Crosbie Fitch: Copyright does not exist to promote the progress of learning as per US Constitution

Crosbie Fitch on April 17, 2012 1:30 PM writes…
“Mike Masnick is a copyright agnostic at the best of times, but he does seem to take as his core precept copyright’s petty pretext of being enacted for the benefit of the people – the encouragement of their learning (in both Statute of Anne 1709 and US Copyright Act 1790). That legislators would be obliged to insert a philanthropic pretext when granting a privilege entirely in state & corporate interests seems to elude him.
What also eludes many people is that the so called Progress Clause of the Constitution neither grants nor empowers Congress to grant Copyright. Madison inserted the clause with copyright in mind – and also felt obliged to prefix it with a glib pretext “to promote the progress…” – but he was unable to explicitly empower Congress to grant that monopoly (though could be explicit when it came to granting “Letters of Marque” further on). He was unable to because the grant of a monopoly was anathema (see – the most he could do was to empower Congress to secure an author’s exclusive right to their writings. And this was in the hope people wouldn’t notice his/Congress’s later assumption of power to grant the monopoly of copyright – derogating from the citizens’ liberty instead of securing their privacy (their natural and unalienable right to exclude others from their private writings).

So, no, despite pretext, copyright was enacted in the interests of the state and the press. To insist that it’s pretext must be both its motive and outcome is denial of the obvious. You cannot encourage learning by prohibiting the people from copying each other. To learn is to copy – from OE Leornian – to follow in another’s footsteps – to copy another’s path. Our bodies copy from our DNA upwards and our minds from Homo Sapiens 500,000 years ago onwards. The banning of copying in 1709 was not intended to produce more Shakespeares, but to quell sedition and restore to the Stationers’ Company the monopolies they had enjoyed until the expiration of the licensing of the press act in 1695.”

  • Crosbie Fitch

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