Call for an Amendment to copyright law!

Fascism, under the guise of protecting copyright, is gaining power exponentially in the United States. If we, the people, do not do something to stop it, corporate powers will dissolve all nations and make all people everywhere into wage slaves. One crucial step in this process - the corporate control of the internet - is coming to a head, but if we are smart we may be able to do something about it.

The recent court decision, that making audio recordings available to be copied is a form of unauthorized distribution whether or not anyone actually copies them, spells the end of the internet as we know it, if that decision is upheld in higher courts. Why? Because the internet potentially devalues audio recordings, and the artificial monopoly of audio recordings is one currency of the legal copyright cartel. If that decision stands in the Supreme Court, the internet will be shut down because the basis of the internet is the free sharing of data between computers. In its place will be a corporate power sharing system which excludes any unauthorized connections. That is the logical extension of the current legal threats to peer to peer sharing.

And why would this be perceived to be in the best interests of the copyright cartel? Because their copyrights are worthless if audio recordings are exchanged without paying them any money. Just as, the US dollar would be worthless if US citizens would exchange goods without paying the Federal Reserve any money. The value of the US dollar translates into the ability of the Federal Reserve to tax exchanges between US citizens and the value of audio recordings translates into the ability of the copyright cartel to tax copies of audio recordings.

We do not need to pay anything to copyright holders in order to make copies of music, nor do we need to pay the Federal Reserve in order to exchange goods. The belief that we must, is the basis of their power. But the Federal Reserve is not necessary for the government to print currency; and a copyright cartel is not necessary for original works to be valuable. We can make up money in our minds and we can make up audio recordings on computers. Neither one has any intrinsic value, only the value we attach to it socially, politically, psychically.

Copyright law permits a limited monopoly on original works; but the copyright cartel collects the rights to copy original works by buying them. They decide the value of their recordings, and eliminate any threat to that value, and absorb any competition to their monopoly. That system worked well for the copyright cartel while the means of recording audio remained largely in their ownership. But today the situation is changing because audio recordings can be made and copied using freely available technology, without paying the copyright cartel. If they are cut out of the loop then they are powerless, but they may yet be able to use their power to write themselves legally into the loop. That will happen if the Supreme Court upholds the decision, that making recordings available to copy regardless of whether they are copied is a violation of copyright. Then, the copyright cartel can authorize a private police force to enforce their law or just employ the US military. They will outlaw unauthorized connections to the internet and seize any computers used to make unauthorized connections.

But the Constitution allows a limited monopoly by the creators of original works to make copies, and that is not the same as a monopoly of the rights to make those copies. If we, the people, permit the copyright cartel to continue on its course then we are authorizing fascism, and this situation will follow its logical extension. The alternative is that we make a new Amendment to the US Constitution that explicitly forbids the legal transfer of copyrights and outlaws the monopoly of copyrights. The legal monopoly permitted by the constitution is the limited monopoly of original works. That is twisted by current law into meaning the unlimited monopoly of purchased rights. By the Constitution, rights cannot be purchased and are unalienable. Among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The new Amendment should explicitly add to that list the right to own and copy your own original works. All second-hand ownership and alienation of the right to own and copy original works should be obliterated.

The propaganda against the practice of sharing digital copies of recordings without exchanging money, alleges that creators and copyright holders cannot make money or continue creating if they are not paid for every copy. But sounds themselves are not audio recordings and pictures themselves are not video recordings. Long before modern recording technology was invented artists and inventors made money, for example by soliciting sponsors for their work. The internet is a valuable means of publicity and sponsorship. Musicians, filmmakers, other artists and inventors will not be put out of work by unauthorized distribution of their works. Rather, the wider their works are disseminated, the more publicity they have and the more opportunity for sponsorship.

Once upon a time, an original work could be hijacked by changing its name and attribution. Before modern technology, to make a copy meant the same thing as taking credit for its creation. An unauthorized copy could take the place of the original by making the original more obscure. But plagiarism is a threat to the livelihood of an author only if the counterfeit copy can be passed off as the original and the pirate can be passed off as the author. Today the original work does not become more obscure than the copy; the copy and the original coexist with one another. The internet permits multiple methods of checking attribution and determining the origin of a copyrighted work. Therefore copy control is not necessary to fight plagiarism.

On the other hand, the copyright cartel operates by taking credit for the creations of others, and that is the very definition of piracy. The music labels print their names on the works of others that they distribute and that is a form of counterfeit. They buy the right to own somebody else's work and pass it off as their own, and that is a form of plagiarism. Under the current system, the cost of copying and distributing is often exchanged for the right to own the work, so authors no longer control their creations. But over the internet, copying and distributing no longer costs anything. Copying no longer necessarily means taking credit for a work.

Curiously, taking credit itself has come to be accepted as a form of work. But the work of taking credit is worthless if copying costs nothing. There is no motivation to plagiarize if the attribution of a copy cannot be changed. There is no such thing as counterfeit if copies have no value besides publicity for the original.

Today, corporations are abolishing national sovereignty by buying people's rights. Banks are buying the right to print currency. Copyright cartels are buying the right to own original works. Medical associations are buying the right to practice medicine. News organizations are buying the right to freedom of speech. If this keeps going, soon there will be no nations, only corporations. The United States will be ruled by the corporations, for the corporations, and of the corporations. Freedom will be a trademark of Democracy, Incorporated.

The internet is not just the connections between computers, it is the connections between people through those computers. As long as corporations manufacture the computers, they exercise great control over the internet. But they do not yet completely control how we use the internet. The internet is the only worldwide forum capable of democracy, and it holds the potential to unite the people of the world and preserve their freedom to associate and exchange information freely. But if corporate powers take control of the internet under the guise of protecting copyright, we will no longer have freedom of speech or the freedom to associate. The people of the world need to take ownership of their own works away from corporations and make themselves the owners of the internet.

Thought itself is at stake here, because the technology to share data is the technology to share our thoughts. Ideas, like flames, can be copied without diminishing the original and without replacing the original. But like flames, ideas can die out without any medium to burn. Our lives are a net of shared beliefs and activities centered around those beliefs. If we wish to remain in control of our lives and not become slaves even moreso than we are today, we must be able to control our own minds. Words, thoughts, and culture must be free to share without commercial interruption.

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