Copyright musings

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From: Eirikur Hallgrimsson (
Date: Wed Mar 22 2000 - 15:10:59 PST

On Wed, 22 Mar 2000, Adam L. Beberg wrote:
> Point, click, pirate.
> Copyright is dead, or maybe just napping. If copyright does actually go
> the way of the gopher, then we're all gonna be living under bridges like
> RMS preaches.

If copyright is dead, (and I suspect it's breathing its last) there
are going to be a lot of changes in the way we "do business" in the
world of intangibles, but I don't see authors or programmers living
under bridges.

I was moved to write with the observation that copyright was created
to serve the interests of publishers. Authors have, in the general
case, never been particularly well compensated for their efforts.
Remember that what was actually being protected was the right to sell
copies, which has always been the publisher's.

We're in a period of disintermediation and nowhere is this more true
than in publishing. Everyone can be, and most are, or so it seems,
his own publisher.

Publishing has been on a sort of disintermediation pathway for quite a
while now. The mainstream of book publishing is now something that
I'd call Publishing Lite. There's often no editing and no
copyediting, and this shows in the product. Have you read
Cryptonomicon, all NNNN pages of it? He thanks his editor. Of
course he does. She published the entire first draft.

I have the vaguest idea that publishing may come around to (for a
while anyway) something like what has happened to clothing design.
You can't trademark a design, but you can trademark your name, so you
make your name be a conspicuous part of the product. There's another
version of that thriving in font space.


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