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By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-03-17 Print this article Print

However, this copyright policy failed to anticipate the Internet, which revolutionized publishing because it greatly reduced the cost and ease of creating and distributing content and information.

As a result, the law has created a culture that "requires permission first—requires lawyers first" before virtually any previous work can be reproduced, revised, built upon and transformed, Lessig said. This requirement, he said, imposes "an extraordinary expense that does nothing more than burden the innovative process," including the creation of open-source software.

At the same time, "we have been totally pathetic as technologists in translating what we know about how innovation functions into terms that have meaning" to the Washington policymakers, Lessig said.

Open-source advocates should be telling Congress that a copyright policy that promotes competition between proprietary software and open-source software is good business because it promotes innovation, and innovation promotes business growth, Lessig said.

The open-source industry, Lessig said, isnt delivering a clear message to policymakers that they support copyright protection for their original work as strongly as proprietary software producers. The industry has to reframe the debate about open-source and intellectual property rights so it doesnt become cast in the simplistic "American idea of capitalism and communism," said Lessig.

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John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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