|| THEFTS ||

••• Back in the 80s, I have been privileged to be labelled one of the most 'pirated' African artist, among other nicknames, due to the huge success a piece of mine ("Hi-Life") had enjoyed over the continent; success happened without generating any income for me, not a single penny. For none of the copies sold in Africa were ever legal, since in those days, my record label did not have a distribution deal over there.

••• In all fairness, I could never blame my fellow people who, by the myriads, had acquired what they thought was a legitimate copy, since they payed for it. Little did they know that their acquisition being legitimate, the copy itself wasn't. But the overwhelming ovation I've constantly been granted ever since could not obliviate the fact that, somewhere in Africa or abroad, somebody actually made money, in substantial figures, that should have come to my producer, my publisher and myself. I was fortunate enough to enjoy many other successes and keep myself busy during my career, that I wasn't just left moping around. Yet, I never could elude the issue: should I ever seek justice ? How ? Shouldn't I simply give up ? Wasn't it too late anyway ?

••• With that difficult experience still fresh in my mind, I feel I am in adequate position to defend the idea that I'm about the present here. The facts ? With the internet came peer-to-peer exchange, that allowed direct transfer of digitized work between users, depriving legitimate beneficiaries from the income that such transaction, in the physical world, would have generated. I will not attempt to evaluate how much the record industry crisis owes to that spoliation. I will just set the record straight in making loud and clear my conclusion that, in regard to national and international laws, enforceable everywhere to this date, spoliation there has been and still is, regardless of the the scope of it, regardless of its entrenchment in time, and whatever denegation might be put forward under so-called "modernism" and "darwinism" flags.

••• Without making it too technical, I name it spoliation, when the intellectual property rights pertaining to the creations of the mind, regardless of the way they are to be protected, under either 'copyright' or "droit d'auteur" regime, get nullified in essence, whenever the beneficiary does not get legitimate income from both the enjoyment and the transaction set upon his property; whenever, in other words, he does not get fructus from the usus and the abusus set upon it, let alone does not even monitor it. The minute the work gets digitized, entire loss of control is bound to occur, sooner or later. In regard to the law, wherever we are, it is a theft that looks for legitimacy, justified by the worldwide scale of the phenomenon and its soon-to-be multi-decade duration. It is a theft nevertheless. But a theft with characteristics so distinct, compared to a physical theft, that none of the actual legislation attempts can efficiently and durably solve, no matter how clever they try to be in combining deterrence and repression. So, what to do ?

••• Without making it too 'legal', I believe the law still remains the solution. But what law, that's the question. No more than ultra-capitalism ever could, as we can all witness nowadays, ultra-technologism will never succeed in regulating itself. As unstoppable as it is (and might always be), progress does not care about people, it simply can't; but moreover, it doesn't have to. That thousands of people may lose their job, it is not its concern. The world will adapt, and may the strong survive and the weak die. Only the law is justified in containing, protecting and favouring. It remains the only shield against progress 'ill-effects'. But the law is historically proven to always run far behind. Even more so with the digital age, that made us lose the race before it even took place. What I am about to suggest, is for the law to stop chasing progress, stop trying to adapt to progress; to make it stand and reign way above the paths of progress, to reach a level that can ignore all of the forthcoming turns of progress, expectable and un-expectable. It can do so, without ever attempting to stop it. For that to happen, it will require all of us to undergo a revolution of the mind.

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Sun, Jan 3, 2010

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