3/18/2011

Peter Yu offers entertainment industry more convincing proposals for digital copyright reform

It isn't often that an academic offers to help the entertainment industry with legal arguments. (The industry, after all, does have paid professional help.) But Drake University law professor Peter Yu says he's done just that. Yu is a highly-regarded professor of IP law and the Director of Drake's Intellectual Property Law Center, so he knows whereof he speaks. His latest article is titled Digital Copyright and Confuzzling Rhetoric, and it appears in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law. His thesis, and offer:
The entertainment industry tells people they shouldn’t steal music because they wouldn’t steal a car, but has anybody ever downloaded a car? Music fans praise Napster and other file-sharing services for helping to free artists from the stranglehold of the music industry, but how many of these services actually have shared profits with songwriters and performing artists? Industry representatives claim that people use YouTube primarily to listen to or watch copyrighted contents, but are they missing a big piece of the user-generated content picture? Artists are encouraged to forget about copyright and hold live concerts instead, but can all artists succeed under this alternative compensation model? Over the years, policymakers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, civil libertarians, academic commentators, and user communities have advanced many different arguments for or against stronger copyright protection and enforcement. This article examines eight of these arguments, which the author finds rather unpersuasive. It then outlines five strategies that seek to help the entertainment industry make its proposals for digital copyright reform more convincing. The article concludes with two short stories to illustrate the tremendous difficulty for the public to appreciate the complexities in copyright law. It underscores the paramount importance of making convincing arguments in the digital copyright debate.