The debate over copyright is often portrayed as a conflict between the idealistic "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" v. the worldly "whats mine is mine and what's yours is yours." This is a false framing, The real debate over the last 30 years is contained entirely in the first sentence. Have we left the path of ordinary law necessary to promote, in the words of the Consitution, "science and the useful arts" and instead begun to follow the way of Sodom?
Yesterday I gave a speech at the Jewish study center on the topic of copyright, Jewish Ethics, and the Aaron Swartz prosecution. I've reproduced an expanded version of the remarks (to explain some of the more Jewish concepts and give links to relevant sources) here:Briefly, I start with the quote from Ethics of the Fathers that: There are four types of people [lit. 'midot' meaning virtues]: The one who says what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours, this is a typical person ['beinoni]; some say this is the way of Sodom. The one who says "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" is ignorant of the world [lit. 'am ha-aretz'], "What's mine is yours and what's yours is yours" is generous/kind [chassid]. "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine," wicked."