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"Are you seriously saying that anyone should be able to reproduce and sell a creator’s work without their permission?" · Saturday October 27, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

“You could just as well say that property rights would not exist in the free market, because you need a governmental body to identify, assign and defend them. Patents are not arbitrary monopoly privileges granted by the government; they are the government’s recognition of an individual’s creative efforts and his right to the product of those efforts.” William Dwyer

Tell a bear his cave is not his property because he has no government to legislate it so. Tell a wolf the carcass he’s enjoying is not his property because he has no government to legislate it so.

Property derives from privacy, the individual’s innate power and natural right to exclude others from the spaces they inhabit and the objects they possess. Governments are supposed to secure such exclusive rights – on the basis of equality – as opposed to whoever is the more powerful.

No natural being has an innate power to control what others do with their spoor.

People may covet such power, but that doesn’t make it a natural right.

An author has a natural right to exclude others from their writings, as an inventor has to exclude others from their designs, and this right should be secured by Congress. However, should either author or inventor include another (in their confidence or otherwise) they have no natural power or right to control what that other may do. We lose no liberty in receiving a writing or design.

What takes our liberty away is legislative abridgement, specifically Queen Anne’s annulling of our right to copy in 1709 (and James Madison’s re-enactment in 1790), that this right may be left, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – copyright holders.

So, yes, if a ‘creator’ discloses their invention or writing to you, you are naturally at liberty (as you SHOULD be) to reproduce and/or sell copies as you see fit – no permission needed. Only patent and copyright annul your right to do so. And such liberty is inalienable, i.e. you can’t contract away your right to copy that which someone has given you (though you can contract away that which is alienable, e.g. a security deposit, forfeit upon being found to have made copies).

Moral Rights are Neither Held nor Perpetual · Wednesday August 01, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

Having seen others Pondering Perpetual Moral Rights I suspect that discovering natural rights can be a shock to those brought up on a diet of privileges (legislatively created rights). One such privilege, copyright, is the natural right to copy, annulled in the majority (1709), to be left, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – hence why we have ‘copyright holders’ and not ‘right to life holders’. See Paine’s Rights of Man.

Moral rights derive from natural law, and so are not the privileges tendentiously misnamed as rights, though their legislative recognition often enhances/corrupts them with proprietary/unnatural aspects.

Given that we’re endowed by our creator with rights (nature → natural) and these are inherent and so a priori inalienable (as one’s shadow) then it should not be surprising that they are not transferable as privileges, nor do they exist separately from the human being endowed with them.

Governments are instituted among men to recognise and secure our rights, not to create privileges (by necessarily annulling the respective right in the majority). See The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies.

So, authorship is a fact and perpetual. Misrepresenting authorship is a deceit and a violation of each audience members’ right to truth (from our natural/vital ability to apprehend the truth of our senses). The perpetuality of authorship does not arise because law or lawyers claim the author’s moral right is perpetual. Shakespeare is dead and has no right to be violated, but this doesn’t change the truth of who authored his works, nor does it make it open season for others to claim authorship. If one claims to have authored Macbeth one deceives one’s audience. It is not up to Shakespeare’s ghost to sue the fraudster per his ‘moral right’, but up to the government to secure the audience’s right to truth – to provide them with remedies against fraud.

As to divulgation, while an author has a natural right to privacy, to exclude others from their writings, they have no right to gag those to whom they confide their writings. Confidentiality is a matter of trust, not the power to alienate another from their liberty to disclose that which they have been entrusted not to (nor a legally granted power to punish them for their liberty). Obviously, at the natural end of the author’s life, so ends their natural right to privacy. However, those who inherit their belongings have their own privacy, so cannot be forced to disclose what they have inherited.

When you understand natural rights, you can then more easily understand where legislation strays from the path of securing rights to the granting of privileges, and where confusion inevitably arises.

A lot of confusion could be avoided if privileges weren’t pretended to be rights, but then that rather undermines the need to persuade the public that privileges are good things.

The (un)Nature Of Copyright · Tuesday July 10, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

If instead of a libertarian you are a devout utilitarian or totalitarian, you are even more likely to be at a loss to understand why the 300 year old privilege of copyright is coming into disrepute and generally being ignored by a delinquent youth apparently unfamiliar with Queen Anne’s great philanthropic gift to mankind. Natural rights libertarianism is fine in itself, but while it may not provide you with your preferred basis for government, it is able to provide an explanation that legislative fiat cannot.

Natural rights explains the dissolution of copyright, because it helps us understand that human beings need their liberty. It is fundamentally vital to them. The state cannot expect the laws it passes to last if they prohibit natural liberties, whatever the pretext or ulterior motive, e.g. to preserve power, profit the plutocracy, or purely pompous purposes.

This brings me to John Baker, who recently e-mailed me with a few questions relating to his struggle to discern the fundamental principles underlying copyright law.

Copyright Is Unprincipled

I have been trying to hash out getting to copyright via first principles and seeing which bits stand up (which isn’t looking like very much so far!!)

No, you can’t get to copyright via first principles. :-)

Natural rights provides the principles. However it is controversial because it undermines the state, and its desire to decide the law irrespective of any fundamental principles. So, despite natural rights having a long history (even informing the Framers of the US Constitution – see Jefferson and Natural Rights), they aren’t taught much at all these days. Even lawyers only have about a cursory hour given to the subject in their law course (if they’re lucky).

A natural right is the natural and vital power of a being in equilibrium with its fellows.

Because we observe equilibrium in any species at large, even if there is power inequality in a few cases, we deduce that equilibrium is the natural/ideal state. This means that in the natural state the power of one individual is equal and opposite to that of another, and hence we use the term right – in which equality is implicit. They are natural rights because the equal power they represent is innate to the individual – not provided by any external agency.

There are physical boundaries that can be observed that delimit the individual’s vital powers or rights (into domains): the skin of the body dividing its interior from its exterior, the personal space (the limit of the body’s immediate reach), the vicinity or walls of the dwelling it inhabits, and the limits of its perception.

The individual’s physical power is their vital (necessary & imperative), physical ability, and thus right to exclude others from within those boundaries (should they need or want to).

The interior of the individual’s body, its life, health and integrity is paramount. The power to exclude others from within the body in order to defend its life, health and integrity is termed the right to life.

The right to exclude others from domains exterior to the body, is termed the right to privacy.

NB ‘others’ includes the actions and consequences of others’ actions.

The individual’s mental power is their vital (necessary & imperative) ability and thus right to understand and apprehend the truth of what they perceive with their senses, and thus the mental power and right to exclude the falsehood of others (or to “eliminate the impossible” as Sherlock Holmes puts it). This is termed the right to truth. It is vital not only to the individual’s survival, but also to detect and establish the truth concerning violations of the right to life & privacy.

What remains to the individual, is the power and vital ability to move and communicate within their natural environment. This is termed the right to liberty.

Natural rights do not conflict. There is no compromise or balancing between rights, although we can observe their descending vitality: life, privacy, truth, then liberty. One right precedes and delimits another.

Because rights represent powers innate to the individual, it is nonsensical to pretend that an individual can divest themselves of their rights (abandon them, or give them to another), and thus rights are a priori inalienable.

Because natural rights represent an individual’s innate and vital powers, the individual is naturally/instinctively aware of their imperative to assert their rights – to defend their right to life, privacy, truth, and liberty against others who may otherwise violate it. In those cases of violation, where one individual chooses not to respect the rights of the other (to take advantage) it will be up to the community to judge and repair/remedy the violation. Understanding the natural rights of all individuals concerned will thus enable justice.

The right to property derives from privacy. The objects private to us, those we possess upon our bodies, within the spaces we occupy or inhabit, are our property – assuming we obtained them by discovery, creation, or exchange – as opposed to theft (violating another’s privacy).

In the case where Fred exchanges/sells a basket to Tom, Tom is at liberty to manufacture a copy of the basket. Fred has no right to deny Tom that liberty, because Tom’s action in making a copy is not impinging upon Fred’s or anyone else’s right to life, privacy, truth, or liberty.

If the community, instead of recognising natural rights in its law, ignores or abridges natural rights and declares that people should no longer have the liberty to make copies of the craftwork they buy from each other, then this privileges craftsmen above their customers. Whenever they find out a copy has been made they can claim their privilege has been infringed and seek reparations against the infringer.

The important thing to note is that people have no natural right to prevent or prohibit others from copying them, from learning by following their example (if they are physically stronger they can attack & punish another for copying them, but remember we’re talking about rights). Moreover, their liberty which includes the power to copy, to learn by following another’s example, is vital to the individual’s survival, to humanity’s survival.

This is why the privilege we call copyright, established by Queen Anne’s statute of 1709, is unethical according to the fundamental principles of natural rights.

Ideas as Property

The only way I can see an idea legitimately being ‘property’ is if you keep it secret or have a means to delete it from your brain when you tell someone which is absurd!

Well, we certainly have the innate power and natural right to exclude others from the ideas in our brains (but not from coincidentally having indistinguishably similar ideas), or from the intellectual works in our private possession. Authors thus have a natural right to exclude others from their writings, but this is evidently easily misunderstood as a privilege to deny others their liberty to make copies of the writings they have purchased.

We don’t have much of a natural ability to deliberately forget something, no.

Innate Rights vs Held Rights

I need a good phrase that represents “RIGHTS BE-ER” rather than “RIGHTS HOLDER”. English language doesn’t make that easy unfortunately.

Rights are ‘held’, if they have been annulled (by law) in the majority, to leave them, by exclusion, in the hands of a few. Thus our right to copy, having been annulled in law (pretending we don’t have it, even though we do), is considered by the law to be held by the consequently privileged ‘right to copy’ holder, who can give it to another. Only rights that have been annulled (alienated from us by law, albeit naturally impossible) can thus be passed around.

Natural rights are innate and inalienable. We are born with them, they remain with us, and we die with them.

Corruption of ‘Right’ as Privilege

It is double think. A popular trick based on exploiting cognitive or linguistic limitation that doesn’t only apply to copyright.

When the term ‘right’ is used both for natural rights and for privileges (quasi ‘rights’ granted by law) then people are going to get confused into thinking copyright is as much a natural or human right as say, privacy.

Obligatory Honesty

The only one of those I can see practical in terms of copyright is an obligation to be honest/truthful. Obligations determine something you can actually ‘be’ if they are practical.

You can still find a hint of natural rights pertaining to intellectual works if you do a Google search for “moral rights”. We are effectively obliged to be truthful when we present another’s work, to avoid implying or misstating it as our work, because to do otherwise would violate the right to truth of the author and the rest of our audience (those to whom we present the work).

Further Reading

Natural rights can be discovered by anyone who cares to look, but this means there will be some terminological diversity.

Some, such as Murray N Rothbard, have, implicitly or explicitly, adopted the Lockean term ‘property’ to refer to the individual’s physical power of exclusion, the self-evident ownership of themselves, the space they inhabit, their possessions and their labour. However, this tends to make ‘property’ into a deus ex machina basis for natural rights, instead of its proper status as a consequence of them. This sometimes then tends to confuse people into thinking in terms of property first, people second, instead of in terms of people and their rights first, and their property second. It is thus safest to reserve the term ‘property’ for alienable objects, that are subject to the exclusionary power (privacy or exclusive right) of the individual that discovers, creates, or has received them (via gift or exchange) into their private domain.

“Natural Law and Natural Rights” By James A. Donald provides an alternative style of introduction to Rothbard’s.

Also see on this blog The 18th Century Overture – A Crescendo of Copyright – Natural Finale and Reprise and its precis Questioning Copyright.

'Controlling Personal Data' & VRM · Monday July 02, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

In “Your personal data is not worth anywhere near what you think it’s worth” Jerry Neumann ends with “I spent several years of my life trying to build a business that lets people take control of their own data while still leaving a way for marketers to find them. I believe in privacy”

Privacy is not something to be believed in. It has to be self-evident.

If we imagine privacy is the power to control what others do with the ‘personal’ data they collect from their transactions with us, then lacking this power innately, it cannot be obtained – unless the state grants us a privilege to prosecute those who fail to believe we have this power.

Privacy is the right to keep others excluded from that which we have the innate and physical power to exclude others from, e.g. the space about our person, the interior of our walled house, the space about us & those we are having a (private) discussion with, the interior of our physically bounded messages (envelopes), etc. We have no power to buy some cigarettes from someone and prohibit them from revealing this purchase to others (they will be discrete – if they are an individual with a reputation to worry about).

There are still others spending years of their lives trying to perpetuate businesses that rely upon people being able to control the distribution and use of their intellectual works – or rather an 18th century privilege that lets people prosecute those who fail to believe they have this power of control.

We’re not going to get anywhere if we attempt to build things based upon the powers of control we believe we have (or believe we should have), as opposed to the powers of control we do have.

On the Internet there are about two things we control that are relevant: our speech (inalienable) and our property (alienable). That means we can publish what we’re interested in, what we have, and contract to exchange what we have for what we want. This is ample power for VRM (as it has been for business between people since time immemorial).

We can neither surrender nor exchange our freedom of speech concerning our interactions or transactions, nor can we claim the power to constrain others’ freedom of speech respectively. Nevertheless, the faithful will continue to believe otherwise, that people do have the power to “take control of their own data”. If this includes you, read the above again.

The Copyright Clause That Never Was · Monday May 21, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

The following blog article is a work in progress and liable to be edited/improved – feel free to comment if you have suggestions. Its point is to show how the allure of the old world’s copyright and patent seduced and corrupted James Madison, and in turn led him to attempt to corrupt the Constitution to permit those privileges to be granted in the US, that he/Congress granted anyway. Fortunately, a strict natural rights reading of the Constitution (as most of the Framers would have read it) reveals that it did not empower Congress to grant copyright or patent.

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.1 — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

1 Per Wikipedia This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history.” The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

The US Constitution, 1787

Article 1 – The Legislative Branch

Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

The US Copyright Act, 1790

Copyright Act of 1790

1 Statutes At Large, 124

An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, Charts, And books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passing of this act, the author and authors of any map, chart, book or books already printed within these United States, being a citizen or citizens thereof, or resident within the same, his or their executors, administrators or assigns, who halt or have not transferred to any other person the copyright of such map, chart, book or books, share or shares thereof; and any other person or persons, being a citizen or citizens of these United States, or residents therein, his or their executors, administrators or assigns, who halt or have purchased or legally acquired the copyright of any such map, chart, book or books, in order to print, reprint, publish or vend the same, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending such map, chart, book or books, for the term of fourteen years from the recording the title thereof in the clerk’s office, as is herein after directed: And that the author and authors of any map, chart, book or books already made and composed, and not printed or published, or that shall hereafter be made and composed, being a citizen or citizens of these United States, or resident therein, and his or their executors, administrators or assigns, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending such map, chart, book or books, for the like term of fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof in the clerk’s office as aforesaid.

“securing the copies … to the authors and proprietors” ? Hang on. Congress only has power to secure rights, rights that people are born with – not to ‘secure copies’ such as the copy of a newspaper against other printers printing further copies of it.

“shall have the sole right and liberty” ? This ‘shall’ is not the recognition of a natural right, but the granting of a privilege, especially as only the holder shall have it instead of ‘all men’. And ‘sole liberty’ provides evidence that this aforesaid unalienable right of Liberty is being alienated from the majority to be left, by exclusion, in the hands of a few.

Isn’t that what Thomas Paine would say? Try his Rights of Man

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few. If charters were constructed so as to express in direct terms, “that every inhabitant, who is not a member of a corporation, shall not exercise the right of voting,” such charters would, in the face, be charters not of rights, but of exclusion. The effect is the same under the form they now stand; and the only persons on whom they operate are the persons whom they exclude. Those whose rights are guaranteed, by not being taken away, exercise no other rights than as members of the community they are entitled to without a charter; and, therefore, all charters have no other than an indirect negative operation. They do not give rights to A, but they make a difference in favour of A by taking away the right of B, and consequently are instruments of injustice.

What eludes many people is that the so called Progress Clause of the Constitution neither grants copyright nor empowers Congress to grant copyright. Madison inserted the clause with copyright in mind – and also felt obliged to prefix it with a glib pretext “to promote the progress…” – but he was unable to explicitly empower Congress to grant that monopoly (though could be explicit when it came to granting “Letters of Marque” further on). He was unable to grant copyright because the grant of a monopoly was anathema2 – the most he could do was to empower Congress to secure an author’s exclusive right to their writings. And this was in the hope people wouldn’t notice his/Congress’s later assumption of power to grant the monopoly of copyright – derogating from the citizens’ liberty instead of securing their privacy (their natural and unalienable right to exclude others from their private writings).

Congress has power to SECURE the author’s inalienable, natural, exclusive right to their writings, i.e. to protect their natural right (equal power) to exclude others from their writings. NB We have no natural power to give someone our writings (include them) and then exclude them – as copyright holders are gradually realising today, even with draconian enforcement powers. Congress can only secure the right to exclude others from our writings that we already have (that we were imbued with by our creator/nature).

Congress does not have power to annul its citizens’ natural right to copy, to abridge their liberty to share and build upon their own culture. The Constitution did not stipulate that Congress had the power to grant the privilege of copyright – unlike its stipulation that Congress had the power to grant Letters of Marque.

So, Congress should and can abolish the privilege it had granted without Constitutional power, i.e. the US Copyright act of 1790 and all enhancements thereafter.


2 See Unequal Protection: Jefferson Versus the Corporate Aristocracy

Jefferson and Natural Rights

Back in the earliest days of the United States, Jefferson didn’t anticipate the scope, meaning, and consequences of the Industrial Revolution that was just starting to gather steam in Europe about the time he was entering politics in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He distrusted letting companies have too much power, but he was focusing on the concept of “natural rights,” an idea that was at the core of the writings and the speeches of most of the Revolutionary-era generation, from Thomas Paine to Patrick Henry to Benjamin Franklin.

In Jefferson’s mind “the natural rights of man” were enjoyed by Jefferson’s ancient tribal ancestors of Europe, were lived out during Jefferson’s life by some of the tribal peoples of North America, and were written about most explicitly sixty years before Jefferson’s birth by John Locke, whose writings were widely known and often referenced in pre-revolutionary America.

Natural rights, Locke said, are things that people are born with simply by virtue of their being human and born into the world. In 1690, in his Second Treatise of Government, Locke put forth one of the most well-known definitions of the natural rights that all people are heirs to by virtue of their common humanity. He wrote, “All men by nature are equal…in that equal right that every man hath to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man…being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions…”

As to the role of government, Locke wrote, “Men being…by nature all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of his estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent which is done by agreeing with other men, to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living…in a secure enjoyment of their properties…”

This natural right was asserted by Jefferson first in his Summary View of the Rights of British America, published in 1774, in which he wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.” His first draft of the Declaration of Independence similarly declared, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all Men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and unalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Individuals asserted those natural rights in the form of a representative government that they controlled, and that same government also protected their natural rights from all the forces that in previous lands had dominated, enslaved, and taken advantage of them.

Aaeru said 4198 days ago :

It is a miracle your blog hasn’t been censored into oblivion! I would have expected a delisting from google at the very LEAST.

You are very dangerous to the establishment because you write with amazing clarity on the topic of copyright, which is probably the one area they have had the most success against the people, and hence the most control on people. They surely would not like to give that power up anytime soon.

ty for your work. There is a lot of entries. A Flattr button would be most appropriate

Crosbie Fitch said 4198 days ago :

Thanks for the encouraging words Aaeru.

There’s no point in censoring this site because copyright is so boring. The moment it was censored it would suddenly become extremely interesting.

By the time most people are able to recognise the truth in what I write, they have long realised there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.

Intellectual Work as Exchangeable Property · Friday January 27, 2012 by Crosbie Fitch

It’s worryingly easy for those who recognise the iniquities of monopolies such as copyright and patent to reject the entire concept of intellectual work at the same time as they reject the monopolies, i.e. they throw the baby out with the bathwater.

As an example of this phenomenon here’s such a complaint from Bill followed by my response:

Bill January 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm
Crosbie Fitch, I disagree that the intellectual work (that is, the pattern of words) is Sheldon’s property. It is his idea, but not his “property.” The concept of “property” is indeed limited to material things that are scarce. You could call his idea “intellectual property,” but it seems to me that that would just be confusing it with actual property. And note that I don’t think this is just a semantic point. Rather, by calling his idea his “property” (intellectual property) you are implying that it has the characteristics of property. Property owners have the right to exclude others from their property. If you call Sheldon’s idea (the pattern of words in the article he writes) his property, then you false imply that you believe that he has the right to prevent others from using their property (their paper and ink or virtual equivalents) to reproduce the pattern of words that was Sheldon’s idea.

Bill, it seems that just as it is difficult for copyright supporters to understand that their monopoly is not a natural right, so it is difficult for those who have deleted the concept of intellectual work from their minds to understand that there can be such a thing as natural intellectual property.

The product we call intellectual work has precisely the same characteristics as material work save that intellectual work is far more easily decomposed into information (more easily reproduced and communicated). If, unlike copyright supporters, you don’t get too upset by the facility we have for copying intellectual work, then I don’t see why you should get at all upset at recognising intellectual work as property.

The thing I have difficulty understanding is why you can’t then resist inferring that I believe people have a right to prevent others producing anything similar to their own productions. Such a right, if it was imbued in us, would require supernatural power.

I have got a poem written on a piece of paper in my pocket and I can naturally, physically exclude you from it. You cannot read it or copy it without my permission. Now where you get mystical on me is to say that this means I believe I have the supernatural power to prevent you composing a poem that is similar to or indistinguishable from the one I have in my pocket. Of course I don’t. I have no natural power to prevent, or right to prohibit you from doing so.

Of course, once I’ve exchanged the property of my poem with you for an agreed payment you can then produce as many copies as you like – I have no natural power to prevent, or right to prohibit you from doing so.

Although authors may be enlightened to recognise the Statute of Anne as an abomination, I think it’s understandable if they sensibly refuse to recognise their writing as solely the material of the ink and paper it’s comprised of.

Nick said 4317 days ago :

Just came across this blog + look fwd to following it.

a thought: are you then implying that intellectual property is a secret (like a trade secret perhaps)? && that intellectual property ceases to be such when it is no longer a secret, which as the infamous Jefferson quote points out would seem to go against the very nature of ideas?

++ one thing the internet haz made very clear is this idea of undiscovered public knowledge. I may believe that a particular string of words (or any idea) has never been thought (or will never be thought) before, but it only takes a google search to prove me wrong.

if this is true, then is intellectual property not only a secret, but also a delusion granted by ignorance?

Crosbie Fitch said 4317 days ago :

> a thought: are you then implying that intellectual property
> is a secret (like a trade secret perhaps)?

For an intellectual work to be property it must be fixed in a physical medium (alienable), e.g. written on a piece of paper.

A secret is knowledge that is guarded against disclosure by those (few) who possess it.

An intellectual work can be secret to those who possess it, whether as knowledge within their minds or written on paper in their physical possession.

There is no momentary point at which a secret ceases to be a secret. It is the fuzzy point at which one or more of those in possession no longer guard against disclosure, and may even freely disclose and disseminate the erstwhile secret, such that those in possession can no longer be considered to number in the few.

> && that
> intellectual property ceases to be such when it is no longer
> a secret,

The nature of intellectual property is distinct from the nature of a secret.

Intellectual property shares the characteristics of material property. You can create it (through arranging raw materials), discover it, exchange it, destroy it (rearrange it), and abandon it. It is property because you have the natural power and right to physically exclude others from it. It is not property through notion or privilege, but through natural law.

> which as the infamous Jefferson quote points out
> would seem to go against the very nature of ideas?

There is no conflict between the Jefferson quote and the nature of intellectual property.

> ++ one thing the internet haz made very clear is this idea of
> undiscovered public knowledge. I may believe that a
> particular string of words (or any idea) has never been
> thought (or will never be thought) before, but it only takes
> a google search to prove me wrong.

There is indeed very little that is new under the sun.

> if this is true, then is intellectual property not only a
> secret, but also a delusion granted by ignorance?

It’s up to you whether you want to keep your ideas to yourself, and to any of your confidants and them.

If you realise an idea into physical form then it is your property, and it’s up to you whether you keep it to yourself, exchange it, or destroy it, etc.

Richard M Stallman said 4078 days ago :

If the subject under discussion is copyright, it is misleading to
refer to it as “intellectual property” because that lumps it together
with several other unrelated and disparate laws: trademarks, trade
secrets, utility patents, design patents, plant variety monopolies,
database monopolies (nonexistent in the US but existent in Europe),
controlled geographical terms (existing in many countries), publicity
rights (existing in some US states), and more.

These laws have nothing in common at the practical level, so lumping
them together is a mistake. If you want to talk about the ethics of
copyright, please call it “copyright”.

See www.gnu.org/philosop… for more about this

Crosbie Fitch said 4077 days ago :

I never refer to copyright, patent, or trademark as intellectual property. It is misleading if not deceitful to do so.

They have little in common except that they are all privileges – a priori, instruments of injustice. That said, those arguing in their favour often insinuate them as natural rights, e.g. by referring to the fact that an author has a natural right to exclude others from their writings, and the fact that an individual has a natural monopoly over their identity.

There are no ethics to copyright. It is inherently unethical, a privilege borne of crown and corporate interests (the Stationers’ Company being the first publishing corporation).

I’d lump all these monopolistic privileges together as a legislative mistake, corrupt legislation to be abolished as soon as possible.

Review: Copyright, Communication and Culture by Carys J. Craig · Friday October 21, 2011 by Crosbie Fitch

Towards a Relational Theory of Copyright Law
Carys J. Craig
Carys J. Craig, LLB (Hons), LLM, SJD, Associate Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada
2011 288 pp Hardback 978 1 84844 839 1
Hardback £65.00 on-line price £58.50

As the synopsis of this book said it argued “that the dominant conception of copyright as private property fails to adequately reflect the realities of cultural creativity” it sounded to me as if this might be a pleasant change from much of the copyright lip service that gets written in academic circles.

So, let’s see how I got on when I started reading between the covers.

1. Introduction (download)

Funnily enough, even before reading the first sentence, my eye is caught by a revelation in the acknowledgements on the preceding page that Carys Craig previously published Locke, Labour, and Limiting the Author’s Right: A Warning Against a Lockean Approach to Copyright Law“ (2002) 28 Queen’s Law Journal 1-60.

“Oh oh!” is my first thought. An author ‘Against a Lockean approach’ does not bode well.

The first paragraph inoffensively summarises our cultural predicament, but the 2nd paragraph which starts “Copyright law, which creates exclusive rights over intellectual expression, is one such regime” is the first thing that is a little too blithe for my liking. One should find immediately suspect the phrase ‘creates exclusive rights’, since, as we know, rights cannot be created by law.

So what does Carys think copyright is?

“Fundamentally, copyright is no more than ‘the right to multiply copies of a published work, or the right to make the work public and still retain the beneficial interest therein’”

Au contraire. We have a right to multiply copies of a work by nature. Copyright is law that annuls this right to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – privileged holders of our right to copy. This is why the term ‘holder’ is used (held in the hands of another). If it was the natural right there wouldn’t be any ‘holding’ about it. We don’t hold a right to our own lives, nor do we hold a right to our own privacy. We have the rights we are born with – we don’t hold them. We have the right to copy as much as we have the right to learn or to teach. Only unethical law can state otherwise, that a right we are born with is to be annulled for the benefit of the few to be favoured or privileged.

The author, originating their work in their private possession, has the natural right either to exclude others from it, or to deliver it to all and sundry, to thereby publish their work, but this is irrespective of any privilege. An author does not need a privilege in order to publish their work. A printer needs a privilege in order to prevent others competing with them in printing copies of a published work.

“From a utilitarian or instrumental perspective, the exclusive rights that copyright grants are justified as a means by which to maximise cultural production and exchange by encouraging the production of intellectual works.” Production is encouraged only according to the myth or revisionist pretext that has this as the primary motive for the Statute of Anne. As for justification, utilitarianism has no problem sacrificing the rights of the individual for the ‘greater good’ (aka the interests of the state), so to suggest that privileges such as copyright can be ‘justified’ in those terms insults the justice that recognises individual rights first, and the state second.

Carys Craig states “The overarching theme of this book is the need to discard notions of natural right, individual entitlement and private property in copyright theory, …” Ouch. The problem with this is that copyright has already discarded these notions. Copyright annuls the individual’s natural right to copy. Copyright disregards the individual’s natural, primordial entitlement to cultural liberty. Copyright abridges the individual’s privacy in forbidding infringement even within it. Copyright even elides the fact that it is the individual’s natural right to privacy that gives rise to the exclusive right to their writings, not the granting of the privilege (which insinuates the natural foundation of privacy as legitimacy for the reproduction monopoly extending it into the public domain). So, I suspect that Carys Craig has swallowed the myth that copyright is a natural right or is a consequence of it.

The introduction does not bode well. I worry to proceed.

2. Constructing authorship: The underlying philosophy of the copyright model

Carys Craig well and rightly deconstructs a prevalent notion of author as creator ex nihilo, but still appears to see copyright as a moral defence of this, i.e. a right against imitation. However, copyright was not created for this. It is simply a commercial defence against unauthorised printing/reproduction (of copies or substitutes). This ties in with the prevalent notion that copyright is intended to prevent plagiarism, when it is simply a reproduction monopoly unconcerned with authorship or accuracy in attribution. As to imitation, one can imitate any other author (via their copyright protected works) as much as one wants (risking litigation only when distributing/communicating). However, if the copyright holding publishers of imitated & imitating works come to a commercially agreeable deal, then what the imitated author or their readers think about the imitating work is irrelevant. If the author is offended at being imitated they have to take it up with the copyright holder. Copyright is entirely a commercial privilege devoid of any moral consideration – notwithstanding any legislative lumping together of moral rights with copyright (the annulling of the right to copy).

It is several centuries of royal grant that gave the printers the idea they had a right to printing monopolies, and it is three centuries of a consequently institutionalised monopoly (of necessity arising in each ‘original’ work) that gives authors the idea they have a right to control the use of their work by others. It is not vice versa. Copyright was not created to derogate from the author’s ‘right’ to control their published work in order to serve the public’s interest in receiving it, and a century or so later to one day share and build upon it. Similarly, ad hoc printing monopolies weren’t granted prior to copyright in order that printers could protect the author’s ‘right’ to control who printed their work. We cannot understand the motivations for printing monopolies and copyright in terms of the notions they have engendered in us over the centuries.

So, I fear that Carys Craig mistakes the notions copyright has engendered (or helped perpetuate) as copyright’s basis or misguided mission. I’d suggest that it is only copyright’s supporters that imbue it with an authorial mission. One cannot find such a mission in the legislation itself.

I wouldn’t dispute that the author may have been elevated over the last few centuries coincidentally or as consequence of copyright and book publishing, and this may well lend convenient support to copyright if inveigled as an authorial right, but ultimately copyright was not created to further the author’s interests or protect their rights, nor even the public’s interest in incentivising authorship to promote their own learning as a consequence. One must not confuse purpose with pretext, however much more philanthropically appealing the pretext would appear to be.

“The persuasive force of Romantic authorship makes this an extremely powerful strategy for obtaining and strengthening copyright protection. As such, its function in copyright discourse has altered very little since the occasion of its first deployment in the eighteenth century literary-property debates, where it was an effective ideological instrument used to cloak the economic interests of the booksellers – ‘a stalking horse for economic interests that were (as a tactical matter) better concealed than revealed’”.

Thus Carys Craig must recognise that the Romantic author is not part of copyright’s mission, but used an excuse for it by the monopolist. The last thing the monopolist desires is for the author to be elevated above them within copyright legislation, e.g. to undermine ‘work for hire’ or to be prevented from surrendering their privilege to publishers (reversion is bad enough).

I sense that Carys Craig has failed to recognise that copyright has no sound ethical basis whatsoever, and that this recognition will forever remain out of her reach. Being unable to reach such a conclusion she is forced to ascribe philanthropic motives, aims, or objectives to copyright in order to criticise the legislation’s performance in those terms and to thus suggest that when these criticisms have been remedied, that whatever remains, must logically, however improbably, constitute a just privilege to suspend the public’s cultural liberty.

Despite joining many others who rightly deconstruct authors as producers of purely original work, Carys Craig still concludes that it is the copyright regime (not its supporters and the indoctrinated public) that is wedded to an invalid concept of authorship, instead of to an unethical monopoly (leaving as little as possible to the impotent authors). Moreover, despite paying lip service to the idea of questioning dogma, Carys Craig cannot help but repeat her own dogma that “The societal function of copyright is to encourage participation in our cultural dialogue”. How can Carys Craig uphold such perverse notions when she has just shown us that copyright discourages dialogue? How can participation be encouraged when imprisonment and/or bankruptcy are punishments for any repetition or evolution of another’s speech (to protect the printer’s traditional monopoly over such an act)?

That which encourages participation in our cultural dialogue is an audience of enthusiastic fellow participants engaging in acts of encouragement, e.g. response, cheers, or even payment.

Carys Craig may as well have said that “Prohibiting one person from repeating the words of another encourages discourse between them”. How can anyone let themselves become so brain damaged by copyright indoctrination that they will accept and embrace such statements as logical?

Books on copyright can be divided into four categories:

  1. Monopolist: “Copyright is a priori good, but needs reinforcing against a delinquent public.”
  2. Reformist: “Copyright is a priori good, but needs significant reform if it is to realign with its original, philanthropic mission.”
  3. Neutral: “My analysis/history of copyright”.
  4. Abolitionist: “Copyright is, and always has been, an instrument of injustice that should be abolished.”

I suspect this book falls into the second category.

3. Authorship and conceptions of the self: Feminist theory and the relational author

Carys Craig indulges in a rather tedious tract of sophistry by way of proposing a better conception of authorship. To me it’s obvious that we all regurgitate everyone else, our ancestors and environment, but if you need to over-intellectualise it, Carys Craig has ably catered for you.

However, she demonstrates again that she has mistaken privileges such as copyright as natural rights when she suggests that ‘rights’ are weapons: “The notion of the relational self challenges the liberal conception of the autonomous individual as an independent bearer of rights to be wielded against others and the state”.

It is the privilege of copyright that is the weapon, and it is wielded by the one entity powerful enough to wield it: the immortal publishing corporation, and wielded against the mortal individual (often on behalf of the state, interested to suppress sedition).

Rights are what the state was supposedly created to protect – especially to protect the individual against the de facto power of the state, e.g. against being tortured (even if guilty of terrorism, let alone suspected to be), or against being imprisoned without public trial by a jury of one’s peers.

Rights are not weapons to be wielded. Rights are natural boundaries of natural beings.

It is privileges that are the weapons. It is privileges that enable private prosecutions against others’ natural liberties that are the weapons – and they are doubly vicious when held by the legislatively spawned psychopaths we call corporations. A human being may hesitate to resort to litigation when begrudging another’s repetition of their words, for they only have one life and one reputation, but a corporation is immortal, impervious and decisive: it sues for profit without compunction. Corporate PR will ‘manage’ any human misery caused.

Carys Craig persistently uses ‘liberalism’ as a pejorative. I don’t know where she got her notion of liberalism from (perhaps Ayn Rand?) but it is a most illiberal one. She acknowledges that liberals recognise rights as innate to the individual, but then undermines this by suggesting that according to liberals “human relations are cast in terms of clashing rights and interests”. Rights do not clash – and cannot clash, by definition. It is true that a burglar may have an interest in violating another’s right to privacy, but then of course this is an interest clashing with a right. The right is simply the name for the equalised individual’s natural boundary, the natural limit of their natural power to repel others (unwelcome).

Perhaps some liberals believe that copyright is innate to the individual (and so diminish the standing of ‘rights’ and ‘liberalism’), but this doesn’t actually change the fact that copyright is a highly illiberal state granted privilege.

Indeed, if individuals had an innate (and magical) ability to prevent others retelling the stories they’d told, or to prevent others singing the songs they’d sung, then copyright would have been law long before the advent of the printing press and royal grants of exclusive control.

Carys Craig further underlines her rejection of natural rights when she says “Property rights are primarily about relations between persons and not the material thing that is owned. Moreover, there is nothing about property rights that make them intrinsic or pre-social: their significance is entirely dependent upon the rules and guarantees of the state.” So, because she mistakes copyright as a natural right and would reject it as such, she must therefore reject all natural rights – in order to ‘re-imagine’ everything (and copyright too) in terms of her new ‘relational theory’.

On this not uncommon basis of ‘natural rights are nonsense on stilts’ the space that is a bear’s cave is not its property without a state, nor is the object that is a wolf’s dinner (despite nature suggesting otherwise). If a state decides that property need not exist, or indeed should not be tolerated, then human beings subject to the state, unlike bears or wolves, will allegedly gladly abandon any primitive instinct to exert their natural power to exclude others from the spaces they inhabit or the objects they possess, indeed will allegedly be happy to abandon any ability to exchange such spaces or possessions and simply adopt a communistic ideal of free sharing.

Resonant with the dogmatic conclusion of the previous chapter Carys Craig drops another clanger when she concludes with a criticism of “Copyright’s failure to adequately recognise the essentially social nature of human creativity”. Copyright could only fail in this if it actually attempted it. It made no such attempt. It only attempted to effectively reinstate the per-work monopolies that the Stationers’ Company had become reliant upon (and so also remedy the surge in sedition that resulted from not renewing the Licensing of the Press Act).

She says “It makes no sense to talk of the author’s natural rights to own the fruits of her intellectual labour”, but of course I’d disagree. I doubt she’d have been too happy if her publisher had told her that she couldn’t claim ownership to the manuscript of this book and therefore could not claim entitlement to anything from them in exchange.

As naturally as a squirrel has ownership over the acorn in its hands, so an author has ownership of the manuscript in his or her hands, as well as the writing upon it – the result of their intellectual labour. Copyright has nothing to do with this natural exclusive right (except via insinuation and allusion).

So, when she then correctly says “Copyright exists only because it is created and defined by the state, and only to the extent that it is enforceable through state mechanisms” it is her misinformed induction that because she incorrectly believes copyright is a natural right granted by the state, authors have no natural right to own the fruits of their labour, and that therefore all natural rights are invalid because they are all created and defined by the state.

All this confusion could have been prevented if only someone had pointed out to her that copyright isn’t a natural right (and claims over the years that it is have been debunked a few times even in court).

She wouldn’t then redundantly conclude that “A relational theory of copyright thus repudiates any notion of copyright as a natural right of the author”.

I guess she never stopped to consider why a right would be called ‘natural’ if it was something created by the state.

It is further evident that Carys Craig has swallowed the pretext that copyright truly is the state’s mission to incentivise authorship on behalf of the public, and its current form as a reproduction monopoly merely represents its best attempt to do so.

This book is the sort of thing that could have been written by an enthusiastic drinker of copyright Koolaid, i.e. someone who dearly wants to help the state better achieve what they believe is its philanthropic mission to foster our cultural discourse – copyright’s apparent objective.

Oh dearie me.

I don’t know if I can face chapter 4.

4. Against a Lockean approach to copyright

Carys Craig suggests that copyright can be conceived of as a triadic relationship between author, the intellectual work, and the public. However, she bandies the copyright term of ‘protection’ around without reference to precisely how an author’s work is protected (and from what), and seems to believe this is protection of the ownership of the published work as the author’s rightful property. Copyright’s history as a reproduction monopoly destined for exploitation by the press, where it is the monopoly that is protected by that privilege, at the holder of the privilege’s expense (invariably not the author), is omitted from this relationship.

It’s a much simpler relationship that can be expressed without copyright:

  • Human being speaks speech to others.
  • Individual communicates with other individuals.
  • Writer writes writing for readers ready to read.
  • Author produces a novel for communication to the general public.
  • In exchange for a commission, an intellectual worker produces and delivers intellectual work to their commissioners.

Copyright is an alien interloper wholly unnecessary in such a simple relationship.

If there’s any triadic relationship due to copyright it’s between the privilege holding press, the privilege granting state, and the ever increasing corpus of privilege ‘protected’ works.

In order to have an enriched and consequently beholden press to quell seditious propaganda in the state’s interest, the state grants a reproduction monopoly to arise in all ‘new’ cultural works – at the expense of the public’s cultural liberty (the annulling of the individual’s natural right to copy or communicate the cultural works in their possession or those communicated to them). That the author is the initial holder of a work’s copyright is a mere logical necessity – though a very convenient pretext to pretend as copyright’s raison d’etre. The other pretext is that being obliged to pay authors (as little as possible) for transfer of their monopoly to the press this thus ‘richly’ rewards and incentivises authors to write that which no-one else would otherwise commission, and so therefore amply compensates all authors and readers for their loss of liberty in being able to copy, perform, adapt, translate, or build upon their own* or any other author’s published work, and compensates for the high, monopoly-protected pricing of a non-free market in such.

* Yes, copyright even annuls the author’s right to copy their own work – though they may (if they can afford it) retain the privilege or a license to do so. Carys Craig seems attached to the notion that copyright is a right of the author, and not the privilege of the holder.

Just as she mistook copyright for a natural right, Carys Craig then proceeds to mistake copyright as justified by Lockean labour theory. She seems completely blinded to see the monopoly as the natural property right, when it is nothing of the sort, but a state granted monopoly. Of course an author has a natural property right to their intellectual work, just as they have a natural property right to their material work, e.g. in weaving a basket. But the state does not grant them a monopoly in their baskets that no-one may make copies of a basket they purchase. Without copyright, an author naturally owns the words they weave into writing as much as they’d own the reeds they may weave into baskets. But, without copyright, an author has no power to prevent others making copies of their writing, just as they have no power to prevent others making copies of their baskets – ONCE they’ve given them to others or exchanged them with others.

Locke deprecated the monopolies enjoyed by the Stationers’ Company and it does his name a disservice to suggest that there exists a Lockean justification for copyright.

Carys Craig further consolidates the idea that copyright is the right of the author, not the privilege of its holder. And she also can’t help but repeat the myth that copyright’s purpose is ‘to promote progress in the science and useful arts’. The US Constitution never actually made any statement concerning copyright, despite the canard that it did. “to promote progress in the science and useful arts” states the consequence of the Constitution’s empowering of Congress to secure to authors the exclusive right to their writings (not the consequence of Madison granting copyright for the benefit of the press). Note that this section of the Constitution does not empower Congress to grant the privilege of copyright nor any reproduction monopoly, but it DOES empower Congress to grant Letters of marque and reprisal. Power to secure a right is categorically different from power to grant a privilege, and the latter is not implicit from the former – though it seems Madison found this possible when he later re-enacted the Statute of Anne for the benefit of the US press.

By the end of chapter 4 I’m beginning to suspect that Carys Craig is misrepresenting natural rights as copyright’s justification in order to discredit them and undermine any reference to natural rights as justification for copyright’s abolition. Why else does she persist in the doublethink of holding copyright as a natural right simultaneously with the recognition that it is a privilege created by the state?

Carys Craig must either wrongly believe that Locke posited that baskets forever remain the uncopyable property of the weavers who wove them, or Carys Craig must recognise, as Locke did, the difference between property and a state granted reproduction monopoly. I fear Carys Craig is leaning toward the former.

At least Carys Craig has introduced me to the astonishing news that there exist some people who believe copyright is both a natural right, and that it can be self-evidently recognised as such allegedly according to Lockean labour-acquisition theory (despite being the most complicated and poorly understood law ever to appear and remain on the statute books).

5. The evolution of originality: The author’s right and the public interest

Carys Craig wastes everyone’s time on a wild goose chase in pursuit of originality. This is beating about the bush of:

  • Originality for the purposes of copyright is that which can be protected by copyright and via provenance isn’t (or hasn’t been) already protected by another copyright

Copyright isn’t about rewarding originality, it’s about protecting a monopoly. Originality is merely an alternative term for ‘that which is not already protected’. It is a simple consequence of logic that one monopoly cannot protect that which is already protected by another.

Interestingly, copyright is limited to a monopoly over reproduction by provenance, not by similarity (much as many assume). This means it is possible for what appears to be the same work to be protected by two different copyrights.

For example, what happens if two authors, one in the north of a country and one in the south, both coincidentally produce and publish an indistinguishably similar limerick? Both limericks, both being original, are both protected by copyright (neither is a copy of the other). Do the two copyrights collapse into a shared copyright? Or must every copy and derivative of each be careful to demonstrate its lineage? What if one copyright holding author is a laissez faire liberal happy to see their work proliferate naturally among the people and the other has transferred their copyright to a highly litigious publisher? Such are the conundrums that result from unnatural legislation.

6. Fair dealing and the purposes of copyright protection

“I hope to show that a property rights-based model, which focuses on the individual author-owner and overlooks the dialogical nature of expression, is not equipped either to respond to the needs and interests of users or to reflect the importance of downstream, derivative uses of protected works for society”

Firstly, copyright is a privilege that focuses on the corporate holder of our natural right to copy, which by its very purpose doesn’t so much overlook ‘the dialogical nature of expression’, but deliberately abridges it in order to create a monopoly over reproduction or communication of specific works.

Secondly, in terms of mankind’s culture, human beings are not to be relegated into mere users or consumers of ‘protected works’ but must remain recognised as freely communicating individuals – however much this undoes 18th century privileges. Shakespeare was not a ‘derivative’ user of protected works, but well read, culturally fluent and eloquent to boot. He needed no copyright, nor did those he read or derived from, nor did those who read or derived from him, though his printers may well have cherished any printing monopoly they could convince a king to grant them.

Although a monopoly can certainly be a lucrative instrument of commerce, it remains an instrument of injustice. It is not necessary to culture, nor to commerce, but it is of course nonetheless attractive to those who can obtain it. At some point in our state education system we are taught that a weaver who copies and sells another weaver’s basket is a competitor to be praised, but a printer who copies and sells a another printer’s book is a competitor to be imprisoned. And we are taught that this is nothing to do with the history of the printing press and the lucrative privileges granted to it, but the need to remedy nature’s failure to imbue authors with the power to prevent others printing copies of the books they publish, singers with the power to prevent others singing the songs they sing, comedians with the power to prevent others retelling the jokes they tell, fashion designers with the power to prevent others copying the dresses they sell, and shipwrights with the power to prevent others copying the hull shapes they develop (whereas weavers have to make do with selling their baskets in a free market rife with competition).

I remain surprised that Carys Craig maintains that copyright was created for the benefit of society rather than the press (and crown).

Chapter 6 starts off by reviewing fair use/dealing – discretionary ‘wriggle room’ provided to enable judges to deem infringements they consider benign as ‘not infringing’, but which is often sadly mistaken as a clearly defined set of acts concerning any covered work to which people retain their natural liberty. It seems that Carys Craig buys the idea that, re-conceptualised, fair use/dealing “allows the copyright system to advance the public interest in the creation and exchange of meaning, and not simply to guard the rights-bearing author against every unauthorised use”. Yeah, right – if you can afford a lawyer (as Lessig says).

Pretty much all the discussion on fair use/dealing amounts to a confusion between the individual’s obvious need of their natural right to copy (for research, cultural engagement, etc.) and the copyright holder’s interest in it remaining annulled so they can commercially exploit the reproduction/communications monopoly. The vastness of copyright law and books about it is primarily a consequence of this confusion and inherent conflict between the individual’s liberty and the privilege that annuls it (and the insistence on using the term ‘right’ for both). Carys Craig won’t shift paradigms (and write less verbose books) until she ends the doublethink that the 18th century legislative accident known as copyright can continue to coexist with the individual’s natural right to copy that preceded it, continued as ‘piracy’ in spite of it, and will remain after it.

Discussion of fair use/dealing segues into the snake oil that is ‘digital rights management’ and the laws (DMCA, EUCD, C-11, etc.) enacted to persuade people that such DRM ‘technology’ actually works (via punishments that underline that persuasion). Of course, goes the thinking, if people can be pretended to have only controlled access to a copyright protected work, whilst not actually being in possession of a copy, then they can’t even claim any need to make copies that might have fair use/dealing defences – since they have no copy from which to make any further copies.

Carys Craig comes to a rather feeble conclusion – failing to recognise that the DMCA and its ilk come from the same stable as copyright itself – that of the mercenary monopolist, not of the cultural philanthropist.

7. Dissolving the conflict between copyright and freedom of expression

Apparently this chapter is “concerned with the relationship between freedom of expression and copyright law, and more fundamentally, with what this relationship – its conflicts, tensions and purported resolutions – can reveal to us about the nature of the copyright interest”. It sounds promising, but something tells me Carys Craig will fail to recognise the elephant she’s been feeling her way around in all the preceding chapters and conclude that there is no conflict between the individual’s natural right to copy and this 18th century privilege that annuls it (after all, she thinks copyright is a natural right – god knows what she thinks ‘freedom of expression’ is).

Perhaps, Carys Craig wonders, “an absolutist conception of the right of free expression [oh, it’s a right now is it?] could render the Copyright Act unconstitutional. But then, as Nimmer reminds us, the ‘reconciliation of the irreconcilable, the merger of antitheses … are the great problems of the law’”.

Well, yes, legislators need a lot of veneer and PR spin to persuade the populace that the iniquitous privileges that abridge their liberty are not in conflict with it, but indeed enhance it. James Madison could not actually empower Congress to grant the monopoly of copyright, but he had a damn good try, and as it happened, hardly anyone noticed that instead of enacting law to secure the individual’s natural exclusive right to their writings, he simply re-enacted the Statute of Anne to rubber stamp the monopolies that the press in some states had already decided they needed. Strangely, US patent law was not against people copying each other’s designs, but doing anything similar. It’s funny how two monopolies can be so different when notionally sanctioned by the same Constitutional clause. It should be obvious why Madison declined Jefferson’s suggestion to explicitly grant monopolies “Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature, and their own inventions in the arts, for a term not exceeding ___ years, but for no longer term, and no other purpose”. Just we today pretend monopolies to be a right, so Madison preferred to infer from ‘power to secure a right’ the power to grant monopolies. An author’s or inventor’s privacy is a natural right (the natural boundary and power to exclude others from seeing or copying their private writings or designs). The privilege of a monopoly, a grant of power against competition, is neither a right nor its securing, but then who cares?

There’s a wee misunderstanding on page 205: “Individual B has the right to prevent A from copying expression substantially similar to B’s copyrighted expression”. Copyright is based on provenance not similarity – irrespective of similarity being used to determine whether copying is likely to have taken place. Of course, in practice, copyright being the privilege to threaten, it doesn’t matter whether an alleged infringement is a matter of similarity through coincidence or provenance.

Carys Craig ultimately fails to disentangle copyright’s supporters’ conflation of the monopoly with the author’s property right. Of course, speech and intellectual works can be physically fixed and bounded and can constitute property, but property is property. Property is not a monopoly that prohibits others from manufacturing copies/imitations of the property they purchase. Yes, copyright as a transferable privilege is a form of legal property, but in that context it is the privilege that is property, not the intellectual work it ‘protects’.

Failing to resolve freedom of expression with its constraint at the hands of the privileged, this chapter concludes, as I suspected it would, by restating the doublethink that “Only by giving sufficient consideration to the public interest that underlies copyright, and by recognising the social values that provide its foundation, can we appreciate the limited nature of the copyright interest, and the room it must leave for the ongoing generation and exchange of meaning”. With that paean to Queen Anne’s putatively philanthropic prerogative Carys Craig flagrantly ignores the monopolist behind the curtain as she serves us her saccharine jugs of ‘Copyright is good for our culture’ Koolaid.

8. Final conclusions

After seven tedious chapters, Carys Craig ends with a damp squib. She has nothing concrete to offer, and can muster at most a recommendation that there is a re-imagination of copyright as something to “facilitate the generation and exchange of intellectual expression such that nobody is denied the right to speak as well as to listen, to respond as well as to receive.”

She adds that “The good news for lawmakers is that this re-imagination, however radical it may appear, is easily within their grasp.”

Carys Craig thus displays her apparent belief that mankind’s laws are made by lawmakers, not mankind’s nature, and that with a mere modicum of imagination, the philanthropic aspirations she presumes Queen Anne had for her Statute can be achieved by legislators quite easily – presumably, if only they would let their imaginations loose and stop thinking in terms of the author’s presumed right to control the use of their published work (she still thinks of copyright as an authorial right, not as a monopoly intended for exploitation by the press).

“Thus reconceived, the protection that copyright grants to creators of intellectual expression is one means by which the State attempts to stimulate social engagement, dialogic participation and cultural contributions, all of which are aspects of the public good inherent in participatory community.”


The book is subtitled “Towards a relational theory of copyright law” and appropriately so. There is no well defined theory here. There’s just a vague conjecture that there could be one and that by thinking of copyright with a less proprietary mindset one might move toward it.

Carys Craig’s book does the monopolist manifesto no favours. The most it accomplishes is a demonstration of the contortions a copyright apologist must put themselves through in order to argue that copyright might conceivably be made into the equivalent of its own abolition.

This book could be more coherent if rewritten – for an audience of readers in an alternate universe in which the privilege of copyright had never been granted. However, the only thing that such a book could present as possibly appealing to such an audience is a monopoly’s lottery prizes to the few (and the revenue to the corporations that administer/exploit it). One cannot offer a society used to cultural liberty the benefits of being prohibited from sharing or building upon its own culture of published works. Copyright is something the state enacts as a fait accompli first and finesses as an essential benefit to its people afterwards.

If Edward Elgar should be rewarded to the tune of £65 per copy for publishing any of their books, I suggest it’s “Rethinking Copyright” by Ronan Deazley. If you would reward Carys Craig for her work, I suggest you send that book to her after you’ve read it (that way she’ll presumably get £65 worth of a copy of an intellectual work, as opposed to a typically minuscule royalty if you bought hers instead).

“Copyright, Communication and Culture” by Carys J. Craig is published by Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Kristofer Bergstrom said 4430 days ago :

Wow, what a review! Thank you for the blow-by-blow.

Hollywood Accounting Hoodwinks All · Saturday August 27, 2011 by Crosbie Fitch

I’m amused by Stephan Kinsella’s posting of MPAA Copyright & Content “Theft” Propaganda that should remind us just how easily many people are hoodwinked into believing that monopoly based industries are highly ‘productive’.

Let’s imagine a country with a billion people, and a movie industry that produces a blockbuster movie for $1b in ‘movie production costs’, and prices it at a bargain price of $10 per copy.

To prevent copyright infringement hurting this highly productive industry, the government nationalises the Internet and freely distributes a copy of this movie to everyone, but deducts its $10 price via taxation. That means the movie industry has an ‘economic output’ of $9b ($10b revenue minus $1b costs).

Whereas, relying upon normal retail channels and good citizens to abstain from illicit file sharing, the movie industry is likely to have lost say $3b through infringement, leaving it with only $6b ‘economic output’.

Of course, anyone with any grasp of economics can readily translate ‘economic output’ as ‘revenue via extortion’, and ‘movie production costs’ as ‘costs at monopoly inflated pricing’.

Many people who propose ‘solving piracy’ with compulsory licensing schemes funded via ISP levies are unwittingly proposing such a scam (some wittingly), i.e. to solve copyright infringement by charging people a mulct via their ISP, and disbursing it back to ‘creators’ (copyright holding corporations) according to the popularity of the work.

Profits achieved via mulct or state granted monopolies are not benign profits such as may be achieved in a free market, but wholesale theft from the people.

In a free market (without monopoly), many movie production companies compete for the money of prospective viewers, i.e. haggling. The result is that there are modest profits, and actual/non-fabricated production costs drastically shrink to uninflated prices. In other words, your $1b blockbuster ends up costing $1m and is paid for by 100,000 fans subscribing at $10 each, and not being subject to copyright there are no reproduction/distribution/retail costs the producer can hide their ‘profits’ in.

Say goodbye to Queen Anne’s 18th century business model of extortion, and let us revert to the free market, as old as it is new. GOTO VODO for a glimpse of a new movie industry based on ancient, free market principles. Pay the artist for their work, not the monopolist for their copies.

drew Roberts said 4484 days ago :

VODO does not seem to be a pay before release site. (Well, at least not in the main.)

all the best,


Copyright is Theft - Infringement is Liberty · Saturday August 20, 2011 by Crosbie Fitch

The copyright supporter (individual or corporation) belligerently claims infringement is theft, a violation of a natural or legal entity’s ‘human right’ to prohibit others singing the songs, retelling the stories, or printing more copies of the photos to which they currently hold the copyright. One should bear in mind that copyright holders that sue infringers are predominantly immortal corporations, not the human authors of the ‘protected’ works.

Why is there this desperation to describe the infringement of copyright as ‘theft’, especially when nothing resembling theft actually occurs?

To really understand what’s going on you do have to drop down to the rights of the matter, and understand the difference between a (natural) right and a right annulled (privilege). Rights are imbued in human beings by nature and recognised by law. Privileges are granted by the state (Queen Anne, James Madison, etc.) and created by law that annuls the recognition of a right, e.g. people are no longer recognised to have a right to make copies of their possessions, of a certain type, for a certain period.

One either violates a right, or one infringes a privilege (disobeying the annulling of a right).

Theft is the violation of an individual’s right to privacy (their right to exclude others from the objects they possess/spaces they inhabit), by invading it & removing a possession. Moreover, invading someone’s privacy to make a copy of their diary and remove/communicate it without, is an equivalent violation.

So, a burglar copying an author’s private manuscript could indeed be said to be stealing the author’s intellectual property – an act of IP theft (a violation of the author’s exclusive right to their writings). However, this form of rights violation is categorically distinct from the act of making a copy of an eBook for a friend, or uploading an MP3 rip of a CD to a file-sharing site.

By nature, once an author, Shakespeare say, has sold or given you a manuscript or copy thereof, you are at liberty to do whatever you want with your own possession, e.g. destroy it, perform it, translate it, or make and sell as many further copies as you fancy (as you might copy a basket or vase). There is no rights violation in doing so.

In 1709 Queen Anne annulled this natural right of individuals to make & sell copies of their possessions (relating to literary/graphic/printed works). The privilege of ‘copyright’ was thus created (annulling the people’s right to copy, for some arbitrary period, e.g. 14 years from publication).

To disobey this privilege of copyright is an infringement. It violates no right of the individual. On the contrary, it is a liberty and right that the individual is born with, but prohibited by law.

So, applying ‘steal’ or ‘theft’ to copyright infringement is to attempt to elevate the assertion of a natural liberty contrary to privilege into a crime. Similarly, when people claim copyright is a right (as if a natural or human right, as opposed to a legislatively granted quasi-right) this is to pretend a right is being violated, rather than a privilege being infringed.

By derogating from a person’s liberty to utilise their own property in certain ways (in private or in public), it is actually copyright that constitutes theft, not its infringement.

This is why natural rights aren’t taught in school – they undermine the state’s interest in derogating from the people’s rights, and interest in preventing popular challenge to pretexts that privileges so created are in the people’s interest.

If everyone knew that copyright represented a loss of cultural liberty in the people, to provide a monopoly to enrich immortal publishing corporations (and control public communications in the state’s interest), then it is more likely that people would today be discussing copyright’s abolition and the restoration of our cultural liberty than what punishments would best deter infringers/thieves/pirates (see TechDirt).

TheMortician said 4469 days ago :

Wow. You might be one of the stupidest people I’ve ever seen. I won’t get into a flame war on why, but spouting a bunch of random facts and 3 dollar words doesn’t work for your already idiotic cause.

Crosbie Fitch said 4469 days ago :

It would help if you provided a little more substance to your comment such that it referred to the article in some way, as at the moment it’s difficult to discern whether it’s vacuous spam or an apposite opinion.

dev said 4448 days ago :

I completely follow and agree with everything you have written to a certain extent, but I must ask a question (large immortal corporations aside). If States did not grant such a privilege to copy, do you really think there would be a proliferation of “Learned Men to Compose and Write useful Books” if I could turn around and profit from what you have just labored to write? The key here being profit.

Crosbie Fitch said 4447 days ago :


First imagine a world without copyright. Then please explain how you can profit from my labour in writing?

Even if you can’t explain how you can profit, but simply believe it’s self-evident, then on the same basis (whatever it is) I can profit as easily as you (if not more) from my own work. In which case you have just argued that copyright is not necessary for authors to profit from their work – since without it, one can easily profit.

Compare the world of free software. This is comprised of the writings of hard working software engineers, and all their published works are effectively free of copyright (its constraints), i.e. you have all the liberty restored to you that you would have in a world without copyright. If you think it is easy to profit from another’s work without copyright then you should be able to take any copy of any Linux distro and profit from it. I look forward to drinks on your yacht in a few months’ time. ;-)

dev said 4447 days ago :

Dear Crosbie,

In today’s society, it is more about what kind of profit you stand to lose than gain when you can copy instantly and without degradation. It also depends on the medium and form of your intellectual property. Say you write a novel that people actually want to read but you want to make some money from it. You put it up on your site for sale and it catches on. But wait there is no copyright in this world so as a savy businessman looking to make some money too, I put it on my site for sale at a cheaper price. I pay google to advertise your title but at rock bottom prices since I can afford to sell it for cheaper since I didn’t labor to make it. People come to my site to buy it instead. But that doesn’t last long either because who wants to pay for something when I can have it for free. So, everyone downloads a torrent and no one profits at all. You wasted a year working on a book that is now free. You are living in a dream land. Look up Titian request for privilege long before the Statute of Anne. In fact look at hundreds and hundreds of request for privilege in Venice because of the fact that someone else is always looking to profit from the hard work of others. If you are going to imagine magical lands, why don’t we just envision a world without money and scarcity while we are at it and no one will have to work and this whole argument will be unnecessary.

dev said 4447 days ago :

Oh and copyright is necessary not so much because it is a right for me to copy a work but the right to exclude others from copying the work. It’s a commerce trade law, it’s a monopoly for the person who labored to produce it or the person/company who forked over the money for the rights and then invested thousands to market it so it would be profitable.

Noyloj said 4323 days ago :

Yes, Dev is of course right whilst the capitalist system flourishes checks must be put in place to protect property. But actually he is also rigtht there is no need for scarcity and people shouldn’t ‘have to work’ longer and longer hours, and lets not forget that the reason these individuals were educated by our society is presumably so that they could be of benefit to it, and not just themselves or to certain controlling interests. I pay my Taxes for these people’s education, and build roads they can drive to work on, they benefit every day from my work and the work of millions like me.

Questioning Copyright · Thursday August 18, 2011 by Crosbie Fitch

In order to understand the conflict between the publishing industry’s 18th century privilege of copyright and the emancipating cultural liberty of the information age, we need to understand copyright’s history.

But, more important than the history of copyright or the law that created it, we need to understand rights.

Here are some questions for those who have already started to question what they’ve been taught about copyright in school, or elsewhere by the media, music and movie industries, and want to understand.

What is the most important thing to know about rights?

Rights precede law.

Our rights are not created by law.

Our rights are imbued in us by nature.

We, the people, create law to recognise our rights, and create and empower a government to secure them.

What are our rights?

Rights are the vital powers of all human beings.
We have rights to life, privacy, truth, and liberty.

  • We have a right to life, to protect the health and integrity of our minds and bodies.
  • We have a right to privacy, to exclude others from the objects we possess and spaces we inhabit.
  • We have a right to truth, to guard against deceit.
  • We have a right to liberty, to move and communicate freely.

How then did government create a ‘right’ to prohibit copies?

No people creates a government to abridge, annul, or derogate from their rights in the interests of a few – or in Orwellian NewSpeak, the greater good.

However, a government is in a position to assume power beyond that provided to it by the people.

A government can assume power to derogate from the people’s rights in order to privilege a minority.

Indeed, these privileges, so called ‘legal rights’, are now so pervasive in society that we must qualify the rights we were born with as natural rights.

So, what is copyright?

What we call ‘copyright’ is an 18th century privilege.

It was granted by Queen Anne in her statute of 1709 for the ulterior benefit of the crown and its Stationers’ Company, so that the de facto printing monopolies established by the guild during its control of the press could become law.

The Stationers’ Company resumed enjoyment of its lucrative monopolies and effective control of the press.

The crown resumed its ability to quell sedition via indirect control of the consequently beholden press.

Why was this Statute of Anne wrong?

Privileges are unconstitutional, inegalitarian, and unjust.

Paraphrasing from Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’, the liberty and right to copy is, by nature, inherently in all the inhabitants, but the Statute of Anne, by annulling the right to copy in the majority, leaves the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – or, as we term them today, ‘copyright holders‘.

Consequently, copyright, as any privilege, is an instrument of injustice.

What is the consequence of granting copyright?

Copyright is now a cultural pollutant and has effectively created cultural gridlock. Today, individuals face jeopardy in any significant engagement with their own culture.

Morever, copyright fools the very same people into believing they have a natural right to control the use of their work.

Although we have privacy, the natural exclusive right to prevent others copying our work whilst it is in our possession, this does not provide us with the power to prevent others making further copies of what we give to them.

Such unnatural power is only provided by copyright, because that annuls everyone’s liberty and right to copy, leaving it in the hands of the copyright holder to restore by license.

Even so, to prosecute the privilege, to detect and sue infringers, can be very expensive, and tends to require the wealth and economies of scale of a large copyright exploiting publisher.

But then why has copyright lasted so long?

In the 18th century the press could be controlled.

In the last couple of centuries, when printing presses were relatively few and far between, the state and publishers, via their crown granted privilege, could expect to police and control the press.

Why can’t copyright work today?

Today, the press is us, the people

Today, we are all authors, all publishers, all printers.

We, the people, are the press.

To control the press is to control the people – a people supposedly at liberty.

What is the current approach to making copyright work?

The people are being ‘educated’ to respect copyright through draconian enforcement – severe punishments of a few as a deterrent to the many.

  • 2005: Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 28, mother of 4, shared 24 files. Found liable for damages of $1.9m.
  • 2005: Joel Tenenbaum, 22, shared 31 files. Found liable for damages of $675,000.
  • 2010: Emmanuel Nimley, 22, iPhoned 4 movies and shared them. Sentenced to 6 months’ jail.
  • 2011: Anne Muir, 58, shared music collection. Sentenced to 3 years’ jail.
  • 2011: Richard O’Dwyer, 23, linked to sources of illicit copies. Faces extradition and prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Not only are publishing corporations trying to subjugate the people through extortion, intimidation, and fear, but the state is complicit, interested, as ever, in both pleasing their sponsors as well as quelling sedition.

Will we ever learn to respect copyright?

Mankind’s cultural liberty is primordial.

Our liberty, our natural right, our power and need to copy has never left us.

Our right to copy may have been annulled by Queen Anne, but youngsters are finding out every day that they innately possess the ability and instinctive need to share and build upon their own culture.

We will never learn not to copy, because to learn is to copy, and we will never stop learning.

Copyright is a historical accident, a legislative error made in a less principled era.

It is time to rectify that error, not the people.

Is that my mission then, to abolish copyright?


Copyright should be abolished, and the people should have their liberty restored, but my mission is not to abolish copyright.

My mission is, and has always been, to answer this question: “How can artists sell their work when copies are instantaneously diffused upon publication?”

Or putting it slightly differently:

“How can artists exchange their work for money in the presence of file-sharing, which effectively renders the reproduction monopoly of copyright unenforceable?”

The solution is the question.

Artists must exchange their work for the money of their fans directly – in a free market.

Artists can no longer sell their work to printers in exchange for a royalty of profits on monopoly protected prices.

The monopoly of copyright is no longer effective.

Its artificial market of copies has ended.

So, what is copyright’s future?

Copyright is an unethical anachronism. It still works as a weapon with which to threaten or punish infringers (with or without evidence), but even with draconian enforcement, the monopoly has ended.

When privileged immortal corporations collide with a population naturally at liberty, the latter will prevail, however draconian their ‘education’ by the former.

Nevertheless, without copyright, natural rights remain, e.g. an author’s exclusive right to their writings, truth in authorship, etc.

Moreover, the market for intellectual work can continue quite happily without a reproduction monopoly. Indeed, it will thrive.


Have more questions? See QuestionCopyright.org

Want more answers? See The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World by Karl Fogel.

This article was previously published at ORG zine.

Further reading: The 18th Century Overture – A Crescendo of Copyright – Natural Finale and Reprise

Shii said 4485 days ago :

“Our rights are imbued in us by nature.”

What exactly does this mean? It sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me. I can say I have the natural right to a pony if I want, that doesn’t make it true.

Crosbie Fitch said 4485 days ago :

“Our rights imbued in us by nature” means that a right isn’t something we individually or collectively say we have, or decide we should have.

To discover our rights we must examine our own nature, we must determine what power nature has given us individually, and how it is balanced among all individuals in equilibrium (harmony).

A natural right is an individual’s natural power in equilibrium. A right is not the power of a strong man to crush a weak girl, but the equal power of all individuals to protect their lives, their bodies from harm, their dwellings from intruders, etc. Thus, a strong man may have more physical power in his body than a weak girl, but the strong man has the same right to protect his body as a weak girl has.

Powers given to people by the state, or by the crown as with Queen Anne in 1709, do not occur in mankind by nature. Whilst we have the natural power and right to prevent burglars stealing or making copies of our possessions, we are naturally unable to prevent our audience of a thousand singing the songs we sing to them, re-telling the stories we tell them, or making further copies of the pictures we sell to them. Indeed, people have a natural power and right to share and build upon the cultural and technological works they have. It is this right to copy, that we all have by nature, that was annulled by Queen Anne in 1709 to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few – holders of our right to copy – copyright holders.

Julián Landerreche said 4483 days ago :

A few days ago, I were discussing this topics with my brother, and he noted the same sentence that Shii remarked and then he asked a similar question: why (or according to what) does the article’s author consider that this are the natural rights?

Crosbie, in your reply to Shii, you added:

It is this right to copy, that we all have by nature.

Why isn’t this right to copy listed with the other 4 fundamental rights?
May it be because the “right to copy” (and, by extension, the “right to do something that doesn’t violates other’s rights”) is a right derived from the “right to privacy and the right to liberty”?

Crosbie, your reply to Shii definitely shed some light on the topic of natural rights, but it also triggered some new thoughts on me.
I can agree that the 4 natural rights you list are pretty self-evident and very simple in their definitions, although, as most things constructed by words, there is an inherent flaw of semantics & interpretation.
Should that semantic issue be disregarded? Can we set & agree on a common base of significances? Are this 4 natural rights similar to axioms on logic & geometry? Or are we falling into great reductionism?

Julián Landerreche said 4483 days ago :

Crosbie’s reply to Shii also led me to note that, although the 4 natural rights may be imbued in humans by nature, it’s not until the human being reaches some kind of physical (and cultural?) maturity, that the human being can exercise his natural rights and use his natural powers.

It’s also pretty evident that a human baby cannot exercise/protect his natural rights, not even the very basic right to life. The baby must rely on someone else (a human adult, probably one of his parents) to survive during his early years of life.
Of course, this could be seen as a POV issue: the baby exercises his right to life by crying and asking for food.

This led me to two questions:

  • may it be that what we call “natural rights” are just “acquired/developed abilities”?
  • that this “need to rely on parents for survival” is what, eventually and for the whole mass of individuals (society), developed into a “parental state”?

Crosbie Fitch said 4483 days ago :

Julián, to your first comment:

Rights may be enumerated, but the enumeration doesn’t create them, it simply recognises them.

Natural rights are self-evident, i.e. recognisable and demonstrable through an analysis of Homo Sapiens as a gregarious being in equilibrium with his fellows and environment.

The enumeration and nomenclature does not determine rights. We have a right to copy, not because it has previously been named and enumerated, but because it is self-evidently within our vital powers, within our right to liberty. We have been copying each other for aeons, and have evolved to do so, as any animal copies its parent. It is only upon a certain guild’s wish to excise this act from citizens’ liberty that the right to copy is singled out for identification, that it may be annulled in the majority by Queen Anne in 1709.

As to semantics, no. Rights are defined by nature (of the human being), not by the words we use to define them. The enumeration of rights simplifies our understanding and discussion of them. We could collapse life and privacy into a single right, e.g. ‘personal space’. But there is an observable boundary between the interior space of a body and its exterior space, and there is an according change in their nature. It is a sensible demarcation to divide this into life and privacy. As much as there is reductio ad absurdum, so there is entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Four natural rights from which a panoply of others can be derived enables manageable discussion.

Crosbie Fitch said 4482 days ago :

Julián, to your second comment:

Remember that rights are equalised powers, thus a weak child has as equal a right to life as a strong man.

That a child may be dependent upon their parent does not diminish their rights.

Rights are ‘acquired/developed abilities’ only in as much as Homo Sapiens has evolved from something akin to an amoeba.

One can create a government to protect rights, though anarchists argue that one can protect rights without needing to do so. One can also create a government and through taxation engineer a somewhat paternalistic state, e.g. healthcare, education, etc.

dev said 4448 days ago :

You are on both sides of the fence at once here. We have the natural right to copy, then in a Deazly article there is no natural right to copy. Artist should sell directly to their fans, but the fans are the press now with unlimited right to copy – how is the artist supposed to make any money if the value is instantly voided once the fans get their hands on the first copy and spread it? Give it up, we need copyright. You just don’t like the idea of big corporations owning those rights. Well, if you are an artist don’t sell the rights away. Simple.

Xen said 4337 days ago :

Do not forget that any economic system (or any system of thought) is circular in its reasoning for justifying its principles. This economy is based on separation of property into individual ownership, protection of these boundaries, and animosity between owners in trying to obtain more property. Because we separate our property, we introduce scarcity into the system. Together, we have everything, but individually we often lack. Scarcity is then required to keep the system functioning. If there were abundant supply of anything, prices would drop and we would lose our ability to earn money and thus to survive. Abundance is our enemy. We can only sell our work if there is a limited supply of it, or, in the absence of that, we limit our supply ourselves.

Digital piracy is the key subverter and revealer of this system. Piracy shows that our system is not in line with truth. It cancels our suppositions and reveals them to be false. Abundance is natural and our system is at variance with what is natural.

There will never be a human rights-friendly solution to the copyright issue so long as this economic system, and the mindset that creates it, is in place. Abundance subverts the very foundation of our economy and it is meant to subvert it, because it is truth. Rather than subverting it, it simply cancels it. But the system will fight to protect and prolongate itself. Digital piracy alone is not enough to cause any big dent in the system, because it only pertains to information. But it shows us the path forward.

You can forget about any direct trading system that is based on the same principles that the greater system is based on, for artists to make enough money and earn a decent living. Artists that follow the path of scarcity in their minds and hearts will not thrive when scarcity is unenforcable.

Do not bite the hand that feeds you. First make sure you are being fed by another hand, then bite the old one.

James Rule said 4238 days ago :

so the right of a person to control the revenue generated from work they created, & to control how is copied is subjugated by the rights of the masses to have access to this work?

Your argument re the queen Anne Statue is pure obfuscation. with the enormous number of outlets available today, it is completely irrelevant. It has been whittled away overtime by democracy & free communications. Do people currently abuse copyright? yes, does this make copyright an invalid concept? no.

Crosbie Fitch said 4238 days ago :

James, you may well prefer to believe that the author is born with a right to prohibit copies of their published works and that pirates are trampling it into non-existence. However, an understanding of natural rights and/or the history of copyright will show you that the right to copy is inherently in all the inhabitants, but that the Statute of Anne annulled it in the interests of crown and Stationers’ Company.

We are all born with the right to copy – today as well as prior to 1709. It is merely a law that says otherwise, that this right should be annulled and held, by exclusion, in the hands of ‘copyright holders’ for their commercial exploitation.

It is not that people abuse copyright, but that copyright abuses people. It is an instrument of injustice to be abolished, not to be supported.

Even if the majority vote for slavery this does not make slavery ethical. Natural rights precede government, and unlike government, are not subject to democratic modulation. This is why natural rights don’t tend to appear in educational curricula (they undermine the state’s assumption of power), though you may find reference to them via such things as the US Declaration of Independence

karen said 4093 days ago :

So in other words, the website aims to change the constitution – and any author, artist, musician, inventor, scientist, should not have the rights to their ideas. This is not liberty, this is statism, to say that we have a natural immediate right to other people’s ideas and creations. It’s also unconstitutional.

“The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”
—U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8

Aelius Blythe said 4092 days ago :

@ Karen

And to claim that creators “rights to their ideas” (which NOBODY will contest – I don’t see anyone trying to take away my IDEAS) extends to the the ideas, creations, property, data, and communications of other individuals is statism. That a creator can assert control over every copy and manifestation of their idea in existence is not liberty.

Do not insult creators by implying that our ideas are based on control of others actions and communications (i.e. copyright).



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