In Copyright Natural Law Russ Nelson quickly explains “natural law” (not a particularly useful concept in my opinion, but that’s irrelevant here), then proceeds to make the following bizarre statement:
The natural copyright law is a bargain between the publishers of copyrighted works and the recipients of copyrighted works. The publishers promise to eventually put the work into the public domain, and the recipients promise not to copy.
What in the world makes a limited duration state granted monopoly “natural law”? Is Russ conflating “natural law” with “whatever laws the first U.S. Congress made”?
Wikipedia on the origins of copyright:
The origins of copyright systems are generally placed in the practice of various monarchs in granting “letters patent”, arbitrary grants of monopoly over a particular practice or trade.
That sounds like the very opposite of Russ’s non-legislated (and non-decreed by Kings) “natural law” as do the legislative statutes that created limited duration copyright and have since made it quasi-perpetual.
Russ’s conclusion that current copyright policy breeds disrespect for and disobediance of the law is correct, though I wouldn’t put it in terms of natural law, and suspect that the costs and benefits of use and enforcement given technology are far more relevant than any broken bargain for limited duration copyright, “natural” or not.