UK Government Admits That It Has No Evidence (Zip, Zilch, Zero) To Support Its Claims For Draconian Copyright Law
from the faith-based-policy-making dept
One of our biggest issues with the constant beating of the drum to extend and expand copyright law, is how much of the policy making is totally faith-based. We always go back to the famous speech by Thomas Macaulay in 1841, in which he declared (among other things):
The principle of copyright is this. It is a tax on readers for the purpose of giving a bounty to writers. The tax is an exceedingly bad one; it is a tax on one of the most innocent and most salutary of human pleasures; and never let us forget, that a tax on innocent pleasures is a premium on vicious pleasures. I admit, however, the necessity of giving a bounty to genius and learning. In order to give such a bounty, I willingly submit even to this severe and burdensome tax. Nay, I am ready to increase the tax, if it can be shown that by so doing I should proportionally increase the bounty. My complaint is, that my honorable and learned friend doubles, triples, quadruples, the tax, and makes scarcely any perceptible addition to the bounty.
There is, these days, in the minds of certain policy makers that copyright must be good and more copyright must be better. That the actual evidence suggests otherwise is ignored. Evidence is not even sought. Instead, they take on faith the claims of the legacy entertainment gatekeepers that they need such extensions and expansions. This is why we were so happy to see the Hargreaves report in the UK repeatedly bang home the idea that copyright policy must be evidence based. And while the government claimed that it was effectively supporting the recommendations of the Hargreaves report, it appears that they still have a bit of a blindspot for needing evidence.
The folks at the Open Rights Group filed a Freedom of Information Act request for what evidence the government was using concerning the “scale and nature of infringement of copyright by websites and on the efficacy of different strategies for dealing with it.” The response? They had no evidence:
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. After a thorough check of the Department?s records, I can confirm that we do not hold the information you are requesting.
Instead, the government just repeated the same faith-based talking points:
The creative industries are an important part of the UK?s economy, and they regularly report copyright infringement as a serious problem.
Is it really so difficult for the government to provide any evidence other than “these few companies claim it’s a problem”?