Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two Extremely Powerful Op-Eds about Copyright

Both by Lewis Hyde, relevant to a case being argued before the Supreme Court today: the Constitutionality of the US law restoring copyright to foreign works that had fallen into the public domain. The citations from American history and the examples of copyright abuse are breathtaking.

The Genius of Free Governments
Hold the Line: Stop Copyright Rendition!


  1. Here is a wonderful passionate argument about (in modern terms) the difference between intellectual property, that copyright is supposed to protect, and real property. [with thanks to the late Imre Simon for pointing out the early source, in Portuguese, and to the Hathi Trust and Harvard University, that put it on the web, so all of us can read it]

    "See, I am speaking a word to you; what I say reaches to all. Now that what I am saying might come to you all, did ye divide what I say? If I , were to feed you, to wish to fill not your minds, but your bodies, and to set loaves before you to be satisfied therewith; would ye not divide my loaves among you? Could my loaves come to every one of you? If they came to one only, the rest would have none. But now see, I am speaking, and ye all receive. Nay, not only all receive, but all receive it whole. It comes whole to all, to each whole...
    I have spoken; what I have spoken, has gone forth to you, and has not gone away from me. It has reached to you, and has not been separated from me. Before I spake, I had it, and ye had not; I spake, and ye began to have, and I lost nothing. O the marvel of my word !"

    [Saint Augustine, Sermon 120, in
    Sermons on selected lessons of the New Testament,
    Translated by R.G. Macmullen,
    Oxford, J.H. Parker; 1844-75.]

  2. Wow. That is too cool. I wonder if Jefferson might have read that, it sounds so much like his famous letter in which he says, in essence, that ideas are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Thanks!