The Republican Study Committee released a report on Friday that is so brilliant and visionary it's difficult for me to believe it was written by Republicans. You can read it in its entirety (in text format) on my reference blog.
The original link to that paper was here -- you'll notice that link now just goes to a blank page.
That's because of how good ideas in Washington work these days. The Republican Study Committee wrote a concise article outlining the problems with copyright law and suggesting some commonsense solutions to those problems.
Then the lobbyists started calling.
However, as soon as it was published, the MPAA and RIAA apparently went ballistic and hit the phones hard, demanding that the RSC take down the report. They succeeded. Even though the report had been fully vetted and approved by the RSC, executive director Paul S. Teller has now retracted it, sending out the following email to a wide list of folks this afternoon:
The spineless bastard answering the phones at the Republican Study Committee had this to say to cover for his quivering jell-o bosses: Yesterday you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard.
...among other, more boring things.
You can of course read the whole thing on my web site, but I'll go into some of the problems they (correctly) identify with current copyright law and their suggestions for how to overhaul it to actually work and not just create a bunch of welfare queens with names like Warner Brothers and Viacom:
First, the three myths:
1. The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator of the content
2. Copyright is free market capitalism at work
3. The current copyright legal regime leads to the greatest innovation and productivity
They go into some detail making the cases for each of these points, and they're solid enough that if you want to argue them you should start by reading the first part of the paper. I want to reiterate that this is the REPUBLICAN Study Committee.
They go on to point out the absurdity of US Copyright law, pointing specifically to the DJ/remix scenes that are closed off by intellectual copyright restrictions to American artists, before coming to a proposal for new copyright law almost enough to get me to change parties:
Below is a suggestion for one such proposal:
A. Free 12-year copyright term for all new works – subject to registration, and all existing works are renewed as of the passage of the reform legislation. If passed today this would mean that new works have a copyright until 2024.
B. Elective-12 year renewal (cost 1% of all United States revenue from first 12 years – which equals all sales).
C. Elective-6 year renewal (cost 3% of revenue from the previous 12 years).
D. Elective-6 year renewal (cost 5% of revenue in previous 6 years).
E. Elective-10 year renewal (10% of ALL overall revenue – fees paid so far).
That would give us a maximum copyright of 46 years, with a sliding scale making it more expensive to renew copyright, as opposed to the 120 years for corporate copyright we have now. Consider that: How useful to the public domain will Pac Man be when its copyright expires in May 2100?
So, there you have it. How does an organization that depends on public support manage to find itself so out of sync with the times as the Republican Party? If a good idea manages to peek out like a sunflower on a highway, they have an army of lawyers and lobbyists on call to make sure it dies right there.