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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Copyright strikes again.

Roy Blount Jr, the president of the Writers Guild, opines that authors ought to have a property right to the oral rendering of their written works, although he would not charge the blind link here. This apparently has been provoked by the ability of new technology to render computer text into intelligible, almost-human-voice quality. If I record a human reading my written work, the reader and I will be paid, but if a machine does it, I won't. So, " people who want to keep on doing creative things for a living must be duly vigilant about any new means of transmitting their work."

Apparently no one seems to be worried about the constant expansion of property rights, even seemingly absurd ones. I have no doubt that the government has the power to create the right, just as it has the power to define and enforce all property rights, but why is this extension justified?

Blount's clinching argument is, "For the record: no, the Authors Guild does not expect royalties from anybody doing non-commercial performances of "Goodnight Moon." If parents want to send their children off to bed with the voice of Kindle 2, however, it's another matter." How generous of him!

This issue is raised by the Kindle 2, which has oral as well as visual output. The next thing, the authors will want is a counter on the machine, to record each time a reading takes place so the author can be paid his due.

Like other IP creators, authors seem to want to get their piece of any new technology that comes along, even when it vastly decreases the cost of delivering their work and adds to their net income. It will only stop when consumers vote out the rascals who pass these extensions into law or the judges who redefine the right.

This issue is raised by the Kindle 2, which has oral as well as visual output. The next thing, the authors will want is a counter on the machine, to record each time a reading takes place so the author can be paid his due.

Like other IP creators, authors seem to want to get their piece of any new technology that comes along, even when it vastly decreases the cost of delivering their work. It will only stop when consumers vote out the rascals who pass these extensions into law or the judges who redefine the right.


Comments

Too too too true: "Apparently no one seems to be worried about the constant expansion of property rights, even seemingly absurd ones. I have no doubt that the government has the power to create the right, just as it has the power to define and enforce all property rights, but why is this extension justified?" (emphasis added).

As you point out, the implementation of new technologies seems to result in some people asserting that they have an implicit property right that allows them to extort money. The Writer's Guild claims implementing the new technology will deprive them of revenue. If this is true, then shouldn't the maker of the Kindle 2 give the Writers Guild a bill for the development costs!

My only real point, the government needs to develop a backbone to reject these absurd claims that continually expand the scope of patents and copyright. Unfortunately, our elected officials (who pass these absurd laws) do not seem to understand the meaning of working for the public good.

I wonder if the Author's guild has discovered that the Kindle allows readers to change the font size? Clearly authors are entitled to separate royalties to Large Print Editions and the Kindle is stealing revenue from authors.

What is exasperating is that the Author's Guild president doesn't see that the additional features of the Kindle will sell *more copies* of ebooks, whereas raising the price of ebooks by making Amazon pay extra for a non-existent text to speech right will reduce sales. The Author's Guild president is a short-sighted moron.


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