WashTimes on Copyright

by Jeffrey Tucker on January 23, 2012

It’s amazing to see a newspaper editorial that is actually somewhat informed:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it a crime to play without permission the music of a Russian composer who’s been dead for 58 years. A 6-2 ruling pulled the works of Sergei Prokofiev out of the public domain, requiring orchestras who have been legally using his music for free to begin paying fat royalties to some estate. As this heavy-handed decision came down, the public began to fight back against the congressional push to further tighten the screws of copyright law.

High-profile websites like Google and Wikipedia asked visitors to call and urge their congressmen to reject the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). These bills would give the attorney general authority to declare nondomestic websites as “infringing” and shut them down. The public outrage at the idea of Big Brother messing with the Internet swamped Capitol Hill phone lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to issue a tweet of retreat. “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act,” said the Nevada Democrat.

Members of Congress had been promoting these bills at the behest of Hollywood. Motion-picture and record studios have always feared the march of technology. In 1976, Universal and Disney sued Sony to try to stamp out the videocassette recorder. In 1999, the industry launched lawsuits to stop peer-to-peer file-sharing software and music downloads. Tinseltown has been wrong at every step. Once they resigned themselves to adapt to the market place, studios made billions on sales of videotapes and music downloads.

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