Culture vs. Copyright

by Anatoly Volynets

Verdict: CULTURE VS. COPYRIGHT is an intelligent, thoughtful and lively discussion of intellectual property rights and their purpose in the larger society. It is at very least a useful contribution to a vigorous public conversation about creativity and its rewards in a free society.

IR Rating

 
 

3.0

IR Rating

The author argues for a form of intellectual property protection that allows free publication of intellectual property as long as the work is attributed to the proper creator.

CULTURE VS. COPYRIGHT is a work based on a philosophical discussion between the author and five young children, purportedly first-graders. They discuss the nature of creativity and culture, and how creative works can best be distributed to the profit of the author and society. The author regularly summarizes his discussions with the children, addressing points they make and creating a clear thesis from their arguments. In the end, he concludes that the best possible form of intellectual property protection is a form that protects not distribution, but attribution – the publisher would no longer have monopoly rights on any given publication, but all works copied and distributed would be required to be attributed to the given author.

Volynets’ arguments are logically and sensibly made, given his starting assumptions, and are clearly presented with a minimum of difficult language or jargon. He does address, with attribution, other forms of licenses that resemble the ones he wishes to promote, and gives a clear summary with the advantages and disadvantages of each – these include the Licence Art Libre (French), the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Open Audio License, the GNU General Public License, the Open Publication License, and the Creative Commons Licenses.The first-graders he quotes use suspiciously sophisticated language and discussion topics for such young children – seven-year-olds generally do not casually reference the musical Chicago or use phrases like, “Why is it that ‘cultural satisfaction’ increases desire?” .

The author also rather too casually glosses over the importance of paying the creators for their work – while having one’s work distributed widely and one’s reputation increased is certainly important, it does not pay the bills or put food on the table. His suggestion that publishers might “sponsor” an author or pay for exclusive rights to a work until publication is somewhat dubious – it is often difficult to get people to pay for what they can easily get for free. While this may not matter, for example, to a salaried college professor seeking to get research results widely released and to improve his or her reputation, it does matter to the author seeking to make a living through writing or the artist tired of being asked to work for free for the sake of “exposure.”

CULTURE VS. COPYRIGHT is an intelligent, thoughtful and lively discussion of intellectual property rights and their purpose in the larger society. It is at very least a useful contribution to a vigorous public conversation about creativity and its rewards in a free society.

~ IndieReader

4 replies
  1. avatar
    InklingBooks says:

    Intelligent and thoughtful? I think not, although devoid of any link I could find to the original, I must comment on the review.

    The author seems to be using what I call the Carter Ploy. Jimmy Carter, whose foreign policy acumen was almost as bad as Obama’s, tried at one point in his presidency to cloak his clueless about avoiding nuclear war by putting his arguments inside an alleged conversation with his young daughter. This writer seems to be doing much the same. By avoid an adult audience, he avoids the sorts of questions adults would raise, such as how authors would feed their children.

    As a writer, I suspect my power company would not be too happy if, in lieu of paying my electric bill, I send them a list of those times when my books have been republished in their entirety by people who merely offered me “attribution.” No discussion of copyright that doesn’t deal with that can be considered intelligent or thoughtful or as the review notes: “The author also rather too casually glosses over the importance of paying the creators for their work.”

    Authors, of course, have a right to determine the context in which what the write is copied. That’s the essence of copyright. This book would turn every author, like it or not, into the equivalent of authors that were once drawn to the vanity press—people so vain, all they want to do is to see their words in print.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride

    Reply
    • avatar
      Anatoly Volynets says:

      Dear Michael: I do not avoid an adult audience although do have reasons to turn to first graders. The book won’t tell you why but I will: adults thus far have not been able to grasp those basic ideas that we explore on the book pages. I wouldn’t say “at all,” because the ideas (there are many there, the book is literally packed with ideas) are basic and comprehensible. What happens practically in all the discussions is that adults are not able to draw conclusions if the conclusions do not fit their habits. That is it. Many adults would agree with many premises but would not draw conclusions. First graders are essentially more open minded.
      As for incentives — I do not suggest you to work for free. Being an author I do not want that for myself either. However, very simple analyses reveals that copyright works not for but against our earnings. Despite my being first of all scientist, philosopher, not economist, I explore all related aspects of the pair “Culture vs. Copyright” in detail and many times over in the book and am sure that my verdict is right: Intellectual Property in all its variations is inhibitor of cultural and civilizational development in general, designed to strip authors from proper incentives in particular. I hope after reading the book you will be able to put forward more specific argument than that based on mere review. Then I will be able to respond more specifically too.
      Thanks.

      Reply
      • avatar
        Anatoly Volynets says:

        PS. I actually realize that the review does make an impression that Culture vs. Copyright is not really concerned with food on a creator’s table. Well, that is not so but we do not argue reviews, do we?

        Reply

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