Late last year in the UK the infamous "Gowers Report" on intellectual property was issued, while it recommended not extending copyright terms on performances, some of us felt that the report was too balanced for its own good. Gowers seemed to go out of his way to make sure the report gave a little to everyone -- and therefore basically gave nothing to anyone. Rather than looking at the fundamental issues, it just tried to give a little bit here to one side and a little bit there to another. Of course, the copyright term extension got the most attention -- with supporters of term extension mistakenly thinking that copyright is a welfare system to perpetually support musicians rather than an incentive system for the creation of new content. Now that the report is all published and done with, apparently Andrew Gowers is willing to admit that when they did their actual research and investigation, they found that the economic evidence supported making copyright terms even shorter than the existing 50 years. However, recognizing that decreasing the length would have created howls of outrage from the industry that still thought it had a chance for extending the term, he simply recommended leaving it alone. Of course, it should come as no surprise to those of us around here that the economic evidence would suggest society is better off with shorter copyright terms -- but it's disappointing that Gowers had to wait until well after the report was released to even make that basic point. At least it's one more hole in the myth that longer copyrights must be good for society. The entire interview makes for an interesting read, though (as fits with his report) Gowers keeps focusing on the importance of "balance" between two opposing extremes, as if they're competing. At some point it would be nice for people to realize that there are solutions where everyone can benefit.
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