News Release

The Future of Copyright in the Internet Era

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster. The case raises questions about the nature of copyright in the age of the Internet. The following are available for interviews:

DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker wrote the paper “The Artistic Freedom Voucher: Internet Age Alternative to Copyrights,” which outlines a system that “would allow each individual to contribute a refundable tax credit of approximately $100 to a creative worker of their choice” as an alternative to copyright.

He said today: “Copyrights are a relic of the feudal guild system that has long outlived its usefulness. We have far more efficient mechanisms for promoting creativity and innovation in the modern economy. For example, the Artistic Freedom Voucher system could provide a greater pool of money to support to creative and innovative work, with less government interference than the copyright system. Instead of trying to adjust its business model to the Internet Age, the entertainment industry is playing the role of 21st century Luddites by trying to suppress technology in order to preserve its old-fashioned business methods.”
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SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN
Vaidhyanathan is author of the books Copyrights and Copywrongs and The Anarchist in the Library. He said today: “In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that insofar as technology was concerned, hands off is the best policy the government could pursue. As a result of the court’s ruling in the Betamax case we saw the flourishing of the VCR. That ruling not only changed the way we experience media and opened up new markets for video, it granted confidence to inventors. If the Supreme Court rules differently in the Grokster case, it could scare away an entire generation of creative engineers. Technologies like Grokster are simply search engines using the peer-to-peer nature of the Internet. If you have a problem with peer to peer, you have a problem with the Internet. The question is: Do the interests of the big Hollywood studios trump the interests of everybody else on the Internet? If that’s the case we’re in for a lot of trouble.”

Vaidhyanathan, who is assistant professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University, added: “There are legitimate copyright issues and they should be pursued in civil court. But enforcing it at the level of the technology is not appropriate. It would do more harm than good.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020