• Flattr FoI: 
Falkvinge &Co. on Infopolicy
BEFORE-FALKVINGE-IF-ANY FALKVINGE &CO. ON
INFOPOLICY
Falkvinge on Infopolicy - Home
»
Pirates learning place

The Teachers’ Guild – A Short Story From a Parallel Universe

11

Copyright Monopoly – David Xanatos

Copyright Monopoly – David Xanatos

Imagine a world, in which when you teach something to someone the knowledge is considered your “intellectual property”. Your students are not permitted to teach the things they have learned from you to anyone else, neither for money, nor even for free.

To become a teacher, one must buy into the guild for a lot of money, inherit rights from someone who was a teacher, or teach something that hasn’t been learned from anyone, i.e. something newly invented.

NEW CONTRIBUTOR
David Xanatos joins the Falkvinge & Co. team today, opening with this article.

Being a teacher was a very powerful position. Having a monopoly to teach and usually even your own districts to educate exclusively, a teacher could charge any price. Furthermore, teachers even had the right to dictate the purpose and conditions on which the knowledge they taught was allowed to be used.

People living near each other were sometimes infringing on these rights of the guild by illegally teaching close friends, or family members things they learned.

When the guild caught someone teaching, the offenders head to pay horrendous fines for this despicable offence of spreading knowledge without holding the proper rights to do so.

As time progressed a new invention was introduced, the postal system, it was spreading like wild fire across districts. Anyone used it to communicate with old friends that moved away or remote family members.

However, soon people called “Pirates” realized the potential of this new technology; and they started to abuse it to spread knowledge, bypassing the guild’s rights.
They were even spreading the knowledge across district borders set up by the guild. Moreover they didn’t just spread it to their friends or family – no they were providing it to anyone, even to the most remote tribes living across the ocean.

Of course the Teachers’ Guild wasn’t pleased. They went mad, really mad like the Content industry was in our world. They were determined to preserve their rights by any means necessary.

All Letters sent through the postal system were opened and checked for infringements of the knowledge monopoly. On the 3rd alleged infringement people were banned from using the postal system.
The mere possession of unlicensed, i.e. self-written, educational materials was made a criminal offence.
etc…
The usual stuff you know from our world.

The guild was defending their position with seemingly reasonable arguments:
“If education is free, no one will be willing to pay for education”
“If no one is willing to pay for education, the profession of the teacher will die out”
“No one will invent new things to teach, thus progress of science and useful arts will cease to continue”
“Without professional teachers, the quality of education will drastically drop and society will start to degenerate”
etc…
In essence the very same arguments the Content industry is using in our world.

Should this “intellectual property” of the guild be enforced with violence against the society at any cost?

Or should this monopoly be abolished, forcing the teacher guild to switch to alternative business models? E.g. business models where they are not paid any longer for existing knowledge, but for the act of teaching or inventing?

Let’s return to our so very real world.

We realize instantly that our teachers don’t have such mighty monopoly rights, those any knowledge you can grasp anywhere from anyone is allowed to be spread freely and can be improved while spreading.
Furthermore and most important we realize that all those horrible and actually quite plausible sounding doomsday scenarios the guild brought forth did not happen, far from it. Our society with a much freer flow of information is actually doing quite well, much better than any preceding society that head a much more restricted information supply.
The scholars of our world are doing just fine being paid for actual work, not holding any rights on stuff they teach.

We see that the fight these “Pirates” are fighting is the very same we are, we just need to replace teacher with author, and teaching with copying. Than we see that this Teacher Guild is actually identical to our very own Content Industry.

The Content Industry doesn’t want to get paid for actual work that requires skill or assets, but for a service anyone has become capable of doing themselves without assistance. And they are fighting by any means necessary to make this no longer required service (manufacturing of copies) necessary by law.
Instead of switch to business models where they would provide services for which there is actual demand, they are clinging on to their obsolete business models.

As long as there are people interested in a product (like new content) there will be people to whom the product will be important enough to pay for it. As long as volunteers are not able to fully satisfy the demand for free, there will always emerge a market place, where people capable of satisfying these demands will be able to do so in exchange for money.
As we can see in our world even if the product is illegal (like for example drugs), a market still emerges and flourishes.
It would be foolish to assume that as long as there is demand and people capable of satisfying this demand a market could be prevented by the legal framework within which it has to operate.

If we abolished the copyright system today, as long as there is a demand for new work there will always be people providing it, either voluntarily or in exchange for good money.

You've read the whole article. Why not subscribe to the RSS flow using your favorite reader, or even have articles delivered by mail?

About The Author: David Xanatos

David Xanatos is one of the founding members of the Austrian Pirate Party; he lives in Vienna and works as a Physicist at the university by day, and develops file sharing applications by night. He is mostly known for his NeoMule Mod, and is working currently on his newest project NeoLoader.

Liked This?

By participating in the discussion and posting here, you are placing your contribution in the public domain (CC0). If you are quoting somebody else, credit them.

Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

11

  1. 1

    An appropriate comparison. Funny how classroom knowledge is allowed to be spread freely while art is not. Though the Aaron Swartz/JSTOR incident shows that sometimes those lines are blurred.

    • 1.1

      Copyright does not protect abstract knowledge, it only protects specific unique representations of knowledge. If Aaron Swartz would not have attempted to put the specific unique representation he download on the web, but a self written representation of the knowledge he obtained through his download, it would have been perfectly legal.
      The main problem in the case is that there is no prove that he actually attempted to publish the files he downloaded.

      • 1.1.1

        Yes true. By “funny” I didn’t mean to suggest there was no difference. My point was just that when abstract knowledge is not available to everyone (we don’t always have someone to teach us), we depend on the representations of knowledge, so therefore it is possible to lock up education just like artistic creations.

        I think it’s interesting that many people who think a monopoly on art is OK and a monopoly on education/knowledge is not do not realize that copyright makes a monopoly on knowledge, well… if not totally possible, at least a threat. Of course copyright can’t apply to abstract knowledge, but if you control the representation of knowledge, then you do–to a certain extent–control abstract knowledge as well. That is, if you control people’s access to education (which copyright does) then you can control people’s opinions and decisions.

        So, to use JSTOR again, JSTOR is a great concrete resource of knowledge that I don’t have access to. And since I don’t also have access to the abstract knowledge of the writers/editors/AaronSwartz/anyone else who can access JSTOR, there’s a lot of data buried in there that I wouldn’t (legally) have access to. So by controlling the concrete representations of knowledge, copyright can (to an extent) control general knowledge.

        • Yes true. Though in your case the problem is the access itself, even without copyright the access to knowledge can be limited.
          Copyright limits only how people who already have access to the knowledge can spread it.

          Though you are right that from a practical point of view this makes almost no difference, as the transcription of knowledge in a way to overcome copyright is a lot of work.

          It might be an interesting concept to create a library which instead of providing access to copyrighted works would on the first request for a particular information create a CC0 transcription and provide these instead.

  2. 3
    PiratGurra

    “If we abolished the copyright system today, as long as there is a demand for new work there will always be people providing it, either voluntarily or in exchange for good money.”

    That is an excellent finish!

    If you want more of someones work – pay them! If not – suit yourself if they can’t afford doing any more work for you!

  3. 4

    There already been some guys that ridiculed the act of teaching to exactly that. Read up on Andrew Joseph Galambos (i.e. Wikipedia or the writing of Stephen Kinsella); this “Liberal” asked students to acknowledge a “proprietary notice” which asked them to give credit (both intellectually and financially) for the information gleaned from his courses; later he required that all participants in his lectures sign a NDA to prevent publication of his ideas before he published them himself. (partially copying WP here)

    • 4.1
      DavidXanatos

      I know that there have been some rather troubling developments lately in this regard.

      But they miss the point, which is that this ridiculous limitations did not exist in the past and still the education system and science in generally worked very well.

      Those removing similar limitations from the copyright system will have similar effects, meaning it will enrich the diversity of works and at the same time wont be the end of professional works as so often presented in the industries doomsday scenarios.

  4. 5
    Olli

    Gibt es den Artikel auch auf Deutsch?

    Mein Englisch ist leider nicht gut genug um alles zu verstehen.

  5. 6

    Es gibt einen ersten Entwurf auf deutsch und wesentlich kürzer: http://davidxanatos.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/die-lehrer-gilde/
    aber da fehlt vieles und viele Punkt sind nicht so gut ausgearbeitet, resp. fehlen ganz.
    Insbesondere ist da gerade der Finanzierungsaspekt nicht behandelt.

Add a Comment

On Facebook

More in Copyright Monopoly

941938_76589276
11

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

error451
3

Copyright Monopoly – Martin Doucha

Copyright Monopoly – Martin Doucha

Hourglass
21

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Bottles of Snake Oil - Photo by Jagrap on Flickr
30

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Soccer sports ball
26

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

CCTV Cameras
18

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Open hard disk
54

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

1183862_16999973
44

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

photo_10071_20090418-646x363
71

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

le_tresor_rackham_le_rouge_1280x1024
12

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Other Recent Headlines

Swarmwise in Czech
16

Swarm Management – Rick Falkvinge

Swarm Management – Rick Falkvinge

Earth view taken by US Astronaut Terry Virts, Flight Engineer for Expedition 42 on the International Space Station Jan. 30, 2015 by NASA/Terry Virts.
16

Civil Liberties – Nozomi Hayase

Civil Liberties – Nozomi Hayase

Image of padlock
26

Civil Liberties – Rick Falkvinge

Civil Liberties – Rick Falkvinge

https://www.flickr.com/photos/btckeychain/9510887345/in/photostream/
15

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Putin-dancing-lighter
67

Europe – Rick Falkvinge

Europe – Rick Falkvinge

Printing Press
53

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Bitcoin concept
13

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Bitcoin concept
11

Civil Liberties – Rick Falkvinge

Civil Liberties – Rick Falkvinge

liberator
8

Civil Liberties – Christian Engström

Civil Liberties – Christian Engström

Open water - Photo by Flickr user elisfanclub
14

Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

handcuffs
32

Quality Legislation – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Quality Legislation – Zacqary Adam Xeper

PPDE_GA__photo_by_Anna_Jumped
17

Swarm Management – Rick Falkvinge

Swarm Management – Rick Falkvinge

US Capitol Buildings
23

Quality Legislation – Nozomi Hayase

Quality Legislation – Nozomi Hayase

About The Author

David Xanatos is one of the founding members of the Austrian Pirate Party; he lives in Vienna and works as a Physicist at the university by day, and develops file sharing applications by night. He is mostly known for his NeoMule Mod, and is working currently on his newest project NeoLoader.

More On Infopolicy

Bitcoin concept
14

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

PyramidCapital
32

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Bitcoin. Photo by Antana.
27

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Money cut into pieces - Photo by Flickr user Tax Credits
86

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Adobe the leech - original photo by OakleyOriginals on Flickr
176

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

peter_sunde_0237
14

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

solarroad
16

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Red Square, Moscow
7

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Dice
22

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

NSA Seal Holding the Heartbleed Logo
40

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

U.S. President Nixon looking through binoculars. Photo courtesy of NASA.
19

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Code tumblers with the code 1-2-3-4-5. The kind of code an idiot would have on their luggage (homage to Spaceballs). Render by Falkvinge.
43

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Bitcoin concept by Antanacoins. CC-By-SA, Flickr.
44

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

simple combination keycode
139

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

ThreeInterlockedCogs
34

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Frozen Waterfall
141

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

A scheisseload of US Dollars
43

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

Cryptocurrency – Rick Falkvinge

facebook
12

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

file000922833099
25

Infrastructure – Rick Falkvinge

Infrastructure – Rick Falkvinge

523377_63619557
4

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

Roses-on-coffin-by-blmurch-at-flickr-CCBY
108

Infopolicy – Rick Falkvinge

Infopolicy – Rick Falkvinge

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland_public_domain_image
158

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

"God Hates Signs" next to "God Hates Fags" protesters
8

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Many different currencies - CC photo by epSos.de
46

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Valve mechanism
97

Freedom of Speech – Rick Falkvinge

Freedom of Speech – Rick Falkvinge

Books before copyright
100

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

euro banknotes
72

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Bitcoin render by cybrbeast
77

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Collaborative whiteboard at OuiShare 2012, full of wonderful ideas for venture capitalists to ruin - photo by Natalie Ortiz
16

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Border Patrol In Montana
25

Activism – Travis McCrea

Activism – Travis McCrea

Spices - Marrakech 09 Souks
63

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Oil platform
111

Infopolicy – Rick Falkvinge

Infopolicy – Rick Falkvinge

499985_79880950
16

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Swarm Economy – Rick Falkvinge

Screenshot-Thu, Feb 7, 2013 - TPBAFK UK no subs-1
68

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Parabolic antenna
40

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Surveillance camera
34

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Privacy – Rick Falkvinge

Finnish Parliament, the Eduskunta
7

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge

This publication is protected under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Sweden. Any problem you have with this publication remains exclusively yours. Accountable publisher: Rick Falkvinge.
All text on this site is Public Domain / CC0 unless specifically noted and credited otherwise. Copy, remix, and inspire. (Troll policy.)
Log in | Original theme design by Gabfire themes (heavily modified)