Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unconstitutional Copyrights?

Tom Bell at Chapman University has been working on his draft book over the summer and explaining in an extract from the book, at the Technology Liberation Front, why he thinks most of the material covered by copyright today doesn't pass muster against the US constitutional requirement "to promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts”.
"acquiescence to long-accepted practices has dulled us to the Constitution’s bracingly straightforward words. We should read them anew and reflect that the Founding generation did not evidently think that granting statutory privileges to such purely artistic creations as romantic operas or pretty pictures would promote the progress of both science and the useful arts. Furthermore, most citizens today would, if presented with the Constitution’s plain language rather than the convoluted arguments of professional jurisprudes, probably say the same thing about pop songs, blockbuster movies, and the like. That is certainly not to say that purely expressive works lack value. They may very well promote such important goals as beauty, truth, and simple amusement. The Constitution requires that copyright promote something else, however—”the Progress of Science and useful Arts”—and a great many works now covered by copyright cannot plausibly claim to do both."
Interesting argument. He does accept, however, that the chances of winding back the clock on this through the courts are basically slim to non existent.

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