By Marina Lazëri
I have this compulsive need to buy books. In reality, since coming to UCU, my time for reading has decreased substantially with every passing semester. I secretly hope that at some point I get a job with a long commute so that I can read my books during the travel. Then again, I’ll have to see whether I get a job at all in the first place.
Anyhow, these days I seem to be watching more films then reading. No judging me! Unlike books though, I have no compulsive need, nor desire, to buy films. I download them. (Disclaimer: If you’re ever going to attempt to put me on the spot for that, I shall deny any allegations and claim this was a glitch that happened during the editing process). Do I feel guilty for not spending money to help my favourite independent film-makers make a living? Yes, but not as much as I do when I download books without paying.
This realization let me to reconsider my own individual and our general collective relationship with copyright and copyright infringement. I would like freer access to information: Frankly, among other things, it feels quite awful when you finally find that article that shall be the centerpiece of your essay and it just so happens to cost 148$. On the other hand, it is only fair that people get recognition and money for their work. (Yes, money; right now you are a college student focused on feelings, but one day you will need money to pay your mortgage and all that.)
As with most other objects and subjects, we have a very personal connection with copyright issues. Thus what’s on top of the agenda concerning this (and any policy issue in general) concerns at the very least the subjective relationship of policy-makers with the matter at hand. As far as I can tell, in the neo-liberal West, policy-makers have been educated in a spirit of emphasized focus on private property. In the post-communist East (of Europe), where I come from, policy-makers are actively trying to react to a decades-long aversion towards private property.
Our generation though – East and West alike – grew up with the Internet. Sure, we had dial-ups when we were children, but we learned at a rather early age to operate those e-mail addresses with awful names like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com’. There was an obsession with ‘x-es’ in the early ‘00s. Getting to the point though: We grew up with free access to all sorts of works, from fan fiction, to blog posts, to Youtube videos like ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’. Check that last one out, it’s seriously good.
The internet changes how we think about the economy. Art and science can generate profit in so many more implicit ways then directly selling it to interested parties. We witnessed this new definition of the market economy develop right in front of us. Furthermore, we all know how to run a Google search – it’s becoming increasingly easy to spot plagiarism. On top of that, the constant redefining of politics, economics, morality and community will at some point also redefine the movie and book business. Maybe one day Maarten Diederix won’t have to cut your internet for downloading films anymore.