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[FYI] Lessig: The Limits Of Copyright


The Limits of Copyright 

Our country's founders put certain intellectual 
property rights into the Constitution.
But they weren't downloading software. 

By Lawrence Lessig 

John Warnock, founder, chairman and CEO
of Adobe Systems (ADBE) , traveled to
Capitol Hill this month to testify about the
"new economy." His real target, however,
was more specific: software piracy and the
"disturbing" trend among the news media
and academia to present "a false trade-off"
between growth and "copyright and patent

Many have worried, Warnock reported,
that "overly strong intellectual property
protections might have a chilling effect on
Internet development." Warnock disagrees,
apparently embracing "overly strong"
protection. The Internet has flourished, he
testified, "not in spite of" but "because of"
strong intellectual property protection.
Indeed, so important is intellectual
property, Warnock (a former academic)
lectured the committee, that the framers
of our Constitution "placed intellectual
property rights in Article I of the

Now, I'm a big fan of Adobe. I think PDF,
Adobe's portable document format is the
greatest thing since sliced spectrum. As a
happy user of Microsoft Word, I hate it
when others send me documents in some
obscure word-processing format. Keep
your word processor preferences to
yourself! With a PDF, I can read what you
write without buying your word processor.
(Here's a bit of code that truly ought to be
bundled with the operating system.)

But you can love the company, yet hate
its politics. Let's talk about the "false trade-off," Professor Warnock,
academic to academic. What really is our tradition? Is everyone who
questions "overly strong" intellectual property a "pirate"? (If so, then
someone owes me an eye patch.) Does calling for balance make one
a communist?


Kristian Köhntopp, NetUSE AG Siemenswall, D-24107 Kiel
Tel: +49 431 386 436 00, Fax: +49 431 386 435 99
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