Techdirt Reading List: Copyfight: The Global Politics Of Digital Copyright Reform

from the more-copyright-reform dept

We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.

We’ve been doing a bit of a theme these last few weeks talking about books related to copyright law and copyright reform, having done books on the moral panics used to push bad copyright reform, as well as suggestions on how to do copyright reform right. Last week, we had a good look at the issues of how copyright law and the 1st Amendment don’t mix, which included ideas on how to fix that.

This week, the recommendation is for Copyfight: The Global Politics of Digital Copyright Reform — a more academic take on exactly what the subtitle notes, by Blayne Haggart (who, it should be noted, has written guest posts for us on the “fact-free world of copyright policymaking,” and the possibilities for an end of maximalist copyright law.

Copyfight, which came out two years ago, is an in-depth look at how copyright reform has happened in the past, focusing on the now infamous 1996 WIPO Treaty, which was the basis for the DMCA. As we’ve explained in the past, copyright interests tried to pass the DMCA in the US earlier, but failed to gain Congressional support. So the lobbyists and the politicians packed up for Geneva, and used the backroom negotiations process of trade agreements to create a treaty that required the DMCA, then headed back to the US in 1998 and got the DMCA passed on the basis of “we needed to do it to ‘comply with our international obligations’.” It was a sleazy process, but to this day, some of those who did it are happy to admit that’s how they got what they wanted.

Copyfight‘s main focus, though, is in looking at how WIPO was then implemented in three different countries — the US, Canada and Mexico, and what the different implementations mean from a policy perspective. It also tries to put some of this historical analysis into the context of the modern digital copyright fights, talking about how online activism may be shaping the debate as well. It’s a good overall read and highly recommended (though not the ebook version, which for reasons that make no sense, costs about 3 times the paper version).

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