Whenever I speak with librarians about fair use or the Copyright Act more generally, I inevitably hear them express concerns that we run the risk of becoming a pay per use society, one in which content is available only for a fee. I am concerned that the bookmobiles we all grew up with and their modern day equivalents will go the way of the eight track and the reel-to-reel, replaced by a world in which access to information will depend on the ability to pay and, worse, a world in which a payment gets you only a license to view or listen to something, not to actually own it. But I know it is said by some technologists and economists that this is the way it should be, if only because it is the most efficient means of allocating something in a market economy.
In thinking about the future of my information availability in our society, am I right to be concerned about the emergence of pay per use as the norm?
I am beginning a long-awaited weeklong break today, and I will be in a place which has no telephone access. Therefore, I will not be interacting with those who post responses during the course of today. I look forward to reading all of the postings in the blog archive upon my return.
This has been a most enjoyable and informative experience for me. I thank Larry Lessig for asking me to host this week. I have concluded that his brilliance is almost matched by that of his regular blog contributors. Each of you is invited to stop by my office for a visit when your travels bring you to the nation’s capital.