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Re: Google books

2010/1/7 jrc <jrccea@bellsouth.net>:
> I agree with Jeff on this.  I sit on a board that earns part of its income
> from the copyrights of the author Robert A. Heinlein.  We use that money to
> support the public library in his home town.  Piracy is a problem for us.  I
> can not buy into the thought that intellectual or other rights belong to all
> of us.

Jim, it's nice for you that you happen to benefit from the work of a
twenty-years dead author; but surely the mere fact that you come out
of the copyright equation ahead of the game shouldn't influence
whether or not you think its _right_.  To pick a reductio-ad-absurdum
parallel, that would be like supporting slavery because your family
benefits from having slaves.  Support for the current copyright regime
must surely come from consideration of whether it's _right_, not of
who benefits.

It's a matter of public record that the U.S. Constitution provides
that copyright is "for limited times"; so the idea now so often
assumed that an author's heirs should continue to benefit from her
work indefinitely is quite unconstitutional.  It's also the case that
the first copyright law enacted under the U.S. Constitution provided a
term of 14 years with the option to renew for 14 further years.  That
is a very far cry from the current arrangement, in which copyright
runs until 70 years after the author's death -- something which is
difficult to reconcile with the stated purpose of copyrights and other
IP laws, "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" given
that most authors don't produce much good work during the 70 years
after their death.

Anyway: I am not trying to argue here that the early lawmakers with
their 14-year term were necessarily better judges than the more
contemporary life-plus-70-years lawmakers.  All I'm saying is that, in
trying to figure out which of these copyright terms best serves the
stated role of copyright, we're going to need some better arguments
than "My library happens to benefit under the current regime".

(Also: don't forget that if copyright still ran for 14 years, the
money you get from Heinlein's works would likely by swamped by what
you save by not having to cough up for works older than 14 years.)

> JimC
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Jeff Hecht" <jeff@jeffhecht.com>
> To: <dannj@alphalink.com.au>; <dinosaur@usc.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:09 PM
> Subject: Re: Google books
>> Some of us make part or all of our living from writing. Yes, I like people
>> to read what I write, but I also want to eat. When I found a copy of one of
>> my books on a file-sharing site, I told my publisher to send them a
>> take-down notice.