Tag Archives: Copyright Alliance

©rappy birthday to the ©opyright alliance

Bill Patry was withering in his critique of the Copyright Alliance’s efforts to define itself as one of the big kids. For example,

Leaving aside the painfully juvenile use of © in voi©e, the math used by the Alliance challenges even the math used by the IIPA in its annual country “piracy” reports.

That is pretty funny, and you should probably go over there & read Bill Patry’s scathing comments instead of my own overheated meanderings. If you’re staying here, you should know that basically the Copyright Alliance is an organization designed to give voice to copyright-holders, the “11 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on the principle of copyright.” Not just give voice, but “one voice”, as their new ad campaign says.

In the few minutes I had today between efforts to get various air conditioners running (thank you, East Coast heatwave), I spared a few of my non-melted brain cells to this organization and its ad campaign. “One Voice.” Probably not an original observation, but one voice for copyright holders — or even those who profit from copyrights — is utterly impossible. There are just too damn many of us and our personal financial interests in copyrights are far too diverse for us to have remotely any ability to speak with “one voice” on copyright. Every creator is representing reality to some extent, but every aspect of reality that they represent also has its own interest. Photographers’ interests are in opposition with those of their subjects and the creators of their subjects and of course those who commissioned their works. Everybody is in opposition with those who seek to represent the same slice of reality

The copyright industry, in fact, has shot itself in the foot. By expanding copyrights ever further, they have in a sense radically democratized copyright ownership. We all now have copyrights in every chicken pot. Instead of a limited monopoly granted only to a few for a short time — a compromise most of us could roll with in order to keep those few doing what they did — now copyright is something that each of us has over all kinds of stuff, and something that each of us interfaces with multiple times on a daily basis. Thus with everybody holding and using multiple copyrights simultaneously we all have the potential to interfere equally with one another. It’s like mutually assured destruction, and so it’s no surprise that some folks are going to advocate for copyright disarmament.

My brain cells really are melting into one another — the similes just keep on coming. I am also reminded of the Libertarian Heinlein myth that an armed society is a polite one — the “wisdom” goes that if everybody has a gun, then everyone has an interest in being polite to everyone else. So too must have gone the wisdom with copyright at some point — if we all have copyrights then we will all be interested in respecting them, we can all live together in the best of all possible copyright maximalist worlds. But the Heinlein armed society is a myth because people may not act in their own self-interest, or their definition of self-interest may not correspond with your definition of their (or your) self-interest, or their self-interest may be benefited by disproportionate harm to others’ self-interest, or they just may not be able to act in a way that makes reciprocity function smoothly … well one could go on for a while but it’s like Dick Cheney shooting birds in a blind — too easy to be sportsmanlike. Anyway just as the Heinlein armed society is a myth, so too is the universal copyright / copyright-respecting society. Everyone can probably find someone to agree with them about how copyrights should be defined, respected, used, and so on, but the differences in opinion mount so quickly it’s hard to imagine a large group of individuals sustaining “one voice” for any significant amount of time.

So there you have it. Heat-addled ruminations on the decline and fall of the copyright industry and its lobbying arm. I’m spinning off into ecological models now, with the copyright industry outgrowing its ecology in the absence of natural predators, so I think I’m going to go splash some cool water on my face & lie down in the shade.