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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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The Economist: "Why the rules on copyright need to return to their roots"

Music to ears around here is a leader (editorial) in The Economist this week entitled Copyright and wrong: Why the rules on copyright need to return to their roots link here. It begins by observing that copyright became law in England 300 years ago this week, as "An act for the encouragement of learning." It put a time limit of 21 years if a book was already in print and 14 years if it was new, with a right to get it extended 14 more if the author was still alive. And that was the end of it.

The opinion piece goes on to make a series of familiar arguments; that the belief that extension of a copyright's term increases creativity is questionable and that current lengths discourage creativity when the penalties even for inadvertent infringement are draconian as is often the case. It also asserts, "Authors and artists do not generally consult the statute books before deciding whether or not to pick up pen or paintbrush." It ends by noting that a return to the earlier much shorter term of copyright would be "arbitrary but not unreasonable." And "[i]f there is a case for longer terms, they should be on a renewal basis, so that content is not locked up automatically." "[F]air use needs to be expanded and inadvertent infringement should be minimally penalized."

Well reasoned and stated.


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