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Re: Copyright Law

January 28, 2013

Copyright law was designed to bypass the free rider problem in economics by incentivizing innovation. To invent something new to produce requires significantly more resources than producing something that has already been invented. For instance the schematics needed to produce an iPod are worth virtually nothing, perhaps the cost of a flash drive or a few sheets of paper today. However the initial cost to produce those schematics was tremendous. Research and development are extremely costly departments in industry; Apple’s R&D Department spent $3.4 billion the last fiscal year. Copyright and patent law exists to reward the “first” to any technological achievement. Without this incentive to invent and innovate it would be far more efficient to simply copy from the fools who dedicated all of their time and money to these technological achievements than invest in creating them yourself.

Unfortunately copyright laws today—like SOPA would have been—exist as woefully draconian things. They are like arbitrarily placed “Press this button and your life is over!” sorts of traps littered throughout our society, designed to weed out those unwitting or bold few among us who are foolhardy enough to challenge them. There is something titillatingly ironic about a large company suing a relatively poor individual for uploading a handful of songs and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages, but that is the state of these laws today. There is a huge disconnect between the government, industry, and the intended purpose of copyright law. While these laws were originally intended to help technological advancement, it would seem that these laws are primarily being used by firms to bog down their competitors and startups in legal nightmares, and prosecute consumers for some extra profit.

SOPA was the natural advancement of these current sorts of copyright laws designed to ruin the lives of those who dare to interfere with corporate profit. Unfortunately for the various interest groups involved SOPA hit the spotlight, people protested, and the bill was shot down. Apparently people didn’t like the idea of being sent to jail over their song parody YouTube videos or other such fun sorts of arbitrary, punitive nonsense. Of course you can still be sent to jail for copyright infringement, but you have to go out of your way to do it.

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One Comment
  1. I agree that there is a disconnect between the government and the intended purpose of copyright laws. I feel like it is hard to get everyone on the same page about what types of copyright laws there should be. It would be interesting to see if we can find a happy medium even when some people say there shouldn’t be any copyright laws at all and others say we need to be more strict with things like SOPA.

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