Lawrence Lessig/blog/2002/08/29/1923

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Congress has the power to promote the Progress of Science ... by securing for limited Times to Authors ... exclusive Right to their Writings.

If you take that seriously, then it is just not like building a house. If the government takes your house, it must pay you. This says if the government gives you a copyright, it must, after a "limited Time" take it away.

Sifry nicely summarizes the argument (which has been remarkably civil) and David raises the ultimate question: How long? I still like Justice Story's formula: "at as early a period as possible."

Graham and Zerbe have a nice piece that doesn't exist here, but in which they try to estimate how long is long enough. Answer: surprisingly short.

Economically Efficient Treatment of Computer Software: Reverse Engineering, Protection, and Disclosure" (with Lawrence D. Graham), Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Review, 22(1), 1996, pp. 61-142.

Back to taking "limited Times" way too seriously ...