The Copyright Industry Does Not and Cannot Compete in a Free Market, Part II

March 10, 2011 on 9:43 pm | In Copyright, Law | No Comments

Not too long ago I explained how the copyright industry does not operate in any sort of competitive free market. In a nutshell, the copyright industry collects government granted monopoly rents. When the collection of those rents are interfered with by competition, the copyright industry has new laws passed making the competition illegal. This has been going on for centuries.

Confirmation of the fact that the copyright industry simply cannot compete comes from Dr. Francis Gurry, the Director General of WIPO. He comes straight out and says it, the copyright industry could not survive in a free market and that it’s the government’s job to set up a non-competitive system to ensure that the industry survives.

I am firmly of the view that a passive and reactive approach to copyright and the digital revolution entails the major risk that policy outcomes will be determined by a Darwinian process of the survival of the fittest business model. The fittest business model may turn out to be the one that achieves or respects the right social balances in cultural policy. It may also, however, turn out not to respect those balances. The balances should not, in other words, be left to the chances of technological possibility and business evolution. They should, rather, be established through a conscious policy response.

If copyright law disappeared today, the current music, film, and literary industries would certainly disappear soon after, but new music, films, and literature would continue being created. If these art forms could exist without copyright law, exactly why do we need copyright law? Maybe the government should simply step out of the way and let the market sort this sort of stuff out.

If a business cannot survive without constant and continual government intervention, it should go bankrupt.

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