Thursday, August 27, 2009

But they are evil monopolists

An anonymous commentator, posting to William Patry's new blog wrote:
Quite frankly, it does seem a bit silly and unproductive all the constant bickering, to wit: "It's property!", "It's monopoly!", etc., etc.

Why not call a truce and simply agree to disagree about an issue as to which there is no clear answer? Treat the issue for what it really is, a political question over which reasonable minds can differ, and then in lieu of argument direct one's energy to participation within the political process?
To which Bill Patry replied:
Anonymous, I agree with you wholeheartedly: in the book (page xviii), I point out that those who oppose copyright owners' recent efforts use their own rhetorical devices, "The purported folk devils employ their own rhetorical devices, describing copyright owners as dinosaurs, Luddites, and evil monopolists out to squelch freedom of expression, and out to force corporate culture down the public’s throats. "
I, however, find Patry's response here to be naive. The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), and the "device" and "circumvention" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are in and of themselves acts of copyright extremism. They are acts of force and violence against human intellectual freedom. Anyone who does not call for the repeal of these legal provisions becomes, by that very silence, in the realm of the intellect a violent extremist. Any such who then calls for a reduction in the rhetorical temperature of the debate is merely a hypocrite, since they have already consented to acts that are far more extreme than any words.


William Patry said...

Mockingbird, I too opposed term extension and testified about it at the time, not just years later as so many others have. I also opposed chapter 12 of the DMCA. My opposition to both has been very long-standing, vocal, and hardly shallow or naive.

Mockingbird said...

Bill, you misunderstood me. The only thing I found naive was your response to the comment. Certainly I am aware of your opposition to the CTEA. If you read two posts down you'll see that I explicitly mention your 1997 article in NDLR. Also at the time I studied your testimony about termination rights with great interest. Certainly, of all people, you are entitled to request that parties to the debate on copyright reform be moderate in their choice of words. I am far less certain that the anonymous commentator to whom you were responding deserves the satisfaction of hearing you say so. But however that may be, my main point is that the CTEA and the paracopyright provisions of the DMCA are acts of copyright extremism in and of themselves. Strong language in the description of these measures and those who support them is not necessarily immoderate. Rather, it may be quite appropriate.