Copyright is outdated

Dean Baker’s latest column about how The Pirate Party has got it right on copyright:

Near the top of the list of the Pirate Party’s demons is copyright protection, and rightly so. Copyright protection is an antiquated relic of the late Middle Ages that has no place in the digital era. It is debatable whether such government-granted monopolies were ever the best way to finance the production of creative and artistic work, but now that the internet will allow this material to be instantly transferred at zero cost anywhere in the world, copyrights are clearly a counter-productive restraint on technology.

The major difference is that the distortions from copyright protection are much larger. While tariffs on cars or clothes would rarely exceed 20-30 per cent, the additional cost imposed by copyright protection is the price of the product. Movies that would be free in a world without copyright protection can cost $20-$30. The same is true of video games, and the price of copyrighted software can run into the thousands of dollars.


5 comments for “Copyright is outdated

  1. Sackerson
    May 22, 2012 at 07:56

    On the other hand, copyright theft steals someone’s ingenuity, work, financial investment and its potential return, and so his motivation for creating or developing anything.

  2. Moggsy
    May 22, 2012 at 08:25

    Dean, I do moan about how copyright works and posted about it especially over e-books.

    But I don’t see the copyright idea as the issue, just how parrochial it is in action.

    An author deserves to be able to earn from their work, a studio deserves to be able to earn from theirs. An artist theirs, a singer theirs. If they don’t we are all likely to loose out.

    It is the national basis of copyright and that of many of the contracts is the prolem, limiting it to nations.

    That is crazy on the world wide web. Copyright needs to apply everywhere and publication should be simultaneous and on a world wide basis, not fixing prices differently in different regions.

    I seriously believe that one of the main reasons for online piracy is the antiquated way publishing agreements and product relaeases are handled.

    People really will not be denied acess to something when they know full well other people have it. That is probably one of the main reasons for the fall of the old soviet union. It will drive online piracy until they change the system. It is their lazyness, fear and inertia.

    Just take movies, why not roll them out world wide the day after the premier? If something is in the theaters in the US, there is no reason with digital theaters it cant also be in Australia or the UK at the same time. The staggered roll out was probably more to do with being cheapscate over how many copues of a movie they made anyway.

    What real reason except maybe protectionism is there not to have anyone be able to sell and e-book anywhere instead of discriminate against some purchasers on grounds of nationality. Isn’t that illegal in some places anyway?

  3. May 22, 2012 at 11:11

    Maybe much copyrighted material is just too expensive for the digital age where markets are global. Many e-books are far too expensive and simply don’t sell.

    As for movies, I think Moggsy is right – product releases are a problem.

  4. ivan
    May 22, 2012 at 12:02

    Moggsy has one side of it correct, yes we do need copyright BUT, and there is always a but, it should be for a reasonable time – like 10 years at the most. Not the stupid life plus 70 years nor should it be transferable to anyone that is not the originator.

    With the situation at the moment, as Moggsy says, books, films and many other copyright materials are restricted on a regional and language basis. There are several sites that refuse to display anything other than a message that the site isn’t in French therefore I’m not allowed to read it.

  5. May 23, 2012 at 08:53

    As always, there needs to be a sensible compromise position but that is rare today because it is politically expedient for it to be rare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *