Why Copyright Law is so Mickey Mouse - And How to Fix It: Q&A with Jerry Brito

"If I take your car, you no longer have your car. If I sing a song that you wrote, you still have your song," says Mercatus Center senior research fellow Jerry Brito in explaining the difference between real property and intellectual property.

The latter, he stresses, is statutory property, created by the Constitution and designed to secure for creators a limited period of exclusive control of their works. "That’s exactly why we have copyright: So you can turn a profit." But that incentive to create is supposed to be balanced again society's gain from having works go into the public domain, where anyone can use them. The original copyright term in the U.S. lasted for 14 years and could be renewed once. Under current law, the term is the life of the creator plus 70 years. At the same time, enforcement against copyright infringement and unauthorized use has been on the rise.

Brito is the editor of the new book, Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess, which features contributions by David Post, Tom W. Bell, Christina Mulligan, Reihan Salam, Patrick Ruffini, Tim B. Lee, and Eli Dourado. Copyright Unbalanced argues that Congress acts as a tool of Hollywood and other powerful interests, extending copyright terms whenever Mickey Mouse or other properties are about to enter the public domain. Returning to the original understanding of copyright, says Brito, is essential, especially since copying has never been so easy.

Nick Gillespie talked with Brito about copyright excesses, Mickey Mouse, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and whether Brito - a lawyer by training - has unauthorized materials on his hard drive.

About 5 minutes.

Camera by Zach Weissmueller and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How would the Founders feel if other republics went out and copied the United States Constitution for their own use without just compensation to the framers? THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You're not going to believe this, but the Constitution is public domain. No copyright, no business process patent, nothing. Why, you could go form your own government with it!

  • ||

    Yes, after fortifying it a bit. Enshrining self-ownership of all citizens explicitly would be a good start. That would put a stop to a lot of government shenanigans.

  • ||

    LIVING, BREATHING DOCUMENT! IT'S NOT A SUICIDE PACT! --leftard response to your fortified Constitution.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    So Can I form government over my own land?

  • R C Dean||

    You can try. Keep in mind that the initiation ritual for a new country typically involves either driving out or fighting off some other country's army.

    So good luck with that!

  • ||

    Pieces of paper don't mean shit, ProL. The power-hungry will always find a way around it. Rule of man.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Perhaps you're right. Could we reprint the Constitution on Kevlar?

  • ||

    I'm sorry, I was wrong. You don't mean shit.

  • ||

    You can't close the leads you're given, you can't close shit, you are shit! Hit the bricks pal and beat it 'cause you are going out!

  • ||

    Fuck you. That's my name.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, I was wrong. We should print it on sheets of human skin. Your skin.

  • Tim||

    Cherry Burrito the Mexican Dominatrix? Nevermind.

  • ||

    I've always imagined that the Founding Fathers just didn't understand the concept that competition increases innovation and development of new ideas, not the other way around, which is understandable given that econ was in its infancy at the time.

  • ||

    They might have had an inkling..but at that time progress was much slower and that was harder to see.

    We have the advantage of watching the world made over in decades instead of generations.

  • John||

    I don't have time to wait for the PM links. So here it is.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.....an-2012-12

    I have always defended the drone program. But I am not defending that. This should be the biggest scandal since well ever. That is a flat out war crime. And unlike Mi Li or Abu Garib not one committed by a few out of control losers. This is being committed by the leadership of the CIA and the President himself. Obama should be impeached for this. I am not kidding. This is sickening.

    I am throwing in the towel. If this is true, and it appears to be, the drone program needs to be shut down. This administration clearly cannot be trusted with it. And a lot of people need to go to jail.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Ye gods. What's the benefit of doing that, anyway?

  • John||

    Nothing. I guess the theory is that you get their comrades who show up to get them. But you also get any poor bastard dumb enough to show up on the scene. It is a war crime. How is this not a national scandal?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's national scandals all the way down. We're getting numb.

  • ||

    Because Obama is doing it. That's the answer. Thank you, media, for enabling FUCKING WAR CRIMES.

  • John||

    This is a 1000 times worse than Abu Garib. Every Army has its share of undisciplined perverts. Abu Garib was not policy and no one died. This is policy and we are killing people.

  • R C Dean||

    Yuks and high-fives in the War Room?

  • ||

    John, this is why you should never have been for it in the first place, and why many of us weren't: it will always be abused. Any type of power is always abused. Always. This is an inevitable result of these type of actions.

  • John||

    But you can abuse any military power. They could just as easily be doing this with B 52s. There is nothing special about drones.

    I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt. Yeah, that was not a smart move. Always assume the worst.

  • ||

    John - "I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt."

    This saddens me greatly. I am not sure if this makes me think you are a better person for it, or more naive than I previously thought you were.

    As to why it is not a scandal, what Epi said above. Because Obama is doing it. He can do no wrong in his supporter's eyes. The man could literally murder a baby on live television and the obamabots would deny it, rationalize it away, or blame it on Bush and still swoon over him.

    I weep for my country. Fuck everyone who supported this guy.

  • Tim||

    "The creation of perfection is no error."

  • ||

    Obama is the creator?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Jackson Obamajerk.

  • Tim||

    "You are the Creator."
    "You're wrong! George W Bush, your creator, is dretired! You have mistaken me for him, you are in error! You did not discover your mistake, you have made two errors. You are flawed and imperfect. And you have not corrected by sterilization, you have made three errors!"

  • ||

    Can you give me the rough outline of it? I can't open that website at work for some reason.

  • ||

    The drones pretty much always double tap (hit again as soon as first responders arrive).

  • John||

    Here you go

    NYU student Josh Begley is tweeting every reported U.S. drone strike since 2002, and the feed highlights a disturbing tactic employed by the U.S. that is widely considered a war crime.

    Known as the "double tap," the tactic involves bombing a target multiple times in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second strike often hits first responders.

  • R C Dean||

    The drone program apparently has a pattern or practice of rapid follow-up strikes, which catch civilian rescuers and the like.

    A favorite tactic of various terrorists is to set off one bomb, wait a bit for the rescuers to arrive, and then set off another. This is exactly the same thing.

  • ||

    Well that's certainly disturbing.

    And what's more, I can already guarantee you that most people will just shrug, say it's a war, bad things happen in war, and at least we're fighting them there and not here, suicide pact, yada yada yada.

    I wonder what Cyto's take on this would be?

  • ||

    Oh, I guarantee he'll go FULL SOCIOPATH.

  • ||

    IT IS THE MORAL DUTY OF THE UNITED STATES AS A RIGHTS-RESPECTING NATION TO INFLICT THE APOCALYPSE UPON ALL NON-RIGHTS RESPECTING NATIONS AND THEIR CITIZENS DESERVE IT FOR HAVING THE TEMERITY TO ACTUALLY LIVE THERE.

  • ||

    Really though I'm going to email, and hope it makes the rounds. It's pretty fucking disgusting.

  • ||

    I don't understand I'm still capable of being shocked by the evil lunatics who rule us, but this is shocking. Obama deserves a needle in the arm for this, not just to be impeached.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Another Stupid result of copyright laws is Netflix streaming.
    Depending on which country you are in, you will have different selections.
    Why does physical location determine what I am able to see?

  • SAL||

    Tell me about it! I don't think it's the best argument against IP, but it sure is extremely frustrating to live outside of the U.S. and therefore not to be able to access "free" American content (e.g. Hulu)and even paid content (Netflix, Amazon etc). I have our local Netflix but I thank the P2P gods every week.

  • Nuked||

    If you look around enough you can find free DNS servers in the US to connect to on xbox live. This will essentially "trick" Netflix into thinking you are in the US.

    Netflix sucks after about a week though. Content is not updated often enough and most of it is crap anyway.

  • SAL||

    thanks, i'll try and look into that possibility. But it's true that Netflix is lacking in new content, especially here in Brazil; in fact I generally use it to watch older movies and tv shows.

    Amazon e.g. is harder to deal with. I can't buy and download certain things there because they track my IP and require a U.S. based credit card.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    A Dutch upgrade your home alarm system

  • OldMexican||

    "If I take your car, you no longer have your car. If I sing a song that you wrote, you still have your song," says Mercatus Center senior research fellow Jerry Brito in explaining the difference between real property and intellectual property.


    One of these things
    Is not like the other!

    The latter, he [Jerry] stresses, is statutory property, created by the Constitution and designed to secure for creators a limited period of exclusive control of their works.


    "Statutory" property as in "The State said so," that is: phony property; faux property.

    "That's exactly why we have copyright: So you can turn a profit."


    Just like thieves turn a profit: by securing things that do not belong to them. Except that thieves at least risk life and limb, whereas the person who enjoys the copyright can always count on the State to do the thievery for him or her, at no risk.

    Intellectual "property" is nothing else than an undue transfer of title from YOU to someone claiming to be the "originator". It is not enough to show that you hold title to the materials you hold - the State can fine and jail you if your materials happen to resemble the materials possessed by another person who claims genetic ownership, regardless of how you adquired said materials.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "Statutory" property as in "The State said so," that is: phony property; faux property."

    isnt all property statutory? what makes your car your car? you saying so? what if someone else disagrees? if your not an anarchist then all property is statutory, if you are an anarchist then it is only your car if everyone voluntarily agrees its your car. if someone else wants it they can take it, what are you gonna do show them a certificate of ownership?

    “Intellectual "property" is nothing else than an undue transfer of title from YOU to someone claiming to be the "originator".”
    sounds similar to “real” property.

    im not saying that IP and material property are the same thing, but just because there are differences doesnt mean that one is or is not property. im also not defending or condemning the current laws regarding the two as im not very familiar with them.

  • ||

    I would give my life to end copyright.

  • Nuked||

    I'm going to copyright that phrase

  • nikea||

    Under current law, the term is the life of the creator plus 70 years. At the same time, enforcement against copyright infringement and http://www.cheapbeatsbydreonau.com/ unauthorized use has been on the rise.

  • Tablet pc||

    I think it is difficult to fix it.

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