Critiquing copyright canards

January 7th, 2010 by Barry Sookman Leave a reply »

I just came across a paper published by the US based Copyright Alliance entitled Critiquing Copyright Canards. Written by Patrick Ross, the paper sets out to debunk some of the arguments or “canards” that are used by opponents of copyright.

The Copyright Alliance “is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization dedicated to the value of copyright as an agent for creativity, jobs and growth. “ The report identifies its members as a broad coalition of the following groups: the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists; American Intellectual Property Law Association; American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; American Society of Media Photographers; Association of American Publishers; Association of Independent Music Publishers; AT&T; Attributor; Broadcast Music, Inc.; Business Software Alliance; CBS Corporation; Church Music Publishers Association; Directors Guild of America; Entertainment Software Association; Graphic Artists Guild; Imageline, Inc.; Imagery Alliance; Langley Productions; Magazine Publishers of America; Major League Baseball; Microsoft; Motion Picture Association of America; National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR); National Association of Broadcasters; National Collegiate Athletic Association; National Football League; National Music Publishers’ Association; National Basketball Association Properties, Inc.; NBC Universal; Newspaper Association of America; News Corporation; Picture Archive Council of America; PPL and VPL; Professional Photographers of America; Professional School Photographers Association; Recording Industry Association of America; Reed Elsevier; SESAC; Software & Information Industry Association; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Time Warner; Universal Music Group; Viacom; Vin Di Bona Productions; The Walt Disney Company; Writers Guild of America, West.

Mr Ross acknowledges that proponents of the identified “canards” will naturally find fault with his criticisms and that some will ignore his “evidence that appear indisputable and instead seize on a phrase I may not have clearly articulated and present a counter-argument based on that misinterpretation.” He also acknowledges that “some will make counter-arguments that are well-thought out and may be in some cases hard to rebut”. However, he believes that on the whole his themes are sound even though there could always be some exceptions.

His 10 canards are set out below. His paper has a detailed explanation of each “canard” which explains his point and why he says the argument is a myth or “canard”.

Canard #1. “Artists are being empowered by the Internet and digital technology, and copyright is stifling them.”

Canard #2. “Purchasers of creative works have a right to use those works in any way they please.”

Canard #3. “Copyright stifles innovation.”

Canard #4. “Copyright owners need to change their business models to recognize consumer demand. They should stop trying to make money on intangible goods and focus on revenue streams from tangible goods.”

Canard #5. “In the digital age, the marginal cost of reproduction and distribution of a creative work is zero, so that is the value of the work and should be its cost.”

Canard #6. “In the digital age, creative works should be part of a collective licensing regime. Everyone would pay a token amount, we could download all of the creative works that we want, and those creators and copyright owners would be paid proportionately from those funds.”

Canard #7. “Copyright is a monopoly.”

Canard #8. “Copyright is not a property right.”

Canard #9. “The government shouldn’t be the big cop for copyright owners.”

Canard #10. “Copyright is really just a vehicle for corporate greed.”

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