The world is fast moving in a direction where more and more aspects of life are being integrated into the structures of a networked and digitized system. Though the level of awareness and ability to intervene remain limited or beyond the scope of a vast majority of the underprivileged population of the world, the lives of future generations of the world’s people are being affected unalterably by the choices being made today by those who are at the helm of decision making regarding the cogs and wheels of the network. Many commentators have argued that the internet holds a great potential of achieving two seemingly contradictory aims simultaneously - a single connected system which is administered through a dispersed decision making process. How far are the claims justified? What are the implications of the choices being made today?
Freedom from Profit undertakes a materialist analysis of the relations of power in the digitized world. It identifies the regime of intellectual property rights specifically copyright - as the mechanism through which hegemonic forces in the evolving information society seek to maintain and perpetuate their dominance. The book delves into the origins of copyright legislation and the legal and philosophical justification behind the institutionalization and strengthening of copyright laws. While hinging on the assumption that the work of art being an extension of the artist’s personality deserves to be protected, the edifice of copyright rests on a crucial fulcrum - the mechanical means of reproduction and distribution of art.
The book studies instances of creativity that exist without the crutches of mechanical reproduction. By locating a link between the per formative forms and the digital, it examines whether the absence of large capital input in production and distribution of intellectual works is sufficient condition for a decisive shift in the relations of artistic production.