Why Are We Letting Critical Infrastructure Get Regulated By A Cartoon Industry?

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We're letting a cartoon industry regulate the internet - the single most important infrastructure we have, which builds growth, jobs, civil liberties, and all future entrepreneurship. Why hasn't this been called out for its absurdity?

copyright-brandedIt’s now been 20 years since the Internet went mainstream. Today, every single aspect of private life, business, and civic society depends on a functioning net. Without it, you’re basically in exile from society.

In some countries, coding is now the most common profession. All growth sectors are heavily technology-dependent, which always means that the net is at underpinning all of it. All celebrated entrepreneurs have built super-scaling businesses enabled by the net. We also shop for food online, we date online, we build things together online.

It stands clear that the net is by far the most critical piece of infrastructure existing today. Not only does it build all future jobs, growth, economy, and entrepreneurship; we also exercise all our civil liberties, civic duties, and spend a lot of our social activities on this infrastructure. It’s more important than any other piece of infrastructure in society. We can do without the phone network, without cable TV, even without paved roads when we have the net.

So why are we letting this infrastructure get regulated by a cartoon industry?

This is not just figurative: we quite literally are. The Walt Disney Corporation has been instrumental in lobbying for limiting the utility of the net, taking leadership within the copyright industry at large. It’s no random chance that the latest copyright monopoly extension in the United States was called “The Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act”.

The notion that the copyright industry’s distribution monopoly is somehow more important to society than the super-infrastructure we call the Internet is not just laughable; it’s absurd and bizarre. And yet, the latter is being limited to appease and safeguard the former, instead of the other way around.

Of course, it’s easy to speak of the copyright industry as a cartoon industry in the figurative sense, too. It’s hard to find an industry that’s exaggerating its own importance more while failing at its core business more at the same time.

Policymakers have completely failed in realizing what the growth engine in society is today, and are letting a completely irrelevant industry negate it from the sidelines. This is not just baffling but limits growth, jobs, and future entrepreneurship.

The industries inhibited by the copyright monopoly are contributing more to the economy by almost a factor of twelve-to-one compared to the copyright industry. In other words, for every job lost in the copyright industry, twelve more are created. (Even formal studies agree that more than one job in technology is created for every job lost in the copyright industry.)

For a tangible example of this, observe how Linux- and Unix-based computers now have a market share of over 50% both on the client and server sides. In other words, over half of our service offerings and the consumption of them – across all categories – are now dependent on technology which was written in defiance of the copyright monopoly, and which states outright that the copyright monopoly is a problem at best and absurd at worst.

It’s more than time we saw the cartoon industry for the cartoon industry they are, and kick them out of making policy for critical infrastructure.

Quite regardless of whether they like being kicked out or not, and especially regardless of what they think of the policies we need for the Internet instead of the ones they want.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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