Friday, February 3, 2012

Julian Sanchez reacts to Cory Doctorow's speech

(If you haven't already read or watched or listened to Cory Doctorow's speech yet, well, what are you waiting for?)

Julian Sanchez is a very interesting author. He works for the Cato Institute and writes for Reason magazine. I don't always agree with everything he says but I find his essays to be well-considered, well-written, and thought-provoking.

Sanchez has written an excellent follow-up article to Doctorow's speech: On the Enforcement Fantasy.

What is "the enforcement fantasy", according to Sanchez?

The misapprehension that technology is going to stay still long enough for traditional, targeted law enforcement approaches to effectively limit the scope and scale of copying.

Sanchez's main point, I believe, is to support Doctorow's observation that regulation must be rooted in the practical and the realistic, and to try to re-direct the discussion toward effective regulation of desired behavior in a context that comprehends the onward march of technology:

We have a legal structure for incentivizing creativity that makes copying and public performance the key points of regulatory intervention. There isn’t some deep moral reason that it’s these points and not others. There are lots of other ways to enjoy creative works without paying the creator, after all


We decided to regulate copying instead, because copying was a lot easier and cheaper to regulate when we wrote the copyright statutes.


But the thing we decided to regulate because it was rare and expensive is now as cheap and ubiquitous as all the other stuff we didn’t regulate because it was cheap and ubiquitous. The good news is, most people are still glad to pay for the content they really like, if it’s provided in a convenient form and at a reasonable price, even when they can (or did!) easily copy it free.

I'm pleased to see people continuing to study and discuss the issues, and trying to advance the debate in useful ways.

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