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Comment to William Patry - 2 · Sunday August 23, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

William Patry no longer publishes my comments on his blog, so I guess this is his inscrutably tacit way of encouraging me to post them on my blog instead.

Commenting upon Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand of Copyright

Crosbie Fitch said…

The invisible hand is fine if the market is free. However, it’s going to behave as a fist in a gauntlet if some of its players are granted supernatural power (in excess of that which nature has imbued in mere mortals), e.g. by privileging immortal corporations as if having the natural rights of individuals, and by granting them monopolies, the privileges of copyright and patent.

The mystery is not why corporations exploit the powers and privileges granted to them, but why intelligent men such as yourself persist in believing that such empowered corporations and the monopolies granted to them can possibly operate in the public good, and perversely increase rather than decrease mankind’s ability to share and build upon his art, knowledge, and technology.

That is the mystery.

A lesser mystery is why you believe you do your audience a service by protecting them from the argument I present.

Not Being Human · Wednesday December 15, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

I recommend the movie They Live to get a better understanding of the perspective in which corporations, our immortal overlords, should be regarded.

The book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power is also worth a read.

And now Rob Myers brings Invaders from Mars by Charlie Stross to my attention.

In addition to recognising corporations as alien usurpers, Mr Stross also recognises that something is broken about one of their privileges, copyright, but I suspect he is yet to enjoy the epiphany that it is copyright that is the ever weaker breaker, and the back of our cultural liberty that was almost broken. Fortunately, the information age and communications revolution sees us less indoctrinated mortals escaping the alien yoke of this corporate privilege in ever greater numbers.

The corporations pretending to be people, their corporate states pretending to be of the people, their privileges pretending to be the rights of the people, have all nearly completed their infiltration of mankind. Wikileaks is a crack widening in this invading empire’s defences, revealing the truth and corruption under their glamorous veneer. Piracy is the act of remembering that mankind’s knowledge and culture belongs to man, not corporation. Resisting and undoing the subliminal programming is not easy, but it must be done.

Remember natural rights. Remember Thomas Paine. Remember liberty.

I am taking the liberty to republish these percipient words by Charlie Stross, whether he feels he should appoint a publishing corporation (able to wield the privilege covering his work) to sue me for doing so or not.

Invaders from Mars

By Charlie Stross

“Voting doesn’t change anything — the politicians always win.” ‘Twas not always so, but I’m hearing variations on that theme a lot these days, and not just in the UK.

Why do we feel so politically powerless? Why is the world so obviously going to hell in a handbasket? Why can’t anyone fix it?

Here’s my (admittedly whimsical) working hypothesis …
The rot set in back in the 19th century, when the US legal system began recognizing corporations as de facto people. Fast forward past the collapse of the ancien regime, and into modern second-wave colonialism: once the USA grabbed the mantle of global hegemon from the bankrupt British empire in 1945, they naturally exported their corporate model worldwide, as US diplomatic (and military) muscle was used to promote access to markets on behalf of US corporations.

Corporations do not share our priorities. They are hive organisms constructed out of teeming workers who join or leave the collective: those who participate within it subordinate their goals to that of the collective, which pursues the three corporate objectives of growth, profitability, and pain avoidance. (The sources of pain a corporate organism seeks to avoid are lawsuits, prosecution, and a drop in shareholder value.)

Corporations have a mean life expectancy of around 30 years, but are potentially immortal; they live only in the present, having little regard for past or (thanks to short term accounting regulations) the deep future: and they generally exhibit a sociopathic lack of empathy.

Collectively, corporate groups lobby international trade treaty negotiations for operating conditions more conducive to pursuing their three goals. They bully individual lawmakers through overt channels (with the ever-present threat of unfavourable news coverage) and covert channels (political campaign donations). The general agreements on tariffs and trade, and subsequent treaties defining new propertarian realms, once implemented in law, define the macroeconomic climate: national level politicians thus no longer control their domestic economies.

Corporations, not being human, lack patriotic loyalty; with a free trade regime in place they are free to move wherever taxes and wages are low and profits are high. We have seen this recently in Ireland where, despite a brutal austerity budget, corporation tax is not to be raised lest multinationals desert for warmer climes.

For a while the Communist system held this at bay by offering a rival paradigm, however faulty, for how we might live: but with the collapse of the USSR in 1991 — and the adoption of state corporatism by China as an engine for development — large scale opposition to the corporate system withered.

We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals. They have enormous media reach, which they use to distract attention from threats to their own survival. They also have an enormous ability to support litigation against public participation, except in the very limited circumstances where such action is forbidden. Individual atomized humans are thus either co-opted by these entities (you can live very nicely as a CEO or a politician, as long as you don’t bite the feeding hand) or steamrollered if they try to resist.

In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion.

Vada Lynn Smith said 4708 days ago :

I am intrigued and love the idea on the comparison of corporations to an alien invasion. Both are not that far defined from the other. A social media company that struggles to boom around the web and makes a brand is an example.

Crosbie Fitch said 4708 days ago :

Vada, unlike your other plagiarised comment (redacted as spam), this one is just about passable even if its point is ruined by a blatant plug masquerading as ‘an example’ – a contradictory one at that.

Let them eat cake · Monday January 07, 2013 by Crosbie Fitch

In Brito: What’s Wrong With a Copyright Alert System? Stephan Kinsella wonders why so many critics of copyright can’t make the paradigm shift and realise that it is copyright that is the problem, not a mere few aspects of its legal implementation.

Even Stephan seems happy to accept a ‘scaled back’ implementation rather than insist on abolition, by which I suspect he’s still fixated on term reduction – “And this means copyright, which is the engine behind all these things, is wrong, and must fall, or at least be radically scaled back, not strengthened.”

Copyright annuls the people’s right to copy, to leave it, by exclusion, in the hands of a few. See T.Paine

The only way one could ‘fix’ copyright and still keep it (until such time as its brainwashed supporters die out) is to exempt individuals, i.e. copyright is reformed into a monopoly that constrains only unnatural persons – corporations.

A corporation is an artificial entity in the first place, having no natural rights, so subjecting such a legal artifice to the legal artifice of a monopoly offends only economists, not ethicists.

I think Stephan would find this a far better ‘solution’ than the half-baked “Let them share Elvis” idea of a shorter copyright term, which would simply result in far more draconian enforcement, more kids in prison, more families bankrupted, and everyone who suggested a shorter term being ‘the answer’ being treated like a pariah.

Remember, there are no corporations languishing in prison for copyright infringement. That’s not because they are upstanding citizens (able to resist the instinct to enjoy their natural liberty to share and build upon their own culture), but because they have no bodies.

drew Roberts said 3981 days ago :

As a practical matter if this gets any traction at all:

Bob makes lots of copies of Fred’s recorded song which has this new non-human only copyright protection.

Bob, being a human is exempt or cannot be sued for violating Fred’s copyright (word it better if you can) so all well and good.

Bob sells these copies at arms length to ABZ Music which puts them on the shelves of their stores nationwide.

In you proposed plan, can Fred sue ABZ Music?

all the best,


Crosbie Fitch said 3979 days ago :

Hi Drew,

Rick Falkvinge introduced it in A Better Definition of “Non-Commercial”

In figuring out how it works, it’s pretty straightforward. Copyright would work just like it does today, except that once all the infringing/culpable parties have been identified, the individuals (natural persons) are exempt from litigation (under copyright or related law).

Thus, in your example if ABZ Music is a corporation (neither a natural person, nor a group thereof) and Fred could sue ABZ Music today, then Fred can sue ABZ Music after this reform.

Simply by dint of being exempt doesn’t mean that illicit copies made by individuals cease to be illicit copies, nor does it mean that if it is today an infringement for corporations to commission or authorise individuals to produce illicit copies, it wouldn’t be after the reform.

Bear in mind that this reform is not intended to “make copyright work”. It would remain a legislative travesty, but at least it would be made ethical, ‘declawed’ against natural persons. Obviously, people who create companies or corporations (unnatural persons) to do business (or simply engage culturally) must still put up with their corporations being at risk of copyright litigation (with potential directorial liabilities).

This reform may get traction because while most people support copyright (making abolition unappealing), many may assume, or may be persuaded, that it should only apply to corporations – because they believe copyright is a mechanism for ensuring corporations pay long suffering artists for the commercial exploitation of their art.

Grandmothers collecting Karaoke CDs are not to be sent to prison (or even given suspended sentences). That inhumanity still happens if you shorten copyright’s term to 14+14 years.



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