Drums Fingers

I dropped Margaret off at the airport this morning, so she can teach at Loyola tomorrow and then fly to Michigan in order to drive Pippa to Interlochen to start at her new school. We deliberated carefully over the possibility that I accompany her; although it was an appealing prospect, I am just so wound up about getting to work (already three weeks later than originally planned, with no arrival date in sight yet) that ruling out a rapid deployment by going off to rural Michigan for a week seemed like a questionable plan. Of course, staying here is questionable too, so it’s a lose-lose proposition.
Elliot has led Tucows into action in the current debate over Canadian copyright policy (that reminds me, I owe Elliot a video clip). He commissioned David Weinberger to compose a simple brief that addresses the “must protect creators” argument in favor of encumbering the whole regimen of digital devices with onerous (and rapidly circumvented by determined violators) encryption schemes.
David emphasizes that creators have always “created” out of, with, from the remnants of the precedents wrought by their creative forebears. As it turns out, “copying” actually releases greater creativity, whereas implementing restrictions applies a chokehold to cultural generativity.
I added a comment there, which I’ll repost here:

By way of illustration, one might assemble a list of great creative works and the copyright regimes under which they were produced. For much of Western history, that’s “No copyright whatsoever”: Aristotle, the Bible, Cervantes, Dante, et. al. For another span, works were produced under what seems now to be a surprisingly short 14 years (under the first US copyright law, renewable for another 14, subsequently extended again). The rise of the English novel, the French novel, European classical music, the political essays of the Age of Revolution, all took place under a much more limited copyright regime than is prevalent today.

So we can prove that creators will produce outstanding works, masterpieces of the world’s creative energies, with little or no copyright protection. The question is, Can we expect the same, or better (than Dante, than Shakespeare, than Homer), by extending copyright to functionally indefinite duration?

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