Howdy Trademarks, welcome to the twenty-sixth copyright of HACK. If you’ve made it this far, Congress has proposed legislation that would make it illegal for you to make it this far.
This week, something relatively relevant: Internet Censorship. So let me hop on this SOPAbox and tell you all the things you’re not considering in this debate, because you never took Philosophy courses, you hacks.
1. You cannot own anything.
You do not own anything, you only possess it temporarily. The concept of ownership and personal property is bunk and here’s why. You don’t even truly own your own BODY. It’s a cohesive conglomeration of thousands of cells and bacterium and organ systems maintaining most its togetherness without your conscious control. All matter is part of the great illusion of separateness. All of physical reality is transient and finite. In other words, what passes into your hands does not become yours by virtue of it being in your hands. It could just as easily escape behind your back and go searching for a more worthy owner. If you lost something and you don’t miss it, then you didn’t need it anyway. It’s pretty self-righteous to assume that you have ownership and control of anything, really, when the universe is blinking in and out of existence every nano-second.
2. Money isn’t real.
Let’s face it, the main reason artists want to claim ownership is so that they can make a living off their work. Of course, there’s an exclusive mass media market controlled by giant corporations whose survival depends entirely on consumers paying for content that they own the (iMaginary™) rights to. But all this blocks and distorts the painful reality: MONEY ISN’T REAL. Yes I know we all PRETEND it’s real. And therein lies the rub. See, the whole basis for copyright law is so that everyone involved gets their share of the wealth. It’s all about the money because as a society we are deeply and destructively addicted to money. So much so, that we’re in denial and refuse to even have a discourse about the possibility of a paradigm shift. Even if we do hang onto currency for the short term, we need to do something immediately about corporations.
3. Corporations are toddlers.
If corporations are people, they are AT BEST the meta-psychological equivalent of 3 year olds, selfishly manipulating their environment to satisfy the demands of Freudian id impulses. Even individual humans can’t follow the Golden Rule. Even those who do, don’t do it ALL the time. And since we can all agree that corporations are made of people then rot at the core spreads outward. The problem is that corporations have a life of their own, just like anything else we create. (More on this below.) Left unchecked, they will run amok. Since they are forces larger than any group of individuals, corporations will game the system for survival at the expense of the humans they manage–I mean, the humans that manage them–no wait, I mean… If we don’t take corporations seriously, they won’t take us seriously. It helps to think of corporations as people when you see that they need the same kind of discipline and tough love that we should give our own children. It also helps to think of corporations as people if they can serve the same sentence as a person who commits rape.
Artists are abused. They fuel the very system and reap the least financial benefit from it. It’s the same with TV and movie writers. Wherever you have originality and talent, the unoriginal and talentless will circle like vampire vultures desperate to scavenge, I mean “scout” for talent. The only way an artist can make a sustainable living (or so it seems) is by piggybacking a giant corporation or at the very least, playing by their rules.
4. Which brings me to the artists.
See, the strongest argument for copyright and personal ownership is that an artists has a right to determine how their creation will be presented or used or manifested. Makes sense, right? It’s only fair. It’s not right for someone else to steal your idea and claim it as their own. Well, it may not be right but I’m sorry to tell you this–you’re wrong. Look, just as you can’t really “own” anything, you also can’t (totally) control what happens to your creations. You need to expand your view of what kinds of systems and entities can act with conscious (or unconscious) volition. Corporations do it. In fact, pretty much anything you create does it. A physical object, a piece of music, computer code, writing, movie, etc…. All of it has a life of its own once you’ve manifested it. You could be like that hermit-guy (read: too lazy to look it up) who spent his entire life writing a series of fantasy books in his attic that no other person ever saw. Even that was found after his death and eventually someone did a documentary about it.
“So,” you say, “I don’t care what happens after I’m dead, but I should have say over my work while I’m alive.” Well, to a certain degree you should, my friend. You just have to accept that despite copyright laws and all the made up jargon to protect your artistic soul, you STILL don’t have control over anything you create. Once it becomes a meme in someone else’s head, that’s it, the cell has now divided and DNA restructuring has already begun. That meme may even grow strong enough to become a myth, or a mathematical formula, or a true historical masterpiece. The bigger it gets, the further out of your control it goes.
Artists, you’ve got to learn to let it go. Let’s go back to the same metaphor. Your creations are like your children. You can care for them when they are young, nurture them and try to raise them correctly. Ultimately, there comes a time when your children are grown-up. They think for themselves and they may act in ways that displease or disappoint you. Sometimes they pleasantly surprise you with what they can accomplish. They have their own friends and social circles and their own life experiences, many of which made them who they are now, and you had little or nothing to do with it. Borrowing premature obscurity or accidental erasure from the Akashic Records, your creations will outlive you. And who knows how future generations will interpret it all?
5. It’s less about the content and more about the context.
The other (and weaker) argument for censorship is so-called “inappropriate” content. Whether it’s to protect the one group of people from another group of people or prevent the populace from knowing too much, we tend to defend censorship as a necessary evil. Once again, once something is created it has a life of it’s own. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there for good and no amount of encryption or restriction will ever truly contain it. It’s time we stop worrying about what people are putting out there and started educating ourselves and our children how to process it correctly. Even a young child can understand some heavy societal conundrums if you break it down and put it in the proper context. In my experience one could strong argue that children already know more than we do. With the creation of the Internet and all the freedoms that could comes the need for evolved education and diligent tolerance.
6. Things I Learned Before Kindergarten
Um, it’s called SHARING. If we shared appropriately (if not equally) then no one would go hungry or homeless or unnecessarily unhealthy. This is the most beautiful thing about the Internet. It’s the first global network for infinite sharing potential (besides the Earth itself, that is.) Theoretically, one single human being could reach into the consciousness of any other human being who has access to the same medium. Uncounted connections are occurring every second that I type/you read this. To censor the Internet is to deny its spirit, the spirit of sharing and connecting, mutual curiosity, community and unrestricted freedom of expression.
Without money and copyright laws artists should have no problem with their works being shared by whoever and wherever. Don’t get me wrong. I agree that stealing someone’s work and calling it your own is the prime directive of dick moves. It’s just bad form. And there can be an annoyingly fuzzy line between what constitutes fair use and what constitutes plagiarism. Still, the argument that things like torrent sites prevent artists from being able to make a decent living is WEAK. Boo hoo, artists. You mean the world won’t support your every creative whim with cash? BOO. HOO. I’ve been writing since I was in 5th grade and no one’s paying me for such brilliant and witty philosophy. BOO HOO, artists. Most of you will crack and sell out in some fashion, anyway. The system breaks you easily. Or you’ll be like a Bill Hicks, relative obscurity for most of your natural life. Either way, just keep doing what you do. Share it or don’t. But don’t think you can really do anything about what someone else decides to do with it. Because you can’t.
7. The Upshot
SOPA and it’s sister bill PIPA have been delayed after protests from major Internet companies and thousands of web site blackouts actually worked… For now…
Oh Powermongers, will you EVER learn?
Towel Boy is just another corporate shill at the capitalist gang bang.