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Rick Falkvinge: Filesharing is not Copying/Downloading but Making/Manufacturing

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
30th December 2012


It’s not “getting” or “downloading” a copy. It’s making or manufacturing one.

Excerpted from Rick Falkvinge:

“Using precise language is paramount for our own future liberties.

When people are saying “I downloaded a copy of Avengers“, that use of language erodes their liberties just a little bit further. It is wrong, as in technically and factually wrong. Looking at the use of “downloading a copy” or “getting a copy” and how this is incorrect, we need to examine why it is important to use other words.

For that’s not what happens. “Getting” or “downloading” doesn’t describe the process. No copy pops onto the wires, travels through the net, and sets itself on the hard drive on the person’s system. This is the copyright industry model of reality, their fake model, which they use to push for harsher laws and erosion of liberty. This is how they equate “stealing a copy of the Avengers” with “stealing a gallon of milk”. That the object is somehow stolen through the internet. That’s not what happens.

What really happens is that you have instructed your system to listen to a complex series of protocol packets, and using them as instructions, you manufacture a copy at your end. You are making a copy using your own resources and property, by listening to instructions online. If nobody listened to these instructions at the time, no copy would get manufactured. The copy isn’t downloaded, it is manufactured. This technical distinction is crucial for three reasons of net liberty.

The first reason is language.

Compare the following four sentences:

“He downloaded a copy of Avengers for free.”

“He got a copy of Avengers without paying for it.”

“He manufactured a copy of Avengers for free.”

“He made a copy of Avengers without paying for it.”

It quickly becomes obvious that the first two are reinforcing the copyright industry’s “stealing” moniker, with a clear tone of dishonesty, whereas the second two just don’t work in that aspect – if anything, they have a “yeah, so?” tone to it. Using making and manufacturing makes it clear that you are not expected to pay money in the process, whereas “getting” implies the opposite. Therefore, it is important to use the technically correct making or manufacturing.

The second reason is that it reinforces that the copyright monopoly is indeed a monopoly, and not property.

When we say,

He manufactured a copy of Avengers without paying

it becomes very clear that manufacturing a copy is something fairly normal, but that somebody is expecting protection money for us doing so. That is miles and leagues from the copyright industry’s idea that all copies are somehow their property, where things are somehow “stolen” through the net. The third reason is that proper use of language reinforces that the copyright monopoly is a limitation of property rights, rather than being the magical subset of property that the copyright industry would like.

When we say

He manufactured a copy of Avengers

it becomes obvious that this was made from the person’s own raw materials using their own time, and if a law says that this cannot be done, then that law is interfering with how we can use our own property – so it illustrates how the copyright monopoly is a limitation of property rights.

It’s not “getting” or “downloading” a copy. It’s making or manufacturing one.”

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