Some thoughts about copyright
I don’t cover it copyright, piracy, and related issues much because I have something of a radical view. But this time I’m making an exception. An idea has jelled in my mind that is so out in left field that I want to share it. I was reading a piece in The Observer today and it inspired me it write this post about copyright.
Everyone says that copyright law exists to protect and reward creators, but I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s just an excuse. If you look at the way it exists now (and how it gets expanded), you can see that it protects the middle men, not creators. I also think that’s why copyright was originally invented. Here are 3 questions that I’ve been pondering for some time.
- How does a creator benefit from a copyright 70 years after his death? (He doesn’t, but corporations do.)
- If the Big Media who bribed Congress into extending copyright last time around really wanted creators to benefit, then why not just give creators a bigger cut? (This one’s obvious; there’s nothing in it for Big Media.)
- If copyright is needed to protect creators, then why is the fashion industry thriving without it? (They are.)
So let’s take this a step further. If copyright now doesn’t exist to protect creators, what makes you think that is the real reason why it was created? We all know that the first copyright statutes was written as a reaction to the printing press, a mechanical form of reproduction. But content was being created for millennia before the printing press. If protecting and rewarding creators were the reason for its existence, then what took so long?
I think copyright was really invented because someone saw a business opportunity in making copies of a work. And what better way to make a profit than to get the government to grant you a monopoly?
I don’t think it was ever about the creators, in spite of the platitudes. I think it was about the middle men all along. What do you think?