Richard Stallman once said
"With software there are only two possibilities: either the users control the program or the program controls the users. If the program controls the users, and the developer controls the program, then the program is an instrument of unjust power."
Back in the day (around 2015, 2016 especially) I realized this was true in terms of 3D printing/additive manufacturing. Now I understand this is also true for media synthesis. Copyright and IP were meant to protect creators from theft in an economy similar to what we saw in the 19th and 20th centuries, to help respect property in a fiercely competitive market.
But now we're approaching an age when copyright and IP could very well instigate and justify a new form of totalitarianism.
When copyright laws were being written, most people were not artisans or musicians or industrialists. Even as technology progressed, most people didn't become any of these things— but it did become easier. And now the line between some of them are blurring. What is a content creator? Anyone who creates content to be consumed. So that includes memes, right? If I create a meme, isn't that now my content? Couldn't I charge people to create my memes? Theoretically, I could. The reason I don't is because there's no precedent for it and social expectations mean we don't usually make the attempt.
This is one of the things the EU's copyright initiative is meant to answer and regulate.
Same deal as if I wanted to sell, say, Doritos. I can't just make Doritos; that infringes upon copyright. And how would I make them anyway? I don't have any of the ingredients or machines necessary.
I don't today, at least.
What about music? We all know of music piracy. Once upon a time, it was a major source of debate; now it happens and no one bats and eye because there's no point trying to combat it all. In fact, in an attempt to stop it, some channels on YouTube decided to make it so that only certain artists' music videos could be uploaded— in other words, if you wanted to hear that artists' other music, you have to actually buy it. Except you might not want to buy it if you've never heard it in the first place; you're only going to stick with the music videos you can still steal, so now the regulators just screwed the content creators themselves. Regulations are meant to help consumers; when the consumer is the enemy, they only hurt everyone, including the creators.
In the future, it's going to get even starker and more idiotic (or idioteque, I could say).
As aforementioned, I've thought about this. Future music generation means that all IPs are open, any new music can be created from any old band no matter what those estates may want, and AI-generated music exists in a legal tesseract of answerless questions.
This is really just the surface of a litany of legal questions that can be asked. And all of this is likely going to lead to one of three possibilities:
- Pirate economies and a possible alternative realization of communism in a very distorted, much freer form since consumers now control the means of production and can produce according to their own needs.
- Pure corporatocratic totalitarianism, with governments controlling every facet of information and all IP: total control of information is the only way to stop IP theft, meaning some governing body has to know exactly what you are consuming and how you are consuming it at all times, even in the past through your memories, so as to not infringe upon content rights.
- Primitivistic tendencies, perhaps artisan-primitivism driving it in the beginning over "moral quandaries" of IP theft being utterly unstoppable, which would lead to forced technological stagnation and use of media synthesis and advanced additive manufacturing only being in the hands of an elite few, further defended on moral grounds of protecting artists and creators.
I can't foresee anything like the status quo being upheld except in the early years when these technologies are just getting off the ground.