Copyright greatly reduced European growth?

I’ve long felt this intuitively to be true, but the weight of opinion and accepted “evidence” has made the idea laughable: Copyright has no social benefit.

So this article in Spiegel Online is fascinating:

No Copyright Law – The Real Reason for Germany’s Industrial Expansion?

(I’ve been in hospital recently, just catching up now on old posts, but I see other outlets such as Wired have finally caught-on to this too – I haven’t read their take on this yet)

It appears to be mostly centered on a contrast between two similarly advanced nations, England and Germany, which had radically different copyright laws at the time.

“In Great Britain, people were dependent on the medieval method of hearsay for the dissemination of this useful, modern knowledge”, whereas “The prospect of a wide readership motivated scientists in particular to publish the results of their research”.

…and so we see a key part of modern research and academia, the concept of publishing your work: born from the *abscence* of Copyright.

3 thoughts on “Copyright greatly reduced European growth?

  1. UnSub

    The Wired article points out flaws in the original piece.

    Here’s my take: piracy / copyright law violation is great if you want huge distribution and can be great for an industry to establish itself, but it is lousy for the individual who creates the content and actually wants to earn an income off it.

    Take film: “A Trip To The Moon” helped Edison cement his film projector business in the US, but every copy was pirated and that helped drive its actual creator, Georges Melies, into bankrupcy. There is hardly a social benefit in driving content creators out of business.

  2. adam Post author

    Yep, now I’ve read the Wired article, it makes a good effort to put things into perspective. My limited knowledge suggests this is an era both Economists and Historians like to pore over looking for “evidence” of their pet theories for what’s right/wrong :).

    I’m just happy to see someone providing some passionate challenge to the generally held (but rarely actually *debated*) beliefs around copyright.

    It’s nearly always the content distributors and licensors who are quoted as saying “this protects the authors; without it, there’d be no content-creators”. It’s suspicious that VERY few content-creators step up to say the same, and those that do tend to be the ones that are extremely rich. I find that balance of proponents unconvincing.

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