[free-sklyarov] reasons for restriction of competition

Jeme A Brelin jeme at brelin.net
Mon Aug 20 10:20:38 PDT 2001

On Mon, 20 Aug 2001, Chris Savage wrote:
> The basic theory is this:
[...statement of the fact that time and effort are required to produce new
works of authorship omitted...]
> (3) Therefore, unless we restrict copying, etc., there will be
> insufficient incentive for creative people to actually create and
> distribute their stuff.

Right... just like that saying "patent is the mother of invention"...

And the Four Greek Muses:  Melete ("meditation"), Mneme ("memory"), Aoede
("song"), and Profitmotive ("copyright").

Oh, wait... that's not it at all!

NECESSITY is the mother of invention... and the inspiration and drive to
authorship come from within, not without.

Work is done to fill a need... either in society or in the author.

Inventors invent because they would like to use the new gadget or see it
used.  Authors compose because if they did not, their heads would explode.

Inventors working for the profit motive give us things like Roly-Kit and
the Pocket Fisherman.  Authors working for profit motive give us things
like "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time", "Pearl Harbor" and "Life's Little
Instruction Book".

> Hence the reference in the constitution to advancing "science and the
> useful arts."  The restrictions on competition in copying/distribution
> are done with the conscious purpose of rewarding inventors (patents)
> and creators (copyright) with money, to keep them inventing/creating.

Doesn't it stand to reason that the artificial monopoly actually REMOVES
the profit motive from the process because it is possible to profit from a
single work and never invent or author again?

Wouldn't I, as the patent holder to the most popular invention for
performing a certain task, do everything in my power to PREVENT progress
in that industry in order to keep my invention in common use?  Wouldn't I,
as the author of the most popular book, do everything I could to prevent
other ideas from reaching the market so that my book would stay on the
best-seller list?  Isn't this monopoly actually a HINDERENCE to progress?

> This means that the point of copyright is to strike a balance: give
> the inventors/creators enough money to keep producing, but not so much
> that the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and they max out on
> production and just take more and more of our money.

Again, this reasoning gives the public no reason to restrict its own
rights with regard to non-commercial work.

By your reasoning, why would the public give a copyright to an author who
doesn't even TRY to profit financially?

> Note that the basic theory outlined above is not, fundamentally, the
> theory that copyright-centric companies have been promoting.

No, but it's functionally equivalent.

If they can convince people (as it looks like they've done) that authors
and inventors would just stop in their tracks were there not a good chance
at profit, then they can keep the game going indefinitely.

Electronic distribution inherently removes publisher control.

Copyright itself is meaningless in a world where copying is ubiquitous and
necessary.  You make a copy into memory when you read a file... you might
even swap that chunk of memory to disk while you're task-switching.  Or
maybe you're running a RAID array and you've got two or three copies of
everything in your system.  The authority to make copies cannot be an
exclusive one in this day and age... not if we're going to use modern
information technology to distribute and store the works.

> Their meme is that an author/creator has some sort of natural right to
> control all uses and sales of his/her "creation," i.e., the abstract
> "intellectual property" that has been created.  Under this meme, the
> true, right and natural state of affairs is that an author (or
> distributor) should be able to control fully (and, if so inclined,
> separately meter and charge for) all uses to which a work is put.  It
> may be that technical limitations in the past have made that control
> squishy around the edges (this meme's "explanation" for fair use), but
> the great thing about digital technology is that DRM will allow
> authors/distributors to finally exert the control that they should
> have been able to assert all along.

This is definitely the tack their pitching.  But the one you're pitching
isn't much better... it denies any other motive beside profit and removes
the public's interest in non-commercial work.

> IMHO the conflict between "copyright as a deal between society and
> creators" and "copyright as a legal means to enforce
> creators'/distributors' 'inherent' rights to control" is at the bottom
> of the DMCA/DRM/etc. imbroglio in which we are currently engaged.

Honestly, I can't tell you which is worse; your scheme or theirs.

At least the bullshit being pitched by the publishing industry seems to
give a nod to non-commercial work as valuable and worthy of the same
protections as commercial work.

The publishing industry wants to restrict free speech out of hand by
claiming "ownership" on ideas.

You want to restrict free speech de-facto by illegitimizing anything that
isn't done for money.

Tough choice.  How about we come up with something new?  Or drop the whole
idea of "limited monopoly" and let the public keep all their rights in the
first place?
     Jeme A Brelin
    jeme at brelin.net
 [cc] counter-copyright

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