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Copyright X

Founder, http://copyrightx.org

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Imagine a charter nation (like Paul Romer's and Octavio Sanchez' failed charter city experiment in Honduras) with no copyright laws.

There is now incontrovertible evidence that all life on Earth arose through rampant, unrestricted molecular copying with slight random variations from time to time over billions of years. This amazing process occurred spontaneously, and led to, among many other wonderful innovations, the human brain.

The key innovation allowing the seemingly-miraculous results of this amazing process was the near-perfection of the molecular copying process invented spontaneously by nature, with no intelligent designers.

Unrestricted copying gave rise to all life on Earth from (essentially) nothing.

Any kind of natural or artificial copy protection mechanism influencing this process would almost certainly have led to much less diversity and much less complexity in the biosphere. Homo sapiens, for example, would almost certainly never have evolved if copy protection were a factor in the evolution of life on Earth.

Before several hundred years ago and throughout the world, existing legal systems allowed free copying of any and all information to all who could use it. Copying was so difficult then that there was no advantage for anyone in restricting copying.

Today nearly all recently-created information is legally monopolized by the creators (or purchasers) of this information through national copyright legislation and international treaties. More than 99% of modern human culture today is literally owned by much less than 1% of humanity. From the traditional song, "Happy Birthday To You," (©1935 Warner/Chappell), to nearly all broadcast music and video since the advent of mass communication technology, to several human genes, most modern information used by most humans is owned by someone else, and copying that information is very strictly controlled by its owners.

Given what non-intelligent nature created with no copy restrictions as context for today's copyright laws, I wonder what 7 billion intelligent creators could do in 10 or 100 years in a TOTALLY "copyright-free" zone.

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    Mar 31 2013: The US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 reads, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    In some (perhaps all) of the most important copyright litigation cases like http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/IP/1998_Castle.pdf (see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/CopyrightX_Readings_2013.htm for myriad others), judges repeatedly go back to this clause in guiding their judgments. On pages 6, 7, and 11 of the Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group, Inc. opinion, the judge repeatedly cited this clause. On page 7 he wrote, "The ultimate test of fair use, therefore, is whether the copyright law's goal of 'promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts,' U.S. Const., art. I, § 8, cl. 8, 'would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it.'"

    I wonder how the founding fathers would have crafted this Copyright Clause if The Internet had existed when they drew up the Constitution.

    I even wonder: Could @Flattr replace #copyright as the constitutional economic stimulus to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"? #constitution

    With millions or billions of people now being enabled (by The Internet) to connect to a certain piece of science or art on the web, and with services like http://flattr.com being in place to allow audience members to give money to scientists and artists in appreciation for their work, I really think that Flattr could possibly obviate the need for copyright protection, and thus eliminate the potential for abuse that we now see in these vast copyright holding companies.

    And I think that services like Flattr could fit well into an experiment like the one I describe in this conversation.

    I don't favor abolishing copyright altogether, but I would like to see some serious, large-scale experiments done with it, and I think Flattr may be part of that.
  • Mar 29 2013: It is funny that Nature is considered Non-intelligent and that We are considered Separate from Nature.
    #Societalprogrammingatitsbest
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      Mar 31 2013: Well, the word, "intelligence" is a subtle word. Humans created it to describe something that seems (to many of us) to be inherent only in humans. As such, we should be careful in our use of the word.

      I would argue that the traits comprising "intelligence" as we define it are also present in many other animals too, though perhaps to a lesser degree than in humans.

      That said, however, there is nothing inherently good (or bad) about intelligence per se.

      But since I am the owner of one human brain (and am grateful for it), I must necessarily credit nature with being essentially good overall (over the course of billions of years) in having created it.

      As far as humans being separate from nature, I would never make that assertion. I would not describe nature as intelligent (as humans have defined the word), and I would describe most humans as intelligent, but I certainly don't think that makes humans separate from nature. Humans are different kinds of creators than nature, yes, but we're not separate from nature. And both humans and nature create new things. Life on Earth is the evidence for nature doing so.
      • Apr 1 2013: Thanks for your reply. 3 Questions, if you do not mind........When you look around at humanity and examine how we live, do you see a species living as if they are SEPARATE from Nature or ONE with Nature? Is the relationship closer to Harmony or Conflict? Do you think Nature, in its unintelligence, regrets creating the Intelligent creature called Homo Sapien?
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    Mar 29 2013: Another influential TED talk regarding this conversation and idea was Patri Friedman at TEDxSF: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxSF-Patri-Friedman-SeaSteadi