PM5201: Against Copyright

Copyright refers to laws which restrict the ability to copy works of literature, paintings, photographs, films, sculpture, images, video, books, computer programs, etc. It is generally said it protects only the expression of an idea and not the underlying idea itself - although, cleanly separating these two concepts is not always possible.

In Maratreanism

Maratreanism is not totally opposed to some system to guarantee authors proper renumeration and some control over their works; but it rejects the current system of copyright law as grossly excessive. The current copyright law system is not about protecting authors - it is about protecting big business.

Copyright and other forms of intellectual property cause grave economic ineffiencies. Countless hours are wasted redoing work that others have already done, because copyright makes it impossible to reuse the work others have already done. Many employees find much of their intellectual output belongs to their employers, who often prefer to cast good work down a black hole than actually use it - if it is not useful to them, they would prefer it be used by no one.

Maratreanism would implement some key principles:

  • Authors have a right to a fair share in the value of their work
  • One should be free to reuse and enhance the work of another, provided one gives proper attribution, without however trying to pass off the altered work as the unaltered original. In the event attribution is ommitted, the appropriate remedy is for the copier to publicly acknowledge the source, and update future copies to acknowledge this. Provided they are willing to do this, no damages should be available for the original author
  • If one reuses another's work, the original author must receive reasonable compensation proportionate to their contribution to the work
  • Authors cannot exclusively license their work
  • An employee retains rights to use of their own work; but if they profit from that work outside of their job or after leaving it, their employer is entitled to a share proportionate to the resources (salary, equipment) they provided the employee and the employment proportion of the work (relative to the pre-employment and post-employment portions)
  • If an author disagrees with a way in which a work has been reused, those so reusing it must make the author's disagreement clearly known to the recipients - e.g. if a novel is adapted to a film, "___, the author of the novel, ____, upon which this film was based, has expressed her/his disapproval of this film.". (Such a statement must be reasonably prominent - for example, in a film, it should be in the opening titles, with the same font size and time shown as the film name or names of director or principal actors or so on)
  • Where A reuses the work of B, they shall enter into negotiations on the amount of the proceeds A is to share with B. Where they cannot agree, an impartial tribunal shall decide the appropriate compensation.
  • In the case of files shared on the Internet, the preferred model is to permit sharing freely, and then compensate creators based on their usage after the fact
  • Exorbitant copyright damages, such as those demanded by major companies in the film and music industries, are criminal, and ought to be punished as such
  • Wedding photographers, etc., cannot retain copyright of their work - the copyright will belong to those who hired them. They need to negotiate ample compensation for the work they do, and then it becomes the property of the people who hired them. (They can negotiate to be licensed back the right to use the product as an example of their work, in exchange for a reasonable (but not excessive) discount.)
  • Capitalist pornography is ineligble for copyright protection.

Maratreanism supports free licensing initiatives, such as Creative Commons, and copyleft and open source in the area of computing. At the same time, it is concerned that the legalistic details of these licenses often produce inflexibility which impedes intellectural progress, although not to the same extent as closed licenses (e.g. work A and work B are both freely available for creation of derivative works, but cannot be combined due to incompatible copyright license terms.)

Maratreanism is totally opposed to the copyrighting of religious scriptures. If you believe a text is the word of the deity, then releasing it under restrictive copyright licenses - such as happens with the NIV and other commercial translations - is a grave sin. The scriptures of Maratreanism are always to be made available for free, and under generous conditions. For example, if someone agrees with Maratreanism partially but not fully, and thus want to edit the Maratrean scriptures to fit their beliefs - that is acceptable to us, so long as they are honest that that is what they are doing - i.e. they neither deny the origins of the text, nor try to pass off their version as an unaltered original. A Maratrean state would impose the same regime on the scriptures of all other religions - so, for instance, commercial Bible translations would be banned. An exception will be made for translations by non-believers, since they are not sinning by selling something they do not believe to belong to the deity. So, if a Christian translates the Bible, they have no legal copyright under Maratreanism, since they are sinning by bottling up what they believe to be the divine word; but if an atheist translated the Bible, they can have a legal copyright, since they do not believe it to contain any divine words and hence cannot sin by selling it.

Sale of scriptural texts is permitted, provided that:

  • they are sold with a copyright license that permits free duplication
  • the price is to cover the printing, not the actual text. (Even a reasonable profit on the printing costs is permissible, provided it does not amount to an actual cost for the text)

Declaration on copyright

I, Zachary Waldino Martinez, hereby declare that according to the religion of Maratreanism, copyright is a grave sin; copyleft, however, is permissible. And we define copyleft to include Creative Commons Attribution and/or Share-Alike (but not NoDerivs or NonComercial) and Open Source Initiative licenses. Copyright is not recognized under Maratrean law, only copyleft; but the use of copyright under usurpational law solely for the purpose of implementing copyleft is permissible. The right to copy freely and create derivative works must be maintained. We consider permissible copyleft to include schemes in which a tax is charged on electronic equipment and an independent body distributes the proceeds of this tax to software and/or media creators based on usage figures derived from sampling surveys, but in which those subject to the tax maintain the absolute right to distribute and modify. We also consider permissible copyleft to be schemes based on compulsory licensing on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, when an independent body determines what is reasonable and non-discriminatory, and where prices are based at least in part on ability to pay. And concerning patents, the same principles shall apply. And whosoever claims to copyright under restrictive terms any work of scripture, or any translation thereof, most assuredly that is false scripture, and they are guilty of a grave sin!