Van Helsing and the Public Domain

Rob Myers robmyers at
Wed May 12 09:26:02 EDT 2004

On Wednesday, May 12, 2004, at 01:42PM, Brian Clark <bclark at> wrote:

>But your arguments -- that copyright isn't a natural right vested as the
>moment of creation to the author -- is what makes "copylefters" look like "a
>bunch of wacked-out, fringe-element," because your argument assumes that "IP
>holders" (ie, the creators of media and invention) are the enemy of the gift

Copyright is not a natural right. There's the philosophical problem of secularly deciding what a natural right is, but that's not what I mean. I mean that, having read Lessig's "Free Culture", it's obvious that Copyright is not a natural right, it is a historical legal manouver resulting from the invention of the printing press. Copyright effectively meant the right to allow a particular printing press to produce an authors work. That is not a natural right as we are not born with or without printing presses regardless of our gender, race or orientation.

>Sorry for taking the discussion further off of the CC license trail: but I
>agree with Greg that "we are what we speak" and I think one of the dangers
>of what we speak is making the assumption that "intellectual property right
>owner" or "copyright holder" is synonymous with "corporate control". The
>MAJORITY of IP holders are actually individuals who should be recruited, not

The fact that the benefactors of the currently ridiculously extended copyright regime have managed to set the parameters of the debate so strongly around the idea that copyright is a natural right is disturbing. It's the "divine right" of the media age.

I'm afraid that the majority of IP holders being individuals has nothing to do with it. If a big film company accused you of IP infringement, or if they stole your work and you accused them, attempting to fight for your "natural rights" would bankrupt you. The reality of IP is not that every producer gets to control their "property", the reality is that you'd better pray you never have to try to exercise your rights against anyone who can afford to hire a lawyer.

GPL/CC-BY-SA-style licenses work by ironising copyright law. This can be sold to the would-be mogul as easily as to the would-be revolutionary. How would one recruit people without explaining the advantages and responsibilities of what one is encouraging them to do?

- Rob.

More information about the cc-licenses mailing list