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Monday, November 01, 2010

IP is book burning

Jeffrey Tucker explains how IP reduces the store of human knowledge:
Last week, I had to haggle with an authors’ consortium in Britain concerning a 1946 text. The author had no children and he died before the copyright on the book expired. Someone swept in a renewed the thing, thereby taking it off the market. It hasn’t been in print for some 40 years. A paralegal helped me discover the owner, which turns out to be some scam operation that preys on people who want to reprint books. I asked to distribute the thing online. The consortium never seem to have heard of the internet. They wanted a fee for $1 per book with a contract that lasted 2 years and a limit on our sales. None of this works for us. So we said no. As a result, the book, which is not that mission critical, goes back to its eternal resting place, all because of “intellectual property” which is just so obviously a hoax and a violation of human rights.

This is only one of dozens of cases I’ve dealt with. And there are actually millions of books in this condition, effectively burned and destroyed by IP law.
The amount of human knowledge that is being lost to future generations thanks to IP law is really disturbing. Since scientage, or "the body of scientific knowledge" is one of the tripartite aspects of science, science fetishists who habitually fulminate about an incipient "new Dark Ages" should really spend a lot less time worrying that illiterate and innumerate children run the risk of not having TE(p)NS talked over their ignorant heads and a lot more about the disappearance of information that was published in the past. Lest you think there is nothing valuable to be learned from keeping the words of dead authors alive, consider the cost of this temporary loss of this insignificant tidbit of scientage.

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