Man bites dog II

The makers of Kazaa are suing record companies for copyright infringement. It seems the companies have been pursuing downloaders using unauthorized copies of their software.

To tell the truth, I hope the downloaders win their battle with the entertainment industry, because I think it would be better for culture if the culture business were abolished. There would still be song and drama, just less money in it. I expect there would be more live performance, less electronics, and much less hype. Would that be so bad?

Copyright is an artificial arrangement and not a natural right. It ought to be judged by public utility, as the United States constitution suggests. It seems obvious that the term of protection—recently extended to 95 years—is far too long. Beyond that, it’s not clear to me that granting property rights in intangible intellectual and artistic productions is a good idea. Is art, music and thought better now than before modern copyright came in? Would we become a nation of Philistines if such things were separated from big money?

6 thoughts on “Man bites dog II”

  1. Excellent points. Those have
    Excellent points. Those have been my thoughts for quite some time, though I have been reluctant to express them. It does seem that modern copyright law has virtually created our abominable “entertainment industry” by making it more lucrative than it should be.

  2. That is a good argument,
    That is a good argument, Jim. Hmmm. It would be nice to have my work checked for liabilities. Maybe I could beg someone into proofing it, pro bono. Dream on, eh?

  3. On the “checking for [legal]
    On the “checking for [legal] liabilities” point, it’s worth noting that in classical antiquity paid legal advocacy was often looked down on, and Plato proposed in his (generally moderate) Laws that hired-gun lawyers be put to death. (In the Republic he showed himself an opponent of the entertainment industry of his time as well.)

  4. Thanks, Jim! I’ll just call
    Thanks, Jim! I’ll just call that Plato dude for protection when the social opposition tries to sue me. Silliness aside, though, this brings the copyright issue in the OJ Simpson case to mind. If I remember correctly, the defense wanted to use something from a feminist book for evidence, but the author/publisher threatened to sue if it was used. The book and copyright were an issue for sure, but I’m going on cloudy memory regarding the rest.

  5. Does the 95-year copyright
    Does the 95-year copyright protection cover all popular music as well? Sounds pretty strange, especially in this era. Goes against the Zeitgeist, which is for rapid cultural shift. I mean, other than the classical masters, which performing artists from 95 years ago are even listened to today? Sousa is for the 4th of July and every now and then PBS does a documentary on Scott Joplin. Knowing this leads me to a really bold prediction: by 2098, maybe not everybody will know all about Matchbox 20 or Blink 182, and they may even be featured as “period music” under some label sponsored by the Smithsonian, though their 95-year copyright will still be in effect.

  6. The rules do cover popular
    The rules do cover popular music. Until 1992 though copyright lapsed after 24 years unless the holder renewed it, so my guess is that most older popular music is now public domain.


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