Rapid responses

Counterfeit analogy

[Re: Robust copyright is invaluable for a thriving economy, Wednesday]

In defending copyright, Dominic Young compares copyright to money, arguing that although it is technically quite simple to do, money only works because copying it is illegal. Whatever the merits of copyright, Young’s analogy is deeply flawed. In its origins at least, money is perfectly “natural” (think of gold, silver and private banknotes). “Copying” paper money infringes, not on the property rights of some imagined inventor, but on those of either the general public (which suffers from the resulting inflation); or private financial firms, if private IOUs are copied (that unwittingly redeem the fakes). Laws against counterfeiting serve, in other words, to guard against theft and fraud, and only incidentally (when central banks or government mints are protected) to preserve monopoly profits

George Selgin, professor of economics at the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

Copyright law has gone bonkers. Just look at what is going on with file-sharing websites; it is clearly beginning to restrict the free flow of cyber information. Without enforcement copyright law is meaningless. Laws needs to be practical, not just theoretical.

David Crooks


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