The Copyright Debate is an economics argument.

I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea that economics should have no moral dimension to it

Economics, as a science, can have no moral dimension.

Economics exists to understand the the phenomena of human interactions related to labour and resources.

As a secondary issue it may also be able to predict the outcomes of different systems of organisation.

The rational thing to do is to decide the moral issues first and then not to even look at the economic possibilities that might exist if we did not make the moral choices.

We do this in respect of murder, theft, slavery, racism etc etc. No one (I hope) is going to suggest that these things are OK just because there might be some economic benefits.

The key point here is that copyright is not one of those things. I have studied the arguments that were made in favour of copyright when it was first proposed and the argument that copyright was a moral right belonging to the author only emerged gradually after copyright already existed. The earliest arguments for copyright were made on the basis that it would allow effective censorship and that it would guarantee the accuracy of printed works. Later the idea emerged that a temporary monopoly would encourage authors to produce more work. This concept found its way into the title of the Statute of Anne and into the US constitution. However it is important to note that this argument I just mentioned, which was the mechanism by which modern copyright first arrived, is itself an economic argument – not a moral one.


Morally one could argue against it – as many do. But these  arguments are irrelevant. Copyright is a type of industry regulation to promote the public good, not the financial well-being of one group of constituents in society we call Authors.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120620/03552119398/business-model-failure-is-not-moral-issue.shtml#c1302

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