MathCAD


2. A cultural aspect of the problem


Open the first page of any Western publication and you will notice the prohibition on duplication, whether chapters or pages, of the book. (I originally wrote "the formidable warning will strike your eye", but in the interest of neutrality replaced it with "you will notice"). Everyone is quite aware that only commercial duplication is meant here. Both Western and Russian libraries are quite legally equipped with photocopiers, which allow a book or a magazine to be 'xeroxed' from cover to cover, except maybe the very page with the formidable, but probably futile, warning. It is possible to duplicate the printed matter in every possible way for educational and scientific purposes (to copy an extract to an exercise book, for example).

Moreover, any hindrance for this kind of information distribution is regarded as a direct infringement of the rights of the author: not of the copyrights[3] but specifically "the rights of the author". But behind this phraseology is the fact that almost without exception, it is not the author controlling the copyright, but the publisher. The authorial rights are like human ones given 'from heaven', which can't be transferred to anyone. It is the copyright owner who is disappointed by the appearance of 'black' books on the market. The author (owner of the author's rights) may be at first flattered, but then he becomes worried about the future, but as a rule ephemeral, loss of profit[4].

The vagueness of the borders between commercial and non-commercial use can be illustrated by another fact. Suppose a graduate student has Xeroxed enough articles of other authors, and has sculpted from them a dissertation (let's be more tactful – a part of the dissertation) then received a scientific degree, and afterwards, with its help, a high-paid post in a firm or university. Even if "has sculpted from them" is replaced with "has used them as research material", the essence of the matter doesn't change: the knowledge is the most precious article in the civilised market.

Computer users are among the most avid reading public nowadays: not only adverts for romantic novels are flashing by in the Metro, but also those for various User Guides or "Excel for Dummies". This applies not only to printed matter but also to software, which is a programming product (production, products and similar are all marketing expressions). Studying a program is just as interesting and useful, culturally and educationally, as studying a book. A misfortune for programs, but perhaps a hidden blessing, is their easy copying. They can be duplicated much more easily than books. Furthermore, even the most ingenious programs are obsolete before the copyright expires, in contrast to the works of classical literature. Nowadays anyone nowadays can publish the undying compositions of Pushkin and Shakespeare.




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