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Comments from Frankston, Reed, and Friends

Friday, October 11, 2002

BobF at 8:25 PM [url]:

A Lack of Progress

The Congress shall have Power�To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; US Constitution, I.8.8

Where is the important debate -- the one about how to "promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts"? The value of progress makes the fixation on preserving a problematic means of compensation seem petty at best and at worst not only does this fixation threaten to hobble our ability to make progress it also requires the kind of invasiveness that would have been unimaginable to those who granted only limited rights to congress and then quickly amended the constitution to explicitly give us (at least in the United States) additional protection.

Instead of treating everyone as a consumer/pirate who can do no more than divvy up a limited supply of "intellectual property" we should see everyone as a potential author/contributor. Why are we so intent on limiting these technologies instead of encouraging the exploration and discovery that enriches us all?

DPR at 9:43 AM [url]:

Macaulay on Berman-Coble and the DMCA?

A number of people have recently pointed out Macaulay's arguments in the UK Parliament on the issues of copyright. I just read them online and they are excellent.

What would Macaulay have thought about granting those who have limited copyrights additional rights to take vigilante action to explore any and all personal computers with no liability for harm caused by accident (such as proposed in the Berman-Coble bill)?

What would he have thought if Congress decided to criminalize the very attempt to make tools to copy works that had exceeded their copyright term (such as the DMCA does)?

An exercise for the reader.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

DanB at 6:49 PM [url]:

The right to create derivative works is important

I've been reading a lot about yesterday's Eldred v. Ashcroft hearing and listening to some commentary on the radio. People keep talking about the right to make copies. What they keep forgetting about is one of the most important things to our culture: The right to make derivative works. It isn't that I'm lazy or cheap and just want to take from you (the image that keeps on being portrayed, incorrectly, of those who value the public domain). It's that unless it's in the public domain I can't build on what you did. Disney told Snow White in a different, and in some ways for some people, better way than the Brothers Grimm. My compilation for a textbook may present the history of the early part of the century better than the original material by itself. My performance may express things better than previous performers. The value of Open Source to many people stems from the modifications others make. Building on the work of others is, and has always been, important to progress for society. Fair use derivations (like satire) are not the only valuable uses to society.

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