Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm from the government and I'm here to help

Let’s hear it for protecting the rights of content creators. Gimme an I. Gimme a P. Gimme a C. Gimme a Z. Gimme an A. Gimme an R. What does it spell? IP czar.

Except for one thing. The corporations whose intellectual property this newly created post will protect are not content creators. They are the media conglomerates who strong-arm content creators and extort, er, make that extract from them the legal ownership of anything and everything those individuals create.

But the historical rationale for copyright, until the passage of the Sonny Bono Act, was, in the words of the US Constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

In other words, writers and artists will not be helped by this new law. In fact, because the law strengthens the bullies in the film and music industries, it will further diminish support for a free, open marketplace in arts and letters. A few celebrities will do well. Most creators will keep their day jobs and retreat to their garrets at night to commune with their muses. Others will give up. Others will starve.

The new law is bad for everyone, including the stockholders of the companies it is intended to benefit. Only they are too blinded by greed to understand that.

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