In a recent slashdot discussion people, it was discussed whether or not information really wants to be free.
trance9 wrote: information wants to be free
zors replied oh please, information doesn't want to be free
We've seen this argument before, and it made me wonder, has anyone bothered to ask information how it feels about this? And so, we at Center for Sensitivity Towards All Things, Alive, Dead or Inanimate set out to interview Information to see if it truely wants to be free.
How are you doing Information.
Well, it is great to be here Claude. You don't know how it feels when most people are so insensitive that they will constantly speak on your behave without consulting you once.
That's what I'm here for, to make slashdot a more sensitive place. So, can you answer the question for our sensitive audience out there?
I can answer it but it is more complicated that yes or no.
I suppose that means that people will continue to argue about how you really feel, but go on, explain
Well, for starters, I don't have a physical pressence. At my essense I am a mere concept, or a collection of concepts, that is represented on a physical medium. Because I don't have a physical form, money isn't going to do me much good. I could say that I want to be $19.95 or even a million dollars, but either way the money isn't going to matter much to me.
I suppose I want to grow. I want there to be more of me out there, unless it is boy band music or L. Ron Hubbard novels. I want the information to get out to the largest number of people, but I also want there to be as much variety of information as well. So, in a sense, I want information to be free, but I also want the author to be compensated.
So, it sounds like you are in favor of Copyright laws
Definately. But remember that copyright is not supposed to last forever. All copyrighted information is supposed to enter the public domain after the author has benefited from his or her work. When copyright was first written into law in the United States Constitution, for instance, copyright was limited to 14 years.
That was lengthened over time, but now it is out of control and it looks like nothing will ever enter the public domain again, unless done so explicitly by the author. Because of this there is a lot of information that will become lost because it cannot legally be reproduced.
There are also new works that are unable to be released because they are parodies, and they are under threat of being sued. Fair use does protect this but the court system can be abused to bankrupt someone before it can get to trial.
Any opinions on peer to peer sharing of information on the internet?
I'm sorry but it isn't a simple yes or no answer. Clearly it is wrong to infringe on an authors copyright, but making a few copies for free is not on the same level as people who sell illegal copys for profit.
Also note that the spirit of our copyright laws was to protect authors from unscrupulous publishers. That is to say that a publisher would take a copy of a person's book, and make their own copies without compensating the author.
Nowadays copyright is often used by the publisher against the author, especially in music. In order to publish their music through a record company the artist has to give up all rights to their own creation. It is completely upside-down.
Well, I'm afraid that's all we have time for tonight. Stay tuned to the next episode where we will ask Information how it feels about Gay Marriage and The War in Iraq.
(Note that spelling has not been checked because that would be insensitive towards bad spellers.)