This blogpost ist the transcribed, translated and slightly updated version of “Steal This Talk”, which I gave in June 2012 at GPN12 (hacker conference in Karlsruhe, highly recommended).
In the past months, the conflict around monopolies on immaterial goods (aka copyright, patents) has gained momentum. The beneficiaries of these monopoly privileges speak of “piracy” and the “theft of intellectual property”, charging the debate with a drastic rhetoric. It’s time for a course in intellectual self-defense, and a look at the technology, history, economy and politics of copying. Since when has creativity and innovation beeen regulated through instruments of artificial scarcity? To what success? What are the reactions to disruptive technologies? A conflict clearly emerges: More and more wealth is created in immaterial form. A market in copies requires (artificial) scarcity. At the same time, we create machines and networks, which are increasingly efficient at copying – to the point of doing it for free. So what kind of future are we heading for?