Here is an excellent article on how copyright is totally abused by various private-interest groups: House Republicans: Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform. From the article, which actually quotes the House Republican Study Report [UPDATE: this is now a DEAD LINK! It was taken down within 24 hours via Hollywood pressure – see this article – Republicans caved in to pressure and apologized for not “adequately” vetting the review… absolute baloney – the report can instead be found here and here – and actually, the fact that it only took 24 hours to bring the Republican Party to its knees for writing something sensible, wise, and concise starkly illustrates the point in my point above, except, read “government” instead of “copyright.”] on three myths that need to be debunked:
- [REMEMBER: these are myths/wrong perceptions/propaganda the content-industries want to force-feed you] That the purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator.No, it correctly notes, it’s about benefiting the public:Thus, according to the Constitution, the overriding purpose of the copyright system is to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.” In today’s terminology we may say that the purpose is to lead to maximum productivity and innovation.This is a major distinction, because most legislative discussions on this topic, particularly during the extension of the copyright term, are not premised upon what is in the public good or what will promote the most productivity and innovation, but rather what the content creators “deserve” or are “entitled to” by virtue of their creation. This lexicon is appropriate in the realm of taxation and sometimes in the realm of trade protection, but it is inappropriate in the realm of patents and copyrights.
- That copyright is a representation of free market capitalization. The paper properly notes that the reality is the exact opposite:
Copyright violates nearly every tenet of laissez faire capitalism. Under the current system of copyright, producers of content are entitled to a guaranteed, government instituted, government subsidized content-monopoly. [emphasis mine!!!!!]
- That the current copyright regime leads to the greatest level of innovation and productivity.That makes no sense at all, the paper says:Today’s legal regime of copyright law is seen by many as a form of corporate welfare that hurts innovation and hurts the consumer. It is a system that picks winners and losers, and the losers are new industries that could generate new wealth and added value. We frankly may have no idea how it actually hurts innovation, because we don’t know what isn’t able to be produced as a result of our current system.
Here’s the sad truth to politics: ” . . . kudos to the Republican Study Committee — and specifically Derek Khanna, the policy staffer who wrote the document — for stepping up and saying what needed to be said, but which too many in Congress had been afraid to say for fear of how the entertainment industry lobbyists would react.”
If you want to read a blog post that is strictly about the economic costs of patents and copyright and how it increases inefficiency and discourages and indeed taxes innovation, see this blog post by Gary Becker and Richard Posner, a UChicago economist and lecturer in law, respectively. Gary Becker is an established economist, and Posner is himself a Judge in the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (This post was linked from Kevin Smith’s Duke University blog).
Next time, consider what you are saying before you defend copyright. See my blog post on how fair wage actually does not support the current copyright system and thus cannot be used to defend copyright. Also, in the above blog post, I argue that the language of “theft,” “piracy,” and “intellectual property” is actually very sinister and malicious.
And, if you want more on government/Big-Brother overreach and abuse, see this article about the impropriety of the Megaupload seizure.
UPDATE 21 Nov 2012: An article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation states the Republican Study Committee has since retracted the statement, no doubt due to content-industry lobbyists:
So what were the controversial opinions that had to be silenced before legislators might seriously debate them? Turns out they weren’t all that controversial. The report simply debunks some of the central tenets of Hollywood’s copyright philosophy. For example, the report challenges the suggestion that copyright is intended primarily to compensate the rightsholder and not to benefit the public by pointing to that radical document, the U.S. Constitution (you know, the part that grants Congress the power to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.”)
UPDATE 23 NOV 2012: Kevin J. Smith, a librarian at Duke University who also is a copyright lawyer has cogently written a new blog post about this shenanigans on his blog, Scholarly Communications @ Duke.
UPDATE 4 DEC 2012: See these two TechDirt articles (article 1) and (article 2) show that Hollywood grabs all the money it can get and doesn’t provide jobs. This is extortion, theft, government subsidies to interest groups. Monopolistic and against the free markets (I am not totally against government activity period, nor am I vested in free markets, but I definitely stand against subsidies to Hollywood).
UPDATE 19 MAR 2013: See this article showing how prolonged copyright poses a great risk to our shared artistic heritage. Even the government can’t get around it to preserve cultural works. Why don’t they just stop the corruption (i.e. revolving door between the industries and campaign finances)?