House Republicans Backpedal on Copyright Reform

The GOP made an encouraging move toward moderate reform, and was slapped down by big money.

I am far from the Republican party’s biggest fan, but I was rather encouraged recently to see a paper written and vetted by the Republican Study Committee laying out a strong case for massive copyright reform. Apparently they figured this might be a way to win some younger voters, by making a case for badly needed reforms on free-market grounds:

Copyright violates nearly every tenet of laissez faire capitalism. Under the current system of copyright, producers of content are entitled to a guaranteed, government instituted, government subsidized content-monopoly.

Today’s legal regime of copyright law is seen by many as a form of corporate welfare that hurts innovation and hurts the consumer. It is a system that picks winners and losers, and the losers are new industries that could generate new wealth and added value. We frankly may have no idea how it actually hurts innovation, because we don’t know what isn’t able to be produced as a result of our current system.

Well hell, guys, if you’ve actually started reading Adam Smith instead of Ayn Rand, I’m willing to get on board this train. Copyright reform is decades overdue, and at this point in the information revolution, U.S. law on intellectual property has moved from counterproductive to actively embarrassing. If the GOP wants to belatedly recognize that the interests of the market and the interests of businesses within the market are not the same, then I for one am glad to hear it. More power to them, and…

Oops, never mind.

Seems that certain powers that be, i.e. the RIAA and MPAA, had to step in and remind those upstarts that “the party of big business” isn’t something you can just stop being. Now they’re retracting the whole thing, saying that it wasn’t reviewed properly. Now, the Republican Study Committee’s entire job is to research issues and produce position papers, so the only way that statement is true is if “proper review” actually entails running any proposed legislation past the relevant corporate overlords to make sure it doesn’t draw their wrath. To my mind that’s no way to run a legislative branch, but what do I know?

So, free markets lose another battle to oligopoly, and as usual oligopoly claims to be defending the market. And for a minute there I was almost pleasantly surprised. Ah well, maybe next time…

About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. Lol do you think the government is going to pander to the people? When elections don’t need billions just to be held, when it’s illegal to donate to an election campaign or any way for politicians to benefit from big money including luncheons, etc then you might see some real democracy in action. It just seems to be who can grease the wheels the best…

Speak Your Mind