In my last column, I explained how the copyright monopoly is fundamentally incompatible with private communications as a concept, and how we must weigh a silly distribution monopoly for one of many entertainment industries against such vital functions of society as whistleblower protection, freedom of the press, and the ability to hold a private conversation in the first place. While this argument is strong, it does require a bit of intelligence and the ability to see how two ideas conflict, so it can be hard to get across to copyright monopoly pundits.
The threat against private communications isn’t the only thing wrong with the copyright monopoly, of course. I have previously argued here on TorrentFreak that there’s really nothing defensible about the monopoly at all. But in order to break the spell of “publishers have always told me that the copyright monopoly is good and I have never had any reason to question their self-interest in the matter”, there are other tricks of honest, effective argumentation.
While it’s possible to attack the copyright monopoly construct from many angles – all of them, in fact – some fruit is more low-hanging than others. One easy angle is to point at the usual (horrible) motivation of the copyright monopoly; that it “enables creators to make money” (which is factually false, misleading, and dishonest). If you’re talking to a monopoly pundit, or just somebody who hasn’t had reason to question the monopoly, this point will come up sooner or later.
Once this point comes up, it’s an open goal. To make sure you understood the point correctly, reiterate back; “So your point is that they should be rewarded with a monopoly to make money, in order to give them an incentive to create more art?” Any monopoly pundit will nod enthusiastically.
Then, score the goal. “So why does the monopoly last 70 years after the author’s death? I don’t know of a single author who keeps writing books after they’re dead and buried. The copyright monopoly term is at least 70 years – a whole lifetime – too long. And if it is that obviously 70 years too long, then it’s absurd in the first place.”
Occasionally, you’ll see some fightback that their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren should inherit the privileges of the author, which you can easily refute by pointing out that the purpose was already agreed to be an incentive for the artist to create more art, not for their children to get privileged at the expense of others.
Once you have established that the copyright monopoly term is indefensively long – at least a lifetime too long – then the facade of pretend perfection is broken. If something as fundamental as that can be questioned, and it can, then everything else is also up in the air.
Have fun making the pennies drop and the facades crack.