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>Copyright wasn’t created to protect art or artists; it was created to protect publishers.
Copyright was not originally based on the rights of publishers. It originates with the Stationers’ Company, which intended to “stem the flow of seditious and heretical books” for the crown. Later, it did become about giving monopoly rights to publishers and distributors, with an interesting pretext that did make some sense. The stated reasoning was that typesetting is an extremely time-consuming and error-prone process, and allowing a free-for-all would degrade the integrity of written works. Then, that excuse went out the window but we kept the state censorship and it became a straightforward protectionist measure. The purpose is to turn public goods into club goods, because market failures means you’re just not marketing hard enough. If you let people communicate cultural information freely, you can’t guarantee profits for private fiefdoms holding the commons hostage for rent or to sell audiences to advertisers. That’s an interesting justification too, mainly for how it goes almost completely unquestioned and unchallenged, while having even less moral footing than preventing the spread of heresy and sedition.
And actually, there’s another transformation happening now, looking at platforms like youtube, where it’s not *really* even about publishers anymore because the concept of physically publishing anything is fast becoming obsolete. The bulk of it is monopoly rights as capital to be bought, sold and passed around like any other. Youtube doesn’t give a damn about claiming exclusivity, so they don’t. They’re the auction house. They just see information as some sort of fungible liquid endlessly gushing out of the ground, that they can automatically pipe where it’s wanted based on kind of the way it smells. So, now they can shovel eyeballs directly at Bernays’ little helpers, without really taking on any of the burdens of proprietorship and monopoly. And any “creator” can be a self-made ward of the public relations industry. They might technically retain copyright by default, but they can’t actually *do* anything with it, since all the take-down heuristics are written for the IP cartels with the real monopolies, and everyone else is just becoming a shapeless mass of at least part-time freelance marketers.
Of course, copyright never had anything at all to do with authorship rights, or plagiarism or anything like that. Those are wholly different concepts that don’t exist in law and offer absolutely no legal recourse.
tl;dr – copyright started out even shittier than described and is by now turning into some kind of neoliberal fever dream, where capitalists absolve themselves of more and more responsibility while claiming ever-greater control over the flow of information
Don’t know if this article is discussing the merits of copyright or if it is talking about if whether or not it is possible to copyright very basic forms of artwork that could almost be accidentally replicated.
Narrowly defined, copyright is the right to make copies of something. If you don’t have “copy rights” then you cannot copy a given work. As someone who is mostly anti-IP, I think a narrow definition of copyright has nothing to do with protecting ideas or production methods. It refers specifically to producing and selling replicas (different than producing a product with the same function. Patent law would prohibit you from making something like something else even if it is not a copy.)
Art is free, otherwise it’s merchandise.
If anyone is interested in any similar reading, I highly recommend: Of Remixology by David Gunkel
> American copyright, in turn, was founded on the notion that offering copyright protection would provide the necessary incentive to grow the marketplace of ideas,
How can this be an article about philosophy when the author isn’t asking if this was a pretense only without examining the impact?
The first granted monopolies were made as a sort of payment of a king. But when England introduced the copyright law in 1710 it changed the landscape of creation immediately. The English book market became a oligopoly of a few publishers which caused book prices as high as one weekly wage. Germany introduced a copyright not before 1900 which caused a market for authors since an author was able to change the publisher at any time. Publishers like S. Fischer were involved into the acquisition of authors. Book prices went down to the amount of 1-2 hours of a workers labor.
The differences in Copyright laws are huge. While the anglo saxon world is allowing a total sell out, French and German copyright laws are allowing just the usage. Nevertheless most authors have no choice than to grant a sort of monopoly for a publisher because of economics even in France or Germany.
The question is here, what can we do about the difference between pretense and intention and why are so many uncritical about a narrative about the copyright?