Copyright

Republicans, Hollywood, Lobbyists Freak Out Over Copyright Entitlements

Copyright reform emerging as an issue in Washington

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trolls as old as pirates
Library of Congress

A memo released by the conservative Republican Study Committee on Friday engaging copyright as an entitlement and an abused constitutional power was quickly withdrawn by the RSC after making too much news.

Nevertheless, Republicans were among the first to dump support for SOPA, and libertarian ones like Ron Paul opposed those kind of severe copyright enforcement measures from the get-go. The appeal copyright reform would have for Republicans among young voters shouldn't be underestimated. While the Hollywood Reporter asks if copyright reform would be a revenge fantasy for Republicans, even the RSC, after pulling the memo, admitted that it presented a view some conservatives share. The memo, in fact, was written by a young staffer at the RSC and Ars Technica notes the generational divide the kerfuffle over the memo represents.

The debate over copyright law in Congress is currently playing out with the Internet Radio Freedom Act, which would lower the royalties paid by internet radio stations for the songs they play. It was sponsored by Republican Jason Chaffetz and Democrat Jared Polis, both of whom also opposed SOPA.  That legislation faces stiff opposition from the recording music industry, which relies on copyrights granted by government for its entire business model. In an editorial opposing the bill, David Israelite, the president of the National Music Publishers Association explains:

While I strongly believe H.R. 6480 is bad policy and would set a disastrous precedent, my bigger concern is how this Congressional effort stands to undermine the value of music.  

The music business is complicated in part by multiple copyrights: one for music compositions (belonging to songwriters and often owned by music publishers) and another for the recording of that composition (represented by record labels). These two separate and distinct copyrights are treated very differently under the law, have very different histories and business practices, and at times can even have conflicting interests.

Rather unsurprisingly, a plain reading of the relevant constitutional clause reveals no conflicting interests, just the promotion "of the Progress of Science and useful Arts" to help "authors and inventors" for "limited Times". Just no progress past Mickey Mouse.

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  1. This is just par for the course. GOP accidentally stumbles across small government position. Apologizes immediately.

    My alternative theory is that the Disney corporation made a phonecall.

    1. You do *not* fuck with the mouse!

  2. Obviously copyright has been asbused to retard growth and innovation since it absurdly gives corporations ownership over what are essentially ideas and words. Does anyone really think the promotion of science and the arts is helped by Time Warner owning the song “Happy Birthday”?

    1. How about a time limit on copyrights like there is on patents? I can’t understand why a pharma company, for example, has to spend billions on research to create a single drug, and then may have less than ten years to recoup their investment and make a profit — while any clown with a piano can have rights to something in perpetuity.

      It sucks whenever you hear about some corner pub getting sued because the owner pulls out his banjo every now and then, but they didn’t pay off the ASCAP extortion for the songs first.

      1. They do expire, only every time Mickey Mouse is about to lose his magical status, Disney has to get copyrights extended again because THAT CAN NEVER HAPPEN BECAUSE CHILDREN.

  3. To my quasi-anarchist natural rights advocate friends: Is copyright an exception to the rule that rights don’t come from government, an illegitimate right, or an innate right that happens to be constitutionally codified for some reason? (In the latter case, what does Nature say about how long the right should last?)

    1. http://mises.org/document/3582…..l-Property

      Knock yourself out.

      1. I don’t have $6, but I’m interested to know, vis-a-vis natural rights, what, if anything, distinguishes the anti-intellectual property argument from one against property in general.

        1. Click on the pdf, it is free.

          1. The very possibility of conflict over
            a resource renders it scarce, giving rise to the need for ethical
            rules to govern its use.

            Okay.

            artificial scarcity itself needs a justification

            Okay.

            Prima facie, therefore, IP law trespasses against or “takes” the property of tangible property owners, by transferring partial ownership to authors and inventors. It is this invasion and redistribution of property that must be justified in order for IP rights to be valid.

            I think I understand the argument to be against a libertarian-utilitarian justification (in addition to a natural rights justification which I would reject out of hand), but not necessarily a utilitarian justification in general. Taking and redistribution can be justified on utilitarian grounds that aren’t rooted in libertarian ethics.

            Thanks for the read.

        2. Intellectual property is nor scarce or exclusive.

          Physical property is.

          There ya go.

      2. The ironic counter-argument to the book is on the third page of the PDF, right after the cover page and the title page:

        “”Against Intellectual Property” first appeared as part of the symposium Applications of Libertarian Legal Theory, published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies 15, no. 2 (Spring 2001).
        Copyright ? 2008 Ludwig von Mises Institute”

        Claiming intellectual property rights to a pamphlet called “Against Intellectual Property” =D

        1. FYI, the Mises Institute distributes these articles freely, and if you read their copyright disclaimer, you’ll find that they only get copyrights to protect themselves from having others copyright their material and restrict its access. They grudgingly play the IP game because if they didn’t, an unscrupulous publisher could copyright their material and then sue them for publishing it without permission. Read the fine print.

          1. Yeah, but they still use ROADZ!!! And the internet!!!!! And they haven’t moved to Somalia yet!!!!

    2. The Constitution explictly says the purpose of copyright is to promote the science and the arts, which makes little sense since as I said it above it only retards growth and innovation.

      You have a right to the property you create and if you can get other people to agree to copyright laws, fine, but it has nothing to do with natural laws anymore than due process and the right to counsel are natural rights. Those are procedural rights, solutions to moral problems regarding the law and the court system.

      1. So there are rights that come only and explicitly from government. So is there a list anywhere of the ones that come from nature?

        1. So there are rights that come only and explicitly from government. So is there a list anywhere of the ones that come from nature?

          No, the government is instituted to protect natural rights. The most basic right is the right of self ownership. All other rights flow from that basic right.

          mises.org is a good source for answers to questions like these.

          1. The most basic right is the right of self ownership.

            On the other thread Tony said that all legal government force is by definition legitimate. So if that force is used to enforce legal slavery, then self-ownership is a privilege granted by government, not a basic right.
            Since self-ownership is not a basic right, but rather a government granted privilege, then there are no other rights to flow from it.
            Not only that, but slavery is perfectly legitimate as long as it is legal, because all legal government force is legitimate.

            Tony approves of slavery. As long as it is legal.

            1. You’re confusing is and ought (again). That’s the point of this whole debate. I don’t believe it’s worth talking about a right that exists only in theory, because that could be an assertion about anything. It also makes little sense to claim that people possessed certain rights before the concept of rights was even articulated by humans.

              Was slavery legal? Yes. Was it “legitimate”? According to the law of the time, you’d have to say yes. According to modern human-rights based morality, no–and any society with legal slavery can be said to violate human rights. But the only weapon in your arsenal to argue against a slaver is an assertion of ethical norms that only came into existence relatively recently. You only have persuasion, lacking martial or legal means. If you get to a point where you’re just making assertions past each other, who adjudicates? Every natural rights claim is an appeal to God at bottom.

              I can have all sorts of opinions about what is and isn’t ethical, no matter what is legal, and I would base such judgments on a humanistic approach. But I wouldn’t even claim humanistic ethics are based in nature.

              1. You only have persuasion, lacking martial or legal means.

                So all you respect is violence. That’s pretty sad.

          2. If government is useful to the end of protecting the most valuable thing imaginable–our basic rights–why is it useless for anything else?

            1. If government is useful to the end of protecting the most valuable thing imaginable–our basic rights–why is it useless for anything else?

              Your “if” is wrong, and thus doesn’t establish a solid premise for your ending clause. Let’s try rephrasing to expose the fallacy:

              “If a criminal gang intent on seizing powers in order to violate our natural rights is useful to the end of protecting the most valuable thing imaginable–our basic rights–why is it useless for anything else?”

            2. If government is useful to the end of protecting the most valuable thing imaginable–our basic rights–why is it useless for anything else?

              Because “anything else” invariably conflicts with “basic rights”.

          3. No, the government is instituted to protect natural rights.

            No, a government alleges it is instituted to protect natural rights, then actually uses its powers to violate those rights.

        2. Life, liberty, and property are natural rights we possess by our faculties as human beings. They are all relative to the idea of self-ownership.

          Procedural rights don’t come from the government, they come from the people who place limits on what the state can do to protect life, liberty, and property.

        3. Re: Tony,

          So there are rights that come only and explicitly from government.

          No, they would be privileges, licenses, grants or entitlements, but not rights.

          So is there a list anywhere of the ones that come from nature?

          You can only have something you already have as a matter of right, which would be: Your life, your liberty and your property.

        4. So there are rights that come only and explicitly from government. So is there a list anywhere of the ones that come from nature?

          No, there are “privileges” that come from the criminal gang called “government”. Calling them “rights” doesn’t make them so.

          1. In anarchy you have a right to exactly nothing.

            1. You keep on using “rights” when the accurate term is “powers”.

              You also use “anarchy” when you mean “chaos”.

              1. Rights are liberties/entitlements to act, i.e., powers.

                One definition of “anarchy” is a synonym of “chaos.” The political state of anarchy is, of course, a fantasy.

                1. Rights are liberties/entitlements to act, i.e., powers.

                  So the right to live is a power? WTF?

                  Anarchy is not chaos. It is derived from “no archon”, or “no central authority to enforce the rules”. That is not to say that there are no rules in anarchy. Just that there is no central organization that employs violence to enforce them.
                  Since the only thing in this world that you respect is violence, I’m sure that in a state of anarchy you would not observe any of society’s rules. Which is pretty sad. For a collectivist you’re not very cooperative. But just because there is no central authority enforcing rules with violence doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t kill you. I’m sure that they would. And you would deserve it.

    3. Re: Tony,

      To my quasi-anarchist natural rights advocate friends: Is copyright an exception to the rule that rights don’t come from government,

      “From God, to government, to us the peasants.”

      It’s a good thing government has not stumbled upon Prima Nocte. You would have to cover your ass, Tony!

      Anyway, a faux property like “intellectual property” (more accurately, a legal monopoly) cannot be an argument that favors the notion that our rights as men and women are granted by government, which is also populated by men and women.

      an innate right that happens to be constitutionally codified for some reason?

      It’s not an innate right, it is a legal monopoly that carries the same legitimacy as a letter of marque.

      1. A right to physical property is every bit as much a legal monopoly.

        The justification for such a restriction on the freedom of others (those who don’t own the property) as explained in the text linked above makes sense: scarcity of resources necessitates rules governing their use.

        But your pat argument seems to be that you have property rights because you have a firearm to defend your property. Which of course implies that someone with more firearms has more of a rights claim to your property.

        1. But your pat argument seems to be that you have property rights because you have a firearm to defend your property. Which of course implies that someone with more firearms has more of a rights claim to your property.

          You have property rights to the value you create. Firearms can be used to protect your property rights, or to steal your property.

            1. People who agree with the self-ownership principle.

              Thieves and slavers tend to disagree.

              1. Thieves and slavers tend to disagree.

                All Tony respects is violence.

            2. If you do not believe in any sort of morality rooted in nature, then there is no point to even having a point of view. If all moral standards are merely arbitrary human constructions or projections of our feelings, then there is no morality in any meaningful sense. As such, it really does not matter, from the Tony perspective, if slavery exists or not. Sure, we live in a society that respects the right to self ownership, but we cannot say that that is any better than societies that allowed slavery, because there is no objective standard.

              So why worry that libertarians want to “impose” their beliefs on you by not allowing you to act like a sociopath? Sure, you believe that natural rights are arbitrary nonsense — nonsense on stilts, says your idiot hero, Jeremy Bentham — but as arbitrary nonsense, it is on par with anything you wish to construct.

              1. If you do not believe in any sort of morality rooted in nature

                Tony appears to be arguing for a morality rooted in nature — the morality of “red in tooth and claw” — but with government acting as a predator while pretending to be a benevolent protector.

                Of course, that goal could be moved if he’s losing a particular argument.

                1. Of course, that goal could be moved if he’s losing a particular argument.

                  Of course. And if he needs to invent “principles” on the fly, he’ll do that, too.

                  1. pmains there is abundant literature on secular, reductionist, naturalistic, humanistic, pragmatic, and/or utilitarian ethics.

                    The problem is if you require magic to imbue something with authority, not only is your claim just as arbitrary (since magic doesn’t exist), it runs the risk of people being dogmatic about it.

                    There is always a standard for a moral claim given a certain premise. Mine would be something like maximizing human well-being without sacrificing certain individual rights. God didn’t tell me that was the best way to live, I just decided that it was and hope people agree with me. What you got?

                    1. Mine would be something like maximizing human well-being without sacrificing certain individual rights.

                      Until tomorrow when you pick up a new set of “principles.”

                    2. Mine would be something like maximizing human well-being without sacrificing certain individual rights.

                      Rights like life, liberty and property?

                      Oh wait. Those are natural rights. They don’t count.

                      The only right you recognize is the right to employ violence, either directly or using government as your proxy, to get what you want.

                    3. I believe in rights to life, liberty, and property. I just don’t claim God is on my side on the issue.

                    4. I believe in rights to life, liberty, and property. I just don’t claim God is on my side on the issue.

                      I suppose the truth or falsity of this statement depends on the meaning of “believe”, here.

                      It could mean that you sincerely believe that, from a moral perspective, humans are entitled to life, liberty and property. Obviously, that’s untrue. You tell us all the time how and why these rights should be violated for various ad hoc reasons.

                      It could mean that you think these values are valuable guideposts in creating maximized utility. But your embrace of positive rights means that these negative rights should be routinely violated on pragmatic grounds whenever you set your heart on a shiny new object that conflicts.

                      So, at the end of the day, all you are left with is the fact that these are the shiny, new objects that you have distracted yourself with for the time being. As you stumble on different values that match your mood tomorrow, you will adopt new ones, and new ones the day after that.

                      For the record, I do believe in God. So do many other very intelligent people. I know from experience that others can and do derive objective principles of natural rights without invoking or believing in God. As el esc?ptico pointed out, you can use reason and logic. For the most part, his explanation is how I think about natural rights. That he is an atheist and I am a Catholic doesn’t seem relevant.

                    5. The foundations of all moral schema are a priori axiomatic at their roots. What I got is this:

                      1) All human animals desire to live and avoid pain.
                      2) It is immoral, as well as hypocritical, to treat another human animal in a way that you would not want another human animal to treat you.
                      3) An ethical human animal attempts to maximize the first, whilst not transgressing the second.

                      E.g. I do not want an individual or a gang of human animals to forcefully (or via threat of such) take from me the fruits of my labor without permission (theft and taxes), ergo I can only be ethical by not imposing the same, via brute force or democratic vote.

                      Sorry Tony, no appeals to a magic sky daddy. Only self-evident axioms and the application of reason. DRINK!

                    6. But you give your permission to be taxed. You don’t renounce your citizenship and leave. Staying and enjoying the “fruits” of the labor of your fellow citizens and their ancestors, i.e., your civilization, is theft. Taxation is just the fee you are obliged to pay for the stuff you get by virtue of living in an organized society. Don’t like it, leave–but you can’t freeload, as I’m sure you agree.

                    7. I constantly witness the “regular” commenters on this board imploring us not to reply to such ignorant trolls. You are all right. Tony will twist the meaning of words to the point of incomprehension to make his convoluted paradigm of the world try to map reality. It’s borderline insanity.

                      Fuck off, slaver. Every sentence in your response is demonstrably false and shows such an immature understanding of political theory and economics as to be embarrassing.

                      1) “permission” has a definition. Look it up, stupid fuck.
                      2) I don’t accept the citizenship as defined by Uncle Sam that you would have me renounce.
                      3) One can and should enjoy the fruits of the labor of any other human animal that wants to freely trade for the same. It’s called society, and doesn’t need an interventionist gov’t to function.
                      4) See 3, fuckhead.
                      5) Jesus Christ you’re so fucking stupid. Your understanding of economics is abysmally vacant. “Freeload” does not mean what you think it means.

                      I apologize and will henceforth not respond to such vacuous nitwits… lesson learned.

    4. To my quasi-anarchist natural rights advocate friends: Is copyright an exception to the rule that rights don’t come from government, an illegitimate right, or an innate right that happens to be constitutionally codified for some reason?

      Easy, copyrights and patents are not rights at all.

      They are government granted monopolies.

  4. SOPA ? I should know this but

    1. Stop Online Piracy Act.

    2. Oh that thing.

  5. As if young voters are sitting around saying, “You know what gets up my ass? Copyright policy.”

    1. If someone were to explain to them that copyright policy is why they have to pay a lot of money to download that new One Direction album or face possible prosecution, they might listen.

      1. You: “You know, if we reformed copyright law, you could download One Direction for less money. Here, look at these pie charts!”

        Them: “… I only buy vintage vinyl, Poindexter.”

  6. That legislation faces stiff opposition from the recording music industry, which relies on copyrights granted by government for its entire business model.

    I’m sure they’ll pretend that they’re trying to protect artists and performers, which is bunk.

    Bands make money off touring. They rarely see shit from music sales. I remember Hetfield making some comment about making literally a dime per fifteen dollar disk that was sold. Peanuts.

    1. I know this is Courtney Love, but one of the best articles I have ever read on what artists make compared to what the companies make.

      http://www.salon.com/2000/06/14/love_7/

  7. Without copyright, some idiot could make his own Star Wars movies, come up with shit like Jar Jar Binx.

  8. A memo released by the conservative Republican Study Committee on Friday engaging copyright as an entitlement and an abused constitutional power was quickly withdrawn by the RSC after making too much news

    “People will throw stones at you and shun you for speaking the truth.”

  9. That legislation faces stiff opposition from the recording music industry, which relies on copyrights granted by government for its entire business model.

    Of course it does! Any industry that relies on government favors as part of their business model will behemently oppose any attempt to repeal or limit the scope and power of the favors.

    “Intellectual Property” is nothing more than a monopoly grant by the government to someone who claims to be an “originator,” despite the fact that such grants become an undue transfer of title between 3rd parties and said “originator,” basically giving him the control over other people’s physical property.

  10. How does this effect the Twinkies bankruptcy?

  11. I don’t care how much ProL defends these fuckers, I still say copyright needs to be dialed way back. Not necessarily abolished but definitely dialed back.

    1. Here is the thing, if we actually had a somewhat sensible policy on copyright then it is likely that NOBODY would be violating or complaining about it.

      You know say 5 years after the work is released it can be reproduced at will, 10 years after that it passes into commons.

      None of this 75 years after the creators death, and then can be renewed in perpetuity crap.

      1. That’s ridiculously short.

        Lifetime plus some reasonable period afterward is fine. The real problems are statutory damages for infringement, and how we deal with corporation ownership of copyrights.

        1. No it’s not. You get 5 years to sell your book, song, movie whatever at which point people can copy or show it for free.

          15 years after you create it, anyone who wants to create a derivitave work gets to do so.

          Don’t give me this life + some period crap, there is no way you can justify that as actually being beneficial, further unless the period past death was more than 15 years there is not even any guarantee that your position would be a longer monopoly period than mine.

          1. there is no way you can justify that as actually being beneficial

            Sure I can. If you only have a 5 year window to sell a book for profit, you will find fewer books like Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter and more books like Twilight.

            That’s assuming you can get anybody to write at all. This would also apply to movies, games, art work, all kinds of things.

            Five years is a tiny window.

  12. Come now. This is the Republican party. A logical and sensible proposal that broadens its appeal to a key group while hurting another that lines the pockets of its political enemies and regularly spews propaganda on their behalf must be opposed. They don’t call it the Stupid Party for nothing.

    1. Yep.

      This is a fucking political home run for the republicans and they’re too fucking stupid to see it.

  13. Side comment on intellectual property and patents:

    A lot of commentary on the need for protections of IP is premised on the idea that the purpose of patents is to incentivize invention of new technologies by giving the inventor the ability to profit from his invention.

    This is actually an INCORRECT reading of the historical purpose of patents. The actual purpose of patents is to get inventors to publish their designs. If you take away all IP, what will happen is not that people will stop inventing stuff. What will happen is that inventions will be kept as trade secrets, which will slow the process of people innovating based on other people’s ideas. The patent protects the inventors right to exclusively produce a particular good, but only IN EXCHANGE for the inventor publishing his design so that others may learn from it and improve upon it.

    If you look at it in this way, you can see easily how certain kinds of intellectual property, such as the “pinch-zoom” feature of the iPhone, should not really be patentable, at least not in a way that prevents others from implementing a similar pinch-zoom function using different electronic designs.

    Properly understood, patents aren’t property rights but an exchange of knowledge for legal protection between the inventor and the state.

    1. Yeah, the thing is there probably hasn’t bee ANYTHING invented in the last 60 years which would qualify for a patent under that scheme because with modern technology you can pretty much reverse engineer anything you like within a matter of weeks.

      You come up with a new drug? Good luck keeping it a trade secret. In order to profit off of it you have to sell it and once you sell it your competitors will get it and reverse engineer it.

      1. I see how that might be a problem for drugs, but it’s hard to reverse engineer embedded C code, and that covers many computing devices like the iPhone.

        Still I think you can still regard patents as a contract between the inventor and the state, rather than as a property right.

  14. T o n y| 11.20.12 @ 4:25PM |#

    Was slavery legal? Yes. Was it “legitimate”? According to the law of the time, you’d have to say yes.

    “You” might say yes. The rest of us — not.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  15. I don’t believe it’s worth talking about a right that exists only in theory,

    We’re not arguing that these rights exist only in theory. We’re arguing that it exists due to the principle of self-ownership.

    because that could be an assertion about anything.

    One “could” make any assertion they wanted, such as “the earth is flat.” Some of those assertions are wrong.

    1. “The principle of self-ownership.”

      Once you start thinking this through, the caveats start to add up to something that looks an awful lot like statism.

      I own myself. Can I blow myself up in a crowd of people? Nope–that would violate their right to live. We need rules and regulations so that rights don’t conflict. I’m not sure exactly who makes and enforces those rules in your ideal anarchic society.

      1. You think someone who’s going to blow themselves up in a crowd of people are going to pay any attention to your rules and regulations? Seriously?

      2. That has to be one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever seen. Seriously.

      3. We need rules and regulations so that rights don’t conflict. I’m not sure exactly who makes and enforces those rules in your ideal anarchic society.

        Well, libertarians aren’t anarchists. And yes, the whole philosophical project is about how to define a set of non-conflicting rights rooted in individual self-ownership.

        That’s exactly why I’ve always argued that “positive” rights are unworkable. If everyone has a positive right to food, and there isn’t enough food for everyone, that isn’t a right at all. You have to come up with some OTHER system for rationing the food to define who has a right to it, at which point you’re back at square one. Nobody has the right to the food. Not to mention the fact that someone has to come up with the food in the first place, and as a purely practical matter people who produce things have to be rewarded or they’ll stop doing it.

  16. Dear Copyright,

    Please stop existing.

    Thanks,
    Carston

  17. Sounds like a prety crazy plan to me dude. Wow.

    http://www.Go-Anony.tk

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