SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP, DMCA, TRIPS… There is no question that the goals of the various acts, bills and agreements governing intellectual property and copyright are consistently inline with the goals of the largest entertainment companies and stakeholders. The MPAA and RIAA, respectively, the associations (i.e. lobbying organisations) for the movie and record industries are often found to be sponsors and co-drafters of these legal provisions.
It is no wonder that this is the case. With such staggering financial incentives it is understandable and reasonable, from their perspective, to shape law and public opinion to better their margins. It’s not complex. It’s all money.
If you’re a proponent of intellectual property and copyright in principle or even practice then this is a time at which you should be reviewing the situation and figuring out what, given the status quo, is going to prevent the approaching inhibition of our freedoms. Of course, you needn’t do this, if you, like the MPAA and RIAA, aren’t fazed by the idea of having your internet traffic monitored, held on file and released to copyright holders at their whims, and without due-process. If, on the other hand, you think this is all wrong, for whatever reason, then maybe it is time to think about what copyright really means to you…
It has been said that without copyright there is no incentive to innovate. This runs contrary to works created for the public domain, open source software, and works licensed under copyright-waiving terms (e.g. unlicense.org). The claim falls apart. There is, evidently, some other motivations involved in innovating.
So what is intellectual property really worth? Is it worth inhibiting further innovation and creativity? Should I have to pay countless artists millions of dollars to mix a track and create something new? Is this fair? Is it okay to have no privacy or freedom of expression?
Is intellectual property, as a whole, really in the best interest of humanity? If it is, then it follows that it is in the best interest of humanity to create a contentious atmosphere, wherein people are pitted against each other to better not themselves necessarily, nor humanity as a whole, but simply to improve their financial standing in society. It is easy to discount one’s support of these circumstances by convincing oneself that it’s “what we need to survive”, “just how things are”, “not gonna change” etc.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I sure as damn prefer the idea of society where I can distribute my creations freely and have them built upon by other people to better society as a whole. Such a monumental shift in perspective is not going to happen overnight, but maybe something will materialise out of mass opposition, and no, that doesn’t mean changing a facebook profile pic, adopting a twibbon, or blocking your site for one day. Even this-here text you’re reading is probably an exercise in futility. This’ll take continued effort and awareness. Or, we can all stick our heads in the ground and entertain ourselves with the petty spoon-fed ideals we’ve been conditioned to uphold and never question anything other than what’s for dinner, or when is the next episode of Celebrity Bullshit Revisited?