February 15, 2011

Muddled Argument [10:54 am]

I’m not sure *what* Scott Turow thinks he’s accomplishing in this op-ed, other than trying to muddy the arguments around the proper role of copyright in an era of increasingly inexpensive districution: Would the Bard Have Survived the Web? [pdf]

The rise of the Internet has led to a view among many users and Web companies that copyright is a relic, suited only to the needs of out-of-step corporate behemoths. Just consider the dedicated “file-sharers” — actually, traffickers in stolen music movies and, increasingly, books — who transmit and receive copyrighted material without the slightest guilt.

They are abetted by a handful of law professors and other experts who have made careers of fashioning counterintuitive arguments holding that copyright impedes creativity and progress. Their theory is that if we severely weaken copyright protections, innovation will truly flourish. It’s a seductive thought, but it ignores centuries of scientific and technological progress based on the principle that a creative person should have some assurance of being rewarded for his innovative work.

Certainly there’s a place for free creative work online, but that cannot be the end of it. [...]

Of course, he carefully disavows his own legal training in the author byline, but you have to wonder what his strategy would be — not to mention the strategy of the New York Times in accepting this unclear opinion piece.

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