Copyright Class War
California Western School of Law
William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18
Developments in digital technology are dramatically reordering the content distribution business. The industry's traditional business model, based on controlling the channels of distribution for tangible copies, is threatened by digital distribution, with its low barriers to entry, low marginal costs and worldwide reach. An industry preoccupied with marketing, distributing and selling containers for content-books, CD's, DVD's, and so on - is discovering that the ability to control distribution channels for such containers is increasingly irrelevant in a world where the content formerly anchored to physical containers now flows freely through fiber-optic cable.
The threat to the content industry has resulted in a kind of class war. The combatants' positions, and the changes in position that occur over time, can be understood in terms of a struggle between those that claim to possess a valuable resource and those that cannot, or cannot yet, make such a claim. Today, the Copyright Act, which was drafted by special-interest groups and is essentially incomprehensible to the uninitiated, is being used against the public. It has become critical for the public to engage with copyright law, and re-assert the primacy of the public interest. The author maintains that a nation gets the copyright law it deserves. A public that is passive in the face of expanding property rights in information will pay a heavy price in the form of homogenized culture and loss of intellectual liberty.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Copyright, p2p, peer-to-peer, copyright enforcement
Date posted: May 12, 2005