Over at Techdirt, there is a good post about copyright and historical conceptions of authorship. The main argument is that all works are derived from other, prior examples (including the copyright laws states create and enforce) and that the notion of an author as a singular creator of an isolated work is a recent and oftentimes flawed one:
It’s nice to see more and more people recognizing and speaking out about these things. The idea that there is a single “author” or “creator” who deserves to get money any time anyone else builds upon his or her works is something that should be seen as increasingly ridiculous as people recognize that all works are created based on the works of others, and it’s inherently silly to try to charge everyone to pay back each and every one of their influences in creating a new work.
There does seem to be good reason for hoping that our present copyright system proves to be an exception that eventually gets corrected. The aim of the whole thing is to encourage creativity, by letting individuals use the might of the state to enforce exclusive claims to there work. There is nothing libertarian about this concept, unless the only kind of liberty you care about is the right to private property and the existence of a state that will defend that claim against others. There is also a growing doubt about whether the aim of encouraging creativity is succeeding. Does it really benefit the public at large to forbid non-Apple companies from using ‘multitouch’ without paying royalties? The bar above with work deserves exclusivity protection from the state ought to be raised.