This article specifically caught my attention because the term “rent seeking” has so frequently been misapplied to copyright. Interestingly enough, it is a term correctly used to describe the manner in which, for instance, the major tech platforms enjoy a competition-free market. Porter writes …
“The scholars argue that the American economy is afflicted by “rents” — returns in excess of what investments would yield in a competitive economy, where fat margins are quickly whittled away by competition.
Rising rents will take larger shares of the nation’s income. That will bolster the proportion of income that goes to corporate profits but squeeze the share that flows to workers — in wages and benefits — and to productive capital. This will discourage both work and capital investment. It will weigh on overall economic growth.”
Porter isn’t talking about book authors, filmmakers, photographers, and musicians. He’s talking about corporations with huge stock valuations and market positions so dominant that they can kill would-be competitors to protect their “rent seeking” models. Sound like any Facebooks or Googles you know?
Yes, a copyright can be described as a kind of monopoly, but it’s a monopoly to which every citizen is entitled in the same way every citizen is entitled to personal sovereignty. The fact that copyright’s antagonists have thrown around the term “rent seeking monopoly” in defense of corporations that really can be described by those terms only emphasizes the extent to which Big Tech managed to hypnotize the market with its shiny playthings.
Image by michaklootwijk