Alternatives to copyright¶
We probably agree that intellectual work is valuable and should be honoured. But how?
We saw that the copyright system has some fundamental issues.
The Lutsu manifesto assumes that intellectual work becomes an act of public interest and that the production costs therefore must be covered by other approaches than the sale of usage rights such as license fees.
There are several ways to get there. For example content producers might be rewarded by a public commons tax, which should be distributed using a transparent and democratic system under public control.
The best approach, at least in theory, regarding sustainability and cost sharing, would be if national governments organize it.
We can do intermediate steps into this direction. Private corporations who currently rely on their property rights might convert to foundations or other form of public corporation and start raising funds like political parties or charity and religious organizations. They may reduce the costs for the fundraising work by collaborating.
Public commons tax¶
Imagine that some countries would found a “Lutsu club” and fundamentally review their laws according to the Lutsu manifesto. These countries would refuse to protect usage rights on intellectual property. Citizens of those countries would have the legal right to freely copy and reuse anything that has been published anywhere in the world, including in countries who are not member of the Lutsu club.
These countries would operate a public service whose mission would be to manage the revenues on public commons. Every member country would collect a public commons tax from their citizens. Content producers in the Lutsu countries would receive a part of this income.
This public service would of course have administrative costs. Their job would be to distribute the income in a transparent and democratic way. They would probably set up a system for measuring the “merits” of content providers. For example they might ask the individual citizens to “vote” for their favourite content providers. They might employ experts of different areas who would evaluate content. All these costs would probably remain below the current costs for enforcing copyrights.
Content producers located in non-member countries might try to protect their “property”. They might try to prevent “their” content from “leaking” into the free countries by manipulating the Internet or by other means. They might declare war against the Lutsu club countries. But there’s an easier solution: they just open a branch office in some Lutsu country and apply for financial contribution. And they will receive a transparently and democratically allocated contribution that will be theoretically equivalent to their production costs.
All basic activities of content providers would continue as now, they would just have to gradually adapt to the new commercial situation.
What should the public commons tax be based upon? I suggest that it won’t be based on usage because that would bring back the Sisyphean task of measuring this usage. Another reason is that we cannot say that the one who reads e.g. a book about solidarity is the only one to benefit from it. We might even say that “using” some published content makes it more valuable and should be rewarded by a reduced taxation. No, I suggest that the public commons tax will be a general tax, based on income or whatever criteria is used in each country.