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

Scripsit Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>

> * Under U.S. law and the laws of most countries I'm familiar with,
>   copyright IS NOT A NATURAL RIGHT.
>   So, let us not speak of "copyrights" in the same way we do "rights".

Your point seems to be that you think that the word "right" by itself
implies that the right in question is a natural one, and that we
should therefore refrain from calling "copyright" a "right".

Far be it from me to claim that my grasp of English is better than
yours, but would you please then suggest a term that we can use when
speaking about "rights" in the everyday sense, meaning the power to
make the judicial system enforce something, irrespective of whether
that right is perceived as "natural" or not?

> * Some countries, particularly some in Europe, have a concept of "moral
>   rights" that attach to creative works.  I admit I am not too familiar
>   with these, but they are not the same thing as copyright and have
>   little in common with copyright.

Over here they do. The right to be identified as the work's author,
etc., and the monpoly on copymaking, are two facets of the very same
legal concept, at least in Danish law and to the best of my knowledge
in EU law in general. We call this concept "ophavsret", which could be
literally translated to "authorship right" - but the only English word
that would be generally recognised as denoting the same concept is

> * Because copyrights are not inherent, are not natural rights, are not
>   granted by God, but in fact merely incentive programs instituted by
>   governments, one does not "violate" the rights of anyone when one
>   disregards or acts contrary to a person's copyright.

You seem to be happy enough with speaking about "infringing"
copyrights. Is there some kind of deep difference between "infringe"
and "violate"?

> * For many years, copyright infringement wasn't even illegal.

"Illegal" is a fuzzy word anyway, and is best avoided completely when
speaking about legal matters. In some contexts people use it narrowly
to speak of acts which the state has decided to forbid under threat of
punishment - in other contexts people will use the word about such
things as contract clauses that are simply unenforceable because the
law explictly supersedes contract terms in specific cases.

Henning Makholm                             "Det er du nok fandens ene om at
                                         mene. For det ligger i Australien!"

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