Patrick Ross of the The Progress & Freedom Foundation recently defended legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an op-ed.
In his concluding remarks, he notes that:
It has been nine years since the DMCA became law, and the digital content market, virtually nonexistent at the time of the Act, is now flourishing. New deals involving content, services and hardware are announced every day. Consumer electronics manufacturers are determined to deliver a ubiquitous home media experience, and content companies are inking licensing agreements as fast as they can. Congress should only alter the state of a market when there is a sign of market failure, and there are no signs of that here; instead, there is tremendous competition in price, services and features. We don’t need Capitol Hill stepping into this feverish market and picking winners and losers. We must allow the market to keep working, so consumers may enjoy the fruits of that market.
Unfortunately Ross’s argument only describes the seen effects of the legislation, not the unseen.
Who is to say that the same amount of content would not have been created without the DMCA? And while this should not be an empirical-based debate, what can be said of all the remixes, recuts, reuses, and emulation of content — that were prevented from coming into existence due to laws such as the DMCA?
For instance, a group of hip-hop DJ’s in Atlanta were recently arrested and their property was confiscated due to clauses in the DMCA which prohibit the unauthorized remixing and republication of copyrighted materials.
Ultimately, the looming irony throughout the piece is that Ross advocates a hands-off approach to “the free market process,” yet he defends market intervention under the guise of “pro-market” acts such as the innovation-hindering DMCA.