Rethinking Copyright

Subject: Rethinking Copyright
Date: ti 01 huhti  1997 - 23:15:28 EEST

Dear reader,

I would like to make a few statements and I would be very interested
in what you're thoughts on these matters are. I'm aware of the
fact that my message is quite long, so I would appreciate it if you
would bear with me till the end.

When we're thinking about how to adapt the copyright system to the
Internet, a few important questions shouldn't be disregarded:

1. What is the main purpose of the copyright-system?
2. Who are the players on the Internet in the copyright battle fieldt?
3. What do we want to achieve with an Internet-adapted copyright
4. How can we achieve this goal?
5. What are possible solutions?

ad. 1: The way I see it, the original purpose of copyright was to
develop a system that would create an incentive for writers and artists
to deliver works for the public to read and enjoy. Proliferation of
knowledge and free access to this knowledge was one of the main

ad 2: If you go back to the basics, only the people who produce the
works, and the people who consume them we're party in the
copyright-system. Because the dissemination of tangible works needed
expensive printing presses and complex distribution systems, new
parties were introduced to the system, parties such as publishers.
The copyright system however, was not developed for protecting these
new parties. In time they became very powerful and formed strong lobby
groups. Publishers should, in my opinion, rethink their role in the
digital environment because for a substantial part of the role they
play in the analoque world, there is no need for in the digital world.
They are clinging on to their old rights and because of their
powerfull position they are hindering the development of a really
adaptive, progressive Internet copyright system.

ad 3: The new copyright system should take the new circumstances into
account. The fact that works are no longer tangible but liquid,
changes the basic premise. The fact that works are now digital changes
the game and along with this hange the players of the game change. The
present copyright system is created with the intrests of the parties
of the analoque world in mind. Because new copyright treaties include
the normal civilians a new balance has to be found. Civilians should
also be able to understand the law which applies to them else it will
not be maintainable. Before we start thinking about new law we should
try to find an answer to the question whether the new circumstances
really disrupt the balance which the copyright-system has to maitain.
Because the market for the present rightsholders has grown immensely
I'm not so sure that the revenue for the creators will diminish (if it
diminishes at all) that much that they will stop creating works.

ad 4: I think we should start thinking from scratch and take into
consideration the unique circumstances on the Internet. I'm not saying
we should eliminate all of the existing law, but we should very
carefully evaluate what applies in the digital world and not just copy
the copyright law into the Internet (a world we don't really know at
this moment). In my point of view, a good law that applies to the
normal guy in the street is a law that he can understand, that he
finds reasonable and to which he is bound by a moral compulsion. This
is not achieved by applying the present copyright law on the Internet
and certainly not by enforcing the fences which already didn't work in
the analogue world. I'm not alone in saying we should create a
moratorium for legislation and see how the customs develope on the
Internet. We can learn from practise, and at the point we think we
understand the premises of the Net, than we can start thinking about
new laws. We should not let ourselves be rushed into laws we will by
no means be able to maintain, for this will undermine it's credibility
and undermine the credebility of future law.

ad 5:
a. the reproduction right should be abolished and paid acces to
information should be the new standard; I understand the state of mind
is not yet ready for this radical approach. Untill this happens I am
in favour of permitting home-copying in the
digital environment (as long as it doesn't interfere with the normal
exploitation of the work). Not a good, but rather a practical reason
for coming to this view is that controlling homecopying is not
possible, not reasonable and it is my opinion that trying to control
it would invade the privacy in a way that is unnacceptable;
b. commercial exploitation should remain the exclusive right of the
creator, but we should reconsider the duration of this right;
c. we should create a secondary copyright net which aggragates enough money
to create an incentive to writers and artists. Since in he analogue
world a maximum of 20% of the profit from the exploitation reaches the
pockets of the creators of the work this net should create at least
this amount, for instance by paid access.

These are just a few thougts going through my head, and I'm aware of
the fact that they need some refining. Since the centrlal thesis of
my article is the abolishment of the reproduction right, I'm
especially interested on your views regarding that subject. Could
anybody give me some feedback on the above mentioned. Maybe somebody
knows any good sites where I can find papers and articles about the
reproduction right and the rest of the mentioned subjects.

Thank you very much for bringing up the patience for reading this mail
and I hope you will take the time to respond.

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