Who owns abstract arrangements of data?
Copyright laws and the concept of Intellectual Property both claim that not actual data (pixels, bits, sound waves), but a particular arrangement of data can be owned. If one person creates a process, an image, a song, or any other abstract object, not only do they own the physical object on which they represent the arrangement of data, but they also own all other similar arrangements of data the universe over.
If I invent a chair, my neighbor comes over and sees the design, copyright law says he cannot go back to his house and build the exact same chair. If my other neighbor builds the chair before or after me without knowing of my chair, I have legal recourse as long as I got to the patent office before him. With copyright, I own arrangements of data that can be produced independently, without referencing the original, although my original creation was based on a history of interacting in a world of other people’s creations. Maybe the first person who built a chair should be compensated or his decedents by anyone who builds any type of chair.
Pretend I am walking down the street and see a burning building. My ears pick up the faint cry for help. I dash into the building, grab a faint but alive child, and run for safety. Outside happens to be a photographer for the newspaper.
The photographer snaps a photo. Who owns what? To what extent do they own it? To what extent can third parties emulate them?
In modern society, we have been trained to associate the final product of abstract objects with what seems like the last actor in the production. This is an odd classification. After all, the worker in a car production plant does not own the car he builds. Even if the worker can build it alone, it is not his.
Maybe it is then who gives the creative inputs. But who does give the creative input? The camera taking the picture was definitely produced by someone other than photographer, and the photographer might have honed his skills due to his past employment. He might have also looked at other photographers’ pictures to understand lighting and angles. In the above scenario, I also might have spent three hours getting my clothing and hair ready before proceeding on my walk. The clothes I am wearing are designed by a third party. The only reason the photo can turn out is because of my actions in addition to my own personal image. Should not I own all images of myself?
But maybe it is due to the photographer having possession of his picture. But when I buy a Big Mac that fact should not disallow anyone anywhere else from owning a Big Mac as well. I could possibly have the only Big Mac on earth but McDonalds making a new Big Mac should still be legal. Besides, music from a musician who plays a concert in an open stadium might leak over to the nearby houses. Are the neighbors now engaging in theft? Must they close their ears, or if they are recording a video, turn off the camera? Should those in the concert be able to record their own experiences in that concert?
Maybe it is then who is the business who engages in the pursuit of creating the image for profit. But if someone was stealing cattle for profit, should they now own the cattle as not to diminish their profit?
Maybe it is then whoever gives their efforts to lead to the creation of the abstract object? If I draw a picture from scratch of Mickey Mouse and make a cartoon of him for my own business, should not I own that abstract object? Although Mickey Mouse was created by Disney, Disney used a boat in one of their cartoons. Boats of any type, and especially the one used in the cartoon, were originally created by someone else. Should Disney be allowed to use objects in their cartoons invented by other people.
Copyright is a huge fraud. It is extremely arbitrary and extremely oppressive. Contrary to Copyright claims, Jesus said “is it not [Biblically] lawful for me to do what I want with what I own?” In other words, if I have a hard drive, can I not arrange the 1s and 0s however I wish? Copyright strips people of ownership rights.
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