Appendix B

Why Software Should Not Have Owners

Digital information technology contributes to the world by making it easier to copy and modify information. Computers promise to make this easier for all of us.

Not everyone wants it to be easier. The system of copyright gives software programs “owners,” most of whom aim to withhold software’s potential benefit from the rest of the public. They would like to be the only ones who can copy and modify the software that we use.

The copyright system grew up with printing—a technology for mass production copying. Copyright fitted in well with this technology, because it restricted only the mass producers of copies. It did not take freedom away from readers of books. An ordinary reader, who did not own ...

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