IMAGINING A WORLD WITHOUT COPYRIGHT
The market and temporary protection a better alternative for artists and the public domain
Marieke van Schijndel & Joost Smiers
Hard to imagine
Some serious cracks are surfacing in the system of copyright, as we have known it in the Western world for a couple of centuries. The system is substantially more beneficial for cultural conglomerates than for the average artist; a situation that cannot last. Furthermore, it seems inescapable that digitisation is undermining the foundations of the copyright system. It must be acknowledged that several authors have recently presented analyses of the untenability of the contemporary system of copyright. Yet, most of their observations only allude to – but do not address – what we deem the most fundamental question of all: if copyright is inherently unjust, what could come in their place to guarantee artists – creative and performing – a fair compensation for their labours, and how can we prevent knowledge and creativity from being privatised (Bettig 1996; Bollier 2003: 119-134; Boyle 1996; Coombe 1998; Drahos 2002, 2002a; Frith 2004; Lessig 2002, 2004; Litman 2001; Perelman 2002; Vaidhyanathan 2003). It is time to move beyond merely criticizing copyright. The pressing question is: which alternative can we offer artists and other cultural entrepreneurs in rich as well as poor countries that benefits them, and that brings the increasing privatisation of creativity and expertise to a halt? Our goal in this essay is to develop such an alternative, and to move beyond any notion centred on private intellectual property rights....."
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