Re: Copyrights
Wed, 12 May 1999 06:17:00 -0700 (PDT)

David Blenkinsop [] wrote:
>Just thought I'd drop in on this to say that I find this "no need for
>copyrights" school of thought to be intriguing, however, it does seem
>sort of impractical, somehow.

And then:
>Strictly speaking,
>stealing something whose copies are inherently unlimited is a nonsense
>proposition -- and maybe we've recognized that, now, in the popularity
>of shareware, where copying is not in itself held to be a crime?

So which is it? In one paragraph you claim that eliminating copyright is impractical, in the other you claim that copyright on digital data is nonsense... as we're saying.

>At the same time, it's hard to imagine that the
>personal service of signing a book, say, could ever be worth nearly as
>much as the book itself,

I've known several authors in the past, and none of them were ever able to live solely on the proceeds from book sales; AFAIR they got around $0.50 per book, with the vast majority of the purchase price going to the store which sold it and the publisher. If people are willing to pay the author an extra dollar for a signed copy, then the signature is worth far more to the author than the book was.

But more importantly, you're ignoring the economics of digital distribution. Suppose I want a copy of the latest novel by Joe Blow; what do I do: go to and pay $0.50 for a copy direct from them, or go to Usenet, post asking if someone has a copy to send to me and then arrange for them to email it? I don't know about you, but I earn more than $0.50 every minute, so it's literally not worth my time to bother trying to avoid paying that price. And, incidentally, all the software I write is given away free on the Web... works for us.

The only real benefit of copyright laws is to the publishers, the stores and the few Stephen Kings of the world who can make millions from their work because of it. To the vast majority of authors, copyright is essentially irrelevant, because their books are so rare that it's just easier to buy them than try to get a copy from someone else. Same for the music business, where the economics are even worse for bands than for authors.

>As long as it's clear that the
>only real intent of copyrights is to discourage people from making a
>*business opportunity* out of unauthorized copies

I don't have a particular problem with laws against *selling* unauthorized copies, but that's an entirely seperate issue. I have no problem at all with laws against selling unauthorized copies and claiming that they're authorized copies, but that's just plain old fraud.