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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6250/cause-and-effect-dmca-edition/

Cause And Effect: DMCA Edition

February 12, 2007 by

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.

Via TechDirt. More on the DMCA: 1 2 3

{ 7 comments }

David C February 13, 2007 at 12:14 am

The DMCA is a success like the Missouri Compromise was in 1820. While it has relieved the pressures in the industry for now, it has only delayed the inevitable clash between the content industries and the tech industries. When that clash does happen, more money will be at stake than ever and the disaster will be bigger than ever.

Sasha Radeta February 13, 2007 at 12:44 am

Mr. Swanson,

The government also tries to hold a monopoly in the property protection market (with their gun-control and other laws), but that does not imply that we should be against private property. Both the content industries and the tech industries should equally enjoy the benefits of private property rights.

If you believe in private property rights and free market – than you also believe that seller has a private property right to contractually restrict reproduction and/or reuse of his rented goods. While these sorts of contracts would not prevent people to remix or remake the songs that we hear over public broadcast (actually, many musicians don’t want copyright restrictions, because mp3s and DJs help their album and concert sales), such contracts would, on the other hand, prevent many unauthorized product-reproductions in so called new industries. Makers of complex inventions/creations could prove in courts whether someone commercially used their product without any authorization (if they can convince the court that identical product could not just be produced by an independent discovery). Unauthorized use with resulting financial injury forms the basis of a tort case… while breach of contract can also be resolved in a perfectly free market. While I am not in favor any federal legislation, it is clear that common law and private sector can enforce and uphold free-market copyright agreements.

When you say: “Who is to say that the same amount of content would not have been created without the DMCA” – your skepticism is correct… I think that private markets would be much more efficient in protecting the private property rights when it comes to copyright issues. Without such private property restrictions, many products would not be available. As you well know, if people could treat a rented product as their own commercial property (regardless of contractual restrictions), the quantity supplied in that product market would increase – causing prices to plunge and the overall supply would consequently go down (expectations concerning future prices is one of the determinants of supply). Or simply stated: you cannot expect anyone to invest millions in something that will become a freeware as soon as it hits the market. As Soviets learned the hard way, when private property rights are not protected (in cases of copyright – the right to regulate the use of your own property) the willingness ability of people to create market supply will diminish.

As an anarcho-capitalist Rothbardian, I say: down with DMCA – give us back the common law!

Joseph Huang February 13, 2007 at 6:51 am

Copyright is a state grantd monopoly. Why u call it analogous to property is beyond me. Down with th state!

Matt February 13, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Land is also a state granted monopoly. There is no reason for treating one man’s labor as protected because it produces physical goods, and another man’s labor as unprotected because it produces intangible goods.

There are problems with copyright law, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Simply shortening the time of copyrights would go a long way to mitigating many of the problems.

Joseph Huang February 13, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Is not all land ownd by th state? How do they manage to extract property taxes without owning all the land? Doesn’t the title deed issued by the state mean that the state owns the land?

Ownership of land would stil exist under a truly free markt. Ownership of peices of paper would stil exist. But ownership of essays? U would stil own an essay if u kept it secret, or only gave peple copies if they signd contracts with u restricting what they cud do with the essay, but there would b no universal copyrites that the state imposes on peple right now. After u own something, I can’t restrict what u do with it, unless u signd a contract or r agressing on me.

Sasha Radetta February 13, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Joseph Huang,

Copyright agreements are basically directing the terms of use of someone’s property. How you don’t see that is beyond me. So that makes us even :)

—–

Matt,

You are on the right track… but I would say that copyright is always protecting tangible, ownable goods. Ideas are always contained in something physical (either our brain, our piece of paper, our hardware)… and if we own those physical goods – then we have a right to either contractually allow only certain uses of it, or to fight against unauthorized use of our property through the tort system.

Regards.

Sasha Radeta February 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Joseph Huang,

Land is a “state granted monopoly” in our current system of nationalized “justice”, just like copyright is.

As Rothbard explained, both land ownership and copyright would exist in a perfectly free market. Copyright is nothing but voluntary contractual restrictions in terms of use of someone’s property. As long as you have contractual and property rights – you have copyright.

Of course, the government often makes mistakes and confuses the basic purpose of copyright (eureka!), but that does not change free-market basis for such purchase agreements.

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