Misinterpreting Copyright

Richard Stallman Says: Something strange and dangerous is happening in copyright law. Under the U.S. Constitution, copyright exists to benefit users β€” those who read books, listen to music, watch movies, or run software β€” not for the sake of publishers or authors. Yet even as people tend increasingly to reject and disobey the copyright restrictions imposed on them β€œfor their own benefit,” the U.S. government is adding more restrictions, and trying to frighten the public into obedience with harsh new penalties.

How did copyright policies come to be diametrically opposed to their stated purpose? And how can we bring them back into alignment with that purpose? To understand, we should start by looking at the root of United States copyright law: the U.S. Constitution.


That is, he misinterprets copyright as stated in the Constitution. It is expressly stated as a tool to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," and I find that hard to read other than as promoting new creation through rewards.

Thus it's not surprising that Stallman comes up with a ten-year copyright, with the hope of reducing it further. Which, among other things, means Isaac Asimov would have earned $0 royalties for the Foundation Trilogy.

I might agree with much of what Stallman's saying, but he overstates the anti-copyright case, perhaps not quite as much as Big Media tends to overstate the permacopyright case. (This isn't surprising, given Stallman's general philosophy.)

The essay by RMS is a wee bit extreme. He's updated it a few times with the latest round being in 2007. I find it odd that he only focuses on actions taken by a Democrat-led administration. Too many of the names he mentions are familiar as expected leaders in Mr. Obama's new administration later this month.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
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Stallman is only focusing on actions taken by a Democrat-led administration because that was the last time their was a major extension to copyright.

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