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Ask HN: Should we abandon copyright?
9 points by pasta 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments
This might not be a very popular opinion but the more I think of it the more I believe we should abandon copyright.

You can argue for example that someone took a lot of time to create something and that a copycat can profit from this in an unfair manner. But most of the time a copy is not as good as the original and most people don't want a copy but even pay extra for the original.

Since there are a lot of smart people on HN I would like to ask this question here: should we abandon copyright?

Note: I don't believe this will ever happen, but I wonder what the upsides will be.

Nah. We shouldn't completely abandon it, but it should go back to being far more of a temporary thing, where your copyright laws maybe a few decades rather than life + however many years. That way, there's not only an incentive to create new works (since you won't be able to ride off the same ones reputation for years), but the actual 'stopping copycats in the short term' goal gets achieved without stifling the commons.

You are confusing a "copy" (illegal for copyrighted works) with a "clone" (which often skirts the bounds of legality).

Copyright doesn't save us from knock-offs. The hundreds of "Revengers: Age of Boltron" DVDs in the bargain bin at Walmart is testament to that. Those are legal.

What copyright prevents is Cinemark buying a copy of Age of Ultron for $20 and then making hundreds of copies and charging ten bucks a seat to watch them in hundreds of theaters nationwide, never sending Marvel Studios another penny beyond that initial $20.

Helping consumers avoid knock-offs is what trademarks are for.

Which problem exactly are you hoping will go away by eliminating copyright? There was innovation and progress before copyright and there has been innovation and progress with copyright.

Well, copyright wasn't introduced for no reason...

As you say, I think it's the fair and just thing to do and people justly get upset when others steal the results of their hard work. (Even if you're not removing a physical object, violating copyright is still stealing and should be treated as such.)

To answer your quality objection: unfortunately, I can't agree with your observation. While some well-to-do people from some cultures may indeed be willing to spend more money for an "original", that is not the case for many, many other people I know. Either because they don't [think they] have the money for the original, or because the original is hard[er] to get, or because they simply don't care about quality as long as it's "good enough". In many countries and cultures, the whole concept of copyright and even property is not as clearly defined in the minds of the people as it is in most parts of the West.

Why else do you think fake Adidas/Nike/Puma shoes flood the market the way they do? And in fact, I once saw a Chinese-made lock that was the copy of a copy of a copy of an originally British brand. If everybody would prefer the original, how did that ever reach the market?

Having said all that - although I believe abandoning copyright would be an unjust thing to do, it may in fact have positive effects on society as a whole. This article was posted here some time back: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/no-copyright-l...

The question for me would be whether there are ways of achieving the same effect without having to completely abandon copyright?

Copyright serves an important purpose but has been manipulated into being excessively broad, powerful and long-lived.

It’s an invention from the era where access to a printing press was limited and doesn’t really match today’s world where it is difficult or impossible to participate and avoid making copies, which is the opposite.

NO, copyright is simply the right to make copies. It has nothing to do with the right to create derived material of the original copyrighted item.

the word "copyright" is about allowing/forbidding all kinds of use of a work, not just copying. Derivative works are very much part of it.

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