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Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM
A Republican Congressional committee wrote a paper on copyright that strongly aligned with the anti-SOPA movement, but it was quickly yanked after lobbying from the MPAA and RIAA.
download PDF (296.4 kibibytes)
TechDirt reports on how quickly the report was yanked after calls from the RIAA and MPAA. The report is uploaded with this article. It's pretty long, but overall, the arguments align with those made by Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation to a degree, and also with libertarian arguments against copyright. So, it was a publication by the ever-shrinking liberal faction of the Republican Party.
To understand the real power dynamics, you really have to read between the lines. The rhetoric is facile and deceptive, and it basically goes like this:
1. Copyright is good because it protects the creative people and artists.
2. Copyright is bad because it's being abused in ways that harm people, and also harms the market in general.
Both arguments are true, but both are also total bullshit. They are true only in a world where lone authors and musicians create their art and make a living without record companies or publishers. The market-based argument only applies in markets where all the participants are roughly equally capitalized, and there aren't any big players.
This copyright fight is really between two of the largest industries in the United States: old media, and new media. Old media are television, film, recorded music, aka "Hollywood". It also includes the Hollywood unions, who are the only grassroots they really have. New media are Google, Facebook, and tech companies that sell devices that access these internet services. In between are companies like Verizon and AT&T, the telecoms, who lean toward New Media, but are also adversarial to internet companies at times.
The paper could only come from the Republicans, because the Democrats get a lot of support from Hollywood, both the unions and the industry in general. While the industry gives to both parties, in L.A. they've always supported Westside Democrats, who have returned the support with favorable legislation. People went along, because they may work in the biz, or otherwise liked being represented by a liberal. Totally understandable. So first off, Hollywood doesn't support Republicans.
Second, until very recently with internet companies like Craigslist, Google, and some liberals from Ebay and a few other companies like Apple, high tech companies tended to lean toward the libertarian camp of the Republican Party. Partly, it was because of the H1B guest worker program, which was opposed by labor, but that changed when Dems started supporting it too (It makes sense. There's no tech workers union.) Partly, it's just Silicon Valley roots in the military-industrial complex: computers were (and are) instruments of war, whether it's tallying the dead, the concentration camp population, or calculating bombing tables. Today, it's used by DHS to track everyone.
So, what this document really is, is an appeal to get more of the tech money that's drifting toward the Democrats, who have become more agreeable to the tech business agenda. And it failed, because the RIAA and MPAA are donating to Republicans too, and operate two huge export businesses.
Ultimately, this copyright fight is really a war between rich industrialists and partisans in the two big parties. Hackers are going to keep going to prison. Anons are going to keep getting busted. The DMCA is still going to screw programmers. Sysadmins are going to keep working long hours and get ripped off by their employers.
Until TechDirt and the rest of the cyber-utopians wake up to reality, and get beyond their desire to download tons of videos and remix with all the great editing software, techs are going to remain powerless pawns of Google, Facebook, and tech companies.
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