A small light gets snubbed out

copyright (Photo credit: A. Diez Herrero)

Yesterday there was a brief flicker of hope that the United States might reform its ludicrous copyright and patent regimes – a hope given birth by a study paper published by the Republican Party, of all people.

Inter alia it made the perfectly correct and completely accurate observation that:

Copyright violates nearly every tenet of laissez faire capitalism. Under the current system of copyright, producers of content are entitled to a guaranteed, government instituted, government subsidized content-monopoly.


Now, though, the hope has been snubbed out. The paper has been withdrawn.

In Europe we do not suffer from some of the excesses of the US’s “intellectual property” regime. But we feel the chill wind of every regressive shift there and our politicians – of all parties – are just as susceptible to the arguments used by vested interests to extend copyright – recently the EU simply stole goods off the public by retrospectively lengthening copyright terms in response to big money lobbying from “rights holders” (fronted up by Cliff Richard). There was no suggestion that any of the UK’s three major parties were in any way opposed to this licensed thievery.



4 responses to “A small light gets snubbed out”

  1. Is that statement about copyright not equally true of patents? I wonder how the GOP feels about free use, without royalties, of patented technologies. (If you think we’re off track with copyright here, we’re outright daft with some of the patents awarded. I think Apple received a patent for rounding the corners of a rectangular parallelepiped.)

  2. Yes, I think it does. Of course I am not always opposed to limits on lassez faire capitalism, but agree on patents that the US regime is out of control. At least here there is a legal prohibition on the patenting of “purely mathematical inventions” – which, in theory at least, protects software (though I am told patents have been granted and you have to have deep pockets to strike them down een when the law is fully on your side).
    I do think its interesting that the right sometimes have clearer view on this than the left – I was a political adviser to the previous Labour government here (ie an administration official in US terms) and it was certainly the case that arguments that patent and copyright extension should be used to “protect British interests” were widely listened to in the government.
    The new government has made noises about taking a different approach but has not actually done anything about it.

    1. A common (and I think credible) argument heard here is that, absent patent protection, pharmaceutical companies would not invest heavily in drug development — they’d become the R&D departments for cheap cloners. The same might be true for computer hardware and other industries. For that matter, who would write a textbook if someone could simply typeset their own copy and undercut your publisher by skipping the royalties part of the book cost?

      1. Well, I get the point of course – some patent and copyright protection is needed because it is in the public interest that you write text books, new drugs are developed and so on. But if you want a depressing/shocking read about pharma try Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Pharma” – it’s a big long-winded and polemical in parts, but it pretty much shreds the pharma companies’ propaganda and it is written by a research scientist – not a conspiracy theorist.

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