Over on Doc Searls’ DG, Timothy Philips makes a really profound statement: “Copyright law exists to enlarge the public domain. That’s all.”

On its face it seemed false to me, which is why it’s so interesting. Copyright law is certainly counter-intuitive—we lock things up so that more things will be free? It’s very close to the GPL in fact—the GPL adds more restrictions so that other works will have less.

Certainly current copyright law hasn’t lived up to these goals. The public domain hasn’t gotten much larger since 1929! This statement is a concise way of explaining why copyright must serve the public and protect progress and it certainly makes you think. Thanks, Timothy.

It seems clear to me that this is the next battle. Once we’ve stopped the absurd regulations like the DMCA and Coble’s bill, we need to go back and remove all the crud that’s been added to copyright law over the years. I’d love to see it pushed back to fourteen years, renewable once. Even retroactively—that’d show them! Stay tuned.

[For crying out loud Dave, [the Berman-Coble bill] is super simple. If I build a house and people try to sleep in it I can kick them out.]

posted August 28, 2002 10:45 AM (Politics) #


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Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)