Ensuring the legacy of knowledge

October 24th, 2002

John Perry Barlow encapsulates the copyright argument:

…when Jefferson and his fellow creatures of The Enlightenment
designed the system which became American copyright law, their primary
objective was assuring the widespread distribution of thought, not profit.

Read that again, and let it sink in. The purpose of copyright law is to assure the universal ownership of all knowledge. The mechanism by which this goal is achieved is that copyright is granted for a limited time as an exclusive ownership of knowledge in order to promote creativity via profit incentive. Profit is the means, not the end. Without the limit, the entire goal of copyright law – i.e. the assurance that all knowledge ultimately belongs to the commons for the good of all – is negated.

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