“The era of copyright is over. And thank goodness.”
Or so I’ve been saying pretty constantly over the past six or seven years. And not making many of my friends too happy, I should hasten to add. (Take a drink, this is going to be a long rant.)
If you’re a creative person —artist, writer, musician, technologist, whatever— and you’re under the mistaken impression that copyright is ultimately your friend, you ought to read this report from Friday by Congressional Republicans (yes, Republicans) that debunks the many myths around copyright law. Or, at least this explanation from TechDirt about it. (And, just ignore the fact that a few hours after it was released, big business Republicans had the report pulled back.)
Look, I’m 61 years old, and a lot of the success I’ve had —my friends too— has been in the era of the most radical expansion of copyright in history. And much of our prosperity has been with work under copyright protection. We should love this protection, yes?
Well, no. Completely aside from the fact that in this era of expansion of ease of sharing and distribution that more stringent copyright defense is the equivalent of putting up higher and higher anti-immigration fences along our borders, it just isn’t helpful to creative enterprise. Seriously.
And, we’re gathering the forces to realize that all the technological changes in our lives are *demanding* legal change.
If you’re so inclined, you might want to read “Why Copyright is Evil” by musician Ben Sommer. But, the Techdirt piece (“House Republicans: Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform”). I think if you give it some time to sink in you’ll see that the way that copyright has been folded, spindled, and mutilated over the last 50 years will not help you in many of your endeavors.
Here are the three biggest copyright myths. Read the piece for their debunking:
- 1. The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator. (No, it correctly notes, it’s about benefiting the public.)
- 2. Copyright is a representation of free market capitalization. (The paper properly notes that the reality is the exact opposite.)
- 3. The current copyright regime leads to the greatest level of innovation and productivity. That makes no sense at all, the paper says.)
What should you do? One, be smarter about the what’s what in the business you work in. And two, write your congressional representatives. Let them know what you think.
PS: Don’t think I’m not aware that Frederator companies have copyright symbols all over the place. Until things get fixed, I don’t really know how to do it better. I use Creative Commons when I can, but usually I just default to the traditional systems. I know they’re trying hard to help, but honestly, at the moment CC honestly just confuses me.