The Generalist

The Abuse of Copyright

As a timely follow up to my recent post Against Patents, I thought it might be appropriate to show an example of how the little sister of patent monopoly, copyright, is abused.

One of the worst copyrighting ideas is the idea of licensing where you as an individual pay for something but you nevertheless don’t actually own it – meaning you cannot legally give it away or share it. The notion is one of “intellectual property” or the belief that one can “own” an idea, something we’ve already discussed in the previous post.

The music industry’s war against music sharing is a prime example but it is really¬†a media industry problem as it applies equally to movies, books, software, photographs, and other electronically produced artistic works. You may ask yourself, how would the arts be funded if no one paid for the products? To answer that question, let’s use the music industry as one example. How ever did musicians earn a living before the advent of recording? They performed. When recording came along, the recordings initially served as advertisements for the live show, not as the principle means of income. And to a great degree they still do. Many musicians make their living performing. What is lost here, then, is not the musician’s income, but the income of a middleman. A middleman who’s service is really no longer needed. But that middleman is going to do everything in his power to remain in control, including using the police powers of the US government to do it. While they do that there are some unintended (read intended) consequences.

Check out this video explaining how SOPA works and some of the consequences.

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