Monday, November 19, 2012

GOP group disseminates, then pulls paper proposing "sensible" copyright law reforms

Ars Technica, in an article by Timothy B. Lee (November 18), reports that an influential group of House Republicans published and then pulled an article proposing "shockingly sensible" copyright reforms.  EFF tweeted the story today.

The paper would have reduced maximum infringement damages, copyright terms, penalties for frivolous copyright infringement claims and trolling (like Righthaven) and expanded ideas of fair use. 

The link for the story is here.

The American Conservative has an article (by Jordan Bloom, Nov. 16) that includes an embedded PDF from Scribd of the proposal (about 8 pages) as well as the brief memo pulling it back (in boldface).  The article asks is this an “anti-IP turn for the GOP?”. This is the link

Generally, the "pelican brief" GOP memo was critical of the continuing strategy of some large media companies to try to maintain monopoly over meaningful content distribution and sales, as if they feared low-cost competition much more than outright piracy.

Early Sunday afternoon, I did see a poor-looking person trying to sell pirated CD’s or DVD’s to people caught in a traffic jam near New York Avenue in Washington DC.  That could be a security problem in other ways.  I’ve also seen this take place on NYC subways.  If I was a rich media mogul, I wouldn’t be worried about poor people buying cheap (and probably technically deficient) imitation copies of my work.  If my work reaches more people, so much the better.  (Maybe I would be worried if I had a union or guild job in the business.)  But it is this crude kind of piracy that leads movie theaters to have zero tolerance to photography within their auditoriums.  (See the story of an arrest on my Movies blog, Aug 3, 2007).  

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