For over 200 years copyright law has enabled, and scholars and their publishers have depended on, a state-granted monopoly, creating 'artificial scarcity' to give publishers a period during which they can charge higher prices than the market would otherwise dictate and thus recover their costs, plus (usually) a profit. But today we have instant access to digital works, and easy, worldwide distribution for almost no cost to the reader beyond those of computers, Internet access, and electricity. The monopolistic mechanism of 'artificial scarcity' now turns one of the most critical advantages of the digital world into something to be fought tooth and nail. The solution is not stronger and longer copyrights. It more likely will emerge from experimentation to find business models that can fund the creation of works, still a costly undertaking, without sacrificing the digital benefit of almost free distribution to everyone who might desire to access them.
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