Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Free culture or "digital barbarism"? A novelist on copyright; Ars Technica, 8/4/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; Free culture or "digital barbarism"? A novelist on copyright:

"In his newest book, novelist Mark Helprin sets out to single-handedly defend copyright from the barbarian freetard hordes. He advocates long-term copyright extensions and happily insults anyone who disagrees with him by comparing them to Idi Amin and Adolf Eichmann. The result is almost... uncivilized...

Given his temperament, it is unsurprising that he is no fan of "giving works back to the community," which happens when they fall out of copyright. But he recognizes that no less an authority than the Constitution says that copyrights are "for limited times" and are meant for the advancement of the community's art and science. What to do? In the op-ed, Helprin made a modest proposal.

"The genius of the framers in making this provision is that it allows for infinite adjustment. Congress is free to extend at will the term of copyright. It last did so in 1998, and should do so again, as far as it can throw. Would it not be just and fair for those who try to extract a living from the uncertain arts of writing and composing to be freed from a form of confiscation not visited upon anyone else? The answer is obvious, and transcends even justice. No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind."

Or, to sum up: Just keep on extending copyright, baby!"

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