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Re: [dvd-discuss] Posner's views on copyright

As you might guess from my own arguments on the matter,while I 
am not dismissing the value of the richness of the public domain 
(which has anyone noticed that the "count of monte cristo" has just 
gotten yet another facelift) but from a utilitarian viewpoint, the  
public domain is a not something that can be valued, it is 
something that MUST exist for any copyright system except one 
that is a publishers monopoly that exists and is unchanging ad 
infinitum. That experiment was tried once and was shown to be a 
failure and abolished with the statutes of Anne.  Or one can go 
back even further to the Middle Ages where monasteries had the 
monopoly. I'm sorry but the world has truly been better off than 
under either of these institution.

Given that there IS change. There is loss of information over time 
as companies merge, go into and out of business and as the sheer 
amount of recordkeeping increases (remember that the amount of 
records is the accumulation of all that has gone on before. If 
copyright grows quadratically in time, then the total number grows 
cubicly.) that errors in accounting will occur almost surely. So 
eventually one winds up with large numbers of things that one 
doesn't know what to do with but must spend time dealing with it. 
The public domain is the needed to simply keep the administration 
of it managable by simply systematically ignoring it - "it's outta 
copyright". IN effect from a systems viewpoint, the public domain 
must exist to allow to keep the complexity of the system 
managable. (and let's not forget the view point that as systems 
become more complex, they also get more and more random 
behaviour when confronted with "unusual" inputs.)

NOt that I expect Posner to understand this. I'm not impressed 
with his paper on obesity

> Veering far off-topic here, there was a very funny review of Posner's
> "Public Intellectuals" in Sunday's New York Times Book Review.
> <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/13/books/review/13BROOKST.html>
> At least copyright terms have a plausible connection to economic
> theory, though I have a nagging suspicion that Posner will undervalue
> the public domain and view most of fair use as "inefficient."   Can we
> even quantify the benefit the public gets from a rich public domain
> and generous rights to make transformative use of copyrighted works?
> At 02:27 PM 1/14/02 -0500, jerwin@gmu.edu wrote:
> >I was reading slate, and came across this week's "Diary" column,
> >written by none other than Richard Posner.
> >
> >http://slate.msn.com//?id=2060621&entry=2060676&device=
> >
> >" And working on two articles that I
> >                 am writing with an economist, one on presidential
> >                 pardons (yes, there is a demand for and a supply of
> >                 such things that economics can illuminate) and
> >                 another on copyright law, focusing on an issue of
> >                 considerable theoretical interest: Should copyrights
> >                 be perpetual, rather than limited to the lifetime of
> >                 the author plus 70 years?
> >"
> >
> >Hmm.
> --
> Wendy Seltzer -- wendy@seltzer.com
> Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
> http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/seltzer.html