30 April 2011

Moral Bankruptcy of the Copyright Industry

As anyone who has followed the area for a while learns, the copyright industry has an extraordinary sense of entitlement. It seems to think that it has a right to demand that governments around the world preserve its outdated business models and existing profit margins - and that it should be granted any kind of extraordinary legal protections for its monopolies to ensure that, whatever the concomitant cost to society.

And yet as Rick Falkvinge points out, that's wrong in all sorts of ways:

The copyright monopoly legislation is a balance between the public’s interest of having access to culture, and the same public’s interest of having new culture created.

That’s it. Those are the two values that go into determining the wording of the copyright monopoly.

The copyright industry always demands to be regarded as a stakeholder in this monopoly. But to give them that status would be to royally confuse the means of the copyright monopoly with its end.

If they were a stakeholder, they would never agree to anything that went against their interests. But the copyright industry is not a stakeholder. They are merely a beneficiary of the copyright monopoly. Just because you benefit from something, you don’t get to affect its future.

That unfounded sense of entitlement would be bad enough, but it seems that it engenders something much worse in some quarters: a complete and utter moral bankruptcy, as this statement from the new director of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, Rodrigo Roque Diaz, makes plain:

El tema de la piratería es gravísimo […] brutal para la sociedad mexicana y para el mundo. Las cifras que tenemos del Foro Económico Mundial indican que el comercio ilegal representa el 10% del comercio mundial.

El ingenio lo usamos para violar la ley.

El tema de la piratería es más importante que el tema narcotráfico. El tema de la piratería cuesta billones de doláres al mundo. El impacto económico es muy importante.

[Via Google Translate: The issue of piracy is very serious [...] brutal to Mexican society and the world. The figures we have from the World Economic Forum indicates that illegal trade represents 10% of world trade.

We use ingenuity to violate the law.

The issue of piracy is more important than the drug issue. The issue of piracy costs billions of dollars to the world. The economic impact is very important.]

There we have the view of the copyright maximalists in a nutshell: "piracy is more important than the drug issue" - this from a citizen of a country where the level of violence due to what is here simply dismissed as "the drug issue" is almost incomprehensible for those of us fortunate enough to be distant from it:

Casualty numbers have escalated significantly over time. According to a Stratfor report, the number of drug-related deaths in 2006 and 2007 (2,119 and 2,275) more than doubled to 5,207 in 2008. The number further increased substantially over the next two years, from 6,598 in 2009 to over 11,000 in 2010.

According to the director of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, piracy is "more important" than those 27,000 deaths in the last five years.

This is where the insanity of copyright maximalism leads: to valuing the preservation of a government-backed monopoly over the lives of tens of thousands of people. That a high functionary representing the copyright industries can trivialise the suffering of those victims and their families in this way shows how desperately we need to restore not just Falkvinge's "balance" to the copyright debate, but decency and humanity too.

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Unknown said...

Hah. Both Rick and you are wrong. I've gotten them to admit in a round about way the real reason. I'll be publishing a break down on it later this week, and I'm going to be asking a bunch of people to comment on my research and reasoning, you included.

I think you will find my argument interesting.


Glyn Moody said...

@wayne: look forward to it...

sol said...

death toll in mexico is reaching 40k now... none of them as far as i know had died from buying pirated dvds.. this was way too offending.

this also is very interesting about the issu: http://piracy.ssrc.org/organized-crime-businessweek-edition/

Glyn Moody said...

@Geraldine: thanks for the update. Yes, that report is really important.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you for picking on the poor little copyright industry! Don't you know that ALL big businesses, and the governments they control, are morally bankrupt?

Glyn Moody said...

@anonymous: yes, you're right: I'm just a big bully for singling them out...