Volker Grassmuck on Fri, 7 Mar 2003 23:00:43 +0100 (CET)

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[rohrpost] James Boyle in London 19.3.03


The Eversheds Lecture - Ideas in cyberspace
19 March 20036pm 
Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce
Location: 8 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6EZ.
Professor James Boyle, 

Cost: free
Booking Status: Open

In the 1830's and 40's Parliament debated a revision to the Copyright 
Act extending the rights of authors. To the bill's opponents, it was 
a tax on knowledge, a set of rules that would inhibit writing rather 
than encourage it. Like Macaulay, their best known spokesman, they 
believed it was sometimes necessary to create a legal monopoly to 
give writers an incentive, but they felt that the monopoly should be 
as small as possible. They worried that the system of copyright 
enforcement might give the state powers to restrict speech by the 
back door in the same way the newspaper stamp-tax had done. They 
feared copyright law could be pressed into service to help 
established publishers and distributors. An unlikely coalition of 
sceptics developed: free-traders opposed to monopoly, radicals 
defending the cheap press and civil libertarians wary of speech 
We are now writing the intellectual property rules for cyberspace, 
and have been for the last ten years. Exactly the same issues appear -
- though now the stakes are bigger and the costs of getting it wrong, 
much higher. Yet this time, the debate is a lot less balanced. 
Macaulay and his fellow sceptics are particularly poorly represented. 
That is a shame. In order to deal with the high tech challenges of 
the internet, it turns out that we will need some of the 
sophistication of the last century, and in a hurry too. 

James Boyle
William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law
Duke University Law School
Science Drive & Towerview 
Box 90360
Durham, NC 27708-0360
919 613-7287 ph.
Home Page & Essays http://james-boyle.com
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