A musing on the philosophy of copyright and the nature of culture, presented mainly as a dialogue among students.
In this philosophical book, the author’s debut, a fictional dialogue blends with essay-style authorial comment to develop the theory of so-called Authoright, a copyright alternative that requires full attribution of a work’s original creator but allows for unlimited reproduction and derivative works. The author acknowledges the book’s ambiguous genre in his introduction: “[I]t is neither a strictly scientific investigation nor a purely fictional, political or autobiographical work.” The dialogue is a conversation between a teacher and five first-grade students, identified as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Kappa and Delta, who argue about the creative process, the relationship between culture and civilization, appropriate forms of compensation and the nature of art. Periodically, the text returns to standard prose format for a longer essay or a summary on the same topics, written in the author’s voice. Volynets evaluates three different systems for recognizing and compensating cultural productions, concluding that copyright is a destructive monopoly, whereas Authoright is the most effective way of compensating authors while removing limits on creativity—a conclusion reinforced by the fact that the book displays an Authoright, not a copyright, in its frontmatter. Volynets’ book requires readers to be open to thought experiments and theoretical discussions, though these are, for the most part, easy to follow. However, readers may wonder why a dialogue among first-graders is full of comments such as “There are riveting and telling pictures out there, and there are many that are good for the trash can only. How is this possible?” Readers accustomed to the current publishing industry are unlikely to agree with Volynets’ expectation that authors will somehow increase their earnings by selling to multiple publishers under the Authoright system. Likewise, they might not consider the current setup to be a “toxic copyright-driven environment.” Nevertheless, Volynets presents an engaging discussion of a timely topic.
A detailed, if somewhat idealistic, exploration of art, culture and copyright in the marketplace.