By J. DeVoy
Following up on the leaked Republican Study Committee report on copyright law reform from a few months ago, The American Conservative offers this analysis on the political right’s flirtation with scaling back certain copyright protections, such as the duration of copyright and statutory damages of up to $150,000 that can be wielded like a cudgel against small-time infringers. From the piece:
Today’s copyright law exhibits a pattern typical of crony capitalism—regulations restrict new entrants and creators (DJs and other remix artists in the music field, for instance) to shore up the market position of current players (record labels). But there are now powerful business interests in favor of weakening copyright as well. Opposition to the Chamber of Commerce’s traditional support for strong IP protection was one reason that companies such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Google broke away to start the Internet Association, a trade group for online companies. (source)
Interesting, it is more or less the libertarian element of the political right that seeks to revise some of the copyright act’s protections downward. While this would be a good start, a “less-is-more” approach wouldn’t be a comprehensive fix for copyright law; much still needs to be done to revise or replace the DMCA, a large statute that carries an importance (and legacy of seemingly contradictory court decisions) which was probably unfathomable when it was drafted, and to further enshrine the doctrine of fair use so that litigating to the rare decision on 17 U.S.C. § 107’s merits won’t require an individual’s financial ruin or the backing of special interests.