Jay Sulzberger jays at panix.com
Sat Aug 18 19:03:15 PDT 2001

On Sat, 18 Aug 2001, Brooklyn Linux Solutions wrote:

> We've been trying to get someone to work up the number of the cost of
> the DMCA on the NYC Public School system and the NYC Public Library
> system.
> Essentially, we need to work out the cost to the system of any work
> over 40 years or older which is not available to the system in digital
> form, versues the same costs of these works if they were available in
> digital forms, and the systems were equipt to leverage them....
> School textbooks alone would be a huge savings to the taxpayer.
> <<Koelman is a legal scholar, so I highly doubt that he
> has tried to calculate the numbers.
> It is an excellent idea, though.>>
> --
> Brooklyn Linux Solutions

Let me put in a word against spending more than a couple of hours on
trying to get such an estimate.  Any honest estimate will vary wildly
under different assumptions.  And the space of assumptions is itself ill
defined.  Most of the reasonable sounding assumptions are also subject to
effective attack by the other side.  Indeed, their whole argument is that
without the new trammels, much less good work will be produced.  So, out
of the starting gate, there is controversy over the sign of the estimate.
I do not think there is any solid impressive number we can effectively
argue for.  But, very nearby there are much more solid numbers:

1. The extraordinary overcharges for scholarly journals of the past twenty

2. The extraordinary locking-up by copyright extension of works which the
Founders thought should by now be in the public domain.

3. The extraordinary heavy chill already settling on both research in
cryptography and computer security, and ordinary Consumers Reports style
reviews of software.

4. The extraordinary increase in planned charges to public libraries for
what once would have been reasonable priced usage of books.

These numbers can be understood and most people will find them shocking.


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