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Saturday, September 10, 2005
 
Copyright is wrong : a Christian critique of copyright::

Christian Bell in Calvin College Chimes (no pun intended;) has a thought provoking piece on why "Copyright is fundamentally incompatible with Christian scholarship" saying, among other good provocative things:
The primary motivation of copyright is to protect two things: profit and pride. But neither of these are things that we ought to be racing to defend.

In the former case, the motive is plain enough: copyright gives its author the exclusive right to sell and profit from his/her work. We have no direct quarrel with this motivation; what we do quarrel with is the whether or not profit is enough of a motivation to restrict the distribution of ideas. Profit is undoubtedly the most driving force behind the legislative and judicial focus on copyright; the distribution of copyrighted material is, after all, a multi-billion-dollar industry.

But more than profit, copyright is an umbrella of protection for the ego. It is well and good that copyright affords its author royalties, but the real profit from copyrighting your work is getting to hear your name mentioned when the work is reviewed. What could feel better?
He boldly asserts
The root of the problem is that our faith opposes the basic premise that copyright asserts.

Our objection to copyright is a denial of the implicit premise of “ownership” in copyright. Christianity asserts strongly and unequivocally that no human person owns his or her own thoughts. Our entire scholastic and intellectual endeavor is made possible solely by the grace of God — this is one of the fundamental tenets of our faith.

This assertion challenges the justification for copyright’s existence, namely that it affords legal protection for its creator, under the auspices that a person — a human being — owns his or her thoughts and is the genesis of them. Christianity — yesterday, today and forever after — rejects this idea as a contemptuous idolatry. We know the real truth: it is the Divine Creator, not the human creator, to whom the credit and glory of our work is due.
Amen! In Christian scholarship copyright is wrong, deeply theologically as well as morally wrong. So Bell's conclusion follows, it's simply this:
It is a difficult thing to divorce our minds from the idea of copyright, but in good faith, that is exactly what we must do.




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