It's really getting ridiculous that copyright holders continue to insist that copyright is designed solely to benefit them. That's been the standard line for ages, but it's simply not true. Copyright law is supposed
to be about benefiting the public
. Yes, a part of that is that it's supposed to benefit copyright holders also
, but the defining factor is benefiting content creators such that the public is most likely to benefit. That's why it's simply not accurate to claim that copyright holders are stakeholders
in the debate. Unfortunately, however, many people seem to think that they're the only
stakeholders, and the public isn't even involved in the discussion. In fact, a recent discussion put together by WIPO of copyright holders had them claiming that not only were they the sole stakeholders, but that they, alone, should be the ones to determine copyright exceptions
Copyright is necessary to allow authors to live from their trade and to guarantee their independence, and exceptions should be decided by authors and publishers, according to panellists on a copyright dialogue held at the World Intellectual Property Organization this week.
That's simply crazy. That's like saying we should let alcoholics determine driving-while-drinking laws. It puts those who would abuse the laws the most in charge of laws that are designed to protect others and to limit the damage they can do. It doesn't make any sense. If anything, it seems to show the massive arrogance of some copyright holders
The very idea that "exceptions should be decided by authors and publishers" betrays the deep-seated arrogance and contempt that both of these now have for their readers. And that's all part and parcel of the publishing industry's problems: it sees readers as the enemy, something that must be fought and vanquished in order for it to be forced to buy books on the terms of authors and publishers - forced, if necessary, by ever-more Draconian laws that criminalise willy-nilly.
Certainly not all copyright holders feel this way, but can you imagine what copyright would look like if the "exceptions" like fair use and safe harbors were designed solely by the copyright holders? I don't think many people would be happy under such a regime... including the copyright holders themselves, once they realized what parts of culture they had locked up.