No copyright, and many other cultural policies

Our book Imagine there’s no copyright and no cultural conglomerates too …. is an invitation to be intellectually and politically courageous.

Why do we not admit that copyright is not the benign instrument some people still think it is? And why should we tolerate that a few cultural conglomerates dominate the production, distribution, promotion and reception of cultural expressions? Those are the big issues my co-author Marieke van Schijndel and I raise.

We propose to abolish copyright and to use competition policy in order to make market dominating cultural enterprises substantially smaller, with surprising outcomes: the result is beneficial to most artists and a blessing for our public domain of knowledge and creativity.

This analysis, unavoidably, made us wonder: if there is good reason to leave the system of copyright behind us, are there still arguments to keep the other intellectual property rights in place? We argue: no at all. Thus, also, for instance, patents for pharmaceutical industries could be abolished. In our book we indicate that a healthy business model for the development of new drugs is possible, without the system of patents.

The context of my research, as a political scientist, on copyright, cultural and pharmaceutical industries is: what kind of cultural policies do we really like to have? On the global level: WTO vs Unesco? In Europe and in other regions? On national, and local levels?

A specific topic that keeps me awake (sometimes, really) is the noise of mainly men that dwell around in our cities. When shouting they occupy the public space and penetrate other people’s body. A problem that should be analysed, and prevented and if so, how?

After my tours through the world, I always come back in Amsterdam where I have been born and live on one of the canals. I care about my city, and, sometimes, I let others know.

I hope that you feel the need to react on my analyses and proposals


Joost Smiers