Expert to Congress: Keys Are Intellectual Property Rights & Markets
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the high-stakes and often high-decibel debate over how best to reduce online piracy of music, movies and other intellectual property, Congress should resist pressure to “enact temporary fixes,” and keep its eye on the ultimate goal: protecting the interests of consumers and rights of creators. That is the view of James V. DeLong of The Progress & Freedom Foundation expressed in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday. DeLong believes the two goals are inseparable and would be best served by a “strong system of intellectual property rights and well-functioning markets.”
In testimony before the Senate Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, DeLong challenged the notion that intellectual property is “a zero sum game” between creators and consumers. A self-described optimist, he says there is “no conflict between the rights and interests of producers of intellectual property and the interests of consumers.”
“The Digital Age has the potential to foster the creation of an immense quantity and variety of intellectual riches of all kinds – music, books, journals, software, movies, video. Whether this potential is fulfilled depends largely on whether appropriate property rights and markets are developed and enforced,” Delong said in written testimony. “The true interest of consumers is in having a strong system of intellectual property rights and well-functioning markets that…enables [them] to vote with their payments to influence what is produced.”
According to DeLong, who runs the Foundation’s Center for the Study of Digital Property, “The only question worthy of consideration by Congress is what it can do to help us ensure that such a market system exists.” He says the real enemy of consumers is the digital free rider: “The consumer who downloads music through unauthorized channels is cheating his or her fellow consumers because the practice involves free riding on their payments,” he told the committee. “Of course, if everyone tries to free ride on everyone, the system does not work at all.”
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.