These days, I don’t usually re-post links to things I read online, although I used to. This one, however, is worth the exception. This is the single finest exposition of copyright I have ever read (Lessig included, which is saying something, since I’m a huge Lessig fan). And it’s a speech delivered in 1841!
The easiest form of parochialism to fall into is to assume that we are smarter than the past generations, that our thinking is necessarily more sophisticated. This may be true in science and technology, but not necessarily so in wisdom.
Be forewarned: this speech is long, and far more intellectually challenging than most modern political speech. But the mind behind it is lively and incisive, and you may be surprised by how little the fundamental issues have changed, and how some of the disingenuous arguments put forth today echo those of the far past. Judge for yourself whether the politicians to day are wiser than those of a hundred and sixty years ago.