Copyright And Its Harm On Culture
from the understanding-culture dept
A bunch of folks have sent in Cory Doctorow’s essay on why he considers himself a “copyfighter,” noting that sharing content is what creates culture — and the attempts by Big Content to block sharing of content are effectively an attempt to stomp out culture, such that only they can determine what is culture (or so they believe).
Content isn’t king: culture is. The reason we go to the movies is to have something to talk about. If I sent you to a desert island and told you to choose between your records and your friends, you’d be a sociopath if you chose the music.
Culture’s imperative is to share information: culture is shared information. Science fiction readers know this: the guy across from you on the subway with a gaudy SF novel in his hands is part of your group. You two have almost certainly read some of the same books, you’ve got some shared cultural referents, some things to talk about.
When you hear a song you love, you play it for the people in your tribe. When you read a book you love, you shove it into the hands of your friends to encourage them to read it too. When you see a great show, you get your friends to watch it too — or you seek out the people who’ve already watched it and strike up a conversation with them.
I would go even further than Doctorow does. I’m less concerned about the impact on culture, as I am on the impact on communication itself. Communication is at the heart of pretty much all economic activity — and thanks to technology, these days, pretty much all communication involves some sort of “copying.” Yet, because a rather recent industry was built up on the idea that “copying” was rare and was only done on professional built content, it’s now trying to shut down and stomp out new means of communication just because, as a part of its nature, it allows for the copying of professional content as well. Yet, in doing so, they’re slowing down basic communications, and with it, the core of economic activity and growth.
The attempt to apply ever more draconian copyright laws may appear to be in the interests of those who have relied on such artificial scarcity for years, but the end result is a significant restriction of economic activity, which harms everyone — including the companies who are in favor of such copyright laws and enforcement. Purposely limiting a market is a dangerous short-term practice that has significantly negative long-term consequences.