[LINK] The Cycle Of Copyright: Originally A Tool For Censorship

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Fri Aug 13 09:17:23 AEST 2010


> The Cycle Of Copyright: Originally A Tool For Censorship, Attempted  
> As A Tool For Incentives... Back To A Tool For Censorship

> from the the-inevitable-return dept
> If you want to understand copyright law, its history, and how it's  
> been abused, you really ought to read this excellent overview by law  
> professor and practicing intellectual property attorney, Lydia  
> Pallas Loren, called The Purpose of Copyright <http://www.open-spaces.com/article-v2n1-loren.php 
> > (found via Teleread). The article kicks off with a point that  
> we've made over and over again here, that many people incorrectly  
> believe the purpose of copyright law is to protect creators.  
> Unfortunately, this false belief permeates many in society --  
> including copyright lawyers:
> Copyright permeates our lives and yet, despite its impact on our  
> lives, relatively few people, including lawyers, have sufficient  
> knowledge or understanding of what copyright is. And far too many  
> people, including lawyers, have major misconceptions concerning  
> copyright. These misconceptions are causing a dangerous shift in  
> copyright protection, a shift that threatens the advancement of  
> knowledge and learning in this country. This shift that we are  
> experiencing in copyright law reflects a move away from viewing  
> copyright as a monopoly that the public is willing to tolerate in  
> order to encourage innovation and creation of new works to viewing  
> copyright as a significant asset to this country's economy. The most  
> recent example of this shift is the new Digital Millennium Copyright  
> Act, sign by the President on October 28, 1998.
> Understanding the root cause and the dangers of this shift requires  
> exposing the most fundamental and most common misconception  
> concerning the underlying purpose of the monopoly granted by our  
> copyright law. The primary purpose of copyright is not, as many  
> people believe, to protect authors against those who would steal the  
> fruits of their labor. However, this misconception, repeated so  
> often that it has become accepted among the public as true, poses  
> serious dangers to the core purpose that copyright law is designed  
> to serve. From there, the article digs deep into the history of  
> copyright, from well before The Statute of Anne, back to a time when  
> copyright was a private agreement among publishers, designed to  
> retain monopolies, act as censors and generally control the  
> publishing market. It certainly wasn't about protecting creators,  
> who had nothing to do with it. From the beginning it was about  
> middlemen and monopolies.


> This dark side, this pervasive misconception, is turning copyright  
> into what our founding fathers tried to guard against - a tool for  
> censorship and monopolistic oppression. This may sound extreme to  
> some, but consider the beginnings of copyright in this country. The  
> first Copyright Act in the United States granted only the exclusive  
> right only to print, publish, and vend a copyrighted work, and it  
> lasted for only fourteen years, with the possibility of a second  
> fourteen-year term. No exclusive rights to perform the work or to  
> create an adaptation of the work were granted, only the right to  
> print, publish, and vend for, at most, twenty-eight years.
> Under current copyright law, not only do copyright owners have the  
> right to publish and distribute the work, but copyright owners also  
> have the right to control the public performance of a work, to  
> control the making of adaptations of the work, and to control the  
> reproduction of the work independent of what is done with that new  
> copy. And, as a result of the Copyright Term Extension Act passed in  
> October, 1998, now the basic term of copyright lasts for the life of  
> the author plus seventy years. This new term is a far cry from the  
> original maximum term of twenty-eight years, and results in a much  
> larger monopoly and a much longer time that the public must wait for  
> any given work to enter the public domain. These are only a few  
> small snippets, but it's an excellent read. Many of you may already  
> be up on these points, but whether you've read similar things before  
> or not, I highly recommend this article.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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