Saturday, April 15, 2006

Expanding the Market’s Role in Advancing Intellectual Property

PC PlodThe Competitive Enterprise Institute has just published a confused paper on modern copyright law. (How can an organisation with "competitive" in their name campaign for less antitrust law enforcement?) However, it makes some good points, including the following — which is particularly pertinent to the EU's recent Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive and forthcoming EU efforts to criminalise copyright infringement:

An important question in the copyright debate is: To what degree should copyright holders—artists, their agents, and the content industries—who choose to use the force of the state to protect their intellectual property pay for the assistance? Rights to tangible, physical property are held by virtually everyone who pays taxes and their protection is paid for by funds from the general tax pool. So is intellectual property, which is held only by a relative few. Yet the present legal-financial structure, with enforcement costs socialized across all taxpayers, encourages large intellectual property holders to push for the expansion of rights at general expense. As it stands, present copyright fees don’t even cover the operating budget of the Library of Congress’ copyright office, much less the costs of the intellectual property-enforcement arms of the FBI and Department of Justice.

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