My latest Guardian column, "Copyright isn't dead just because we're not willing to let it regulate us," makes the case that copyright hasn't been killed by the Internet -- it hasn't even been threatened. Rather, the entertainment industry have made a nonsense of copyright by stubbornly (and ahistorically) insisting that this it concerns itself with controlling copying, instead of regulating competition and fairness in the entertainment industry's supply chain. The Internet has made copying a routine part of every private person's daily routine, and by insisting that all copying is in scope of the industrial regulation, the entertainment companies have appointed themselves the ultimate regulator of our whole Internet-enabled lives, and then declared copyright to be in terminal danger because no one was interested in giving over that control.
The internet era is not – and should not be – silent on the question: "How do we ensure that creators and investors get a chance at money?" That's all copyright ever really wanted an answer to.
The inability of copyright to regulate cultural activity isn't anything new. It's probably true that this inability reduces the profitability of some entities in the entertainment industry's supply chain, just as it increases others'. But that's just a question of profit maximisation, not survival.
The problem is that the entertainment companies treated the increased ease of copying in the age of the internet as a signal that copyright should be expanded to cover more people and more activities, far outside of the entertainment industry. What they should have done is picked a new proxy for "this is an industrial activity within copyright's scope" and soldiered on regulating themselves, without trying to regulate the whole world at the same time.
It's time to stop declaring copyright dead because we aren't willing to let it be the ultimate regulator of everything we do with a computer.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.