Someone is Wrong on the Internet

There are so many things wrong with this post by Richard Posner that I hardly know where to start. Consequently, I’ll point out this XKCD comic and go from there.


I’m very surprised that Mr. Posner seems to so completely misunderstand the web. Almost every web page in existence is copyrighted material, and every single web page in existence is provided to the viewer in response to a request made by following a link, either typed or clicked. No web page is served without the express permission of the website owner. There is nothing magical about a link that forces the website to provide the page simply because the link is followed and a request for the page is sent to the webserver. Websites can and do restrict access to web pages. What he is suggesting, in effect, is that copyright be extended to allow for the control over citation. Not just control over whether or not a particular page is provided in response to the request for that page, which is something that every website already has complete control over, but control over the ability to tell someone else that the page even exists.

Ironically, he also suggests extending copyright to cover paraphrasing in a post filled with paraphrased facts and figures that were almost certainly obtained by reading some copyrighted source or another. And while he bemoans the lost profits suffered by the producers of copyrighted news, he neglects (and, in fact, encourages outlawing) the one thing that would allow the sites to obtain some ad revenue: a link to the original sources.

Bah, Humbug.

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