Researching and writing about piracy (as I do from time to time) means that I occasionally wash up on the shores of copyright theory and practice. A couple of recent posts proved helpful on that front.
In an essay featured on the Guardian’s blog, Cory Doctorow asks, “What do we want copyright to do?” Doctorow lays out a coherent argument for copyright laws that are both evidence-based (demonstrating harm, not just positing that some negative outcome might result) and “balanced”:
“In my world, copyright’s purpose is to encourage the widest participation in culture that we can manage – that is, it should be a system that encourages the most diverse set of creators, creating the most diverse set of works, to reach the most diverse audiences as is practical.”
At techdirt, Mike Masnick writes a good companion piece to Doctorow’s essay. In “Just calling something property doesn’t make it property”, Masnick provides in concise fashion much of the argument made forcefully by William Patry in his 2009 book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars.
As I’ve written before, I’m not a copyright expert, but it seems to me that debates about piracy and publishing business models are rooted in certain (sometimes untested) assumptions about the role of copyright. Patry, Doctorow and Masnick provide a good grounding to test our assumptions.