Many people find it ironic when I say that Canada tends to have very little respect for intellectual property.
Hinting on my Russian background, they counter, “Yeah, right, how about this huge Russian torrents website, where you can get pretty much anything you want for free and with impunity?”
Indeed, this may seem like a contradiction at the first sight. However, not really.
While Russia’s piracy rates are huge, I’ve always felt that there the majority of people know that they are doing something wrong when they are downloading other people’s works without authorization. It’s more of an “I’m a bad boy, and I know it” kind of attitude.
Things are different in Canada. Here, the attitude is: It benefits the great majority of the public to have free access to this work, hence it should not be illegal for me to download it, even if the copyright owner protests.”
While taking something that belongs to another without permission is bad enough, I strongly believe that it is much worse to do it under the false pretense that there is nothing wrong with doing it.
It’s bad enough when a bully takes away a toy from a child. It’s much worse when the bully’s parents find a myriad of reasons why it was OK for the bully to do it and why the child should have shared the toy with the bully in the first place.
This is a repost of my article that I published at MINCOV.COM on June 9, 2010.
In my article “Why Courts Should Not Allow the Parody Exception to Make a Parody of the Copyright Law”, I shared my view on why I believe that the circumstances in which one should be permitted to use a preexisting work, without authorization, for the purposes of parody, should be extremely limited. That article was based on a law suit brought by J.D. Salinger against a Swedish author whose work was a blatant attempt to parasite on a famous work.
Through a weird and symbolic coincidence, on the same day when the Canadian Government tabled the Copyright Modernization Act that includes the controversial “parody and satire” exception, LatmaTV posted on YouTube a parody ridiculing the support that the world is offering to the so-called “peaceful” Free Gaza flotilla.
To me, it was the perfect opportunity to test my own convictions, for the reasons that follow below.
1. I believe that it is a brilliant parody.
2. I believe that the cause behind the parody is righteous and deserving of support.
3. I recognize that a lot of work and creativity must have gone to create the parody (write the lyrics, distribute roles, record the song and shoot the video) and that it has great transformative value.
4. I believe that freedom of expression (speech) is of utmost importance.
5. Because I like the parody and because I think it serves the right cause, I have an urge to allow as many people to see it.
6. It is not inconceivable that the values of those who took part in creation of the original “We Are The World” video and of those who currently own the rights in the original song and in the original video would hold views that are diametrically opposed to those who call for public condemnation of Hamas and for support of Israel.
The question I asked myself was, if I was a judge who was not restricted either by the parody exception or by its absence, with all the views that I hold, if I was to decide on a claim of copyright infringement by the copyright owners against the parody makers, requesting a permanent injunction that could magically be so efficiently enforced throughout the Internet and other media, that I would cause the parody to become completely inaccessible worldwide forever if I decided that the parody was infringing – how would I decide the case?
I must admit that these were some terrible moments when I was trying to reconcile my seemingly opposing principles by trying to find a middle ground. However, I did not engage in this enterprise to look for easy answers. That is why I made sure that I could not get away with pronouncing the parody to be an infringement in the hope that my decision could not be efficiently enforced, so I could allow the parody makers a chance to look as heroes going against the system twice – first, by opposing the Israel-hating world, and second, by opposing copyright laws that tend to protect “the wrong people”. Hence the requirement that if I rule in favour of the copyright owner, then – without regard to additional requirements that usually surround granting of injunctions – I should erase the parody from existence, forever.
Finally, I convinced myself to disregard the issue of where I stand politically on the flotilla issue, and to return to the principles.
In principle, I agree with the decision in Michelin1., where the Federal court cited New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. v. CRTC2., in which Justice Thurlow wrote:
“The freedom guaranteed by the Charter is a freedom to express and communicate ideas without restraint, whether orally or in print or by other means of communication. It is not a freedom to use someone else's property to do so. It gives no right to anyone to use someone else's land or platform to make a speech, or someone else's printing press to publish his ideas.”
No one's freedom of expression should trump individual rights (including property rights) of others. It would not be a justification for a terrorist who had taken hostages to claim that he only did so to tell the world about whatever cause he is pursuing, even though it is arguably one of the most efficient ways to make the world listen. It would not be a justification for an activist who set someone's car on fire to claim that he only did it to demonstrate his inner convictions of the evils of capitalism. In the same vein, using someone's intellectual property should not be justified by whatever noble political ends that the unauthorized user is pursuing.
On the other hand, as many have rightfully noted, using someone's work does not destroy it (as in the case of a burnt car) and may not necessarily have any serious consequences for the copyright owner (as would be in the case of being taken hostage). Should this change anything?
I would say that if it changes anything, it would be the degree of moral justification for the copyright owner to make a claim that would stifle the parody. Everyone should be justified to ask that the copyright owner not make the claim and to act accordingly (by exposing the copyright owner's viciousness, by instituting private boycotts or otherwise), if the owner does nevertheless make such a claim.
But once that claim is made, in other words, once the copyright owner has decided that his rights to the preexisting works are more important to him compared to the public outrage that would ensue, the copyright owner's claim should be no different from the claim of a burnt car's owner.
If I were to write the decision in such a case and if I were not bound by existing laws but only by my philosophy, this is what I would say:
“It is beyond reproachful that the copyright owners should wish to stifle such a socially important parody, but it is their right to determine the terms on which their property is used by others, and I have no choice but to grant the permanent injunction.”
This is a repost of my article that I published at MINCOV.COM May 30, 2010.
In case of dissemination of music, movies, software, books or other works of copyright (I will refer to them as Content), business models are nothing but an interface between Creators and the public. I will be using the term Creator to refer to a natural person in result of whose intellectual and creative efforts Content is created, even if according to applicable law, the first owner of copyright in the Content is some other person. I will be using the term Owner to refer to the current owner of copyright in Content.
A model may only be successful if it meets the needs of Creators, the public and those who provide the interface. Buyers always want to pay as little as possible for the best product available, while the sellers always try to maximize their profits. What makes a business model successful is that it provides an equilibrium between the desires of buyers and sellers.
Also, one successful business model should not necessarily replace all others. Different products require different business models. It would be preposterous if manufacturers of luxury cars used the same business model as manufacturers of toothpaste, even though both manufacturers share the same ultimate goal of maximizing their profits. However, no one seriously suggests that Maybach should be forced to produce millions of cars and sell them cheap. Likewise, no one is forcing Colgate to only manufacture elite sorts of toothpaste and sell it on auctions for several hundred thousands of dollars per tube. If Maybach suddenly realizes that no one wishes to buy their Excelero for $8 Million1., it may reconsider whether it is a good business model. But it will surely not be making these amazing cars if a gang confiscates every new car at the gate of the factory, sells these cars on eBay for a few hundred dollars and then calls it a “new business model” that the greedy and old-fashioned car manufacturer “needs to embrace”.
The term “buyer’s market” refers to a situation when there are more sellers than buyers on the market, which leads to lower prices due to the excess of supply over demand. This term does not refer to hordes of “buyers” breaking stores’ windows and grabbing whatever they want, should the store set prices that the “buyers” do not find agreeable.
Forcing new business models is the same as attempting to force democracy upon Iran. Even if this latter works, which I do not believe is possible, there will still be thousands of people who will honestly think that the Western world ruined a great country, broke its spirit to replace it with a world of greed, evil and vice. Just as thousands of Russians still believe that attempts of Western democracies to educate Soviet people about freedoms were the cause of despicable economic state of Russia in the 1990s when oil prices plummeted. Many Russians still believe (which feeling is successfully being exploited by the government) that the only “real” objective of whatever (literally, every single thing) the West has been doing is to bring Russia down to its knees.
Soviet Union should have been allowed to fail and through its complete failure, seen from the inside, and not only from the outside, to adopt a new model that works2.. Otherwise, as soon as oil prices went up, new Russian leaders began rebuilding the old system claiming that the only reason why the Soviet Union experienced “temporary problems” was because of the forceful imposition of an extraneous ideology. Attempts to save someone who does not realize that they need to be saved or even someone who knowingly resists such “salvation”, will never succeed. For the same reason, refusal of the West to let the Soviet Union rot and fail, allowed the bankrupt socialist and communist ideas to outlive their most successful practical embodiment, because those who support these ideas now have an argument that these ideas failed because of the intervention on pernicious free market ideology. It has always been the tool of collectivists and statists to blame their victim (free, laissez-faire capitalism) for their own misdoings and then offer the same poison they used to bring about the problem they were trying to “fix” as a remedy.
Proponents of “copyright to the masses” ideas keep going back to the same examples over and over and over again, the most popular being one of the movie industry’s war against the VCR, claiming that in the end of the day, it was the VCRs that saved the movie industry3.. The question is – did the movie industry need to be saved? Did the manufacturers of VCRs have an obligation to save Hollywood?
If advocates of the use of VCRs were so confident in superiority of their business model, they should have created a case where VCRs were primarily (or, ideally, exclusively) used for Content provided by those Owners who agreed to having their Content so used. This, however, never happened. “Old” movie industry gave in, had to accept VCRs as part of the new landscape, and immediately went back to its old model, subject to necessary changes. This is because it had never been given a chance to regard the advent of the VCRs as anything but the necessary evil, a chance to truly appreciate numerous features that allowed the industry to benefit from the VCRs after the movie industry lost its battle to VCR manufacturers. Forced adoption of a model that the movie industry tried to resist may have saved the industry, but it never became the industry’s conscious and voluntary decision. And the choice that the industry was facing was not a choice between the old model and the new model. It was a choice between mass disregard of the public to the way the industry wanted to run the business and the new model. It was surrender, not embracing of the new model. If the major element of the “old” industries is described, as William Patry does, as control4., the industries’ surrender to the new model did not dissuade them of the idea that control is a virtue. Being force-fed the new business model and unwilling to see their old model’s flaws, they kept trying to retain as much of their old model as possible. The history kept repeating itself with VCRs, TV, DVDs, the Internet. Instead of letting the industries fail and learn from their failure, the innovators consistently went against the old industries’ wishes and forced new models upon them and kept calling this “salvation of industries running old failed models”.
Yes, maybe if VCR manufacturers would have had to wait before the movie industry realized the potential benefits of the new technology, thus delaying the advent of the VCR. But, assuming that the new model was indeed better, it would have created a completely different landscape of industries embracing the strengths of the new models rather than trying to minimize their impact on the existing models.
Also, one must not forget that VCRs, as any other interface between Content and end-users, only have a meaningful use if there exists Content that they can record or play back. Give a VCR to a caveman in absence of TV broadcasts and other audiovisual Content (even assuming that the caveman will have electricity and a television set), and the VCR will be completely useless, a pile of metal and plastic. It is the Content that gives value to the VCR.
“Consumers are king – not control, not copyright, and not content. Without consumers, copyrights and content have no economic value. Copyright is not fairy dust, vesting everything is touches with magical economic value. Rather, economic value is derived from buyers’ willingness to pay for a product or service.”5.
However, this does not address the issue of piracy. If consumers, instead of buying Content, are accessing it in circumvention of the Owners’ terms, it does not mean that the value of the Content is nil. Just like stealing of a car, which essentially means the particular “customer’s” refusal to buy it, does not mean that the car’s value is zero. If it proves anything, then it is that the mere fact that Content gets pirated means that it has value, however, through various mechanisms, looters of sorts6. have an option to override the necessity to pay the price.
As Barry Sookman wrote, addressing critics of the presently negotiated anti-counterfeit agreement, ACTA:
“I had always thought that a consumer was someone who legitimately acquires some good or service for that person’s own use. However, the “consumers’ referred to by the coalition [of those who oppose ACTA] appear to be those individuals who engage in repeated acts of copyright infringement despite repeated warnings to stop. So, is the moral fight against the substance of ACTA’s proposed provisions related to graduated response by these detractions really about defending the right to take the creative labour and investments of creative individuals and industries for free?”7.
I share the view of Justice Peterson, who in University of London Press, Limited v. University Tutorial Press, Limited8. wrote: “after all, there remains the rough practical test that what is worth copying is prima facie worth protecting”. If it is worth someone’s efforts to steal, it has a value, even if no one buys it.
Crusaders should not expect to be embraced and to have their views that they attempt to forcefully impose on their victims, celebrated. Unless the sole interest of new model missionaries is in the mere sadistic process of forceful imposition of their ideas unto those who resist them, there are only two interrelated ways to efficiently reach the objective of conversion: to let the “old” models fail without any external pressure, simply by allowing them to rot by themselves, unable to provide something useful enough to keep them afloat9.; and to recruit new adepts by demonstrating the superiority of new models, without any violation of terms established by those who prefer to keep running the old models. This is the only way to have a controlled experiment, the only way to objectively prove that one system is better than the other.
Let us compare this situation with a restaurant that charges exorbitant amounts for its good food, but has less and less customers because of its conservative and somewhat extravagant policies. For example, it only allows men in blue suits and red ties and it only allows women wearing white dresses and red high heel shoes, and requires them to dance before they are permitted to enter the premises. But the food is great. And very expensive. Let us assume that most people find this approach ridiculously preposterous, that the business model of the restaurant owners is wrong and disastrous. Let us assume that it indeed is wrong and disastrous.
By analogy, what the proponents of forced new business models would suggest is to have as many people come to the restaurant, without regard to the limitations to the dress-code that the owners are trying to impose, eat and refuse to pay, claiming that the restaurant owner’s policies are unfair, inconsistent, discriminating, unenforceable, irrational and immoral. This approach is clearly wrong and will never convince the restaurant owner of anything other than he is being assaulted by a lawless gang.
The reason why Montgomery Bus Boycott was so successful during the segregation was that the protest did not involve violation of anyone’s individual rights. Black people did not force a free bus ride under the pretence of fighting against segregation, they boycotted the public transportation, which resulted in serious economic consequences for the public transport system. Feel the difference.
There are several other ways to prove the point, assuming that we are right.
The easiest would be to campaign that people not go to that restaurant. Yes, refuse to eat there – at all, for free or for money. In case of copyright this means – don’t buy and don’t use Content unless it is legally offered to you under conditions you find acceptable. No one has an inherent right to use someone else's works. Just as “public property” and “public interest” are misnomers referring to notions that do not exist, there is no such thing as “users' rights”10..
Another solution is – convince the chef to leave the place and work for you. It is the chef who makes good food, not the restaurant owner. Restaurant owner simply provides a business model, the interface, that we find unfair. If our model is so much better, it should not be a problem to convince the cook to work for us, should it? The cook here, of course, is the Creator. Instead of pouting that the lion’s share of the profits goes past the Creator and instead of sabotaging the business of those whose business models we do not like, convince the Creator that they will be better off under our modernized model. Without a good cook, how is the restaurant to survive? And if we have a great cook and a superior business model, is it not the key to success?
Yet another solution is – buy the restaurant off from its current owners. If we are so sure that our model is better, that the cook is going to stay with us, that we are going to have so much more customers if we change the model and that we are still going to be able to make more money, why don’t we buy the restaurant off?
If someone invents a miraculous vaccine that most people are reluctant to use for some reason, even if the inventor knows for a fact that the yet untested vaccine will “make the world a better place”, he has no right to forcefully inject it to people who do not want to use it. Even if the only reason why the inventor is doing it is that he is trying to save people’s lives, he is still violating their right to refuse treatment. Instead of finding several hopelessly ill who would happily agree to take the treatment and thus convince everyone that the vaccine works, forceful injection destroys any possibility of a controlled experiment, because “patients” are going to resist treatment.
We do not need to save businesses with old business models. If they are bound to fail, we must let them fail. It is their right to be able to fail. We must not forcefully save them by breaking the laws in the hope that they will somehow adopt a new business model and be grateful to us till the end of their days.
This is a repost of my article that I published at MINCOV.COM April 27, 2010.
Ever since I started practicing in the field of intellectual property law, I have been an avid supporter of stronger copyright laws, in the sense that the law should provide an efficient tool for the owner of intellectual property to control its use by others, to the point of being able to legally prevent its unauthorized use altogether. For greater clarity, I do not differentiate between the need to protect the rights of authors and of subsequent owners of copyright, as long as the authors were not compelled to assign their rights by force.
Seeing where the world is going to, particularly in terms of piracy, I was becoming increasingly sad, thinking that the system of copyright is being systematically destroyed. It is easy to see why the collapse of intellectual property laws would be welcomed by those who engage in unauthorized use of others’ works, but I had been struggling to understand why the idea of significant curtailment of authors’ rights in favour of “the public” also finds its proponents among many prominent scholars1., who do not necessarily fit into the category of people downloading movies off torrent websites.
Only a few months ago, did the pieces of the puzzle come together for me. Only a few months ago did I realize that the current attack on copyright is simply a part of a larger picture. In this article, I will provide a simplified overview of the mental process that I went through to see the big picture.
It all started when, for various reasons, I had to do some research on a fundamental issue that most practicing lawyers (myself included, until recently) tend to treat as insignificant or too obvious. The issue is the one of the nature and justifications of copyright. Why do we have copyright laws at all?
From the inception of copyright, there have been two competing points of view on this.
According to one, rights to results of one’s creative activity come from God, or otherwise from the nature of man, or are otherwise akin to property rights. One of the most famous quotes reflecting this first approach belongs to Jean Le Chapelier. In 1791 in the Paris Assembly he said: “The most sacred, most personal of all the properties, is the work fruit of the thought of a writer […] so it is extremely just that the men who cultivate the field of thought enjoy some fruits from their work, it is essential that during their life and a few years after their death, nobody can dispose of the product of their genius, without their consent”2.. According to this approach, copyright laws are nothing more than a reflection of objective law that only requires the government to provide the means of its enforcement.
The second approach is to say that but for the grant from the government, authors have no rights. These rights are said to be granted by the government for the “public good”. Governments are prepared to tolerate authors having some rights, but only to the extent that it benefits the public. And as with any entitlement coming from the government, whatever the government gives, it can always take away.
Historically, the problem has been that proponents of each of these approaches tried to push forward their ideas by masking them behind ideas of their opponents. This resulted in a situation where none of the arguments actually made any sense.
Proponents of God-given theory tried to give as much protection to authors and at the same time to appease the proponents of the public good theory by claiming that the reason that monopoly rights should be granted to creator was because such monopoly rights would in fact benefit the society as a whole. But if the right is a virtue in and of itself, then we should not care whether it benefits the public. For example, we do not explain the virtue of protecting human lives by the premise that it would benefit the society as a whole if we did not allow killing people. It is irrelevant whether the society benefits from that or not, since the human life is seen as a virtue worthy of protection. The same principle should apply to copyright, if it is indeed regarded under the natural rights theory.
Conversely, the proponents of wide public rights often mask their conception behind an attempt to create a “balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of the arts and the intellect and obtaining a just reward for the creator (or, more accurately, to prevent someone other than the creator from appropriating whatever benefits may be generated).3.” Some have suggested that the “sole interest” of the government is to create a system that benefits the “society as a whole”4.. However, if this is true and if copyright laws are not primarily adopted to benefit creators, then, by implication, our only concern with creators’ interests is that such interests are not squelched to the extent that the resulting refusal of creators to create new works and make them available to the public, would actually harm the society more than the society would “benefit” from freely using someone else’s intellectual property. However, the provision of a bare minimum of food by a master to his slave, only sufficient for the slave not to die and to keep working, can hardly be called a “balance of interests”. In a way, this “balance of interests” in relation to copyright can be analogized with the state’s obligation to protect a person from having his property forcefully taken away, provided that such a person agrees to part with this property voluntarily.
Having noticed this inconsistency, but unable to untangle it, I looked up copyright laws of many countries. Invariably these laws are structured in a way to give authors an exclusive right to use their works as they please and to authorize others to do so. What does an exclusive right mean? It means a right to use the work to the exclusion of all others. Now, if governments were creating copyright laws for the benefit of the whole public, how is it that they did it by granting a monopoly to those who could severely limit the public's use of their works through the use of this very monopoly?
There are no other examples when the public benefit is ensured by providing a nearly absolute monopoly to a group that opposes the rest of the public. Governments did not create private property on land to benefit the homeless. Neither was the private property on crops introduced to benefit the hungry. If it was not the intention of governments to vest such a tremendous tool for control and monopoly in the authors, why are all such laws invariably written in a way that allows no other interpretation?
The mere fact that copyright laws are indifferent to the value of the works they protect (i.e. works receive copyright protection regardless of their artistic merit) should serve to disprove that copyright is created for the benefit of the public. If a work holds no value to the public, why would governments be concerned to grant the author of the work with a monopoly in respect of the work? Or is it just the opposite – that copyright should only protect works that nobody wants to use?
The next thing I did was I looked back at the history of the Soviet Union. It had copyright laws that, in fact, were written to benefit the public. Authors only had the right of first sale with no further right of control as to how their works are used afterwards. In vast majority of cases, it was the government that was the first buyer. Also, authors had the right to receive a “fair” remuneration for subsequent use of their works and the right to have their name mentioned every time their works were used. And, of course, it was the government that decided what was fair.
The Soviet model of “copyright” gave birth to many great works of art without vesting substantial rights in creators. It did not exactly result in all authors refusing to make their works available to the public. So I agree with those who don’t buy the argument that weak copyright will necessarily mean that people are not going to create. However, even a superficial analysis of the structure of creativity in the Soviet Union would reveal that it was based the following factors.
Authors received substantial benefits from the socialist government if they created what the government wanted them to create. That’s why there were so many operas, symphonies, cantatas, plays, stories and songs about Lenin and communism.
Second, the system abused authors’ love of the process of creation. When one is truly gifted, then the ability to create becomes more important than the urge to make a political statement by refusing to create. Many authors are forced to believe that their art is the only thing that they are good for. The socialist government offered creators a “deal” – they were allowed to create on the condition that they would have no right to control their works. By depriving authors of any say in how their works are used, the government punished authors for their virtue, for what they do best. This “deal” would have been impossible with those for whom the act of creativity is meaningless. This is very similar to how most countries today are punishing the rich for being so industrious. We tax them to death, but expect them to continue working because we know they love their work and because they are good at it.
Finally, the system would prevent emigration from it. Remember the Berlin wall? Remember Cuba? Remember the Soviet Union? Why is it so many people were risking their lives to emigrate? It was because the socialist government understands that as soon as a talented person is allowed to exercise their free will and to enjoy their freedoms, they will never go back to being spoon-fed by the government in return for giving up of these freedoms.
My father is a famous Russian composer who has composed music for over 100 movies. I asked him what it was that changed for him when the Soviet Union finally collapsed and Russia adopted copyright laws that were like most other copyright laws on the planet. From the creative point of view, there was not much difference. The only aspect that did change substantially is that the “true” copyright law provided a mechanism to control how the works are used, an opportunity to make decisions for oneself. The ability of the author to capitalize on this opportunity is a separate issue. This is the beauty of the free market system, in that it gives every one the right to fail and to succeed.
The Soviet system removed the element of opportunity. It was the government that decided for the authors what is a sufficient and fair remuneration for them. It was the government that decided what stories were printed throughout the country, what lyrics were put in songs and so on. The best example is how the Soviet censorship turned a song about an American cowboy into a song with no lyrics, thus creating what became a recent obsession, Trololo5..
The system worked ONLY as an integral part of the overall socialist nightmare. As soon as the socialist experiment reached its only possible result by destroying the country’s economy and, most importantly, the spirit of the people who live there, the government-fed copyright became unworkable. Free market economy (even its corrupted Russian version) cannot exist with the government telling everyone what and for how much they must create and license.
Today’s attack on copyright is simply one piece of the puzzle. The whole puzzle is the attack on free market and individual rights. The whole puzzle is the Great Socialist Evolution that has corrupted the Western world through various entitlement programs and indoctrination to the effect that the government can and should regulate everything and redistribute the wealth. The more entitlements people have, the harder it is to convince them that this model is unsustainable. Just as Margaret Thatcher said: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”6..
Nothing that must be produced by another’s labour is a “right”. Housing is not a right. Health care is not a right. Use of someone else’s music is not a right. Let me illustrate this idea by the example of health care. If tomorrow all doctors exercised their free will and decided to quit, the government would have to enslave a group of people and force them to provide medical services that the government has determined is a “right” to all. In fact, this is exactly what was happening in the Soviet Union, where one went to jail if one was not employed.
Combining these pieces of the puzzle together, I realized that it is childish to only fight for stronger or weaker copyright laws. Copyright laws are nothing but a function of the political regime. Strong copyright laws cannot exist in a country that is giving away unearned entitlements to the undeserving and that is punishing those who create value for the country. Even the best imaginable copyright act (however subjective that may be) would not make a difference in this situation. If your car is falling apart, losing parts as it goes, it won’t be much help to install a new stereo in it.
I do not believe that anyone has a right to use another’s works without permission or in contravention of limitations that the copyright owner had imposed on their works. A man who creates something which had not existed before is free to pursue ANYTHING in return for it. He did not create the work for the society to determine the terms of how it is going to be used. He did not create the work for the enjoyment of the society. He created the work in an attempt to achieve his personal goals, be it the joy of a hobby, fame, goodwill, wealth or something else. It is up to the author to determine the terms on which he would allow the society to use his work. If he wishes to allow the public to freely use the work, nothing prevents him from making such a disposition.
But I hold this belief as part of my overall convictions that no one has a right to anything created by someone else. The dispute should be not about whether we need stronger copyright laws or whether we should be expanding exceptions from copyright. The issue is whether we are to subordinate individual rights to mythic “public interests” and the “benefit of society as a whole”. Copyright, as much as I love it, is just one card in the deck. I hope this article will help the readers better see the game that is being played with these cards and make their own decisions.
Yesterday, I received a call from the Law Society of British Columbia. It appears that a lawyer informed the Law Society about the video ad that I posted on this blog on April Fools’ day.
The Law Society’s position is that the video is a marketing material whose contents are contrary to the best interests of the public.
I decided to take the video down, even though I disagree with the Law Society’s conclusions.
First of all, there is no such thing as “best interests of the public”, because no such entity as “the public” exists. Each member of the public has his or her own interests. No person or organization can claim to represent the interests of a non-existing entity.
Secondly, in fact, I do believe that the contents of my video were beneficial for the interests of those who were choosing to watch it, because it allowed them to decide whether or not they wanted to be represented by someone who does not necessarily look or act like the stereotypical lawyer.
As I stated earlier, I decided to take the video down, since a fight the Law Society would distract me from the objective of building my firm and helping my clients Protect their Ideas and Cover their Assets™
Now the video is private and only available to my friends.
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Tags:CollectivismPhilosophySmall BusinessNew Copyright ActFair Dealing