New Report: IP Laws Are Crippling The EU Economy

from the economic-freedom-and-personal-freedom-go-hand-in-hand dept

Glyn Moody points us to a new report from the group EDRI, claiming that intellectual property is harming the economy of Europe. The group lists out a few key points:

  • Harmonise exceptions to copyright to create legal certainty across the EU about the permitted uses of works covered by IP
  • Establish pan-European licensing arrangements as a matter of priority, and tie future enforcement policy to the successful development of such proposals
  • Abandon repressive enforcement measures that would materially damage people’s fundamental rights
  • Establishes a moratorium on the exporting of repressive IP enforcement to third countries
  • Makes a firm commitment to robust, objective evidence and re-evaluation of policy on the basis of it.

Much of the report is about harmonizing both patent and copyright laws across Europe or creating pan-European infrastructure for patent and copyright laws. I’m of a mixed opinion on those proposals. While I can definitely see the problems of having so many different local patent and copyright laws, historically, attempts to “harmonize” such laws only lead to much more draconian laws with little flexibility. Having different laws in different places allows for countries to experiment with, perhaps, less protectionist efforts, and to show that you don’t necessarily need greater protectionism for the economy to function. On top of that, in my discussions with people throughout Europe, one of the concerns with harmonization was that each market is so different, that a single set of laws would lead to very bad policies in certain countries.

However I do appreciate the concerns about repressive enforcement and the aggressive expansion of repressive enforcement to other countries. All in all, it does seem like another useful report on the problems of today’s intellectual property laws.

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Comments on “New Report: IP Laws Are Crippling The EU Economy”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not really, thought some of what he says is somewhat incoherent. But I don’t expect IP maximists to have enough merit to be coherent communicators, that would require effort.

First of all, he says

“Many are still sceptical about Spotify?s business model, but Mr Parker believes it?s a ?dramatic paradigm shift? in consumption that ?implies the traditional music companies are undervalued?.”

He confuses value with price and industry revenue. He seems to think that any value that anyone gains should be monetized by the industry to the fullest extent possible. Of course none of this will benefit the actual artists.

“?In the last 10 years we have presided over the greatest destruction in value in the history of the music industry,?”

No, that occurred when copy protection lengths kept on getting extended. That’s a destruction in value (remember, monopolies create dead weight losses). Don’t confuse a destruction in wrongfully acquired revenues with a destruction in value.

“if you believe the broken distribution systems are on the verge of being fixed, those recordings are dramatically undervalued.?”

By broken distribution system being ‘fixed’ what he means is that a distribution system that allows anyone to freely make music available is ‘broken’. It needs to be ‘fixed’ by implementing laws that force him to be the middlemen of all provided content. Then he benefits at everyone elses expense. He believes this will be ‘fixed’ through regulatory capture.

“Speaking with perhaps surprising coherence”

What coherence? This person is too lazy to make the effort required to learn how to communicate coherently.

“?Here I am, the greatest beneficiary of this transformation and also one of its greatest victims.”

Did you hear that? He’s the greatest beneficiary of this transformation. His efforts are about him and how they benefit him, not the public nor the artists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

First of all I’m not MM.

nah, of course not!

You just appear to be his cyber-doppelganger; a mysterious fellow that happens to be awake in the middle of the night at the same time Masnick is, writes in the exact same style as he does, and feels a desperate urge to defend him with an inane, long-winded, narcissistic missive that mirrors his delusional doctrine.

yea. yup.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not that we didn’t know this already, but Sean Parker is infinitely smarter than Mike Masnick:

I agree. Never claimed otherwise. I think Parker is quite smart.

But, let’s look at what he has to say.

?I think that there is a pretty dramatic change in the way music is monetised that is on the cusp of happening. Back catalogues of record labels are going to become extremely valuable,? he said, just as music publishers? back catalogues have become more valuable.

I agree. I think the back catalogues are extremely valuable. My problem is with how the labels are fucking that up and not monetizing it as well as they could.

?If you believe this transformation is occurring, if you believe the broken distribution systems are on the verge of being fixed, those recordings are dramatically undervalued.?

Again, no disagreement. Though, I’d point out that the reason they’re being undervalued is current management’s cluelessness. I think Parker agrees.

The ?old model? of iTunes sells a lot of singles and top-40 hits, he said, but on Spotify ? in which Mr Parker is an investor ? ?it?s the back catalogue that is driving the consumption?.

I’ve pointed out the same thing in the past. So, not sure where there’s any disagreement. The labels’ value has been in their back catalogue. I had a post on that exact thing a few months ago.

As people build libraries and playlists, they start subscribing to take that music on the move. Many are still sceptical about Spotify?s business model, but Mr Parker believes it?s a ?dramatic paradigm shift? in consumption that ?implies the traditional music companies are undervalued?.

Sure. But the reason is that the management doesn’t know what they’re doing or how to maximize that value.

?In the last 10 years we have presided over the greatest destruction in value in the history of the music industry,? he said, with a formerly $45bn industry ?brought to its knees? to today?s $12bn worth. ?Assuming we can stabilise things and restore growth, it shouldn?t be that difficult to preside over the greatest increase in value in the history of the recorded music industry.?

Here we disagree. The value hasn’t gone away. It’s still there. It’s just that current management has screwed things up. Good management could seriously turn things around. I’ve said exactly that.

So, sure, I think Sean Parker is a lot smarter than I am, but on this we basically agree. There’s tremendous value that’s been held back by the current management. Smarter management could unlock it. I just see no indication that any of the major labels are heading in that direction.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Here we disagree. The value hasn’t gone away. It’s still there. It’s just that current management has screwed things up. Good management could seriously turn things around. I’ve said exactly that.”

Even with good-smarter-better mamangement there is no way to turn the trend around. Music in the end will become advertisement for other things, concerts, merchandise, etc. It will also be licensed to content providers, movies, radio-web stations, TV shows. The trends are all there and forecasting them out based on, the history from countries where content sales have tanked, the music aquisition trends of an aging 14-32 year old age group, the competion from new artists not going the label route, the number of music as advertising (free) artists making it on to the top 100 by year, and a couple other trends. It all points to one conclusion.

The labels are going to become increasingly irrelevent over time, competition is going to drive the use of their catalogs way down, and their profits will tank.

ie. They are boned, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Justice System Being Damaged As Well

Vast amounts of judicial time and effort are being wasted in fruitless lawsuits. The patent system acts as a threat against any innovator. If anybody does anything unusual and makes money off it, then some patent troll will emerge, claiming infringement of a patent which is broad, vague and incomprehensible to engineers. That kills lots of start-ups. Ask the venture capitalists. They are continually getting bitten by patent trolls. The answer is to get rid of patent infringement. Dump the concept. Patents should be used to “promote the Progress”, not to enrich the lawyers.

Copyright terms are way too long and it is just about impossible to determine what is covered by copyright. Anybody writing a piece of music these days, has no idea whether some sequence of notes is “owned” by somebody and will cause a lawsuit. Every single copyrighted work has a government-granted monopoly privilege attached to it. That privilege should be paid for. It is mad extravagance for the government to be giving away such commercially-valuable privileges for free. That is corporate welfare. Copyright owners should have to pay. The users of copyright works should have a website where they can easily look up whether some work is still covered by copyright or not.

Courts worldwide have enormous backlogs. It is crazy to have monopoly privilege holders using up so much court time. The patent industry is composed entirely of lawyers, engaged in a conspiracy against the rest of us. One the one hand, the patent industry is tiny and produces nothing of value. On the other hand, the patent industry produces a vast chilling effect, striking new companies down at their most vulnerable time. The economic losses are vast. If something has a cost greater than its benefits, then stop doing it.

Similarly with copyrights, vast amounts of court time are wasted in futile efforts to stop file sharing. No actual damage to the economy, caused by file sharing, has ever been demonstrated. Frenzied lobbying efforts go on night and day, to get ever more repressive laws passed. All this is coming from a tiny industry of no economic importance. When are the courts and the legislature going to get sick of the time-wasting and just say “no”?

The courts urgently need to get back to providing justice and stop wasting their time.

Di Fiasco says:

Ironically – if the European Union actually DID adopt a pan-european licensing scheme, it would be the first example of an effective multi-state measure that actually benefits all E.U. citizens. (I won’t hold my breath) If they keep this up, they might start talking about an elected E.U. President! (that’s right, friends! We can’t even elect our own President.)

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Harmonizing IP laws

Your points are good, and these are important considerations.

However, in the long term, business and personal freedom depend on consistency and certainty. Business is much more efficient and robust with uniform laws and uniform enforcement.

If individual countries are allowed to “experiment”, they will nearly always, in the long run, fall under the influence of big business and repression. The little guys must band together to face big guys on an equal basis.

DNY (profile) says:

A proposal for harmonizing copyright and patent law

I’ve decided that the phrase “intellectual property” is an example of Newspeak, and except in quoting others or casting scorn on the notion that state-granted monopolies constitute “property”, will not use the phrase henceforth.

As to harmonizing copyright and patent law, I have a simple proposal: let the whole world adopt as a uniform standard the Law of Queen Anne (14 years copyright, extendable at the request of the author, not the author’s publisher, not a literary estate, the author, period, for another 14 years), and an update of the original modern patent law, the Statute on Monopolies of 1624.

patent litigation (user link) says:


I’m all for increased efficiency and cross-border collaboration and cooperation. One difficulty, however, is that some of the attempts at harmonization in the U.S. create provisions that potentially conflict with long-standing US law and/or tradition. The House version of the current patent reform bill presents just one example of this. Retention of national sovereignty is a big issue in harmonization, and it still hasn’t been adequately addressed, in my opinion.

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