Comment 32962

By arienc (registered) | Posted August 20, 2009 at 15:08:43

Great to gain a better understanding of the history of copyright, how it has evolved from a model based on betterment for society as a whole to today's model, based on protecting the profits of a representative of the creator of works.

Society is better off when creators can earn a living and have some protection from having their works duplicated without authorization. But how much protection is optimal?

Remember that one of the largest corporations in the world - Microsoft, owes much of its success to underground public copying of their MS DOS and Windows operating systems, and later their Office software, so much that large numbers of people could use, become familiar with their software, and make it the standard used in business and government operations. How many potential Microsofts would expanding copyright legislation prevent?

I think a reasonable look at copyright would establish up front as part of the implied contract, when a purchaser pays for a work, whether it be digital or physical, what rights come with that work.

If I own a particular digital file, then format-shifting, place-shifting, making backup copies, re-selling or passing on the data to my heirs must all be considered within my rights as a purchaser. Without those rights, licenced media has much less value than physical and should be priced accordingly.

If, however all I own is a physical product, then I have fair use rights to use that physical product however I see fit, including copying, lending, re-selling, etc.

The problem is, the media companies want rules that give them the best of both worlds...e.g. if physical media breaks or becomes obsolete, you have to pay again, if you want to listen to a song on both an iPod and a CD player, pay again. It's about what's good for the media intermediary...not the creator, not the user and not for society.

As a society, the sharing of information and culture has always been present. With technology this has exploded to the point where one can share more information than they could ever personally experience. Which leaves those people and industries that once profited from controlling the flow of that information needing to adapt. The genie is not going to go back in the bottle, no matter how draconian the law becomes.

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