Two takes on reforming copyright

A few days ago an interesting article was published on "Promise of a post-illegal copy world. Part I: History of Intellectual Property". It's part one of the series of three essays on copyright and intellectual property. The author, "The BlackMan", argues that IP as a concept is false and gives mulpitle arguments to cover that thesis. As radical as it sounds, it's an interesting point of view, probably not more radical than the point of view of organizations like RIAA or MPAA which arue that "fair  use" should be limited as it "hurts their wallets".

Cory Docrorow in his Guardian article Copyright, companies, individuals and news: the rules of the road says — in opposition to TheBlackMan — that copyright is actually the best we can get. Just like democracy it is flawed but we don't have anything better.
And he gives examples of proper fair use, drawing the line between commercial and non-commercial copying:

While there's a lot of grey area between "commercial" and "non-commercial", there are also some bright lines. Newspapers

should have to pay photographers for stock images; kids working on school reports (and other non-commercial users) should be able to clip images and use them for without negotiating a rights agreement with a copyright holder.

He also comes up with the idea of "accidental copying":

Incidental use isn't infringement. If […] photo includes a blowing piece of trash bearing a copyrighted work (say, a copy of the Independent), [the author] should still be allowed to sell and publish his photo without the Independent's permission. Incidental copying includes (for example), Google copying every page on the web in order to create an index of the words on those pages.

The general idea is that copying should be allowed if it does not "displace any revenue for the rightsholder". The hard part is how to prove it.

I recommend reading both texts, the ideological one of TheBlackMan and the practical one by Doctorow. They both form an interesting opposition to the "official line".

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