Copyrights and copywrongs: the rise of intellectual property by Siva Vaidhyanathan

By Siva Vaidhyanathan

It has taken attorneys 200-plus years to morph copyright legislation from the balanced compromise that our framers struck to the intense method of keep watch over that it has develop into. during this superbly written booklet, a nonlawyer has exposed a lot of the wear performed. Copyrights and Copywrongs is a wealthy and compelling account of the bending of yank copyright legislation, and a promise of the stability that lets once more make the legislation develop into.

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7 T h o m a s J e f f e r s o n — a u t h o r , architect, slave o w n e r , l a n d o w n e r , a n d the m o s t i m p o r t a n t A m e r i c a n interpreter of J o h n L o c k e — h a d n o p r o b l e m s w i t h the l a w s of the land protecting private property. Yet h e expressed s o m e serious m i s g i v i n g s a b o u t c o p y r i g h t s . T h e s e c o n c e r n s w e r e b a s e d o n Jefferson's suspicion of concentrations of p o w e r a n d artificial m o n o p o l i e s . W h i l e in Paris in 1788, Jefferson w r o t e to M a d i s o n that h e rejoiced at the n e w s that n i n e states h a d ratified the n e w C o n - C O P Y R I G H T A N D A M E R I C A N CULTURE 23 stitution.

J o u r n a l ists, c o n s u m e r s , writers, a n d artists often feel c o n s t r a i n e d in w h a t they m a y express or create if a n o t h e r h a s a l r e a d y tilled that intellectual soil. H e a d l i n e s frequently claim that " p l a g i a r i s m s u i t s " h a v e b e e n filed w h e n t h e y are in fact c o p y r i g h t i n f r i n g e m e n t claims. Plagiarism is n o t in itself a c r i m e or a n actionable civil offense u n d e r the principles of copyright law. P l a g i a r i s m is a n ethical a n d professional issue, n o t a legal o n e .

W h i l e w e c a n picture " m e n " in o u r h e a d s , 32 C O P Y R I G H T A N D A M E R I C A N CULTURE w e c a n n o t picture " e q u a l , " e x c e p t w i t h i n a n o t h e r set of s y m b o l s (signs), s u c h as a b l i n d f o l d e d w o m a n h o l d i n g a scale. O f the list of signs in this sentence, the t w o m o s t troubling for o u r analysis are " t r u t h s " a n d " e q u a l . " C a n w e u n d e r s t a n d either of these t e r m s as a n y t h i n g but the terms t h e m s e l v e s ?

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