Tech Executives Agree U.S. Copyright Law is Making a Horrible Mess
September 17, 2012 3:07 PM
30 CEOs and other top executives in a new report sound off about how nonsensical copyright law is progress
Whether you're a college student, an engineer, or an executive in charge of a huge tech company, there's a growing consensus that U.S. patent and copyright law is badly out of touch with reality.
law school professor
, published in the
University of Wisconsin Law Review
, saw the lawyer detail 30 interviews with CEOs and other high-level executives in the tech industry. It found overwhelming evidence that content holders have created a messy state of affairs for U.S. copyright law; a mess which is both stymying technology, and hurting the content holders themselves.
I. Consensus: Copyright Law in the U.S. is Out of Control
, "Many innovators working on revolutionary technologies and many venture capitalists told me that copyright law has harmed innovation in the music industry. [I]ndustry leaders made clear to me that there are numerous innovations that failed to reach the market because of copyright laws"
He sees companies like Napster --which started on the principle of a radical new technology, but eventually fell under a flurry of litigation from the music industry -- as a failed opportunity for both parties. He comments that "a lot of innovators were scared away from trying to work with the record labels."
The DMCA and other punitive laws have plagued the tech industry.
[Image Source: Error Access Denied]
After the lawsuits, Napster flipped hands
before eventually winding up -- in greatly diminished form -- as a property of current owner Rhapsody.
II. Win-Win Services Delayed by Legal Mess
The author blames punitive litigation for delaying services like Pandora Media Inc.'s (
) and Spotify's internet radio offerings.
In their rush to fight the future content creators stifled win-win technologies like internet radio.
[Image Source: Pandora]
On the topic of
Orwellian "Stop Online Piracy Act"
) in the House and "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (
) in the Senate, he writes, "The laws presented examples of copyright holders trying to expand the law to protect themselves at the expense of everybody else. We saw that the technology and internet communities have muscles to flex. Innovation needs to be part of the equation. I wrote this article to help put innovation at the forefront of the debate."
Indeed, the government is now having to answer tough questions regarding the abuse of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) [PDF] (see
of the U.S. Code) to take down multiple legitimate sites at the request of the
Recording Industry Association of America
The message seems clear -- by pushing punitive legislation like the DMCA, SOPA, and PIPA; and by supporting equally punitive/nonsensical lawsuits against individual file-sharers
seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages
-- content holders are hurting their own opportunity to profit by trying to fight technological progress.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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