Hey, I See Some Ants Down There

Internet radio's up-and-down struggle with the Copyright Office takes another downward turn:

On March 1, 2007 the US Copyright Office stunned the Internet radio industry by releasing a ruling on performance royalty fees that are based exclusively on the number of people tuned into an Internet radio station, rather than on a portion of the station's revenue. They discarded all evidence presented by webcasters about the potentially crippling effect on the industry of such a rate structure, and rubber-stamped the rates requested by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

Under this royalty structure, an Internet radio station with an average listenership of 1000 people would owe $134,000 in royalties during 2007 -- plus $98,000 in back payments for 2006. In 2008 they would owe $171,000, and $220,000 in 2009.

There is no way for a station with 1000 listeners to make that kind of money. That's over $11 per listener per month in 2007. No Internet radio station currently operating comes even close to that kind of income. Also keep in mind that 1000 listeners is not a large number. Popular stations like Radio Paradise, SOMA, Digitally Imported, radioio, etc have many times that many listeners.

In other words, if they are allowed to stand these rates are a death sentence for independent Internet radio stations. The only stations that would survive would be those who can afford to operate at that kind of loss, such as AOL (who would owe over $20,000,000 in 2006, far in excess of their income from radio).

Note: AM and FM stations don't have to pay these fees at all. They do, like webcasters, pay fees to songwriters; those are calculated on a much more reasonable basis. This is a second levy, paid to the record companies. See past coverage here and here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    Thanks, RIAA!

  • ||

    Can this be appealed?

    Whether the Congress is D or R our rights are always getting shit on.

  • Dru||

    Which Congressional committee oversees the Copyright office? Is this something that those in charge of the Library of Congress would be responsible for, or is there an IP oversight committee? Basically whom do I write scathing and, ultimately impotent, letters to?

  • ||

    How does the RIAA even benefit from this? If internet radio stations go out of business, don't they get nothing?

  • ||

    Copyright is not government regulation......must repeat RIAA points.....copyright is not government regulation....

  • Christopher Monnier||

    It's hard to believe that the RIAA isn't some nasty federal government organization; they sure act like one. Then again, their authority comes only with a federal government stamp of approval, so there's really not much of a difference.

  • Guy Montag||

    Sounds like the RIAA is just dusting off their one-play playbook that they have used since the beginning of broadcasting: oppose any new broadcasting of their member's content.

    Same with the MPAA.

    They opposed radio stations playing records, television stations playing movies, personal recording devices, electronic copy sharing and now digital broadcasts.

  • ||

    I agree with Brian24...what's the point of this?

    Also, as a logical matter, why aren't they charged like traditional radio stations? Sure you can copy off them, but you can copy off the radio and digitize.

  • riaa sux||

    this greed is exactly the reason why i haven't bought any music for the last 7 years or so. fuck the riaa.

    shameless plug for my favorite DL site :)

    ...

  • Dave W.||

    Consolidation bad. Antitrust action good.

  • Guy Montag||

    riaa sux,

    I am with you brother!

    In protest I am going to download free porn. I have been engaged in this daily protest ever since my first interweb connected account.

  • ||

    Perhaps it is up to the artists and production crews to recognize the inherent unfairness (and bad business sense) of this move, and simply put clauses in their OWN contracts that prevent the music they produce from being made available through the RIAA scheme. Rather, they could subscribe to an alternative arrangement, sort of like "copyleft," but which would guarantee them a revenue stream that actually got back to THEM, instead of being siphoned off by record industry parasites.

    What can the RIAA gain by shutting down internet radio? Are they simply carrying water for broadcasters? The whole thing seems vindictive and bereft of common sense.

  • JD||

    In other words, if they are allowed to stand these rates are a death sentence for independent Internet radio stations.



    Dingdingdingding!

    Someone said to me, ``how do they expect the little guys to survive?'' I replied, ``No Mister Bond, I expect you to die.'' They're trying to legislate webcasting out of existence, because it stands in the way of their progress toward a completely pay-per-view economy.


    -- Jamie Zawinsky in "Webcasting Legally", 2002.

    Basically, yeah: it's a death sentence, because that's what the industry wants. They don't understand the internet, don't like the internet, and can't manage hundreds of thousands of broadcasters on the internet. So they want to strangle it in the crib. The RIAA already has a cozy relationship with radio broadcasters and the government, and they don't want anything getting in the way. Some day things will change, but for now, they're basically an advisory arm of the government.

  • Dave W.||

    Oh yeah, and since my wife and I deejay an internet radio streaming loop:

    http://www.live365.com/stations/farces

    let me say a couple more words:

    our loop has a low percentage of RIAA affiliated musical acts. We would be willing to do no RIAA music. Still, this is likely to get the (LIVE365) service shut down and we will probably lose the fees we prepaid. Hopefully we won't be on the hook for more than that.

  • mpaa sux too||

    anybody remember when the gov threatened sweden with sanctions if they did not step up their prosecution of "pirates"? the MPAA and RIAA have too much money to spend and push politicians around. we need to stop buying their crap and put a good hurt on their pockets. we need to let them know that consumers control the industry, not the other way around!

  • Guy Montag||

    Ugh, they let Dave W. back on. If he is in this thread can joe be far behind?

  • ||

    The RIAA benefits, or perceives itself to benefit in this, if internet radio stations shut down because it will once again be able to control a limited stream of outlet for the "artists" it wants to hawk to the public (radio and tv). The fact that this is utterly unrealistic on their part should not be surprising, since again and again they've proven themselves unable to adapt technologically, whilst pinning the blame on "bad people" like pirates and not taking any for their reliance on late 20th century distribution methods and the declining quality of their acts.

  • ||

    KILL COPYRIGHT! KILL COPYRIGHT!

  • Dave W.||

    KILL COPYRIGHT! KILL COPYRIGHT!

    Warren, wouldn''t you rather have the RIAA busted up as a walking, talking antitrust violation than ditching copyright.

    Copyrights benefit people. creative, individual people.

    The right to collude, RIAA style does no good. Just harm.

    respectfully, you have the wrong target in your sights again.

  • ||

    Guy Montag:

    Downloading is stealing. Just because they put the porn on the internet so that you'll hopefully buy it or click on their dubious links, it is still stealing. Even if it is free porn, anything done with Limewire or torrents is stealing. Where have your morals gone?

  • Dave W.||

    Where have your morals gone?

    He named himself after a character who decides to illegally steal and horde books, against the wishes of the government.

  • Dave B.||

    Copyrights benefit people. creative, individual people.

    Maybe the first 3-5 years of a copyright do, but anything beyond that just stifles the creativity of artists who would build on the works of their contemporaries. If not killed, copyright at least needs to be shortened.

  • ||

    No Dave W - imaginary property rights such as copyright are the problem. Break up the RIAA today, and next year there will be some other organization doing the exact same thing. The cartel is a natural consequence of the laws that create it.

    The best solution is to do away with copyright. A property right that requires a government to create it is not a right at all, but a government granted privilege. It is not a real property right but an illusion.

    For those who are too tremulous to do away with illusory property - just start requiring people to register their copyrights again. Then people will have a way of directly contacting "owners" to arrange to pay the licensing fee directly instead of having to negotiate through the government body.

    BTW Dave, anti-trust law is based on a very evil legal premise, that if you make something, the government can dictate the terms with which you sell it. It has historically been used by politically connected firms to eliminate competition or to attack their suppliers. True monopolies are only possible when the government actively prevents competing firms from entering the market. Thus, in arguing that anti-trust law can remedy the harm caused by these politically created entities, you are arguing that two wrongs will make a right.

    As usual, you are sadly mistaken.

  • Guy Montag||

    Lamar,

    I don't do anything with the services you mention. I go straight to the owner's site where it is laid out free.

    Who made you interwebpol?

  • Dave W.||

    If not killed, copyright at least needs to be shortened.

    Take a wild guess at who got them lengthened and will not let them be shortened.

  • Dave W.||

    No Dave W - imaginary property rights such as copyright are the problem. Break up the RIAA today, and next year there will be some other organization doing the exact same thing. The cartel is a natural consequence of the laws that create it.

    uhh, copyright existed for a long, long time before the "cartels" were allowed to exist. I am proposing that we go back to the past. because the past was good, in this case.

  • ||

    Guy Montag: They [the RIAA] opposed radio stations playing records, television stations playing movies, personal recording devices, electronic copy sharing and now digital broadcasts.

    The RIAA was founded in the 1950s, when playing records on radio stations was already pretty well established, so I would be surprised to learn they opposed this. Also, since their purview is the recording industry, I would be surprised to learn they actively opposed the broadcast of movies on television. Do you have some source for these claims?

  • Russ 2000||

    That's over $11 per listener per month in 2007.

    At least Mel Karmazin is happy.

  • mediageek||

    Geeze, I re-enable the filter, just in time for Dave (Cornsyrupgunsgooffwhenbumped) W. to make his (Jason Vorhees-like) reappearance.

  • ||

    RIAA has got to be the dumbest business lobby in the world. No one is going to not buy a record because they can hear it for free on internet radio. It is just the opposite, internet radio provides free acces and advertising of the RIAA's product and increases the liklyhood of people buying records. In a business world where people's entertainment and music tastes are completely fractured, where people increasingly listen to more and more isolated and obscure niche music and where there is almost no such thing as a "world biggest band" or "huge pop star" anymore, internet radio ought to be a savior for the music industry. Thousands of stations playing endless varieties of music and exposing millions of customers to products they wouldn't otherwise hear. No, instead, the RIAA will sue them out of business and ensure that the only way their product will be heard by a large number of people is through ordinary big radio that fewer and fewer people listen to and provides a few stilted formats that can in no way hope to meet the huge variety of tastes comsumers now have.

    The RIAA is so greedy, stupid and short sighted, they can't see that. It is just amazing. I can think of no industry that deserves a long painful contraction than the music industry

  • mediageek||

    Question:

    Will webstations that play artists who work on labels not affiliated with the RIAA have to pay these idiotic fees as well?

  • mediageek||

    And what will happen with the deal that SOMAFM worked out with NPR?

  • ||

    Copyright is not the problem. The RIAA has the right to refuse to sell content. This may be stupid and counterproductive. It may or may not limit future sales and resulting profits.

    If you don't like the RIAA you can boycott their products. If they really piss you off, you can start a competing enterprise and hope to kill them off. However, you cannot use the power of the state to force the RIAA to distribute their content through channels they don't want to use under terms they don't want to follow.

  • Guy Montag||

    Okay, I will ammend my comment:

    The RIAA was founded in the 1950s, when playing records on radio stations was already pretty well established, so I would be surprised to learn they opposed this.

    Their INDUSTRY fought against it before this particular association was formed.

    Also, since their purview is the recording industry, I would be surprised to learn they actively opposed the broadcast of movies on television. Do you have some source for these claims?

    That is why I mentioned the MPAA. Sorry if my hasty writing was too confusing.

  • Dave W.||

    It may or may not limit future sales and resulting profits.

    Depending upon whether the market in music operates as a competitive market or an oligopoly.

  • ||

    The best solution is to do away with copyright. A property right that requires a government to create it is not a right at all, but a government granted privilege. It is not a real property right but an illusion.

    So tarran, what do you do for a living? Dig ditches?

  • JIMMYDAGEEK||

    the mpaa and riaa can collectively suck an almighty big one!

  • ||

    It's simple business: if there is somebody distributing a product that you don't make any money off of, seek them out and destroy them.

    Far from enforcing anti-trust laws, Congress seeks to delegate more authority to the RIAA and MPAA.

  • mediageek||

    "RIAA has got to be the dumbest business lobby in the world. No one is going to not buy a record because they can hear it for free on internet radio. It is just the opposite, internet radio provides free acces and advertising of the RIAA's product and increases the liklyhood of people buying records."

    1) John, when I copied and pasted your comment, my Firefox spell check lit up like a friggin' Christmas tree that had been decorated with stop lights.

    2) Your point is valid. I never would have bought albums by Thievery Corporation, The The, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Boards of Canada, and a bunch of other bands I can't think of right now, if not for having first heard them on internet radio stations.

  • KoWT||

    people (as in "we the people") are giving way to our leaders' new and improved constituency:

    organizations

    now, GBTW

  • ||

    One remark in defense of the RIAA:

    The member labels don't market music anymore. They market tits and ass. If they let internet radio survive, somebody who might want to listen to music might buy a CD from an independent label, or directly from the musicians. Marketing tits and ass in the form of CDs and downloads requires a tight grip on the message.....that the music is secondary.

  • ||

    When allsoutherrnrock.com switched to unsigned acts only last year I saw the writing on the wall. I hope the RIAA can't police the stations that aren't playing their client's songs. And heaven forbid they make Bill Graham's estate close down wolfgangsvault.

  • ||

    ...anything done with Limewire or torrents is stealing.

    No, it's not.
    Bands that allow taping (The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Wilco, and the hippy bands) don't get involved in noncommercial distribution of audience tapes. One of the few things we should be grateful to the Dead for.

  • ||

    The fact that the owner of a piece of property is a complete, f*cking idiot does not give society the right to take the property away from the owner.

    It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a prime piece of beach or a hot, new pop song.

  • Dave W.||

    The fact that the owner of a piece of property is a complete, f*cking idiot does not give society the right to take the property away from the owner

    Correct. Only an attempt by the property owner to "monopolize" the type of property in question give society that right.

    Of course, a lot depends on how narrowly versus broadly one defines what an attempt at monopolization amounts to.

  • ||

    Carrick:

    "It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a prime piece of beach or a hot, new pop song."

    Except that society does have the right to take the property away from the copyright holder. The Supreme Court, Congress and the Executive have all OK'd the fair use doctrine, and it's in the statute. So, yes, it absolutely does matter if we are talking about the traditional protection of real or physical property vs. the privilege of copyright protection granted by Congress.

    Highnumber: For the record: copyright infringement is never stealing. Ever. If you're going to call copyright infringement "stealing" you might as well call it arson or jaywalking. I'm just aping Guy Montag's new habit of pretending to be that new and way-too-enthusiastic guy who is on your side but ruins your case with crazy arguments.

  • ||

    Lamar, fair use is does not take away the right of the copyright holder to reproduce and distribute copies of creative works. It only regulates when small portions of a creative work can be reproduced as part of new critical or scholarly creative works or as part of a parody of the original work.

  • ||

    Nice work, Carrick. So, can I steal your car if I am going to use it for social commentary?

    By the way, fair use has never been limited to scholarship and comment. Sometimes people can just "steal" the entire content (see Zapruder films).

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Your subtlety eluded me.
    I am shamed.
    ;(

  • ||

    Also:

    Is there a law saying that stealing is OK as long as it's for personal use?

    Audio Home Recording Act specifically OKs analog copying.

  • ||

    Meanwhile, the RIAA is lobbying to reduce the maximum composer's royalty, the better to promote innovative new technology. The RIAA loves innovative new technology, don'tcha know.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Is there a law saying that stealing is OK as long as it's for personal use?

    Copyright infringement is not "stealing." Not legally, and not metaphorically, unless it's possible to shoplift something while simultaneously leaving it in the original owner's possession.

  • ||

    Mediageek,

    Needless to say I don't always run spell check. If I were a major record label I would let any internet radio station play any of my catalog provided that when they did, they put up a link giving the name of the artist and linking to my online music store where the person hearing it could buy it. How much better would that be for sales than ordinary radio stations? Can you say impulse buy? When you hear a song on your car radio you might not know who the artist is and have no clue how to buy the song and even if you do, it is not like you can order it from your car. Put up an internet radio station and someone hears a song they like at work and for a few clicks and a buck they buy the song. Why the allegedly smart people in the recording industry can't figure this out is beyond me.

  • Guy Montag||

    Lamar,

    Go get your own porn and leave mine alone. There is plenty for everybody. Ashley Renee does not mind a bit.

  • KoWT||

    a wrong turn was taken when the decision was made to lean on consumers for consuming in a manner deemed unacceptable by the provider's cartel

    we used to have it right

    when I was a kid, I often purchased bootleg vinyls from a record shop

    one morning, in a daring pre-dawn raid, the feds raided the record shop, took away all their bootleg vinyls, and subsequently fined the shit outta the owner for profiting off of someone else's property

    not once was the suggestion made that I, the consumer, was a criminal for being a Doors fanatic who'd pay too much for crappy ass concert recordings

    the crime, as I saw it then and see it now, is when someone turns a buck

    someone dowloading a DVD rip of the new bond movie a week before it's officially released, watching it, and throwing it away isn't the moral crime it's been pitched as

    it is more a sign of problems with the provider's business model

    (man I love slinging this quote):

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest."
    ~a judge in the Robert Heinlein short story "Life Line"

  • ||

    No, downloading music is not 'stealing' it's copyright infringement. If it were stealing, then
    the people that the RIAA are suing on a weekly basis would also have charges brought against
    them. However, they are not, because even the RIAA's thuggish lawyers know they can
    sway public opinion to THINK that it is stealing, but cannot sway the justice system at least
    yet, to consider it theft.

    theft - Show Spelled Pronunciation[theft] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation,
    -noun
    1. the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.
    2. an instance of this.
    3. Archaic. something stolen.

    The very word theft implies a physical object. While the RIAA claims a monetary loss due to
    downloading of music, aside from their made up figures, there is no absolute way to prove any
    loss due to downloading of music. At the very most, a song downloaded is a potential lost sale,
    it is in no way shape or form a form of theft in any literal or judicial view, any more then the result
    of me picketing Wal-Mart causes a few people to not buy from them, resulting in a loss of sale
    would be considered me stealing from Wal-Mart.

    Knowing full well how the attack lawyers of the RIAA are fond of prosecution, logic would dictate that
    if they had any such leg to stand on they would prosecute copyright infringers as thieves… but they
    don't, because at this point, the law clearly would not allow it. If I download the latest song from
    Jimmy Buffet, and send him a dollar, he would have made more money from that one song then he
    would have made had I purchased his album from Best Buy, and the RIAA calls me a thief??!!

    So get off the downloading is stealing kick, its intellectually dishonest, its outright false, and it serves
    only to cloud the issue.

  • ||

    Between the silliness of the Mickey-Mouse-Protection-Act (formally known as "copyright" and the latest shenanigans with patents....

    Well. Either companies will develop other business models that don't piss off their customers as much, or they will move to countries that are much more lax about copyright/patent enforcement and thumb their noses at the rest of the world.

    At some point the system is either going to implode or adapt.

    And I add my voice to those who think these groups are being dreadfully short-sighted. I've bought quite a few CDs (legitimately, over the web, from Amazon) based on clips I saw of the performers on YouTube.

  • Dave W.||

    And while we obviously have some RIAA lovers out there, the question for the RIAA haters is:

    when was the last time you checked out non-RIAA music?

    If you haven't even checked out one non-RIAA band this month yet, do yourself a favor and click on my sig link. The courts are one way to break up cartels, but self help by consumers should not be neglected.

  • ||

    Nice work, Carrick. So, can I steal your car if I am going to use it for social commentary?

    By the way, fair use has never been limited to scholarship and comment. Sometimes people can just "steal" the entire content (see Zapruder films).


    Sorry Lamar, I thought I was conversing with someone who had a reasonable grasp on reality. I won't bother you anymore.

  • ||

    Fair enough, Carrick. I sometimes use the same cop out when I don't have a response.

  • ||

    "At some point the system is either going to implode or adapt."

    It is going to implode. The more the RIAA leans on its customers, the more its customers will turn to alternative forms of entertainment or make their own entertainment. This is the age of American Idol and You Tube. For whatever ever reason, people are just as entertained by amateurs than they are by professionals. I read somewhere that in 2000 the top selling record was a Back Street Boys record that sold over nine million copies. In 2006, the top seller was a children's record, Disney's High School Musical, at just over three million copies. If I were a record exec and saw that figure I would in the words of the poet ask not for whom the bell tolls because it is pretty obvious that it is is tolling for me.

  • ||

    Nice work, Carrick. So, can I steal your car if I am going to use it for social commentary?

    I just assumed this was your form of a cop-out. There is no real reason to continue if you're not going to bring useful commentary to the board.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    I'll gladly let you steal my car if you can find a way to leave it in the driveway so I can get to work. Pretty much the same thing as me downloading some Metallica.

  • ||

    Just want to be emphatic that copyright infringement is not stealing, not even close.

  • dhex||

    to be fair, the downloading culture (and i think it's fair to call it that - someone who is 20 has a radically different notion of what property is than someone who is 30) is destroying a lot of middle to small acts who would otherwise have made more on record sales, especially in smaller genres. whether this is offset by tour gains, in some cases this is true and in some it is not.

  • Lars Ulrich||

    "I'll gladly let you steal my car if you can find a way to leave it in the driveway so I can get to work. Pretty much the same thing as me downloading some Metallica."

    NAPSTER BAD!

  • ||

    Property theft and copyright infringement are diffferent, yet they are also the same.

    If you steal my car, then you have directly deprived me of my property. If I used that car to delivery pizza at night, then you have also stripped me of my future earnings.

    If I am songwriter, you can't physically take my songs away from me like you can a car. But by infringing my copyright, you can very dramatically strip me of future earnings.

    Some people in this forum don't think that my right to control my future earnings is a "real" property right. I have posted in the past, that I think it is more real than the right to possess a car.

    If you want to debate this topic, then bring it on. But leave the snide commentary aside. It is not productive.

  • Dave W.||

    Some people in this forum don't think that my right to control my future earnings is a "real" property right.

    It is real to the extent those future earnings would otherwise have been real.

    It is made up, to the extent those future earnings would not have otherwise happened.

    The difficult line the copyright law, and especially the fair use / fair dealing portion attempts to draw is between that of otherwise real earnings and made up earnings.

    The copyright law does a much better job of this noble bit of jurisprudence when the RIAA is not influencing it than when the RIAA is influencing it. In no case will the line be perfect because a car is concrete and a copyright is abstract. Still, the law could do a lot better than it is doing lately. As recently as 1984, SCOTUS was still issuing decently-balanced copyright decisions. Of course, the RIAA did not have a 90% market share as recently as 1984.

    The law is only as good as the lobbyists who make it.

  • ||

    Some people in this forum don't think that my right to control my future earnings is a "real" property right. I have posted in the past, that I think it is more real than the right to possess a car.

    Do you have any argument to back this claim up, or do you think that merely asserting it is enough?

  • ||

    Technically, you have no future earnings until the future comes to pass (i.e., you only have potential future earnings). The right to possess a car is real and now. Nevertheless, I'm not advocating getting rid of copyright. I just disagree with the government's changing the law to protect an unadapted business model.

  • ||

    We have evolved over time from agrairian societies where property was necessary to grow things; to industrial societies where property was necessary to make things; to information societies where property is necessary to create things.

    While you can lay your hands on physical property -- see it, touch it, smell it, taste it -- it's real "value" is in the ability to use that property to create wealth.

    There were social and economic inequalities in property ownership and the subsequent ability to capture wealth in past agrarian and industrial societies. And there will be inequalities in future information societies. But strong property rights covering the necessities to create and hold on to wealth is what protects individuals and help to equalize those inequalities. Going into the future intellectual property right will be even more important than in the past.

    Note that powerful people have abused state powers to monopolize control of property in the past. They will continue to do that in the future. But that does not change the fundamental issue that strong property rights are necessary to protect individuals.

  • ||

    Getting back to the original thread,
    I personally think the actions of the RIAA are stupid beyond beleif. But the internet radio folks have no right to expect that they can broadcast content they don't hold the copyright for under terms they can impose on the copyright holder.

  • ||

    I don't buy into that "we're an information society so we have to protect IP more." I think it is just the opposite. We evolved because information wasn't so heavily protected. Dividing our history up into three neat little segments isn't going to convince me that our societies have always been information societies. We've only just now figured out how to cash in on it.

  • ||

    Ooops. We've always been an information society.

  • Dave W.||

    But the internet radio folks have no right to expect that they can broadcast content they don't hold the copyright for under terms they can impose on the copyright holder.

    The copyright holder. One. Singular. That is the problem, carrick. If the Internet radio folks (plural) were negotiating with copyright holders (plural), then competition would happen and the fees would be set good.

    The problem is that the RIAA is, for practical intents and purposes, monolithic, singular, one, consolidated.

    So the fees are set bad. Non-competitively.

    It is possible to smash the RIAA while leaving property rights intact, and that is what should be done.

  • Jesse Walker||

    But the internet radio folks have no right to expect that they can broadcast content they don't hold the copyright for under terms they can impose on the copyright holder.

    Do AM and FM radio stations have the "right to expect" that? Because they don't have to pay for performance rights. The law in question applies only to Web stations.

  • ||

    I don't buy into that "we're an information society so we have to protect IP more."

    I do, you don't. We are of different opinions. Please expand on why you don't think strong IP rights are necessary for protecting individuals.

  • ||

    The copyright holder. One. Singular. That is the problem, carrick. If the Internet radio folks (plural) were negotiating with copyright holders (plural), then competition would happen and the fees would be set good.

    Note that powerful people have abused state powers to monopolize control of property in the past. They will continue to do that in the future. But that does not change the fundamental issue that strong property rights are necessary to protect individuals.

    How would you prevent the accumulation of property in a small set of hands, without putting a drag on the rest of the population.

  • Dave W.||

    How would you prevent the accumulation of property in a small set of hands, without putting a drag on the rest of the population.

    I would make a law along the following lines:

    Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $10,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $350,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

    Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $10,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $350,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

  • ||

    ,i>On March 1, 2007 the US Copyright Office stunned the Internet radio industry by releasing a ruling on performance royalty fees that are based exclusively on the number of people tuned into an Internet radio station, rather than on a portion of the station's revenue. They discarded all evidence presented by webcasters about the potentially crippling effect on the industry of such a rate structure, and rubber-stamped the rates requested by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

    It is truly shocking that a government agency imposed the rates demanded by the copyright holder on an emerging broadcast medium instead of listening to the resquest of the new broadcasters.

    Why should the copyright office tell the copyright holders how much they can charge for their products? Why should the goverment protect a new business (internet radio) that doesn't seem to have a viable business model?

  • ||

    sorry about the bad html code in the previous post

  • ||

    Dave W. I think you have just banned unions. Joe will be pissed at you.

  • ||

    IP was never intended to protect individuals. It was born to protect the publishing houses, a state-sponsored monopoly.

    Strong IP rights preclude people from spreading information, which is in conflict with their First Amendment rights. Also, even in today's climate, strong IP rights bestow a benefit on corporations and industry groups. The more they are encouraged to exploit a certain business model (which is what they should be doing as corporations), the more they will mold individualized works into something more representative of the business model.

    Part of the problem is that America is soft. We can't make a decent automobile, the steel industry is gone, and many of the hard products (which will always, always be necessary, even in an information age) are made elsewhere. We have Hollywood assgrabbers (and admittedly Pfizer drugs, etc.) as our fastest growing export. We are strengthened our IP laws for purely economic reasons.

    So we are back full circle. Copyright started purely as a business subsidy, and that's we're we've returned to.

  • dave W.||

    Well, I think the Norris Laguardia Act (signed by Herbert Hoover) would prevent my law from being applied against labor unions, but, since we are in the driver's seat here, I would gladly repeal the Norris-LaGuardia Act if it meant that the RIAA, the MPAA and like organizations went away. Deal?

  • ||

    IP was never intended to protect individuals. It was born to protect the publishing houses, a state-sponsored monopoly.

    But with the Internet, anyone with a connection can be a publishing house.

    Strong IP rights preclude people from spreading information, which is in conflict with their First Amendment rights.

    Wrong, copyright does not cover ideas, only the expression of an idea. You are free to read, interprete, and restate the ideas of any other person so long as you don't claim them as your own (plagiarism).


    Also, even in today's climate, strong IP rights bestow a benefit on corporations and industry groups.

    True, but so what -- that's a serious question, not a flippant response.

    The more they are encouraged to exploit a certain business model (which is what they should be doing as corporations), the more they will mold individualized works into something more representative of the business model.

    I don't get your concern in this one.

    Part of the problem is that America is soft. We can't make a decent automobile, the steel industry is gone, and many of the hard products (which will always, always be necessary, even in an information age) are made elsewhere. We have Hollywood assgrabbers (and admittedly Pfizer drugs, etc.) as our fastest growing export. We are strengthened our IP laws for purely economic reasons.

    All true, but again so what.

    So we are back full circle. Copyright started purely as a business subsidy, and that's we're we've returned to.

    An my response is that we need to strengthen IP rights to give individuals more leverage over businesses.

  • ||

    A property right that requires a government to create it is not a right at all, but a government granted privilege. It is not a real property right but an illusion.

    I got news for you, buddy - real estate is property created by and dependent on a government. Trace almost any chain of title back far enough and it will take you to a grant from a sovereign.

    Whatever arguments there are against copyright, this shouldn't be one of them.

  • ||

    Also, even in today's climate, strong IP rights bestow a benefit on corporations and industry groups.

    True, but so what -- that's a serious question, not a flippant response.


    Sorry let my try to give a more useful response.

    As an engineer, I sign away my property rights in my creative works and get a salary in return. If my employer could not protect the property rights that I gave, they would have no reason to give me my salary.

  • ||

    Part of the problem is that America is soft. We can't make a decent automobile, the steel industry is gone, and many of the hard products (which will always, always be necessary, even in an information age) are made elsewhere. We have Hollywood assgrabbers (and admittedly Pfizer drugs, etc.) as our fastest growing export.

    You can't lay the blame for incompetence in American boardrooms at the foot of copyright law.

  • Dave W.||

    As an engineer, I sign away my property rights in my creative works and get a salary in return. If my employer could not protect the property rights that I gave, they would have no reason to give me my salary.

    I wish my employer would start docking or firing the engineers who failed to give me any invention disclosures to write up as patent applications. You can make an engineer sign away his rights, but the challenge is making him invent. My boss says that if I ask nice enough they will give me good stuff. So I keep practicing my niceness.

    How do they motivate you, carrick?

  • ||

    five digits in compensation over the last 5 years for disclosures and patent applications

  • Dave W.||

    five digits in compensation over the last 5 years for disclosures and patent applications

    over and above salary?!?! I wish they let me be that nice -- I mostly have to smile better and use superior politeness.

    *sooooo jealous*

  • ||

    I said: Strong IP rights preclude people from spreading information, which is in conflict with their First Amendment rights.

    Carrick said: Wrong, copyright does not cover ideas, only the expression of an idea. You are free to read, interpret, and restate the ideas of any other person so long as you don't claim them as your own (plagiarism).

    This is NOT the state of copyright law. Perhaps you are such a strong supporter of copyright law because you don't realize how pervasive it is.

    First, I was talking about the spread of information, one of the fundamental purposes of copyright law. I was not talking about the idea/expression dichotomy. Copyright, by its own defintion, impedes the flow of information, i.e., by restricting copies. And no, I am not always free to restate something. Besides, what if the important information is longer than I can remember?

    I'm sorry Carrick, you are an engineer signing over all the property of your mind, in exchange for a salary. My contention is that individuals don't benefit from IP laws. YOU are my primary example. You make nothing from your IP. Stronger IP only makes the stock in your company go up, it does not improve your position as an individual.

    I didn't mean to suggest that copyright is at fault for America's service economy, only to suggest that having a service economy is no reason to expand copyright.
    RC Dean: I got news for you. Just because gov't stepped in to protect real property rights doesn't put it on par with copyrights, which exist solely due to the government. The government stepped into the real property fray to avoid the wild west justice and vigilantism, i.e., to make us more civilized. The government created copyrights purely as a business subsidy. Your fallacy is that you looked at the state of the law today, and assumed that it was always that way. It wasn't, and there is some value in knowing why our society has never protected intangible property as strictly as physical property.

  • ||

    Carrick,

    The problem with the RIAA is they are not the content creators... I have no problem with giving money to the artist...

    I DO have a problem with a monopolistic giant that extorts artists for thier own ill gain, and lobbies for laws that make thier monopoly tighter, while giving them more power to extort the actual content creators.

    If the artists werent so against the RIAA the RIAA might have a bit more public support. However, the RIAA themselves are being fought against by the very people they claim to represent.

    The RIAA telling me I'm stealing from artists, when the very artists they claim I'm stealing from are claiming the same about the RIAA is suspect dont you think?

    I dont think anyone here is arguing that copyright or IP law should be abolished, but in the subject of IP law/copyright and the RIAA I do think that most people recogise that the artist is the last person that the RIAA/MPAA is concerned about.

  • ||

    I dont think anyone here is arguing that copyright or IP law should be abolished, . . .

    Many, many people in this forum want to abolish all IP rights: copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

  • ||

    Carrick said: Wrong, copyright does not cover ideas, only the expression of an idea. You are free to read, interpret, and restate the ideas of any other person so long as you don't claim them as your own (plagiarism).

    This is NOT the state of copyright law. Perhaps you are such a strong supporter of copyright law because you don't realize how pervasive it is.


    Yes it is. Although big corporations have the ability to intimidate individuals to "protect" their IP way beyond the protection afforded by the law.

    YOU are my primary example. You make nothing from your IP. Stronger IP only makes the stock in your company go up, it does not improve your position as an individual.

    Yes I am the primary example, I earn a very good salary plus compensation over and above salary for inventions. I could go out on my own. I could be a poor inventor laboring in obscurity (a very high probablity) or I could be on the cover of Time (a very low probablity). Instead I work for a forturne 500 company. I help it gain market share which improves my salary and the value of the company stock in my 401K. How exactly am I being abused by current IP laws?

  • ||

    Carrick,

    I think your lending a bit of hyperbole into this, reform is far from abolishment...

    I've been reading Reason Hit and Run for years, and contribute to IP related discussions every once in a while, aside from the obvious trolls, I dont think that most sane people that contribute to the discussion wish for the abolishment of IP/copyright.

    I do believe however, that they feel the same way I do, the complete reform of the current state of copyright/IP law, as its heavily weighted to the side of corporations and NOT the individual content creator.

    That all said... if it were a choice of current copyright as practiced today in the US and NO IP/Copyright I would favor none.

  • No matter what carrick says...||

    carrick,

    I think I speak for many music and movie downloaders, at least for the ones that I know. The industry has nothing to lose by my downloading movies or songs because, obviously, I don't care enough about the items to pay for them. If there were no outlets available for me to download my songs, then I would simply cease to listen to them...I wouldn't turn around and buy the stupid shit.

    However, they do have something to gain, as mentioned in other posts here. There are people who buy albums after listening to these downloaded songs. I am not one of them due to my disdain for the music industry, but there are some. However, if the industry continues to strong arm the consumers the way they are doing so now, I am sure many will turn to downloading all the time as a form of protest.

    IMO

  • obviously...||

    carrick is a shill for mpaa / riaa :)

  • ||

    KILL COPYRIGHT! KILL COPYRIGHT!

    Warren is one of many vocal advocates of abolishing IP.

    The current state of the law is terrible and getting worse. The major content aggregators are clearly driving the political process to kill off the fair use doctrine.

    Unfortunately, we never seem to get to a good discussion on how libertarians would fix copyright law, when so many of the discussions are abouth how to kill it.

  • ||

    carrick is a shill for mpaa / riaa :)

    Have I been promoted to some position of importance.

    I have an extensive collection of CDs that I occaisionally rip and make compliations from. I firmly believe this falls well inside the boundaries of fair use.

    However, I can't do this anymore because of rampant copyright infringement has lead RIAA and other to start putting DRM on the CDs. Worse, the RIAA has lost its mind and is now using the political process to destroy fair use doctrine.

    I have no love at all for people that share copyrighted data on the internet.

  • If you had any brains...||

    you would figure out how to get around this problem, Carrick. Again, it is the greed of the RIAA that led to the masses of internet downloaders. Granted, there are still a few who don't mind forking over twenty-some dollars for a CD with a couple of good songs and a bunch of mediocre ones. I am not one of them. Now, if the rates of songs available on, say iTunes, were drop to a reasonable level (I'd say $0.5 or less), then I'd actually consider paying for my downloads. Until then, I won't hand them a dime of my money.

  • and I could care less...||

    If my downloading habits cause a hassle for others...

  • ||

    I have brains and I also have ethics.

    No doubt the nobility of france lost their heads because of rampant greed.

    However, civil disobediance (even revolution) may be justified by hunger, but being deprived of tunes from your favorite artist is not justification for copyright infringement.

  • ||

    goodbye weasel with no name

  • ||

    Carrick,

    So your saying because noone has offered a solution then we are all about abolishment?

    How can you fix a system that is so far from the original intent that its almost irreversably broken? You cant.

    The founding fathers took a great idea, IP, and wrote it in the constitution. Unfortunately it was a very new concept to law so there was very little use cases to base it off of, other then ideas in Franklin's mind.

    This unfortunately allowed the later, more corupted versions of congress to constantly rewrite to suit thier financial backers (Disney, RIAA/MPAA etc.) This has perverted the concept of IP to the point that we have allowed the association of infringment = theft.

    Carrick, you seem to not have a large grasp on the issue here, because you have thrown patent law in with copyright law, they are not even close to similar, patent law has not had a major reform in 100 years or so, while copyright law, has had a major reform just about every 10 years or so, or basicly every time Mickey Mouse is about to slip into the public domain. Interesting huh?

  • ||

    Ok Kanabis, how would you fix it?

  • ||

    I already hinted at it...

    Make it similar to the current patent laws... they seem to work quite nicely for over a hundred years without any major reform, yet technology has changed quite a bit...

    If 7 years protection is good enough for Ford/Phizer its should be well good enough for Metallica.

  • ||

    Er squze me.. Pfizer

  • ||

    My view of how it should work:

    1) Default condition is public domain -- you need to positively assert your copyright to hold it. Given the capability of the internet, declaring copyright and registering the work should be trivial.

    2) Once you assert it, it's yours forever. If your descendents want to hold it for a dozen generations, so be it.

    3) There need to be options other than "use it or lose". I really like creative commons and the copyleft movement. Need to support free distribution with prohibitions against commercial use. Need to support share and share alike models for "open source" stuff. Etc.

  • ||

    No use in debating with Carrick. He / She is obviously distraught over the fact that "illegal downloading" led the RIAA to add DRM on his CDs, thus destroying his/her life forever.

    I'd like to see you offer a solution to the problem, Carrick. As other have pointed out, if more of the fees went to the artists, and less to the suits behind the artists, more people would gladly buy the content; so long as the prices were reasonable, unlike their current state.

  • ||

    No use in debating with Carrick. He / She is obviously distraught over the fact that "illegal downloading" led the RIAA to add DRM on his CDs, thus destroying his/her life forever.

    No, illegal downloading is provide political cover to allow content providers to destroy the fair use doctrine which they have always hated.

    That is a problem for everybody.

    If the artist want more money, they need to negotiate better contracts. If the IP laws were better at protecting individuals that want to self-publish over the internet, then artist would have more leverage to negotiate with.

  • ||

    Carrick: Patents, to me, are the least offensive IP because they last the shortest period of time. Patents also fall more directly under the idea of "useful arts."

    Copyright protection lasts longer, and is arguably less "useful." Once the author argues that the copyrighted material is the most important goddam thing in the world, then one has to ask why it gets 70 years + of protection, even after the guy is dead.

    Doesn't it seem bizarre that patents protect drug companies (huge R&D costs) for a very short period (17 years is it?), while copyright protects much longer, with less underlying cost. Fascinating. Maybe it is a necessary subsidy, but copyright is a subsidy, not a fundamental right.

  • ||

    Carrick: can we at least agree that US copyright law should have droit moral?

  • ||

    Carrick: can we at least agree that US copyright law should have droit moral?

    Not familiar with that movement. A quick look via Google and it looks promising.

  • ||

    Carrick,

    So in essense you would like to see the concept of public domain destroyed....

    Would this work retroactivly? I mean does Shakespear's family now get to recieve royalties again? How about Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm? Or Victor Hugo? Because Disney has made Billions of dollars stealing (borrowing a word from you) from thier works... You know, the Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Snow White etc. etc.

    Ahhhhh... not so simple now is it?? But again, you didnt put much thought into it aside from reading the RIAA/MPAA talking points....

  • ||

    So in essense you would like to see the concept of public domain destroyed....

    I think I said "Default condition is public domain. . . "

    I think I said we need models other than use it or lose it.

    But I did actually say that for new creative works, if the copyright holder want to holder wants to control the reproduction and distrubition rights forever, he/she should be able to.

    And no, that would not be retroactive to cover the classics.

    And I have never read the RIAA/MPAA talking points ;-)

    I think both organizations have become evil. However, I think also they will both self-destruct. The important thing is to make sure they don't destroy fair use before they self-destruct.

  • ||

    it's the end of the day and dyslexia is setting in . . enough for me.

  • ||

    So Carrick,

    You are in favor of stealing from old dead guys, 'The Classics' as you call them, but not infavor of ever seeing new classics enter the collective society we call civilization, because damnit somone needs to make a buck.

    Who cares about works made before the concept of Intellectual property... Kevin Federline's great great great great grandchildren however need to be assured that they can still profit from his old dead ass...

    Amazing concept....Luddites like you are the reason people like me resort to civil disobediance and download Metallica just for the sake of sticking it to the man... you will never get it, and you dont even attempt to...

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Patents are actually a much more dubious form of IP than copyrights. Patents cover ideas, while copyrights merely cover a particular expression. There wouldn't be anything terrible about an infinite-duration copyright, provided that copyright holders were required to pay a regular fee (thus ensuring that works of little commercial value - the vast majority - would enter the public domain).

  • ||

    Max,

    Perpetual copyright? Goes against the Constitution.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    I guess that depends on what version of the Constitution your talking about, the original, or the one that modern congress seems to believe in.

    =)

  • ||

    kanabiis: zing!

  • ||

    You are in favor of stealing from old dead guys, 'The Classics' as you call them, but not infavor of ever seeing new classics enter the collective society we call civilization, because damnit somone needs to make a buck.

    Libertarians aren't supposed to give a shit for collective society. We're all for anarchy and natural selection . . .

    Get with the program kanabiis.

    Amazing concept....Luddites like you are the reason people like me resort to civil disobediance and download Metallica just for the sake of sticking it to the man... you will never get it, and you dont even attempt to..

    Never been called a luddite before.

    Infringing copyright for personal benefit is not civil disobedience.

    You're right that I don't get you and don't want to. You appear to be nothing more than a self-absorbed leach.

  • ||

    OK class: eminent domain for physical property is evil. . . public domain for intellectual property is vital to collective society . . . discuss

  • ||

    There wouldn't be anything terrible about an infinite-duration copyright, provided that copyright holders were required to pay a regular fee (thus ensuring that works of little commercial value - the vast majority - would enter the public domain).

    Some process is needed to force abandoned IP into the public domain. I'm not sure that cash should be involved though. How would you set up a fee structure?

  • dhex||

    "Again, it is the greed of the RIAA that led to the masses of internet downloaders."

    uh, you guys might have a point if non RIAA bands weren't downloaded as well.

    but plainly kids like free stuff, and they're less likely to see music - or anything they can get for free on the interwebs - as actually belonging to anyone.

    i think that's a bit fucked up.

  • ||

    I really like ... the copyleft movement. Need to support free distribution with prohibitions against commercial use. Need to support share and share alike models for "open source" stuff. Etc.

    (Emphasis added)



    There are no prohibitions against commercial use when software is licensed under the FSF's GPL, although other so-called "open source" licenses do prohibit commercial use. The most common of those is probably the BSD license. Seeing as how the FSF (Richard Stallman, mainly) originally came up with "copyleft," I would assume you meant the FSF when you refered to the "copyleft movement." If not, my bad.



    Many, many people in this forum want to abolish all IP rights: copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

    Warren is one of many vocal advocates of abolishing IP.

    I'm calling bullshit. If your claim (many, many people in this forum want to abolish...) is valid, you should have no problem coming up with ten different names of people who want to abolish all "IP" rights: copyrights, trademarks, and patents. And Warren doesn't count, because I've only seen him advocate abolishing Copyright law, while leaving Trademark and Patent law intact.

  • ||

    Ooops...My first paragraph needed some <pedant> tags.

  • ||

    Some process is needed to force abandoned IP into the public domain. I'm not sure that cash should be involved though. How would you set up a fee structure?

    Well, something like this was previously implemented. It used to be that you got N years (originally 14, if I remember correctly) of copyright protection, and then you had to renew the copyright to get another N years. A high percentage of works were not renewed. It was a much better system than what we have now.

    The most galling change to copyright law has been to retroactively extend copyright terms. That's something that everyone should oppose regardless of ideology.

  • dave W.||

    Some process is needed to force abandoned IP into the public domain. I'm not sure that cash should be involved though. How would you set up a fee structure?

    I wanted to answer this last night, but one of my IP addresses still seems to be blocked. Anyway, the leading legal scholar working on this is the famous Judge Richard Posner. He has written a lot on the subject. Here is a small sample, if you are interested Carrick:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=319321

    Posner has also written extensively on the Sherman Act, which I quoted a couple sections of above, and which (extant) statute remains an excellent option if the RIAA fails to "self-destruct" (as I believe it will fail to do).

    ps: it is nice to have a carrick to read and write to here. hoping to see more carrick.

  • ||

    "OK class: eminent domain for physical property is evil. . . public domain for intellectual property is vital to collective society . . . discuss"

    (1) Rules dealing with physical property arose from the bottom up. Over the last 3 millenia, rules have been developed to address what happens when your neighbor damages you or your property. The Ten Commandments tell us not to steal and not to covet our neighbor's real property. Nothing about protecting IP. The Romans didn't have copyright laws, but had an extensive system of laws for physical property. No society, great or weak, had IP laws until the 18th century.

    Over the centuries, the British developed the common law to address all sorts of common disputes over property, but the common law didn't create any copyright. It wasn't until 1710 when Parliament passed the Statute of Anne.

    Thus, the first copyright laws came into effect from the top down: not as a response to the types conflicts over physical property that had been recognized for thousands of years, but ostensibly as a way to encourage learning.

    The very basis for creating intellectual property is to create an incentive that would provide the benefit of spreading ideas and knowledge. Contrast this with the basis of physical property rules: to exclude others from that property.

    Thus, when the government takes physical property via eminent domain, it is striking a blow to the very concept of physical property. Afterall, if one can't exclude the government from the property, then the essence of property is lost. In contrast, when information enters the public domain and is able to be spread further and become part of other works, the fundamental premise of copyright is served.

  • ||

    "you guys might have a point if non RIAA bands weren't downloaded as well."

    Uh, I was a non-RIAA band that wanted more than anything for people to download my stuff. Non-RIAA musicians do not have access to the distribution system that RIAA acts have. Napster, MP3.com and Kazaa were great while they were alive for non-RIAA bands.

  • ||

    Nice post Lamar.

    Yes intellectual property is a modern concept first written down in the 18th century. So is the notion that all men have natural rights and that we are not beholden to a king that get his authority from god.

    So the fact that physical property has been recognize for 3 thousand years and intellectual property for only 3 hundred is not by itself a complete justification for treating them differently.

    Thus, when the government takes physical property via eminent domain, it is striking a blow to the very concept of physical property.

    Thus, when the government takes intellectual property via public domain, it is striking a blow to the very concept of intellectual property.

  • ||

    Excellent point about kings/gods. (1) Copyright was NEVER seen as a natural right. It was legislated as a business incentive to authors. So while notions of natural rights were in play, they weren't ascribed to copyright. (2) Physical property has existed and thrived under almost every imaginable type of regime or system. It is tried and true and well vetted. It works. Intellectual property used to be an incentive, and now people are trying to create a right out of it. If a fundamental concern of the law is certainty and reliability, these changing rationales for copyright law should be disturbing.

    If the purpose of copyright is to spread knowledge, placing it in the public domain serves that purpose. Restricting the flow of information defeats that purpose. Of course, there is the tricky problem of encouraging the creation in the first place, which is why the gov't ensures authors that they can make a buck from their hard work.

    The very concept of intellectual property is that the government has allowed you to make a buck from it, not that it is a property right.

  • ||

    (1) Copyright was NEVER seen as a natural right.

    Agreed.

    I am just arguing that it should be in the future.

  • ||

    If the purpose of copyright is to spread knowledge . . .

    I disagree.

    I think the purpose of copyright/patent laws are to encourage risk-taking. Individuals or a companies will be more willing to invest in risky developments if they have greater opporunity to recoup their investments.

    IP laws prevent copy-cats who don't bear the burden of the orginal development cost from under-pricing the original product.

    The longer the period of exclusive rights, the greater the risk that can be accepted.

  • Dave W.||

    I think the purpose of copyright/patent laws are to encourage risk-taking.

    I think the purpose of patent laws is more specifically to narrowly incentivize the invention of technologies/concepts/ideas/whateveryouwanttocallem that would not have been invented if the inventor himself had never been born.

    I think the problem with patent laws is that they now incentivize inventions that will be invented by someone(s) (probably many someones) other than the inventor if the inventor had never been born.

    Although I can't really expect you to answer the question here in public, carrick, it would be interesting to know how long (if ever) you think it would take the world to have stumbled onto your inventions had you decided to choose a non-technology related career.

  • ||

    Although I can't really expect you to answer the question here in public, carrick, it would be interesting to know how long (if ever) you think it would take the world to have stumbled onto your inventions had you decided to choose a non-technology related career.

    The issue is the "aha" experience. Ideas that have never been imaginable, become obvious once you have been told about them. The purpose of protecting IP is protect the investment that goes into turning an Idea into a Widget that can be sold. Ideas can cost millions to conceive and verify. Yet Widgets can cost dollars to produce.

  • ||

    "I think the purpose of copyright/patent laws are to encourage risk-taking."

    And that risk-taking leads to more works and a better spread of information. I think it is the ultimate goal to spread knowledge. See Statute of Anne's real title (1710) "Act for the Encouragement of Learning [by vesting copyrights]". The US Copyright clause is just a more modern version of the Statute of Anne: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing...[IP rights]."

    Ultimately, I think you are confusing the method with the ends. Perhaps I am making a large distinction out of nothing, because whether we are talking about the method or the ultimate ends, all copyright laws basically use the granting of an economic incentive as the way to getting more works out of society.

  • ||

    It's been a pleasure chatting with you Lamar and Dave. But I need to get back to earning my keep.

  • ||

    I think the purpose of patent laws is more specifically to narrowly incentivize the invention of technologies/concepts/ideas/whateveryouwanttocallem that would not have been invented if the inventor himself had never been born.

    Such as?

  • ||

    Whenever you create an industry based on selling IP-related products, you're going to have more works created than before. To answer "such as?" is difficult. Would there be a pharmaceutical industry with no patents? I'm not sure. Maybe.

  • ||

    (1) Copyright was NEVER seen as a natural right.

    Agreed.

    I am just arguing that it should be in the future. - carrick



    That is the crux of the issue. I tend to agree with carrick. Lamar correctly reports the justifications for The Statute of Anne and our Constitution's patents and copyrights clauses, but that doesn't mean that Parliament or the Framers got things right from the start. I'm a libertarian, and while I admire the Constitution as a seminal document in the history of limiting government, I don't worship it. We have explicitly amended it, for both good and ill, over the years, after all.

    If one takes a Lockean view towards the right to real property, that unclaimed land becomes yours through your effort to improve it by your labors, how could inventions, music or writings that are even more a product of your efforts not be protected? That our governments waited until the early 18th century to establish a copyright privilege isn't surprising. Before the development of mass printing, authors really couldn't make much by the sale or rental of their works. Patronage was the usual path to compensation when copies were hand-made. When pulp paper and cheap mass printing came on line, it became economically attractive to publish unauthorized editions of a novelist's or composer's works.

    That being said, I will be very sad if the RIAA's ham-handed tactics kills internet music radio. (I'm assuming that talk programs might survive.) I'm a big fan of listening to streaming audio from several stations that provide programming that our local radio stations don't deliver. I can "time-shift" those streams if, for example, WFUV's A Thousand Welcomes airs at the same time that I have to be away from my computer, or sleep or something. (Gad, I hope this doesn't kill archived programs!) In this way, my computer is no different from my VCR, except that the former is digital, and the latter is analog. It could be that there's enough non-RIAA Irish/Scottish/Celtic folk available to keep that option alive on the `net, the same way that there's plenty of non-RIAA classical. It's probably not that easy for streams featuring American rockers, popsters and folkies.

    I'm not into unauthorized free-downloading, so streaming, authorized podcasts or using stores like iTunes are my non-CD options. This decision could kill or cripple the first two of them. I'm not an expert on alternate forms of preserving rights while allowing dissemination, but I could see performers granting permissions to webcasters to stream their songs, especially if they don't receive much airplay from broadcasters. The trick, I suppose, would be to get one's record company to go along with that, if performers even stayed with the old record company model. If I had a record contract, I'd want the royalty on my songs set high enough that I got some income from webcasters, but not so high that I made it uneconomic for them to exist at all. I might even forgo the payment altogether if I thought my work would benefit from the exposure. The RIAA and its member labels seem to be working at cross-purposes to many of their acts, which isn't new behavior, is it?

    BTW, some of the main opponents of playing recorded music on the air back in the first half of the 20th Century were the songwriters and the Musician's Union. Once the record companies figured out that playing sides on the radio did not depress sales, but rather encouraged them, they were fine with that. But platters really hurt sheet-music sales. In 1941, radio couldn't play any ASCAP-represented music until a royalty agreement was worked out. The fellows who used to play gigs for radio broadcast were also nervous for their jobs. There was a Buy your own records, damn it!, I'd tell them. It wasn't like the Ramones were making Michael Jackson money, let alone the more obscure acts I liked. I like the money I spend on music to fairly compensate the people who make it, and it is easy to believe, given the way the labels have treated performers and composers in the past, that the middleman is paid too much and the artist too little. If the intermediaries - terrestial radio, satradio, webcasting, the various flavors of TV, the recording companies - are afraid that digital delivery will make them obsolete, once even I have broadband and enough storage space, then they would be smart to evolve into forms that can offer some convenience that consumers will appreciate. Instead, they are being their boneheaded selves.

    Kevin

  • ||

    "If one takes a Lockean view towards the right to real property, that unclaimed land becomes yours through your effort to improve it by your labors, how could inventions, music or writings that are even more a product of your efforts not be protected?"

    The answer is that IP law says that no matter what you do to improve the property, it never becomes exclusively yours. Real property is different in that regard.

  • ||

    Would there be a pharmaceutical industry with no patents? I'm not sure. Maybe.

    I was asking Dave for an example of an 'invention of technologies/concepts/ideas/whateveryouwanttocallem that would not have been invented if the inventor himself had never been born.'

    Can't think of any myself. An invention is only unique to the extent that it is arbitrary. But the real value lies in the non-arbitrary aspects.

    Contrast with art, which is 100% arbitrary. If Beethoven hadn't lived, we wouldn't have his symphonies. We would have other good symphonies, but not those particular symphonies. That is why copyright protection is more benign than patent protection.

  • ||

    Sure, Lamar, that's what the law says. But should it say that? Now, I could write a novel, and make sure that it is mine and mine alone by refusing to show it to anyone, except by getting them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. (Just call me Galambos!) If I want to put it on the market, inevitably people who don't pay for it will read some, if not all of it - example: a person browsing in a store that sells it. To the extent that my writing is remembered by the reader, it becomes his as well as mine. But since I created that expression, it is mine in a way that it can never be his, and the law should allow me to arrange to be compensated when it is used for commercial purposes. I could even demand that it only be used according to my wishes, though I think that would limit its commercial possibilities. I think the RIAA is actually shooting itself in the foot by demanding royalties that may be too much for many webcasters. Even if they are within their rights, I don't think they are being wise. I think a more flexible arrangement would redound to the benefit of their mid-level and yet-to-break acts, and they are foolish not to realize that.

    As for patents, they originally were not just granted for innovation, but could be royal grants that gave a person or firm privileges in the market. That could be a monopoly on selling a certain good or service, or an exclusive franchise to supply the government with something. Patents as a grant of monopoly on the fruits of an invention help spread knowedge, because a process or technology that might otherwise be kept a trade secret is made available to those who license it. That encourages others to make improvements, some of which can also be patented, that otherwise might never occur to anyone. Our Founding Fathers disdained the old-style patent/monopolies, though we still have some remnant of them in the form of government contracting. We also have the tradition of competitive bidding for such boons, which might not have been how the Hanoverians did things.

    Kevin

  • ||

    You still hanging out here Lamar? I would like to hear you opinion on another facet of this discussion.

    Let's assume that IP protection encourages the development of original works and discourages the development of derivative works. That would imply that stronger protection encourages more original works, while weaker protection encourages more derivative works. Which is better for: the creator of orginal works; the creator of derivative works; society as a whole?

  • ||

    IP protection doesn't discourage derivative works, it works to encourage original works more than it encourages derivative works. This is not a disincentive towards derivative works. Of course, the stronger the protection, the lesser the incentive to make derivative works.

  • ||

    i.e., but not a disincentive as compared to NOT producing anything. Of course, current copyright laws are set up to support a publishing house (whose goal would be to create a franchise series with sequels etc.) rather than individual authors (who might want "fan ficcers" to do the sort of free or "guerrilla" marketing they can't get from a publisher).

  • ||

    I think that they could subscribe to an alternative arrangement, sort of like "copyleft," which would guarantee them a revenue stream instead of being siphoned off by record industry parasites.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement