[pp.int.general] ACTA declaration

Rick Falkvinge (Piratpartiet) rick at piratpartiet.se
Fri Jun 25 22:45:24 CEST 2010

> I agreed with the explicit poimts of their declaration, and I told
> them so privately -- while asking them please not to buy into the
> "intellectual property" propaganda term.
One of the perks of my job is that I get to do a lot of original
research and connect-the-dots work, especially regarding the
justifications and history of copyright laws.

When copyrights were originally conceived on May 4, 1557, they were a
censorship mechanism, pure and simple. Seeing how France's ban on the
printing press in 1535 had failed spectacularly, Queen Mary I of the
United Kingdom decided to unite with a local printing guild in London
and gave them exclusivity for the lucrative printing market, in return
for getting to nix anything headed for the presses. This was part of her
attempt to restore Catholicism to the UK, a quite repressive part of her
regime that earned her the nickname Bloody Mary.

(She died one year later. Copyright didn't.)

The Lobby usually omits this part of copyright history and begins their
history on April 10, 1710. However, copyright laws had already been in
effect between 1557 and 1695.

Anyway, I usually chalk up the "intellectual property" term as the
Lobby's first legal victory. As the monopoly expired in 1695 -- the
parliament after the so-called Glorious Revolution refused to renew it
and chose to have it expire -- the Lobby panicked and set out on a holy
quest to have monopoly privileges restored.

In this quest, they claimed to speak on behalf of writers, while in
reality, the scheme would only line their own pockets (and the absence
of actual writers in their campaign was notable).

They managed to get their monopoly powers back in the so-called Statute
of Anne, enacted in 1709 and taking effect on April 10, 1710. One
particularly nasty item is that they managed to classify this monopoly
as property, with the target of strengthening its protection --
classifying it as property would put the bill into Common Law, rather
that Case Law, which any judge could nullify.

Thus, the reason it's called Intellectual Property today is because of
the Lobby's first lobbying victory in rewiring the legal system for
their own financial benefit.

As RMS says: we should really not agree to that playing field. Just
saying "copyrights and patents" instead nullifies the notion of
property. Before audiences who will buy the rhetoric, use the term
"monopolies" instead, as these mechanisms are actually encroaching and
reducing property rights.


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