[Politech] Write a letter to the editor of the International Herald Tribune on copyright? [ip]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Tue Oct 11 2005 - 08:33:50 PDT

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Imagine a World without Copyright - International Herald 
Date: Sun, 09 Oct 2005 14:37:42 +1000
From: Thomas Brinsmead <Thomas.Brinsmead@private>
To: declan@private

Dear Declan,

"Imagine a World without Copyright" headlines the major opinion piece of 
the October 8-9 weekend edition of the International Herald Tribute. The 
opinion piece is jointly authored by a professor of political science 
from the Netherlands who has written the book "Arts under pressure: 
Promoting Cultural Diversity in the Age of Globalization".

While it is welcoming to see alternatives to current intellectual 
property regimes being raised in the mainstream media, the authors' 
proposed recommendations are disappointingly unsophisticated. They were, 
essentially, to abolish 70 year copyright for cultural works and replace 
it with a 1 year usufruct right. And  because many cultural works take 
more than 1 year to recoup their initial financial investment, the 
authors suggest the unimaginative (and far from unproblematic) solution 
of publicly funded (and, presumedly, bureaucratically administered) 
subsidies for artistic cultural output.

Given the lack of space in a newspaper column and the need to keep it 
simple, perhaps the authors were constrained from writing anything more 
subtle. However, the naivety of the recommendations may, to some extent, 
do a disservice to the cause of public debate about IP regulation 
including copyright.

Since I am by no means particularly knowledgeable about this rich and 
complex field, I was wondering if any other Politech list members would 
be in a better position to either write appropriate letters to the IHT 
editor and/or point to sources of information that cover the basics of 
the issues at hand, without requiring the interested reader to, for 
example, wade through the details of thousands of archived Politech 
messages with the subject "Intellectual Property".

In the article for example, there was no mention of the open source 
movement, and alternatives to copyright such as "creative commons" 
licenses and "copyleft", of which the arts community is certainly well 
aware (I attended a workshop on the topic several weeks ago at an Arts 
festival in [the globally speaking obscure regional] town of Newcastle, 
Australia). There was little evidence of understanding of any of the 
conflicting issues in intellectual property regulation that are 
regularly raised in your column or awareness of debates within the US 
academic legal community on the economics of IP. These ought to be well 
understood by anyone with an interest in the consequences of 
globalisation for artistic culture, and I am disappointed that they were 
not even mentioned in passing in this international newspaper article.


Thomas Brinsmead, PhD Elec Eng O^O

Senior Research Associate
{ [ CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development ]
   [ Complex Adaptive Systems Research Group    ]
   Philosophy, School of Liberal Arts
   [ Faculty of Education and the Arts ]  }
McMullin Building, University of Newcastle
Callaghan 2308 NSW, Australia

Ph +61-2-4921 7247; Fax +61-2-4921 6940

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they
are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is
commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.
Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any
intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their 
from some academic scribbler of a few years back."
JM Keynes(1936), The General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money.

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