"Back in the bad old days -- the Dark Ages -- it was common
for authorities to restrict the spread of information. The powers
in control of the society of that time were typically based on
religious belief and the claim of God-given authority.
Certainly this was nothing new, since empires had long kept the
majority of their citizens in illiterate darkness, doomed to a life
of serfdom or soldiering. The use of reading and writing
instruments was often limited to a class of religious "scribes" and
a tiny group of political rulers with whom they associated."
"Well, progress being what it is, it was only a matter of
millennia before the religiously-inspired limitations on
information transfer faded away. The political leaders began
determining who could and who could not move information around.
Duplication of information began to become cheaper and easier, so
that ideas began to spread -- dangerous ideas such as alternative
religions, new forms of government, and even universal literacy.
Governments decided to use something called "copyright" to benefit
their newfound paramours in the growing class of craftsmen,
traders, and industrialists. Information was no longer limited to
those who knew the dark secrets of the cloister, but to any who
possessed the money to buy a piece of the action."
"For a brief moment during the early 21st century, it appeared
that information might become utterly free. As a critical mass of
information providers, inventors, innovators, and freedom-loving
people came to have money and free time, they began to apply their
talents to a universal system of free, unfettered communication
called the Internet. Since access to this information-distribution
network was considered a vital pathway to economic progress and
political activism, it was assumed to be essential that every
member of society have unlimited, free access to the thoughts, the
discoveries, and the opinions of others. Copyright began to look
like a decrepit, obsolete barrier to progress."
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