Saturday, January 30, 2016

Aaron Swartz and copyright wars in the Internet age; Boston Globe, 1/28/16

Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe; Aaron Swartz and copyright wars in the Internet age:
"Swartz is a particularly tragic casualty of a conflict as old as the Gutenberg Bible. When copycats can easily republish the latest Charles Dickens novel or Adele CD, how will artists and publishers get paid? But laws to protect intellectual-property rights can cripple the free exchange of ideas.
Justin Peters seems as helpless as the rest of us to resolve this dilemma. But in his lucid and witty new book, he ably sketches the contours of the dilemma...
Peters places Swartz’s well-meant misdeeds in historical context, showing how this young man was one of many smart, ambitious combatants on both sides of the copyright wars.
"I can’t fault Peters’s sympathy for Swartz, and I share his opinion that the prosecutorial sledgehammer fell much too hard. But Peters seems a little too inclined to play the populist, sneering at the pro-copyright arguments of publishers. Yes, our current intellectual property statutes are absurdly restrictive. But apart from strong protections, how would artists and writers hope to make a decent living?
The conundrum continues, with activists on both sides engaged in constant efforts to redraw the boundaries. Peters’s new book is an excellent survey of the battlefield, and a sobering memorial to its most tragic victim."

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