Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The GNU manifesto briefly mentions the idea that existing copyright laws are based on an older form of media (i.e. the printed book), which bears similarities to what Andrea said about DC Ch. 3: "I feel there is no way of getting around tying the Internet to the existing media systems." This really is something societies have struggles with (see Cory Docortow's interview here, he's from the Electronic Freedom Foundation who fight for things like P2P). But is this really valid to use the old media paradigms to regulate new media? Perhaps a more germane question is: What is the alternative?

The GNU guy gives a race analogy for copyright: By rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. He says that copyright laws should encourage creativity not limit use, which in new media (such as software), he says, the opposite is true. I find that arguement compelling. It seems throughout new media, all the laws are designed to limit uses. In fact, I can't think of a single situation designed to encourage me to use new media in a different way (such as sampling). Can anyone else?

Finally, in a partial response to Chris, who said: "but artists don’t just paint for fun – they also have to sell their works to make a living." The GNU guy disagrees, as do I. Most artists do paint for fun. The same way most basketball players, musicians, or woodworkers do their things for fun. I see no reason programming can't be the same way. Furthermore, think of all the people who volunteer their time to do things like rip songs from their CD's/Tapes/records and convert them to MP3's just to share that music. They've got no monetary incentive to do something like that, they've already got the music. Is there an opportunity for profit here? Maybe, maybe not, but nevertheless, something that might be considered work (the translation of data from one language to another) is being done for free. Might this be a part of the solution to the New Media/copyright issue?

Paul Medenwaldt

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