I’m teaching an Ethics and Technology class this semester. I came up with a thought experiment today that I’m going to have my students discuss on the course blog. I’ll refrain from articulating what I think the philosophical upshot is. For now, I’m curious if anyone has intuitions about the case. Here it is:
The Case of the Copyright Hoarder
Imagine someone developed a computer program to help them generate every possible combination of sentences of English. For each possible set, they set up a blog to post it to a website and then (of course) copyright it. The result is that anytime an author writes a short story, poem, novel, it will already be in their database of works that they have claimed copyright to. Do they have a moral claim to determine how all future written works of English are produced/distributed?
If you think moral claims to copyright are more stringent, when the content is generated by some cognitive effort, then change the case so that the person is near omniscient, can quickly think through all the possible combinations and have them uploaded to a database (or something like that).
I’m curious what your intuitions are about either case.