Oops, copyright goes against my anarchistic tendencies

Copyright: the entire concept of copyright is inherently evil. I am a product of the anarchist tendencies of the internet, and the entire idea of protecting objects meant to be used and appreciated by a wide audience is anathema to me.

I hate copyright. I hate the idea that you can claim something that should belong to everyone: be it a cultural object (ideas, words, pictures, videos, &c), or technological ones (code, techniques, &c).

There is a part of me that realizes that I will never function properly within a capitalist society because I have no desire to possess things. I don’t want to stamp my name on something and then refuse to let anyone else have part of it. I want to make things that can then be used and complicated and quoted and restructured and re-purposed by other people to create dialogue and collaboration.

Culture is collaboration: it’s what happens when we come together around ideas and through some mystical process of exchange and critique create something that contains all of us and speaks to all of us.

But then again, I believe in attribution. I don’t believe in plagiarism, because I believe that you deserve both credit for the work you’ve done, and far more importantly, do not deserve credit for work you haven’t done.

A friend of mine posted a status on Facebook reminding people that attribution is important, even if she took the pictures for free, she’s expecting credit for having taken them. I often get into complex arguments with people because my baseline is: everyone should have the right to access and play with the objects you have created. (If I believe it for Hollywood, I believe it for you.) This is where people usually stop listening.

We’ve been taught that copyright, as total protection, is the best, nay, the only way to retain control of the things you create. People largely forget about people (like the Creative Commons folks) who try so hard to remind us about fair use and attribution, &c.

Most people seem to approach this with the sense of, until such a day that people can be trusted to add attributions on their own, and not be terrible about giving credit where credit is due, we should all do everything in our power to protect our “intellectual property”.

Sometimes I want to suggest a revolution: let them have it. Let them have it and then remember that if we agree to make everything free and accessible, we have the freedom and access to other people’s things. We can be the bigger people and give attribution (because I, naively, believe in leading by example), but I also believe in stepping on the concept of “intellectual property”. I spent too long in fandom, appreciating the repurposed designs, trailers, and ideas, to believe than anyone has the right to control what they create.

Furthermore, I don’t believe it’s possible. Every time I see a quote from an author saying, “Please don’t create with the things I’ve created” (that is: no fanworks) I want to ask them why they made anything in the first place. The creation of art is a gift from you to the people. You are, in that moment of releasing a book or a film or a drawing, turning over something personal to the public to let them give life to it in themselves.

How, I want to know, do you propose to own what someone else brings to something you have created?

Remember to give credit where credit is due, everybody. It’s very important. It makes them feel good, and if you like the things that someone has done, give them an up-vote by letting others know they did it! It’s not that hard.


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