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

On Fri, Jan 31, 2003 at 07:41:15PM +1100, Paul Hampson wrote:

> > I'm saying that you seem to be confused by the word. You're analyzing
> > its etymology and deriving its meaning and properties based on that.
> > This is the wrong way to analyze a legal term. Instead, you should be
> > looking at how it actually works in law, and the history of that law.
> > Given the same legislation, you could call it "football" and it would
> > still behave the same: by printing and selling copies of my story, you
> > are infringing on my football, and I can sue you and reasonably expect
> > to win damages and an order that you cease distributing my story. The
> > name 'copyright' is not important.

> I'm saying the meaning drives the word, not the word drives the meaning.
> I could call it "football", but it wouldn't provide a very clear idea of
> what it represents. Wouldn't the obvious default assumption be that
> people choose the right words for new concepts? (I'm aware this is quite
> frequently not true, but as a default assumption....)

> I'm saying that 'copyright' the word is evidence that we are discussing
> rights here, not that 'copyright' the word is the cause of the concept
> being a right.

That's begging the question, though.

> At this point, I looked back at the original email, and I can't see
> what you're suggest copyright is, if not a right... Neither 'privelege'
> nor 'responsibility' seemed to appear in your email, and those are the
> words I immediately associate with things that are not rights.... I
> don't think they're appropriate, either.

In the US formulation of the concept, copyright *is* a privilege: the
copyright bargain grants a limited monopoly to authors in the belief that
doing so will encourage the advancement of the arts and sciences.
Unfortunately, the word "right" is so heavily overloaded in English that
this nuance is easily lost.

To put it another way, anything that's granted to you by a government,
particularly in exchange for something else, is not really a right (a
natural right).

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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