SOPA, PIPA, Profits, and Intellectual Property

We have the internet because a bunch of scientists, spread to the 4 winds, wanted to talk to each other and send data regarding their most recent experiments, ideas, projects, and discoveries.

Real science is not a capitalist endeavor. (though capitalism occasionally funds real science with a view toward profits.) But the *real* thing doesn’t care about bottom lines, borders, parties, ownership, or anything but getting its name spelled right in the footnote and on the Nobel Prize.

Real art feels the same way. It’s only the suits, looking to take 15% off the top, that shout “piracy!” All the real artists need is enough pizza to keep going, and a way to send their kids to college. Anything over or beyond that is just gravy. Ask a real artist — they’ll all tell you the same thing. Just like the real scientists, they’d do it for free + necessities. And most of the time, they’d forgo the necessities.

This conflict — a left brain/right brain conflict — is between capitalism and shared human experience.

It hasn’t been that long since *music* was the product of social gatherings where everybody who could play an instrument or sing — did.  And they did it for the enjoyment of all, and because musicians just LOVE making music no matter the time or place.  Likewise — art of any kind was something you did because you loved it.  When passersby toss coins in your directions, that’s a plus, but it’s not the heart of the matter.  Think about the cave paintings at Lascaux.  Or the festival dances and tribal dances of early cultures.  Art is an expression of internal emotions and desires.  Science is the questions we can’t ignore.  And neither of them — at their hearts — are about money.

It’s only governments that require documentation and ownership; and only capitalism that wants to turn a profit.  Not people — but entities.  Overlays.

Yes, we want scientists and artists to make a living so they don’t starve in the streets or suffer from illness and poverty.  That’s why almost all the major research scientists in the world are funded by their home civil societies.  We all pay their salaries.  And the ones at the top make enough to keep them quite well, thank you.  They won’t ever be independently Wealthy with a capital W — until they clock up a commercially lucrative patent or two — at which point they’ll leave the government tit and strike out on their own, where no agency is constantly peeking over their shoulder.

What we don’t want is for our art and science to exist solely for the purpose of paying off quarterly dividends.

That’s what the current SOPA and PIPA legislation is all about.

That’s what any fight over intellectual property is all about.  It’s about The Money — the men in the blue suits who put up money to finance the arts and sciences, in exchange for lucre at the finish line.  That what The Money does in Hollywood.  That’s what The Money does on Broadway, and in Nashville, and at Disney, and at Big Pharm, Big Energy, Big Food, Big Tobacco, and just about every other Big you can think of.

Gambling on science and art (and scientists and artists) is exactly as old as capitalism itself.  It’s basically a bookie’s operation — it might as well be run out of the back room of a shady poker game.

And that’s what we don’t need or want.  Middle men.  Ugly.  Greedy.  Greasy.  Slippery.  Middle men.

 

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