by Mike Masnick

Weak Copyrights Would Kill Fair Use

from the another-opinion dept

Last month we had a story about a new study suggesting that intellectual property laws harm developing nations by keeping them from making use of valuable information, and that some developing countries would be better off not adopting strict intellectual property laws. John Carroll has written a response to this argument suggesting that there would be additional unintended consequences to weakening intellectual property laws - with the death of fair use being at the top of the list. His argument is that developing nations have a lot of other problems right now, and the last thing they care about is intellectual property, but by giving them a free pass to ignore intellectual property laws, it will only anger intellectual property owners even more. In response, they'll push forward with extra-crippling digital rights management technology, effectively killing any chance for fair use rights. It's an interesting argument, but I'm not sure I agree. As it stands right now, companies are pushing forward with strong DRM already, no matter what the intellectual property laws are. Furthermore, strong DRM that pisses off customers opens up the opportunity for new companies to offer non-DRMed competing products that customers would flock to instead.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2002 @ 3:43pm

    Then came Linux...

    I think this DRM nonsense is going to eventually be the death of MS and friends. There's plenty of people out there that take these DRM initiatives as another chance to challenge their skills. It like a jigsaw puzzle for geniuses. It costs them money to invent/buy the technology but it costs the hacker nothing more than time. The other thing to remember is that the developing nations are not tied into any OS. They're as proficient with MacOS 9 as they are with Mandrake 9. Americans have a hard time with switching operating systems simply because they don't know how to convert their data and they don't have time to learn something new. If it doesn't behave like Windows it sucks. They want a Windows clone. Computers are merely tools to them. They have no passion or interest in learning anything new. They were shown Windows a long time ago when they were forced into learning the computer and have stuck with it. These developing nations do not have this problem. They have nothing to convert. Installing Mandrake, Lycoris, Lindows or Xandros and OpenOffice will give them everything they need to start. The price and the freedom is also attractive. With American sentiments running high thoughout the world countries are not going to be too fond of paying America's weathiest company a millions of dollars and be told when and how they will use their leased software.

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  • identicon
    david, 29 Oct 2002 @ 5:00pm

    copyright does not equal DRM

    As mike identified, copyright and DRM are two different beasts. DRM can be used on non-copyrighted shtuff and vice/versa. The larger point, i believe, is not whether developing countries adopt harsh/liberal internal laws... but whether they adopt features of the WIPO intellectual fun. In these cases, they may be choosing to allow IP from developed nations to hold legal force in the developing country. The US did not even recognize outside IP until sometime in this century (i believe). More important than media (music, movies, etc), are the patents (drugs, machinery) and trademarks (Golf, Kleenex) which could allow for some impressive control ove licensing in developing countries. This isn't all about hollywood, even though Copyright may well be our largest export

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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