The following nine points regarding the moral rights of authors in the age of cognitive capitalism were written in response to Ines Duhanic’s article, “Julia Reda-Led Panel Discussion Reveals – Publishers’ Right Faces High Resistance From Academic Circles”, IP Watch: Inside Views (January 21, 2018)

1/ The current legislation under review by the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy regarding “neighboring rights”, to be voted on by the European Parliament in late March 2018, has little if anything to do with author rights

2/ All arguments about protecting revenue streams for publishers indicate that the true purpose is to fortify the rights of publishers (who have arrogated to themselves the rights of authors)

3/ The arguments from the public domain side against this legislation are equally problematic and suspect for the same reason that author rights are not part of the rationale for propping up the knowledge commons against the disputed proprietary rights of publishers

4/ The central issue, which is also hidden in plain sight, is – after all – the moral rights of authors (“Lockean natural rights”) as established in the Enlightenment and as enshrined in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886)

5/ Both the EC and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have shown no interest in addressing this set of rights, given the inherent abstract nature of such rights and given that both are operating on behalf of industry in a global IP campaign that resembles the “weaponizing” of IP rights

6/ Given that economic data (or any empirical proof) confirming that free copying of works or appropriation by platform cultures benefits the author is impossible to produce, whether justified through the murky term “transformative use” or “discoverability”, all such arguments, as used on both sides of the debate (by publishers to e-license copyrighted works and by advocates of Open Access to justify authors giving their works away for nothing) devolve to mere speculation based on the bias of the beneficiaries

7/ Given the origin of copyright in the Venetian Renaissance, via the granting of privilegio to authors for books published in the Republic of Venice, and given the almost immediate arrogation of privilegio by printer-publishers in the Republic of Venice, the arguments associated with “neighboring rights” today merely revisit historic arguments waged then against the damage done to authors and presses through illegal copying

8/ What has not advanced, and what needs to be fully disclosed, is how mass digitalization from both sides of this battleground has forced the lion’s share of authors today into a class conveniently labeled the “precariat” by critics of capitalism for the benefit of a global “vectorial class”

9/ What is less obvious regarding this widening chasm between the precariat and the vectorial class is that almost all academic proponents of fortifying the knowledge commons through an enforced neoliberalized open-access regime for scholarly works are part of the global vectorial class by virtue of participation in the production of platform cultures that decimate author rights from the so-called non-profit side, while “Capital” takes care of the destruction of author rights on the for-profit side

 

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