The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society never stops talking about it, with some justification. It even has a page on its website
dedicated to what it calls copyright education. Last month, the London Freelance branch of the National Union of Journalists announced Parliament committee backs copyright
, which translated means we've lobbied like Hell, and they appear to be listening to us.
Would you believe there is also now a hub being set up to facilitate copyright, making it easier and cheaper in the digital age? It's called the Copyright Hub
. And let's not mention the Federation Against Copyright Theft
; last month the BBC sent out one of its reporters with FACT, and reported that it is
"coming up with new ways to try to tackle piracy."
But for the Internet, this would be a reasonable course of action. It is no longer reasonable because all of us who spend any amount of time on-line are certain to download, use or simply view content that is technically copyright. It is also an undeniable fact that while some journalists insist they be paid for their copy, not one of them has any compunction about using anybody else's. So what is to be done?
We can begin by recognising the fact that anything that finds its way onto the Web becomes part of our common cultural inheritance
, ie it belongs to us all. Just because Shakespeare was an Englishman doesn't mean that only the English or English speakers
should be permitted to watch his plays or read his sonnets.
Likewise, although acupuncture was developed in ancient China, it should be available to the entire world, as it is. And so on.
If you want to undertake a session or a course of acupuncture, you would do well to seek out a doctor of Chinese medicine who might just expect to be paid for providing the service, but once something is on-line, it is there for the whole world to use, and it should be free.
On the other hand, news reports, ebooks, films, concerts, etc, that are uploaded to websites represent an increase in the wealth of a nation and of the world. An increase in wealth warrants an increase in the money supply, not simply money changing hands but new money coming into existence. At present, with the exception of the tiny note and coin issue, new money comes into existence from the banks, who have been granted (ie usurped) this power. Most of the time this new money is inflationary, and as it comes into existence as a debt, it can never be repaid. On the other hand, new money that represents the wealth of the Internet paid by the governments of the world
to the major Internet companies and apportioned from there would do proper justice to the creators of original works. It is this for which the ALCS, NUJ and similar organisations should be lobbying, not to either restrict or penalise those who "steal" copyright.