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October 27, 2004
I'm Mad As Hell, and I'm Not Going to Pay For It Anymore
Cory responds below to a Copyfight reader who suggests that the way to avoid being asked to pay for a particular product again and again simply to enjoy traditional "me2me" time- and space-shifting "privileges" (à la HBO ) is to refuse to purchase the product altogether. Needless to say, Cory disagrees:
That's a cool personal moral code, but it's not the one I adopt. Copyright is a limited monopoly given on our behalf to creators. What a creator can and can't demand of you is spelled out by lawmakers, who balance the cost to us of having monopolies in the market with the benefit of creating incentives to produce work we can enjoy.
When a creator conditions use or access of his work beyond the scope of copyright (you must stand on your head, you must not make a backup, you may not sell this on), it's not a fair market in creativity that can be corrected by directing a purchase in the right direction: it's an abuse of a regulatory monopoly that picks my pocket to line a right-holder's.
Monopolies aren't subject to market forces: that's why we have trust-busters. I think that buying from the ethical railway barons would not have caused the monopolistic railway barons to act better. We needed to go in with a fireaxe and bust their trust. I don't think that buying from ethical artists will get the big companies to act better either. Regulation -- the creation and maintenance of copyright -- created this mess, and only regulation -- changes to copyright -- will solve it, IMO.
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