The Case for Copyright

Why copyright protection is both fair and needed:

What if, after you had paid the taxes on earnings with which you built a house, sales taxes on the materials, real estate taxes during your life, and inheritance taxes at your death, the government would eventually commandeer it entirely? This does not happen in our society … to houses. Or to businesses. Were you to have ushered through the many gates of taxation a flour mill, travel agency or newspaper, they would not suffer total confiscation.

Once the state has dipped its enormous beak into the stream of your wealth and possessions they are allowed to flow from one generation to the next. Though they may be divided and diminished by inflation, imperfect investment, a proliferation of descendants and the government taking its share, they are not simply expropriated.

That is, unless you own a copyright.

Read A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? by Mark Helprin for the New York Times. (Specific rebuttal to this argument can be found in the article ”Against Perpetual Copyright” inside the Lessig wiki.)

Imagine a world in which every book, song, television programme and movie ever created is instantly available online with just the click of a mouse. Such a world would offer enormous promise not only to consumers but to artists and creators as well, who would finally be able to reach audiences that have long been too distant or expensive to reach before. This amazing new world is almost upon us, thanks to the Internet and new digital technologies for scanning and distributing vast libraries of books, video and music. But sharp debate has broken out over how best to realize the goal of such broad online access to the world’s culture without undermining the financial incentives for creativity that are so essential to the development of these works. We cannot succeed in meeting these challenges by cutting legal corners and ignoring the rights of copyright holders. Rather, the technology and content industries should continue to work together to create consumer-friendly solutions that nurture rather than undermine the incentives for creativity so vital to sustaining our culture.

Read Copyright must be respected as culture goes online by Thomas Rubin for the Financial Times

Although it’s not a really popular sentiment these days, I think patents, trademarks and copyrights are simply fantastic and a primary, necessary driver of the world economy. Without them, the rapid pace of technological innovation around the world would slow to a crawl. And frankly, without them, most open-source projects would rapidly wither away: without an intellectual property behemoth like Microsoft to fight, what would be the point?

Why all the frothy sentiment? Intellectual property provides one of the most dependable means toward wealth and independence in the world today. In the Dark Ages, one could obtain wealth by raising an army and burning someone else’s kingdom to the ground. In the Gilded Age, those on the fast track had a secret weapon of success: they bribed state legislators to obtain canal and railroad contracts.

Unfortunately, those career options just aren’t as viable as they once were. Instead, we have to invent stuff, and thus people should get compensated for the effort.

Read Why I love patents and copyrights by Michael Kanellos for C|Net

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Business 2.0, Digital Commons, Fair Use, P2P (Peer to Peer), Regulation, Same as it ever Was, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media, When New Meets Old

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