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Copyright experts endlessly debate its purpose: economic or common good. Both sides cite to judicial language backing their interpretations, and the frequency and cost of litigation between those representing the two interests have noticeably increased over recent years.

This article aims at a simpler way to resolve the dispute, by taking a step back and starting with the definition of a government. The government of a democratic republic, particularly one described as “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has a single purpose: to address the common concerns of its people.

The following philosophical argument is a companion piece to the legal analysis found here, but instead of focusing on the law, it presents a logical proof that the common good, and not the promise of economic activity, was the motivation for US copyright. Further, that the continued commitment to the common good explains the reality of copyright in the US today.