1. Culture always builds on the past. Whether it was composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt using Gypsy melodies in his compositions, Metallica borrowing song structures from Diamond Head or The Rolling Stones recording Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” as a “traditional, arranged by Keith Richards,” composers have always used previous works as inspiration for their own pieces. Even Walt Disney – whose company is now among the most aggressive of copyright holders – was an inveterate remixer.
2. The past always tries to control the future. Since the Internet was developed, the entertainment lobby of the USA has pushed the government towards tougher laws leading to lawsuits being filed against more than 24,000 American citizens. Corporations have limited the free exchange of ideas in order to increase their profits. Whether it’s patenting forms of life or intellectual concepts, these attempts to gain control and ownership over ideas has actually worked against humanity’s best interest.
3. Our future is becoming less free. The whole world is stuck making criminals out of its citizens to enforce laws that can’t be enforced. Copyright laws were originally placed to protect artists and to allow the exchange of ideas in the public domain. However, copyrights that span for a lifetime plus 70 years demonstrate how these laws only protect holders, not creators, and limit what’s available to the public domain.
4. To build free societies you must limit the control of the past. In 2001, Brazil was forced to invoke their controversial Article 71, which allowed the government to authorize a local company to make a generic copy of a patented drug without the permission of the patent holder. They did this in order to make anti-AIDS drugs available to its citizens, and at a lower rate. Remixing the art, science and knowledge of the world’s culture is second nature to Brazilians and now it’s government policy.
The world is changing. The paradigms are shifting. Tomorrow will not be like today. Hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.