Lawyers who advocate maximization of the copyright monopoly can sometimes be heard complaining that if the monopoly is abolished or weakened, there will be no culture or knowledge to fill our precious gadgets with. Derogatorily, they call this culture and knowledge “content”.
Claiming that there will be a shortage of culture if the copyright monopoly is weakened is so definite a state of denial, going way beyond a dimension of mere faith, that it probably deserves its own psychological diagnosis.
People create more than ever. All of us create so much culture and knowledge — text, music, images, video — that there is more created now than at any time in history. And this doesn’t happen because of the copyright monopoly; it happens despite the copyright monopoly. The growth is not in the previous elite; it is with everybody else.
How much more do we create now compared to before, you ask?
The numbers boggle the mind. In two days, we create as much culture and knowledge as we did before 2003.
Let’s take that again.
Last weekend, on that Saturday and Sunday, people created the same amount of culture and knowledge as had previously been created in total in the time span from the very dawn of mankind until January 1, 2003.
And people do this entirely without consideration of the copyright monopoly. The culture being created is, as they say, “user-generated”. If the copyright monopoly is anything, it is an obstacle and annoyance (video).
To claim that there “will be a shortage of content” is not just out of touch with reality. It really is deserving of a psychological diagnosis.
But on the other hand, people have been known to claim preposterous things when business interests are at stake. Worded another way, people have no trouble lying for profit with a smile until their hair falls out.
It is interesting to compare current events with the advent of the public library around 1850, when the same lie was claimed. If people holding the copyright monopoly wouldn’t get paid every time a book was opened, no culture would get created ever again, the copyright monopolists said.
The claim was as bogus then as it was today. And as a final touch, to really point out how the copyright monopoly is harming culture, consider how millions of creators — literally millions — are explicitly rejecting their already-awarded monopoly and publishing with Creative Commons. This ties in with my open letter to the music industry after they wanted to burn me at the stake at a conference (yes, really).
At the heart of the lie, there seems to be a misconception among publishers and distributors that nobody will create culture unless a middleman can make a profit distributing it. And thus, we have come full circle from the deception of the British Parliament in 1709.