February 22, 2012
A guest post from (Roughly) Daily…
…Imagine you’re a new parent at 30 years old and you’ve just published a bestselling new novel. Under the current system, if you lived to 70 years old and your descendants all had children at the age of 30, the copyright in your book – and thus the proceeds – would provide for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
But what, I ask, about your great-great-great-grandchildren? What do they get? How can our laws be so heartless as to deny them the benefit of your hard work in the name of some do-gooding concept as the “public good”, simply because they were born a mere century and a half after the book was written? After all, when you wrote your book, it sprung from your mind fully-formed, without requiring any inspiration from other creative works – you owe nothing at all to the public. And what would the public do with your book, even if they had it? Most likely, they’d just make it worse.
No, it’s clear that our current copyright law is inadequate and unfair. We must move to Eternal Copyright – a system where copyright never expires, and a world in which we no longer snatch food out of the mouths of our creators’ descendants…
A bold idea such as Eternal Copyright will inevitably have opponents who wish to stand in the way of progress. Some will claim that because intellectual works are non-rivalrous, unlike tangible goods, meaning that they can be copied without removing the original, we shouldn’t treat copyright as theft at all. They might even quote George Bernard Shaw, who said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”…
Certainly we wouldn’t want to listen to their other suggestions, which would see us broaden the definition of “fair use” and, horrifically, reduce copyright terms back to merely a lifetime or even less. Not only would such an act deprive our great-great-grandchildren of their birthright, but it would surely choke off creativity to the dark ages of the 18th and 19th centuries, a desperately lean time for art in which we had to make do with mere scribblers such as Wordsworth, Swift, Richardson, Defoe, Austen, Bronte, Hardy, Dickens, and Keats.
Do we really want to return to that world? I don’t think so.
As we return to our senses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1632 that Galileo Galilei “published” Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo)– that’s to say, he presented the first copy to his patron, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Dialogue, which compared the heliocentric Copernican and the traditional geo-centric Ptolemaic systems, was an immediate best-seller.
While there was no copyright available to Galileo, his book was published under a license from the Inquisition. Still, the following year it was deemed heretical and listed in the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum); the publication of anything else Galileo had written or ever might write was also banned… a ban that remained in effect until 1835.
Filed in Competition and Industry Structure, Economic, Information Industry, Media and Entertainment, Political, Scenario Planning, Social, Technological
Tags: censorship, copyright, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, eternal copyright, Galileo, Index of Forbidden Books, intellectual property, satire
March 29, 2010
A guest post from (Roughly) Daily:
From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
- George Orwell, 1984
China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO), an arm of the Central Propaganda Department, operates an “Internet Affairs Bureau” to oversee all web sites that publish news, both the official sites of news organizations and independents.
This Internet Affairs Bureau sends very specific instructions to all large news web sites, often multiple times per day. Sometimes these instructions ban contents outright, but often they instruct web sites to highlight or suppress certain type of opinions or information– in a very detailed manner. Consider these directives (issued March 23, 2010; translated by the China Digital Times):
(The link to “China’s princelings” goes here.)
But technology marches on… these government directives are meant to be confidential. But while they are not showing up on web sites per se in China, some of their recipients– the web editors at whom they are aimed– are using Twitter, Sinaweibo (Sina’s popular micro-blogging service), and other social media to slip them into cyberspace. To wit, the CDT coverage.
It should come as no surprise then that the SCIO is expanding: an “Internet Affairs Bureau 2″ is being established to control social media and other Web 2.0 services driven by user-generated content. (More background on Chinese “management of web content” here.)
As we remark that a vigorous independent media is the infrastructure of democracy, and that it is an issue of some valence not just in China, but essentially everywhere in the world,* we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that a German referendum ratified Deutschland’s armed occupation of the Rhineland earlier that month, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler acted when he did for a variety of reasons, main among them that France, the most directly-affected/threatened other nation, was in internal political and financial disarray, and that Germany was in the midst of an economic crisis of its own, from which the Fuhrer needed a foreign policy distraction… the Chancellor’s timing was good: France’s response was limited to a strongly-worded condemnation, and 99% of the votes cast in the German referendum (44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters), were in support.
* Appearing as it did originally in (Roughly) Daily, a blog with a general purview, this post has focused on issues of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the media, and politics. But with an eye to the concern of Scenarios and Strategy to be relevant to organizations and their plans, one notes that experts have come to agree that free, independent, viable, and inclusive media are prerequisites for sustained economic development and growth… which is simply to say that, if personal and political freedoms aren’t reason enough to care, there’s a strong commercial argument as well.
Filed in Economic, Information Industry, Media and Entertainment, Political, Scenario Planning, Social
Tags: 1984, Adolf Hitler, censorship, Central Propaganda Department, China, Chinese blogs, Chinese censorship, Chinese internet, Chinese internet censorship, Chinese news censorship, freedom of the press, George Orwell, Germany, Google, Hitler, independent media, Internet Affairs Bureau, occupation, press freedom, princelings, Rhineland, SCIO, Sina, State Council Information Office, Treaty of Versailles, Twitter