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Copyright is dead

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/08/17

Napster was just the beginning. The record industry has decided to fight it, but the cat is out of the bag already. Now people have discovered that they can trade just about any media over the net, royalty-free. People who create original content - of any kind - are wondering what they should do to protect their interests.

In a commentary piece for The Nando Times, Larry Magid declares that he, his children, and his friends have all used Napster. But as a writer and web site builder, he is annoyed that Al Gore's Net safety tips for kids seems to be taken almost word-for-word from his own site, without credit.

Magid says he wants to instill in his children some concept of respect for copyright:

I'm not naive or self-righteous enough to believe that they will never download copyrighted music, copy a CD or scan a photograph without permission of the author. But I want them to be aware that when they do these things, they are doing something wrong. I want them to think twice about it.

He adds that he has deleted his MP3 file collection to set an example.

Magid has a point but there's little hope that his viewpoint is going to become mainstream. The internet and the arrival of mass-market file sharing means that anything that can be digitised can be - and will be - distributed to as many people as want to get hold of it, irrespective of the views of the person or people that invested time and effort and money into creating it.

Copyright is dead. Long live ... well, any suggestions?

Copyleft is one, which has been applied to software pretty well. But can you see musicians, artists, writers - and yes, web designers - agreeing to the same idea in a hurry?