Steve says: Did you actually read my submission to the copyright board? It is fairly lengthy.
Brad says: Why yes, Steve, I did? As a matter of fact I agree with a lot of what you said. Hense: I posted a link to your rantings on my webpage. Seriously though, the idea of copyright has become laughable at best. The laws – of which I have no real education on, but will comment regardless – were – I am assuming of course – intended to protect the rights of the masses from the power of the corporations – which by the way are backed by large finanical and legal resources. Imagine if some publisher decided that they wanted to take these words and put them into a book or republish them in some way. Sure – with my permission. But if I don’t grant that then, hey, bugger off. And that is my rights as an individual being protected from some corporate entity. Not vice versa.
I think there is a larger issue: the issue of cultural theft by the corporate giants of the universe. As I write this I am thinking of books like No Logo or Fast Food Nation: their common theme is not one of copyright, but perhaps it should be. They talk about how we as a society are falling victim to mass marketing and losing our cultural identities in the process. This may seem trivial, but we are starting to see the effects of this culture grab trickling into copyright law. The whole idea of culture has swirled itself into something of a consumer product: Klein talks about Nike slogans or Golden Arches – but the problem is much bigger. Every aspect of our identities as human beings – even our genes and our thoughts – are becoming something that someone else wants to make money from: the 70s were about peace, the eighties about freedom, 90s about the environment, and now we are talking about copyright as a societal faux pas? What is free and what is not. And why isn’t it free? Who says what is free and – more importantly – who gets money for the things and ideas that we purchase?
Don’t get me wrong: people need to make money. There is business to be had, and without payment, the people who produce simply wouldn’t do it anymore. I respect that. I honor that. But there is something bigger going on – it isn’t the government, and it isn’t some ultra-powerful force. It’s us, lying stupid in front of a bunch of bully corporations that just want to suck even more money out of us, and make us pay for every byte of data that we consume. These are the marketers and distributers that are making money by repackaging cultural products – making us think we need things that we already have, or should be able to produce ourselves.
You talk about being able to copy music, access science literature, or even read “Alice in Wonderland” – those are just symptoms of cultural rippage: who owns it? I tell you what? Alice in Wonderland is Public Domain. Period. I don’t care how you look at it. If companies want to repackage and sell us back our own culture then there is a very serious problem brewing in the depths of this society.
When, in 1997, I went to that Unity conference in Quebec, guess what we talked about… We talked about maintaining a cultural identity in a storm of cultural melting pots: Quebec wants separation to maintain their cultural self. Its an example close to home: they want to be unique. They value their identity. They value their existence as unique individuals. And they fight for that and believe in the value of maintaining it.
On the other hand: we sit here and let our culture become a dictate of a handful of people whose intention is not cultural diversity and blossoming of society: It is the absolute pursuit of money: and we are being hog-tied at every turn because all we really want is to share ideas, feelings, emotions, and thoughts. The problem is that now the means by which we are able to do that has suddenly become a thing that is worth money because either (a) it is a product used to communicate such as CDs, Mp3s, books, digital files, or whatever; or (b) it is a piece of culture – say a song or story – set loose into society and has become part of us – set loose by an artist or company that thinks they should forever maintain rights to something they have contributed and set free into the universe. Like you said – sometimes sharing music is the whole point of having it. Copyright steals that innate human “thing” that we do. That essence that is us. It stops us from doing what we want to do with it: we are forced into having this artifical culture, generated by people we are told have talent, packaged by people who have complete control over content – then when we want to contribute to that culture – either by moving or sharing it – the whole point of any culture really – we are slapped on the hands and told we are breaking the law and that we are committing federal crimes. Talk about censorship. Copyright guarantees that a creator should benefit from his creation: it was never meant to restrict the freedoms of the intended audience to incorporate it into what we are as a culture.
An example: Say I wanted to make a mix CD for Karin. We have been dating for a while now, and as a result have heard a number of songs that are part of our relationship. Those songs are playing during movies, on the radio, or wherever. They are part of what WE are. They are special to us an have meaning to the “culture” that we call our relationship. But the minute I make that mix CD and give it to her, technically I am committing a crime. Sure – you say – not a big deal. Everyone does it. But that is beside the point. Those songs are as much a part of my life as they are a part of the life of the people who made and distributed them. They pushed them into us. The let them loose and they have become part of my unique identity as a free human being. So now, here I am with this culture that was given to me – wrapped into who I am, by soceity and the world I inhabit – and someone turns around and says, oh, by the way – you don’t own that and you had better not even think about expressing yourself using those “pieces of your own culture” because its illegal. Think about that: copyright makes it illegal to express myself as a human being because the way I have been taught – force fed – indoctrinated – my entire life – is something that someone else owns and apparently has control over.
So you know what? There is nothing else to do but fight back: I hereby copyright everything that is me. From my latest fashion sense – to the words I write and say – to my genetic makeup – to my very soul. I grant permission to my friends to forever use my selfness in anyway that is appropriate. But if any of you corporations so much as even print my name on an envelope or use my name when they call me trying to sell me some piece of crap – be prepared for the wrath of Brad.