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Sat, 2005-Jun-25

Redefine copying for Intellectual Property!

Rusty recently had an exchange with the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. He is worried about the lack of online music stores in Australia, and that the big record companies may be stifling competition in ways that the law has not caught up with. Here is the email I sent to Rusty, reformatted for html.

Hello Rusty,

I wonder if a less radical suggestion from the Minister's point of view would be to try and redefine what copying means for a intellectual property distributor. Instead of "you can't make what I sell you available for download" it could essentially mean "you can't permit any more copies of what I sold you to be downloaded than you actually bought from me":

(Number of copies out (sold, or given away) = Number of copies in (bought)) -> No copying has taken place with respect to copyright law.

If this approach was applied to individuals as well as distribution companies then fair use may not need any further consideration. If there is a feeling that this can't be applied to individuals then the major hurdles, I think, would be:

  1. How do we define an IP distributor, as compared to a consumer of IP?
  2. Who is allowed to define the mechanism for measuring the equation? Is it a statutory mechanism, or do we leave it up to individual contracts?

Just a happy sunday morning muse :)
I'm sure you've already thought along these lines before.