Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Reform Copyright

I've bought in to Chris Bowers' notion that reform is key to political success. Reform is everything: we must reform the Democratic Party into something competent, we must fight for reform against the entrenched interests of crony CEOs and the Republicans in Washington. Law Professor Tim Wu of U. VA Law School has this to say about the special interest legislation that Disney bought:

My vision of copyright will sound conventional: I think copyright law should serve authors and consumers. But that turns out to be a radical view. Because if we took those ideals of copyright seriously, as opposed to paying them lip service, the law would look a lot different than it does today.

Today’s copyright law problem is structural. The law does too much to serve the interests of disseminators—the film industry, recording industry, and publishers—often at the expense of both authorship and consumer welfare.
Copyright needs to accept fully the idea that competition can be a good thing.
Copyright is too easily abused by incumbent disseminators to block the market entry of new technologies. Too many technologies – cable television, digital radio, satellite broadcasting—have at one time of another fallen into the “Copyright Gap”—facing stiff government regulation even before getting off the ground. ... Today you can often use copyright to stop a new technology, but what about making the new entrant pay a fee to the incumbent? It is an idea that even the Supreme Court has talked about but it will take a courageous judge to put the idea into practice. That would help prevent copyright from becoming a bottleneck that blocks new technologies from emerging.


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