Your Identity isn’t owned by the state or corporations, it’s owned by you. And not just the identity of who you are right now, but also the data wake you leave in the Universe.
In other words, every interaction with a computer, every frame of video with you in it, every email and text, photo and blog post.
These are extensions of you, and if used to make derivative works (such as face recognition systems) you are owed for the use of that data, for the use of you.
Companies are profiting off of you by building models from and selling our metadata. By not compensating us, these organizations have reduced the value of our metadata.
There are two ways to go on this, and I’m not a lawyer so I won’t charge you for my opinion.
One way is to copyright your metadata. We will get to that in a second.
But what about patents?. Could you patent your data?
While I don’t think most software should be patentable, I am open to the idea that person’s metadata should be. After all, the Singleton Pattern states there is only one unique version of us in this universe, so of course I believe that you are a unique invention.
The problem with patents, even assuming Uncle Grandpa Sam would grant one for your metadata, is that they only last for 20 years or so. Not good in this use case.
I guess you could also try to trademark your metadata, but I having acquired a trademark before (without a lawyer) I can assure you it isn’t going to be practical to send reams of metadata to constantly apply for trademarks of you.
So, copyright it is.
Copyright is a form of intellectual propertythat grants the creator of an original creative work an exclusive legal right to determine whether and under what conditions this original work may be copied and used by others, usually for a limited term of years (50-100 after creators death)
What would a world look like where you have copyright of your metadata? Let’s explore.
Step one: claim your copyright.
Well, to start with, to claim this copyright of your metadata all you would need to do is claim this copyright in a particular territory.
In all countries where the Berne Conventionstandards apply, copyright is automatic, and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape, or a computer file), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights. However, while registration isn’t needed to exercise copyright, in jurisdictions where the laws provide for registration, it serves as prima facie evidence of a valid copyright and enables the copyright holder to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees. (In the US, registering after an infringement only enables one to receive actual damages and lost profits.)
So you don’t need to register anything, you already have a copyright of the metadata you create! You made it with your force of willpower to be alive. Congrats! You’re an artist, Harry. Step one done.
Step two: find a company or Government who is making a lot of money off your metadata.
I can think of a few, but I would rather let folks fill this in on their own. But some candidates might be social media companies, computer vision companies, digital signal companies, machine learning companies, direct mail companies, online shopping…etc.
Step three: Lawyers.
The next step is to begin the process of putting together massive class action lawsuits against these companies. The FTC will never actually regulate anything besides its own cowardice to enfore laws to protect us against fraud. It’s time to use the free market to attack the organizations abusing our copyrights.
You made your life, and your interactions with the world are creative expressions of this thing we call your will. The best case we can make for this is to start to build unique models of ourselves and then sell them to companies, and fight against the validity of any model of us not in our control.
This is the information battle of the next twenty years, a fight for identity and ownership of metadata. And to win it, we are going to need some great lawyers.
Render by Mike Winkelmann