Money, copyright and stuff (rambles a bit) was Re: [permaculture] Copyright

Graham Burnett grahamburnett at
Fri Mar 29 05:02:07 EST 2002

> Yes, but i don't want my words copyrighted.  Doesn't this restrict
> communication?  Everyone should be able to build on my words
> but not try to own them.
> The default state at present is ownership of words by the author.  If
> you give your words away they become copyrighted as soon as
> someone uses them.

You could always declare your work 'Anti-copyright'. Many anarchist &
suchlike publications have the word anti-copyight on the cover, oft times
with an explicit invitation to copy and distribute freely... I have myself
produced booklets & suchlike which I've declared anti-copyright, tho' these
days I prefer to feel that my work is copyright protected. Not because I
want to 'control information' so much as the points Toby was making about
acknowledement and reward for hard work put in.

Eg, my 'Permaculture A Beginners Guide' represents 4 years of unpaid work
writing, researching, producing the artwork, attending courses, learning to
understand DTP, etc, and I feel I'm entitled to a little payback now,
especially as I'm still harbouring a dream of one day becomming self reliant
through permacultural activities (eg, writing & publishing, teaching,
illustration, consultancy, as well as ideas like willow sculpture, tree
grafting, etc) rather than working for 'The Man' (I'm currently employed by
local government- I enjoy my full time job (working largely as a gardening
instructor and doing music therapy with adults with learning disabilities at
a council run day centre), but still hanker after that idea of economic self
reliance, esp after a couple of years back, when I became ill with stress
and needed to take 3 months off work, it was brought home to me that working
in such an organisation I am, at the end of the day, just 'a number', and in
those circumstances became percieved of as 'a problem' rather than
intrinsiclly valued for myself (I was trying to come up with positive,
Permacultural, 'win-win' solutions to my situation, but because of  'the
system' there was no room for such individual creative solutions- anyway,
enough of that, I'm already rambling off the topic...)

Basically I like the idea of being able to have some protection over my
intelectual property- but I've yet to refuse anybody permission to reproduce
my work, and I'm always rather pleased if something of mine reappears in a
magazine or whatever. But these days I do expect acknowledgement, and if the
person or organisation is in a position to pay, some financial return would
be very welcome if not an expectation.

OTOH I was well chuffed when material of mine that I'd produced 10 years
earlier turned up recycled as part of Reclaim The Streets 'Guerrilla
Gardening' campaign a couple of years back (as to the success & viability of
the actual actions, thats another matter, but the accompanying literature
etc extolling the squatting of vacant land, largely based on my earlier
articles, was great to see and really well produced)- but in those
circumstances I was rather pleased also that I WASN'T given credit!!!

A cover I did (for free) for an animal rights mag many years ago also turned
up in an altered form as the cover of a pamphlet critisising the animal
rights movement a few years later... I was approached by certain animal
rights activists who offered to support me in suing the people who'd altered
my artwork for breach of copyright and changing the original context of what
I'd drawn- trouble is I thought that what they'd done was totally hilarious!
(besides which i agreed with 90% of the points the booklet was making...)

I guess I'm not alone amongst Permaculturists and other such world change
workers in feeling uncomfortable about 'money stuff' and feeling faintly
'guilty' for recieving financial reward for my efforts, feeling like one of
the 'capitalists' we are so critical of. It's certainly been part of my own
'Zone Zero Zero' stuff coming to terms with ideas such as those above. i
guess we need  to remember that in it's purest form money is simply a means
representing energy transactions, and by earning more money by selling our
permacultural services and skills (including knowledge & experience in the
form of books and articles) we are increasing our own spending power within
the permacultural community and thus enriching and empowering that community
(eg, the more of my books or teeshirts I sell, the more I am able to afford
to buy books by Toby or David H, the more tools I am able to buy to work my
land more efficiently & comfortably, the more I'm able to buy trees and
seeds, the more I'm able to afford a meal out at our local ethical
Vegetarian cafe, the more I can treat myself to a luxury such as a handbuilt
vegan djembe or decent well made guitar made by a local craftsperson, the
more business I can put in the direction of the the ethical workers co-ops
who've printed my books & teeshirts (and thereby help THEM to support
themselves by means of 'right livlihood'), and the closer I'm getting to
(one day) having that mythical 'surplus' to re-invest in setting up or
supporting further sustainable or earthright projects and enterprises...

Sorry for the ramble- I guess this whole copyright/money issue presses alot
of personal buttons with me, with thinking that instinctively goes along
with Jeff & Thilo, but also links into my own historical tendency to
'undersell' myself and my works, and the conscious efforts I'm (not always
successfully) putting into trying to overcome that tendency...

Cheers for now

Graham Burnett

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