Dean Baker: Copyright protection is an antiquated relic of the late Middle Ages that has no place in the digital era.

“Near the top of the list of the Pirate Party’s demons is copyright protection, and rightly so. Copyright protection is an antiquated relic of the late Middle Ages that has no place in the digital era. It is debatable whether such government-granted monopolies were ever the best way to finance the production of creative and artistic work, but now that the internet will allow this material to be instantly transferred at zero cost anywhere in the world, copyrights are clearly a counter-productive restraint on technology.

As every graduate of an introductory economics class knows, the market works best when items sell at their marginal cost. That means we maximize efficiency when recorded music, movies, video games and software are available to users at zero cost. The fees that the government allows copyright holders to impose create economic distortions in the same way that tariffs on imported cars or clothes lead to economic distortions.

The major difference is that the distortions from copyright protection are much larger. While tariffs on cars or clothes would rarely exceed 20-30 per cent, the additional cost imposed by copyright protection is the price of the product. Movies that would be free in a world without copyright protection can cost $20-$30. The same is true of video games, and the price of copyrighted software can run into the thousands of dollars.”

  • Dean Baker

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/2012514204029381972.html

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