Re: Copyrights

David Blenkinsop (
Tue, 11 May 1999 22:13:06 -0600

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> Value is created by demand, and people are paid based on
> how much their work is in demand. This in no way implies that some
> types of work deserve market protection while others do not.
> --
> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
> are placed irrevocably in the public domain --

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. For instance, in a free-copy future, people would presumably have marketable skills of some sort, there'd still be an economy. 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, under a copyright system, or that an author could earn much through putting advertising into his novels, either, if anyone could freely run any book through an ad filter and then redistribute it. If the production of a passive artifact, like a book, is to hold value, and if we want the production of such things to be of high quality, then wouldn't it be self-defeating to dilute the quality in favor of forcing the creators out to do something more "active"?

Is it possible that the need for copyrights is being obscured by some of the language that surrounds the whole idea of "intellectual property"? For instance, I once read an article many years ago, where the author was a computer game programmer who complained about how many dollars every unauthorized copy was "stealing" from him. This struck me as sort of like being ready to prosecute someone for grand theft auto, because you saw the bounder taking a photograph of your car! 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? What that editorial writer would have thought of the World Wide Web and the proliferation of shareware is hard to say -- oops, there's another copy of our product being downloaded, another X dollars lost!

Despite being logical nonsense on the surface, "intellectual property" appeals to our sense of boundaries, so maybe it's as good a legal fiction as any for defending copyrights? 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'd have to think of this as an way to give creators some value for their efforts, through having some control over their creations. The need for some sort of business leverage or control seems to be the issue here, not that different from battles over trademarks, or standing up for proper attribution of quoted passages, etc?

David Blenkinsop <>