I’m sorry but are these guys serious?

Shakespeare was only possible because there were “paywalls” around the theatres, and therefore we must defend our absurdly lopsided intellectual property regime?

Are Turow et al unaware that Shakespeare never published any of his work in his lifetime? That, in fact, there is no definitive text of some of Shakespeare’s greatest works – Hamlet and King Lear most prominently – precisely because the texts we have were all published by others, good and bad quartos and the folio alike. The First Folio was published specifically to defend Shakespeare’s reputation against the various and sundry “unauthorized” versions of the plays that circulated freely, unmolested by the authorities – but some of Shakespeare’s most famous writing, including one of Hamlet’s soliloquies, doesn’t appear in the Folio at all!

In other words, if Shakespeare’s place in our culture proves anything, he proves the exact opposite of what the defenders of strong IP want to claim. At a minimum, his enduring greatness proves that such greatness can survive a regime completely lacking in intellectual property protections of any kind, and can survive even when the artist in question does nothing to protect the integrity of his work. Quite possibly, it proves something stronger – that precisely such an environment of wildly open competition, where there is no possibility of artists milking one “cash cow” via legally-created monopoly, is the best environment for true artistic greatness to rise above mediocrity.