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Capital and Copyright

Someone on BGG referred to me as:

the poster who wants to do away with the whole concept of copyright - which would mean anyone could print and sell any game.

While that would be super awesome, it’s kinda like driving on the right side of the road. It’d be a disaster if the sides just switched unannounced.

Copyright does exist, and has existed in its current form (i.e. consumer-facing regulation in the face of VCRs and mixtapes and modems) for a couple of decades (unfortunately) and a lot of our fave designers and artists have bet their proverbial farms on it. The proliferation of commons and crowdfunding might be one way to gradually and safely move towards a better and more fair world. ♥ Although I’m kinda pessimistic that that’d be enough: maybe we need to evolve more robust and more sustainable economics generally, since market capitalism is so plagued by exploitation and unaccounted-for externalites. Whether this new system should stand on the shoulders of capitalism, or reject it and its values, is an interesting and unanswered question. BTW, capitalism’s advocates, if they also advocate for copyright (which Ayn Rand did, convolutedly, it’s a core theme in both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged) tend to go through these extreme mental gymnastics to redefine “ownership” and to advocate for a strong and mighty—but immutable, untouchable, unchangable by democratic processes and evolving legislation—night-watchman state, which’ll send a team of soldiers to your house if you copy that floppy but which’ll go whistling past if you’re starving in the gutter. Or arrest you for loitering on a company-owned road, I guess…

Instead, I would’ve expected capitalist proponents to trust that their pet system could handle the invention of bits, harddrives, and TCP/IP without having to introduce fictions and ghosts like “intellectual” property as a monopoly-enforcing band-aid; I would’ve expected them to be the last people on Earth to distrust the market, distrust natural supply and demand, and instead insist on a police-enforced monopoly of production. But here we are.

Generally I often get painted as an extremist but it’s less that my position or proposed solution is solidly carved in granite. I do wanna talk about the problems and costs of the status quo, in this case how copyright can lead to a lot of wasted resources and money, but my solutions are more in the line of perhapses and maybes and gentle suggestions rather than a dictator’s boot.

It’s weird to me how people who read me as extreme but are partially appealed to the positions raised wanna moderate themselves by tweaking some of the knobs I would’ve thought of as kind of less relevant, like allowing a time-limited copyright and perhaps adjusting that time downward. I don’t get the appeal of that at all, but that’s just me.