Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Damien R. Sullivan (
Sun, 3 May 1998 21:43:09 -0700 (PDT)

On May 3, 4:09pm, Hal Finney wrote:

> It may also be difficult to distinguish between a person who voluntarily
> violates his contract, selling the artwork, versus a person who gets
> his copy of the art stolen. In either case it ends up being widely
> reproduced. In the latter case you can still argue that the victim of
> the theft was guilty of negligence, but traditionally that would have a
> less harsh penalty than someone who intentionally violates his contract.

My dim understading of the history of law is that the position on liability
has changed. Traditionally liability was strict; you were responsible for any
failings traceable to you. But in the past few centuries the common law has
evolved to included a concept of negligence, where one is not fully
responsible for mistakes. Posner suggests that this is due to an increasing
ability to tell when someone has been negligent. This suggests that this form
of copyright should be subject to strict liability, or a liability stricter
than current common forms.

OTOH, of course, people will be less willing to buy rights if they fear
retribution for any leakage, and doubt their ability to control it. I can't
help thinking that for all its problems and absurdities the current copyright
and patent system does accomplish the jobs of temporary recompense and later
openess. But I've been reading much Hayek, and am feeling more like a
classical liberal than an anarchist.

-xx- GSV The Low Golden Willow X-)

"That which can be destroyed by the truth should be."
-- Kirien, the Jaran Heir, _Seeker's Mask_