I met Larry Lessig for the first time early this month at a lunch of people interested in IP issues. Inevitably as the discussion of the increasingly draconian legal measures passed by Congress were compared to their decreasing effectiveness comparison to the "War on Drugs" was made. Larry brought up an interesting point, which I will paraphrase in the form of my own example. I am personally in favor of legalizing heroin - I think illegalization has been a horrible failure that has done far more harm than good. I am also strongly opposed to people using heroin - I know heroin addicts, and it is not a fate I would wish on anyone. So I approve the goal implicit in illegalizing heroin, even while I think it is a bad law. Copying is completely different. Copying and imitation are unambiguously a good thing that produce rather than destroy value. This is especially important when imitation adds value...the "remix culture." There is no "symbolic value" in making copying illegal...and our prohibition against file sharing is not only useless, the message it sends is that intrinsically good activities - sharing, remixing, copying, imitating - are somehow wrong. EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann, who was also at the lunch, said that the first thing parents tell him when their children are being sued by the RIAA is "We know what he did was wrong..." It is sad that people should think that culture - sharing, remixing, copying and imitating - are wrong.
So let us instead work to abolish copyright and patents and celebrate Jeffrey's remix of our book.