There was an excellent survey of the rights and wrongs of copyright in Sunday's New York Times. A lot of it is about some cats called Copy Left (geddit?) who are in favour of a less restrictive copyright regime. I'm always going to be in two minds about copyright, but these people talk some sense:
"No-one writes from nothing": the lone garret-dwelling poet, creating masterpieces out of thin air. ''No one writes from nothing,'' says Yochai Benkler, a professor at Yale Law School. ''We all take the world as it is and use it, remix it.''
Their main beef is with the commodication of culture exemplified by like iTunes, Apple's online music store, which they regard as:
"the first step toward a society in which much of the cultural activity that we currently take for granted -- reading an encyclopedia in the public library, selling a geometry textbook to a friend, copying a song for a sibling -- will be rerouted through a system of micropayments in return for which the rights to ever smaller pieces of our culture are doled out. ''Sooner or later,'' predicts Miriam Nisbet, the legislative counsel for the American Library Association, ''you'll get to the point where you say, 'Well, I guess that 25 cents isn't too much to pay for this sentence,' and then there's no hope and no going back.''