Filesharing, Economics & Human Rights

I submitted evidence to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, (BRERR) on their proposals to regulate illegal file sharing, it said what you’d expect and when I get time to polish the evidence I’ll publish it in White Paper form. It’ll be no surprise that I argue. Get it here….

  • using Copyright to charge for right to use is economically “inefficient” in the Macro sense and thus not in the public interest
  • downloading digital content should be legal irrespective of the copyright status of the content for personal non-commercial use.
  • we don’t know how much of the so called “lost” revenue funds distribution and/or foreign super-profits
  • copyright duration should be significantly reduced in duration, the concept of abandonment should be introduced as exists in trademark law, if insufficient action is taken to defend rights, then they are deemed to have lapsed
  • the Music and Video businesses abuse their negotiating power; by for instance licensing formats so even format conversion to play some content on different devices is a breach of licence. Frankly that’s fair use in my book, but they also ignore fair use.
  • rights holders should not be able to outsource or sell the right to collect the so-called missing revenue, at all, not to the internet industry, not to the public sector, not even to private sector ‘associations’; we call them debt collectors
  • the internet industry is a source of innovation and should not be taxed to support the music business
  • asking the ISPs to take on additional costs to support the discovery and notification of accused illegal downloaders will increase the cost of internet connection for __all__ customers,
  • P2P has legitimate uses, especially in the UK with its legacy copper local loop

Specialisation and the Pricing Mechanism are the engines of wealth. These proposals are designed to protect a business i.e. Music from competition and change. It will have the side effect of inhibiting the pace and direction of change in the IT and Software industries, both of which are even more valuable to the future wealth of the UK economy.

Then I look at the human rights dimension, the government proposals seem to me to breech or diminish citizen’s rights

  • to freedom of expression
  • a fair trial
  • access to culture
  • right to privacy

These are all rights guaranteed under UK law by the incorporation of the European Charter on Human Rights into UK Law, and repeated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Fundamentally, the record and film industries have tried to sell the world that bootleg, or illegally copied content is theft. No-one agrees with them, except it seems some politicians. Its only illegal because the law makes it so. Its not piracy, its not theft. It doesn’t deny anyone anything.

Pareto-economic efficiency suggests that the copyright laws should be relaxed. The copyright laws are a constraint on the wealth creation in the UK and should be reformed and liberalised. Economic policy goals, as opposed to a civil liberties and fairness agenda suggest that copyright laws should be relaxed.

The internet industry is as important a wealth creator as the music & film business, (at least in the UK), why should it be disadvantaged by incurring the costs of the rights owners.

Fundamental rights such as the right to a fair trial, innocent until proved guilty, the right to culture and freedom of expression should not be compromised to prop up any business.

I have put some of my notes on my wiki page, Intellectual Property Law, which has comments enabled.

ooOOOoo

The Abstract – The rights trading model of the modern media corporation is not in the public interest; it sustains only monopolistic business models. Copyright law should be liberalised to permit broader interpretations of Fair Use and the right to create derived works. Unbalenced pursuit of Copyright privilidge inhibits internet innovation and the industry’s competitive dynamic. These proposed laws may well compromise basic human rights enshrined in the European Charter on Human Rights Charter, and thus be illegal.

Comments are closed.