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Copyright
Andy Canfield
Information Management Systems
andycanfield@yandex.com

Copyright

Nothing on andycanfield.com is copyrighted except for the program "OPAL". I don't believe in copyright. Copyright is useful for a given era of technology. That era began with the printing press, and ended with the Internet.

Copyright, and patent, is basically a government-issued monopoly on making copies of something. It is useful when the start-up cost is high but the marginal cost is low.

Throughout the centuries, there have been many government-granted monopolies. Every one of them has eventually been abandoned as the technology changed. One of the earliest monopolies was the Dutch East Indies Company, which had a monopoly on trade between Europe and Indonesia. As the price of ships dropped, the monopoly became harder and harder to enforce. One of the latest monopolies was in the United States. In my youth AT&T had a monopoly on long distance telephone service. As the cost of communications equipment dropped, the monopoly became more and more rediculous.

In the days before the printing press, copies of books were made by a scribe sitting down at a table with pen and ink and the source book and a blank book. The scribe would read every word in the source, and write that word by hand into the target book, one word at a time. It was incredibly human labor intensive. One copy would cost a fortune. Two copies would cost twice as much. Books were rare.

In the days of the printing press, books were copied by laying out printing plates, putting ink on the plates, then pressing those plates against blank sheets of paper. The startup cost of making the plates was high, but the marginal cost of pressing ink to paper was low. Copyright made sense. If you had the copyright on a book, and someone else tried to print that book, you could get an injunction against him. He would have already incurred the high cost of making the plates, but he would not have yet make all the pages, and so would not yet have anything he could sell to recover the cost of the plates. Copyright was useful.

The start of the death of copyright was in the 1950's with the release of the Xerox machine. The marginal cost of copying each page was still a bit high, but the startup costs were zero. You could copy a book for the cost of each page, one at a time. The copy was not terribly good, not as good as the original, but it was cheap.

Today, with the Internet, copies are made by pressing "Ctrl" and "A", then "Ctrl" and "C". Start up a text editor like Microsoft Word, and pressing "Ctrl" and "V". Bingo! You've got your own copy. In 1200 that would have taken you weeks; now it takes you only seconds.

The computers copy things constantly and we rarely think about it. Consider this web page -

  1. This page is copied from my server's hard disk into my server's memory.
  2. It is copied from memory to my server's Ethernet connection.
  3. It is copied from my server's Ethernet connection to my router's Ethernet connection.
  4. It is copied from the Ethernet connection of one router to the Ethernet connection of another router, one hop at a time, all the way across the planet.
  5. It is copied from your router's Ethernet connection to your computer's Ethernet connection.
  6. It is copied from your computer's Ethernet connection to your computer's memory.
  7. It is copied from your computer's memory to your computer's screen.

Bruce Schneier said "Making digital files not copyable is like making water not wet." Digital files are copyable, digital files must be copyable, that is their reason for existance, that is the definition of their nature.

Trademarks make sense. Trademarks protect the consumer. If you distribute something and say that it is "A genuine Andy Canfield program.", then it ought to be an Andy Canfield program, not to make money for me, but to be honest with the your reader.

The greatest books in human history; such as the Bible and the Koran and the Buddhist Sutras, were all written without any copyright protection. Paul didn't write the Galations because he hoped to make money selling copies of it. The Muslims say that God wrote the Koran; well God isn't making money selling copies of it.

Everyone recognizes that, if there were no copyright, ninety percent of all books would not be written. And it is clear to many of us that ninety percent of all books are crap. Some of us think that it's roughly the same ninety percent. Things that are written to make money are not good, are not healthy, do not expand your mind or soul, do not make you a better person. I did not create this web site to make money selling copies of it; I created this web site because I thought I had something to say that you ought to have the chance to read it.

Anything that is in this site, copy it if you wish. If you agree with me, copy the page into your own web site. But be respectful to me and your reader. If you change something, take my name off of it. Thank you.

Some of the pages, especially English translations of Thai government documents, may be copyrighted by others besides me.

See also Hollow Copyright Claims