Copyright Extension As A Game Of Leapfrog

from the how-it-all-works dept

Over in the UK where they have, of all things, a “director of creative industries,” there’s an ongoing debate about copyright extension. Earlier this month, we noted the stance taken by this creative industries politician, where his rationale was basically that the industry didn’t know how to handle risk and therefore needed more money. Wouldn’t it be great if every industry had their own minister to bail them out because they couldn’t figure out how to handle risk in their business model? Anyway, it seems that some commentators are realizing the oddity of the situation as well, and the Times Online has an excellent editorial explaining copyright extension in the UK makes no sense and would actually be harmful to the “creative industries” said minister is supposed to be protecting. The arguments made in the article are mostly familiar to those who read Techdirt often enough — though, it’s still a worthwhile read. One especially amusing point, though, shows how both sides of the Atlantic seem to be justifying copyright extension by using a “leapfrog” process. That is, when the Sonny Bono copyright term extension act was put in place, part of his argument was that the US had less strict copyright protection than Europe, and we needed to extend copyright to keep things in line or else it would be “hard to do business” with our friends across the pond. Of course, the extension then went beyond what Europe had (leading to the debate today), so now one of the reasons for pushing for copyright extension in Europe is because the differences make it “hard to do business” going in the other direction. That’s quite a scam. As long as each side keeps leapfrogging the other, they can extend copyrights virtually forever using the same claim.

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