The Copyright Industry Is Not A Stakeholder In Copyright Policy, It's A Beneficiary

from the indeed dept

In discussions on copyright policy, you almost always hear politicians talk about the importance of hearing from the "stakeholders," in which the only "stakeholders" they talk to are the copyright industry which benefits from copyright law. In fact, a little over a year ago, when VP Joe Biden convened a "piracy summit", he claimed that the idea was to "bring together all the stakeholders" -- except that everyone in the room was a copyright industry executive or a politician. There was no public representation at all. Similarly, in the recently leaked State Department cables concerning US embassy efforts to pressure Canada into changing its copyright laws, the US ambassador refers to Canadian copyright industry representatives as the stakeholders it's talking to.

This is wrong.

Some might argue that copyright holders are a stakeholder, but I think Rick Falkvinge has it exactly right when he notes that the copyright industry is not a stakeholder at all, but a beneficiary of copyright law. The article should be mandatory, required remedial reading for anyone who ever refers to the copyright industry as a "stakeholder" in any policy discussions on copyright law:
The copyright monopoly legislation is a balance between the publicís interest of having access to culture, and the same publicís interest of having new culture created.

Thatís it. Those are the two values that go into determining the wording of the copyright monopoly.

The copyright industry always demands to be regarded as a stakeholder in this monopoly. But to give them that status would be to royally confuse the means of the copyright monopoly with its end.
I'd argue that it's not that the copyright industry demands to be considered a stakeholder, it demands to be considered the only staskeholder. But as Falkvinge points out, copyright is entirely about the public. The industry is not a stakeholder but a beneficiary. He provides an analogy that is so instructive that it should be used more often:
Blackwater Security benefits from United States foreign policy. Does that mean that Blackwater is a stakeholder in the US foreign policy, and should get a seat at the drafting table? Of course it doesnít. The notion would be horrifying, with quite predictable outcomes. Yet, we accept this horrendous construction in the case of the copyright monopoly, with just the outcomes predicted.
In the past, I've pointed out that you don't ask the guy who owns the sugar monopoly to be a part of the policy team in determining who gets the sugar monopoly, but why do politicians continually do this with copyright? Why do the highest levels of government (yes, such as Joe Biden) insist that the beneficiaries are the only real stakeholders? And what will it take for him to realize that he's not just wrong, but that he's harming the actual stakeholders?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 10:50am

    You will bow to us

    As the RIAA you must now understand that any music you listen to must result in a payment to us. Each and every time you listen to that Born, or Dance song you must pay us.

    Bow to our rights as copyright holders. If you do not understand that you must always buy the songs our way and that you must always listen to the songs in ways that we say you can, then you will pay us.

     

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  2.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: You will bow to us

    Bit hard to do that when you won't listen to US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:12am

    The term "stakeholder" is woefully vague, but how does being a beneficiary disqualify you from being a "stakeholder?"

    They have a stake in any modifications to copyright law, don't they?

    I think the better question is whether everyone who is a "stakeholder" should get heightened access.

    I mean, *everybody* is some sort of "stakeholder" (which is why I'm not a big fan of this PR terminology).

     

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  4.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    I agree. The Copyright/Music Industry is a stakeholder. What's missing is having the 'public' be an 'equal' stakeholder.

    Both are also beneficiaries of copyright, though the balance isn't exactly in favor of the public right now.

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish, May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:38am

    "what will it take for him to realize that he's not just wrong, but that he's harming the actual stakeholders?"

    A check larger than those given to him by the copyright industry.

    "Does that mean that Blackwater is a stakeholder in the US foreign policy, and should get a seat at the drafting table?"

    The sad part is that they do get to help in setting policy. I have no doubt about that.

     

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  6.  
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    crade (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:48am

    They are the ones put up the money to buy the law, doesn't that make them the stakeholders?

     

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  7.  
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    Wise (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Stakeholders are defined as a person or group that has an investment, share, or interest in something. This isn't an expounded concept of interest, such as that you like this band or enjoy watching that movie - the investment would also have nothing to do with the average person as simply purchasing the item is a limited licensing for the use of said item. These licenses don't give you inherent power of the choices made regarding future use of these items as a whole.

    If I understand, you want the collective people to have a larger purpose in the overall stake in our laws within the government, as befits the future generations of our people. I agree with this ideal, we should be able to have a stronger voice on such things, but until such time as there is a convenient outlet to such changes, nothing will come to pass.

    We have to face the facts here, the American mentality is generally to be as opinionated as possible, while they can get away with it, once they are asked to step up and well, pun intended, fight for their right to party, they quake and run away in tears. It's simply too much to ask for.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Copyright holders are "stakeholders" in the same sense that wireless carriers are "stakeholders" in debates over spectrum and the food and beverage industry are "stakeholders" in food labeling rules.

    Blackwater, Boeing, and Lockheed are not stakeholders in defense policy -- anymore than wind farms are "stakeholders" in wind energy subsidies -- but they arguably are stakeholders in government contracts regulation.

    What differentiates the two groups is that there are beneficiaries of government pay-outs and *regulated industries.* Regulated industries generally capture the regulatory process, and the better they do that, the more it looks like a benefit.

    What's really going on here is the IP law is an area of regulation so effectively captured by corporate content producers [through metaphors, misleading data, a healthy dose of campaign finance contributions, and occasionally putting the chair of the relevant congressional committee in your movies] that it looks like they're feeding at the public trough.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    really it should be:
    The copyright monopoly legislation is a balance between the publicís interest of having access to Science and useful Arts, and the same publicís interest of having new Science and useful Arts created.

    I have no idea how culture fits into that.

     

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  10.  
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    trish, May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    high stakes

    I am a stakeholder in my spaycheck, shouldn't I get to decide my salary?

     

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  11.  
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    MAC, May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Copyright stakeholders...

    Who are the stake holders?

    Creator

    Public

    The entity that has financed the creation and/or marketing/distribution of the work depending on the contractual agreements with the creator of said work.

    For those of you who donít like the third stakeholder, entity, just remember this, it takes money to launch something, be it an album, song or whatever and those who put up the money have a stake in the success of the said something so they are a stakeholder.

    Put the shoe on the other foot, if you put up the money then you would definitely consider yourself a stakeholder and, you would fight for that right and a return on your investment.

     

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  12.  
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    Nom du Clavier (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: You will bow to us

    Dear RIAA,

    Go away, your incessant buzzing is interfering with my enjoyment of music.

    kthnxbai,
    Just about any random interwebs person

     

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  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    No, that makes them investors...in the political climate.

     

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  14.  
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    John Gardner (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    And what will it take for him to realize that he's not just wrong, but that he's harming the actual stakeholders?


    You (incorrectly, IMO), assume that Biden is ignorant and not deliberate in his use of terminology. I would imagine he understands the difference between stakeholder and beneficiary quite well, it's just that he desires to put up a front to the American people that he's doing something to benefit them, when in fact everything he's doing is to harm them (us). Besides, he can get more money from the Content Industry than the American people.

     

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  15.  
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    rubberpants, May 2nd, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Copyright stakeholders...

    I strongly disagree. Copyright exists to serve the public interest and is acceptable only to the degree to which it does so. Simply because someone has built a business around the law doesn't mean they should have any say in it - because they are concerned only about their own profits (by definition).

    Giving the business the primary (or only as is often the case) say in how the law is written and enforced is a perversion of everything the government should stand for - namely the interests of the people.

    There is no RIGHT to make a profit as you said. You're free to try and make a profit, but if society determines that you're doing more harm than good then you will be stopped.

    This blind corporate protectionism is sickening.

     

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  16.  
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    Ed C., May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Copyright stakeholders...

    It would be fine if the major labels were merely financiers sitting at the negotiation table along side the other stakeholders. However, they have colluded in distorting the markets for marketing and distribution to inhibit others competing with them. Furthermore, they have already contorted copyright far beyond a fair ROI years ago, and are now barring the doors to negotiations and prohibiting all other stakeholders from even being heard. So don't even make this an issue about their rights--they have far exceeded what was reasonably within their right along time ago!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Re:

    "Stakeholders are defined as a person or group that has an investment, share, or interest in something. This isn't an expounded concept of interest..."

    Says who?

    I've always heard "stakeholder" used as a broad, feel-good term to use for people with some undefined interest when people don't want to use a more limited (and meaningful) term like "stockholder."

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Copyright stakeholders...

    Nothing about what you said contradicts the notion that the financiers of copyright-protected works are not stakeholders in copyright law matters.

    Sure, they shouldn't get to exclusively determine the law or guarantee a particular business model to the detriment of the public, but that's extraneous to the notion that they are stakeholders.

     

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  19.  
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    RobShaver (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 4:21pm

    What is a stakeholder

    My definition of stakeholder is any entity that is affected by the subject being discussed.

    So citizens of the USA, including people and corporations, have a stake in US policy because they are directly or indirectly affected by these policies and how they are implemented. So in this case I think Blackwater is a stakeholder in US policy, not because it benefits from that policy, but because it is affected by that policy.

    Now please define for me what the "copyright industry" is. The auto industry are companies that make cars and car parts. The computer industry makes computers and computer stuff.

    What does the copyright industry make? It's not authors is it? They may make written works that are copyrighted and are affected by copyright laws, but does that make them part of the "copyright industry"?

    How about book publishers? The buy stuff from authors, print it on paper and sell it to people who what to read that stuff. Are they "in" the copyright industry? I don't think so. Their business is affected by copyright laws and, like authors, have a stake in the laws affecting the stuff they produce.

    It is useful in any meaningful discussion is to define your terms. Please someone, hopefully Mike Masnick, give us a good definition of the subject of this article.

    You often define terms and I have learned from your definitions. For example you have pointed out that the "recording industry" is only a part of the "music industry". Shed some light here. Clear some of the smoke.

    I'm really disappointed in this article.

     

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  20.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:46pm

    Re: What is a stakeholder

    The difference here, is that the only two groups of people at the table are those who make the laws, and those who want said laws extended. I would argue that ti should be illegal to aattempt to affect laws in which you are a direct or indirect beneficiary, if you are a corporation, with the penalties of being dissolved, as a corporation, and all works you hold being sold off at auction.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:37am

    Re: Re: What is a stakeholder

    I would argue that ti should be illegal to aattempt to affect laws in which you are a direct or indirect beneficiary, if you are a corporation, with the penalties of being dissolved, as a corporation, and all works you hold being sold off at auction.

    You should also include that they should be crushed and driven before you until you hear the lamentations of their women. And that their CEOs should be granted immortality, then chained to a rock to have their regenerating livers eaten out by giant mythical eagles every day. These things are just as likely to happen as what you suggested (that is, not in a million years) but much more emotionally satisfying to think about.

     

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  22.  
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    Yeebok (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:28am

    Re:

    From what I hear, policy is shaped around their actions .. after the fact.

     

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  23.  
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    iveseenitall, May 3rd, 2011 @ 6:07am

    I'm having trouble understanding this conversation.
    Since when do entity's that finance the creation, marketing, distribution of content have standing?
    Unless they own or have contractual control over the copyright.
    The so called third party is often the lobbying arm or litigation arm of the RIAA both of which represent for all practical purposes Sony, BMG, Universal Music, EMI and Warner Music.
    Now aren't these the same groups quoted frequently as saying they are unable to invest or find investors to support new music and artists?
    Continue on through the circular reasoning and you arrive at the pirates must be stopped, something must be done, everyone is to blame but those who have been running things all along theory.
    And there is the fork in the road.
    Seek to control the technology. That's been tried and failed. Next up is users.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: What is a stakeholder

    Why do you think corporations should be treated differently in that respect than everyone else? Some for LLCs, partnerships, and individual businesspeople/sole proprietors?

    That's pretty much the touchstone of democracy (being able to advocate for laws that affect you).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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