‘Incentive’ in copyright / intellectual monopoly

NOTE HXA7241 2010-11-16T18:14Z

Copyright / IP does not give an incentive, but a fix for market inadequacy

The word ‘incentive’ is a misleading choice to describe the intention of copyright / IP. It suggests we are trying to make up for a lack of wanting – that we do not want something enough and need to boost the want. This does not make sense.

It is like suggesting that you incentivise your listening to music. But if you want to listen to music, you already want to, you do not need further encouragement. People already want books, films, music, etc. – and if they did not, why would we then want to incentivise production of them?

The real purpose is to make the current commercial/market system support what we want to do anyway. It is not an incentive, it is a fix, for a particular defect or weakness in the current system.

You could say we are incentivising businesses to produce, since they are not human and do not want what we do. But then one might begin to wonder why we are subject to a system that does not naturally represent or enable us.

Copyright, and intellectual monopoly generally, takes away our freedom in order to provide a motive we already have. That does not seem like a good arrangement. Furthermore, the ‘incentive’ is askew: it is not even for creation but for copying: it is the copies that get monopoly support – hence the distortions of a hit-dominated industry with a lottery-winner model of employment.

Copyright / intellectual monopoly is not a good in itself but just part of a system that is patchy and open to criticism. We do not need incentives, we need better organisational structures.