Richard Posner: Expand Copyright Protections to Save Newspapers!


Judge Richard Posner, pondering (Posnering?) the troubled current state of what was one of the most profitable industries of the 20th century, attempts to think outside the bun:

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.

I'm with Jeff Jarvis: Good God. The scary thing here is not necessarily that we will see some new federal law requiring that the L.A. Times give expressed written consent every time I link to one of its pieces, but rather that some damn fool freedom-reducing scheme like this is likely to be introduced at the federal level in the not-too-distant future, given the economic and political clout of these very large, very troubled, and very connected organizations. And the fact that a respected judge is so breezy about jigging the nation's laws to prop up a single struggling industry reminds us afresh how ingrained is the bias toward seeing the government as a cost-and consquence-free solution to anything perceived as a problem.

Reason on Posner here; on media issues here.