[permaculture] Copyright

jeff jko at save-net.com
Wed Mar 27 11:44:06 EST 2002

On Thursday 28 March 2002 02:32 pm, Toby Hemenway wrote:
>  jeff at jko at save-net.com wrote:
> > I wrote something on homesteading
> > once and later found it copyrighted with added paragraphs promoting
> > a religious belief.  This was fine if they identified which parts were
> > free and only copyrighted the parts they added.
> What they did was illegal; you were indeed protected against this, since
> your writing was automatically copyrighted when you wrote it. 

Yes, but i don't want my words copyrighted.  Doesn't this restrict
communication?  Everyone should be able to build on my words
but not try to own them.

The default state at present is ownership of words by the author.  If
you give your words away they become copyrighted as soon as
someone uses them.  The original intent was that they remain free
for everyone to use.  I guess one could argue that the original words
are still free, but in practice it takes an effort to keep them free.  The
people who want ownership often have a strong profit motive which
is difficult to deal with.  Just look at Microsoft using their clout to
attack competitors who use words with "win" in them. 

> suppose--tho I'm not a lawyer--that you could append to your writing a
> statement that it can be freely distributed but altered only with proper
> attribution (tho the latter is already protected unless you disclaim it, I
> believe). But the point is, the restrictions are best set by the author,
> not the user, or this sort of abuse results.

Sure, but that would be a real pain.  If i wanted this message to
be non-copyrighted then it would have a long legal blurb at the
end.  I wonder if our quoting of email messages a copyright violation?

> > the answer might be free information and pay-for services.
> This is a promising line of thought, but remember that for every written
> word, some poor schmoe slaved over a pen or keyboard to produce it. Thus
> there is service involved in generating any original written information,
> though very little in copying it. Sometimes I give my writing away (like
> now, and it's worth every penny!), and sometimes, since it's my principal
> livelihood, I expect to be paid for the time I put into it.

True, one should be rewarded for original effort (service).  My concern
is in keeping information free that was intended to be free.

> > Within economic just about everything is owned.
> It's enlightening to read John Locke and some of the others who worked out
> a lot of the ideas around property. They were trying to solve a set of
> problems centering, in part, on abuse of common land and a withdrawal of
> resources from the commons that was exacerbating poverty, and settled on
> property as a good solution

The issue isn't "property or non-property".  I can't see us eliminating
our property ownership systems, but we may need some new attitudes.
The old attitudes that led to polluting the air and water assumed no
one owned them.  A new attitude might be that all life owns the resources
and not just a few.  This would embrace the ownership system but shift
its implementation for some resources.

I don't know where the answers are.... It is much easier to see the
problems.  Maybe possible answers are: local ownership and ideas
from bioregionalism.  Small scale operations given equal rights to
large property owners (Schumacker's ideas).  Words are free unless
specifically copyrighted...  These ideas seem to fit permacultlure.


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