Tim Wu’s Series Gets To Copyright [5:02 pm]
What are the most violated laws in the United States?
Traffic laws take first place, perhaps, but your next bet should be on copyright. Every week, in various ways, you probably violate the copyright law. [...]
But there’s a reason we do things this way: political failure. The failure in this case is one of the oldest stories in political economy. [...]
Consequently, the political system spits out one kind of answer—an answer friendly to the “property interests” of powerful media companies but one that all but ignores the interests of the basement-dwellers. The formal result of that is what we have today: a copyright law that covers almost everything we do in the digital world.
But the paradox is that the current law is so expansive and extreme that the very firms that first sought it cannot even make use of it. Nor would they want to. In a well-functioning political system, the copyright law might be reformed in a grand negotiation between all interested parties, with the long-term goal of separating out the harmful infringement from the harmless. But in 21st-century America, that’s not a result our political system is capable of reaching. And that’s why, here as in the rest of the series, we leave it to tolerated lawbreaking to find some way out.