When Is Copyright Just?

Julian Sanchez says the only question that matters when debating copyright is "whether a marginal restriction on the general ability to use information incentivizes enough additional information production over the long run to justify denying that marginal use to every other human being on the planet":

Wise assessment of copyright policy should have nothing to do with how you feel about the person or entity who holds the right at any particular time, because copyright policy is not about identifying wonderful and meritorious people and ensuringcertainly not as an end in itself, anywaythat their income is proportioned to their intrinsic moral desertor lack thereof. We are all the massive beneficiaries of millennia of accumulated human scientific knowledge and cultural output, and not one of us did anything do deserve a jot of it. We’re all just extremely lucky not to have been born cavemen. The greatest creative genius alive would be hard pressed to create a smiley faced smeared in dung on a tree trunk without that huge and completely undeserved inheritance.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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