Thursday, June 18, 2009

Questionable motives?

Found an awesome article I hope gets some attention. In the comments there is an argument that a better explanation for the boom in film production has been a reduction in cost (i'll assume due to digital editing and cheap high quality storage). Sent this letter and hope to hear back, but in the mean time if anyone else has some thoughts on the issue would love to hear them. Anyway... the letter:

You left a comment on the article "Harvard Study Finds Weaker Copyright Protection Has Benefited Society" that makes me more interested in where you were coming from. While I would agree that the cost of production has significantly dropped, I don't necessarily see where that means the author is incorrect. This article was a summary of a summary, and while I didn't look at the original article, let alone the data, I fel you are making quite a leap with your statement. Is there at least a reasonable argument that despite "massive piracy" that "harm" has NOT been inflicted considering that, as you state, growth in the film production market, even if not the film industry, has continued to grow as the cost of production has dropped? And considering the purpose of copyright law, and in particular the HUGE recent expansions to copyright law since WWII which imo were quite questionable in the first place, hasn't scientific progress and the digital age mostly advanced IN SPITE of many of those "protections" revealing that for the most part the law has been to revealed to have really caused more harm than "prevented"?

Despite the argument that the framers of the constitution couldn't have imagined a digital age, I DO think that they understood a thing about tyranny, censorship, and human progress if you look the history of human progress.

I would argue that it was book piracy, by way of the printing press was the most direct cause of the enlightenment. Why should bit torrent be any different?

Disney built its empire on piracy. Not to completely excuse that necessarily, but isn't hypocrisy just a tad ironic, if not at least questionable?

Anyway, you had an strong opinion, so I was curious about your thoughts on some other levels, if they are things you have thought about.

Hope to hear from you,

And responding to another comment...

Your examples are "illegal" channels compared to traditional "all rights reserved" channels. If work is shared freely on those sites either hap-hazardly or more officially by affixing a Creative Commons licence to the work, then isn't that exactly a "weakening" of copyright law (at least in ways that big industry would have you believe) and piracy (again, as industry trys to convince us)?

Further, the great technologies, like the Internet itself, is dominatingly freely shared technology that was a collaborative effort where the creators knew that open access to information is the core of human progress, and that if what you are creating is what is most important, then sharing it freely is the best thing you can do for everybody; from tcp/ip to apache and Underwriter Laboratories and Open Group, these companies represent a core of all of the technology you argue are "other factors" that you attempt to use to explain away the contributions of a culture that rejects the ownership and monopolistic control of culture (pirates) when they are really one in the same. These big companies are more and more taking from the free culture pool, and because it has been allowed (particularly the way Berkeley has treated its patents), they have also become more successful.

And yet they still chant the same mantra that was rightfully rejected with the Statute of Anne. Current Copyright law was written by and for the purpose of supporting a particular type of distribution. Their past successes have granted them the kind of wealth that lets you buy the law that while being in conflict with the people and an abomination to the social contract means they have only bought themselves an extra decade or two as powerful lords have typically done.

The current copyright law is anti-artist, anti-consumer, and maybe worst of all, anti-culture. Anyone who SAYS otherwise either makes a lot of money through the exploitation of the current system, or really doesn't read much in the way of history after what is presented to them by The Ad Council.

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