Yesterday’s post was some railing against greedy artists who imagine that the copyright law gives them some right to force others to pay them undue tribute. I admit, this stuff pisses me off.
I do realize, however, that many people are simply ignorant of the principles behind copyright and patent law and have no means of formulating an argument in their minds, either for or against. I was also hit with a very simple question: If you don’t believe in copyright or patent law, why do you assert your own copyright in the footer of your blog?
That’s a very good question. And today I will explain why.
I simply do NOT believe in martyrdom. Not for me, not for you, and not or any other artists or patrons of the arts out there. I DO NOT recommend uploading, downloading, or otherwise sharing works that are not your own with the world. Why? Because you can go to JAIL. Believe me, that song is NOT worth it. No song is.
Now for my reasons for the copyright notice. I also do NOT recommend ignoring the existence of copyright laws when you put your own works on the internet or otherwise publish them. I also do NOT recommend ignoring patent law when you invent something new. Why? Because you could potentially lose YOUR OWN ABILITY TO USE THOSE IDEAS. One of the important points I make in my arguments against patents is that when someone else uses your idea you do not lose your own ability to use that idea. In a perfect world if others can profit from your idea, then so can you. But that’s not the case here. If you don’t assert ownership, someone else will.
What CAN you do? You can assert copyright and then tell people to go ahead and use your work as long as they properly attribute it to you (they don’t plagiarize), they do not use it in such a way as to suggest that you endorse a product that you don’t, and they do not suggest that you are benefiting in some way from their use of it when you aren’t. In other words, as long as they do not commit FRAUD.
This is the idea behind the Creative Commons License movement and I wholeheartedly agree with it. No one must be a martyr. No one HAS to be a martyr in order to change things. Speak out, yes. Martyr yourself, no.
Now, many of the problems that will pop up in your mind when you try to imagine a world with no copyrights and patents are not really problems that result from a world with no copyright or patent protection, but of a world were copyrights and patents exist for everyone else except you. If you are going to bother imagining a world without them, then go all the way and imagine it completely. This is a world where no one EXPECTS such protection in the first place. Would they still bother to create things? Well, would you? I repeat, the reward for the creation of a better mousetrap is not money. It’s a world where there exists a better mousetrap.
Now go. Create better (and better and better) mousetraps. And let everyone else do it, too. The world will be a better place.