The news you're not supposed to know...

Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand the World
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted Dec 29 2013, 11:28 PM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Rick Falkvinge Print

It Was Never About The Money, Stupid: The Similarities Between Copyright Monopoly Madness & Boston Tea Taxes

by Rick Falkvinge

“You are just spoiled brats who don’t want to pay”, said the copyright industry as people shared culture and knowledge online. “You are just spoiled brats who don’t want to pay”, said the English after the Boston Tea Party. The underlying mechanisms are basically the same.

With every new breakthrough, old scarcities are turned into abundances, and new scarcities appear around the new abundances. When households were electrified, household food cooling became abundant, the icemaking industry went out of business overnight, and electricians came on stage. When electric lamp posts arrived, the lamplighter profession went obsolete, and again, more electricians were needed. When e-mail arrived, the postal service and mailmen went largely obsolete, but sysadmins were needed instead.

When computers allowed us to manufacture our own copies of culture and knowledge from what we observed firsthand online, the copyright industry – which held a monopoly on such duplication, keeping culture and knowledge scarce – went obsolete, and in the face of the new abundance of culture and knowledge everywhere, new scarcities appeared. For example, when you have more or less all the world’s music on your hard drive, it becomes tiresome and laborious to sort it into listening to what you want.

When the music service Pandora was launched, it did exactly this: it solved the new scarcity, the ability to sort out the abundance. I am paying subscriber number 110 out of today’s 20 million or so (and I’ve also been paying for ways to circumvent the silly attempt to lock the service to the United States). This is easy to verify.

This is notable because pirates aren’t unwilling to pay for culture and knowledge services. However, pirates (and by “pirates” I mean the younger 150 million Americans, 250 million Europeans, and roughly the younger half of the rest of the world’s population) are unwilling to pay for obsolete services, such as duplication. Pirates are early adopters.

Let’s take that again, because it is key to stopping parroting this ignorance of “don’t want to pay” about the situation with people happily sharing culture and knowledge online:

Pirates are early adopters. If you put something new and shiny in their hands, they will throw money at you. Conversely, they will be among the first to identify a stale market and abandon it. Further, they will not – ever – accept laws that lock them in to a service they haven’t asked for, especially not when they can do the same thing themselves at practically no effort, such as manufacturing copies of movies, music, games, or software from their own raw material and labor.

Obviously, this means you can’t morally oblige pirates to pay for manufacturing their own copies using their own labor and materials, even if the law says you have the right to tax and fine them for doing so. That comes across as extremely heavy-handed and repressive.

This has happened many times before, and these situations tend to resolve in about the same way. One of the more famous occasions resulted in a huge tea party on the docks of Boston. This is despite the fact that those people didn’t seem to have a problem as such paying the tea taxes; it simply wasn’t about the money, as it never is.

You can dismiss pirates as just being greedy and surely able to pay if they wanted, just as you could dismiss the colonist tea drinkers as greedy bastards who surely could afford to pay the tax on their English tea. And in doing so, you’d be missing the point entirely, choosing to grotesquely mischaracterize a situation in order to stay comfortable but ignorant.

“But the Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation!”, some would say. “The copyright monopoly issue is different!”

Is it, really?


Let’s review the facts at hand. The copyright monopoly laws were constructed to benefit the public, and the public only. In the U.S. Constitution, we can read clearly that the purpose of the copyright monopoly is “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts”. Nothing more, nothing less.

It is important to note this, as the purpose of the monopoly (“exclusive right”) is not and was never to allow somebody to make money on a particular activity. In particular, its purpose was never to allow somebody to keep making money the same way they always had, even when technology had changed the landscape and their offering didn’t add any value anymore.

The copyright monopoly is a balance, but it is a balance between two competing interests of the public: the public’s interest in promoting new science and arts, and the same public’s interest in having access to that science and arts. The copyright industry is not a legitimate interest in this legislation.

This is where the problem begins. For when we look at how the copyright monopoly legislation has been written and re-written in the past decades, it has been entirely tailored to the wishes of the obsolete middleman industry, increasingly upping the penalties for circumventing their monopoly deadlock. The interest of the public – the only legitimate stakeholder – is not, and has not been, considered at all. Simply put, the public isn’t represented.

So if a law that forces people to pay something unnecessarily and involuntarily isn’t taxation, then what is it?

And if their interests aren’t being represented in that legislation… well…?

This argument may come across as esoteric and outlandish to those who defend the copyright monopoly, but I guarantee those people two things: First, that the “you only want things for free!” parroting comes across as just as outlandish and reality-defiant to those envelope-pushing entrepreneurs who understand technology and society, and second, that the “taxation without representation” call after the Boston Tea Party would come across as exactly as outlandish to those who were the self-declared nobility of that time.

I don’t want to hear the “you just don’t want to pay” ever again. We are manufacturing our own copies from what we observe firsthand with our own labor and materials, and we have every moral, philosophical, ethical, economical, and natural right to do so. We reject an obsolete industry’s legal right to enact private taxation on us for our own work. If you want to be part of the future, at least try to understand the bigger picture.

Here’s to hoping the debate in 2014 will be just slightly better than in all the previous years since I got involved in this debate, which was in about 1987. It’s up to all of us to force the debate to go there.
Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at focuses on information policy.

Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- Undercover Agents Fathered Children With Women After Infiltrating Activist Groups
- WeAreChange Blocked in France Because of New Censorship Law
- Pew Research Poll: 40% of Millennials Want to Restrict Free Speech
- France Responds to Paris Attacks by Rushing Through Internet Censorship Law
- After Endless Demonization of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS
- VIDEO: 'Safe Space' Students Silence Asian Woman For Saying 'Black People Can Be Racist'
- Fourth Grader Threatened With Sexual Harassment Charges For Writing Love Letter
- DEA Running Massive Wiretap Program Almost Entirely Through a Single California County Courthouse

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Video Of Chicago Cop Murdering Teen Shows Another Shooting of Convenience - 11/25Downing of Russian Su-24 Looks Like a Planned Provocation - Russian Foreign Minister - 11/25VIDEO: FSA Rebels Destroy Russian Chopper With US-Made TOW Missile - 11/25California Police Used Illegal Wiretap Warrants in Hundreds of Drug Prosecutions - 11/25Good News: 27% Of Americans Say Government Is Their 'Enemy,' Not Their 'Friend' - 11/24Undercover Cop Dressed In All Black Shot While Placing GPS Tracker On Car - 11/20Singapore: The Power of Economic Freedom - 11/25With Mass Shootings, The State Makes Us Less Safe - 11/25

Man Follows Speeding Cop, Finds Out He Was Speeding To Buy PeanutsMission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'Cop Shoots Couple's Dog, Threatens Jail For Trying To Save Dog's LifeSWAT Team Shoots Teen Girl & Her Dog During Pot Raid On Wrong HomeDurham, NC Cop Testifies Faking 911 Calls To Enter Homes Is "Official Policy"Indiana Sheriff Says US A "War Zone" To Justify New MRAP Military VehicleTampa Cops Surveil Pot Dealer, Catch Him Selling Pot, Raid His Home & Kill Him"You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!": Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up