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Re: [affs-project] Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re: APIG inital report

From: Graham Seaman
Subject: Re: [affs-project] Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re: APIG inital report
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 00:49:53 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.7 (X11/20051016)

Alex Hudson wrote:

On Wed, 2006-02-22 at 23:10 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
If you are the copyright holder or sole licensee of the holder
(a common situation created by publication contracts), then
you have a 100% market share and can pick and choose who can
enter the market in that copyrighted work. Were it not exempt,
most copyright licences seem be right up there among the worst
anti-competitive practices. How is that not a monopoly?

Well, it's a monopoly in a colloquial sense - we're talking about
exclusive control of something - but not in a economic sense. It's not
control of a market, it's control of supply of a particular product in
a market.
It's refusal to allow a market to be created. There is a market in (for example) the works of William Morris, which are no longer under copyright. You can buy (expensive but well produced) copies of his works printed by the William Morris society, or if you prefer you can buy (nearly as expensive but trendier) print-on-demand copies through Amazon, or you can buy cheap paperbacks of his fantasy works; there is also a secondary market in (cheap but often tatty) second hand copies printed in his lifetime, or incredibly expensive copies hand made by the man himself. There is no such primary market in recent works (as MJ says, if you want to get a book printed you normally have to give exclusive printing rights to one publisher), and some copyright based licenses even rule out the secondary market. Profits made in this situation are called 'monopoly rents' by economists; this is the normal technical term for it, and doesn't necessarily imply criticism.

As with most things, it's a balance - control of a market is seen as a
bad thing, control of the fruits of your own labour is seen as a good
thing. There is a continuum there, but labelling copyright as a monopoly
on your own labour isn't going to convince many, I don't think.

I think MJ is following normal usage: google for 'copyright grant of monopoly' and see how many references you get. I don't think we should surrender the long standing definition of copyright as a temporary grant of monopoly so easily. The question is the length and completeness of the monopoly that can be justified for the claimed aim of motivating producers, and now in addition the costs to users imposed by technical measures intended to enforce the monopoly.


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