Friday, May 25, 2007

The ancients on intellectual property and copyright

ML quotes Packbat interpeting Thomas Macauley's 1941 speeches to the British Parliament ...
Making Light: This is not about "intellectual property"
  1. The copyright is not an innate right, but a creation of human government.
  2. A copyright is a form of monopoly, and therefore effectively a tax on the public—thus, it should be restricted to precisely as long a term as would make equivalent the harm done to the public by monopoly and the good provided by encouraging the creation of new works.
  3. The prospect of income from a property a long time after one’s death is no incentive whatsoever to the creation of new works.
  4. The probability that the persons for whom the author might have concern will own the copyright a long time after one’s death is minute.
  5. The probability that the copyright owner might suppress the works, for whatever reason, is great.

See also a prescient short story on the topic. Recently the NYT published an editorial calling for even longer persistence of copyright. I didn't have the heart to read it.

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