My article for CNET this morning, “The end of software ownership…and why to smile,” looks at the important decision a few weeks ago in the Ninth Circuit copyright case, Vernor v. Autodesk. (See also excellent blog posts on Eric Goldman’s blog. Unfortunately these posts didn’t run until after I’d finished the CNET piece.)
The CNET article took the provocative position that Vernor signals the eventual (perhaps imminent) end to the brief history of users “owning” “copies” of software that they “buy,” replacing the regime of ownership with one of rental. And, perhaps more controversially still, I try to make the case that such a dramatic change is in fact not, as most commentators of the decision have concluded, a terrible loss for consumers but a liberating victory.
I’ll let the CNET article speak for itself. Here I want to make a somewhat different point about the case, which is that the “ownership” regime was always an aberration, the result of an unfortunate need to rely on media to distribute code (until the Internet) coupled with a very bad decision back in 1976 to extend copyright protection to software in the first place.
For the details, see "The End of Software Ownership."