I haven’t felt that I’ve known enough about copyright and patents to have a clear position on the related issues. I have ordered Laurence Lessig’s book, The Future of Ideas, in order to learn more about the issue.
In anticipation of reading the book, I watched/listened to Lessig’s keynote presentation from this year’s O’Reilly Open Source Convention. It is an excellent presentation.
First, the content of the speech is compelling and powerful. However, I was also struck by the effectiveness of simple visual aids. The presentation is mostly text-based; white text on a black background with occasional selective use of color (only red).
I’ve written, vaguely, about my fascination with the concept that we are, technologically and culturally, standing on the shoulders of giants. When I post to this site, as a simple example, I don’t have think about pixels and packets – someone else has done that for me. This concept that human achievements will continue to improve, which could almost be described as the religion of the western world, relies on our ability and freedom to build on the achievements of others. Lessig’s speech points out how this is threatened by copyright and patent law. More on this as it reveals itself to me.
I strongly urge you to watch/listen to Lessig’s keynote. It is about a half-hour long and is available in Flash, with the visuals of the presentation as well as the audio, or as a standalone MP3 (obviously audio only). Take a half hour and listen to it – not while you work – get comfortable and pay attention. It’s worth it. Don’t bother replying unless you’ve actually taken the time to hear the entirety of the speech.