The Economist: Copyright Is An Antiquated Relic That Has No Place In The Digital Ages

by Stephan Kinsella on May 16, 2012

As noted in a recent Techdirt post by Mike Masnick, economist Dean Baker, in his latest column about how The Pirate Party has got it right on copyright, argues:

Near the top of the list of the Pirate Party’s demons is copyright protection, and rightly so. Copyright protection is an antiquated relic of the late Middle Ages that has no place in the digital era. It is debatable whether such government-granted monopolies were ever the best way to finance the production of creative and artistic work, but now that the internet will allow this material to be instantly transferred at zero cost anywhere in the world, copyrights are clearly a counter-productive restraint on technology.

Problem is, Baker “goes on to suggest some alternative means to fund such creative works in a world without copyright, including ideas like ‘artistic freedom vouchers’ that would give people a refundable tax credit on supporting creativity, on the condition that any of the creativity funded by such money would not be able to protect it with copyright for a period of time.” So despite Baker’s pose that he is some radical supporter of pirate party ideas or an opponent of statist copyright grants—he is not. He supports these statist, ridiculous “artistic freedom vouchers.” This is pure theft: from taxpayer to state-favored “artist”. And he is not even against copyright. In my post Economist: Copyright Is An Antiquated Relic That Has No Place In The Digital Age, I noted that Baker, like Alex Tabarrok in the field of inventions, recommends taxpayer funded multibillion-dollar “artistic freedom vouchers” to promote artistic creation. See also William Patry on How to Fix Copyright and The “Artistic Freedom Voucher” [sic], where I note that Roderick Long here quotes Timothy Lee:  “I can’t agree with Baker that all copyright and patent monopolies are illegitimate.” Baker poses as some maverick radical IP reformer, even though he does not oppose getting rid of these monopolies, and indeed favors adding to this abominable program tens or hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer funded state-directed subsidies to the arts and innovation. With radical reformers like these, who needs socialists?

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