Thursday, March 1, 2012

You Can't Compromise With Copyright

Mike Misnick of Techdirt fame recently wrote an article about the impracticability of balancing copyright law. It's something I totally agree with. No matter how you change copyright law (increase/decrease it's duration, increase fair use, etc.) it is not workable on a free and open Internet. This is because at the most fundamental level, the Internet has made the access to information post-scarce. On the other hand, copyright is an attempt to enforce artificial scarcity. Scarcity which looks increasingly artificial as technology makes copying ever more easier. These are fundamentally conflicting things. And because of how easy it is to copy things these days, enforcing copyright only works through widespread monitoring of people's private dealings.

Here is a comment I made on that post:

Technology has created a situation where the the sum of human knowledge and culture can be made available to anyone in the world. It's like giving everyone in the world access to a more than Library of Congress worth of knowledge and culture. You can hold and access huge body of knowledge and culture in using very small devices that you can hold in your pocket.

This is something that even if you were the richest man in the world 20 years ago, it wasn't possible. But today it is possible even for the poorest people in the world. This information age is a huge step forward for humanity.

We can provide this today. The technology exists. The only thing that stops this from happening is a law that was conceived when the printing press was the most efficient method of copying. This law is copyright law.

There is no comprising with copyright law. It is fundamentally incompatible with this vision.

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