There has been much controversy about Copyright and file-sharing on the internet during the last decade. Admittedly, the All Rights Reserved statement is incompatible with the nature of communications in the Digital Age and thus a new more flexible content and media licensing scheme is required. A permission system would be the natural solution to the All-Rights-Reserved problem (it could even be extended to Patents, but this is outside the scope of this post). Such a permission system is imposed by Free Software licenses, Creative Commons licenses and others. Although it’s not perfect, it does provide an acceptable and realistic solution for content, media and software publishing in the Digital Era.
Surprisingly though, regardless of the fact that such a permission system has not been fully adopted yet by the industry, there are several activist groups worldwide, which go several steps further suggesting that the current copyright and patent systems should be thrown to the trash bin without second thoughts. OK. But what’s the alternative plan and how can it keep us humans motivated to advance our civilization? I’m afraid a proper alternative plan does not currently exist. It’s all about thoughts and beliefs combined with highly subjective estimates.
I generally try to keep an open mind to any suggested change no matter how radical it might be, but in this particular case I think it is quite moronic to believe that a transition from point A (copyright) to point C (no copyright) without at least trying to go through B (permission system) is possible, without severe negative effects on the technological progress. Such a transition does not make sense. Consequently, fighting for such a transition does not make sense as well.
And when activism does not make sense in terms of serving a greater good, then the only explanation I can give is that such activism is driven by each individual activist’s own benefit. This might be just the fun involved in being different (IMHO the vast majority of activists), public relations driven activism, promotion of services etc. The kind of activism which does not serve the greater good has so many faces.
Nevertheless, the problem still remains. The industry has missed the train of the digital world. So, what can we do about that? In my opinion, the very first thing that needs to be done is that both the industry and all those activist and especially hacktivist groups stop acting like morons. Conflict is not the right solution as it leads with mathematical precision to the end of the internet as we know it today. On the other hand, a permission system seems like a good possible solution for most of the existing problems. Let’s stop being part of the problem. That’s a good start.
The Some thoughts about Copyright related activism by George Notaras, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.