Over at Slate, I offer to eat Matt Yglesias’s lunch, or anyway, to disagree with some of his claims about copyright. (This is sort of a sequel to my recent Nation essay on copyright.)
Posted by Caleb Crain on 27 January 2012 in copyright, economics, Immanuel Kant
I can spot two issues in your paper. the first is conceptual, the second is factual.
The conceptual problem is that you just do not deal with the same subject as Matt does. When Yggglesias says "copyright", he refers to patrimonial rights, that is the monopoly power awarded to the owner of the copyright, full stop.
Only you last paragraph (more about that below) is actually in line with that. The rest of your arguments refer to aithors' moral rights, which are independent on whom holds the monopoly power (in Anglo-saxon countries, moral rigths are partly transferrabl, in continental Europe, they are non-cessible). Hence, the right to attribution (who is the author) and respect (the author can object to a use that he feels detrimental to his work) stay with the author. A more lax copyright regime (e.g. death+10years, or a renewable copyright regime) would have no impact on that.
The other point is that despite numerous studies, no-one has yet been able to show any effect of the copyright regime on creativity. Over the last half-century, copyright protection has been extended to new durations, new countries and new types of creations. None of this extentions did lead to a measurable increase in creative production, be it in quantity or in various definitions of quality, compared to territories or creation that have not been touched by the extension. The gist of the matter, of course, is that those extensions did not have any measurable effect on creators' income either, except for a handful of superstars.
The current consensus in cultural economics is thus that copyright extensions currently benefit only to copyright holders (e.g. publishers) and to the few superstar that hold some power over these.
Recommended readings :
- Ruth Towse et al. The Economics of Copyright Law: A Stocktake of the Literature, Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 1-22, 2008