Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars
William Patry, 2009 Tigard 346.0482 PAT
There is no magic; of the market, of the government, of science. Human desire is satisfied by human effort, and motivating that effort is a complicated process.
We are told that copyright is required to motivate the production of "content". Certainly, some authors claim that they will only create if they can control how their creations are used, though many create even if they must pay to do so. How does this relate to the current legal copyright structure, where almost all who "create for copyright" do so for a small fraction of the revenue earned by the corporations that control these works forever?
The small corporations, the small publishers with a few dozen titles and ineffective marketing, may struggle to break even. The largest corporations earn huge margins and dominate the global market, and dissipate those huge margins on internal friction and misplaced staffing. Both small and large make expensive bets on untried authors and new subjects, and mostly fail. This is gambling, not investing. It seems a poor conduit between author and audience, and thwarts attempts to develop new and threatening models that work more efficiently.
The ideal delivery model would (somehow) connect every author to every reader/listener/viewer who would benefit most from the author's work, consume almost no resources (like the paper for remaindered books), at an economically "efficient" price somewhere between the minimum and maximum expectations of both author and user. Indeed, the price might be mostly non-monetary; recognition, encouragement, research help, formatting, illustration, publicity, and proofreading by readers might help authors produce more quickly and painlessly, and provide additional value (brag rights?) to the reader. The narrow dollar conduits running through a chain of businesses restricts the flow of non-monetary value.
Patry focuses on the political and polemical crimes of Big Media, though he mentions some alternative ways to connect performance and audience. A question arises: is the massive media distraction machine something we want to make more efficient? Are there better uses for the time and talents of artists and media consumers - teaching and learning creative craft, for example?
- xiii Disclaimer Senior Copyright Counsel to Google, but not official
- xvii Lord Macauley: copyright is a government mandated tax, figure out appropriate rate that increases the number of books and thereby learning.
- xviii copyright not inherently good, only if good results. If it supresses innovation, it is unproductive.
- xxi MPAA Jack Valenti 2002 to congress "A Clear and Present and Future Danger"
- xxiii "violent metaphors"
- 067 Copyright historically unimportant to authors, filing fee $2 up to 1978, $10 to 1992, few copyright owners filed for them, then it became automatic. Something given away for free has come to be regarded as more valuable than when there was a de minimis toll.
- 1909 max term from 42 to 56 years.
- 068 few renewed
- 117 work for hire doctrine, 1999 bill made recording artists are work-for-hire employees of labels, now they can (for a limited time) ask for their copyright back. Creators for hire, no termination right.
- 118 Artists receive 9% of CD sales revenue, label 46%, retailers 45%. For downloads, 8% (credit card companies get 9%).