Dead Poets Society – A Detailed Analysis Of The Eldred Case

from the wow dept

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the Eldred case, since the constitutional questions it raised were never as clear cut to me as the economic issues concerning intellectual property. The Supreme Court shouldn’t be deciding economic issues. Their job is to interpret the Constitution. Here is the first really (really, really) detailed analysis of the Eldred case I’ve seen that makes this point. I agree with the goals of the case – to free up content into the public domain, but the methods didn’t necessarily make sense. If Congress is really “owned by corporations”, then the best way to change the laws is to get corporations to realize the economic harm they’re doing to themselves by trying to over-protect intellectual property. The incredibly long article linked above goes into great detail about the Eldred case, and comes to a similar conclusion that Eldred might not have been the right move. Lawrence Lessig has responded to the article, saying that Eldred is really just the first step in a process – and that if it had gone the other way, it would show people the benefit of the public domain, and energize them into taking action against those who would block it. It’s a very idealistic viewpoint (though, mine is as well), and it would be great if it came true. I’m not arguing against Lessig’s plan – I just think energies are better spent at the other end, showing corporations the economic realities of their decisions. Hopefully, we’re both right, and a flood of enlightenment will cascade down from both companies and consumers – but that’s probably asking for too much.

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Comments on “Dead Poets Society – A Detailed Analysis Of The Eldred Case”

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will ross says:

let them eat dirt

…the best way to change the laws is to get corporations to realize the economic harm they’re doing to themselves by trying to over-protect intellectual property….

this is exactly what frustrates me the most about the current anal corporate attitudes towards distribution of intellectual property content. in the seventies and eighties early micro-computer companies tried to protect their digital assets with dongles, software keys, and all sorts of annoying interventions. their customers were not amused. ultimately these computer corporations came to see the profitability of making their products easily available to their customers, who were willing to pay a reasonable fee for legal copies as long as access to the content was not onerous or a hassle. the entertainment industry has a long history of refusing to see the market making potential in new technology, such as the way in which video cassettes, which the entertainment cartel tried to outlaw on piracy concerns, dramatically increased their distribution channels. getting these content distribution companies to see the advantages of digital distribution has been needlessly complicated by the technology illiteracy rampant among the executive offices of the entertainment industry. michael eisner made a fool of himself at the congressional hearings when he declared that computer companies would never place their digital assets on line without protection so why should he, when placing digital assets on line is exactly what software companies have been doing for decades, despite his ill-informed declaration. recently i read an op-ed piece in the wall street journal by some entertainment industry flak who equated p2p (the topology) with content piracy, as if there are no non-infringing uses of a flat-out brilliant interoperability paradigm. here’s a sample from another sector: in the energy industry amory lovins of the rocky mountain institute constantly seeks to convince corporate energy producers and utilities that energy efficiency is in their own interest. he uses economic arguments to show utilities how investing in efficiency reduces operating expenses, lowers debt loads and increases cash flows. i think amory’s angle can be applied to the entertainment industry quagmire, where content is currently held hostage by unimaginative business leaders who seem incapable of recognising a new marketing opportunity. [wr]

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