The supposedly "free market" think tank, the "Progress & Freedom Foundation" has always confused some people with their stance on copy protection. Despite saying the government should stay out of almost everything (they're vehemently against muni-broadband, for instance), they're huge supporters for any law that pushes copy protection. This seems to go against everything else they say, because it basically supports millions of government granted monopolies. The latest column written up by PFFI's Patrick Ross isn't just disingenuous, it tries to co-opt the language of those who support loosening draconian intellectual property laws by claiming that fair use stifles innovation. The reasoning is bizarre and somewhat circular, but can be summed up as the same old line that the entertainment industry has used for years: if there's fair use, entertainment companies won't put out any more content. Of course, that's provably false. Fair use has existed for years, and there's still plenty of content out there. However, it's worse than that. Copy protection often lowers the value of the content by severely limiting it or making the content useless for many users. The claim that people trying to actually use the content they legally purchased harms innovation is corporate doublespeak at best -- especially when it's pretty clear that no copy protection can actually protect content. No copy protection has been able to keep content off file sharing networks, so it's hard to see how it makes one bit of difference to those entertainment companies. The content is still out there for free whether or not there's fair use. If the entertainment industry is afraid to release their content digitally, that's not a problem for innovation, that's a problem for those companies. There are other entertainment companies that have learned to embrace more open distribution means, and it would seem that the "free market" position would be to let those companies compete and see what happens -- not force government regulations to protect one industry's business model. In fact, it seems that those who have created new business models that embrace giving customers what they want without annoying copy protection are a lot more innovative than an entertainment industry that needs a bunch of laws to protect their business model.
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