14 February 2012
I will not argue that copyright has been perverted and used in ways it was never intended. However, the intent is to protect small authors from abuse by large or disreputable publishing houses. Suppose I work for a long time writing a book. Let's say I publish this book with the intention of getting paid for that work. Now, if some large publishing house copies my book and distributes it themselves and charges money, but doesn't give me any, how is that fair for me as an author? Isn't that the same as stealing? That is exactly the thing that copyright is designed to protect. You can copy my work, you can republish it, you can even sell it BUT you must ask my permission. If I say you may not reprint my work, or that you must attribute me, or that you must pay me, because my work is protected by copyright you must abide by my wishes (or I can pursue civil or criminal redress). Copyright does NOT forbid you from reading my work, from paraphrasing my work, from lending a copy of my work to your friends, from incorporating my ideas into further development, or from using my ideas in any way. Copyright is not patent, it does not protect ideas, it only protects work product. I am not sequestering ideas with my copyright claim. I am not forbidding you from using my ideas. In fact I am openly publishing my articles online for everyone to use. I claim copyright only to protect myself from the following situation (which happens all the time). Someone sets up a website, puts ads on it, and copies all my content and puts it on their site, thus earning money from my work. Now, I don't care if people summarize my work and link to my site, and I certainly *want* everyone to read my work and benefit from my knowledge. What I explicitly forbid is people stealing my work to enrich themselves by selling it to a third party. So I see no conflict. I'm producing and GIVING AWAY knowledge, for free. This is knowledge I have paid to cultivate, in training, personal study, and formal education, and I want to share it. However, I won't let people republish or reprint my articles for their own gain. I produce a lot of open source software and give it away completely free, with GPL. I believe very strongly in the open exchange and cultivation of ideas. I hope this helps you to understand why Copyright is necessary to protect my financial interests in my writing while still allowing me to share my writing with anyone and everyone who wishes to read and digest it.