Subject: Re: crux of the essence
From: Jean Camp <>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:48:10 -0400

 Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:48:10 -0400
At 3:35 -0700 10/16/01, Tom Lord wrote:
>Seriously though -- if you can cite a particularly relevant piece of
>economic theory worth reading to get good ideas about the business of
>software -- especially free software -- and give convincing reasons
>for that cite, I'd like to read it.  Personally, I'm skeptical:
>software has all sorts of structural properties for which there is no
>good precedent in the history of human economic activity, as near as I
>can tell.  Surely you disagree...

I think perhaps the creation of copyright is the analogy. Copyright 
is taken as a given now but it was quite radical when created. As the 
press matured the regulation of information based on the scribal 
model was found intolerable. Of course in any nation the regulation 
of the press was tired to the revolutionary  age of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries. Yet in all nations copyright was found to 
be the only reasonable way to control information.

Copyright was a radical  break with the past in four ways:

 The right went to the author, not the printer or bookseller.
 The right had a finite term (14 or 21 years). Previously patents or 
privileges did not expire.
 Violations of the Act were civil violations, never criminal violations.
 Fair use concepts and educational goals were created.

So I think the focus on copyright, on re-creating copyright more in 
its own image than in the image of DMCA is probably the correct 

It is such a boring topic that even the 12 volume "History of English 
Law" gives it two pages, but I think like most policies it has been 
boring because it worked.