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[Fsfe-france] [Fwd: <nettime> LibreSociety Manifesto]

From: lagadu
Subject: [Fsfe-france] [Fwd: <nettime> LibreSociety Manifesto]
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2004 14:55:01 +0100

Un manifeste d'actualité.

Giles Moss wrote:

> LibreSociety.org Manifesto
> David Berry & Giles Moss
> A constellation of interests is now seeking to increase their ownership
> and control of creativity. They tell us that they require new laws and
> rights that allow them to control concepts and ideas and protect them
> from exploitation. They say that this will enrich our lives, create new
> products and safeguard the possibility of future prosperity. But this
> is an absolute disaster for creativity, whose health depends on an
> ongoing, free and open conversation between ideas from the past and the
> present.
> — In response, we wish to defend the idea of a creative sphere of
> concepts and ideas that are free from ownership.
> 1.
> Profit has a new object of affection. Indeed, profiteers now
> shamelessly proclaim to be the true friend of creativity and the
> creative. Everywhere, they declare, “We support and protect concepts
> and ideas. Creativity is our business and it is safe in our hands. We
> are the true friends of creativity!”
> 2.
> Not content with declarations of friendship, the profiteers are eager
> to put into practice their fondness for creativity as well. “Actions
> speak louder than words” in capitalist culture. To display their
> affection, profiteers use legal mechanisms, namely intellectual
> property law, to watch over concepts and ideas and to protect them from
> those who seek to misuse them. While we are dead to the world at night,
> they are busily stockpiling intellectual property at an astonishing
> rate. More and more, the creative sphere is being brought under their
> exclusive control.
> 3.
> The fact that the profiteers are now so protective of creativity, and
> jealously seeking to control concepts and ideas, ought to rouse
> suspicion. While they may claim to be the true friends of creativity,
> we know that friendship is not the same as dependency. It is very
> different to say, “I’m your true friend because I need you”, than to
> say, “I need you because I’m your true friend”. But how are we to
> settle this issue? How do we distinguish the true friend from the false
> one? In any relationship between friends we should ask, “Are both
> partners mutually benefiting?”
> 4.
> The profiteers clearly benefit from their new friendship with the
> creative, when measured by their insatiable thirst for profit. Unlike
> physical objects, concepts and ideas can be shared, copied and reused
> without diminishment. However many people use and interpret a
> particular concept, the original creators’ use of that concept is not
> surrendered or reduced. But through the use of intellectual property
> law – in the form of copyright, patents and trademarks – concepts and
> ideas can be transformed into commodities that are controlled and
> owned. An artificial scarcity of creativity can then be established.
> Much money is to be made when creative flows of knowledge and ideas
> become scarce products to be traded in the market place. And,
> increasingly, intellectual property law is providing profiteers with
> vast accumulations of wealth. Indeed, immaterial labour (based on
> information, knowledge and communication) has largely come to replace
> industrial factory production as the main guarantor of wealth in the
> new post-industrial age of technological capitalism. And the social
> relations codified in intellectual property law, are a core element in
> this wider structural transformation of the productive processes.
> 5.
> For many of us, the thought of intellectual property law still evokes
> romantic apparitions of a solitary artist or writer protecting their
> creative endeavours. So it is unsurprising that we tend to view
> intellectual property law as something that defends the rights and
> interests of the creative. Perhaps, in some removed and distant time,
> there was a modest respectability in such a notion. But this romantic
> vision is now ill at ease with the emerging abuse of intellectual
> works. Creators have become employees and each concept and idea they
> produce is appropriated and owned by the employer. The profiteers are
> using intellectual property law to amass the creative output of their
> employees and others. What is more, they continually lobby to extend
> the control of intellectual property law for longer and longer periods.
> 6.
> The creative multitude is becoming legally excluded from using and
> reinterpreting the concepts and ideas that they produce. In addition,
> this legal exclusion is now being reinforced via technological means.
> Profiteers’ use technology to enforce copyright and patent law through
> the technical code that runs information and communication networks and
> machines. Using digital rights management software, creative works are
> locked, preventing any copying, modification and reuse. In the current
> era of technological capitalism, public pathways for the free flow of
> concepts and ideas and the movement of the creative are being
> eradicated — the freedom to use and re-interpret creative work is being
> restricted through legally based but technologically enforced
> enclosures.
> 7.
> This development is an absolute disaster for creativity, whose health
> depends on an ongoing conversation and confrontation between concepts
> and ideas from the past and present. It is shameful that the creative
> multitude is being excluded from using concepts and ideas. Creativity
> is never solely the product of a single creator or individuated genius.
> As the fusion point of singularities, creativity cannot subsist in a
> social nothingness. It always owes debts to the inspiration and
> previous work of others, whether they are thinkers, artists,
> scientists, teachers, paramours or friends. Concepts and ideas depend
> upon their social life, and it could not be otherwise.
> 8.
> An analogy can be drawn with everyday language — that is, the system of
> signs, symbols, gestures and meanings used in communicative
> understanding. Spoken language is shared between us. It is necessarily
> non-owned and free. But imagine a devastating situation where this was
> no longer the case. George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia — and the violence
> done to free-thinking through ‘newspeak’ — helps to illustrate this. In
> a similar way, the control and ownership of concepts and ideas is an
> emerging threat to creative imagination and thought, and thus also a
> grave danger to what we affectionately call our freedom and
> self-expression.
> 9.
> The creative multitude may decide either to conform or rebel. In
> conforming they become creatively inert, unable to create new synergies
> and ideas, mere consumers of the standardised commodities that
> increasingly saturate cultural life. In rebelling, they continue to use
> concepts and ideas in spite of intellectual property law. But they are
> now labelled “pirates”, “property thieves” and even “terrorists”, who
> are answerable as criminals to the courts of global state power. In
> other words, profiteers declare a permanent state of exception or
> emergency, which is then used to justify the coercive use of state
> power and repression against a now criminalised culture of creativity.
> As we will soon discuss, a growing number of the creative are moving
> beyond rebellion, through an active resistance to the present and the
> creation of an alternative creative sphere for flows of concepts and
> ideas.
> 10.
> There will be immediate objections to all we have said. The profiteers
> will turn proselytizers and say, “If there is no private ownership of
> creativity there will be no incentive to produce!” The idea that the
> ownership of knowledge and ideas promotes creativity is a shameful one,
> however plausible it may seem from the myopic perspective of the
> profiteers. To say that creativity will thrive when the freedom to use
> concepts and ideas is denied is clearly upside-down. After giggling a
> little at this risible absurdity, we should now turn this thinking the
> right way up.
> 11.
> According to this “incentive” claim, there cannot have been any
> creativity (i.e., art, music, literature, design and technology) before
> the profiteer’s owned and controlled our concepts and ideas. This
> sounds like pure fantasy. Historians frequently profess that creativity
> was alive and well in the Renaissance period, despite this being a time
> before the advent of capitalist intellectual property. But, even so, we
> might concede that history weaves enough of a fiction to raise some
> doubt about the previous incarnations of creativity and the creative.
> The profiteer’s “incentive” claim, however, must also imply that there
> cannot be any creativity currently operating outside of the
> intellectual property regime. Fortunately, in this case, we are our own
> historical actors and witnesses. We can begin to know what we have
> always already known — creativity is not reducible to the exploitation
> of intellectual property.
> 12.
> A new global movement of networked groups that operate across a variety
> of different creative media — e.g., music, art, design and software —
> is now emerging. These groups produce a panoply of concepts, ideas and
> art that exist outside of the current intellectual property regime. The
> creative works of the Free/Libre and Open Source communities, for
> instance, can all be examined, challenged, modified and improved. Here,
> knowledge and ideas are shared, contested and reinterpreted among the
> creative as friends. Like the symbols and signs of language, their
> concepts and ideas are public and non-owned. Against the machinations
> of profit, these groups are in the process of constituting a real
> alternative. Of constructing a model of creative life that reflects the
> force and desire of the creative multitude and which restores their
> immanent relation to the works they collectively produce.
> 13.
> Through the principles of attribution and share-alike, previous works
> and ideas are given due recognition in these communities. This means
> that although a work may be copied, modified and synthesised into new
> works, previous creative work is valued and recognised for its
> contribution to creativity as a whole. Attribution and share-alike are
> constitutive principle of the Free/Libre and Open Source movements, and
> chromosomes of the new mode of creative life that their practical
> experimentations intimate.
> 14.
> These movements adopt an ingenious viral device, implemented through
> public licenses, known as copyleft. This ensures that concepts and
> ideas are non-owned, while also guaranteeing that future synergies
> based on these concepts and ideas are equally open for others to use.
> In this way, copyright (all rights reserved) is stood back on its feet
> by copyleft (all rights reversed). It now stands the right way up for
> creativity and can once again look it in the eyes.
> 15.
> Just as the functioning and violence of the intellectual property
> regime is seeking to intensify, it is now confronted by a real
> counter-power in the form of these groups. Indeed, the vision and
> practice of these movements is everywhere defiantly growing in
> strength. These groups offer a glimpse in formation of a creative
> sphere for flows of concepts and ideas that are shared freely among
> friends. These groups are acting in a way that is ‘counter to our time
> and, let us hope, for the benefit of a possible time to come’
> (Nietzsche 1983:60) — Creativity is creating resistance to the present.
> 16.
> The creative multitude should everywhere embrace and defend these
> groups and the untimely model of creative life that they intimate. For
> it is only the creative multitude, as absolute democratic power, who
> can determine whether this possible metamorphosis of our times becomes
> real.
> Short References
> Texts:
> Adorno, T. & Horkheimer, M. (1976) The Dialectic of Enlightenment
> Benjamin, W. (1935) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
> Reproduction
> Deleuze, G, & Gautarri, F. (1999) What is Philosophy?
> Foucault, M. (1990) The History of Sexuality, Vols 1, 2 & 3
> Hardt, M. & Negri, A. (2000) Empire
> Feenberg, A (1991) Critical Theory of Technology
> Martin, B. (2003) Against Intellectual Property
> (http://danny.oz.au/free-software/advocacy/against_IP.html)
> Marx, K. (1974) The German Ideology
> Nietzsche, F. (1983) Untimely Mediations
> Rose, N. (1999) Powers of Freedom
> Schmidt, C. (1995) The Concept of the Political
> Stallman, R (2002) Free Software, Free Society
> Websites:
> www.libresociety.org
> www.locarecords.com
> www.gnu.org/
> (cc) 2003 The LibreSociety.org Manifesto is made available under the
> Attribution Share-alike Creative Commons License 1.0.
> www.creativecommons.org
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