Lessig Asks WIPO To Overhaul Copyright; Not Designed For When Every Use Is A Copy
from the rethinking-copyright dept
It’s become pretty clear that most country governments (with very few exceptions) are not interested in looking to fix the problems of copyright, often because of regulatory capture by those who benefit from stronger copyright. So is there anyone who can actually push back? Well, Larry Lessig is hoping that WIPO will step in and lead the way towards fixing copyright, suggesting that the alternative is that it’s going to be, say, the folks at The Pirate Bay who will lead the way on where copyright is headed (i.e., nowhere). His argument is that copyright is so fundamentally broken, that many younger people today simply assume that dumping it altogether is better than reform.
He does make a key point about where the problem comes from. It’s that, in the past, your everyday citizen almost never came up against copyright. But what’s changed when things go digital is the fact that every use involves copying. That wasn’t true in the past. And copyright has never been designed to handle a situation where every use is a copy. The copyright holders quickly recognized that when every use is a copy, this is actually an opportunity for them to extract additional rents through copyright law, rather than through traditional transactional business models. It’s a good point, worth thinking about in understanding why there’s so much disrespect for copyright law today.
I doubt that WIPO will really step up here, even if it’s actually been a bit more reasonable lately. Of course, this also explains why ACTA was set up outside of WIPO. Those who benefit the most from abusing copyright law for excess monopoly rents are already preparing for what would happen if WIPO actually looked at whether or not copyright really makes sense in a digital era.