A few days ago OSNews pointed to a story in New Zealand’s PCMag about Google’s reaction to a new copyright law they are proposing over there. The response is so good i just felt like re-posting it here:
While inadequate copyright protection can reduce incentives to create, excessive copyright protection can stifle creativity, choke innovation, impoverish culture and block free and fair competition.
This brilliant snippet of lawyerism shows how the whole copyright issue is completely broken — it makes no sense at all, but we just can’t see this basic fact because we are so used to business as usual.
In what seems almost like an example of how lawyers are bound to subvert things while saying it is for the good, copyright laws where originally created to increase the sharing of ideas. The purpose of said laws is not to “prohibit you from using my ideas”. It is just the opposite.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the whole thing has blown.
Instead of protecting companies that do indeed create and search for new ideas, copyright imposes a heavy burden on them. Instead of just doing their research and being cool, enterprises spend a lot of money into what they term “building patent portfolios”, which actually means that they file a big fat lot of patent requests, not really because the ideas are valuable, but simply as a protection against competition. This means that in the (likely) case that someone puts you to court on copyright terms you can counter-sue them on patents they did not copy from you, actually, and they probably didn’t even realise was actually something to be patented, and also that are probably not ideas you are using really. At best, companies are hostages of one another, but “safety” is nowhere. The copyright thing is not something that helps companies, but just another chore.
If that was not enough, patents themselves are not a useful source of ideas. If a given company was to need an idea for a product, it wouldn’t be the first impulse to go to the patent office and search for something. In fact, patent offices are chock-full of useless patents “just in case”, so much so that the comparatively few that are useful are terribly difficult to find.
The end result is that everyone is exactly as unwilling as before to share anything, the cross-fertilization of ideas is guarded and regulated (as in discouraged), we increase the cost of attaining a broad view of the directions pointed by technological development, and the lawyers take a big pay.
If you pay attention, the only meaningful difference between the situation before and after copyright laws is the amount of money redirected to lawyers!
Consider, in the awkward disproportion between the two worst-cases in the Google quote: no copyright reduces incentives to create. Incentives that, realistically, are still very big even without copyright. Say they go from giganormous to meganormous — there is no “small incentives” in the equation — it is not like any company that has any intention of going anywhere still believes in not innovating.
Now too much copyright “stifle creativity, choke innovation, impoverish culture and block free and fair competition”. From “reduces incentives” to “stiffle and choke”.
Unhappily, we are so trapped in our lawyer-driven world that we can’t even see the problem, let alone circumvent it or overcome it.