an idea for free isn't attacking anybody." The media empires says we can't "pirate" their Discovery DSTV video stream, but if you copy the video stream DSTV still has a copy of it. Nobody walked into the offices of the NaspersProblem with a baseball bat , nobody was harmed or attacked.
And one can take this logic one step further: To whom does 900Mhz belong or Icasa? Did the Bible give any government the right over air molecules, light or the electromagnetic spectrum. Air molecules as a means of communication belong to us all, but this doesn't mean one can install a speaker and beam noise at 100db. In the same way one can't pollute the electromagnetic spectrum by over-amping but by implementing the correct technology such as a combination of FSO and Wimax. There is nothing wrong with setting up your own cell LTE service on 900Mhz in such a way that Vodacom's networks aren't disrupted: The reasonable man principle applies.
Thus if you morally can't patent Amazon's one-click buying [b]Idea[/b], you can't patent , license, copyright or arbitrarily control: 1) FSO nor methods of generating energy. 2) Neither the formula for Lipitor drugs. 3) The electromagnetic spectrum . 4) Any other idea existing in any form books, computers etc.
Copyright is a semantic play on the word Patent: They both are essentially the same thing, the arbitrary control of an abstract concept. A concept which like the number 4 is neither here nor there, it exists only in your head. In the same way that nobody can patent, copyright or restrict the abstract concept of the number 4, nobody can copyright his ideas published in any format.
And thus if you can't patent something, then neither can you copyright something. If you can't patent software, you can't patent hardware and thus by logic neither can you copyright software, DSTV Discovery video streams or any other implementation of an idea.
* http://www.amazon.com/Math-You-Cant-Use-Copyright/dp/0815749422 Maths you can't use * http://www.amazon.com/Patent-Failure-Bureaucrats-Lawyers-Innovators/dp/069113491X/ref=pd_sim_b_2 * http://www.amazon.com/Innovation-Its-Discontents-Endangering-Progress/dp/0691127948/ref=pd_sim_b_4
Novell patents Edit
http://boycottnovell.com/2009/07/11/study-shows-patents-stifle-innovation/ This kind of confusion is typical of a document that has a distinct air of desperation about it. It suggests that the fans of intellectual monopolies are beginning to flail around for a handhold – any handhold – in an attempt to defy the pull of history, and to lock down knowledge through the use of overlong copyright and overbroad patents while they can. It is a further sign of increasing irrelevance of the G8 meeting as power begins to shift to the developing world, which has quite different ideas and priorities when it comes to enforcing Western monopolies on their internal markets.
Software patents would have prevented the Internet Edit
One man - one judge enabled software patents, had this deceived individual done so earlier the Internet might not have existed. This link http://politechbot.com/pipermail/politech/2004-April/000604.html explains that the Telco's didn't want the Internet, had it not been for opensource collaboration the Internet would never have existed. PolitechBot In the marketplace, IP was a direct competitor to the private telephone companies' OSI -- that failed despite billions of dollars in direct government investment, compared to a few millions in the ARPAnet and NSFnet (predecessors of the commercial Internet). Point-to-Point Protocol, developed in open cooperation among a large number of companies, institutions, and individual consultants through the IETF. As an open source contributor, my PPP software proliferated into many projects, including proprietary products. And that's what allowed the "common user" to dial-up the Internet, leading to an entire industry of widespread Internet Service Providers. The [url]http://www.gridlockeconomy.com/[/url] explains that most people don't realize how putting a cage around ideas is directly leading to environmental destruction and death. South Africa is having billions of dollars extorted by IBM, Pfizer and others via International IP laws that could result in economic sanctions should we not comply. We have very scarce foreign exchange, of which a certain % must be repatriated to the USA for using their Imaginary Property. China in most cases refuse though.
software patents Edit
http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20071101145010612 Software patents I'd like to put that oft repeated misconception to rest. First, the same type of logic you use to debunk the myth that software patents are needed.. Pharmaceuticals are immensely profitable. Since profits = income - costs, their true costs must be nowhere near what is implied.. And/Or their income (read - sales) is too high. Secondly, much, if not most, research is done by (under)grad students at universities.. using government (meaning tax or 'our') money. Rather ironic that we, the people, should pay through the nose to buy what we payed through the nose to create.. All while pharmaceutical investors get rich on our illnesses? None of that detracts in any way from the truth that standards need to be available (read, open) to all & that software patents are even more foolish than physical world patents. For ever, it seems, engineers have battled politicos (logic versus emotion) over what is 'the best way'. It boggles the mind that in 2007, the world is still as irrational (money & power are more important than solving the worlds problems) as it was in the dark ages.
Copyright 100 years ago Edit
http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=09/07/18/1658211 'Many and numerous classes of public benefactors continue ceaselessly to pour forth their flood of useful ideas, adding to the common stock of knowledge. No one regards it as immoral or unethical to use these ideas and their authors do not suffer themselves to be paraded by sordid interests before legislative committees uttering bombastic speeches about their rights and representing themselves as the objects of "theft" and "piracy." http://www.thepublicdomain.org/2009/07/17/were-we-smarter-100-years-ago/
Pro Patent propaganda site funded by Microsoft Edit
http://www.ipi.org/ A key to economic growth is participating in functioning markets, and markets do not function without property protection. Indeed, markets are created and facilitated by property rights. Intellectual property (IP), or the protection of specific inventions, creations and innovations, has always been a key to economic growth. But in today's information economy, intellectual property is a more important driver of economic growth than ever before. Hence, because of our strong emphasis on economic growth, IPI believes that intellectual property protection should be a key policy priority for policy makers. Ironically, today intellectual property is under attack as never before by a cadre of law professors, activists, and the economically naive who believe that somehow intellectual property is a barrier to innovation. So IPI is increasingly making intellectual property protection one of our key policy priorities. And while IP protection is obviously important to developed economies such as those of the United States, Europe, and Asia, intellectual property is also a key engine of economic opportunity for creators and innovators in developing countries. So IPI is engaged in the defense of intellectual property protection at the international level as well.
Building our own products because Altech can't Edit
Patents are making it impossible for companies such as Altech to commercialize innovative ideas. Thus phenomenal advances in technology such as WiMax means nothing to us if a base station costs R150 000 because there are over 200 patent licensing fees must be paid by Altech. This is why manufacturing will increasingly be done via citizens themselves in countries with weak IP laws such as South Africa. SA IP laws are strong enough to prevent Altech from selling us cheap OFDM SoftwareDefinedRadios (100Meg over 100km) on 400Mhz but not strong enough for a "shadow network" of cooperation between SA citizens. Building a bridge and making WiMax devices are easy. There is nothing complicated about this from a technical point of view, it is the patents preventing engineers from implementing the correct technical solutions.
Wimax is just software Edit
"....Software companies are smart and inventive, and they will continue to come up with new, if ever more specialized, products. The industry will remain a large and important one, but it seems fated to resemble more and more a traditional, mature sector like manufacturing. It is no longer unthinkable to say that software's glory days lie in the past, not the future...."
Vodacom isn't a telecoms firm it is a legal firm with an antenna on it's roof. It doesn't own hardware towers it owns a set of OFDM, Viterbi and Reed-Solomon mathematical routines that it uses to transmit information. The towers wear out but mathematics will never wear out. When Vodacom bilks us R5/min for a phone call it is charging you for using a mathematical algorithm over and over again. Once we can lay our hands on these algorithms and IP cores such as 802.16e from SeaSolvewe would be able to establish mini Vodacoms on any frequency.
What is copyright Edit
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/03/1628233&tid=172 And yet it really does get to the heart of the matter. What IS copyright, anyway? It started off as a bargain between the people of our country and the writers and artists who entertain, enlighten, and educate us: Create these works, and we'll respect your control over them (as a way to earn a living from your work) for some number of years, but ultimately they belong and will revert to all of humanity.
As a society we've been more than generous over the last century. No creative artist living today will EVER have to lose control over his work by simply living too long. (Ill-advised contracts notwithstanding) That is a tremendous gift, and as a result we as a society have allowed vast amounts of our culture to remain under the control of individuals and corporations, for the first time in human history. Think about that. For thousands of years, if you heard a story that you liked, or a song you liked, you would have been perfectly free to retell (or rewrite!) it as you saw fit, or sing it to a friend or audience, altering as you alone saw fit. We as a society have largely given up these rights, and are giving them up for longer and longer. In exchange we think we're getting better creative works (even though almost any writer will freely admit that he's no Shakespeare, who didn't enjoy nearly the control that we give today's writers)
And so it seems to me that with society giving up more and more rights to authors, and authors doing their best to make their works less accessible and less useful to society, it's not such a bad thing to start re-asking fundamental questions like "Should writers be paid at all for their work?"
Fair use isn't defined Edit
Bilski Supreme court ruling Edit
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/06/28/151228/Supreme-Court-Throws-Out-Bilski-Patent While Bilski lost, the Supreme Court did not throw out software or method patents.
If anything they suggested software and method patents have a place in "the Information Age", saying: "The machine-or-transformation test may well provide a sufficient basis for evaluating processes similar to those in the Industrial Age—for example, inventions grounded in a physical or other tangible form. But there are reasons to doubt whether the test should be the sole criterion for determining the patentability of inventions in the Information Age. As numerous amicus briefs argue, the machine-or-transformation test would create uncertainty as to the patentability of software, advanced diagnostic medicine techniques, and inventions based on linear programming, data compression, and the manipulation of digital signals."
What they say in the last sentence is actually false: it would not "create uncertainty" but rather almost certainly rule out patentability. This is the court giving a wink and a nudge to the new slavery: ownership of ways of organizing human beings.
Patents in their up-until-recently form were intended as protection for ways of organizaing brute matter, not living things and not in particular not human beings. Patenting business processes and ways of thinking (which in the Age of Functional Programming is transparently all that software is: mathematical functions that can be represented in their entirety as thoughts) is nothing but a "form of tyranny over the human mind."
Business process patents and patents on ways of thinking restrict humans in ways that if they were implemented by any other means would be considered obviously acts of tyranny.
The good thing about the decision is that it suggests the scope of such tyrannical patents is likely to be viewed as narrow, and the minority concurring decision has much stronger language on the meaning of "process" that leaves the door open to sanity and liberty carrying the day in the end.
Copyright issues 1897 Edit
Reservoir Hill writes "The NYTimes reported in their June 13, 1897 edition that 'Canadian pirates' were flooding the country with spurious editions of the latest copyrighted popular songs. 'They use the mails to reach purchasers, so members of the American Music Publishers Association assert, and as a result the legitimate music publishing business of the United States has fallen off 50 per cent in the past twelve months' while the pirates published 5,000,000 copies of songs in just one month. The Times added that pirates were publishing sheet music at 2 cents to 5 cents per copy although the original compositions sold for 20 to 40 cents per copy. But 'American publishers had held a conference' and a 'committee had been appointed to fight the pirates' by getting the 'Post Office authorities to stop such mail matter because it infringes the copyright law.' Interestingly enough the pirates of 1897 worked in league with Canadian newspapers that publ ished lists of songs to be sold, with a post office box address belonging to the newspaper itself. Half the money went to pay the newspapers' advertising while the other half went to the pirates who sent the music by mail." The AMPA never dreamed of suing their customers, though.
Forum posts on patents Edit
http://www.eetimes.com/tigforums/thread.jspa?threadID=5065&tstart=0 I disagree with the idea of eliminating patents altogether, but I believe real reform must include establishing a threshold of innovation, so that every patent granted truly represents an invention -- an advancement of the state of the art. Too many patents are granted that are essentially regurgitations of patents already issued, sometimes long after the original monopoly period has expired. Others simply take an existing patent or patents and add an application that the original inventor may have assumed was obvious to those skilled in the art. Then the new "inventor" or his assignee is free to use this bogus new "invention" against the original inventor, the one who truly did advance the state of the art. An engineer working with a good patent agent or lawyer could make a career out of re-patenting other people's patents by re-wording them and adding some not-so-innovative claims that the original inventor overlooked, or again, assumed were obvious to those skilled in the art. If that doesn't define a broken intellectual property system, I don't know what does.
Mad patent disease Edit
- (1) Limit drastically the number of patents per year that are considered in each area, and have a committee of experts who decide which are considered "truly brilliant" and can be awarded.
- (2) Allow awarding costs to the losing party in an infrigement suit. This would discourage NPEs from entering into suits that they would lose and would allow their targets to call their bluff.
- (3) As with copyrights, have patents go public domain if their owners don't defend them in a timely manner. That prevents a company like Microsoft from waging a FUD campaign against Linux. If you have a case, go for it. If not, stop pretending that you have one. It also prevents an NPE from resurrecting an old patent about to expire and sueing for past damages.
- (4) If you have a patent, you must use it in a timely manner or it goes public domain. This prevents a company from buying and then suppressing an innovative competitive technology. (After all, patents are supposed to encourage innovation and serve the public interest, right?)
Patent blogs Edit
Patents law in South Africa Edit
- 5.2 Are criminal proceedings available? If so, what are the sanctions?
Criminal sanctions are not available against patent infringements, except where this happens in contempt of a court order.
Patents don't prevent development but only commercialization by large companies like Altech who can't afford to get sued. But getting a court order will take months at the least against somebody infringing an FSO patent, then we just get somebody else because court orders are only against individuals or companies. Once the FSO patent holders realize we are playing them for the fool especially via this wiki they won't even bother going after our fronts. We could for example employ an attorney to engage in various stalling tactics that could make getting a court order take a long time and if all else fails get somebody else to distribute and assemble our UnlimitedBandwidth crime busting 1Gig 4km FreeSpaceOptics and WiMax technology. Qualcom for example are holding WiMax hostage with multitudes of patents.
http://thepublicdomain.org/download Our music, our culture, our science and our economic welfare all depend on a delicate balance between those ideas that are controlled and those that are free, between intellectual property and the public domain. In his award-winning new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press) James Boyle introduces readers to the idea of the public domain and describes how it is being tragically eroded by our current copyright, patent, and trademark laws. In a series of fascinating case studies, Boyle explains why gene sequences, basic business ideas and pairs of musical notes are now owned, why jazz might be illegal if it were invented today, why most of 20th century culture is legally unavailable to us, and why today’s policies would probably have smothered the World Wide Web at its inception. Appropriately given its theme, the book will be sold commercially but also made available online for free under a Creative Commons license.
Boyle’s book is a clarion call. In the tradition of the environmental movement, which first invented and then sought to protect something called “the environment,” Boyle hopes that we can first understand and then protect the public domain – the ecological center of the “information environment.”
With a clear analysis of issues ranging from Thomas Jefferson’s philosophy of innovation to musical sampling, from Internet file sharing and genetic engineering to patented peanut butter sandwiches, this articulate and charming book brings a positive new perspective to important cultural and legal debates, including what Boyle calls the “range wars of the information age”: today’s heated battles over intellectual property. Intellectual property rights have been viewed as geeky, technical and inaccessible. Boyle shows that, as a culture, we can no longer afford the luxury of this kind of willed ignorance. The “enclosure of the commons of the mind” matters and it matters to all of us. “Boyle has been the godfather of the Free Culture Movement since his extraordinary book, Shamans, Software, and Spleens set the framework for the field a decade ago,” says Lawrence Lessig, “In this beautifully written and subtly argued book, Boyle has succeeded in resetting that framework, and beginning the work in the next stage of this field. The Public Domain is absolutely crucial to understanding where the debate has been, and where it will go. And Boyle’s work continues to be at the center of that debate.”
Monsanto Anti-Farmers Patents Edit
http://www.pubpat.org/monsantovfarmers.htm In September 2006, PUBPAT filed formal requests with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to revoke four patents owned by Monsanto Company that the agricultural giant is using to harass, intimidate, sue - and in many cases bankrupt - American farmers. In its filings, PUBPAT submitted prior art showing that the patents were undeserved and, as such, should be revoked. The U.S.P.T.O. granted each of those requests in November 2006, finding that PUBPAT had raised "substantial new questions of patentability" with respect to every claim of each patent. In February, May, June and July 2007, the Patent Office issued complete rejections of all four patents.
Fronting company for GPRS modems Edit
Some law has made http://www.netstar.co.za legally liable if your engine gets remotely cutoff and you plow into a house burning it down. So we setup a fronting company with somebody who has nothing to loose that installs the GpsAndGprs takeing the blame etc. It is critical that a vehicle gets remotely cut-off because a thief will head for a FarradayCage through which not radio signal can transmit.
Build cheap wireless equipment Edit
It isn't breaking the US law to publish a US patent on the Internet because it is already published at http://www.patentstorm.us. The patent is their protection so that even if you have the patent you can't commercialize it in the US nor SA. It is 100% legal to publish full circuit diagrams, gerber files and source code since in theory at least you won't be able to do anything with it. A patent gives the patent holder the right to pursue a claim in court, only the court can decide whether a patent is valid or not, the patent filer doesn't decide this!
Security fronting companies Edit
Security companies are to afraid of getting sued if their dogs bite somebody, so we need to setup either our own fronting or SIRA registered security company. If this fronting company's dogs bite an intruder and gets sued then setup another fronting company or just ignore the lawsuit since the unemployed "director" of the company has no assets in anycase.
UAV fronting company Edit
Same with a UAV(UnmannedAerialVehicles) if that plane crashes and burns down a forest the ownner will get sued for millions. To bad the "owner" has no assets. No insurance company for example will insure a UAV from crashing and burning down a house. The fact that there is not a legislative framework allowing insured commercial UAV deployment like Yamaha does in Japan is unfortunate. See http://www.yamaha-motor.co.jp/global/industrial/sky/solution/index.html UAVs has the potential to revolutionize rural,farm and city security. If Japan can allow these devices to be deployed on a large scale than somebody should bring this issue up with the South-African government.
Get the job done Edit
We need to get the job done and if legislation prevents for-profit security companies from doing their work and people die because of this, then we need to use a little bit of lateral thinking and solve the problem ourselves.
Copying is not theft Edit
Following was copied from another website
There is one group of people not shocked by the record industry's policy of suing randomly chosen file sharers: historians of copyright. They already know what everyone else is slowly finding out: that copyright was never primarily about paying artists for their work, and that far from being designed to support creators, copyright was designed by and for distributors — that is, publishers, which today includes record companies. But now that the Internet has given us a world without distribution costs, it no longer makes any sense to restrict sharing in order to pay for centralized distribution. Abandoning copyright is now not only possible, but desirable. Both artists and audiences would benefit, financially and aesthetically. In place of corporate gatekeepers determining what can and can't be distributed, a much finer-grained filtering process would allow works to spread based on their merit alone. We would see a return to an older and richer cosmology of creativity, one in which copying and borrowing openly from others' works is simply a normal part of the creative process, a way of acknowledging one's sources and of improving on what has come before. And the old canard that artists need copyright to earn a living would be revealed as the pretense it has always been.
None of this will happen, however, if the industry has its way. For three centuries, the publishing industry has been working very hard to obscure copyright's true origins, and to promote the myth that it was invented by writers and artists. Even today, they continue to campaign for ever stronger laws against sharing, for international treaties that compel all nations to conform to the copyright policies of the strictest, and most of all to make sure the public never asks exactly who this system is meant to help.
The reward for these efforts can be seen in the public's reaction to the file-sharing lawsuits. While most people agree that this time the industry went too far, the error is mainly treated as one of degree — as if the record companies had a valid point, but had merely resorted to excessive force in making it.
To read the true history of copyright is to understand just how completely this reaction plays into the industry's hands. The record companies don't really care whether they win or lose these lawsuits. In the long run, they don't even expect to eliminate file sharing. What they're fighting for is much bigger. They're fighting to maintain a state of mind, an attitude toward creative work that says someone ought to own products of the mind, and control who can copy them. And by positioning the issue as a contest between the Beleaguered Artist, who supposedly needs copyright to pay the rent, and The Unthinking Masses, who would rather copy a song or a story off the Internet than pay a fair price, the industry has been astonishingly successful. They have managed to substitute the loaded terms "piracy" and "theft" for the more accurate "copying" — as if there were no difference between stealing your bicycle (now you have no bicycle) and copying your song (now we both have it). Most importantly, industry propaganda has made it a commonplace belief that copyright is how most creators earn a living — that without copyright, the engines of intellectual production would grind to a halt, and artists would have neither means nor motivation to produce new works.
Yet a close look at history shows that copyright has never been a major factor in allowing creativity to flourish. Copyright is an outgrowth of the privatization of government censorship in sixteenth-century England. There was no uprising of authors suddenly demanding the right to prevent other people from copying their works; far from viewing copying as theft, authors generally regarded it as flattery. The bulk of creative work has always depended, then and now, on a diversity of funding sources: commissions, teaching jobs, grants or stipends, patronage, etc. The introduction of copyright did not change this situation. What it did was allow a particular business model — mass pressings with centralized distribution — to make a few lucky works available to a wider audience, at considerable profit to the distributors.
The arrival of the Internet, with its instantaneous, costless sharing, has made that business model obsolete — not just obsolete, but an obstacle to the very benefits copyright was alleged to bring society in the first place. Prohibiting people from freely sharing information serves no one's interests but the publishers'. Although the industry would like us to believe that prohibiting sharing is somehow related to enabling artists to make a living, their claim does not stand up to even mild scrutiny. For the vast majority of artists, copyright brings no economic benefits. True, there are a few stars — some quite talented — whose works are backed by the industry; these receive the lion's share of distribution investment, and generate a correspondingly greater profit, which is shared with the artist on better than usual terms because the artist's negotiating position is stronger. Not coincidentally, these stars are who the industry always holds up as examples of the benefits of copyright.
But to treat this small group as representative would be to confuse marketing with reality. Most artists' lives look nothing like theirs, and never will, under the current spoils system. That is why the stereotype of the impoverished artist remains alive and well after three hundred years.
The publishing industry's campaign to preserve copyright is waged out of pure self-interest, but it forces on us a clear choice. We can watch as most of our cultural heritage is stuffed into a vending machine and sold back to us dollar by dollar — or we can reexamine the copyright myth and find an alternative.
The first copyright law was a censorship law. It had nothing to do with protecting the rights of authors, or encouraging them to produce new works. Authors' rights were in no danger in sixteenth-century England, and the recent arrival of the printing press (the world's first copying machine) was if anything energizing to writers. So energizing, in fact, that the English government grew concerned about too many works being produced, not too few. The new technology was making seditious reading material widely available for the first time, and the government urgently needed to control the flood of printed matter, censorship being as legitimate an administrative function then as building roads.
The method the government chose was to establish a guild of private-sector censors, the London Company of Stationers, whose profits would depend on how well they performed their function. The Stationers were granted a royal monopoly over all printing in England, old works as well as new, in return for keeping a strict eye on what was printed. Their charter gave them not only exclusive right to print, but also the right to search out and confiscate unauthorized presses and books, and even to burn illegally printed books. No book could be printed until it was entered in the company's Register, and no work could be added to the Register until it had passed the crown's censor, or had been self-censored by the Stationers. The Company of Stationers became, in effect, the government's private, for-profit information police force .
The system was quite openly designed to serve booksellers and the government, not authors. New books were entered in the Company's Register under a Company member's name, not the author's name. By convention, the member who registered the entry held the "copyright", the exclusive right to publish that book, over other members of the Company, and the Company's Court of Assistants resolved infringement disputes .
This was not simply the latest manifestation of some pre-existing form of copyright. It's not as though authors had formerly had copyrights, which were now to be taken away and given to the Stationers. The Stationers' right was a new right, though one based on a long tradition of granting monopolies to guilds as a means of control. Before this moment, copyright — that is, a privately held, generic right to prevent others from copying — did not exist. People routinely printed works they admired when they had the chance, an activity which is responsible for the survival of many of those works to the present day. One could, of course, be enjoined from distributing a specific document because of its potentially libelous effect, or because it was a private communication, or because the government considered it dangerous and seditious. But these reasons are about public safety or damage to reputation, not about property ownership. There had also been, in some cases, special privileges (then called "patents") allowing exclusive printing of certain types of books. But until the Company of Stationers, there had not been a blanket injunction against printing in general, nor a conception of copyright as a legal property that could be owned by a private party.
For about a century and a third, this partnership worked well for the government and for the Stationers. The Stationers profited from their monopoly, and through the Stationers, the government exercised control over the spread of information. Around the end of the seventeenth century, however, owing to larger political changes, the government relaxed its censorship policies, and allowed the Stationers' monopoly to expire. This meant that printing would return to its former anarchical state, and was of course a direct economic threat to the members of the Company of Stationers, accustomed as they were to having exclusive license to manufacture books. Dissolution of the monopoly might have been good news for long-suppressed authors and independent printers, but it spelled disaster for the Stationers, and they quickly crafted a strategy to retain their position in the newly liberal political climate.
The Stationers based their strategy on a crucial realization, one that has stayed with publishing conglomerates ever since: authors do not have the means to distribute their own works. Writing a book requires only pen, paper, and time. But distributing a book requires printing presses, transportation networks, and an up-front investment in materials and typesetting. Thus, the Stationers reasoned, people who write would always need a publisher's cooperation to make their work generally available. Their strategy used this fact to maximum advantage. They went before Parliament and offered the then-novel argument that authors had a natural and inherent right of ownership in what they wrote, and that furthermore, such ownership could be transferred to other parties by contract, like any other form of property.
Their argument succeeded in persuading Parliament. The Stationers had managed to avoid the odium of censorship, as the new copyrights would originate with the author, but they knew that authors would have little choice but to sign those rights back over to a publisher for distribution. There was some judicial and political wrangling over the details, but in the end both halves of the Stationers' argument survived essentially intact, and became part of English statutory law. The first recognizably modern copyright, the Statute of Anne, was passed in 1709 and took effect in 1710.
The Statute of Anne is often held up by champions of copyright as the moment when authors were finally given the protection they had long deserved. Even today, it continues to be referenced both in legal arguments and in press releases from the publishing industry. But to interpret it as an authors' victory flies in the face of both common sense and historical fact . Authors, having never had copyright, saw no reason now to suddenly demand the rather paradoxical power to prevent the spread of their own works, and did not do so. The only people threatened by the dissolution of the Stationers' monopoly were the Stationers themselves, and the Statute of Anne was the direct result of their lobbying and campaigning. In the memorable words of the contemporary Lord Camden, the Stationers "...came up to Parliament in the form of petitioners, with tears in their eyes, hopeless and forlorn; they brought with them their wives and children to excite compassion, and induce Parliament to grant them a statutory security."  To make their argument more palatable, they had proposed that copyright would originate with the author, as a form of property that could be sold to anyone — anticipating, correctly, that it would most often be sold to a printer.
This proposal was a shrewd tactical move, because one of Parliament's concerns was to prevent the re-establishment of a centralized monopoly in the book trade, with its attendant potential for a renewal of censorship by the crown. Benjamin Kaplan, professor of law emeritus at Harvard University and a respected copyright scholar, describes the Stationers position succinctly:
....The stationers made the case that they could not produce the fragile commodities called books, and thus encourage learned men to write them, without protection against piracy... There is an apparent tracing of rights to an ultimate source in the fact of authorship, but before attaching large importance to this we have to note that if printing as a trade was not to be put back into the hands of a few as subject of monopoly — if the statute was indeed to be a kind of "universal patent" — a [legal] draftsman would naturally be led to express himself in terms of rights in books and hence to initial rights in authors. A draftsman would anyway be aware that rights would usually pass immediately to publishers by assignment, that is, by purchase of the manuscripts as in the past. ... I think it nearer the truth to say that publishers saw the tactical advantage of putting forward authors' interests together with their own, and this tactic produced some effect on the tone of the statute.
The Statute of Anne, taken in historical context, is the smoking gun of copyright law. In it we can see the entire apparatus of modern copyright, but in still-undisguised form. There is the notion of copyright as property, yet the property is really intended for publishers, not authors. There is the notion of benefitting society, by encouraging people to write books, but no evidence was offered to show that they would not write books without copyright. Rather, the Stationers' argument was that publishers could not afford to print books without protection from competition, and furthermore that printers could not be depended to reproduce works faithfully if given unfettered freedom to print. The corollary, they implied, was that without the prospect of reliable distribution, authors would produce fewer new works.
Their argument was not unreasonable, given the technology of the time. Making a perfect copy of a printed work required access to the original press and compositor, anyway; if reliable reproduction were to be encouraged, then a single-holder copyright system had a certain logic to it. And the publishers would now be effectively forced to pay authors in return for exclusive printing rights (although in fact the Stationers had sometimes payed authors even before, simply to guarantee the completion and delivery of a work). The authors who succeeded in selling this new right to printers had no particular motivation to complain — and naturally, we don't hear very much about the authors not so favored. The consolidation of author's copyright probably contributed to the decline of patronage as a source of income for writers , and even allowed some authors, though always a small minority, to support themselves solely from the royalties their publishers shared with them. The fact that a given copyright could only be held by one party at a time also helped prevent the proliferation of divergent variations, a problem that had vexed authors perhaps even more than plagiarism, as there was no easy method by which they could endorse or disclaim particular variations.
But the overall historical record is clear: copyright was designed by distributors, to subsidize distributors not creators.
This is the secret that today's copyright lobby never dares say aloud, for once it is admitted, the true purpose of subsequent copyright legislation becomes embarrassingly clear. The Statute of Anne was just the beginning. Having granted the premise that copyrights should exist at all, the English government found themselves under pressure to extend copyright terms further and further. In the long legal saga that ensued, what's important is not the particular sequence of laws and verdicts, but the identity of the plaintiffs: they were just the sort of stable, settled business interest capable of sustaining litigation and lobbying over a period of decades — that is, they were publishers, not authors. They had proposed the author's copyright out of economic interest, and only after the crutch of a censorship-based monopoly had been taken away from them. When it became clear that the tactic worked, they lobbied to strengthen copyright.
And this is still the pattern today. Whenever the U.S. Congress extends copyright terms or powers, it is the result of pressure from the publishing industry. The lobbyists will sometimes trot out a superstar author or musician as an exhibit, a human face for what is essentially an industry effort, but it's always quite clear what's really going on. All you have to do is look at who's paying the lawyer's and lobbyists' bills, and whose names appear in the court dockets — publishers'.
The industry's centuries-long campaign for strong copyright law is not merely a reflexive land grab, however. It's a natural economic response to technological circumstances. The effect of the printing press, and later of analog sound recording technology, was to make creative works inseparable from their means of distribution. Authors needed publishers the way electricity needs wires. The only economically viable method of reaching readers (or listeners) was the bulk print run: to manufacture thousands of identical copies at once, then physically ship them to various points of distribution. Before agreeing to such an investment, any publisher would naturally prefer to buy or lease the copyright from the author, and just as naturally would lobby the government for the strongest possible copyright powers, the better to protect their investment.
There is nothing inherently exploitative about this; it's just straightforward economics. From a business point of view, a print run is a daunting and risky project. It involves the high up-front costs of a physical medium (be it dead tree pulp, magnetic tape, vinyl platters, or pitted optical discs), plus complicated, expensive machinery to imprint the content onto the medium. There's also the unseen investment of vetting the master copy: because a flawed master can reduce the value of the entire run, publishers and authors go to considerable trouble to generate a polished, error-free version of the work before printing. There is little room for an incremental or evolutionary process here; the work must be brought to near-perfection before the public ever sees it. If any mistakes are overlooked, they will have to be tolerated in the finished product, at least until the process is started again for the next print run. The publisher must also negotiate prices and line up distribution paths, which is not only a matter of bookkeeping, but of physical expenses, of trucks and trains and shipping containers. Finally, as if all this weren't enough, the publisher is compelled to spend even more money on marketing and publicity, to have a better chance of at least recovering all these outlays.
When one realizes that all this must happen before the work has generated a penny of revenue, it is little wonder that publishers argue hard for copyright. The publisher's initial investment — that is, their risk — in any individual work is greater, in economic terms, than the author's. Authors by themselves might have no inherent desire to control copying, but publishers do. And in a world filled with publishers' royalty-supported marketing departments, authors, of course, need publishers all the more. The concentration of distribution revenues results, inevitably, in the familiar logic of an arms race.
The arrival of the Internet fundamentally changed this equation. It has become cliché to say that the Internet is as revolutionary a development as the printing press, and it is. But it is revolutionary in a different way. The printing press may have made it possible to turn one book into a thousand books, but those books still had to travel from the press into the hands of readers. Physical books were not only the medium in which the content was consumed, they were also the medium in which it was transported to the consumer. Thus, a publisher's total expense was proportional to the number of copies distributed. In such a situation, it is reasonable to ask that each user bear a portion of the costs of distribution. Each user is, after all, more or less responsible for her particular quantum of expense. If the book (or record) is in her hands, it must have gotten there somehow, which in turn means someone spent money to get it there. Divide those expenses by the number of copies, add in some amount for profit, and you arrive, roughly speaking, at the book's price.
But today, the medium over which content is distributed can be unrelated to the medium in which it is ultimately consumed. The data can be sent over a wire, at essentially no cost, and the user can print up a copy at her own expense, and at whatever quality she can afford, on the other end . Furthermore, it is no longer important to possess the master; in fact, the concept of the master copy itself is obsolete. To make a perfect copy of a printed work is actually quite hard, although making a corrupt or abridged copy is very easy. Meanwhile, to make a perfect copy of a digital work is trivially easy — it's making an imperfect copy that requires extra effort.
Thus the practice of charging the same fee for each copy, regardless of how many copies there are or who made them, is now unjustifiable. The cost of producing and distributing the work is now essentially fixed, no longer proportional to the number of copies. From society's point of view, every dollar spent beyond the amount needed (if any) to bring the work into existence in the first place is a waste, an impediment to the work's ability to spread on its own merits.
The Internet did something the Company of Stationers never anticipated: it made their argument a testable hypothesis. Would creators still create, without centralized publishers to distribute their works? Even minimal exposure to the Internet is enough to provide the answer: of course they will. They already are. Computer users are comfortable downloading music and making CDs at home, and, slowly but inevitably, musicians are getting comfortable releasing tracks for free downloading . Many short works of both fiction and non-fiction are already available online. Printing and binding entire books on demand is rarer, but only because the equipment to do it is still somewhat expensive. That equipment is getting steadily cheaper, however, and it's only a matter of time before the copy shop down the street has it. There is no fundamental difference between music and text, from a distribution point of view. As printing and binding technology gets cheaper, authors will see more and more clearly that they have the same alternative musicians do, and the result will be the same: more and more material available without restriction, by the choice of the author.
Some might argue that authors are different, that they are more dependent on copyright than musicians. After all, a musician expects to perform, and can therefore gain indirectly by releasing recordings for free — greater exposure leads to more performances. But authors don't perform; they reach their audience only through their works, not in person. If they now had to come up with ways to fund themselves without imposing an artificial scarcity on their works, could they do it?
Imagine the simplest scenario: you walk into the neighborhood print shop and tell the clerk the Web address of the book you want. A couple of minutes later, the clerk comes back with a freshly printed, hardbound book, straight off the Internet. He rings up the sale.
"That'll be eight dollars. Would you like to add the one dollar author's suggested donation?"
Do you say yes? Perhaps you do, perhaps not — but note that when museums charge a voluntary admission fee, people often pay it. The same sort of dynamic is at work in the copy shop. Most people are happy to pay a tiny extra bit on top of some larger amount, if they have their wallet out already and think it's for a good reason. When people fail to make small, voluntary donations to a cause they like, it's more often due to the inconvenience (writing a check, putting it in the mail, etc) than the money. But even if only half, or fewer, of all readers were to make such donations, authors would still earn more than they do under traditional royalty schemes, and furthermore would have the pleasure of finally being the readers' ally in distribution, instead of their enemy.
This is not the only possible system, and it can easily coexist with others. Those not convinced by voluntary donations should consider another method: the Fund and Release system (also called the Threshold Pledge system ). This system is designed to solve the classic problem of distributed funding, which is that each contributor wants reassurance that others are also contributing, before putting in her own money. Under fund-and-release, the hopeful creator of a new work states up front how much money will be required to produce it — this is the "threshold". An intermediary organization then collects pledges, in any amounts, from the general public. When the total amount pledged reaches the threshhold (or exceeds it by some standard percentage, to account for bookkeeping and assumption of risk), the intermediary signs a contract with the creator, and the pledges are called in. Only at this stage, when there is enough money to achieve the desired result, is anyone asked to actually pay up. The intermediary holds the money in escrow, paying the creator according to whatever schedule they negotiated. The last of the money is paid when the work is completed and made publically available, not just to the contributors, but to the entire world. If the creator doesn't produce, the intermediary returns the money to the donors.
The fund-and-release system has some interesting properties not found in the monopolistic, copyright-based marketplace. The resultant work is available to everyone in the world, free of charge. Yet the author was also paid enough to produce the work; if she needed more, she would have asked for more and seen if the market would bear it. Those who did choose to pay paid only as much as they were comfortable with, no more. And finally, there was no risk for the contributors — if the threshold is never reached, then no one pays anything.
Not all methods will be so pleasantly high-minded, of course. A couple of years ago, the established author Fay Weldon famously accepted money from Bulgari jewelry to write a novel that featured Bulgari products prominently. She did so, titling the book "The Bulgari Connection". The book was originally intended as a limited edition to be given away at a corporate function, but having written it, Weldon took it to a publisher for general release. Does this mean that in the future we'll have to scrutinize all creative works for signs of hidden corporate sponsorship? Perhaps, but this is nothing new — product placement was invented in the context of traditional copyright, and has flourished there, as it probably would anywhere. Copyright is neither the cause of corporate sponsorship nor its antidote. To look to the publishing industry as a force for decommercialization would be weirdly out of touch indeed.
These are just a few examples of ways to support creative work without copyright. There are many other methods ; there were many even before the Internet made convenient, direct micropayments possible. Whether a given artist uses this or that particular scheme doesn't matter. The important thing is that with little or no friction to impede the payment of tiny amounts, authors will find ways to make such payments happen on the scale they need. Those economists who are enamoured of markets as a solution to everything should be in love with the possibilities here (but, predictably, many are not, because they hate to see anything become depropertized).
To see a glimpse of the future, it may be most helpful to look not at net-savvy musicians, but at software. The flourishing Free Software movement is probably the best example we have today of a post-copyright world. Free software (some also call it "Open Source") is the brainchild of Richard Stallman, a programmer who had the idea of releasing software under a deliberately reversed copyright. Instead of prohibiting sharing, the software's license explicitly permits and encourages it. A number of others soon caught on to his idea, and because they were able to share and modify each other's programs without limit, they quickly produced a large body of working code.
Some predicted that this initial success would quickly level off as the software increased in size and complexity and required centralized, hierarchical organizations to maintain. But instead of foundering, the Free Software movement has grown so quickly that even its own participants are surprised, and it shows no signs of stopping. It now produces software whose functionality rivals that available in the proprietary market. Free software is widely used by banks, corporations, and governments, as well as individual computer users. More web sites run the free Apache web server than run all other web servers combined. Free operating systems are now the fastest-growing segment of the operating system market. Although some free software authors are paid for their work (after all, their services provide a benefit to those who use the software, and some of those users are willing to pay for it), others volunteer their time. Each software project has its own reasons for existing, and each programmer their own reasons for contributing. But the cumulative effect is a direct flaunting of copyright's entire justification: a thriving community of intellectual production now exists without enforcing copyrights, yet achieves substantially the same results as its mainstream counterpart.
According to the traditional justification of copyright, this shouldn't be happening. The software is essentially in the public domain; its copyright serves mainly to identify the original authors, and in some cases to prevent anyone else from imposing a stricter license. The authors have given up every exclusive right except the right to be identified as the authors. They have voluntarily returned to a world before copyright law: they enforce no royalties, and have no control over the distribution and modification of their works. The software's license gives everyone automatic permission both to use and to redistribute it. You can simply start handing out copies, there's no need to notify anyone or ask permission. If you want to modify it, you're free to do that too. You can even sell it, though naturally it's difficult to charge much, since you'd be competing with others handing out the same goods at no cost. A more common model is to encourage people to download the software for free, and instead sell services such as technical support, training, and customization. These models are not fantasies, they are the basis for profitable businesses that exist right now, paying real programmers competitive salaries to work on free software. But the point is not that people are paid to do it — some are, but many more are not, and yet write it anyway. The real point is that a tremendous amount of free software is produced and maintained every year, at a rate that grows quickly even by the standards of the software industry.
If this phenomenon were isolated to software, it would be explainable as an aberration — software is different, programmers are overpaid, and so on. But it's not just software; if you look carefully, there are signs of it happening everywhere. Musicians are starting to release their tracks online for free downloading, and the quantity of freely available writing on the Internet — starting with reference and non-fiction works, but now including fiction and poetry — long ago passed the point of measurability. Software is not fundamentally different from these other forms of information. Like poems, songs, books, and movies, it can be transmitted digitally. It can be copied in whole or in part; it can be excerpted for use in other works; it can be modified and edited; it can even be satirized.
The abandonment of copyright is farthest along in software mainly because programmers were among the first groups to have Internet access, not because of anything special about the nature of software. Gradually, creators in other areas are realizing that they too can disseminate their works without publishers or centralized distribution chains, by simply allowing the freedom to copy. And increasingly, they are choosing to do so, because they have little to lose, and because it's the easiest way for their work to find its way to an appreciative audience. Far from being especially dependent on copyright law, creators gain the most by abandoning the copyright monopoly.
Even in their early stages, these trends raise an obvious question. If copyright is not really needed to stimulate original creation, then what purpose does it serve today? For it is quite clear that if copyright did not exist already, we wouldn't invent it now. We just finished building ourselves a gigantic copying machine (the Internet) that doubles as a communications device, and incidentally makes it convenient to transfer small amounts of money between people. Sharing is now the most natural thing in the world. The idea that artists are somehow harmed by it is demonstrated false every day, by the thousands of new works that appear online, credited and fully acknowledged by their authors, yet free for the taking. If someone were to argue that creativity would soon dry up unless we immediately institute a system of strict controls over who can copy what, we could reasonably look on them as insane. Yet, in slightly more diplomatic language, this is essentially the argument used by the copyright lobby to press for ever stronger laws.
Creativity is not what's at stake here, and in its more honest moments the publishing industry even tacitly admits this. Although for public relations purposes industry leaders make token declarations about the need for poor artists to earn a living, their most detailed and compelling statements are usually about the business effects of copyright. Larry Kenswil of Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, was quoted in the New York Times of Jan. 5th, 2003, in an article about digital copy protection schemes, saying "You're not buying music, you're buying a key. That's what digital rights management does: it enables business models."
It's hard to imagine a more succinct statement of the industry credo. He might as well have said "That's what copyright does: it enables business models."
Unfortunately, not all of the propaganda put out by the industry is as straightforward and honest as Kenswil's. The Recording Industry Association of America, for example, explains copyright this way on their web site at http://www.riaa.org/:
You don't need to be a lawyer to be a musician, but you do need to know one legal term — copyright. To all creative artists — poets, painters, novelists, dancers, directors, actors, musicians, singers, and songwriters — the term matters dearly.
To all artists, "copyright" is more than a term of intellectual property law that prohibits the unauthorized duplication, performance or distribution of a creative work. To them, "copyright" means the chance to hone their craft, experiment, create, and thrive. It is a vital right, and over the centuries artists have fought to preserve that right; artists such as John Milton, William Hogarth, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens. Twain traveled to England to protect his rights, and Dickens came to America to do the same.
Recognize that? It's a page straight out of the Stationers' playbook — an undisguised retelling of the copyright myth, complete with references to individual authors, designed to arouse our support for struggling artists valiantly fighting for their artistic integrity. Apparently, all those artists throughout history who did just fine without copyright aren't included in "all creative artists" as far as the RIAA is concerned. Professor Patterson's comments, about the Stationers' similar use of authors as a foil in front of the eighteenth century English parliament, are equally applicable today: "They [the Stationers] did so by arguments intended to elicit sympathy for the author (conveniently ignoring their role in creating the poor plight of the author that they bemoaned) and avoided sound logic and reason." .
The next paragraph in the RIAA's introduction to copyright is even worse. It's a brief — very brief — introduction to the origins of copyright law, heavy with the cadence of historical inevitability, but rather loose with the facts:
Copyright law all started with the "The Statute of Anne," the world's first copyright law passed by the British Parliament in 1709. Yet the principle of protecting the rights of artists predates this. It may sound like dry history at first blush, but since there was precedent to establish and rights to protect, much time, effort, and money has been spent in legal battles over the centuries.
This breathless summary is the copyright equivalent of "Christopher Columbus sailed to America to prove the Earth was round and make friends with the Indians". Yes, much money has indeed been spent in legal battles, but the RIAA is careful not to say who spent it, nor are any further details given about the "principle of protecting the rights of artists" that is alleged to predate these developments.
The rest of their page continues in a similar vein, with so many omissions, mischaracterizations, and outright lies that it's hard to imagine how anyone doing even a modicum of research could have written it. It is, basically, low-grade supporting propaganda in their ongoing campaign to convince the public that copyright is as fundamental to civilization as the laws of thermodynamics.
The RIAA also indulges in one of the favorite tactics of the modern copyright lobby: equating illegal copying with the unrelated, and much more serious, offense of plagiarism. For example, Hilary Rosen, the (now former) head of the RIAA, used to speak at schools and colleges, urging the students to adopt the industry's views about information ownership. Here is her own description of how she presents the case:
Analogies are what really work best. I ask them, "What have you done last week?" They may say they wrote a paper on this or that. So I tell them, "Oh, you wrote a paper, and you got an A? Would it bother you if somebody could just take that paper and get an A too? Would that bug you?" So this sense of personal investment does ring true with people.
Since people who duplicate CDs do not usually replace the artist's name with their own, let's ask the question Hilary Rosen should have asked: "Would it bother you if somebody could just show a copy of your paper around, so other people could benefit from what you wrote, and see that you got an A?" Of course, the students would have answered "No, we aren't bothered by that at all," which isn't what Rosen wanted to hear.
The RIAA is extreme only in the clumsiness of their propaganda. Their message is, in essence, the same one offered by the rest of the copyright industry, which maintains a constant drumbeat of warnings that online content swapping will deprive creators of their reputations and their ability to work, despite overwhelming evidence that copyright never provided them with much of a livelihood anyway, and that they would happily continue to create without it as long as they have a way to distribute their works. The campaign might sound harmless or silly when described as I have described it here, but because they are fighting for survival, with large budgets and skilled publicity departments, the publishers have succeeded in shaping public opinion to a surprising degree. Consider this poor woman, from the International Herald Tribune of Sep. 11th, 2003, in an article about the RIAA file-sharing lawsuits:
One woman who has received a subpoena from the recording industry association said she had struggled to explain to her 13-year-old son why file-sharing was wrong.
"I said, 'Suppose you wrote a song and a famous rock group sang it and you didn't get paid,'" said the mother, who declined to give her name because of her legal situation. "He said: 'I wouldn't care. That would be awesome.' They're still just in that young age where money doesn't matter."
The mother said she had better results when she compared taking someone's song to plagiarizing a school paper.
(One can only hope the sensible 13-year-old manages to keep his head, when so many around him are apparently losing theirs.)
The combination of a still-sympathetic public and deep pockets has unfortunately allowed the copyright industry to exercise dangerous influence at the legislative level. The result is a disturbing trend: mutually reinforcing physical and legal barriers that, while ostensibly designed to combat illegal copying, have the inevitable effect of interfering with all copying. Digital copy-protection schemes are increasingly enforced by your computer's hardware itself, rather than by malleable and replaceable programs. And the same companies that own content often also manufacture the hardware that makes distribution possible. Have you bought a computer from Sony? What about a CD from Sony's music division? That's the same company, and its left hand knows what its right hand is doing. With government cooperation, this combination becomes even more powerful. In the United States we now have a law — the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — that makes it illegal to circumvent a digital protection scheme, or even to produce software that helps others circumvent a digital protection scheme. Unfortunately, since much hardware and software automatically imprints such schemes on any media it produces, the Act effectively stifles authorized copying and many other activities that would otherwise fall into the category of "fair use" under current copyright law.
It is vital to understand that these side effects are not accidents, not unexpected consequences of an otherwise well-intentioned effort to protect artists. Rather, they are an integral part of a strategy that, at bottom, has nothing to do with encouraging creativity. The purpose of this three-pronged industry effort — the publicity campaign, the legal campaign, and the hardware "protections" — is simply this: to prevent the Internet experiment from being carried out to completion. Any organization that is deeply invested in the concept of copy control cannot be pleased to see a system arise that makes copying as easy as clicking a mouse. To the extent possible, such organizations would like to see the same pay-per-copy model that we've been using for centuries continue, even though the fundamental physics of information have changed to make pay-per-copy obsolete.
Although the copyright lobby succeeds in getting new laws passed, and even in winning some court cases, these victories rest on a disintegrating foundation. How much longer will the public continue to believe in the copyright myth, the notion that copyright was invented to make creative work possible? The myth has been maintainable so far because it always had a tiny a grain of truth: although copyright was not inspired by authors, and was not enacted to protect them, it did enable the widespread distribution of many original works. Furthermore, there are still many publishers (generally the smaller or individually-owned ones) who behave with an admirable sense of cultural stewardship, subsidizing unprofitable but important works with money earned by stronger sellers, sometimes even losing money outright in order to print things they think worthwhile. But because they are all bound by the economics of large-scale printing, they are all ultimately dependent on copyright.
There won't be a dramatic battle between the publishing industry and the copying public, with a climax, a denouement, and a clear winner striding out of the dust. Instead, what we will see — are already seeing — is the emergence of two parallel streams of creative work: the proprietary stream, and the free stream. Every day, more people join the free stream, of their own volition, for all sorts of reasons. Some enjoy the fact that there are no gatekeepers, no artificial barriers. A work can succeed by its merits and word of mouth alone: although there's nothing to stop traditional marketing techniques from being used in the free stream, there's less to subsidize them, so word of mouth and peer-review networks are taking on a greater importance there. Others enter the free stream as crossovers from the proprietary, releasing a portion of their work into the free domain as an advertisement or an experiment. Some simply realize that they have no chance of success in the proprietary world anyway, and figure they might as well release what they have to the public.
As the stream of freely available material gets bigger, its stigma will slowly vanish. It used to be that the difference between a published author and an unpublished one was that you could obtain the former's books, but not the latter's. Being published meant something. It had an aura of respectability; it implied that someone had judged your work and given it an institutional stamp of approval. But now the difference between published and unpublished is narrowing. Soon, being published will mean nothing more than that an editor somewhere found your work worthy of a large-scale print run, and possibly a marketing campaign. This may affect the popularity of the work, but it won't fundamentally affect its availability; and there will be so many "unpublished" but worthwhile works, that the lack of a publishing pedigree will no longer be considered an automatic strike against an author. Although the free stream does not use traditional copyright, it does observe, and unofficially enforce, a "credit right". Works are frequently copied and excerpted with attribution — but attempts to steal credit are usually detected speedily, and decried publicly. The same mechanisms that make copying easy make plagiarism very difficult. It's hard to secretly use someone else's work when a Google search can quickly locate the original. For example, teachers now routinely do Google searches on representative phrases when they suspect plagiarism in student papers.
The proprietary stream cannot survive forever, in the face of such competition. The abolition of copyright law is optional; the real force here is creators freely choosing to release their works for unrestricted copying, because it's in their interests to do so. At some point, it will be obvious that all the interesting stuff is going on in the free stream, and people will simply cease dipping into the proprietary one. Copyright law may remain on the books formally, but it will fade away in practice, atrophied from disuse.
Or, we can sit back and allow this process to be halted, by permitting manufacturers to build in hardware "protections" that interfere with our ability to copy legitimately; by allowing the copyright lobby to capture our legislatures, to the point where we are constantly looking over our shoulders for the copyright police; and by hesitating to use the free stream to its full potential, because we've been taught a false story of what copyright is all about.
We can, if we choose, have a world where concepts like "out of print" or "rare book" are not only obsolete, but actually meaningless. We can live in a fertile and vibrant garden of constantly evolving works, created by people who wanted deeply to make them available, not mandated by a publisher's market research. Schools would never be forced to stay with out-of-date textbooks because of the per-copy prices set by publishers, and your computer would always let you share songs with your friends.
One way to get there is to question the copyright myth. Copying isn't theft, and it isn't piracy. It's what we did for millenia until the invention of copyright, and we can do it again, if we don't hobble ourselves with the antiquated remnants of a censorship system from the sixteenth century.
This article is released under free copyright, and may be redistributed, excerpted, and modified without restriction. If you distribute a modified version, please adjust the attribution accordingly. REFERENCES
 These events can be read in any history of copyright. A good online resource regarding their legal implications is "Copyright And `The Exclusive Right' Of Authors" http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1342&context=fac_artchop Journal of Intellectual Property, Vol. 1, No.1, Fall 1993, by Professor Lyman Ray Patterson, Pope Brock Professor of Law at the University of Georgia and a noted copyright scholar. His description of this earliest copyright is concise and revealing:
The event in the history of Anglo-American copyright that led to the shaping events of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the Charter of the Stationers' Company granted in 1556 by Philip and Mary .... The Charter gave the stationers the power to make "ordinances, provisions, and statutes" for the governance of "the art or mistery of [s]tationery," as well as the power to search out illegal presses and books and things with the power of "seizing, taking, or burning the foresaid books or things, or any of them printed or to be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation ...."
The power to burn offending books was a benefit to the sovereign (a weapon against unlawful publications), and a boon to the stationers (a weapon against competition). The book-burning power thus shows the real motivation for the Charter, to secure the allegiance of the stationers as policemen of the press for the sovereign in an uncertain world.
 "An Unhurried View of Copyright", Benjamin Kaplan Columbia University Press, 1967, pp. 4-5.
 Patterson, in , goes so far as to say "The characterization of the statutory copyright as an author's copyright, however, is one of the great canards of history."
 Kaplan, p. 6.
 Kaplan, pp. 7-9.
 "Five Hundred Years of Printing" pp. 218-230, S. H. Steinberg, Penguin Books, 1955, revised 1961
 When I started this article, I assumed such developments were a few years away from commercial viability, but I was wrong: the print-on-demand service newspaperkiosk.com launched (note: it later apparently folded, but then came lulu.com, which is still going strong).
 See www.mp3.com, for one example. (Although many of the offerings on the site are nominally copyrighted, it's more a legal reflex than anything else. The tracks are meant to be freely downloaded, listened to, and shared -- and that's exactly what people do with them.)
 The original version of this article called this the "Threshold Pledge" system. However, Brandt Cannici of strayform.com, who independently invented the same system, came up with the much better name "Fund and Release", and I now try to use that term instead.
 For a description of one funding technique, and a survey of others, see "The Street Performer Protocol and Digital Copyrights" by John Kelsey and Bruce Schneier, at http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/673/583.
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