Copyright Alliance Pretending That Gov't Backed Monopolies Are The Free Market Again

from the up-is-down,-black-is-white dept

A few months back, the big entertainment companies formed yet another copyright lobbying group -- as if they didn't already have enough -- to push for more restrictive copyright policies that would limit the rights of consumers. This was the group that just last week was trying to spread the myth that fair use was not a right and copyright holders should be able to lie about what rights copyright grants them. However, the head of the group, Patrick Ross, really seems to get into trouble when he tries to trot out free market concepts to support his positions. You may recall back in January his position that getting rid of the DMCA would go against the free market because it would represent government intervention. He seemed to totally ignore the fact that it was the DMCA that was gov't intervention in the first place. Apparently, Ross hasn't given up on this "up is down, day is night" type of debate style, as copyright expert William Patry has taken Patrick Ross to task for claiming that new laws supporting consumer rights when it comes to copyrighted content were "government intervention" against the free market. As Patry points out all copyright is government intervention -- and supporting stronger copyrights is to be calling for greater gov't intervention. To then claim that giving more power back to the consumers on copyright is gov't intervention, is being intellectually dishonest. You can support copyright by claiming that the market breaks down and there's a market failure that necessitates such gov't intervention (and, in fact, many people do). But to claim that stronger copyrights means a stronger free market is an outright falsehood. Ross seems to be under the false impression that the "natural" position of the market is to have the strongest possible copyrights, and therefore, any weakening of that is gov't intervention. That creates a complete blindspot to the fact that all copyright is government intervention, and giving rights back to consumers is less government intervention.

Ross's response to Patry in the comments continues this rather twisted logic, by claiming that free markets are about property rights, and therefore, supporting stronger copyright is about supporting stronger property rights -- and therefore, it is a free market position. However, Ross's understanding of the free market is confused here. He's right that property rights are important -- but only as a means of more efficiently handling the allocation of scarce resources. That's the entire purpose of property rights in the free market. The logic breaks down, rather completely, when you talk about infinite, rather than scarce, goods. There is no need for more efficient allocation of infinite goods, because they're infinitely available, and therefore allocation is automatically efficient. Again, it's perfectly reasonable (though I would likely disagree with some of the assumptions) to argue that copyright is a necessary gov't intervention due to market failures from a true free market (which appears to be Patry's position). However, to argue that stronger copyright monopolies from the gov't is the opposite of gov't intervention isn't a supportable position.
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Filed Under: copyright alliance, free markets, patrick ross

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  1. identicon
    George Riddick, 12 Sep 2007 @ 12:47pm

    Ross, Patry, and Copyrights

    Good afternoon, Mike I read what you wrote today regarding the debate between William Party, self-proclaimed intellectual property genius, and Google free gourmet lunch recipient, and Patrick Ross, the Executive Director of the new Copyright Alliance in Washington. First of all, I represent dozens of artists, illustrators, and designers who have lost their jobs and their livelihood due to Internet piracy, not one of the mega corporations or associations you try to portray all copyright supporters into. And I'm not an IP lawyer either, so that disqualifies my opinion right away according to the Patry crowd. "Fair Use" has its role in this debate and in this society. So does the "Public Domain". But for giant publicly-funded companies like Google to use those inclusions as an excuse for outright "stealing" of someone else's property (Patry or no Patry) is a disgrace in my opinion, and I think anyone who supports that argument has some sort of internal axe to grind. Perhaps you tried to join the new rock band when you were in middle school, and were locked out in the cold on a stormy, snowy night. Or maybe your art teacher made fun of your drawings in front of your girlfriend or others. Your anti-copyright views come out loud and clear in your blogs and other postings. Attempts to soften those blows comes over as disingenuous to anyone who has a ounce of "real life" experience in this complex, and very important, subject matter. I hate hypocrites, Mike. And the only thing I hate more than hypocrites are hypocrites with a blind following. The least you could do is get your facts straight. It seems to me you are trying your best to twist around every legitimate point Mr. Ross tries to make. He's not aginst "fair use" ... he's against "stealing". That's not what I call a healthy debate. That's biased journalism ... pure and simple. Perhaps you should consider writing a book, or maybe even publishing a treatise, instead. That way you don't have to listen to any constructive criticism. Why do I have a feeling you're not going to post this response? George P. Riddick, III Chairman/CEO Imageline, Inc.

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