I've been reading the excellent book, Property Outlaws
, which I'll write more about when I'm done, but it's main thesis is that oftentimes, people violating certain restrictions -- such as on copyright or civil rights -- actually are helping to refine the law in those areas by highlighting problems with the existing laws. Basically, it builds on the idea that people taking a stand are more able to change and to fix highly dynamic areas of law more efficiently than slow moving bureaucrats. Along those lines, it appears that the EU's Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, is recognizing that unauthorized file sharing actually has been useful in building a single market
, where politicians and bureaucrats have been unable to do so:
"We have effectively allowed illegal file-sharing to set up a single market where our usual policy channels have failed.... While the internet is borderless, Europe's online markets are not. It is often easier to buy something from a US website than online from the country next-door in Europe. Often you cannot buy it at all within Europe... Consumers can buy CDs in every shop but are often unable to buy music online across the EU because rights are licensed on a national basis. No wonder the US market for online music is five times bigger than Europe's."
Of course, she's saying this in an effort to pass the EU "digital agenda," which tries to make it easier to do licenses across the EU, rather than having to do individual licenses in each country. And, with that, she does go on to complain about various aspects of unauthorized file sharing, but it's nice to at least see a recognition that such forms of infringement are often useful in breaking down the barriers that bureaucrats are too slow to manage.