No. of Recommendations: 21

Since most individuals didn't own their own printing press, telling people not to create copies of books was like telling them not to fly. It was something they didn't have the practical ability to do anyway, so they weren't really giving anything up.

So really, the enactment of copyright laws was completely pointless, since it didn't affect anyone? I wonder why anybody bothered to campaign for such pointless laws.

Think again. Copyright laws did have an effect, and ordinary people certainly did give something up---they gave up the ability to buy cheap rip-off editions of books from publishers who were simply copying the original editions and didn't have to pay anything to authors or editors.

It is certainly a cost to society that we consumers have to pay more for books, but possibly we get something valuable in return, like financially motivated authors.

Richard Stallman, winner of a McArthur genius grant, founder of the Free Software Foundation, and grandfather of Linux (or GNU/Linux, as he prefers to call it), wrote an excellent piece about how the legal notion of copyright has outlived its usefulness to society.

...which, as others have observed, didn't stop Stallman from ending his essay, "Copyright 1996 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and distribution are permitted in any medium provided this notice is preserved."

That is absolutely hilarious!

Who is Stallman to tell me I need to preserve this notice when copying his essay? What if I want to benefit society by making a few changes to his essay and/or redistributing it under my own name? Modern technology makes it easy, so I have a right to do it. I, the public, have the right to reject the bargain offered by Stallman and do what I choose.

What do we [the Fool] get out of this? Advertising, of course. The more of our content you view from us, the more we get paid.

The content-paid-for-by-advertising model did not originate with the Internet---television and newspapers come to mind---but oddly the television industry still clings to the notion of copyrights. So does the Fool, of course.

If I can freely copy and redistribute your work, I can also compete with you for advertising dollars.

Plus, we get a more-or-less loyal user base we might be able to sell other products and premium services to (like stock research, Soapbox reports, silly hats and T-shirts from Foolmart, books, and whatever else we can think of).

How much will you be able to sell stock research and Soapbox reports for when I am copying and redistributing them for free? Ditto all the TMF books (in electronic format of course.)

By the way, I too will be selling hats and T-shirts with the Motley Fool logo, which I find amazingly easy to copy using modern technology. You agree, I hope, that trademarks are as obsolete a concept as copyright.

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