Friday, December 19, 2008

Copyright extension UK style: give the industry most of what they want

Part of the problem with politics is that it is the art of compromise. In addition, given our world of short attention spans and a media which can only cope with presenting stories from two extreme perspectives, we end up with politicians who seem to believe there is a compromise to be made between a rational evidence-based argument and wild self-interested industry PR.

So we have culture minister Andy Burnham using music industry rhetoric to suggest that a case against copyright term extension, based on solid economic evidence, only deserves to be treated with the same weight as a case in favour of copyright term extension based on wild industry PR. And 'concluding' that a 'compromise' can be made by settling half way between rationality and irrationality.

If ever there was a context, beyond holocaust denial, which illustrates Deborah Lipstadt's mantra that
Reasoned dialogue has a limited ability to withstand an assault by the mythic power of falsehood (p.25 Denying the Holocaust)
it has got to be in the surreal debates surrounding intellectual property policy and the waves of stupidity that engulf politicians whenever they encounter celebrities in this context.

Can someone explain to me the morality in signing up to a deal which says your copyright interest will last for 50 years and then when the end of the 50 years comes in sight, attempting to renege on your part of the bargain? Contrary to Mr Burnham's claims in the FT and elsewhere, there is no moral case for extending the term of copyright. In addition, accepting falsehood as fact in order to pursue a particular agenda is not the soundest of foundations for an argument supposedly based on morality. (Mr Burnham has had lots of practice a this having spent time in the Home Office defending and promoting the barmy ID card scheme) .

Read Andrew Gowers' rebuke of the minister rather than this ridiculous nonsense if you'd like a rational perspective.

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