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. icon
    Mike (profile), 13 Sep 2007 @ 1:23am

    Re: 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.

    Hi George. I'm curious why you position Patry as being biased, but ignore the fact that Ross is paid for the sole purpose of convincing the world that stronger copyright laws are needed. Why is that not biased?

    Patry actually has a pretty long and distinguished resume in the copyright field (outside of his work for Google).

    First of all, I represent dozens of artists, illustrators, and designers who have lost their jobs and their livelihood due to Internet piracy

    Hmm. You're blaming the wrong thing. What you mean is that you represent dozens of artists, illustrators and designers who were unable to change with the marketplace. You do realize that there are an awful lot of artists, illustrators and designers who have now been able to make a career for themselves by using the new tools of free promotions, whereas before they never would have been discovered? So one group has learned to embrace these trends and tools and view them as opportunities... and the folks you represent have not.

    If I were them, I'd look for different representation.

    And I'm not an IP lawyer either, so that disqualifies my opinion right away according to the Patry crowd.

    I don't know Patry personally, but I've never seen him disqualify the opinion of non-IP lawyers. I'm curious why you would think he would.

    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

    Well, we've had this discussion about a thousand times at this point: infringement is different than stealing. If you insist on calling it stealing, then you will most certainly miss the point of any of these debates.

    Anyway, I'm curious as to what you think Google is "stealing" anyway? From what I've seen the company isn't stealing anything. In fact, it's not even infringing anything. It's created a useful service based on finding content and pointing people to the content they want.

    I think anyone who supports that argument has some sort of internal axe to grind.

    Why? For years I've been posting studies and research and factual evidence for my position. For you to come here and say that I have an axe to grind without any sort of factual backup... sorry, not particularly persuasive.

    I have no axe to grind. I've simply seen the evidence and I believe that we would encourage *more* innovation and *more* creativity and *more* ways to make money if people stopped relying on gov't backed monopolies that *limit* possibilities and *limit* the benefit that can be gained by the consumer.

    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.

    Uh... what?

    Your anti-copyright views come out loud and clear in your blogs and other postings.

    Yup. Because I support it with facts and experience.

    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.

    Are you suggesting that I have no real life experience in the creation of content or ideas? If you are, you'd be very, very wrong. My entire livelihood, and the livelihood of the staff of folks I employ depends on the creation of content.

    I hate hypocrites, Mike. And the only thing I hate more than hypocrites are hypocrites with a blind following.

    Great. Please point out my hypocracy, because you haven't done so in your comments. I don't believe I've been hypocritical, but please do share.

    The least you could do is get your facts straight.

    George, I'm not sure how to respond to this as you don't point out a single fact I got wrong. If I did get my facts wrong, I'd like to know so I can correct them.

    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"

    Then he's got nothing to worry about, since infringement is not stealing.

    However, if you read Ross's writings, it's quite clear that he is very much for limiting fair use as much as possible, as he considers it to be a problem. That's not a judgment statement. It's clear from his writing.

    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

    Now this is totally bizarre. I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. I find it odd that you seem to accuse me of wanting constructive criticism as if that's a bad thing. Am I missing your point?

    Why do I have a feeling you're not going to post this response?

    Clearly (despite your claims) you don't read Techdirt very often. We post all comments, good or bad, unless they're spam. In fact, unless they're caught in our spam filter, we don't review any comments before we hit the site.

    So, Mr. Riddick, you were factually incorrect in claiming that we wouldn't post your response. Will you apologize and correct your mistake?

    If so, please also take back your other false assertions against my character, and if you have facts to back up your positions, please post them or admit that you were wrong. I have posted facts to back up my position -- and it's rather unfair of you to then assert that I have lied without a shred of proof or evidence.

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