[Policy] [Tech] Stallman on Intellectual Property

Richard Stallman makes very intriguing arguments in favor of scaling back copyright protection. It makes sense for the big media companies to keep pushing for stronger copyright protection, because it's in their selfish best interests, but
it's likely this will hinder innovation that would create an even larger pie that more people could partake in (though whether that's true or not, my magic eight-ball can't tell).


The article misstated my views when it said I am "against intellectual property". That term has no meaning except a confused mishmash of copyright law, patent law, and trademark law, and using the term leads people to simplistic, extreme, confused views. To be either for or against "intellectual property" is equally foolish. We can encourage careful thinking by rejecting that simplitic slogan.

In US law, copyright is a deal between the public and authors: the public sold the freedom to republish, which only publishers could do anyway, and gained more progress. Progress is valuable, but freedoms that we want to use are even more valuable. Nowadays, that includes the freedom to share copies on the internet. To make copyright law a good deal for the public, we should scale it back. If this means some companies and a handful of superstars make less than their wildest dreams, Prendergast may be shocked, but Adam Smith would not have been.

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