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Piracy Your Rights Online

Pirate Party Leader: Copyright Laws Ridiculous 543

smitty777 writes "Rick Falkvinge, better known as the leader for Sweden's Pirate Party, recommends doing away with copyright laws since no one is following them anyway. FTA: '...he uses examples from the buttonmakers guild in 1600s France to justify eliminating the five major parts of copyright law today. The first two are cover duplication and public performance, and piracy today has ruined those. The next two cover rights of the creator to get credit and prevent other performances, satires, remixes, etc they don't like. Falkvinge says giving credit is important, but not worthy of a law. Finally, "neighboring rights" are used by the music industry to block duplication, which Falkvinge rejects.'"
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Pirate Party Leader: Copyright Laws Ridiculous

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  • GPL (Score:3, Informative)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:24PM (#38645646)

    I have to make the same point I always make in these articles (by the way, isn't this like the third Pirate Party submission in the last month?)--if you do away with copyright laws, you do away with the GPL. The GPL is a copyright license that requires copyright law to have any legal power over what people do with GPL code. Go ahead and take a look at how many times the term copyright appears in the GPL:

    - "'The Program' refers to any copyrightable work licensed under this License. Each licensee is addressed as 'you'. 'Licensees' and 'recipients' may be individuals or organizations."
    - "All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated conditions are met."
    - "However, nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or modify any covered work. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so."

    And so on. Without copyright laws, the GPL is powerless.

    • Re:GPL (Score:4, Informative)

      by SteveFoerster ( 136027 ) <steve AT stevefoerster DOT com> on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:44PM (#38645880) Homepage

      So? If you get rid of copyright, the GPL would have no purpose anyway. Like, in a good way.

      • Re:GPL (Score:4, Informative)

        by dido ( 9125 ) <[hp.muirepmi] [ta] [odid]> on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:00PM (#38646084)

        Some years ago, Richard Stallman would have supported that idea. But now, with the changes in the world lately, he sings a rather different tune [gnu.org]. There's that pesky distinction between source and object code to think about and the fact that the copyright licenses for Free Software are also used as a defense against software patents.

        • by hitmark ( 640295 )

          I think there is a statement by RMS somewhere, claiming that the GPL could be done without copyright. But that copyright makes it easier, as it provided as foundation. I suspect that something equivalent of GPL could be done via contract law.

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

        So? If you get rid of copyright, the GPL would have no purpose anyway. Like, in a good way.

        Er, no.

        The purpose of the GPL is to ensure the ongoing distribution of source code licensed under it and any other code derived thereof.

        If you take Copyright away, the the GPL can no longer achieve this. That doesn't mean the _requirement_ to do so has disappeared, however.

        Or, to use an example, Red Hat would no longer be required to provide the source code for their Linux distribution. Sure, you could copy the bina

      • So? If you get rid of copyright, the GPL would have no purpose anyway. Like, in a good way.

        That is utter crap.

        The purpose of the GPL is to try and force companies who use open source software in their products to make any additions they make for the benefit of their customers also available back to the open source community.

        Without copyright law and the GPL my company could take an open source product and use it to build a closed source product that we never published the source code for. I could then simply protect our version of the source using an NDA that all staff had to sign before they cam

    • well, without the copyright, you also wouldn't need the GPL, right? you would be free to decompile, copy, distribute whatever source you want. right? anything you release, anyone else could use.

    • And so on. Without copyright laws, the GPL is powerless.

      Powerless to do what exactly? Powerless to force people to give back their changes to the community? In a world without copyright, that's already trivial: any member of the community can just copy anything they like and make changes, then publish the new version, etc. All legally. It's a better world, but until then, we use the GPL *today* to undo some of the damage that copyright does *today*.

    • The GPL is intentionally written to match the strength of the copyright monopoly. If the copyright monopoly strengthens, so does the GPL. If it weakens, so does the GPL, too.

      In the case of an abolished copyright monopoly, the GPL is also effectively abolished, but this is by its original design.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      And many supporters of the GPL would rather have no copyright than what we have now. The GPL would never have existed if copyright didn't. Yes, it'll lose its teeth if copyright is abolished, but it won't matter. Abolish copyright. Make DRM illegal, and there would be no need for the GPL. Reverse engineer anything you need from their released binaries. And many programs are source code (Perl scripts and such), in which case the GPL would be strictly enforced by the abolition of copyright.
    • Re:GPL (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @05:49AM (#38648850) Homepage
      You keep saying it. It keeps being inaccurate. I will not go into great depth as I already have several times and you choose to ignore what I say. However, I will summarize for the benefit of others.

      Using the GPL does not mean you support copyright as an idea, or support the GPL as an end. Using and supporting the GPL only requires that you think it is currently the best option. Using copyright to remove powers from other copyright holders (and by releasing what you create into the public domain, you are simply feeding them) does not imply any sort of conflict of interest or lack of coherency. It simply means you are being pragmatic.

      Copyright will not be abolished or even lessened any time soon; it is going to get worse before it gets better. Until that changes, the GPL is going to be posed as an option as how to try to regain some semblance of sanity. It does not matter if you, Linus, Stallman, etc. seek to apply it that way or not, some people will, and I am behind it. Those you complain about are also behind it. The fact you cannot see that other people might have more nuanced views of the matter than seeing copyright as an end, seeing the GPL as an end, or seeing abolition as an end, and simply acting in the most impulsive way towards whatever end they choose, is not a problem with those you complain about: it is a problem with you.
  • by CrystalFalcon ( 233559 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:31PM (#38645730) Homepage

    Use the second link.

    The original source of this message is the column on Techdirt [techdirt.com] named It is time to stop pretending to endorse the copyright monopoly. The ITWorld reporter (the first link in the story) muddles the message to some degree, and also introduces heavy bias into the story (see the headers over the comments section, for instance).

    The original message is that yes, the copyright monopoly (or four/five monopolies) are ridiculous, but we should stop pretending to support them all while criticizing the draconian laws that are de facto needed to sustain them. IT World muddles this to that we should stop "following" the copyright monopoly laws. That is a different message (which I might have said too, but not in this particular article).

    • by CrystalFalcon ( 233559 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:32PM (#38645746) Homepage

      Also, I have not been the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party for a bit over a year. I am its founder and I led it for its first five years. Anna Troberg is the current leader of the Swedish Pirate Party.


    • Rick, I'm glad you're saying this. We need to widen the Overton Window [wikipedia.org] in this debate.

      I tell my friends I simply don't believe in copyright, full stop. I don't have any qualms in ignoring it. I don't believe in trying for 'reasonable reform'. I only believe in the eradication of copyright monopolies of whatever duration.

  • Just make it more reasonable and not oppressive. The idea of getting credit isn't bad, its just morphed over the decades into something evil.

  • Typical Politician (Score:4, Interesting)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:40PM (#38645820)

    He sounds like a typical politician, making big bold lies that are more descriptive of how he sees the world than how it is.

    People do, generally, follow copyright. Millions of people buy books or DVDs or music or software. Those that don't often give reasons like "I wanted to try it before buying it" or "It's not available for sale [where I live]/[in a format I want]" or "I can't afford it anyway", suggesting that they would follow the laws given the right circumstances.

    It's good that people generally follow these laws, because the core idea of copyright (that creators have a right to be reimbursed for their hard work) is a good one.

    Now, the statement that "Copyright laws are ridiculous" is unambiguously true. Any law that suggests the unauthorized download of MP3s causes trillions of dollars worth of damage to the economy is clearly insane. But suggesting that we should have no protection for creators at all is equally insane. It's just a nice fiery soundbite intended to get his supporters all worked up, so that they'll donate more or participate in get out the vote efforts, etc.

    We need copyright reform, and hopefully the pirate parties draw attention to that fact. But copyright abolition is a cure worse than the disease.

    • But copyright abolition is a cure worse than the disease.

      Only for those on the corporate side of the copyright-based industries. Everyone else would be better off, even most creators.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @10:23AM (#38650368)

        Only for those on the corporate side of the copyright-based industries. Everyone else would be better off, even most creators.

        So this has turned into an argument between two straw men?

        Strawman #1: People don't follow the copyright laws anyway so what harm can come from simply abolish them?

        Well evidence does show that the majority of the public do respect the current copyright laws. They don't do it because they're scared of the movie/record/software industry lawyers; They do it because they think they are paying what the work is worth and support the idea of the creative artist/programmer getting paid for the effort. Sure it looks like a lot of people pirate but that could simply be because the squeaky wheel gets the grease meaning that people who do buy songs from iTunes/Amazon or purchase software don't go around making a big deal out of it.

        Let me put it another way. People shoplift. A lot of shop keeps experience revenue loss from "shrinkage" which is the term they use for inventory that left the store without payment. Does this mean that we should abolish our current system of commerce? No. I find the Pirate Party's argument just as ridiculous.

        Strawman #2: Copyright are only for those on the corporate side of the copyright-based industries.

        This looks like an attempt to engage in a fictional class war where only the wealthy evil corporations have copyrights and the common man is being oppressed by them. Give me a break. There are many independent artists/programmers that depend on copyright laws to protect their interests, and unlike the other forms of intellectual property protections (patents), copyright doesn't require a substantial investment in legal fees just to make your work public. Not to mention, most of our favorite open source licenses depend on copyright laws to give there terms legal protection. What you thought corporations followed the GPL out of the kindness of their hearts and to protect their honor?

        If you need something to fight against then please take up the cause to abolish software only patents. Now that does nothing but to serve corporate interests, venture capitalists, and their lawyers.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:41PM (#38646504)
      I violate copyright because I treat my property as mine. I lend it, perform it in "public" and do whatever I want with it, regardless of the law. The problem with copyright is that the law doesn't follow the goal anymore. It doesn't protect creators when few creators retain rights to their creations. Creators don't have a right to be reimbursed for their hard work. They are reimbursed for freely giving that hard work to the Public Domain. However, they are not living up to their end of the bargain. Effectively nothing has entered Public Domain since Mickey was created, and possibly never will. I don't disagree that copyright is a noble idea. Bribe creators to release creations (or publish specs of inventions). But the current system is worse than abolition.

      But copyright abolition is a cure worse than the disease.

      The movie industry would bitch and moan for 5-10 years, then get back to business as usual, with movies being played in theaters and on TV, even if DVDs never get released (and likely, DVDs would be released at a $5-$10 price point, rather than the $30 price point most new DVDs list at). Books would stay as is. The result of complete abolition of copyright would be an explosion in music and software the likes of which the planet has never seen. Copyright is holding innovation back more than helping at this point, and doing so by punishing the general public. With it gone, more music would be out there, with no decrease in quality, and app store sized games would be released by the millions. Consoles would probably move back to cartridges and flash-based propriatary storage to maintain a digitial lock on games, and PC games would crash, but the fallout of the abolition would be a huge jump forward in Public knowledge, which was the original point of copyright. The US would be much much better off without copyright. I've visited some places with no software protections, and they are vibrant economies of software creation. You can code whatever you want without worrying that someone else has locked up some feature you thought up. Most software patents are obvious and not novel, and elimination of that hurdle increases programming output.

      I can't see any likely future in which we'd be better off with the course we've set vs complete abolition of all IP laws. It would take some getting used to, and some would purposefully sabotage themselves to prove a point, but overall, the world would be a much better place if all I laws (patents as well) were abolished, than to continue the system as done today.

      Of course, there is a middle ground, closer to what existed when the Constitution was first ratified where the terms were much shorter and patents could only be of "things" rather than "thoughts" that is better than either extreme. But that was perverted to what we have now, so I'd opt for complete abolition than a middle ground which the content exploiters immediately strive to overthrow, as they have already done once.

      • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

        I agree with pretty much everything in your first paragraph. The industries war against the first sale doctrine needs to end, creators need to get to hold on to their copyrights instead of being pushed into selling their souls to publishers (particularly true in the music industry), and the fact that copyright terms have been indefinitely extended is appalling.

        But after that, you get into some serious magical thinking.

        For movies -- as you say, in a world without copyright, DVDs may die out. If releasing a

  • Shorter copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rgbrenner ( 317308 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:44PM (#38645874)

    Let's not pretend that copyright doesn't have a good purpose. If I create a new product (w/o a patent), it can take time for other people to copy it. They have to reverse engineer it, and figure out how everything works. And their copy might not be as good as my version.

    But with books, music, software... It can be copied the day it's released. And every copy is an exact perfect duplicate. My copy is just as good as another persons copy.

    And that difference, means it would be nearly impossible to monetize anything except physical products. So copyrights are needed and are important.

    BUT that doesn't mean it should be protected for a 100+ years. Is the phone from 1876 as important today as it was then? Is last decades music listened to as much as music that was released last week? Are books from 100 years ago as popular as today's bestsellers? Copyrighted material becomes worth less as time passes.

    After 10 years or so, very few copyrighted works are worth more than a fraction of what they were originally.

    So set a 10 year copyright. I would even go for 15 years.. but that's starting to become excessive.

  • Exponential Growth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:47PM (#38645910)

    Allow any work to be copyrighted for 1 year without paying any fees. Let that be the "copyright from the moment your pen touches the paper".

    Beyond Year 1, the cost of extending a copyright should be $0.01 * 2 ^ (Year #).

    So, renewing the copyright for Year 2 costs $0.04.
    Year 10 is $10.24

    Copyright protection for a decade is affordable for anyone, and sometimes cheaper than coffee.

    Year 20 is $10,485.76

    Year 30 is $10,737,418.24

    Year 40 is $10,995,116,277.76

    So it provides everybody with a reasonable measure of copyright protection.
    It provides corporate entities a way to keep copyrights on things that are very profitable.
    It ensures that all works will eventually fall to the public domain.

    Why not?

    • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:42PM (#38646518) Homepage

      Why not?

      Because you don't want Disney causing runaway inflation just to keep Mickey out of the public domain.

      • by rdnetto ( 955205 )

        Why not?

        Because you don't want Disney causing runaway inflation just to keep Mickey out of the public domain.

        If Disney can cause runaway inflation, you have bigger problems. This is like saying that you can't upgrade the network connection, because then the malware would spread faster than it could be removed - something is fundamentally wrong.

  • They can only be enforced in country they are passed in and internet in itself is its own country with no laws what so ever cause not 1 countries laws can apply to it.
  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:12PM (#38646220) Homepage

    The assumption that no one respects copyright laws is wishful thinking, extrapolating from "none of my friends" or "no one I know" to assume that everyone thinks that way. It's incorrect.

    I respect copyright, for one. So do many people I know, including - not coincidentally - a lot of musicians, writers, artists, and actors. Not just as it applies to their own work, but as it applies to others' work. It isn't just faceless corporations on one side of the debate, and people on the other.

    I used to ignore copyright... until I started producing works of my own, and realized that the effort that goes into creating a really great song, an entertaining movie, a well-crafted story, or a well-rendered illustration deserves compensation. I also happen to think that copyright terms are ridiculously long, and often too restrictive. But those problems don't negate the worthwhile goal outlined in the US Constitution: to promote the arts by giving creators temporary control over their work.

    • by FroBugg ( 24957 )

      You touch on another flaw in the original article's reasoning: By eliminating copyright protection of all kind, you make it harder for people to reward the original artist.

      Right now, people who want to get a copy of a work for free know what they're doing. They're going to Pirate Bay or some other website instead of Amazon, while people who are happy with paying artists can do so relatively easy (how much publishers are taking is another issue). If you were to eliminate attribution requirements, I'd be free

    • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:02AM (#38647094)
      I used to respect copyright somewhat, but as I engaged in more creative activities, learned the realities of the economics of copyright. and became aware of the history and philosophy behind copyright, I began to grow more and more opposed to it. TFA points out how it really is an outdated notion using the economic tools that fit in the era of guilds but not today.

      As for 'deserving' compensation, that's a laughable idea. Effort itself doesn't deserve compensation. In order for me to make money, I have to be doing something that something is willing to pay me for. Even copyright doesn't give direct compensation for effort, and the sensible principles of US law demonstrated in Feist v. Rural mean that even for getting the copyright monopoly must provide something besides just effort, namely originality.
  • by tunapez ( 1161697 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:21PM (#38646322)

    I was just reading about this in Lessig's book, "Free Culture" [amazon.com] today. I can't recommend the book enough!
    I never knew Walt Disney's Steamboat Mickey [wikipedia.org] infringed on Steamboat Bill, Jr [wikipedia.org] which infringed on the song Steamboat Bill [wikipedia.org]. Ironic, isn't it? Too bad the madness isn't stopping anytime soon...

  • by leifb ( 451760 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:06AM (#38647142)

    Please, I'm begging you: stop trying to negotiate as though the other side was rational and honorable, and would honor any agreement for the long term.

    That's how they get us, every time. They pretend that they'll act like human beings, and then they push for more. Every time. Because that's what sociopaths do: they see the pie and they want it all. And they're willing to be patient if it gets them what they want. And make no mistake: what they want is the whole thing, forever, and every one of us paying them, regardless of how much we use or enjoy.

    The only way to counter that is to act as irrationally, and in the other direction. It's not that there can't be a sane middle ground; it's that as long as we advocated for a sane middle ground, we got extended and renegotiated into the current situation. If we keep trying to negotiate for a sane middle ground, we're the ones to blame when the next Mickey Mouse preservation act passes. We're the ones to blame when the public domain starts to shrink. We're the ones to blame, until we start acting as sociopathic as corporations, including being so utterly charming that our point of view seems as reasonable as theirs, so the sane middle ground must be the right compromise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @10:36AM (#38650534)

    There is no such thing is intellectual property.

    I repeat: There is no such thing as intellectual property.

    Information ceases to be your sole property the second that it leaves your head, and since the invention of language, once broadcast in any way a piece of information becomes infinitely reproducible, and by their very nature all recordings of any kind, be it written words, pictures, or sounds, are also infinitely reproducible. Improvements in recording and publishing technologies, from woodblock printing, to the phonograph and typewriters, all the way to cassette tapes and networked computers, have made producing and duplicating information increasingly trivial. No form of information is technically scarce.

    However, copyright laws and patents achieve their desired ends by attempting to create an artificial scarcity of information through legislative fiat. They in effect commoditize information which is inherently unlike a commodity, giving it scarcity and therefore market value. In the process of doing this however, much of the information's value is lost because its maximum potential utility is curtailed by limiting the number of parties which can use it, and by giving exclusive rights to a certain party over who can retain, utilize, and duplicate a piece of information, information access is effectively monopolized.

    This is harmful to the value of information and those who use it, the creation of privileged monopolies over pieces of information practically ensures that they will be abused, and it fails to address the original problem of compensating authors. On the other hand, it confers extraordinary rights and privileges to rights holders who own copyrights and patents, frequently for information which was never created by them personally. Additionally, how is it just that someone should continue receiving compensation for work that they are no longer performing? How is it just that someone should be compensated for work that they never did? The absurdities of patent and copyright law immediately begin compounding on one another after even cursory examination.

    Having said that, the act of producing original information and original records of that information can be readily commoditized. It is scarce - only so many people can produce a desired piece of information or a desired record, and from them only so many hours of work can be extracted. It is valuable - the production of new information benefits society, and maximally benefits society when information can be freely utilized by any party. Intellectual property is imaginary, but intellectual labor is a very real service which is the sole property of the intellectual laborer. Its value can be decided, it can be quantified, and it can be sold. Ensuring that intellectual laborers are adequately compensated for their work is of paramount importance to society.

    In the case of patentable products which can be produced by industry, or for the processes used to create those products, wherever a patent is applicable, the intellectual laborers working for an industrial company or consortium of companies should negotiate their own pay. If they don't get paid enough, they don't produce work. Auctioning of services, prize competitions, and so on could be used to compensate the inventors for the production of inventions alongside regular contracts. As for the companies themselves, which use the monopolization of inventions to protect themselves from competition, any one industrial company does not have unlimited resources and is therefore incapable of using or producing every available invention. Those companies will still be tasked with producing products as efficiently and effectively as possible, without the purely artificial constraint of copyrights and patents applying to them. They will still have to decide how to best reach the market. The competition will simply be more fierce, and this is entirely desirable.

    In the case of cultural artifacts and the recorded arts which can be copyrighted, the above still applies, and

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly