• Free Culture Perspective

last modified July 24, 2013 by strypey

"What people outside the developed world really need, for their agriculture and medicine, is to be exempt from all such monopolies." - Richard Stallman 


[The first thing to understand about the public discourse around any topic that is of financial interest to multinational corporations is that they are not concerned with principles, or consistency. Managements pay people to write whatever convincingly argues for the outcome that generates the most profit for their company. When it serves their bottom line, they will argue for free competition, and attack government provision of goods or services as a reprehensible monopoly. They have been so successful at implanting this idea in the media, and in the public mind, that when they argue in favour of a different set of government-imposed monopolies - like copyrights and patents - that they cannot at any time admit that monopolies is what they are. Instead they have invented the phrase "intellectual property", and attempted to redefine these informational monopolies as belongings.]

"Considering what seems like the most likely outcome, the only chance of long-term survival and prosperity for Indigenous Peoples appears to be less monopolisation, a stop of monopolisation of their cultural and intellectual resources." - Georg C. F. Greve


    [The rise of the free market has created an incentive for commercial entities to exploit both forms of indigenous knowledge to create commodities, and thereby profits]

    [Commercial entities create competitive advantage by using various laws granting state-imposed monopolies on intangibles (copyright, patent, trademark) to create artificial scarcity, increasing the per-unit value of their commodities]

  • [To defend and extend the scope of these limited monopolies, commercial entities have created the myth of "intellectual property" (Stallman)]
  • [The phrase "intellectual property" creates the false impression that these monopolies - granted by the state in order to bring more knowledge into the public domain - are actually a form of property, and that the limited nature of them or the circumvention of them is a form of criminal theft or trespass in the same way as taking someone's car, or occupying their home without their consent.]
  • [As Stallman says, the uncritical use of the phrase "intellectual property" by defenders of 'the commons' actually reinforces this pro-corporate myth of information as property, and creates confusion about the differences between copyrights patents and trademarks. For example, S Farrell, writing in the IPHandbook blog (http://blog.iphandbook.org/?p=305), points out that because CC is a form of copyright, it does not prevent the patenting of methods derived from reading CC-licensed works about indigenous cultural practices - copyright and patent are two totally different pieces of law, and the myth of "intellectual property" only confuses people about this.]