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Rejecting the Licensing Culture

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Have you ever replied to an email message by including the sender's email message? Did you ask for a license first?

I'm sorry, but you are guilty of copyright infringement, and may be liable for prosecution, as lovingly explained whenever we watch a prerecorded video.

Yes, it's true. Copyright is completely out of control in this country. It all started with "copyright reform" in 1976 and it's only gotten worse. Cautious publishers collect permission for EVERY image, photo, or quotation that might come from somewhere else. Never mind the notion of "fair use;" many publishers pretend it doesn't exist.

As a teacher, I rely heavily on "fair use" exemptions. Some classroom materials have a clear and simple licensing regime, but a lot of things are just "out there" without a clear process for licensing. It seriously interferes with education and even free speech when everything needs a license.

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The electronic library debate continues

Cousin Jon emailed me David Pogues' recent blog on copyright, with an observation on digital libraries.

The science and technology world has an interesting analog to the paper vs electronic print music debate. In our world, the problem crops up with professional papers. My own attitude is clear: if I have the choice between downloading a free copy of someone's paper I find on-line, or purchasing a copy from the professional society, I grab the free copy.

Partly this is because the original author doesn't get a penny from publication sales. In many cases the author is lucky if the association prints the paper for free, without requiring "page charges." Another reason is that, in most cases, the paper is actually made available on-line by one or more of its authors.

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Thought provoking polemic on copyright

Apparently someone in the UK has proposed a sort of "three strikes" law - if your household is accused by a copyright holder of illegal downloading multiple times, then the holder can demand removal of the househ0ld's Internet connection.

Cory Doctorow, the author, wrote a polemic about how this reflects on the big media firms it tries to help.

He notes how copyright owners now use "takedown notices" as an extrajudicial form of censorship.

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