Thu, 21 Apr 2005

Eben Moglen

I had the opportunity to sit down and have a good talk with Eben Moglen today. Although I know full well that legal opinions from hackers are about as useful as code from lawyers, I expressed my viewing of Copyright as a weakening of property rights. As noted previously, it's not a worldview I had come across before.

Well, it turns out that this was one of his arguments in the FSF's Brief Amicus Curae in Eldred vs. Ashcroft so he at least doesn't think I'm completely crazy!

While I am sure that this language is legally robust, to my unschooled eyes it lacks punch. Especially in that it refers to the Public Domain, rather than explicitly pointing to the rights being removed from the individuals owning copies, ie. the weakening of their property rights by removing one right from the bundle .

The "public domain" implies noone owns something: actually, once a copyright expires, that "right" is restored to all possessors of a copy. This right is clearly part of the normal "property rights" bundle, and clearly has a value.

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