The embarrassment of copyright policy

NOTE HXA7241 2011-08-07T11:13Z

Simply acknowledging the facts, or lack of them, leaves copyright in a surprisingly troubling position.

Following is a quote from ‘The economic structure of intellectual property law’; Landes, Posner; 2003. (Conclusion, p422, s3.) And Landes and Posner cannot be dismissed as anti free-market ‘socialists’: they are prominent figures in the ‘Chicago School’ neoclassical economics area.

“Economic analysis has come up short of providing either theoretical or empirical grounds for assessing the overall effect of intellectual property law on economic welfare.”

To spell it out: we do not even know whether copyright is doing any good.

So, corporations are suing people for large amounts, and governments all around are changing the laws to enable people to be deprived of an internet connection – yet, according to one of the most respected orthodox authorities on copyright, no-one can give a solid reason to have actually have it at all.

Copyright policy does not have a justification – it has a myth. This is remarkable. Most people do not seem to be aware of it. Are people pretending it is not true? Is this the way to carry on?

If there was a common medical treatment involving amputating people's fingers, for example, and it was found there was no reason to believe it did any good, what would we expect? What actually happens: it is stopped. We cannot base our consequential policy on mere superstition.

That is the embarrassment of copyright policy. And that is without even mentioning the bias apparent everywhere in the details.