Adkinson Says Eldred Decision Underscores Need for Fighting Piracy
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court’s recent Eldred decision “emphatically affirms copyright’s central role in providing incentives for the creation of content of all types” – including content on the Internet – writes The Progress & Freedom Foundation’s William F. Adkinson, Jr. But if consumers are to enjoy a proliferation of creative works online, he believes action must be taken to reign in rampant piracy.
“The copyright system extolled by the court promises to bring rich digital content to the Internet, benefiting millions of consumers of recorded music, videos and other popular digital content, including games and software,” Adkinson writes in an op-ed published by The Washington Times. “But pervasive piracy threatens to make copyright protection illusory on the Internet.”
So pervasive has piracy become that major films are available illegally on the Internet within days of their release, and copies of CDs are available prior to release. “The ‘engine of free expression’ the court describes will not propel digital content if such piracy runs rampant,” he warns. “The cost could be enormous – threatening to diminish the variety and quality of expression that form basic parts of everyday life – music, movies, TV programs (and, increasingly games and software).”
To those who believe producers of digital content should simply create new business models to compete with free pirated content, Adkinson cites the court’s endorsement of the system of “marketable rights” created by copyright, and the importance of protecting these rights to enable new and successful business models. “Rights to content simply are not effectively marketable if free pirated versions are broadly available,” he says.
“Reasonable people can differ as to means we should employ,” Adkinson concludes. “But we must end the misguided debate over whether to protect digital content and take up the difficult process of deciding how best to do so.”
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the impact of the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1993.