The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The Diggers Song, Gerrard Winstanley & Leon Rosselson
This post follows up on an exchange initiated on n.e.w.s. a few months back by Branka Curcic under the heading of “The New Economy of Enclosure,” dealing with the pitfalls of the web 2.0 model and mindset, which she nicely summed up as the “private appropriation of community-created value.” http://www.northeastwestsouth.net/node/166#comment-37
This issue has gained some currency these past weeks as the French National Assembly has debated a bill entitled “Creation and Internet” – or Hadopi, the name of the proposed governmental organisation which it creates. The intent of the law (which will inevitably pass, despite some left parliamentarians jumping out of the woodwork at the last minute to defeat a second reading) is to severely crack down on the online exchange of audiovisual files, which it defines as “pirating,” by a three-strikes-you’re-off-the-net approach to internet accounts using peer-to-peer platforms to download or upload copyrighted content. Internet becomes a privilege for those who respect private property. Though probably unenforceable, this particularly iniquitous law was drafted by supposedly left-of-centre businessman and author Denis Olivennes, in a book entitled La Gratuité c’est le vol (Free is theft), a revealingly cynical echo of Joseph Proudon’s La Propriété c’est le vol (Property is theft). With any luck, history will look back on this law as the anachronistic convulsion of a senile music and film industry desperately lobbying to create artificial scarcity in the face of unstoppable profusion, using a business model from another century. But what are the intellectual underpinnings for even talking about “intellectual property”? And what kind of historical opposition has been mustered against it over the years?