[Foundation-l] WMF/EFF and Copyright extension

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Fri Feb 22 07:48:37 UTC 2008

Lars Aronsson wrote:
> daniwo59 at aol.com wrote:
>> I would hope the reason we oppose the extension of copyright is 
>> far more principled than that.
> I agree.  I think what we have to make clear is that there is a 
> public interest on the far side of copyright expiration.  Most new 
> legislation is written by asking for input from all interested 
> parties, involving both sides in any conflict.  But for copyright 
> law this has traditionally meant both publishers and authors, or 
> both record companies and artists.  Both sides have agreed that 
> more protection and longer expiration times is better.  For 
> example when life+50 was changed to life+70, this was only 
> described as an improvement.  The people who disagree, that is we, 
> the users of public domain material, have not been asked.
This is an important point.  Until very recently in the history of 
copyrights that third interest group did not pose a realistic threat to 
the industry.  The cost of producing large quantities of free material 
from protected works was prohibitive.  That all began to change when 
home photocopying became possible, and accelerated with the computer and 
high speed internet.  If material can now be be downloaded from the 
internet, and it is entirely at the option of the end-user to produce a 
dead tree version at his own cost, there is very little rationale for 
maintaining the distribution network that separates the artist from the 

As long as consumers could not realistically employ rights there was no 
incentive to establish those rights in law.  I believe that patents have 
a much shorter and more reasonable life span because using the ideas in 
an infringement was more realistically possible for a broader segment of 
the population.
> Of course, both shopowners and shoplifters are not involved in 
> drafting anti-theft legislation.  So what we have to make clear is 
> that we represent a public interest that is not only huge, but 
> also legitimate.
If I remember correctly, it was Jefferson that noted that the taking of 
intellectual property rights could not be theft because the after the 
"theft" the owner still had everything that he had before the event.
> In countries (such as Scotland and Scandinavia) where you have 
> [[freedom to roam]], this is certainly against the interest of 
> land owners, but on the other side of the negotiation table are 
> hiking societies, such as [[sv:Svenska Turistföreningen]] with 
> 300,000 members or 3 percent of the total population of Sweden.
This is in stark contrast with countries where shooting a trespasser is 
seen as a normal way of protecting one's property.


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