Copyright: Forever Less One Day

CopyrightI write a lot about copyright around here because the system is out of control. As a writer, I like to get paid for my work. But as Dean Baker has pointed out, there are various ways that society can encourage creative work. And now, copyright does not work to do that; instead, copyright is used by big business as a cudgel to beat off competition and maintain monopolies.

In the days of Cervantes, writers sold their works outright to publishers who then owned the copyright. The situation is very similar to that today. Except for a lucky few, writers get paid advances and that’s where things end. But even the cases where books become best sellers, publisher profits continue to rise as writers end up with a slightly larger percentage of the gross sales, but less of the net profits. So writers who defend the copyright system are deluded.

Of course, I don’t think that Congress would give a flying fuck about what writers think of copyright. They can be as deluded as they like. We have these ridiculous copyright laws because Disney and Dreamworks have lobbied hard for them. It’s all about corporate profits as it always is. This is, for example, why extensions to copyright are always made retroactive, even though that makes no sense: current law can’t encourage people in the past to produce more content.

Here is an excellent video on copyright by CGP Grey that actually lays out the basics of the issue:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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