You’re a baker. You bake pies. You might be a grandma, a college kid, a local bakery, or Hostess – regardless, you bake pies. As a baker, you want to make the best pies possible and as a consumer, you want to eat the best pies possible. Hostess might want the best pies so that they can sell them and make a lot of money. A grandma might want to bake the best pies so that she can give them to all of her family and friends during the holidays.
For the betterment of everyone in society, one would want these bakers to have access to the best pie recipes possible. Imagine an online recipe website that contained every pie recipe ever baked. How great could the world’s pies become?
Next, imagine that this system isn’t used for pies, but is instead a metaphor for the entirety of intellectual property rights in the world. I will propose a plan for all copyrighted materials that could take effect in a futuristic world. Is this world dystopian? Perhaps. But I don’t believe that the assumptions that I’ll be making in this future world are unrealistic. First, I’ll outline some of the current harms with some of our current copyright and intellectual property right laws. Then, I’ll lay out some assumptions for our future world. Next, I’ll outline some of the framework for my proposed system for copyright law before finally looking at a few examples of this system in action.
First, our faults are rampant. Regulations differ from country to country, students are incapable of accessing information for their studies, and massive corporations have far more power to defend their products in court than the common man. These faults are obviously just the tip of the iceberg in the big picture, but they do serve as tangible shortcomings in our current system and allow us to examine what their solution would be in my proposed system.
In the future, although we may not want to admit it, it is quite reasonable to assume that the government will have a lot more knowledge on our people’s lives, our computerized algorithms will be far more advanced, and more of the world’s content will be digitalized. The government will likely have an acute knowledge of every individual. It will know who we are, our age, our occupation, and so much more. Our entire world will be put online. Every piece of original content from movies to scholarly articles to pie recipes will be available online. Whether you’d like the future to go in this direction or not, given the trend going in this direction over the last many years, it is reasonable to believe that it will continue to go this route.
So what is the proposed solution assuming this future and addressing these faults? I propose the following solution: Imagine a website, controlled by the United Nations, that has every piece of created content on it. Let’s call it Creative.com. Having the UN control the site would allow a global regulation of the content and would allow equal access and protection for every individual regardless of their country of residency. Every person in the world, in order to have any sort of protection of their content, would put their material up on this site. This is an important thing to note: in order for any individual to have protection of their material, they must upload information to this site. This applies to every field from big pharma to Hollywood. The government would assign an account for every individual given their age, occupation, and purposes. As stated previously, the government would know all of this and be able to have this information in a centralized database. From here, one could log on given their credentials to view material and use material as needed. The monetary exchange that would be required to view items, use items, or upload items would be carefully calculated based on the algorithms created for the site. Costs would vary depending on what purpose the content was being used for and to what degree it was being used. Third party services, such as Netflix, the Amazon Kindle, and many others could funnel their information through this centralized database. To distribute the funds, the website would use technology similar to Youtube’s current Content ID technology. According to Youtube’s webpage, this technology allows the site to cross reference newly uploaded content with older content to determine what content is original and what is being copied. This will be examined on a case by case situation later. This site would encourage an egalitarian approach to everything from lawsuits to content control. By having algorithms determine relevance and topicality of content within other content, the monetary exchange would be entirely objective and would not allow any preference to be given to those with more money or influence.
So what does all of this look like in practice? Let’s say that I’m a student trying to make a short video on photosynthesis for my high school class. As a student, I could go online and view all relevant information for free. The authors of the journals that I review would be financially compensated for their work from the government on a per-view basis. As I create my video, I could freely use any music, whether that be Taylor Swift or Vivaldi, because my video is not for profit. This video could then be viewed by all other educators and students around the world so that they could learn from it. Now what about medical research? If a company has access to all of this material, they would be able to research and develop drugs far more efficiently. However, due to the fact that they are a corporation intending to make a profit, they would be required to pay a large sum for access to this site. As they begin developing drugs, they would put their new findings online so that others could learn from them. As previously mentioned, this site would financially compensate that company any time it’s work was viewed or utilized. This would be a drastic improvement to the efficiency of drug production and could allow for far superior drugs to be developed far more efficiently. When we go back to consider that this would be an international operation, it is inspiring to think of where the drug policy could go. Now let’s think of a video being made for profit. Perhaps it is a short film. The director of the film might choose to use some Bob Dylan music in his credits and a Frank Sinatra song during one of his pivotal scenes. Given that this site connects to Netflix, Amazon, and other revenue generating services, Creative.com would be able to determine how much revenue this film is generating. Thanks to its algorithms, it could determine the importance of each component. The Bob Dylan music isn’t super important but the Sinatra is critical. Therefore, an example payment could be the following: every hundred dollars that the movie generates, Bob Dylan would receive fifty cents and Frank Sinatra would receive two dollars.
So what about pies? If Hostess discovers my grandmother’s apple pie recipe, they have every right to mass produce it, but they’ll owe her a calculated royalty accordingly. If all of the best pie minds in the world have access to each other, think of how amazing our pies could become? Pies, pharmaceuticals, movies, books, journals, and more. It is truly inspiring to think about where our world could be when we incorporate a universal system that is synergetic, egalitarian, and innovative.