Once upon a time there was a man named Farmer Jones who lived in the
Kingdom of Asu, near the city of Mail-list.  The government of Asu had
much fertile land near Mail-list, and granted rights to settlers to plant
orchards on that land. The government said that anyone who did plant there
had the right to do with the produce as they pleased.  They could sell
it to everyone, they could give it away, or they could even keep it all
for themselves.  The only restrictions placed by Asu were that the planters
must actually own the seed they used for their orchards, and that citizens
of Mail-list would be free to walk among the orchards and enjoy the beauty.
If an occassional fruit fell to the ground, then anyone was free to have
that fruit, as that was "fair use."  What they were not allowed to do, was
to pick the fruit that was still on the trees for either themselves or
to give to their friends.  That fruit belonged to the planter to harvest
and do with as he pleased.  

Farmer Jones planted an orchard of apples whose fruit had a most delicious
flavor. He sold them only by the bushel. Some of the citizens of Mail-list
picked up the occassional apple of Farmer Jones that fell the ground, and
sent them to their friends that lived in the neighboring town of Notme, so
they too could enjoy the wonderful flavor. After a time, the citizens of
Notme began clamoring for more of Farmer Jones fine apples.  Some of the
citizens of Notme asked, "What right does Farmer Jones have to sell the
apples?  After all, Asu owns the land, and we pay taxes to Asu. We have as
much right to the apples as Farmer Jones, irregardless of what Asu says,
in giving him right to the apples still on the tree. We're not selling
the apples, just sharing them. So what if they are still on the tree when
we pick them? Isn't that what apples are for, to share with your friends?"

There was plenty of land available near Mail-list for those citizens of
Notme to plant their own orchards just as Farmer Jones had, but none did.
If they had, then they could do with their apples as they chose, and give
them away if that was their desire. Most gave the excuses that they didn't
have the knowledge of how to grow apples, or they didn't have the time,
or the land was too far away for them to go there since they lived in
Notme.  Besides, a bushel of apples was too many to buy from Farmer Jones,
and it was much easier to have the citizens of Mail-list send them Farmer
Jones' apples, than to grow their own orchard. Instead, the citizens of
Notme encouraged the citizens of Mail-list to continue to send them apples.
Of course the only way that Mail-list citizens could meet the demand from
Notme, was to go into the orchard and begin picking the fruit from the
trees, and to go beyond the "fair use" of those that fell on the ground.

After a time, the citizens of Notme began wondering why Farmer Jones or
someone else didn't plant a peach orchard, or a cherry orchard.  There
was plenty of prime land and they really liked eating peaches and cherries
and making pies from them.  They would really like for the citizens of
Mail-list to send them some peaches and cherries.  The Notme citizens
couldn't understand why noone was planting new orchards on that land.
Surely there must be someone who would go to the effort of planting,
growing, and tending those orchards, so that the citizens of Mail-list
could raid the trees and send the peaches and cherries to the Notme
residents.

Moral of the story:  Next time you want peaches and cherries and wonder
why noone is growing them, could it be because of the citizens of Notme?
Be fair to Farmer Jones, and either he or someone else will likely plant
new orchards.  Continue to raid his apple orchard, and you'll find if you
want peaches and cherries, you'll have to either grow them yourself, or
do without.

Copyright 2002 by Fredric Z. Saunders

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Fredric Z. Saunders
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Last revised: 4 Sep. 2002