As I’m reading on TechDirt the evil and sinful antics of those who claim to hold copyrights to this and that art work, etc., I am reminded of what God’s Laws have to say about such things.
The problem for us is the Bible was written in another cultural background than what exists anywhere on earth today. It is our duty and responsibility to find out and conform our thinking to that culture before we try to read the Bible. For Westerners, there is this infuriating reliance on God to provide enforcement in the ultimate sense.
A few humans are required to do some limited enforcement work in order to keep social peace and stability, but that is limited at the first few levels of enforcement to those related by blood kinship or covenant to the perpetrators of any crime. For the most part, you would expect your local elder to use his influence to make the rest of your kin lean hard on you to make you behave. So long as you remain orderly in your resistance, you can appeal to community courts, or even to the king — who most certainly should be some distant relation. That’s the ultimate level of civil enforcement.
Artisans did exist, and were either court dependents (in service to whatever patron valued their work) or sold directly to consumers. The objective was never the art itself, but serving God or human needs. Lots of independent artisans did other work to pay the bills, so to speak. If you can’t contribute to society one way or another, you were just an idiot who claimed to be an artisan. Utterly essential in this whole business was the personal connection between the artist and his audience. Most of those whose art was a matter of performance lived from their tip jar, as it were.
Under no circumstances was there such a thing as copyright and exclusive sale rights. Once produced, art belonged to whomever bought it, or it belonged to the community — your extended family. Scripture text is a somewhat special class in this mess, but folks took this too seriously to play games with it. Once published, a written expression of faith was read and evaluated. Between God’s interest in His own reputation and those commissioned to act on His behalf in such matters, that product became property of God administered by either the prophetic or Temple staff, often the same people. Prophets were handled like artisans in many ways, but with a presumption of strong moral backing. Creation itself demanded the support of a genuine prophet. The prophet, in conference with God, would decide what portion of the work should be recorded in writing. Alternatively, someone skilled in recording it could also be moved to write it all down. If it became Scripture, it belonged to God, managed by the whole nation in stewardship. Lesser works of mere art were simply community property.
The idea of denying folks access for profit was evil. Trusting the consumers to respond with material support was the Law. That was the same as trusting God to back you up. If they don’t contribute, you need to reexamine yourself, not make childish demands they cough up just because you did something so wonderful. If you wanted to make a living that way, you need to make everyone love you. Chances are you also need to keep at it and not slack off, resting on your laurels.
There are other criticisms I could make of the current system, but obviously we are going at this all wrong in our modern societies and legal systems on a very fundamental level. It’s an abomination to God.
Your non-profit prophet here says if you like my stuff, all I ask is you let folks know where you got it. That’s a service to them, letting them come find this blog and evaluate for themselves whether it’s worth any more investment of time and effort to read. Otherwise, copy at will. I’m letting God handle the rest.