Copyright is in crisis. Photocopying, sound- and video-recording, computers, and the net have all made it increasingly difficult for the owners of copyright to enforce their rights. Levies or legal penalties only patch the holes in an already leaky system. The flaw lies not in the technology or in our society, but in the very notion of copyright.
Intellectual "property" does not behave like material property. If I give you a physical object I may no longer have use or control of that thing, and may ask for something in return -- some payment or barter. But when I give you an idea, I lose nothing. I can still use that idea as I wish. I need ask nothing in return.
The laws of exchange of matter being so very different from the laws of exchange of information, any attempt to trade ideas with material goods was destined for trouble sooner or later.
Not only do people hold on to ideas for material gain,they also hang on to them for psychological gain. The ego likes to be identified as the source of a particular insight or concept. But what right has the ego to attach itself to something that was never its in the first place?
We say "an idea came to me". I did not make it happen. What I do is shape the ideas "that come" into forms -- usually words and images -- that satisfy me, and hopefully communicate something to others. If I am to be paid for my work (which I am not averse to), I should be paid for my time and energy, not some dubious concept of intellectual property.
Thoughts are free. They should remain free, and be given freely.
And, following the universal law, the more we give the more we shall receive.
N.B. This is not a license to rip off. Let integrity prevail, and give credit where credit is due.
Date created: 1-Dec-05