Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Final Solution to the Copyright Problem?

There is no good reason---although plenty of bad ones---for copyright terms to be longer than those for patents.  In fact, if you go back in US history, those two term lengths started out a lot closer together.  Perhaps nearly everyone has the belief that they MIGHT be able to write, whereas they're under no such delusion as to making a useful invention.  Or more likely there's just more sympathy for authors and artists than for engineers and applied scientists.

But be that as it may, there is pretty strong support in the public for radically reining in copyright laws.  It's just that the support is diffuse mostly.  Diffuse interests nearly always lose in political contests, but they can do very well indeed in pogromical contests.

Here's what I suggest.  An acceptable final outcome would be a 20 year non-renewable copyright regime with very clear rules for fair use that correspond to the actual public mores.  I suspect that such a regime would have a serious supermajority of support in the general public.  But how do you get there?
One way to get there would be to encourage all those who oppose SOPA that it is time for the final solution for those who pushed SOPA.  Basically, until they surrender to reduced copyright terms, I say that in any civil or criminal jury proceeding, they automatically lose.  It doesn't make a damned bit of difference what the case is about.  It could be somebody who slips on a banana at Disneyland.  It could be a copyright infringement lawsuit.  It could be a zoning hearing for a company numbered among the transgressors.  Just commit to hammer them with who...whom every time you're in a jury room or similar instrument of power projection.  Ten to fifteen percent of the population commits to this and you've totally defeated trial by jury.  All you have to do is let go of the notion that the bourgeoisie follow the rules (hint, you're the petit bourgeoisie).  The elite are above them, cue David Gregory and Turbotax Tim, and anarcho-tyranny is the rule for the rest.  Time for you to start who...whom.  There's no prize for being the last group to follow the rules as intended, or even the rules as written.

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