[free-sklyarov] another take on copyright

Tom tom at lemuria.org
Mon Aug 20 13:10:27 PDT 2001

On Mon, Aug 20, 2001 at 02:38:30PM -0400, Chris Savage wrote:
> >Copyright itself is meaningless in a world where copying is 
> >ubiquitous and necessary.
> I think that's wrong.  It depends on metering.

and he fell into his own trap - only considering the profit motive. as
I posted a few days ago, copyright also covers non-profit aspects (at
least over here) such as the right to be correctly credited or limited
control over the work so as to protect its integrity.

I don't think easy copying does much to change that. I'm rather
inclined to say: on the contrary. now that copying is so much easier,
I'm more than ever concerned that I'll be correctly credited for my

the thing wrong with current copyright is that it has actually evolved
backwards and became a close resemblance of the very first incarnation
of copyright law - a publishers law where authors are given little more
than an afterthought.
but technology has moved into the opposite direction - authors do not
NEED publishers anymore. they can publish themselves.

> I agree with that.  As noted above, I'm trying to figure out a more nuanced
> view than "monopoly" or "free-for-all."  You may tell me that there is no
> sensible middle ground, and you may be right.  But I'm not there at the
> moment.

a first step might be to come clean that we are perfectly happy with
the OTHER provisions of copyright - that we all agree an author has a
definite and unquestioned right to be credited - and I don't think
anyone is really bothered by extending THAT from 28 to 70 years or

our concerns are mostly with the DISTRIBUTION aspect of copyright. not
even the publishing one (i.e. "the author decides if, when, where and
how his work is published). we just think that since great and easy
distribution tools are available, it doesn't make much sense to
restrict that which is only a click of a button away by force of an
artificial monopoly law.

there is an economical problem, namely that up to now, the DISTRIBUTION
was used as the vehicle to ultimately pay the author (and pay the
distributor many times more).
but nothing in copyright law nor in the laws of physics says that
that's how it's gotta be. not that I have an easy solution, but I think
it's time to break open some concepts.

so, in short, our concern is the DISTRIBUTION aspect of copyright. we
do not believe that distribution can be reasonably controlled anymore
(after the initial publication), and we are seeing that attempting to
do so will lead to disaster.

which leaves only the original publication as a "secure" point where an
author can ask for money. one could, for example, run via preorders.
"if at least X people preorder the book for $Y, then and only then will
it be published". nah, that won't work. but maybe someone will think
up a variation of the theme that does work.

the point of this pointless rant is that it might help us to make very
clear that we are not enemies of copyright, but of SPECIFIC ASPECTS of
it, and for SPECIFIC REASONS (abuse and police-state-methods). we
believe the copyright deal has to be reformulated, adopted to advances
in technology. instead of forcing society into conformance with an
outdated law, we want to bring the law up to date with real life.

if we can write that up in a concise statement, I think it'll sound a
lot more interesting and less threatening than "those anti-copyright

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