drew Roberts writes:
A misunderstanding here: I disagree both with copyright in its present form AND
with the libertarian arguments against copyright. I had stated previously that I
am not a fan of copyright, so I don't understand why you're answering my post as
if I were defending copyright.
I want to put copyright and contracts aside for a minute, and say something
about the ethics. (Law is a reflection of a society's ethics -- an imperfect
reflection, but still a reflection.)
If you create an intellectual product, and I want to do something with it --
distribute it, or create a new work based on the original -- common decency
calls for me to *ask permission*. To do it anyway without asking is rude or
disrespectful, maybe even dishonest.
Turning the pronouns around, if I make a bangin' dance track in SuperCollider,
and you email me to say you love it and you want to remix it, I'd be thrilled.
I'll even help you out -- I'll give you stems that I didn't release publicly. I
bet a lot of musicians feel the same. But if I hear about your remix after the
fact... I might like the remix, but I'll also feel peeved that you just
appropriated my work without so much as a "good morning." Depending on how
you're releasing it, my reaction may range between mildly irritated and furious,
the latter especially if I release with a CC-BY-SA and you don't share alike.
This is my #1 beef with the libertarian point of view. Libertarians seem to be
saying that the rude bastard is fully justified in being a rude bastard, AND
that the law should protect his rude bastard-ness. And the original author, who
was rudely bastardized? Tough. They have declared, more or less a priori, that
material possession trumps all other considerations. Since the intellectual
product is not a material possession, the author has no recourse. Further, she
SHOULD have no recourse because any recourse is an "invasion" of the rude
Thus we have an ethic that celebrates dishonorable behavior as an expression of
the ideal of free use of one's material resources, and disempowers someone who
has done honest, hard work. I choose not to endorse this ethic, and I'm afraid
that the discussion cannot progress as long as the primacy of material
possession is non-negotiable.
One of my problems with copyright is that the companies that enforce copyright
have no incentive to grant permission for derivative works. So, either nobody
makes derivative works (no fun) or people don't ask permission, which is
ethically dodgy. That's one reason why I don't enforce copyright on my own
works, but I do license as CC-BY-SA. (I used to add NC "non-commercial" to that,
but realized that it doesn't bother me if my work is used in a project that is
sold for money *as long as* it is also share-alike, i.e., permitting derivative
So, a question on my mind is, what mechanisms could the law use to discourage
people from being jerks and copying without asking? I don't have an answer, but
it seems to me that it's a more productive line of thought than paranoid
language of "invasion" and even, at one point, truly silly speculation about the
death penalty for copyright violators. I fail to see how any of that furthers
the discussion in any way, and I intend to ignore those portions of Louigi and
Drew's future posts that indulge in such (and I hope others follow suit).
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