15 July 2010

Free Access to the Sum of all Human Tarkovsky

One of the many things I love about Wikipedia is the underlying vision, as articulated by Jimmy Wales:

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

I love this because it really goes beyond just entries in Wikipedia; it's about making everything that *can* be made universally available - non-rivalrous, digital content, in other words - freely accessible for all.

It's one of the key reasons why I think copyright (and patents) need to go: they are predicated on stopping this happening - of *not* sharing what can be shared so easily.

In terms of how we might go beyond Wikipedia, here's the kind of thing I mean:

Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) firmly positioned himself as the finest Soviet director of the post-War period. But his influence extended well beyond the Soviet Union. The Cahiers du cinĂ©ma consistently ranked his films on their top ten annual lists. Ingmar Bergman went so far as to say, “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” And Akira Kurosawa acknowledged his influence too, adding, “I love all of Tarkovsky’s films. I love his personality and all his works. Every cut from his films is a marvelous image in itself.”

Shot between 1962 and 1986, Tarkovsky’s seven feature films often grapple with metaphysical and spiritual themes, using a distinctive cinematic style. Long takes, slow pacing and metaphorical imagery – they all figure into the archetypical Tarkovsky film.

Thanks to the Film Annex, you can now watch Tarkovsky’s films online – for free.

Since Tarkovsky is one of my two favourite directors (Mizoguchi, since you ask), you can imagine how my heart leapt when I went to the main site and found not only those seven main films but various shorts and documentaries as well.

Imagine now, *every* film being freely available in this way, and every piece of music - of every genre - every picture, every book, every kind of knowledge, from every time and culture. Just imagine the possibilities for enriching people's lives (once they have a capabilities of accessing it, or course - a non-trivial pre-requisite.) Imagine the impact that would have on them, their families, their nations, and on the world. Now tell me why we should let copyright stop that happening.

Update: oh, what a surprise: some of the films have *already* disappeared because of "copyright issues". Because copyright is so much more important than letting everyone enjoy an artist's work. (Via Open Education News.)

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Crosbie Fitch said...

Because without copyright publishers wouldn't be in business, and without publishers nothing would be published and the public wouldn't have any culture... oh, wait...

Unknown said...


That is fallacy: Culture existed before publishers and will exist when they are gone, because what we want is to desintermediate it. Everybody can publish itself nowadays and social networks prove that "mouth"-marketing, now Internet enhanced, is very effective to make consumers and producers match themselves. The problem is that publishers don't wan't to let go of profits on their now unneeded services...

Glyn Moody said...

@Rafael: knowing Crosbie, I think that was what his tongue-in-cheek comment was suggesting...

Crosbie Fitch said...

Indeed. When we gleefully usher in the forthcoming age of disintermediated and legally unencumbered cultural exchange we should spare a thought for the poor, starving publishing corporations...

You know, their employees can get new jobs. Their inevitable doom is not that terrible.

Then again, I suppose we could create a new Internet tax to keep the publishers in the lifestyle to which they insist they should remain accustomed.

ulyssestone said...

Another good example:


Glyn Moody said...

@ulyssestone: thanks...pity it's not as long as your Spotify playlist:


Martin said...

Hi Glyn,

You are quite convincing in your argument but I disagree with your conclusions. I have been a staunch FOSS supporter for years and love openness but I can't agree with abolishing copyright and patents completely. I would strongly support the following proposals:
1. Reduce the copyright term to 20 years in all cases. I think currently it is the life of the author + 75 years or something ridiculous. Copyright should be 20 years maximum.
2. Business method patents should get the boot completely.
3. Software patents must go.
4. Manufacturing and materials based patents should be valid. If someone invents something they should get the benefit.
4. a. Most medical and ALL gene patents should be abolished.
5. Patent terms should be reduced from 15 years (I think this is the current term) to 10 years.
6. You shouldn't be able to get a "derivative" patent which is basically the same thing and is actually an extension of your patent term. No derivative patents should be allowed.
7. The bar for obviousness should be raised considerably.
8. There should be a dramatic improvement in the finding of prior art for patents.
9. It should take longer to approve patents. There should be more scrutiny and the majority of patents applications should be denied for obviousness and prior art reasons.
10. All patent applications should be open to the public for commentary for a set period of time, say six months. All public commentary should be analysed and followed up.
11. A patent should not be granted if it can be shown that it will damage an industry or our culture in some way.

Glyn Moody said...

@Martin: that's all very reasonable, but...

The trouble is, the lines you draw in the sand are arbitrary, to a certain extent: they allow for people to argue and negotiate and wiggle.

I've gone for the only non-arbitrary solution: abolition. Of course, it's not quite so reasonable as yours....