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Re: [OT] Droit d'auteur vs. free software

On Sun, May 18, 2003 at 04:40:01PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> Yes, which is why European copyright law is fundamentally opposed to 
> free speech.

There isn't harmony among all European jurisdictions in matters of
copyright, so this statement seems overbroad.

> This basis for copyright is expressly forbidden by the United States
> Constitution, despite some abusive laws and court rulings recently.

I think this is also overbroad; however, I do not think the
unconstitutional development of copyright laws are a recent phenomenon.

I think in theory it should be possible to construct a scheme for
copyrights and patents that would not run afoul of the First Amendment,
for instance through mandatory licensing and mechanical royalties
rendered from producers of works designed to reap a profit.

Under such an arrangement, not-for-profit organizations could publish or
build anything they like without having to pay royalties to copyright
or patent holders.  If one sought to make a profit, though, one could
share the wealth.

> There are other concepts which have been the basis of legal systems 
> in the past which are also dangerous, and are also still very real and 
> alive.

What do you mean by "in the past"?

> For instance: "All rights whatsoever come from the king (or government)".  

Today: "you have whatever rights are compatible with 'compelling state

> As opposed to "People are endowed by their creator with certain 
> unalienable rights".

The Delcaration of Independence is not binding upon anyone even in
theory, and is used by the U.S. government for toilet paper just as the
Bill of Rights is.

> For another instance: "Some people are obviously inferior to others, 
> and should be treated so by the legal system".

Indeed.  Some people are "enemy combatants", not entitled to any rights
whatsoever, even when they haven't been convicted of -- or even charged
with -- a crime.[2]

> For another instance: "Criticizing the government obviously means that 
> you are disloyal and treasonous."


> Under the US system as envisioned by the Founders, some rights may be
> natural (such as the right to be identified as the author or not), but
> copyright, which can be used to *suppress* speech, is *not* natural;
> it is an artificial government-granted right.

Well, whatever we have in the U.S. today, it ain't what was envisioned
by the Founders.

[1] http://www.thrf.org/cases/Lawrence.htm
[2] http://cnss.gwu.edu/~cnss/combatants.htm
[3] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010926-5.html

G. Branden Robinson                |    You can have my PGP passphrase when
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    you pry it from my cold, dead
branden@debian.org                 |    brain.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Adam Thornton

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