P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

COPY? RIGHT! A Greek DIY initiative for the free sharing of music and the protection of intellectual freedoms of artists against the music industry

A DIY initiative for the free sharing of music and the protection of intellectual freedoms of artists against the music industry.

If you want to make something yours forever, just share it!

The right to share creative works freely and without restrictions is as important as safeguarding the intellectual rights of the authors.
Music is a public good and authors have every right to share their works freely (without meaning of course for free), without intermediaries, without financial or legal restrictions.

For thousands of years, the ability of music to evolve has been based upon its free sharing and reproduction, until the music industry took advantage of the Law on Intellectual Properties, developed the regulatory framework (copyright) to restrict free sharing, public performance and reproduction of music, even from the authors themselves.

The copyright, in a nutshell, is the absolute prerogative that authors' have in reproducing or copying their work exclusively or transfer the right to a third person (usually record companies) through issuing of a commercial license.

The Law on Intellectual Property Rights was created during the pre-digital age in order to protect authors' intellectual rights (ethical and economic) on the use and reproduction of their works.

The notion of Intellectual Property condemns historically free sectors of creation (cultural, intellectual, and scientific) to the exploitation of multinational companies and the industry.

While intellectual rights are obtained ex officio by authors, in practice the social and moral incentives to safeguard the rights of the authors turned into financial ones, through the commercialization of music and the penetration of the economic theory for intellectual property in the music industry.

Record companies in this way could now exploit the authors' property rights as they wished and determine their productivity, creativity and promotion according to the requirements of the market (demand) and fashion trends.

Given the (sometimes absolute) failure of authors to follow the economic return of their own works, an artificial need was created for intermediaries or intercessors that their main concern would be to safeguard the economic benefits of authors, on their behalf.

So, in every country legislative frameworks were created on Intellectual Property and Related Rights along with Collection Societies (i.e. Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property – AEPI SA- for composers / lyricists in Greece), that have shown in practice that do not serve the majority of authors and common cultural wealth, but the economic interests of shareholders and multinational record companies, promoting or expanding monopoly privileges.

While, for instance, these collection societies were originally set up as self-managed author associations, in order to cover the insufficient legal framework regarding attribution of intellectual rights and safeguarding income from work exploitation, in progress they were evolved into revenue collection mechanisms of the music industry in order to minimize loss of earnings from public exposure, and control free sharing of music through the internet and “illegal” reproduction (see piracy). The problem arising is that the Collection Societies never attribute the appropriate percentage to authors, but rather share the profits among shareholders and the music industry.

Times though are changing. In the modern digital era, copyright law has been affected directly and fundamentally from the advancement of technology and the opportunities/freedoms offered to authors and users, as new tools were created for content production and sharing, which circumvent existing commercial structures and automatically link supply and demand, the author and the listener, without intermediaries, i.e. the music industry.

More and more artists choose to produce their own works in small and self-managed firms or net-labels, while they promote and share their music through the internet with great success. The industry's mediation role, which gave ground to authority/ power relationships, tend to be abandoned while the character of produced works changes, since, as free sharing grows, it is relieved to some extent from the notion of being a commercial product and tends to function more like a public good, as had always been the case with "popular" art.

Internet use expansion creates new conditions on how we share what we create or buy. Copyleft and Creative Commons (Cc) licenses were established in order to provide authors the opportunity to decide which of the rights, offered by the Intellectual Property Law, they should keep for themselves and which they will distribute freely to society, based on four distinct principles: a) reference to the original author, b) distribution of derivative works under the terms of the original license, c) encourage and regulate the creation of derivative work and d) prohibit commercial use of the work.

To cut a long story short, these licenses mean partial waiver of rights, where such waiver is certainly possible, and allow use of works subject to restrictions and conditions pertaining to the individual needs of author. They are thus reversing the copyright law, enabling a convenient way for authors to publish and share with the public as they wish, rather than retaining all rights, as it applies under copyright (all rights reserved). More and more intellectual works are published in Creative Commons (Cc) licenses, freeing knowledge from the chains of industry property.

User/audience may thus reproduce, distribute, perform, even convert the work, as long as there is reference to the original author and there is no commercial use.
The aim is to avoid problems imposed to the free exchange of (digital) information by the current Framework Law for Intellectual Property, mainly because of pressure from record companies to combat "piracy" and free exchange of music through the internet.

The free sharing of knowledge, information and culture in the digital age, is a prerequisite for developing an open and democratic society.


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