New Book Shows How Our Common Culture Has Been Locked Up Via Copyright
from the and-that's-not-good dept
The review, linked above, explains that the book goes through the history of how cultures used to be about sharing, and how the originators of our intellectual property laws were quite concerned about it being used to lock up culture:
The United States' Founding Fathers supported far less restrictive commons than have come to pass. Hyde writes about "John Adams attacking the Stamp Act as a tax on knowledge, Benjamin Franklin encouraging skilled artisans to smuggle technical expertise out of England, James Madison explaining why unlimited copyright undermines civic and religious liberty, and Thomas Jefferson trying to get a prohibition on patent monopolies written into the Bill of Rights." Copyrights and patents originated as brief tradeoffs, minimal, transient monopolies granted to stimulate and reward invention.Frankly, it sounds like an excellent companion book to James Boyle's The Public Domain. The one complaint in the review is that Hyde does a great job explaining the problem, but does little to suggest a way to fix things. The reviewer points out that this leaves the reader "saddened -- and frustrated -- by his demonstration of what's been taken." Of course, considering how frequently I hear similar feelings from folks reading this blog, I would imagine many of you might find the book quite interesting.
Hyde charts corporate interests' erosion of these views, restricting sharing of even long-iconic creativity, the prolonging of copyright terms and the widening boundaries of exclusive ownership. These days, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, lobbied for by major media companies, assures personal copyrights for life plus 70 years and corporate rights typically enduring from 95 to 120 years.
By the way, if you'd like to see a lecture of Hyde talking about some of the concepts in this book, the following hour-long video discusses some of the concepts that are also covered in the book: