Copyright [was Re: Python obfuscation]

The Eternal Squire eternalsquire at
Sun Nov 13 06:18:20 CET 2005

>Perhaps there is no way to make a living from writing novels without
>copyright. There is no way to make a living from playing solitaire either
>-- should the government pass a law giving a legal monopoly on playing red
>queen on a black king to my granny, so that everyone playing that move
>has to pay her ten cents? That would make her old age so much more
>comfortable. If you object to my proposal, I can ask "But without it, how
>could one possibly make a living playing solitaire?"

Reductio de absurdum counterargument.

>If their "one software idea of a lifetime" is as pointless, useless and
>just *bad* as the average would-be "Great American Novel", then copyright
>or no copyright nobody will want their poxy code. Sourceforge is full of
>software projects, 90% of which go nowhere.

Thomas Edison (I think it was him) once said it took 999 failures to
make 1 success.  That makes SourceForge 10 times more successful.

>The world is filled with
>millions of wanna-be poets, writers and creators whose sum total
>contribution to the artistic wealth of the world is negative.

>I'm not just using hyperbole. By poisoning the well with their garbage,
>they just make it that little bit harder for genuinely talented artists to
>be heard.

Whose opinion?  Yours, or the market's?

>Despite this, people keep trying to write the Great American Novel.
>Creative artists will create, even if they would be economically better
>off washing dishes at Greasy Joe's Diner for a buck an hour. Michaelangelo
>didn't stop painting because he had no copyright protection.

And so the only valid income for a creative type is psychic income?

>The natural state of things is not copyright. "No copyright" is not
>punishing the author any more than "no flying unicorns" is punishing
>little girls with a fantasy for flying through the sky on the back of a
>horned horse. It is just the way things are.

Nature can be cruel. Do we dare drink unpasteurized milk because
natural is always good?  For millenia slavery and serfdom were
considered "natural", but it caused endless human misery.  And what
about plumbing and flush toilets?  Those are not natural means to
convey eliminated wastes, but having just that in a society increases
the life expectancy of all its members by at least 10%.

The purpose of humanity is to NOT accept the way the things are... but
to apply compassion in all situations which if unaided cause great pain
and suffering.

>Copyright is a gift granted by the government, not the natural state of
>the world. When kings and emperors and presidents give commercial and
>economic gifts, like monopolies, they rarely are for the benefit of the

Last I knew, we had government by, for, and of the people.  We give
these gifts to ourselves, our officials serve at our pleasure.  I
believe we decided to choose to give ourselves the gift of copyright
because that way a creator can be rewarded for his efforts rather than
his hiers.

>Lots of ideas have no legal monopoly. There is no legal monopoly on (say)
>good gardening skills, or the specific way of mixing the batter to make
>extra light and fluffy bread.

Reductio de absurdum counterargument again.

>Why should some ideas be privileged over others?

This is a corallary of the idea that people have the right to pursue
happiness... which could basically mean either increased convience of
life, longer lifespan,  or greater joy within.  Any idea which
increases happiness in a society as a whole is more worthwhile than an
idea which does not.  And the market decides which is which.

>Lack of copyright doesn't need to be defended, as it is the natural state
>of the world.

And again, is everything about nature always good?  God made us just a
little less than the angels, so that we could apply our sense of
compassion to natural situations that are bound to cause misery.
Copyright produces less misery, IMHO, than it causes.

>But my point is that there is a serious lack of evidence one way or the other

Billions of dollars supporting the lives of hundred of thousands of
people is pretty strong evidence that we are doing something right.

>and what
>evidence there is suggests strongly that over-strong copyright laws (like
>we have now) are bad for *everyone*, and that weaker copyright (as in the
>early 20th century) would be better.

And here is the crux of the debate.  If good, how strong should it be?
Strong enough so that the creator pay his rent and his food and put his
children through college.  No so strong that a new creator can't derive
a worthwhile new work from the old.

>In any case, piracy is demonstrably *not* bad for everyone. The entire US
>movie industry would not exist if not for patent infringement: the baby
>industry was being choked out of existence by the high royalties and
>licence fees demanded by the holders of Thomas Edison's patents, until
>they fled to California where enforcement was lax.

But that's apples versus oranges, patent is far different from

> It churns my stomach to see
>thieves and con artists like the RIAA trying to take the moral high ground
>with talk of "copying is theft".

Copying is theft of opportunity for the creator to be rewarded for his
efforts.  The RIAA serves an important role in attempting to introduce
this idea as part of our social norms and courtesies.

>The mistake is only think of piracy as lost revenue.

Piracy occurs when the taking occurs without the consent of the
creator.  Derivation and reverse engineering are not piracy, and has
been shown as such in court.  Admittedly there is a very thin line.
And open source is not piracy, as the consent is given.

More information about the Python-list mailing list