Mental Rights Management

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Mental Rights Management = refers to the ideologica framework imposed by copyright holders who aim to equate filesharing with downloading and ultimately with consumption of pirated material.

As opposed to filesharing as a horizontal activity of sharing culture involving both downloading and uploading.


Concept proposed by the Piratbyran advocates of the Grey Commons, i.e. the proponents for a direct and free access to culture through P2P Filesharing

It is a wordplay on the concept of Digital Rights Management or DRM.


Rasmus Fleischer:

Mental rights management: The grey zone also becomes visible if we consider how arbitrary the very definition of "copying" is. How it is based upon outdated technical categories. We emphasize and affirm the tendency that it is getting harder to distinguish between local transfers of data and "file sharing" between different systems, for example in wireless environments. Digital technology is built on copying bits, and Internet is built on file-sharing. Copying is always already there. The only thing copyright can do is to impose a moral differentiation between so-called normal workings and immoral. For the copyright industry, it is of extreme importance to keep people uninformed of the real workings of networked computers. They want to make an artificial distinction between "downloading" and "streaming", as equivalents to record distribution and radio broadcasting.

But – and we should keep insisting that – the only difference between "streaming" and "downloading" lies in the software configuration on the receiving end. However, copyright law will never be able to acknowledge that. It has to rely on fictions, on a kind of cognitive mapping, where notions valid for traditional one-way mass media are forcefully applied to the Internet. We call it Mental Rights Management (and it is the very precondition for DRM).

It is essential for the copyright industry to keep the majority of computer users trapped in the belief that the "window" of their web browser is exactly a window, through which they can look at information located elsewhere, under someone else’s control. Then our job is to clarify that everything you see on your screen or hear through your speakers, is already under your control.

Zeros and ones have no taste, smell or color – be they parts of pirated material or not. Therefore it is impossible to construct a computer that cannot reproduce and manipulate these zeros and ones – as such a machine would no longer be a computer, but something as grotesque as a digital simulation of the machines of the last century." (