Thursday, 7 July 2016

Sharing prohibition

I've long opposed the laws that criminalize information crimes. I make an effort to put my content into the public domain wherever I can - and have been writing open source software for decades.

The weakening of the copyright laws has long seemed inevitable to me. Today we are in a kind of twilight zone - where the copyright laws are violated on a massive scale, but very few people are prosecuted. The MPAA and RIAA phased out their litigation against file sharers long ago.

The war on sharing is reminiscent of the prohibition era and the war on drugs. It ought to be an embarrassment for humans that they kept the laws against sharing on the books for so long. Sharing comes naturally to humans, they like doing it. Overall, prohibiting sharing is personally and economically destructive.

In a democracy, sharing prohibition is not normally a vote winner - since consumers who are hurt by monopolies massively outnumber producers who are awarded the monopolies. However, voting is only one side of politics, the other side is lobbying. Special interest groups argue in favor of their monopolies and the infrastructure that perpetuates them. Since producers care a lot about this issue while consumers care less, the lobbying is mostly on the pro-monopoly side. It happens on a large scale and is well funded. The resulting sharing prohibition artificially creates monopolies and promotes wealth inequality - which likely has damaging effects overall.

From the perspective of memetics, sharing prohibition limits reproduction and recombination. To the memes, it is like a directive to not have babies - except under particular circumstances. For DNA genes, the state has mostly got out of the business of interfering with reproduction. China's one child policy (now two child policy) is the most prominent exception. However, meme reproduction is still legally regulated in many countries. It is a hangover from the pre-internet days. Today, it is an appalling impediment to all kinds of activities in computer science and elsewhere. We should declare that freedom to share is a basic human right and be done with the backwards prohibition era.


  1. Regarding this `lobbying' aspect. claims that the corporations are new cultural forms of life [1] that are much better in enforcing laws through the government system, because these two common memetic physiology. It looks like this and the problem is that most of the corporations (and people working for them) don't fully realize what impact this prohibiton have to memetically-active living beings, including them.


  2. The link is quite a nice article. I notice that I said much the same thing about companies in my 2007 essay, "The New Organisms":