Republican Study Committee staffer Derek Khanna (Facebook)
Erich Fromm once said “Man always dies before he is fully born.” Derek Khanna is not dead.
Well, not literally.
Act 1: Delight
For the glory of Summer we are punished with Fall. So it was that on November 16th, 2012 the Republican Study Committee offered a bold proposal to reform America’s ridiculous copyright system titled Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where To Fix It. The contact and alleged driving force behind the document was Derek Khanna a staffer at the RSC.
The policy brief was nothing short of a full frontal double barreled blast at Copyright Trolls (also known as the entertainment industry). Three myths were listed in report:
1. The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator of the content:
It’s a common misperception that the Constitution enables our current legal regime of copyright protection – in fact, it does not.
2. Copyright is free market capitalism at work:
Copyright violates nearly every tenet of laissez faire capitalism. Under the current system of copyright, producers of content are entitled to a guaranteed, government instituted, government subsidized content-monopoly.
3. The current copyright legal regime leads to the greatest innovation and productivity… excessive copyright protection leads to what economists call “rent seeking” which is effectively non-productive behavior that sucks economic productivity and potential from the overall economy.
I am sure every Hollywood operative channeled their inner Les Grossman when they read those statements – but just wait for the conclusion:
Conclusion: To be clear, there is a legitimate purpose to copyright (and for that matter patents). Copyright ensures that there is sufficient incentive for content producers to develop content, but there is a steep cost to our unusually long copyright period that Congress has now created. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution with explicit instructions on this matter for a limited copyright – not an indefinite monopoly. We must strike this careful Goldilocks-like balance for the consumer and other businesses versus the content producers.
It is difficult to argue that the life of the author plus 70 years is an appropriate copyright term for this purpose – what possible new incentive was given to the content producer for content protection for a term of life plus 70 years vs. a term of life plus 50 years?
Where we have reached a point of such diminishing returns we must be especially aware of the known and predictable impact upon the greater market that these policies have held, and we are left to wonder on the impact that we will never know until we restore a constitutional copyright system.
Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets.
It was a brave stand. Not brave in the way most people use that term – for firefighters and children with cancer – but “brave” in the political context aka a serious miscalculation you can only hope people will never mention again if you somehow survive the fallout.
So it was considered a brave policy brief to publish in Washington.
Act 2: Comfort
Read the rest of this entry →