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 public?s interest of having access to culture, and the same public?s interest of having new culture created.
That?s 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 doesn?t. 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?