The Case For Copyright Reform: Techdirt Book Club
from the let's-discuss dept
And, with that I wanted to introduce the June book, which is The Case for Copyright Reform, by Rick Falkvinge and Christian Engstrom. This time, I don't have to include an excerpt, because you can download the whole thing for free in a variety of different formats. Of course, you can also buy a physical copy if you'd like to.
And... then you can do whatever you want with it, as the authors have explicitly declared that they retain no copyright in the works, and you are free to do with it what you will. Just to whet your appetite, I'm still going to include a very brief excerpt of just the first few paragraphs, which highlights the key point of the book. Rick and Christian will be joining us for a (I expect, lively) chat at the end of the month as well. Anyway, here's the excerpt:
Today’s copyright legislation is out of balance, and out of tune with the times. It has turned an entire generation of young people into criminals in the eyes of the law, in a futile attempt at stopping technological development. Yet file sharing has continued to grow exponentially. Neither propaganda, fear tactics, nor ever harsher laws have been able to stop the development.
It is impossible to enforce the ban against non-commercial file sharing without infringing on fundamental human rights. As long as there are ways for citizens to communicate in private, they will be used to share copyrighted materials. The only way to even try to limit file sharing is to remove the right to private communication. In the last decade, this is the direction that copyright enforcement legislation has moved in, under pressure from big business lobbyists who see their monopolies under threat. We need to reverse this trend to safeguard fundamental rights.
At the same time, we want a society where culture flourishes, and where artists and creative people have a chance to make a living as cultural workers. Fortunately, there is no contradiction between file sharing and culture. This is something we know from a decade’s experience of massive file sharing on the Internet.
In the economic statistics, we can see that household spending on culture and entertainment is slowly increasing year by year. If we spend less money on buying CDs, we spend more on something else, such as going to live concerts. This is great news for artists. An artist will typically get 5-7% of the revenues from a CD, but 50% of the revenues from a concert. The record companies lose out, but this is only because they are no longer adding any value.
It may well be that it will become more difficult to make money within some parts of the cultural sector, but if so, it will become easier in some others – including new ones, that we have not even imagined so far. But as long as the total household spending on culture continues to be on the same level or rising, nobody can claim that artists in general will have anything to lose from a reformed copyright.
Should this also have the side effect of loosening up some of the grip that the big distributors have over cultural life, then so much the better for both artists and consumers.