Copying

No, I haven’t forget my last post. I had a look at Engineering without Frontiers, a no-profit NGO, which should be the engineer answer to medical initiatives like Medecins Sans Frontieres. Although their magazine is interesting, and their statute is agreeable, I find the overall association a bit loose, somewhat too tied in the academic world and too abstract. Apparently the prompt answer to the question “How can I help?” is just “Send money here”. Maybe I have to dig further.The topic of the day is copying. When talking about this issue, I usually agree with content owners that deplore the act of copying for money and for personal use. My favourite example is that if you like a Ferrari, you don’t steal it only because you cannot afford it. The same goes for music, movies, software and so on. There are people who worked to create that content and it is their right to be paid for their work.
I could agree on some special cases such as when you are looking for something that’s not available or even out of print. But this should represent the exception, not the rule.
Sometimes ago I skimmed through Carlo Gubitosa’s Praise of Piracy, without being convinced at all about the point of the right to copy.
Although, during these days, I’ve been hit by a sort of revelation. There’s actually a practice of legally accessing content, without paying for it. More, you could actually access content any time you want with no restrictions. And this practice has been available for centuries to human kind… public libraries the name.
Some public library lends VHS/DVD movies, maybe this practice is discourages by video rental business. But from my point of view, what’s the difference in borrowing a book from the public library or downloading it via eMule?
From one side I think it is worth noticing that the book industry is not suffering from the free availability of books in public library. It may suffer from the fact that people read less and less, but not from the fact that I could chose to borrow a book rather than buying it.
From the other side I wonder how could it be legal? 🙂 After all if everyone would go to the library, then no one would buy the book and the writer would be starving. Would it be enough for the authors to receive the payment just from public libraries? In that case authors could be payed directly from our taxes cutting the public library service costs, the media costs, by letting everyone access everything online.

Leave a Comment