Intellectual Property and Pirates
[P. J.] [RU] [FR]

Intellectual Property and Pirates

I greet the great army of intellectual pirates, hackers and crackers, smugglers and plagiarists!

They do so much good bringing it to the poor, what was only intended for the rich, and disclosing technologies that were intentionally concealed.

What is your vaunted freedom worth without the freedom to master everything and freely use all the achievements of the culture in one's own creative activity? Why those with the thick wallets should be freer in that respect than those without any wallets at all?

The situation is full of sarcasm: those who produce nothing possess the means of production, while those who can do real things are deprived of what they need for their work.

You might point to that this situation is only typical for the underdeveloped countries like Russia, while the working population of the industrial countries like the UK or the USA is well paid and can afford buying the necessary means of production. But what's the difference? If the population of one country is, on the average, richer than the population of some other country, isn't there something wrong with the global distribution of wealth? All the "civilized" countries have debts they will hardly ever pay, and the well-being of their citizens is based on sheer robbery.

You might contend that the patent law stimulates people to do something they would never venture without the prospects of personal profit. Thus, a pharmaceutics company would not invest money into a costly research on a new medicine if everybody could just take the result and be healthy. However, if there is something to sell, new preparations get indeed invented and produced for the benefit of the humanity in general. But what do you mean under the "humanity"? Such commercial undertakings are only to improve the life the richer layers of the society, who already live relatively well. The poor have no interest in that kind of research, since all they get is a vague hope that they will be allowed some day to play with the toys the rich don't need any longer. To do something in the interests of the humanity, why not just take money from those who have too much and invest in research, with the results made accessible to everybody under international control?

You might declare that patents protect the author rights. Which rights? Do they really exist? If the right to conceal information from those who really needs it is meant, all the patents must be burnt to ashes! Anyway, a big company can always buy the patent for a symbolic price and then pump profits for those who have nothing to do with creativity. The company can even prohibit using thus bought inventions, when it seems to be more profitable; so, what about the interests of the humanity? The concentration of author rights in the hands of the rich is yet another way to deprive the inventors of the means of production, thus forcing them to work for the owners and become their intellectual slaves.

Yes, patents usually have a limited duration, and everybody is free to use the invention after, say, 17 years; hence, the humanity will still get it anyway. But what will be the use of the invention 17 years later? The cultural environment changes fast and just a few years can be enough to render a useful thing entirely outdated. Does anybody need the secrets of MS DOS 3.x today, except for pure curiosity? Every piece of knowledge is good in due time, while the patents ordinarily expire well after it has lost any practical value.

Finally, you might indicate that intellectual pirates do nothing just for philanthropy, they are only making money. Yes, they are. But objectively, their business brings knowledge to the people who are full of creativity but cannot afford buying expensive products. A pirate disk bought for about $10 can contain applications worth a few thousand in the legal market. Pirate audio or video is sold 5-10 times cheaper than the licensed copies. Quite often, this content can be received for free.

Competition with the pirate market compels the author right holders to lower legal prices and even open some products for free distribution, only profiting from the services. This is one more reason to praise pirates. In fact, many companies do not seriously object to distributing illegal copies of their products, since pirating is the most efficient sort of advertisement. Those who have got used to some products through the pirate market will be more inclined to buy when possible, or, at least, they could influence the decision makers.

[Assorted Notes] [Unism]