Crowd Sourcing Against Perpetual Copyright

Colin and/or Michele, Everyday Literacies, May 22, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I read the editorial in the NY Times proposing that copyrights last forever and dismissed it as a ridiculous argument. Basically, the author's claim is that the expiration of copyright is akin to the government seizure of private property. Which is ridiculous, since copyright, insofar as it is property, exists only because of government intervention. Anyhow, in all the discussion over this editorial I am surprised to note that commentators have missed the author's primary intent - to reframe the debate by putting perpetual copyright on the table as a viable option. Which it never was until now. And all of a sudden life plus 75 years looks pretty good, by comparison. The campaign by Lessig and others to respond to the argument has the effect of embracing the new frame. The editorial should have been dismissed out of hand as ridiculous and then forgotten, not debated as though it were a real alternative.
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