This Whole Copyright Thing is Driving Some People Crazy

The interwebs are filled with extremists. One of the most extreme sites is also one of our favorites. It’s called TorrentFreak, and its primary message is “Information and entertainment and every other damn thing creative (and non-creative) people create want to be free.”

Inasmuch as we’re all for sticking it to The Man, especially in his BigMedia guise, we’re presenting the following as a kind of public service. From one perspective, we agree with every word of it. From another, well, we still want to make sure we get paid for the films, videos, books, et al that we create. And this train of thought kind of, you know, screws us on the score.

What to do? What to do?

At What Point Will the Next Generation Kill the Copyright Monopoly Altogether?
by Rick Falkvinge

copyright-brandedFor teenagers today, the copyright monopoly is something that the establishment uses to punish them for enjoying culture and science, to censor their protests and voices, and to prevent their art from reaching an audience. As these people grow older and come into policymaking positions, at what point will they just kill the monopoly altogether?

Before the Internet, and in particular before thecompact cassette, the copyright monopoly was something that only concerned hotshot lawyers at the biggest possible publishing houses.

Before the ordinary person had the ability to record anything, the barrier to entry to disseminate culture and knowledge was too high for everybody and their brother to contribute to culture.

Let’s take a look at what happened when the compact cassette arrived. It was sort of an analog removable hard drive with music, that you plugged into an analog music player – the new thing at the time being that you could also write to it. Cassette players popped up everywhere, in particular in a form called ghettoblasters, where you’d carry a rather large box with loudspeakers and two cassette slots around, not to mention quite a few batteries.

Note that I wrote two cassette slots. All of these players also advertised how good they were at copying cassette tapes. You’d pop in the source tape, put a blank tape in the recording slot, and hit a gigantic button named “copy”. This was a feature that was heavily advertised – the better the blasters were at copying, the more music its owner would be able to collect.

The record industry at the time went absolutely ballistic, and said “home taping is killing music” in a largely ridiculed campaign. The bands at the time gave them the finger and printed that logo with the text “home taping is killing record industry profits” instead, adding “we left the reverse side [of the tape] blank, so you can help”. Nevertheless, this was the start of the war against ordinary people copying, something that has only escalated to ridiculous levels today. (Can you imagine a two-slot DVD player being sold today that would have a huge red button marked COPY on it?)

Today, people’s homes are raided at dawn by police with drawn weapons for listening to music and watching movies from unauthorized sources. (Imagine punishing somebody for listening to the old-style radio because the radio station didn’t have a proper spectrum license? How would they know?)

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