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Copyheart: “Love is not subject to law”

Nina Paley created Copyheart with a message: copying is an act of love. Aside from the cheesy peace and love connotation, this could be a first step towards exiting a legal framework for the creative economy.

by Lionel Maurel (Calimaq) On June 7, 2011

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Through the magic of serendipity, I came across a new license (or rather non-license). It’s easily the most charming concept on copyrights I’ve ever encountered: ♡Copyheart.

It was founded by Nina Paley, a prominent campaigner for Free Culture. She has distinguished herself as an artist with the creation of the Sita sings the blues animation. The film is under the CC-BY-SA licenses, which focuses on reflecting about intellectual property rights on QuestionCopyright.

Nina launched another project recently, composed of a comic strip blog featuring two small characters, Mimi and Eunice. You may be familiar with the cartoons on the widely shared video “Copying is not theft.”

The adventures of  Mimi and Eunice cover a range of topics, by certain strips focus specifically on intellectual property rights and related subjects:

So when I wanted to use the comic strips, I searched for which license they were under. Instead of falling under a classic Creative Commons license, I discovered Copyheart,  which was summarized as:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

And that’s it!

Copyheart is a “non license”

Nina Paley wrote a FAQ to explain her approach (which can be found below). Her reasoning is more profound than the “peace and love” connotation which Copyheart coveys on the surface.

It’s striking that Copyright is a non-license  (“this-is-not-licensed”) which indicates a desire to leave out the law out altogether, not a reversal against copyrights (such as license-free approaches like copyleft). While Nina Paley is an advocate for free license, she also has a very unique approach on the subject (which can be found on Techdirt here and here).

We really don’t think laws and “imaginary property” have any place in peoples’ love or cultural relations. Creating more legally binding licenses and contracts just perpetuates the problem of law – a.k.a. state force – intruding where it doesn’t belong. That ♡copyheart isn’t a legally binding license is not a bug – it’s a feature!

I’ve already written a post on an idea like this, referring to a Copy-Out (but the concept remained deeply buried in my law-focused brain…):

Perhaps it’s time to move beyond Copyleft logic and consider a Copy-Out: a strategy completely outside copyrights rather than just working within the same system.

Rethinking our economic culture

There is already a Creative Commons license Zero (CC0) in existence, which calls for a complete abandonment of rights on creation. Yet this tools appears to be an oxymoron – can we legally remove ourselves from the law? Somewhat cute, Copyheart is much more subtle (and more serious than the Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License).

Due to all the impasses arising from searching for a legal answer for a legal problem, would it be better to get rid of the law in favor of creating rules of a different nature? This is precisely the subject of a recent book called “Imagine There Is No Copyright and No Cultural Conglomerates Too,”   which argues that humanity would be more creative if intellectual property rights did not exist. The alternative model is not a romantic utopia, but another way of thinking about the cultural economy – completely reconstructed around the notion of the commons.

This point hits home for Nina Paley, because the ♡Copyheart is not totally disconnected from a creative approach, nor of finding a viable business model. Free gifts and business models exist in their own rights (I have written about this here [FR]).

Nina will soon publish a minibook containing Mimi and Eunice comic strips regarding intellectual property. The book’s title is Mimi and Eunice Intellectual Pooperty, and it will be under ♡Copyheart – allowing everyone to do exactly want they want with the work!

The economics behind creativity

To finance this project, Nina used the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, which offers people a variety of monetary values to contribute and collects the sum to be used for publishing the minibook. Depending on the amount donated, rewards can be given to patrons, such as receiving copies of the minibook, getting a personalized comic strip, and meeting the author for lunch. For a donation of $400 or more, you can receive a package of 1,000 comic books and literally flood any venue of your choice (Nina suggests a law school…).

The comic books will be sold to cover the costs, but the price will be lowered once the books are produced in bulk thanks to the fundraising efforts. The goal is to publish as many as possible at the lowest rate.

And the model actually worked! Nina required $3,000 to publish her project, and she has collected over double that amount. The window for donations is closing soon if you are interested in contributing to this project and producing even more of these comic books.

After the disturbing e-G8 where there were talks of putting a straight jacket on the Internet [FR] in the name of protecting intellectual property (as it is believed to be the only way of encouraging people to produce work), it’s crazy to see that other approaches are possible…which are outside the legal order and represent freedom!

Below is the FAQ on Copyheart written by Nina Paley, decorated with Mimi and Eunice comic strips.

***

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy and share.

♡ Copying art is an act of love.

People copy stuff they like. They don’t copy stuff they don’t like. The more a work is copied, the more valuable it becomes. Value isn’t taken away by fans, it is added by them, every time they copy.

♡ Love is not subject to law.

Although we appreciate and use Free Licenses when appropriate, these aren’t solving the problems of copyright restrictions. Instead of trying to educate everyone on the complexities of copyright law, we’d rather make our intentions clear with this simple statement:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

♡ Please copy and share.

The Copyheart means we WANT you to copy and share. No restrictions. Just like it says: please copy and share.

Q. Is the Copyheart trademarked?

A. No. It’s just a statement of intention. Its effectiveness depends only on how people use it, not on state enforcement. Here are are some other symbols that aren’t trademarked, but whose meanings and intentions are widely (if imperfectly) understood:

✝ ☪ ✡ ☺ ☮ ♻

Q. Is Copyheart legally binding?

A. Probably not, although you could test it:

  1. Mark your work with the ♡Copyheart message.
  2. Sue someone for copying it.
  3. See what the judge says.


We really don’t think laws and “imaginary property” have any place in peoples’ love or cultural relations. Creating more legally binding licenses and contracts just perpetuates the problem of law – a.k.a. state force – intruding where it doesn’t belong. That ♡copyheart isn’t a legally binding license is not a bug – it’s a feature!

Q. How do I use the ?

A. Use it wherever you would use the ©copyright symbol. Instead of

© Copyright 2010 by Author/Artist. All Rights Reserved.

you could write

♡2010 by Author/Artist. Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

or any of these variations:

♡2010 by Author/Artist. Copying Art is an act of love. Please copy and share.
♡2010 by Author/Artist. Copying Art is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.
♡2010 by Author/Artist. Please copy.
♡2010 by Author/Artist. Please share.
♡2010 by Author/Artist.
♡2010 Copying Art is an act of love. Please copy and share.
♡2010 Copying is an act of love. Please copy.
♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.
♡ Copying is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.

You get the idea. Of course you can do anything you want with the ♡Copyheart symbol, and any other symbol. We don’t own it. No one does.


This post was initially published on  ::S.I.Lex::
Photo Credits: ♡2011 Nina Paley. Copying is an act of love. Please copy.
Photo of Nina Paley: Flickr CC Sage Ross
Translation: Stefanie Chernow

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