Why govts make stupid copyrights

Donna Wentworth sez, "James Boyle has just delivered the piece de resistance in his three-part series on copyright for the Financial Times: 'Deconstructing Stupidity.' The stupidity in question is the way that governments typically make intellectual property law and policy — that is, without evidence that it will produce the desired social or economic benefit."

"According to Boyle, it's not only "corporate capture" that makes governments stupid about copyright. They also suffer from any number of delusions, making them susceptible to "anecdote and scaremongering."

Who are the subjects of IP? They used to be companies. You needed a printing press or a factory to trigger the landmines of IP. The law was set up as a contract between industry groups. This was a cosy arrangement, but it is no longer viable. The citizen-publishers of cyberspace, the makers of free software, the scientists of distributed data-analysis are all now implicated in the IP world. The decision-making structure has yet to adjust.

There are many more themes. The idea that greater control, for example, is always better (see my column on public data) or the way we only ever internationally harmonize rights upward. Fundamentally, though, the views I have criticised here are not merely stupidity. They constitute an ideology, a worldview, like flat earth-ism. But the world is not flat and the stupidity pact is not what we want to sign.


(Thanks, Donna!)