I just left Share Conference in Belgrade, Serbia. The conference was top notch — 80 speakers, 50 bands, three days, three nights. Very laid back with cushions everywhere in the lobbies, people were lounging about and just having a good time.
The conference was opened by Bruce Sterling to a full room. I spoke shortly thereafter — my Shelters or Windmills presentation, but updated with the insight that the copyright lobby is behaving like religious people.
I was happy to meet Peter (Sunde) and Jake (Appelbaum) again. Seems like we only run into each other when we’re speaking these days. Also, Samir (Allioui) was there, and I was happy to meet Alexandar and all the people from Pirate Party Serbia (PPRS).
But the real kicker was hearing Vladimir Vlidi from Creative Commons Serbia. I had spoken to this guy before, in 2006, when he came to Sweden to make an interview with me and a few other guys. He gave the story of what had happened when then-Yugoslavia was under an international embargo in 1990-1995.
Yugoslavia was allowed to import food, medicine, all the basic necessities of life, but not luxury items. Copies of digitized works counted as luxury items that weren’t allowed. Importing copies of bitpatterns was not permitted, stupidly enough. It turns out, therefore, that this was not a problem. The people living there could make do themselves, copying themselves. It showed on a country-wide scale just how unnecessary the copyright monopoly is — not just to academics studying the situation, but to the very people, too.
The result was that it was seen as a step backwards to start using Creative Commons in Serbia. It was perceived as unnecessarily restrictive and, well, unnecessary. Later, the copyright industry has been aggressive in Serbia just like everywhere else, but they have a serious uphill battle for hearts and minds.
My key takeaway? Once people at large have experienced what it’s like to not have a (functioning) copyright monopoly, they don’t want anything to do with it ever again.
It should be equally noted that this was at a festival visited primarily by nascent bands and musicians. (Also: Photo gallery from the festival.)