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Re: Google in Wall St. Journal


You are quite right that copyright exists to promote progress, 
but you omit how the Constitution says that may be accomplished: 
"by securing for limited Times to Author and Inventors the 
exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Here, as in so many things, the framers of the Constitution were 
wise. They recognized that to promote the public good exclusive 
rights, should be "for limited times"--that is, just enough to 
provide reward for innovation, but not so much as to hinder its 
application for the general good.

I think you are also right that a new era calls for a rethinking 
of that fine balance. In works of literature and entertainment, 
the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (Mickey Mouse Protection 
Act) seems to unduly favor corporate copyright holders, going 
well beyond "the limited time" needed to make investment in 
innovation worthwhile.

In scholarly publishing, I am afraid we are paying too little 
attention to copyright holders--yes, even those big, bad 
corporate ones. Simply because information is now much easier to 
collect and repurpose does not mean it always should be, if it 
means undercutting the reasonable return that makes investment in 
innovative communications solutions attractive.

I think many nonprofit and society publishers are offering a 
quite reasonable trade-off between protecting their investment in 
bringing manuscripts to market in quality, standardized form, and 
making the results of research freely available for the public 
good. It is regrettable that nonprofit publishers often get 
little credit for the socially responsible way in which that have 
made a huge body of literature freely available--a body of 
literature that is in aggregate of much greater quality and 
consequence than the literature from, say, the DOAJ journals.

In the frenzy to deprive publishers of even modest and 
responsible copyright protection on their significant investment 
much may be lost. Governments do not innovate--Medicare is the 
last major insurer to use paper forms, for example. Private 
organizations innovate, so long as their is some return in doing 
so. We should be careful not to remove that return by rolling 
back their copyright protection too far.

Peter Banks

On 12/6/06 6:21 PM, "adam hodgkin" <adam.hodgkin@gmail.com> wrote:

> Quite happy with that, but for whom is it beneficial? The point
> about copyright and IP in general is that this type of right was
> invented and defined (and recognised in the US constitution) not
> primarily for the benefit of the inventors or artists, but
> primarily for the benefit of society and culture ("To promote the
> Progress of Science and useful Arts"). The justifcation for
> copyright, as the friends of copyright should recognise, is lost
> if it does not promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.
> Where the limits to this property right are drawn is a matter of
> balance.
> A dramatically changed and global technology will lead to the
> balance of rights and obligations shifting. The supporters of
> copyright should welcome and encourage this. Since computer
> systems can use and compute texts in new ways the concept of
> 'fair use' of literary copyrights is due for some development and
> loosening. Not for entrenchment and stasis.
> Adam
> On 12/5/06, Joseph Esposito <espositoj@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Adam:
>> You use the phrase "not necessarily beneficial."  How does this
>> differ from "possibly beneficial"?  That's what the argument is
>> about, the difference between those two formulations.
>> Joe Esposito