Know what? Yesterday at my TEDx Zagreb presentation i skipped one little point. When I told my crowd about the analogies I see between the force of gravitation and property I have mentioned my usual stuff: the mutual pull. This tag is often used by the physicists to describe one of the main characteristics of the force. I have also said that I don’t think that property is just a social convention. I base this on my analysis of the capacity that humans have to sense the FEELING of property regardless of the social context. I am convinced that anyone and everyone of us could feel the feeling of owning a beautiful pebble at the beach even if s/he would be the only being alive on the planet or elsewhere. The mutuality I have further described by the example of the feeling regarding your grandpa’s old house. Do we feel we own it more than we feel it owns us?
What I have skipped is the analysis of the property and ownership on the web. I will tackle this in my WinDays presentation but have thought I owe this to my yesterday’s audience. Well, here it is. Many people seem to accept that the property is somehow diminished on the Internet, that ownership weakens in the digital world. While I agree that property changes when its object is immaterial I don’t think it significantly changes when an object is digitized. To explain this further, the object of legal protection is what changes: a house is material and copyright is immaterial – all of this before Internet ever existed. However, when a house will be digitized and starts existing as a digital file (as it happens with smaller objects already), besides the fact that it can be multiplied (and that changes the implications of the economic ground for the legal right), its ownership stays the same. In an analogy closer to human experience and again in relation to gravity: the fact that we can swim without sinking to the bottom, and that we have learned to fly without falling to the ground does not diminish the existence of gravitation. Likewise, the fact that an object is digitized does not mean that the property on it has dissolved.