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Re: CLUEBAT: copyrights, infringement, violations, and legality

Paul Hampson wrote:

> On Tue, Jan 28, 2003 at 11:16:24PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > [Followup to -legal.]
> > 
> > Okay, I'm going to a pull an RMS and plead for a change in our
> > collective use of certain terms.
> > 
> > * Under U.S. law and the laws of most countries I'm familiar with,
> >   copyright IS NOT A NATURAL RIGHT.
> Is this comparable to "the right to bear arms"?

Legally speaking, I suppose so. The "right to bear arms" is guaranteed by
the US Constitution (not that has much effect these days).

> Copyright is the right to make copies. That's the morphology of the
> word... The logical leap comes in that it is an exclusive right.

Then ignore the word (which is misleading; it's just a word) and examine
its definition and history in law.

> > Now, then, do
> > you think Euclid held a copyright in the _Elements_?
> Bad example. The elements are not an expression of an idea. They are the
> matter themselves... Of course, the US Patent Office would probably have
> granted him a patent on them...

Euclid's 'Elements' is no simply a catalog.

> >  Did the apostles
> > of Jesus hold a copyright in the gospels?
> The Evangelists? Of course. If I write a book, isn't it mine to control
> who reads it?

No. If you believe that, then you have no grasp of copyright whatsoever.
Copyright controls the making of copies, not the distribution of copies
that were lawfully made.

> >  If so, when did these
> > copyrights expire, or have they?  If they haven't, who controls them
> Of course they should. Once the author (or authors) are dead, then time
> should run out. Copyright isn't an asset to be bought and sold, it's a
> right.

Now you're really showing how little you understand the subject. Copyright
can indeed be bought and sold; in fact, this is how freelance writers make
their living. When you sell an article to a publication, you are selling
the copyright.

> If I write my life's work, the book that will make me rich and famous,
> and someone takes a photocopy, puts his name on it and sells it as his
> work,

That is not merely a copyright issue, but also a matter of proper
attribution. Your financial rewards may be reduced by copying, but
your literary reputation is not, unless your name is removed. So let's
not muddle the issue; attribution is separate from copyright.

> is that as bad as if someone burns your house down while you're
> not there... After all, a house and contents is just stuff. A book is
> concentrated effort and achievement. (Extreme, I know. The point I'm
> making is still valid, I feel.)

No, it isn't. You don't own a house, do you? I do. I've put a LOT of
concentrated, creative effort into mine, even though I didn't build it


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