In 1999 I rejoined the Tandy Color Computer community after an absence of 13 years. I joined every USENET group, mailing list, and message board I could find dedicated to discussing the CoCo. I bought all my hardware and software back from the person I gave it to so many years ago. I even used EBAY to add to my collection. All in an effort to reclaim my youth.

Whenever I joined a new group I would look over the past archives and get a sense of what the people there thought of copyright. Generally there used to be quite a lot consternation regarding the copying of copyrighted material. It seemed it was generally frowned upon.

Personally, I believe copyright (specifically in the U.S., and generally around the world) lasts way too long. I like the idea of tying the length of copyright to the length of a patent. There are powerful commercial pressures to keep patent terms relatively short. Pressures that don’t exist for copyrights. The Copyright Cartel (I’m looking at you, Mickey) is taking advantage of this.

I’m OK with the idea of trademarks lasting (effectively) forever.

I actively engage in civil disobedience with regard to copyright. If a work has been copyrighted longer than the term of a patent, I have no qualms copying the work. I license my own work under various generous terms ranging from GNU GPL to BSD licenses.

The attitudes on the forums I belong to seemed to also have swayed in this direction. People who suggest copying materials are not immediately lambasted.

I should note some exceptions. First of all a vast majority of copyright owners who are able to be contacted gladly give permission for the non commercial distribution of their work. Thus allowing the dissemination of their property on the internet.

A counter example to the above is Lonnie Falk’s The Rainbow. The Rainbow was the most influential Color Computer periodical. It was the most colorful, and lasted the longest. Lonnie stopped publishing The Rainbow in the early 1990s and became mayor of Prospect, Kentucky, the same town where The Rainbow was published. In the late 1990s he set up an internet store to sell back issues of The Rainbow. Wholesale scanning and distribution of this publication was regarded by the community as a bad idea, even to this day.

But there is hope for this publication. A deal was struck with Mr. Falk. to allow the copying of scanned versions of The Rainbow for the price of $0.25 per issue. A very reasonable sum. A small group of volunteers are working on completing the scanning and archiving of this publication. They hope to be finished sometime next year. They plan to charge just a little more than the license fee to cover the costs expended in the endeavor.

So, it turns out even my attitude of copyright is not as unyielding as I first thought.