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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Copyright Destroys Free Speech

Intellectual Property is not something I think about much as it is one of those topics that does not interest me. But I did have a slightly new idea against copyright laws that I never heard anyone use before.

People usually say that copyright protects the incentive of businesses to innovate more and since their innovation is important their needs to be intellectual property laws that prohibit other people from using the works of someone else.

However, as with almost everything, this goal (a benefit) to protect innovation comes at a cost. There is a cost imposed upon us with intellectual property in place. Not just the cost of having to pay more, rather than just downloading stuff, but a much more fundamental cost, a non-monetary cost. The internet is at the risk of more control whenever there is an intellectual monopoly created. Because now it means that websites can be shut down for copyright violations.

If a website is illegally posting content which is copyrighted then it can be shut down by the state. And I understand that this is not a free speech violation, because the website is not being shut down for what it said but for completely different violations. However, it is still problematic. Consider a website which features an open discussion for ideas, but it ran into copyright issues as some of the members posted copyrighted material there. This website is now at risk of being shut down or at least controlled.

And this is a problem, as such a law does inadvertently destroy the speech of the internet. What is more important? A free internet where people can post ideas without fear of being shut down, or an internet where people are constantly second guessing themselves if whether or not they crossed over the copyright line?

Over the years these copyright laws are getting worse and the internet is at most risk of being censored for potential copyright violations. I would imagine that most people would agree with me. I am sure people would say that some of these laws are getting out of place. However, they would mostly likely tell you that these laws need to be reformed. I do not buy this. As with almost every law put into place it has grown to exponential sizes of pages of regulations. Convince me that these internet copyright laws are not going to grow like a disease and seriously damage the internet? It is foolish not to assume this will happen. So I would say that the internet needs to be protected against copyright laws even though technically such laws are not violations of free speech.

If you want to support copyright laws then at least support copyright with regard for profit. Leave non-profit, as most places on the internet, alone. That way websites are not at risk of being shut down just because of some trivial copyright violations.


  1. To violate copyright you have to literally copy the exact words. If you paraphrase you are Ok. So what are you complaining about? If you want to rant about an intellectual property disaster it isn't copyright, but patents.

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