January 28, 2003
Copyright and Creative Commons Explained

Jonathon Delacour puts copyright and creative commons in context:

I must have read dozens of articles and weblog posts about copyright, the public domain, and the Creative Commons without understanding the philosophical standpoint from which arguments for expanding the public domain were mounted.

Then I read the essay in the Economist.

referring to a very interesting article from The Economist:
Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. Its sole purpose was to encourage the circulation of ideas by giving creators and publishers a short-term incentive to disseminate their work. Over the past 50 years, as a result of heavy lobbying by content industries, copyright has grown to such ludicrous proportions that it now often inhibits rather than promotes the circulation of ideas, leaving thousands of old movies, records and books languishing behind a legal barrier. Starting from scratch today, no rational, disinterested lawmaker would agree to copyrights that extend to 70 years after an author's death, now the norm in the developed world.

Digital technologies are not only making it easier to copy all sorts of works, but also sharply reducing the costs of creating or distributing them, and so also reducing the required incentives. The flood of free content on the internet has shown that most creators do not need incentives that stretch across generations. To reward those who can attract a paying audience, and the firms that support them, much shorter copyrights would be enough. The 14-year term of the original 18th-century British and American copyright laws, renewable once, might be a good place to start.

Something tells me that 14 years will be more than enough time for me to own the copyright of the contents of this weblog as well, and I'm going to look into the Creative Commons Licences...

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