Stupid internet laws and copyright

Posted by Andy Gavin on Mon, 2008-03-10 19:09

What is it with some politicians?  They see a problem, often a small one, and think up a broad law without sparing a thought for judges or the police.  Creating laws that are difficult, costly or even impossible to enforce.  One area which seems to be attracting these mad bureaucrats is the internet.  What on earth makes lawmakers think that they  can stop music downloading by threatening ISPs or bill website owners for anonymous postings?  One blessed thing about the internet is that it has been free of many  ridiculous rules.  There are few barriers stopping people setting up their own websites for their own ends.  I'm sure this has lead to a great deal of efficiency improvements over the last decade.  I understand that some government officials believe their people aren't to be trusted, but perhaps it's time they got over it. I really have no sympathy with the music industry.  They have over recent years must have seen a dramatic fall in costs: studio time used to be expensive as was manufacturing media.  Both of these costs have fallen through the floor.  What they have lost is scarcity over something that really shouldn't be so scarce: someone singing a song.  At what point does songs such as Happy Birthday become the property of the nations who sing them?  I'm all for artists making money but other making money on a song long after the artist's death, that has to be an indication of greed.

There is a place for record publishers.  What the internet should represent is better value for consumers.  It's easy to pretend that downloading is killing the music industry.  But this is an industry that has made money by exploiting artists and overcharging consumers.  It might be business but so is the internet.  If anything the internet offers a place where bands can promote themselves and manage their own distribution.  Isn't that a fairer world?  I hope record publishers adapt to this new technology rather than seeking to criminalize those who might otherwise be their customers.  Software developers realized a long time ago that even if you give it away you can still make money.  Can the same be done for music?

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