[free-sklyarov] The digital copyright tug o' war

Bob Smart bobds at blorch.org
Fri Aug 3 22:03:19 PDT 2001

On Friday 03 August 2001 20:33, you wrote:
> An article of peripheral interest to our topic . . .
> Scanners, CD burners and the Internet have transformed
> computers into the world's most efficient copy machines.
> As technology marches forward, what happens to the rights
> of those who create digital media?
> http://cgi.zdnet.com/slink?124322:6384249

They have the inalienable right to publish in other formats using other 
media, if they're concerned about the nature of digital publishing.

They do not, however, have any right to reshape public policy merely for 
short-term personal gain.

Not every medium, nor every technology, is necessarily well-suited to every 
application or appropriate for every purpose.  Digital formats and 
distribution are extremely well-suited for disseminating information quickly 
and widely--but less so for restricting and preventing its flow.  How 
rational is it to choose an inherently public, easily-copied medium, and then 
demand that everyone pretend it's something other than what it is?  And why 
is it in the best interests of society to arrange our legal system around a 
fundamentally irrational business decision?

One of the reasons for HAVING copyrights and patents in the first place is to 
"promote the useful arts and sciences," and a key part of that is the 
mechanism for ensuring that copyrights and patents eventually expire and so 
become part of the pool of intellectual capital that drives and sustains 
future development.  Granting perpetual and impenetrable proprietary control 
over intellectual works does not promote their dissemination and improvement, 
it stifles further development and deprives society of continued intellectual 

Likewise, the social benefit of allowing creators to make money from their 
work is that in return, society gains the use of the new material or 
invention.  When creators are allowed to impose excessively strict or 
arbitrary limits on how the protected material may be used, then society 
gains less benefit and has less reason to extend protection--the author gets 
all the money, but the society that makes that arrangement possible doesn't 
get the goods.

"Fair use" isn't just a loophole for free riders.  It's essential to the 
functioning of an intellectual property marketplace, and we dismember it at 
our peril.


What I wrote above is hereby dedicated to the public domain and may be freely 
used, in whole or in part, with or without attribution.

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