Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thinking About Real Copyright Reform; TechDirt, 11/06/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Thinking About Real Copyright Reform:

"Michael Scott alerts us to a recent paper by professor and copyright expert Jessica Litman about "Real Copyright Reform."...

Litman makes similar arguments that have been made recently by James Boyle and William Patry (among others), wondering why there is little investigation into the actual impact of changes in copyright law, rather than just assuming that "stronger protections" lead to better results, when so much of the evidence suggests otherwise. And, of course, all of this harkens back to the speeches by Thomas Macauley [sic] from over a century and a half ago, back when he was able to point to the lack of evidence from those who wished to extend copyright law...

Litman goes on to suggest that the fact that so many people out there don't have any respect for copyright law at all is pretty clearly the fault of the current copyright holders who have twisted and abused the law to the point that people just don't respect it. So, her ideas for copyright reform are based on bringing back "legitimacy" to copyright law by focusing on four principles:

1. Radically simplifying copyright law

2. Empowering content creators (rather than intermediaries and distributors)

3. Empowering readers, listeners and viewers (who, after all, are supposed to be part of the beneficiaries of copyright law)

4. Disintermediating copyright away from the middlemen who seem to control the law today

To then accomplish this, she suggests the following steps:

1. Focus on commercial exploitation (rather than personal use)

2. Simplify what copyright covers (rather than breaking out each separate exclusive right within copyright)

3. Reconnect creators to their copyright (via a termination right that lets them take copyrights back from third parties)

4. Clearly recognize readers' (or viewers', listeners', users', etc) rights

5. Get rid of existing compulsory license (and similar) intermediaries, such as ASCAP, BMI, SoundExchange and others

It's definitely an interesting proposal, though I think there are some serious problems with it."

No comments: