Copyright: Flip-Flopping Republicans

The loss of the latest Presidential election in US has been sobering for Republicans, who were certain that if you throw enough money, you could ensure the election success. We’ve been watching the progress of SuperPACs and ramblings from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network, and it seems that since the Republican Party relied on “old white man” audience, a strategy that ultimately failed, the post-election sobering signaled a time to get back to basics.

What we expect to see in the next four years is a kind of new Republican Party. One that is smarter, faster and more attune to their desired electoral base, which has to incorporate some contemporary issues that go beyond the dusty abortions and guns rhetoric.

Enter copyright issues. Recent study released by the Republican Study Committee, states that Copyright Reform is in actuality a form of corporate welfare, and tackles the three myths associated with copyright.

The first is, of course, that the copyright benefits the “creator” of the product, a statement that does not correspond to realities of copyright ownership by non-creators, as well as the fact that copyright laws are also meant to protect interests of the public.

Second myth the policy study addresses is the mistaken attitude that copyright is somehow tied to free market interests, or more specifically, that “copyright is a representation of free market capitalization.”

This notion has little to do with copyright, and according to the paper: “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.” That doesn’t even begin to cover the insurmountable costs of security instruments created to maintain and institute criminal charges associated with infringement.

But the most important myth tackled is the one commonly promoted and touted as a fact by industry promoters. Namely that copyright is correlated with an automatic increase in innovation and/or productivity. On this myth, the study says: “Today’s legal regime of copyright law is seen by many as a form of corporate welfare that hurts innovation and hurts the consumer. It is a system that picks winners and losers, and the losers are new industries that could generate new wealth and added value. We frankly may have no idea how it actually hurts innovation, because we don’t know what isn’t able to be produced as a result of our current system.”

The paper also suggests some very straightforward reforms, including limiting the fines instituted on copyright infringers, calls for an expansion of fair use, make false copright claims, commonly harming content creators, punishable and subject to fines, as well as limit the lifespan of copyright.

The sad thing is that the Republican Party is still very much a corporate party, one that will be paying dues to those who wield the financial power, for a very, very long time.

Upon release of the paper by the Republican Study Committee, Hollywood reacted and the paper was pulled within 24h. The committee “retracted the paper” stating that the brief was not “properly vetted.

Get your copy of the policy brief here (download link available only.)

Read more details on TechDirt.

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