Improving Copyright (was: Re: Copyright T-Shirt)

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Wed May 12 21:12:07 UTC 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 12 May 2004 at 10:39, Simo Sorce wrote:

> I think anyone looking at this problem, sooner or later, come to this
> idea of centralized control that is able to track who see what and to
> pay back authors and ... oh but this is exactly what DRM are for ...
> it is just implemented privately but hey ... can you tell me the
> difference?
>  Personal accounts, and personal tracking
>  Central control in hands of someone that monitors everything
>  Money go to the ""authors""
> Sound so Orwellian ...

No there's a huge difference. DRM seeks to castrate people to improve 
profits. A system such as the above has major differences:

(i): It is there to let producers of content deliver to consumers and 
be remunerated for making good content. Nothing more.

(ii): No one has to use such a system if they don't want to except 
that all taxpayers must pay for it whether they use it or not (many 
view this as deeply unfair, but then why should young people pay for 
old people's health care?). This is hardly like DRM which is being 
imposed on people against their wishes taking away rights we 
previously had.

(iii): You seem to imagine "central control" as some faceless 
bureaucracy we should distrust. I was thinking of it as say like the 
FreeBSD maintainers - distributed, diverse, volunteer-led and very 
open (all mailing lists be public). It certainly should be a self-
regulating & self-maintaining system requiring extremely little 
intervention - perhaps the system rotates the management by 
introducing ten new randomly selected members per year with each 
member serving no more than five years? People could elect to resign 
at any time which causes the system to seek a random replacement - 
thus avoiding party politicisation, getting people who actually want 
to do it and is nicely adaptive.

The most important thing the free software mode of production has to 
teach us is that production of anything with zero replication cost 
will share a great deal in common. Classical economic theory still 
pegs free software production as impossible but as it clearly isn't, 
I think it's classical economic theory which needs changing.

The traditional western european model of a hierarchical autocratic 
command structure is totally broken by the free software mode of 
production - yet we are so rooted in thinking along those lines we 
fail to spot how easily things could be so different. I don't welcome 
the inevitable collapse of the Bretton Woods economic system but I do 
recognise it as a great opportunity for us to progress - and I have a 
gut feeling this new mode of production will be a foundation stone of 
the new era.


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