Weblog:   The Right Term is Copyright Infringement
Subject:   I've invented a matter replicator
Date:   2002-12-17 11:42:17
From:   timoreilly
Response to: I've invented a matter replicator

I still feel that you haven't read my article.

1. I agree that what many people are doing on P2P networks is copyright infringement. There are many fair uses, but there are also infringing uses. However, the fact that the two shade into each other means that we must grapple strenuously with the issue, rather than simply trying to fit new wine into old bottles.

2. Matter replicator or not, perfect copies or not, I argue that p2p file sharing will *never* replace publishing, because physical distribution is not what defines the role of the publisher. (Heck, if physical distribution was the critical factor, would virtually every major publisher have outsourced most of it?) Software is indeed a good analogy. Physical distribution of software is now a fairly small part of the market, yet software publishers haven't gone away. Infringing copies of software have been available for decades, and yet Microsoft has amassed a $40 billion hoard. Web content is freely copyable, yet Yahoo! and Google and AOL and MSN have emerged as major "distributors" of that content, and folks like yourself post on the O'Reilly Network as well as on your own site.

3. While we don't have a matter replicator yet, many O'Reilly books ARE available in online form, and I do grapple daily with issues of copyright infringement. I am not at all happy to see people selling CDs containing copies of our books on eBay, or hosting them on websites in Romania or Russia--we have a couple of people who spend a fair amount of time dealing with infringing copies. But nonetheless, I argue that fear of file sharing is overblown--and in fact, that shoplifting of physical goods is a larger threat to IP holders than file sharing, because it has only downside, and due to the mechanics of attention distribution, sometimes a critical downside.

My point is that the fear-mongering about the death of the music industry obscures the real issues, which are to understand what are the fair uses, how people can best get paid, and how to get on with the business of building the future.

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