Three Myths about U.S. Copyright Law. On second thought, never mind ... -

Three Myths about U.S. Copyright Law. On second thought, never mind …

Jesse Brown explains how the Republicans became the party of the youth … for a day


For fewer than 24 hours last weekend, the GOP had a strategy, a point and a future.  The Republican Study Committee (the conservative caucus of House Republicans) released a blazingly truthful report on copyright reform, boldly challenging main tenets of received and erroneous wisdom about intellectual property.

The report, titled “Three Myths About Copyright Law”  focused on copyright’s original intention- to benefit the public, not to compensate creators. It went on to detail the dangers of excessive copyright—that copyright is not an instrument of free markets, but is in fact  government interference in the market, an enforced regulatory scheme that creates monopolies and which can “distort” and even “destroy” entire markets.  The report was not a screed against copyright itself, but a wake-up call on just how far the concept has strayed from its original aims, and included some good ideas about how copyright might be reformed.  The report called for an expansion of “Fair Use” exceptions to copyright, punishment for false claims of infringement, and limitations on the terms of copyright protection (works originally protected for 14 years are now routinely locked up for more than a century) .

Soon after the report’s release, the copyfighting masses were shocked to attention. Online hubs like Reddit, Techdirt, and BoingBoing– never known for their conservative sympathies- published favourable posts and were soon hosting vibrant conversations among young techies bewildered by their own head-nodding with Republican positions.  Remember, more than 5 million people signed various petitions against the copyright maximizing SOPA bill.  Among these were people now re-thinking the GOP.

Then, just as word was spreading, the report was pulled from the Republican Study Committee’s website.  A retraction/apology appeared in its place, written by Paul S. Teller, Executive Director of the RSC.  Teller wrote that the report was published “without adequate review” and had “failed to meet that standard.”

Mike Masnick at Techdirt was quick to point out how silly this claim was. Reports are not published on the RSC’s site by accident. What happened, says Masnick was obvious: upon reading the report, entertainment industry lobbyists did a collective spit-take, picked up their phones, applied pressure to “friendly” Republican legislators, who in turn put the screws to the RSC.

The Republican moment of clarity, one which would have given them a powerful wedge issue with young voters while buttressing their own core economic values, will be remembered as a weekend mishap.

The original report, wiped from GOP sites, can still be read at

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown


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Three Myths about U.S. Copyright Law. On second thought, never mind …

  1. Thank you.

  2. Republicans are famous for putting forth idea’s that are ridiculous..but they will push the hell out of them…the reason..?cause it benefits them…they really don’t care about YOU the general public..less government regulation on Wall Street and in banks..hell less government all around..let business look after everything..lets put the fox in charge of gaurding the chickens while we’re at it..if you disagree you’re a “socalist”..alot of money is made in the entertainment industry..alot of Democrat money that is..intellectual property has been getting ripped off for over’s finally starting to get REGULATED so if you want pay for it! That’s the way it’s supposed to is with everything would you feel if you spent millions and millions of dollars only to have what you worked so hard on get stolen from under you…? Hey let’s ask Mit Romney how it feels..looks good on you asshole..the people are finally waking up..

    • “.intellectual property has been getting ripped off for over 10yrs”

      You kinda missed the point, which is that there is a growing constituency of people who recognize copyright and patents as big-government grants of monopoly which are only narrowly justifiable with a well defined public policy purpose. It isn’t an “entitlement”, it isn’t “property” beyond the fact that the grant of monopoly itself can be bought and sold, and infringement of this monopoly isn’t anything like “theft” or being “ripped off”.

      A political party that publicly agrees this growing constituency, and doesn’t retract it after a few phone calls from anti-democratic lobbiests, will gain votes. I think it is time politicians started to listen to constituents on this issue, and recognize that globally the tides are turning on this controversial set of policies.