Tag Archives | Moral Panics

Moral Panics and Copyright Law

Thanks Eugene for allowing me to be a guest blogger. I wrote Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars for two reasons. The first is the reason I have written everything, to learn. For me, writing is a way to discipline my thought, to the extent I am capable of doing so. The second reason was to offer a different take on why it is we have such a high level of copyright protection and why the copyright industries have such a long history of opposing new technologies.

Jane Ginsburg wrote an article in 2003 entitled “How Copyright Got a Bad Name For itself.” In it she cites some legislative efforts by copyright owners to obtain broad control over new technologies and says that these efforts suggest that “some copyright owners, if not paranoid, are Pavlovian in their response to new means of making copies or communicating new works.” But she ultimately dismisses this conduct as one of “appearances.” At the other end of the political spectrum, some on the copyleft side regard copyright owners as Luddites, or dinosaurs who just don’t get it, and who are intent on shoving corporate culture down our throats.

How is it that we have ended up with high levels of protection that to me are divorced from any sort of means testing, term extension being the archetypal example? One explanation is that Congress is corrupt, or less extremely, that there is a terrible asymmetry in lobbying power. Having worked for the House Judiciary Committee I don’t buy the first explanation (a bad choice of words!), while the second can be overcome, as the recent experiences in Canada on Bill C-61 and with the just-concluded consultative process show.

The book contains two basic conclusions. First, attempts to obtain economic rights that cannot be justified under [...]

Continue Reading 17