Bill Gates, Creative Commons, and communism

Commenting on an article in Lessig Blog, and various comments thereof.

Most modern-day people have no clue whatsoever about what communism is and what it isn’t. This seems to apply equally to the inhabitants of the USA, Western Europe, and former Soviet Union. One of the most important misunderstandings goes, “Communism is the social system that existed in the Soviet Union.” Well — it isn’t. Although the rulers of the SU called themselves “communists”, the system was actually based on a hierarchy of “equal people of which some are more equal than others”.

In this sense, SU was reminiscent of a religious organisation like the Roman Catolic Church. For in the church, it’s the same — everyone is [should be] equal in front of the God, but some [Pope, cardinals, higher priests] are substantially more equal. And the laymen are paying for the “holies”, and the organisation that supports them.

What makes capitalist corporations different from the Communist Party or Catholic Church is that the corporations openly admit that their raison d’etre is maximising the wealth/welfare of their owners while the Party and Church hypocritically pretend that they serve the interests of the general public instead.

Quoting Wikipedia: Perhaps the best known principle of a communist society is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. This principle was never really applied to the Soviet state.

Now, given the idea that all knowledge should be free for everybody to use, and develop on, I have to give Bill credit — for in this sense we Creative Commies are communists. Read the principle above once again, and think how well it can be applied to the free culture ideology.

I personally don’t support the idea that every intellectual creation should be in public domain. Far from it — the author should always have the right to be identified as the author, to decide whether to publish his creation or not, and to demand compensation from the use of his creation. But once the creation has been published, its further dissemination should not be limited — just as it was with the books (after I bought one, I could read it, lend it to a friend, use the ideas in the book to develop my own ideas, quote passages from it in my own works, and finally, sell the book I no longer needed).

The problem today is not that the authors have become unreasonably greedy or that they no longer want their creation to reach as wide audience as possible. The problem as I see it is that those who do not create anything themselves — RIAA, BSA, and their likes — have taken the positions of the high priests or cadre communists, as they now claim to serve the interests of the authors and general public while in fact only securing their own benefits.

And against this we, the creators, should raise our flags.

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