Well – its been over a year since my last update. (and the first release of wheelz)
Everyone is going mad over SOPA – and with good reason! It’s yet another piece of legislation that’ll harm the poor and oppressed while further enriching the very wealthy. If you don’t know what I’m talking about – get out of that hole and have a quick google!
Great as it is that there is such a great effort to stop SOPA, and PIPA and other new legislation that restrict freedom and harm humanity – its not enough. For a long time laws have been written by the wealthy mostly to benefit the wealthy- sometimes through ignorance of the impact on others lives – sometimes through uncaring greed.
Patents are an obvious example – they sound good in theory, similarly a quick glance at SOPA can sound reasonable. But in reality patents do far more to slow/stop progress and freedom rather than support it. Nearly every patent is an incremental advance on current technology, they block further development rather than encourage it. A couple of classic examples (from the top of my head – sorry for any inaccuracies) are
– Patents on radio tech during WW1/2 – the US government invalidated many radio patents so the various tech could be combined without permission from the companies holding the patents (and demanding piles of cash).
– The invention of the telephone – it’s a common tale of two men, working hard apart from each other for a very long time. The first to the patent office invalidated the others work! Even if neither of these men had been working on the phone – the next year someone would have… It was a natural advance based on technology available at that time.
I can see how patents could be much more acceptable, say, if they lasted less than 3 years. That way in my view the ‘benefits’ would still remain, (ie you could have your government given monopoly for a short time), but you would hold back potential progress much less.
But please do keep reading…
Take a quick look at copyright, it sounds more sensible than patents. If they lasted only a few years I may not have even looked close enough to have much of a problem with them… but hey – check this graph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Copyright_term.svg
copyright started out lasting for 30 years. Authors had more then enough time to creating something and make infinite copies at very little cost (nearly none now we have digital distribution). A Massive (unfair?) advantage over anyone working with “matter” rather than “information”. However even this, it seems, was not enough! Super-Wealthy Corps and people (Disney – I’m looking at you!) have pushed to extend copyright to over 100 years – longer than any author will probably ever live after releasing their copyrighted information!
Patetnts and copyright are sometimes known as “Intellictual Property”. I’ve often heard people saying in real life that downloading without permission is theft (taking property without permission) – It’s not. It’s copyright infringement. If someone wanted to actually steal a “movie”, they would have to remove every copy of the movie the original owner (or production company) has after making their own backup. That would be stealing a movie.
I wouldn’t steal a movie, or a car. But I’d certainly download either. To summarise:
– Stealing – Taking something so you have it and the previous owner no longer does
– Piracy – Profiting from the distribution of anothers copyrighted works without permission.
– Copyright Infringement – Making an unauthorised copy of a copyrighted work.
As an aside – more than 20x as many people have downloaded the full version of my game Wheelz (from TPB or other “piracy” websites) rather than bought it. And yet as I see it, it has never been stolen! In fact I would go as far as to say it has never even been infringed! And that’s because I uploaded it, giving my permission for other to download the full version for free, shortly after putting it on the android market for a profit.
Why? Well – why not? Popular games will be pirated anyway (no amount of DRM will stop that – although it is likely to destroy any enjoyment the game previously offered), there’s no stopping that. I thought it may lower my sales, but was a nice ethical thing to do
What happened? My sales doubled! and I received thousands of kind messages!
Looking from another angle – what do patents (and copyrights) do?
In a nutshell, they make a small number of people much more wealthy by preventing any competition. They allow the first person to write a series of 1’s and 0’s to prevent anyone else from doing writing those 1’s and 0’s, without paying up first. They allow Pharmaceutical companies to raise the price of medicine beyond the reach of those most in need, so their CEOs can make a few more million.
But still – nearly everyone is thoroughly in support of patents (and copyright)… Why?
Well, on the face if it it seems reasonable! protect creativity! give Artists a reason to paint and make music! (Because no-one did that before copyright, right?)
But more than that, because the rich copyright and patent holders (like me), who have been raking it in (less like me), who are in control of the media (definitely not me), have been telling everyone to think like that for three centuries! Go figure.
Update: SOPA/PIPA looks like they are not going to pass 🙂 Lets push back!