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Is ignoring copyright the best strategy against IP monopolists?

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
20th March 2011


Rick Falkvinge has an excellent editorial on the death of copyright if the IP industry ignores all appeals for sensible reform, such as those proposed by the Swedish Pirate Party.

Kevin Carson has a further reaction:

“I think ignoring the law and developing countermeasures against enforcement are a much more cost-effective use of resources than political action to repeal it. As far as I know, nobody ever repealed the Code of Hammurabi. An unenforceable law is as good as no law at all.

RadGeek already wrote:

“If you want to see copyright restrictions liberalized, then it may be true that the words on a page in Washington are worse than they’ve ever been; but the facts on the ground are perhaps better than they’ve been at any other time in the history of the United States. And while there is no hope for revising those words for the better any time soon, the facts are changing for the better every day, all their lawyers and their lobbyists and their intergovernmental treaties notwithstanding — they are improving daily as technical problems are solved, as new sharing networks emerge, and as the problem of even identifying the competition, let alone shutting them down, becomes more and more overwhelming for the copyrightists’ rear-guard legal strategy.

“Why despair, or even care about the legal situation at all, if the practical situation makes the law irrelevant? A law that cannot be enforced is as good as a a law that has been repealed, and that is where we’re headed, faster and faster every day, when it comes to the intellectual monopolists and their jealously guarded legal privileges.”

I argued here that, in John Robb’s terminology, enforcement is state capitalism’s Systempunkt. Actually contesting the plutocrats and big business for control of the state would be enormously costly, a sisyphean task of endless procedural steps in which we’re outspent 100-to-1 by the plutes and the rules are rigged in their favor at every single step. But enforcement is the weakest link, and devoting a hundredth the resources to disabling that node can have the same effect in terms of rendering the system inoperable that capturing the system would have. Just as, by way of analogy, Al Qaeda can shut down an entire oil distribution system by disabling a few key nodes, achieving for a few hundred dollars worth of explosives the same result that would require thousands of strategic bombing sorties to destroy the entire physical pipeline infrastructure. Why waste resources in the moral equivalent of house-to-house fighting to secure control of the state when we can simply throw sand in its gears? “

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