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Gary Thornock's Weblog » Pete Ashdown on copyright
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13th Dec, 2005

Pete Ashdown on copyright


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Pete Ashdown posted a copy of a letter to the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram in which he responds to an article on copyright issues. Here's a brief excerpt:

Senator Hatch's stands on copyright have been repeatedly one-sided; protect the recording and motion picture industries. In doing so, he has caused immeasurable harm to technology. My own Internet Service Provider business, XMission, has had to deal with being the media companies' unpaid copyright police since Digital Millennium Copyright Act became law. Every week, we handle hundreds of spurious complaints with no compensation from these entities for doing so. We've also seen the DMCA levied by third parties attempting to thwart the business of their competitors.

Read the whole letter: he makes several great points.

Copyright has a long history, and in some forms is a useful and important means of ensuring that authors and artists are compensated for their work. In its current form in the US, however, it bears minimal resemblance at best to the beneficial forms of copyright of the past. The DMCA, in particular, has been the means for many abuses and attempted abuses, often in areas that seem to bear no relation at all to copyright — see, for instance, the Lexmark case on remanufactured printer cartridges, or the Chamberlain (Liftmaster) lawsuit against a manufacturer of universal garage door remotes. (Fortunately, Chamberlain lost the suit. I don't remember offhand if the Lexmark case has been resolved yet or not.)

Thomas Babington Macaulay delivered two brilliant discourses before the Parliament in 1841 and 1842 on the subject of copyright. His arguments are still entirely valid today. Both discourses are available in their entirety in the newsletter of the Baen Free Library, and both are highly recommended reading.

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