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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Blacksmiths and copyright

Cory Doctorow, at Boing Boing has some interesting things to say about copyright. Among them:

    Copyright is a system for regulating technology -- it regulates technologies used to make and distribute copies. We have lots of technology regulation in the world: there are rules that govern the operation of automobiles and rules that govern the marketing of electrical appliances. This isn't per se wrong.

    But when the 20 horsepower locomotive was invented, the blacksmiths weren't able to successfully lobby to have 80 horseshoes welded to each engine, despite the rule that said that every 'horse' used for transport needed four shoes. When you invent a railroad, you need railroad-rules for it, not horse-and-buggy rules. The facts that the railroad doesn't need shoes, or oats, or curry-combs don't reflect bugs in railroading: they are the feautres of railroading.

    The Internet has one overarching feature that makes it superior to the technologies that preceded it: it can copy arbitrary blobs of data from one place to another at virtually no cost, in virutally no time, with virtually no control. This is not a bug. This is what the Internet is supposed to do.

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