KopyLeft and Discordia

“On Setting Orange Chaos 5 (January 5th), Discordians set aside the day to remember and commune with Saint Hung Mung, whose name means Primal Chaos, sage of Ancient China, inventor of the Sacred Chao, Official Missionary to the Heathens, leader of Operation Mindfuck and patron of the season of Chaos.

This is the season of Chaos, the ancient universe as earliest humans saw it, where anything and everything is REAL. Apostle Hung Mung came out of this mindset and planted the seeds of the Taoist religion, whose followers don’t apply their force to the universe, but instead allow the universe to guide their force.

Hung Mung appears in the writings of old Chaung Tzu, where he responds to the inquiries of Great Knowledge by laughing and slapping his knee and shouting, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”.

By inventing the Sacred Chao and promptly getting ripped off by the Taoists, Hung Mung inadvertently started the fine Discordian tradition of ripping others off intellectually wherever possible. The whole Principia Discordia itself is Kopyrighted “All Rights Reversed”, as is this page, as are most Discordian writings. This is because we believe that a truly Good Idea lives a life of its own, and doggedly claiming it as one’s personal property is piggish. Besides, it’s also a lot easier to steal crap from other people than to make it up all by yourself.“

Reverend Jack


All rights reversed is a phrase that indicates a release of copyright or a copyleft licensing status. It is a pun on the common copyright disclaimer “All rights reserved”, a copyright formality originally required by the Buenos Aires Convention of 1910. “All Rights Reversed” (sometimes spelled rites) was used by author Gregory Hill to authorize the free reprinting of his Principia Discordia in the late 1960s. Hill’s disclaimer was accompanied by the kosher” (for kallisti) symbol, a play on ©, the copyright symbol.

“All Rights Reversed”, its homonym, “All Rites Reversed”, and/or the “Copyleft” symbol, are occasionally used among those who publish or produce media (or any other material that might normally be copyrighted) as a clever means of saying “This is not copyrighted. Please, do with it what you will.” and encouraging the duplication and use of the “copy-lefted” material thereof.“



“Discordianism and the concept of KopyLeft go hand in hand. Although just a small part of the counter-culture gestalt, I believe that the Principia Discordia was probably one of the earliest expressions and strongest champions of this idea, which has since seen such concepts as the “Open Source Software” initiative, with endeavors such as the Linux OS. Remember, if it’s not KopyLeft, it’s not Discordian. This concept is at Discordia’s very heart, ye and its spleen, gonads and pineal gland. Or something. I remember stumbling across the Discordian internet site some meatboy had constructed and copyrighted – I laughed and laughed at the sad-arsed bastard. No doubt Eris will accordingly soften him sorely.“

         -The Rev. DrJon Swabey, from the intro to the Apocrypha Discordia


Should all Discordian works be KopyLeft?

Professor Cramulus

I like the idea that if I say something sort of cool, somebody else might take it, polish it up, and use it for something really cool. I feel that once an idea leaves your mouth, it’s alive in a way you can no longer control.

I think that this notion of this is inherent to Discordia. There’s a sort of zen-buddhism implied in Kopyleft. Kopyleft forces a detachment from any territorial stake in your ideas. It forces us to communicate and entertain each other in a way where we have little to personally gain – it’s communication for communication’s sake. Not for the market, not for the ego, not for the benjamins.

I think the Kopyleft principle is alive and well in this community. For example, we create a lot of our own channels of entertainment. We have a magazine, a radio station (coming soon!), and about a zillion pdfs, meme bombs, and miscellaneous marginalia. None of this would be possible if we weren’t comfortable taking, breaking, remixing and replaying each other’s work.

I think about the Meme Bomb thread, and how we have probably a half dozen “best of” collections. It’s now difficult and unimportant to determine who said what. The vast majority of the meme bombs aren’t creditable to a specific author without some dilligent searching. Most commonly, the meme bombs are attributed to the community – an interesting concept, to be sure! Is this ideological socialism? Is our communication better when there aren’t any pissing contests about who controls what ideas?

Please note that I’m not trying to start a thread about the merits and flaws of the copyright system, or whether artists should get paid for their work. I’m interested in discussing the notion that Everything Discordian Should Be (K). What’s your take on it?


Breaking the Copyright Spell


Wizard People is a hilarious piece of illegal art.

I love that phrase “Illegal Art” , it sounds so subversive. It indicates that somebody was creative in an unauthorized way. It sounds dangerous, clandestine. You’re not legally allowed to have those thoughts, you’re not legally allowed to express yourself this way!

Wizard People is the work of Brad Neely, a sharp-ass cartoonist. (Have you seen his accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah, JFK, and George Washington? Go!) He created this audio track to accompany Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s a Mystery-Science-Theater style audio overlay which poses as a reading of the novel. Except that Brad Neely hasn’t read the novel. You can find the whole delicious enchilada on youtube.We live in this overwhelming information culture. Information is being blasted at us from every angle. We’ve moved beyond the old television dichotomy of “content creator” and “content consumer”, which makes less and less sense as times goes on. Our role is to engage in a creative feedback loop which produces better content over time.  That’s part of why you can comment on anything on the net – it’s theoretically supposed to improve things! Feedback is how data systems get more intelligent and make better data. So its’ essential that we’re able to comment freely.

Furthermore, we live in the era of reappropriation. Most of the great stuff we’re seeing these days is a remix of something else. The rules are that once you put something out there into culture, people get to play with it. Comment on it. Use it for something other than its original purpose. This is an act of creation through juxtaposition. This is what happens when you take collage to its natural conclusion.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that Warner Brothers doesn’t like people commenting on its intellectual property unless your comments might somehow drive DVD sales — so they pulled the plug. That’s right, if you’re going to show Harry Potter, the audience has to listen to it too. You’re not allowed to make your own comments or do silly voices. You have to sit quietly with your hands folded and enjoy the movie that we, the producers, made for you, the consumer.

This isn’t why we have copyright laws! The original intent was to encourage creativity by preventing people from releasing the same product over and over again, not to block off certain types of expression and commentary. What Brad Neely is doing doesn’t hurt Harry Potter or Warner Brothers at all. The brand guardians are just trying to protect this impression of Harry Potter which actually belongs to all of us. What the media warlocks need to learn is that culture is for everybody.

The irony is that this sort of thing that makes viral-marketers stiff. They want you have discussions and in-jokes and create new content around their brands. Neely’s work is, in part, a commercial for Harry Potter.

If you want to feel some ownership of this 21st century cargo cult we’re all trapped in, be like Brad Neely. Don’t be satisfied with the consumption of mass produced mainstream crap, personalize it and make it yours. Take an idea and twist it into something new. If you perform a genuinely creative act, if you subvert the original intent of the piece, what you’re doing is not theft, it’s art.

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