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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:24 AM


Rentier capitalism on the march: The insanity of copyright law

Rentier capitalism is on the march , seemingly across the entire economy. One of the troubling examples is the expansion of intellectual property rights. The idea that seeds could be patented would be dismissed as ridiculous 40 years ago; we now have Monsanto controlling critical parts of our food supply as a result of its successful IP strategy.

Rajiv Sethi gives an update on the copyright front, where the Republican Study Committee (RSC) issued a policy document that found, mirabile dictu, that copyright law had become skewed toward protecting content owners/creators...The document deals in an unusually frank manner with the dismal state of US copyright law. Perhaps too frankly: it was quickly disavowed and taken down on the grounds that publication had occurred “without adequate review...”

Aside from extolling the virtues of “a robust culture of DJ’s and remixing” free from the stranglehold of copyright protection, the authors of the report make the following claims. First, the purpose of copyright law, according to the constitution, is to “promote the progress of science and useful arts” and not to “compensate the creator of the content.” Copyright law should therefore be evaluated by the degree to which it facilitates innovation and creative expression.

Second, unlike conventional tort law, statutory damages for infringement are “vastly disproportionate from the actual damage to the copyright producer.” For instance, Limewire was sued for $75 trillion, “more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.”

Third, the duration of coverage has been expanding, seemingly without limit. In 1790 a 14 year term could be renewed once if the the author remained alive; current coverage is for the life of the author plus 70 years. This stifles rather than promotes creative activity.

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/11/curtailing-intellectual-monopoly-the-insanity-of-us-copyright-law.html#k9gCzUTrK0M90T4e.99

The paper:

This paper will analyze current US Copyright Law by examining three myths on copyright law and possible reforms...

The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator of the content:It’s a common misperception that the Constitution enables our current
legal regime of copyright protection – in fact, it does not. The Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

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, particularlyduring the extension of the copyright term, are not premised upon what is in the publicgood 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 itis inappropriate in the realm of patents and copyrights...


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Reply Rentier capitalism on the march: The insanity of copyright law (Original post)
HiPointDem Nov 2012 OP
msongs Nov 2012 #1
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2012 #2
Spike89 Nov 2012 #3

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:20 AM

1. let the freeloaders and file sharers write their own songs. problem solved. nt

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:29 AM

2. K&R. n/t


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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:26 AM

3. Agree with much of that, but

I think you're overstating things a bit. Yes, the purpose is to promote progress, but the "by securing exclusive rights for a limited time" portion is pretty clear that the copyright owner does deserve protection in exchange for making the work available.

The purpose wasn't to give people free music, books, or anything like that. It was to encourage inventors, sages, and other creators to share their knowledge and discoveries without fear of losing the financial benefit they were due. There actually is no law saying you must patent an idea/invention, but in today's reverse engineering world, patent/copyright law makes it a good idea.

Here's an example of strong intellectual property laws promoting progress...vulcanized rubber was a process discovered partially by accident and semi-refined into a very useful method of making rubber into a valuable commercial product. Goodyear spent about 5 years and virtually all his money and borrowed money making rubber practical. Then he patented it. Patenting it of course allowed him to make some money (or at least try to...he died pretty much broke) but the real story is that by sharing the process, others were able to not only improve on the vulcanization process, but move beyond the uses he had come up with.

Had he not patented the process, he'd probably still have died poor, but it may have been years or even decades before the process was rediscovered. A guy in England claims to have come up with the basic idea a few years after Goodyear, but he did have samples and allegedly some hints from the patent application.

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