copyright and censorship (was Re: [FoRK] NewTube VS OldTube)

Kragen Javier Sitaker < kragen at pobox.com > on > Thu Oct 12 15:24:37 PDT 2006

On Tue, 10 Oct 2006 15:09:06 -0400 (EDT), Albert S. wrote:
> There is a difference between protecting IP rights and
> censorship. Removing copyrighted material isn't
> censorship.

[Leaving aside Luis's point that YouTube has sometimes removed things
for reasons other than copyright infringement.]

I suppose there are different definitions of "censorship" around, but
it's certainly the case that copyright is sometimes used to prevent
information from reaching the public, or from being widely
distributed; that meets my definition of censorship.  

I think the only legitimate purpose of copyright is to *promote*
public access to important information, by providing necessary
financial incentives for the investment required to distribute that
information widely, and using it for censorship is a perversion of
that purpose.

I also take issue with your use of the term "IP rights".  I know it's
common practice in many circles to use the term "intellectual
property".  However, I try not to use it, because it's a propaganda
term that serves the ends of extremists, in the following ways:
1. It erases the important legal and moral distinctions between the
   various legal restrictions it describes --- for example,
   copyrights, patents, trademarks, mask-work rights, the sui generis
   database protection rights Europe adopted a decade ago, design
   patents, and so on.  Very little of any coherence can be said about
   such a diverse collection of laws.
2. It frames the debate as one about "property", as if we were
   discussing whether people had the right to shoplift, rather than
   whether they have the right to share information with one another.


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