Doctorow on Copyrights
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There’s a word for all the stuff we do with creative works — all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture.
Culture’s old. It’s older than copyright. The existence of culture is why copyright is valuable. The fact that we have a bottomless appetite for songs to sing together, for stories to share, for art to see and add to our visual vocabulary is the reason that people will pay money for these things. Let me say that again: the reason copyright exists is because culture creates a market for creative works. If there was no market for creative works, there’d be no reason to care about copyright. Content isn’t king: culture is. The reason we go to the movies is to have something to talk about. If I sent you to a desert island and told you to choose between your records and your friends, you’d be a sociopath if you chose the music. Culture’s imperative is to share information: culture is shared information. Science fiction readers know this: the guy across from you on the subway with a gaudy SF novel in his hands is part of your group. You two have almost certainly read some of the same books, you’ve got some shared cultural referents, some things to talk about.
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