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Money Copyright


Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Chris Brooking : chris.brooking@btinternet.com : 2002-10-22

Having read your essay on The end of work and I think that corporate society will fight any moves to free production. We can see what happens currently in the software and music industries, where the cost of copying software is negligible. First of all, companies responded to free software by making false claims about its quality. I have run Linux and Microsoft operating systems, and I think it was clear to anyone that tried both that Linux was more stable, scalable and manageable than NT up to version 4. XP and Windows 2000 have caught up and arguably passed Linux, but even in the early days of Windows advertisers were telling people that you had to pay for a superior product. Commercial companies also had that advantage that copyright laws prevented free source programs from copying any of their innovations, whereas the could and did copy freely from free source. This was not enough so they pursued software patents, campaigning for the law to be changed so that wide ranging patenting of principles are allowed. Now they just have to show that someone working on their own happened to use a method their patent covers and happily earn revenue from an innovation that was not theirs. See this link for how Hitachi tried to prevent free use of encryption algorithms. I am sure the same thing will happen if robots can manufacture for free. Commercial companies will use legal means to claim royalties from free productions.

If this is not sufficient, the corporations may try to make production outside the corporations illegal. The CBDTPA (Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act) is an attempt to make open computer systems illegal because they could play copyright material, so in the same way, robots capable of producing goods etc could be made illegal because they could produce goods that infringe patents.

Thankfully, the bill was defeated.

I think the organisations would also play to fear of terrorism. Just as we hear now that terrorists might have used free cryptography products to organise attacks, there will be releases on how a bomb might have been produced using free production robots. In the end, free production might be unstoppable, but corporations will certainly try to prevent it.

I agree the corporations will not give up without a fight. Consider however, the case of music production. The tools to create a commercial quality CD (Compact Disc) or video keep dropping and dropping. Eventually the limit will be imagination, not dollars. Surely it cannot be made illegal to create a CD without corporate help.


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