Copyright Industries Top $1 Trillion Again

Last year, the IIPA (International Intellectual Property Association) released a report revealing the landmark moment for the core copyright industries, which for the first time, had contributed over $1 trillion to the US economy.  And with this week’s release of the IIPA’s 2014 report, copyright has broken the trillion-dollar mark again and continues to outpace the growth rate (3.9%) of the national economy itself (2.25%).  Employing nearly 5.5 million Americans with solid middle-class incomes, the core copyright industries employ nearly 5% of all private-sector workers in the United States.

Core copyright industries include books, music, motion picture, radio & TV broadcasting, computer software, newspapers periodicals and journals, although these are not wholly representative of all media-based enterprises that can make use of copyright protections.

When last year’s IIPA report was released, I dared copyright’s antagonists to “spin this,” and although I’m sure they weren’t responding to me personally, spin it they did.  Well, they tried.  It’s tough to argue with a trillion dollars worth of GDP, even if you attempt to question a million here and million there.  So, I won’t be surprised if copyright’s antagonists either let this one go without comment or dust off the argument that the economic growth stated in the report “cannot be attributed to the fact that the works produced by these industries enjoy protection under copyright.”  This is bizarre logic that seems to skip the obvious point that this economic assessment accounts solely for the transactions in which copyrights are respected and/or enforced.  To quote the report’s introduction:

“Despite the robust achievements of the copy- right industries during the period covered in this Report, significant challenges remain. The copyright industries derive a growing percentage of their revenue from the digital marketplace. Problems such as online piracy and unlicensed uses of copyright materials, as well as market access and other discriminatory challenges, inhibit the growth of these markets in the U.S. and abroad. Economic reports such as this one underscore what is at stake. They provide a compelling argument for more effective legal, enforcement, and market access regimes to promote and foster the growth of the copyright industries throughout the world.”

Yeah, I suppose we could weaken copyright and see what happens to that trillion dollars, but does that seem like a good idea?  More to the point, should we do so in order to create an unregulated playground for Google and Facebook, which combined employ about 45,000 people worldwide?

© 2014, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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29 comments

  • They provide a compelling argument for more effective legal, enforcement, and market access regimes to promote and foster the growth of the copyright industries throughout the world.”

    Surely what this report illustrates is that, despite the doomsayers, things are actually pretty good. The copyright industries are not only making money but growing at a real rate. It seems that, actually, a lot of the previous issues were down to the fact there was a worldwide recession. Or, as the report puts it:

    As noted, the harmful effects of the recession of 2008-2009 were much diminished by 2013, and most U.S. industries experienced increasing sales and profits during those years

    “Everything is great so we need better enforcement” strikes me as spin as surely as that which you claim to abhor.

    • Actually, Sam, what the report tells me is that core copyright, where it is both respected and protected, is worth a lot of money as a whole. However, individual sectors, namely music, have been hit very hard by forces that have ridden roughshod over copyrights; and I suspect if that trend continues and spreads across other sectors, the news will be less bright. Also, the report cannot account for what these sectors would look like if the middle class segments of each sector were less vulnerable to copyright infringements — not only due to direct lost sales, but also due to the effect of piracy on overall prices for media.

      • LOL. Copyright isn’t “worth” anything. The content is. The suggestion that all of this would go away without the protection of copyright is preposterous.

      • OK. It’s not for me to prove otherwise. Society will weaken copyright or not, and the consequences will be what they will be. I think your position is preposterous, but I’m certainly not going to argue it in an endless circle. I’ll just keep writing what I think, and we’ll see what happens.

    • Sam- ” Surely what this report illustrates is that, despite the doomsayers, things are actually pretty good”

      actually, what I got out of it was a very strong refutation of the oft repeated mantra “police the internet for your tiny business? hah!”

  • David–
    “Core copyright industries include books, music, motion picture, radio & TV broadcasting, computer software, newspapers periodicals and journals, although these are not wholly representative of all media-based enterprises that can make use of copyright protections.”

    Yes, but that is a bit misleading. (Particularly ‘that can make use’ as opposed to ‘that do make use.’)

    The report defines it a little better, if still maddeningly vaguely: ‘those industries whose primary purpose is to create, produce, distribute or exhibit copyright materials’

    This is, frankly, overexpansive, largely because copyright is granted automatically when it is neither sought, nor of any economic value to the recipient. A company whose purpose is to, say, prepare insurance claim adjustment reports, is a core copyright industry by the report’s definition, even though the company makes no money from exploiting its copyrights and would continue to function just fine even if copyright law vanished overnight.

    It would be better to look at both companies which likely would not exist but for copyright, and separately, companies which significantly rely on copyright protection and which exploit copyrights (as opposed to mere copyrighted materials) for a significant part of their revenue. After all, if some element of the overall industry turns out not to need copyrights (like a publisher that specializes in reprinting public domain works) it really shouldn’t be counted for the purpose of measuring copyright’s economic impact.

    “dust off the argument that the economic growth stated in the report “cannot be attributed to the fact that the works produced by these industries enjoy protection under copyright.” This is bizarre logic that seems to skip the obvious point that this economic assessment accounts solely for the transactions in which copyrights are respected and/or enforced.”

    I don’t think that’s what the report says. The word ‘transaction’ doesn’t even appear in it, and it is based on the general line of business, not individual events. So the complaint still has merit: the report’s methodology may be flawed (or it’s deliberately not very informative).

    “Yeah, I suppose we could weaken copyright and see what happens to that trillion dollars, but does that seem like a good idea?”

    Yes. Remember, the purpose of copyright is to serve the public interest by promoting the progress of science. It is not intended to help the industry make money, though if they can do so, that’s perfectly unobjectionable. I don’t give a shit whether the copyright industry makes zero dollars or a trillion dollars or ten trillion dollars. What matters is reforming the law so that the public is best served, at which point the industry can then try to make money within those new parameters, however it likes.

    Your argument is indistinguishable from saying that Lockheed, Halliburton, Blackwater, and other military contractors made a lot of money in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, so it’s not a good idea to change our foreign policy in such a way that we fight fewer wars. I’d rather fight fewer wars (maybe none) and the industrial half of the military industrial complex can either adapt or die and I don’t much care which.

    • You know, Anonymous, you often say things I can respect, and then you say things I can’t possibly believe anyone rational would think. You actually just compared the economic value of creative works to the profit motive that sometimes infects our decision to start wars; and this of course stems from your premise that copyright, like war, is fundamentally bad but must be endured in the most limited way possible. I don’t even know what to say about this comparison other than it is the kind of misleading simile I expect to come from the spin doctors at the EFF.

      The argument seem to come down to this: A trillion dollars in GDP is good for the country, good for everyone, not just the people in those industries. You may argue that copyright reform (i.e. weakening it) might increase that value, while I will argue that there is neither historic nor reasonable theoretical evidence to suggest this is the case. To the contrary, the music sector has lost value because it is the one hit hardest and longest by forces that circumvent copyright.

      One can nitpick the study itself and conclude that it is flawed in some way, but by what margin of significance? Do you know for a fact that the report includes insurance claim adjustment forms, or are you just winging that? It’s a likely bet that company by company, you will find some whose economic value will not depend directly on exploiting its copyrights just as it is known that there is economic loss for businesses unable to exploit their copyrights due to piracy. But when the number is a trillion dollars, you’re going to have to produce the granular study you’re talking about and demonstrate beyond the hypothetical what percentage of that GDP would remain or increase absent the present copyright system.

      • “The argument seem to come down to this: A trillion dollars in GDP is good for the country, good for everyone, not just the people in those industries.”

        Yes it is, but you and this report are making the claim that copyright is the reason for that money, with NO evidence to support that argument. Everything Anonymous said above is spot on.

    • You mean the same military industrial complex that has benefitted big tech (and indeed, inflated the worth of big tech) for decades?

      And again, as we have pointed out many times, “the public” ARE creators. They benefit from copyright in exactly the same way Evil Corporations do: being able to control their creations.

      Whether this is yours and the EFF’s intention, the ideas you espouse point to a world where creative works are exploitable by everyone except the creator. (True, creators will still be able to sell their wares, but without protections in place they will be forced to compete with “Free”, which is pretty much the same outcome)

      I’m tired of vague talk of “guaranteed incomes” in the future. When Google, Facebook and AMazon pay enough taxes to create such a scheme, or we have perfect abundance, then maybe we can talk copyright reform. Until then, I’m not interested.

  • David–
    “You actually just compared the economic value of creative works to the profit motive that sometimes infects our decision to start wars; and this of course stems from your premise that copyright, like war, is fundamentally bad but must be endured in the most limited way possible.”

    Well, I think that war, like copyright, has inherent, inescapable harm, which dictates against either unless there is some benefit which manages to outweigh the harm, in a given case. In total, neither copyright nor war are irredeemably bad — just bad until shown otherwise.

    But actually the point I was making was that your ‘What’s good for GM is good for America’ argument is bogus. You’re sticking with it though:

    “The argument seem to come down to this: A trillion dollars in GDP is good for the country, good for everyone, not just the people in those industries.”

    A trillion dollars of GDP is not the same thing as the progress of science.

    “You may argue that copyright reform (i.e. weakening it) might increase that value, while I will argue that there is neither historic nor reasonable theoretical evidence to suggest this is the case.”

    I have no idea whether reductions in copyright would increase GDP. I frankly don’t care about the effects on GDP one way or the other. Copyright policy should be tuned to cause the largest number of original and derivative works to be created and published with the least amount of restrictions for the least amount of time. Money as an incentive for authors and publishers is of some interest; the effect on the nation’s economy in general, however, is not relevant.

    “Do you know for a fact that the report includes insurance claim adjustment forms, or are you just winging that?”

    The report’s definition allows for such things, but does not actually provide a copy of the data used to generate it. This also is indicative of poor methodology; scientific analysis depends on the reproducibility of results.

    “you’re going to have to … demonstrate beyond the hypothetical what percentage of that GDP would remain or increase absent the present copyright system.”

    I won’t because as I said, it’s irrelevant. The success or failure of copyright is not measures as a percentage of GDP. It’s entirely the wrong metric.

    Monkey–
    “And again, as we have pointed out many times, “the public” ARE creators. They benefit from copyright in exactly the same way Evil Corporations do: being able to control their creations.”

    The public are also more consumers of works than creators of them. There are few people who read their own books, and listen to their own music, and watch their own films, more than they read, listen, and watch things created by other people.

    Further, most people don’t care about being able to control their creations. We know this because from 1790 to 1977 people had the choice of whether or not they wanted to control them, and overwhelmingly failed to take any actions to do so. I have no desire whatsoever to remove the ability of people to get copyrights. I just want them to have to opt-in by some affirmative action, beyond simply creating a work.

    Your conflation of the public benefiting from copyright just as ‘Evil Corporations’ do is very reminiscent of Anatole France’s comment about the majesty of the law.

    “Whether this is yours and the EFF’s intention”

    Other than that I like the EFF, and I met Wendy Seltzer once, I have no connection to them.

    “the ideas you espouse point to a world where creative works are exploitable by everyone except the creator. (True, creators will still be able to sell their wares, but without protections in place they will be forced to compete with “Free”, which is pretty much the same outcome)”

    Not in the least. What I’d like to see (though I admit that it’s based on a gut feeling, and that what we need in order to reform copyright is some hard evidence of what different laws would have on the public) is a return to our traditional opt-in system for published works, and a return to our traditional renewal and registration formalities. This way copyright would exist, and would protect copyright holders, but would be limited to works where the author requested the protection and maintained it. And I’d like to stop treating ordinary people, engaged in non-commercial piracy, as lawbreakers. Since they clearly aren’t changing their expectations much (and copyright is not important enough to justify forcing them to), it’s better to legalize what they’ve been doing. I can’t believe that we’re literally having an easier time legalizing marijuana than we are mere non-commercial piracy.

    This very well might result in the market being tougher for authors. But copyright isn’t meant to serve them, and the hypocrisy of those who call for a royal road for authors is evident given that the same people seem to have no problem with the hurdles that exist for authors now.

    I am confident that even if the market for works shrinks a bit in response to reforms that it will nevertheless be worth it given the greater public benefits. And if it’s not worth it, then I’d be the first to call for reforming the reforms because my agenda is not anti-author, nor anti-copyright, nor-pro-Silicon Valley; it is pro-public.

    “I’m tired of vague talk of “guaranteed incomes” in the future. When Google, Facebook and AMazon pay enough taxes to create such a scheme, or we have perfect abundance, then maybe we can talk copyright reform.”

    Guaranteed income is not part of copyright reform. It’s a bigger issue facing our entire economy. It would certainly help with copyright reform, by reducing the need of authors to make money from their works, but copyright reform is worthwhile without it.

    From 1909 to 1977 authors had to register for copyrights or they didn’t get them for published works. They had to timely renew their registrations or they lapsed. They didn’t have guaranteed incomes, but neither did the sky fall down because they had to lift a finger once in a while to secure their positions.

    As for higher taxes on the big four of tech (you left out Apple), I’m all for it. Also I was dismayed to see their collusive practices with regard to hiring and pay, and I’m optimistic that that system will be broken down and they’ll suffer some penalties which will deter them or others from trying it again.

    • This very well might result in the market being tougher for authors. But copyright isn’t meant to serve them, and the hypocrisy of those who call for a royal road for authors is evident given that the same people seem to have no problem with the hurdles that exist for authors now.

      This is what the internet looks like when content is removed:
      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:professor-moriarty.com&source=lnms&tbm=isch

      This is what it looks like when its not removed:
      http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=site%3aprofessor-moriarty.com

      Which internet do you prefer?

    • Anonymous, I understood your simile, I just don’t think it’s a good one. I already stated that it is based on the premise that copyright, like war, always does some harm; but that premise is one of our fundamental disagreements. And it appears that the other premise about which we disagree is the relevance of economic benefit from the copyright industries. Again, I’m at a loss. The primary way in which the public (not in theory but in reality) benefits from copyright is by economic value, not by the greatest number of available works, derivative or otherwise. I’m sorry but this theoretical view can only come a very comfortable and elitist perspective, or from an individual who seeks to profit for himself in a new copyright paradigm but in a way that will add little economic value to the state.

      In plain terms, I suspect the electrician across the street and the retiree next door are not big readers or consumers of highly sophisticated works. Super nice guys, salt of the Earth, do anything for you kind of guys; but I think I’m safe in saying that the volume of works available to them is ample. And the public you want to serve is comprised of more of them than, say, my wife who reads alternate translations of War & Peace and The Decameron for fun. I’m not being a snob; I don’t think less of these guys at all (hell I can’t read as much as my wife either), but I do think I’m being accurate. But the way my neighbors benefit from the copyright industries is because of that trillion or so dollars worth of GDP. Healthy economic sectors are healthy economic sectors. By contrast, the corporate interests that share your views on copyright (the Internet industry) produce tremendous wealth for a tiny fraction of society while generating very few jobs and cycling less of that wealth through the economy overall (see San Francisco). Surely, I don’t need to explain this to a self-described liberal.

      And to your comment about GM, I would stand by the premise but only in context. If you ask me if we should have an auto industry in this country, I’m going to say yes. If you ask me if GM should be allowed to skate on safety or environmental regulations, I’m going to say no. But again it’s a poor simile unless you’re arguing that auto manufacturing (as you see copyright) is fundamentally harmful and we have to, therefore, tolerate as little of it as possible. And maybe we should do that? Over-producing and then disposing of cars is environmentally unsound, so perhaps we should regulate how often American consumers are allowed to change cars and/or how many cars consumers are allowed to own. Think it’ll fly? My point is I think it’s best to compare apples to apples. Creative works to cars to war is just too much of a stretch I think.

      • Actually I can attest that the “plumber types” are among the most enthusiastic consumers of commercial fiction (everything from Ludlum to Grisham to George RR Martin), which benefits from copyright. A university press might bankroll a new translation of the Decameron, but escapist fiction sells well and most of that is possible due to copyright.

        A pocket book paperback Is a relatively cheap form of entertainment, and I hope it’s still a viable format for many years.

      • Absolutely. And I want to be clear, that I’m really not being snobbish with my examples. I’m simply saying that the way in which copyright benefits society is not restricted to the dissemination of more works. My point is that even if my neighbors didn’t consume any creative media, they are still beneficiaries of the creative industries’ contribution to the economy.

  • From 1909 to 1977 authors had to register for copyrights or they didn’t get them for published works. They had to timely renew their registrations or they lapsed. They didn’t have guaranteed incomes, but neither did the sky fall down because they had to lift a finger once in a while to secure their positions.”

    And they also didn’t have mass piracy.

    The problem is that, as has been pointed out countless times here, so called noncommerical piracy on the scale we see now is not possible without commercial, ad-supported piracy. You cannot simply legalize noncommerical piracy without leading to the unfettered exploitation of creators. You must know this, and yet you seem to ignore this.

    My point about guaranteed income is that unless that is in place, your copyright “reform” will lead to many, many creative people getting the shaft, followed by “easily replaceable” workers. That’s going to happen a lot sooner than any utopian income scheme.

    • Of course prior to 1977 there was very little opportunity, other than housebreaking, for commercial enterprises, let aloner the general public, to gain access to unregistered content. I doubt that Kerouac registered “On the Road” in the 6 years after writing it until Viking published it in 1957.

  • No one is asking for a “royal road” for authors; just a chance for creators to get paid when their work is being consumed.

    Whatever your intention is, the end result is that creators will have no control over their creations, nor any chance at getting their share of money made off of their works.

    I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t give a shit about legal history. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about “the progress of science” as the basis for copyright. I just think that if people are going to make work that isn’t just pointless bullshit that perpetuates the status quo, they will continue to need to be paid for their work -directly, not through diversions like public appearances and merchandizing, or being paid for services. If you want something, pay for it. How is that controversial?

    And even though I have very little published but I have a job that is directly related to copyright, and I’d like to keep it. It’s a hell of a lot more honourable job than working for Halliburton.

  • anon writes – “I have no idea whether reductions in copyright would increase GDP. I frankly don’t care about the effects on GDP one way or the other. Copyright policy should be tuned to cause the largest number of original and derivative works to be created and published with the least amount of restrictions for the least amount of time. Money as an incentive for authors and publishers is of some interest; the effect on the nation’s economy in general, however, is not relevant.”

    I don’t think being abrasive and insulting is a good look for a lawyer, maybe that is why you are interested in this “basic income” B.S. ….maybe you aren’t doing well in your day job?
    I find it incredibly insulting that you dismiss a trillion dollars of mostly small business owners – out of hand… I’m sorry, I must slap you now.

    anon- “Well, I think that war, like copyright, has inherent, inescapable harm..”

    Good thing people aren’t coming to you for your opinion then.

    anon- ” I am confident that even if the market for works shrinks a bit in response to reforms that it will nevertheless be worth it given the greater public benefits. And if it’s not worth it, then I’d be the first to call for reforming the reforms ..”

    Oh, so you have ZERO basis on which you want to play Russian roulette with peoples lives with? Are you fucking kidding me? So, basically, this is all just an experiment for your own personal amusement. Good luck, please play in someone else’s sandbox, your ideas are without merit here.

    anon -“From 1909 to 1977 authors had to register for copyrights or they didn’t get them for published works.”

    Irrelevant…

    anon – “Your argument is indistinguishable from saying that Lockheed, Halliburton, Blackwater…”

    Oh, please… people like you, that don’t have actual arguments– resort to sensationalist nonesense to mask the fact that you are talking from your rear-end..

    anon – ” What I’d like to see (though I admit that it’s based on a gut feeling….) ”

    As a lawyer would say: ‘case closed’/ ‘i rest my case’…

  • David–
    “I think I’m safe in saying that the volume of works available to them is ample”

    I don’t think that’s even possible. Of course, the public benefits not only by the dissemination of works, but by those works being as little-protected as possible, for as little time as possible. Only when works are in the public domain do they finally provide the public with their full value.

    “By contrast, the corporate interests that share your views on copyright (the Internet industry)”

    I’d be very surprised if that were the case.

    “And to your comment about GM, I would stand by the premise but only in context. If you ask me if we should have an auto industry in this country, I’m going to say yes. If you ask me if GM should be allowed to skate on safety or environmental regulations, I’m going to say no.”

    Whether there should even be a car manufacturing industry wasn’t the original context, you know. It was about whether public officials should act in the interests of the nation as a whole or of private businesses. (Particularly those which the officials had a connection with or an investment in) See also Abe Fortas and Dick Cheney (particularly his involvement in deregulating fracking). Given the actual context, the simile works fine. Had you not heard that expression before? While it dates back to the 50’s, I thought it was commonly known.

    ***

    Monkey–
    “The problem is that, as has been pointed out countless times here, so called noncommerical piracy on the scale we see now is not possible without commercial, ad-supported piracy.”

    I absolutely disagree. I think that if the door were opened to non-commercial piracy, that people would happily stick to it. It’s just not common right now because without a safe harbor for it, non-commercial piracy is just as illegal as commercial piracy, and if it occurs beyond a casual level, can’t operate very openly and runs at a loss. Faced with that, the old in for a penny, in for a pound principle applies; using ads to recoup expenses and perhaps profit won’t make things worse.

    It’s like Prohibition. When it was illegal to import liquor, criminals did it, they bribed law enforcement officials, carried guns, and killed people who tried to stop them or muscle in on their turf. Now that it’s legal again, the importing companies just pay the relevant import duties, fill out the paperwork, and the mafia is not involved so much.

    Legalized piracy can be regulated more effectively than illegal piracy. There’s probably a name for this sort of paradox.

    “You cannot simply legalize noncommerical piracy without leading to the unfettered exploitation of creators.”

    Preventing the unfettered exploitation of creators is not the goal of copyright. In fact, the entire point of copyright is to exploit creators and to make them willing participants in it so that the exploitation runs more smoothly. It’s like how dairy cows report to the milking parlor of their own accord.

    That having been said, I have not been suggesting that we should engage in unfettered exploitation of creators. There should absolutely be some fetters.

    “Whatever your intention is, the end result is that creators will have no control over their creations, nor any chance at getting their share of money made off of their works.”

    The law doesn’t give them a share of all the money made off their works now, nor does it give them absolute control.

    But I’m fine with authors getting all the money made off of certain uses of their works (or a share, if the author chooses to sell some of the right to money to a third party, as is typical). Legalizing non-commercial piracy wouldn’t allow third parties to make money off of artists. If it did, it would hardly be non-commercial.

    As for control, I can’t say I see the appeal. Aside from existing limits on control and the aforementioned ‘if it’s not commercial and it only involves natural persons, anything goes,’ I don’t think that there’s much that needs changing for copyrighted works.

    There’s the issue of formalities, but that’s more a matter of determining which works are eligible for copyright, and which aren’t; I’m happy to leave nearly all of that decision up to authors, on a per-work basis.

    “I just think that if people are going to make work that isn’t just pointless bullshit that perpetuates the status quo,”

    Yeah, how dare Michelangelo take all those commissions from the Medicis and the Pope. Anyway, the quality of a work is outside the scope of copyright’s concern. And if it were, I assure you it would only protect works that perpetuated the status quo; copyright is a creation of the state, after all.

    ***

    John Warr–
    “Which internet do you prefer?”

    I like the one where authors generally lack the ability to prevent their works from being publicly available, whether because they’ve sat on unpublished works long enough that they should no longer be eligible for copyright or because they’ve published works and should generally be unable to withdraw them.

    “Of course prior to 1977 there was very little opportunity, other than housebreaking, for commercial enterprises, let aloner the general public, to gain access to unregistered content.”

    Happened all the time. There are plenty of public domain works from after 1923, some of which were published without being registered, and thus were not copyrightable, others were published and registered, but not renewed, so the copyrights lapsed after 28 years.

    “I doubt that Kerouac registered “On the Road” in the 6 years after writing it until Viking published it in 1957.”

    He registered it in 1957, but the famous scroll manuscript from 1951 was not the final draft. While I’m not an expert on the history of On the Road, my understanding is that he continued to revise it in the years prior to publication. Certainly the published version differs from the scroll.

    ***

    AudioNomics–
    “I don’t think being abrasive and insulting is a good look for a lawyer”

    And yet it is so popular.

    “maybe that is why you are interested in this “basic income” B.S. … maybe you aren’t doing well in your day job?”

    I’ve been seeing automation put people out of work for many years now. At first it seemed like retraining was a solution, but as the pace of automation has been increasing, I think that’s less likely. Basic income is a solution to widescale unemployment and underemployment. I’d also support having the US return to a policy of full employment — the WPA, CCC, and other alphabet soup agencies managed to get jobs for nearly everyone, including artists. I just worry that the latter plan would lead to pointless busy work after important things like necessary improvements for our national infrastructure had mostly been accomplished.

    Anyway, it’s hardly B.S. Alaska gives money to its citizens every year already. Switzerland is holding a nationwide referendum on the question in March. The idea is rapidly gaining support. I guess your comment means that the idea is progressing beyond the stage of ‘they ignore you’ to ‘they ridicule you.’ That’s progress.

    “Oh, so you have ZERO basis on which you want to play Russian roulette with peoples lives with?”

    Oh, we desperately need empirical economic studies to guide copyright policy. Unfortunately, they’re few and far between. Rufus Pollock wrote a paper — the math of which is beyond me, I’m afraid — which suggested that the optimal copyright term was about 15 years. You can read it here: http://rufuspollock.org/papers/optimal_copyright.pdf

    As I said, my thoughts on the direction of reform are gut feelings. But the same is true of anyone else’s ideas on how to change the law, as well as whether or not to change the law at all. No position, not even preserving the status quo, has any actual logic behind it. It’s all guesswork, and it’s intolerable.

    • Alaska pays a whopping $2000 per citizen. Wow.


    • It’s like Prohibition. When it was illegal to import liquor, criminals did it, they bribed law enforcement officials, carried guns, and killed people who tried to stop them or muscle in on their turf. Now that it’s legal again, the importing companies just pay the relevant import duties, fill out the paperwork, and the mafia is not involved so much.”

      So how pray tell would this work? My point was that the pirate system by which if someone wants to watch Game Of Thrones now, without paying, most cannot do it without going to an ad sponsored site.

      “Legalized piracy can be regulated more effectively than illegal piracy. There’s probably a name for this sort of paradox.”

      How, other than by legalizing it you don’t call it piracy anymore?

      “Preventing the unfettered exploitation of creators is not the goal of copyright. In fact, the entire point of copyright is to exploit creators and to make them willing participants in it so that the exploitation runs more smoothly. It’s like how dairy cows report to the milking parlor of their own accord.”

      What a charming analogy.

      “There’s the issue of formalities, are, if the author chooses to sell some of the right to money to a third party, as is typical). Legalizing non-commercial piracy wouldn’t allow third parties to make money off of artists. If it did, it would hardly be non-commercial.”

      And yet again, the two are linked in a way that bathtub gin and smuggling booze from elsewhere isn’t.

      Most creators take a blind eye to home taping, etc. however, when applied to a mass scale, it can be crippling to them,

      “Yeah, how dare Michelangelo take all those commissions from the Medicis and the Pope.”

      No problem with Michelangelo. However, being able to directly sell ones art to people has been s boon to expression.

      “Anyway, the quality of a work is outside the scope of copyright’s concern. And if it were, I assure you it would only protect works that perpetuated the status quo; copyright is a creation of the state, after all.”

      So you don’t care whether the stuff is good or not, just as long as the public can get it no matter what. Great.

      At this point I really don’t know what to say, and frankly I don’t know what the point of these lengthy replies of yours are. I doubt you’ve convinced any of the regular readers out there (if lurkers are convinced, I apologize for speaking for you) .

    • “I like the one where authors generally lack the ability to prevent their works from being publicly available, whether because they’ve sat on unpublished works long enough that they should no longer be eligible for copyright or because they’ve published works and should generally be unable to withdraw them.”

      Tough – that is not really an option is it. You can force people to publish anything, and you can’t force them to continue to publish something. Your constitution covers that, freedom of speach also covers the freedom not to speak. So unless you want to overturn your constitution you cannot force someone to speak.

      Generally most content creators can go do other stuff. Musicians can simply play at weddings, or in local bars. Photographers can similarly restrict themselves to weddings and kids portraits. Film makers can do wedding videos and kids parties. No one is compelled to create anything for anyone, or indeed to publish anything they do create. There are many other things to do. What are you going to do compel them to create?

      Once again which internet do you prefer.

      • and Bingo was his name-o!

        His/her/its entire premise is based off of nothing but “gut feeling”.
        Hey, my ‘gut feeling’ is actually based off of fact: if we enforce copyright law, creators can have a functional marketplace in which they live off the merit of their work… no ‘basic income’ needed… there, I just saved the taxpayers trillions of dollars…

    • “Happened all the time. …”

      We’re not talking about expiration of copyright but mass exploitation of unregistered works care to give a list of a few 1000s or so?

      “I’m not an expert on the history of On the Road, my understanding is that …”

      Yes he revised it, but the publication was pretty much close to the original roll, they cut out some of the sex, and changed the names. Which isn’t the point though. Kerouac and others lived in a world where by and large they could send publishers manuscripts without fear of being pirated even though the work wasn’t registered.

  • Your argument is the equivalent of saying the stickers/branding on a race car are what made it go 200mph. Yes the money they generate helps build a better car, but they are in no way responsible for the car being able to zoom around the track.

    Copyright, while an important legal protection against theft, in NO way influences the creativity that TRULY drives the media industry and ACTUALLY generates all of that money.

    • Actually, patented processes and parts are what make cars go faster…

      • And copyrighted CAD/CAM software.

      • And the main reason they are patented? To stop other people from using their work as a starting point. What Anonymous has pointed out is that by doing so, we limit potential growth in the name of “protection”.

        You are assuming that the only value in an idea comes from the creator. You would be mistaken.

  • Not assuming that at all. However, if the creator is going to benefit from the value of that idea, they usually have to do it through copyright. Better them than someone who has NOTHING to do with its creation, I.e, Pirates.

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