The Economist is currently running an interesting debate on copyright: “This house believes that existing copyright laws do more harm than good“. (this link will work despite the small window saying “error 404”)
Copyright affects people in both their work and home lives whether it be the ability to access academic papers or download films and music. It certainly has a big impact upon the usefulness of search results as regards how tantalisingly close you can get to the full work and what you can legally do with it, once you have full access.
This is quite a comprehensive debate, but I think it’s a good thing that both sides seem to agree with the basic reason for the existence of copyright, in short: “ample payments to creator”. They also agree that current copyright laws are “over inclusive” by which they mean that current laws exert too much control and contrive to cover types of information that it doesn’t make economic sense to cover.
The rest is up for grabs – a multitude of issues that are quite complex and fragmented (yes, that’s part of the problem!). However, please don’t be put off. This debate is well worth a look as the cases For and Against present one of the more readable summaries to the rights and wrongs of copyright, plus you can also dip in and out of the many points of view…oh, and you can also place your vote.