Hungarian Copyright Treaty Author Insists That Those Who Don't Like Anti-Circumvention Clauses Are 'Hatred-Driven' Maoists
from the ah,-language-choices dept
For nearly all of the history of copyright law, the law itself has been designed by and for a certain group of middlemen — even as it was officially supposed to be about creating incentives for the creation of new, quality content. For this reason, copyright law has changed radically over the past three centuries, as those middlemen repeatedly strove to ratchet up and increase their monopoly rents. However, with the introduction of the internet and the personal computer, something unfortunate happened to the middlemen. They discovered that suddenly this cozy process of middlemen and politicians constantly ratcheting up monopoly protections ran into a bit of a speedbump: that ratcheting up interfered with the daily lives of millions of people online.
Because of that, over the past few years, a growing group of people have become increasingly vocal, in pointing out that the true purpose of copyright law should be to make sure it actually does increase the incentives for the creation of new works, rather than taking it on faith (and the sworn word of the middlemen). This has upset the middlemen greatly — for historically they faced little to no opposition to their ongoing efforts to continually increase the monopoly rights granted to them.
Now facing serious opposition to these efforts for the first time, it appears that some of those involved in the cozy process of constantly ratcheting up copyright law (in one direction only) have decided that rather than present evidence as to why this is actually needed, they will simply break out two favorite mechanisms of the copyright maximalist arsenal: scream about “international obligations” over and over again… and when that fails, start the name calling.
Both are evident in an angry rant from Dr. Mihaly Ficsor, the President of the Hungarian Copyright Experts Council, and a former Assistant Director General of WIPO (i.e., the “old boys club” of folks who ratchet up copyright at every turn possible, based on faith alone, but not evidence of its need). Dr. Ficsor is particularly peeved at Michael Geist, for pushing back on the demands of other countries to radically change Canada’s copyright laws. Dr. Fiscor’s rant was posted to the blog of Barry Sookman, a Canadian copyright lawyer and lobbyist for the recording industry who has been a strong defender of secretive processes like ACTA negotiations and other attempts to change Canadian copyright laws on the whims of foreign middlemen, rather than any evidence of necessity.
I had thought that perhaps Dr. Ficsor’s response would raise substantive issues concerning changes to copyright law, or perhaps (and this would be wonderful) present the actual evidence of why such changes are necessary. Tragically, there is none of that. It is blind faith-based pronouncements instead — insisting that it’s necessary because it’s necessary, and then falling back on the mantra of “international obligations” for pretty much every other issue. Even on the one claim that he makes which he insists is substantive (that, despite not clearly saying so, these treaties do in fact require anti-circumvention clauses), he seems to purposely misrepresent history, pretending that he didn’t lose this battle over a decade ago already.
At the end, it moves on to the pure insult phase:
I am sure that the policy makers of Canada do not allow being misled and frightened by the noisy group of these “free-access” “revolutionaries” (I hope so since, here in the former “socialist” countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we have had quite bad experience of certain “free access” “revolutionary” collectivist systems constrained on us for several decades). I am sure that they will not let Canada to become an isolated hostage and victim of demagogue campaigns organized in the hatred-driven style of Maoist Guards as during that other brilliant “cultural revolution.”
Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Maoist Cultural Revolution, to compare that to those who are simply pushing for their own consumer rights on copyright issues or asking for actual evidence of the need for increasingly draconian copyright system changes, is downright ridiculous and insulting. No one is acting as a revolutionary, demanding “free access” or any sort of “Maoist” revolution. To make such a claim is pure ignorance. While some may disagree with the position Geist and others have taken, they have presented a position based on consumer and individual rights and an understanding of basic legal principles and economics. You can disagree with the conclusions, but to mischaracterize them in such a ridiculous manner raises all sorts of questions about what the copyright “old guard” has to hide. If they cannot respond to basic questions with actual evidence or actual answers, and instead resort to name calling like Dr. Ficsor does above, it seems only reasonable to conclude that there is no evidence to support their position. And when hundreds of thousands of Canadians spoke up to point out the emperor has no clothes, perhaps it’s not surprising that the emperor would lash out in anger, but it simply demonstrates how the “faith-based” nature of those pushing for ever more stringent copyright laws means that they cannot engage in reasoned debate on a position that has no reason behind it.