Publication means: “I hereby deliver my work to the public, for our cultural enrichment. Let us now make of my art what we will. Share it, enjoy it, react to it, build upon it – this artwork now belongs to all of us. I place no obligations upon anyone that do not naturally exist, to be honest in representing me and my art as I am honest in representing those artists I have enjoyed and learned from, and especially those whose work I have built upon. You are welcome to reward me for the production of my work, as I would like to reward others for theirs, but I shall not accept the surrender of anyone’s liberty, as I have not accepted the surrender of my own”.
Copyright means: “The public’s liberty to share and build upon published culture is hereby suspended, in order that a reproduction monopoly can be granted to the rich and powerful owners of printing presses that they alone may make and sell copies of art at a price of their choosing. From this day forth you are permitted to enjoy and react to art, but you may not share or build upon such published work unless you obtain the copyright holder’s permission”.
There is no apology available for copyright. There is no way of sweetening it nor means of lining its manacles with soft fur that makes it palatable, comfortable, or ethical.
It is the copyright holder that must ask forgiveness for seeking to constrain the public.
It is the artist who has the obligation to throw off the albatross that is copyright, to deny their endorsement of its hold over the public and to escape its corruption of the artist’s expression or message to them.
And this is why I suggest saying such things as: “I will not accept the enslavement of my fellow man, nor any imposition upon his liberty, as reward for the publication of my art”
I did once try to come up with a concise copyleft license that artists might be tempted to use given CC betrays its lawyerly origins:
libertarian license: You are free to take any liberties you wish with my published work, with but one constraint: The liberties you take may not be withheld from those to whom you give my work (or your combined/derivative work), who you must similarly constrain.
Even better and simpler would be to abolish copyright, and restore the natural right of all to liberty, to share and build upon each other’s art.
The greatest respect you can show another artist is to promote them and their work by sharing it, by building their audience, and if the artist and their art is really good, by building upon the art. You can also reward or commission the artist for their work. These liberties, to exchange art for love or to exchange labour for money, are natural. Reproduction monopolies are not natural, and their infringement warrants no apology.