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Copyright doesn't stifle ideas

In response to the Aug. 23 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "Why Larry Lessig gets an "F" in software":

I believe that the main point of a copyright here is being missed entirely both by Lessig and your article. A copyright protects an individual's work of art, but it does not protect their idea--just as in a book. We can see how Hemingway wrote and the beauty of his style; the copyright protects him from someone blatantly copying his work of art. Instead we must take the ideas of his writing, the philosophy behind his style, and then invest our own time to create our own writings.

In the software industry, copyright performs the same function by protecting someone from blatantly taking someone else's code line for line and using it as their own. However, code can still be released so that others can take the ideas that it embodies and write their own. A considerable amount of time and effort is put into writing code that a company then intends to make money off of. If another company simply copies the code, they are giving their code away for free. But allowing people to take the ideas from another's work and then invest their own time in recreating the code in their own manner is what copyright is intended to do.

Brian Holmes
Mission Viejo, Calif.