This was posted on facebook. I thought it was pretty good, and put this here so it wouldn't be lost as easily.
Sam Russell wrote:
Own our future?
The last election was centred around the selling of shares in SOEs, with the implication that if we voted Labour, they wouldn't sell shares in our companies, and we would be able to "own our future". But is it really that simple?
We don't own our past. The songs, movies and TV shows that we grew up with aren't ours - they belong to the copyright monopoly that charges us a fee to use them. We can't legally back up the LPs, cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs that we have already paid for once - and that is one time too many to pay for a free copy of data. Copyright has stolen our past, and not only that...
We don't own our present. In the last few years, we've seen teenagers extradited for running websites, parents arrested for filming their childrens' birthdays that happen to take part in movie theatres, and books disappearing from people's Kindles because they've been re-copyrighted after entering the public domain. Copyright is stealing everything we own now, and even more...
We don't own our future. The telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci, who embodied the man who invented things in his garden shed. He couldn't afford a full patent - only a patent caveat. When he couldn't afford the $10 to renew it, Alexander Graham Bell was able to buy a full patent, meaning not only could Antonio not profit from his invention, but he would have had to pay someone else to use what he had invented himself! Right now, we're watching patent trolls sue cities for their bus tracking systems, and Apple and Google, Yahoo and Facebook suing each other over ridiculous patents such as "Dynamic Page Generator" (a customised homepage) and "System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data" (tapping on a phone number in an email and automatically calling it).
If people had stolen Kiwi inventions and been first to the patent them, John Britten would have had to pay to use his own motorbike, royalties would go overseas for every bungy jump done in New Zealand, and plastic syringes would be much more expensive - Colin Murdoch from Timaru owns the patent for the plastic syringe, but is one of the few without the money or the volition to take companies to court to demand royalties.
So how do we own our past, present and future? By dropping copyrights and patents. India has unfortunately been forced to recognise patents recently, but has made a step back in the right direction - by exercising a loophole which allows them to issue compulsory licenses, meaning that their HIV drugs now cost $175USD per month instead of the disgusting $5,500USD that the patent holding companies charge.
Kill patents, kill copyright, and only then can we own our future