Saturday, January 28, 2012

Intellectual Paucity


These are the latest steps in the process that began, substantially, in the Berne Convention, wherein the stretching of copyright laws across international boundaries has been in use for over a hundred years as a wedge against national constitutions, and against constitutional government in general, in overcoming the legal recognition of the freedom of individuals.

Sure, we gotta be nice to the artists at some level, but that doesn't mean letting them run things for us. And there are sure a lot of artists around who think they can run things better than we can.

It especially doesn't mean that we should kowtow to idiot idealists who like to use artists and other semi-innocents (and real innocents, like children) as pawns, capital, and weapons in their wars to foist their idealistically perverted views of how things should be on the whole world.

See, the US Constitution was deliberate in specifying a limited time right to inventions and creations. The time limit was supposed to be long enough for the artist, inventor, and/or creator to finish the work, and to enjoy some sort of compensation therefrom -- if and only if the work was worth compensating -- but not so long nor so absolute as to allow the inventor/creator to abuse it to for excessive gain or for establishing new bases for discrimination and for the effective granting of titles of nobility.

That's what this is all about. The use of words like "king" and "queen" and "tzar" and "star" is not nearly so metaphorical as we would wish. Intellectual property is being used as an end-run around the bans of the US Constitution on granting titles of nobility.

Come on, seriously, you know that it's not what we call them that's the problem, it's in what we allow them to get away with.

Now there is a myth of ex-nihilo creation being promoted by those who wish to abuse these extreme forms of intellectual property.

As far as the poor authors, artists, inventors, etc., yes, we need to reward with value the work that brings value and meaning into the social context.

But the fact is that no one creates anything in a vacuum. Every author, every artist, every inventor, all creative workers build from the materials available in the social melee, on the foundations of those who have built before.

Every creative worker owes the bulk of his or her creations to the society in which he or she works.

There is no valid claim to exclusivity. (Nothing new under the sun, at least nothing entirely new.) The excessive profits being made by "big hits" are unreasonable.

And they are abusive of the melee from which they derive, because they drain value and money away from the rest of the melee. (And leave less value to be made in the future, impoverishing us all.)

Some people are happy with impoverishing society. The economics of scarcity allow prices to be artificially inflated without any work at all. They also allow power-hungry types more leverage in massing power to themselves.

So, it's no surprise when there are technical issues with the SOPAs and the PIPAs. It's no surprise that the laws being made because of ACTA and its ilk turn out to be internally inconsistent and generally in contraction to the world in which they are supposed to be implemented. Bad law begets bad law, and bad treaties (executive agreements, or whatever fake excuse is given) are no different.

The result is everyone loses. The world around us is made poorer.

You may think that those in power "win" something here, but, no. in the end, they lose, too. Yeah, by constricting the market, the push values up artificially high. They get new ways to absorb power, but it's all in an impoverished context. We all lose.

Paucity. Intellectual paucity.