The EFF's Deep Links is pointing to an opinion piece in the Financial Times about how WIPO is working on a new treaty to give webcasters additional intellectual property rights that they don't need and don't want. Yes, it's true that a few big companies want those "rights" -- even if they'll only serve to shrink the overall market, including the piece of those big companies. The FT piece, written by James Boyle makes a few points worth calling out. First, is the recognition that international intellectual property law is this ongoing game of leapfrog. Basically, one country puts in place onerous intellectual property laws, and then others feel they need to boost their own intellectual property laws for "parity." However, the "parity" often involves leapfrogging the original set of laws... and then the original country has to boost their laws as well. This WIPO treaty seems to be an example of just that. However, even more important is this point: "intellectual property laws are created without any empirical evidence that they are necessary or that they will help rather than hurt." This is the argument we've been making for years. For us, the question of intellectual property isn't a "moral" issue. It's not about how "information needs to be free." It's an economic issue, plain and simple. There's increasing evidence to show that many of these intellectual property laws tend to harm innovation and slow down economic development. It would seem like these are the types of things that anyone making intellectual property laws would want to understand. Instead, they seem to insist that "more protection is better" when the evidence has shown the opposite to be true. So why is it that none of the people making the laws seem interested in understanding the actual impact of intellectual property laws or bother to wonder if they're actually needed? Instead, they just listen to a few lobbyists from a few big companies, and assume what they say is good must be true. The end result is damaging for everyone.
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