[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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

On Wed, 29 Jan 2003 cfm@maine.com wrote:

> On Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 08:47:21PM +1300, Philip Charles wrote:
> > On Tue, 28 Jan 2003, 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.  It is a government-granted limited
> >
> > *****
> >
> > Phil runs to his dictionary of ethics.  A summary of the theories of
> > "Rights"
> > 1.  Rights are "natural" or "God given".  The US position?
> > 2.  A contract between the state and individual where the individual has
> > Rights that cannot be contracted away (inalienable).
> > 3.  Prima facie.  Well, it is obvious what is a Right and what is not.
> > 4.  Utilitarian.  Rights promote the general welfare of individuals.
> > 5.  Totalitarian.  The state decides what is a Right and what is not.
> >
> Brandon's arguments are based on the reasoning of the Founding Fathers
> when they first put together US.  Copyright was given by the government
> to the artist to encourage creations so that the commonwealth would
> benefit as the work became available without restrictions after a
> LIMITED time.  The deal was "to promote growth of science, etc... which
> benefit us all we'll give you (copy)rights for a limited time" after
> which work became public domain.

>From the utilitarian viewpoint, I quite agree, and it seems from the above
that in the USA copyright was granted for utilitarian reasons and can be
changed when circumstances change.

> In that sense, trying to understand "copyright" as a right is
> misleading.  It's more of a social contract (2).  I don't understand
> the "inalienable" part in the contract; contracts can be changed, eg
> the interpretation of the word "limited".

The social contract theories are generally based on the idea that the
citizens grant powers to the state, but that certain areas have been
excluded from this grant.  These exclusions are the citizens Rights.  The
state has not been given the legal power to interfere with these Rights,
so they are inalienable.  This is based on a bottom up theory of the
creation of a state.

As a New Zealander I live in a country that does not have a written
constitution.  As a result there is a strong tendency for lawmaking to be
based on utilitarian principles with the corresponding attitude that
Rights have a utilitarian basis.  Mind you, if a great power starts to
lean on us to enact a certain copyright law which normally we would
reject, then utilitarianism would probably say it is in the interests of
NZ citizens to enact it to keep on good terms with that power.

In short, I find the political/legal system of the US confusing.  Good
luck with the US battle.  I can only cheer from the sidelines.


  Philip Charles; 39a Paterson Street, Abbotsford, Dunedin, New Zealand
   +64 3 488 2818        Fax +64 3 488 2875        Mobile 025 267 9420
     philipc@copyleft.co.nz - preferred.          philipc@debian.org
     I sell GNU/Linux & GNU/Hurd CDs.   See http://www.copyleft.co.nz

Reply to: