In Praise of Copying

in Copyright, Open Access, Scholarly Communication
October 26th, 2010

Harvard University Press has recently published Marcus Boon’s book, In Praise of Copying, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license, and it is available as a hardcover as well as a freely available PDF file. Below is a brief excerpt:

Boon, Marcus. 2010. In praise of copying. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

I know that people reading this book will expect to find here an ethics of copying—but from the outset, I would like to call such a desire into question. Can we really identify an area of human activity outside copying which would make it possible for us to choose or decide whether to copy or not? I will argue that there is no such area, that we are always entangled in the dynamics of mimesis, and I write “in praise of copying” as an affirmation of copying rather than as an ethics. The word “copyright” (nearly 3.8 billion hits on Google) itself sounds a little desperate, as though one had to actually suture the words “copy” and “right” together in order for them to associate consistently. Just to put that number in perspective, “freedom” gets only 315 million Google hits and “truth” 312 million—a factor of ten less than “copyright.” Even “sex” gets only 876 million hits, in case you’re wondering. Don’t you think that the concept of “copy- right” is a little overdetermined? (p. 6)

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