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Corporations Have Hijacked Copyright Law, Too

Posted on Aug 31, 2011
C.G.P. Grey

Copyright originated in early 1700s England as a contract between authors and society, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times [28 years] to Authors … the exclusive right to their respective Writings.” After that point, the public was free to mix, remake and build upon an author’s creative idea. In short, to evolve culture.

For a time, that scheme functioned well for members of the art-making and -appreciating public on both sides of the Atlantic, including Walt Disney, who built his animation empire with stories that had entered the public domain. But then, corporations seeking greater profits lobbied for the extension of copyright life far beyond the original length of three decades, and cultural evolution was stymied for their financial benefit.

As C.G.P. Grey, author of the video below, argues: “This near-infinite control subverts the whole purpose of copyright which is to promote the creation of more books and movies, not to give companies the power to stop people making new creative works based on the efforts of their long-dead founders. New directors and authors need the freedom to take what came before to remake and remix. And they should be able to use creative material from their own lifetimes to do so, not just be limited to the work of previous generations.” —ARK

C.G.P. Grey:

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By Lafayette, August 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment


This is just one more arrow in Corporate Quivers when it comes to integrating their industrial / commercial empires.

The extension of copyright and patent limitations goes part and parcel with their effort to maintain market integration in the hands of an oligopoly (few sellers, many buyers) in order to maintain their profit streams.

And where do those profit streams go? To the billionaire plutocrat class that we, the sheeple, have allowed to be created by consistent laxity in market oversight of the past. (See the distribution of wealth in the US info-graphic pie chart here.)

And for what? The erroneous notion that Free Markets are “free”? That Bigger is always Better? Which is right, for some - but not for Jack ‘n Jill Sixpack who have to pay the higher costs.

What is one of the more indicative examples of market consolidation? Try Health Care. Look at what the market for health care in the US looks like, here.

There are many reasons why per capita costs of Health Care in the US is twice to three times as much as in Canada and most European countries (see here). But market integration is surely amongst the most important.

We, the sheeple, are getting fleeced by BigBusiness in a good many sectors (Telecoms, Food Industry, M-I-C, etc.).

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