Because Sharing is Caring – The musings of a copy leftist

2 Jun

Until few weeks ago I saw no connection between Mickey Mouse , Piracy, The Public domain and the Birthday song. They had absolutely nothing in common. I know better now. COPYRIGHT is the word that connects these seemingly random things. It’s something I had always heard, but never really thought about. In the last few days, reading up on the issue and understanding the many arguments associated with it, I have developed some very strong opinions on the issue.

Without hesitation I am willing to admit the worst. I am a copy leftist. I’m a hippie at heart and honestly believe that everything good in life should be free and shareable. Be it music, books, pictures or good wine. Not that I particularly support piracy, but I feel everyone should have access to art, literature and all other types of work. “Copyright” is the symbol of corporate repression of our times as it prevents the free flow of information.

Copyleft is a general method for making a program (or other work) free, and requires all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. The people in the Gnu project believe that the simplest way to make stuff free is to put it in the public domain, so that likeminded people can work on it together. Cohesion I believe is the cornerstone not only for good art, literature and ideas but also good soft ware. This video further highlights the importance artists and thinkers working together.

This video very perfectly plugs into the next part of my discussion. Laurence Lessig the co founder of creative commons and net theorist says, he wanted to create some sort of foundation to push the public domain. So he created Creative Commons, a non-profit organization whose motto is, “share, remix, reuse – legally”. It allows individuals the right to apply for a protective license for their work, depending on the levels of usage they want to permit for other users. As Lessig describes, it aim is to give the individual “a control on creativity and innovation” and ability to “build-upon” the work of others in a legal way.

I tend to think like Lessig. After all aren’t we all inadvertently copying something or someone all the time? The clothes we wear, the opinions we have, the ideas we come up with are all directly or indirectly copied. There’s always someone who’s ‘been there, done that’ before. Are we all then, not liable for lawsuits?

If all copyright laws applied for ‘stretchable’ periods like they mostly do, soon pretty much everything would have a copy right. No one in the world would be able to write, sing, sell, produce or paint anything because there’s sure to be someone, somewhere in the world who has a copy right for it.

Thomas Jefferson architect of American copyright argued that ideas should remain free in the public domain, rather than bound in legal legislation. Only expression of such ideas in artistic works should be copy written that too for a short period of time.

Because Creative commons licenses so perfectly fits in with an almost kindergartener’s approach towards sharing everything, I decided to get one.

This I feel, is the most open of all the copy right licenses. To me it’s like getting to share my work and yet get the credit for it. It’s not a bad deal actually. If someone wants to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon my work, even commercially I wouldn’t really mind. After all copying IS the best form of FLATTERY. On top of that if I’m given the credit, I don’t see any harm in it.

However not every one might share my ‘sharing is caring’ views. There are at the end of the day, very idealistic connects. There are some real world flaws to Creative Commons that must be kept in mind. While I do not have any monetary expectations from my blog, there are others who do and might view creative commons as a hindrance.

Dmytri Kleiner in his article Copyfarleft and Copyjustright points out that “property” more so “intellectual property” as in this case, is the enemy of freedom. Though an artist might just want to make a living, others like record labels, publishing houses may want to follow thus going against the ideas of a free society.

Armin Medosch said in his article The Construction of the Network Common. the ideas of commons might be flawed in the sense “commons” originally referred to a resource that belonged to the village community as a whole, invariably all community commons fall trap to the “Tragedy of the Commons.” The tragedy-use of resources by those acting in their own interest is said to automatically lead to their destruction. This can hold true of creative commons as well.

Lastly, I feel there are people like me out there, who are not aware, what creative commons licenses mean and thus end up violating them unknowingly. A vast majority of people simply do not care. Creative Commans will work only is if people are made aware about it.


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