October 10, 2003  ·  Lessig

Using machines to coordinate sharing content — that’s what this site is doing. And what they are doing is totally legal. Yet if the machines actually copied the content they shared, what they are doing would be a felony (according to some in the content industry). Does this trigger make sense?

  • http://home.uchicago.edu/~kldavis/weblog/ste.html Karl

    Yes, I think it makes perfect sense, unless you want to strip copyright of it’s meaning. Those people have every right to share the copies they own amongst themselves, but they do not have the right to make and distribute more copies (for most of the texts listed). It’s slightly silly to think of some sort of token system where only one person could read a digital work at a time, but we can’t throw out the protection of copyright for the sake of convenience.

    -kd

  • lessig

    would it make any difference if the works were out of print?

  • http://home.uchicago.edu/~kldavis/weblog/ste.html Karl

    I think that’s a slightly more interesting question.

    The idea that someone must be exercising their right to produce the book to maintain it is slightly troubling, but isn’t there a corollary with physical property?

    What would we define as ‘out of print’…a year since the last printing? a decade? a printer’s life plus 20 years?

    What if the printer was trying to create a shortage intentionally? Do the benefits of the monopoly granted by copyright carry the cost of providing the work to a public that demands it?

    -kd

  • John S.

    This sounds interesting. I notice they also have listings for DVDs. Companies like Netflix that rent DVDs online for a flat monthly fee surely will be unhappy about this. If I can watch 5 DVDs a month by paying $20 a month to Netflix, or by borrowing them using this service, its not a tough choice.

    Perhaps a system like this could allow a user N monthly rentals for every N movies listed as available in his personal collection.

  • http://the-goddess.org/blog/index.html Morgaine Swann

    The problem with all of this is that most of the money earned on a copy right in the past went to the people who produced the package – book, CD, etc – and distributed it, while the person who generated the content was paid very little. The original copy right didn’t stay with the artist.

    Now that information is digital, and we no longer need books or CD’s to get the same information, the companies that packaged and marketed them are freaking out.

    Any kid with a Mac can make and market his own music. I can pay for that music on line and have it instantly, knowing that 100% is going to the artist as opposed to 5 or 10 percent. I can write a book and put it out in PDF and sell it for instant download on Amazon.

    This isn’t about copyright. It’s about big corporations losing their ability to make money off of work they didn’t create. Our methods of doing business are so entrenched that they aren’t able to accomodate the new technologies and still make money. Instead of suing little kids who trade files, the RIAA should be finding better ways sell music electronically, invest in developing the technologies we need to access the information, and focus on broadcast and live performances.

    Making any kind of file sharing a felony is absurd. It is, however, one way these companies can squeeze a little more money out of consumers before the technology puts them out of business.

  • Matthew Saroff

    I agree with the Cato institute on this, but it’s not a trend.

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  • http://www.knowprose.com/mtentries/ Taran

    Can anyone prove that anything is being used at the same time? If not, I think it’s Fair Use.