Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Neglected Concerns in the Copyright Debate

Two stories recently surfaced that point to neglected aspects in the copyright debate. Both deal with the question of enforcement. Techdirt writes: "Congress Gives $30 Million To Fight 'Piracy'". And Freedom to Tinker writes: "Erroneous DMCA notices and copyright enforcement, part deux". Each of these articles, in their own way, unintentionally demonstrate that we tend to view the copyright debate from the viewpoint of the content creators. After all when someone works to create something they should be rewarded for their efforts. A no brainier.

However, things are not that simple. We need to push back on the implicit acceptance that the content creator is simply a victim that needs to be protected when copyright is abused.

So what is wrong with the Congress giving $30 Million dollars to fight privacy? Essentially we are using the power of the State to protect a special interest, the content creator. But then when it comes to protecting the consumer from the abusive tactics of private industry, there are howls of agony over "restricting" business flexibility, Big Government, and the Nanny State. It seems to me that if we truly desire smaller government, freedom, and not a Nanny State; that we should NOT be enhancing (enlarging) the law enforcement bureaucracy. It logically follows that when consumer protection is the responsibility of the consumer, then protection from piracy is a private sector responsibility and NOT a State responsibility.

Now for the shortcoming of Mike Freedman's post: "Erroneous DMCA notices and copyright enforcement, part deux". Mike asks a legitimate question, how best to fight piracy. The problem is that he is using the current law as the "level playing field" from which to undertake his analysis and he really does not go into any meaningful discussion of how the content industry continues to aggrandize ("land grab") their so-called property rights. My response to Mike's question is that many concerns with copyright "enforcement" would disappear if we restore the copyright privilege as originally envisioned in the Constitution and by eliminating the "land grab" of the content creators for "rights" that they should not possess. Eliminate the so-called "crime" and the enforcement issue diminishes.

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