Apropos the lates Norwegian debates
From this excellent book by Lawrence lessig. The book can be bought here and is available under a Creative Commons license here.
...in our tradition, intellectual property is an instrument. It sets the groundwork for a richly creative society but remains subservient to the value of creativity. The current debate has this turned around. We have become so concerned with protecting the instrument
that we are losing sight of the value.
The source of this confusion is a distinction that the law no longer takes care to draw — the distinction between republishing someone’s work on the one hand and building upon or transforming that work on the other. Copyright law at its birth had only publishing as its concern; copyright law today regulates both.
Before the technologies of the Internet, this conflation didn’t matter all that much. The technologies of publishing were expensive; that meant the vast majority of publishing was commercial. Commercial entities could bear the burden of the law — even the burden of the Byzantine complexity that copyright law has become. It was just one more expense of doing business.
But with the birth of the Internet, this natural limit to the reach of the law has disappeared. The law controls not just the creativity of commercial creators but effectively that of anyone. Although that expansion would not matter much if copyright law regulated only “copying,” when the law regulates as broadly and obscurely as it does, the extension matters a lot. The burden of this law now vastly outweighs any original benefit—certainly as it affects noncommercial creativity, and increasingly as it affects commercial creativity as well.