If it is the "fundamental human right" of a "citizen" (in this case corporations) to continually press for the removal of rights and freedoms (for example the entire concept of the public domain) stripped from other citizens (individual people) or even from society as a whole…then we desperately need to review our concepts regarding fundamental rights.
I believe corporations should never be given the rights of citizens. As an example...individuals should be allowed to own copyright. Corporations should not.
Now, before a cloud of corporatists come out of nowhere and skin me alive for bashing their religion, I will explain a little in detail what I mean. I have no problem with the existence of media companies. If I, as an individual, hold copyright on my song all revenue related to the use, licensing etc. of that copyright should return to me, the individual. I still have need to market my work, legally defend my copyright, licence its use to others, etc. I can fund this myself or I can use an intermediary, (a corporation, etc.)
If I use a third party, (such as a corporation,) a contract is signed that they provide X services for Y time period costing me Z dollars. They do not gain control over the copyright ever, because in my happy world corporations can’t hold copyright.
“But what about software development, movies, or a dozen other endeavours that require massive monetary input…something no individual could ever possibly achieve?”
There are a few different approaches to this. Perhaps a special class of organisation can be created that is legally allowed to hold copyright in such situations. All individuals who participated in the creation of the copyright endeavour own a “share” in this entity. Legally, no programmer on the team can be denied at least a part ownership in the work he helped create. Every actor, gaffer, etc. has a slice of the rights to that movie. The media corporations serve their function of distribution, legal oversight, marketing etc...but do so entirely on a contract basis, with no ownership of the work.
No freetard could ever possibly state that pirating thus doesn’t hurt the artists, or others who worked on it...because they all own a direct share of their efforts and feel the impact directly.
“Won’t this kill investment? What’s the point in millions of dollars of investment if you can’t own the copyright and milk it for the next eleventeen squillion years?”
That’s the real question, isn’t it? I guess that depends on the individuals involved. In my mind, nothing prevents a media company from investing in a film...but it does totally change where the liability lives. Basically the money side of it all would work like this:
1) Media Company has a wodge of cash, or several investors who are prepared to commit cash at the media company’s say-so.
2) Artist or group of artists approaches Media Company with a “Great Idea.”
3) Media Company reviews this idea, and says “I think there is a valid return to be made on this risk.”
4) Contract is signed whereby all monies related to the work are returned to Media Company that invested in it’s creation until such point as costs have been paid. Wages for all artists involved should be part of this...but done cleverly enough so that the risk of creating a work is equally shared by the media company and those working on it. If it's a fantastic flop, no one (Media Company, actor, etc.) gets paid! (I realise this is glossing over some important financial voodoo, but this post is really long already...)
5) After initial costs are covered, the second phase of contract kicks in whereby Media Company earns it's scrape for providing legal protection, marketing, distribution, etc. All other revenues are sent back to the rights holding entity to be distributed amongst those who worked on the project.
Now, this means potentially less profit for the media companies, mega software companies etc. It means more work and careful vetting of new projects by investors. it also means an increased burden of risk and liability by anyone working on a copyright project.
It does mean though that if the project is a hit, you don't get Microsoft Inc. earning eleventeen squillion, with the coders responsible for the critical, money earning features earning a pittance and/or getting laid off. It means that if an artist/programmer/etc. wants to make it really rich, they either have to create something awesome...or make a lot of somethings.
The implications are huge, and require a lot more individual responsibility...but it also helps prevent these spectacularly overbloated megacorps who have enormous lobbying power and a vested interest in PREVENTING INNOVATION as well as STIFLING CREATIVITY.
Now, the idea above might be total trash, I pulled it out of my ass over the course of fifteen minutes, so feel free to tear it to shreds and call me various names. The hope is not that the world ends up this way...but rather that it causes various people to think...and come up with something better.
Our current corporatist model is totally effing broken. Rampant piracy is not an acceptable response, but neither is the asshattery that the megacorps pull off while flipping the bird to the people. So if my above idea is balls, (and it may well be,) let’s get some better ideas out here, and maybe set about trying to get the changes implemented.