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First, there is no such thing as intellectual property. There is the modern political creation called copyright, which is a temporary monopoly in the reproduction of words and music. But this monopoly rests, not on any power inherent in government, but on the domination of a particular technology — a technology now being displaced.
For most of human history, copyright did not exist. The reason is fairly straightforward. If you wanted your words reproduced, discouraging other people from reproducing them was not the way to go. People who copied your words were doing you a favor, they were not stealing from you.
The printing press changed all this, of course. But even with triumph of print, there was no effective copyright until quite recently. Again, the reason is easy to discern. Pre-modern governments simply lacked the power to control what printers printed (see eighteenth century Britain). Or rather, to the extent that governments attempted to create a monopoly in the reproduction of words, it was a monopoly created on behalf of printers - not authors. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that copyright actually provided a means for authors to “own” their works, and to make a living.
Now this government monopoly is in the process of disappearing. Again, it is not hard to figure out why. It made no sense to have copyright in the centuries before the printing press, and it will now make no sense to have copyright when digital copying is free, instantaneous, automatic, and universal. Music is only the cutting edge. When once digital displays become as portable, and as easy to read, as printed books and magazines — then copyright in words is also gone.
As George Gilder puts it, if you have ten million customers who routinely “steal” your product, you don’t have a theft problem, you have a marketing problem.p>It’s a new world, Mr. Rocca. You’d better get used to it. br> — Jefferson White br> Hilliard, Ohio /p>
I read Francis X. Rocca’s article “Download Freeloaders” with some apprehension. I say that as I have worked in the digital medium all my life as programmer, designer and developer. The problem is Mr. Rocca has been reading too many of the RIAA pamphlets. Consider:
• It costs < $2 to produce a record to label before distribution. Why are CD’s $15-25 in the stores?
• Why are artists, who can get a label, receiving only $3 of the total?
• The holder of record for song titles are not the artists! Most artists in order to get a label have to sign away their rights to not only their current but up to 5-8 additional albums. The RIAA represents the publishers, which is not the same thing as the artist.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?