Copyleft vs. Copyright: A Marxist Critique

  • Johan Söderberg

Abstract

Copyright was invented by and for early capitalism, and its importance to that system has grown ever since. To oppose copyright is to oppose capitalism. Thus, Marxism is a natural starting point when challenging copyright. Marx's concept of a 'general intellect', suggesting that at some point a collective learning process will surpass physical labour as a productive force, offers a promising backdrop to understand the accomplishments of the free software community. Furthermore, the chief concerns of hacker philosophy, creativity and technological empowerment, closely correspond to key Marxist concepts of alienation, the division of labour, deskilling, and commodification. At the end of my inquiry, I will suggest that the development of free software provides an early model of the contradictions inherent to information capitalism, and that free software development has a wider relevance to all future production of information.
Published
2002-03-04
How to Cite
Söderberg, J. (2002). Copyleft vs. Copyright: A Marxist Critique. First Monday, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v7i3.938
Section
Articles