Therefore, practice DirectAction and PirateMusic. Where the law and ethics are at variance, follow morality, not legality. The suppression of the GreyAlbum and the ensuing protests should be your role model.
Economics can't effectively be used to justify breaking copyright law, because that is a question of "what should I do?" - a question in the domain of ethics, not economics. However, economics can help tell us of the economic consequences of the abolition or modification of copyright law.
Here's an example of an economic justification for abolishing copyright law: The economic purpose of property and money is to efficiently distribute scarce resources. However, in a world of six billion people, where the cost of copying music is very low, music is no longer a scarce resource. As a result, property is likely to be an inefficient means of distribution.
Observations back this up. The widespread breaking of copyright law with the advent of file-sharing networks proved a significant boost to the distribution of music - resulting in more people listening to more music than under the property-based system. By contrast, the attempts by the RIAA to enforce copyright law reduced the efficiency of this distribution mechanism.
The chief economic counter-argument is that copyright is a useful incentive for the creation of new music. Thus, economically, we can weigh the cost of copyright in hindering free distribution, against the benefit of copyright as an incentive for creating new music. Again, this is something that can be determined in part by observation - determining whether the decline in music company profits has been matched by a decline in the amount of new music.
Of course, property is not entirely economic in nature. It is partially moral. Property also protects the person. For instance, as humans are territorial, people have a human right to a home they can call their own. Sentimentality is also an important measure of property. My teddy bear as a resource is valueless, but to me is invaluable. Property provides societial protections to these concepts that would otherwise require personal protection (i.e. violence) to enforce.
Of course there are moral arguments for property and for copyright law - but this section should be about the economics, no?
Finally, copyright law is already fully capable of distributing music for free. There is no legal reason to dismantle it.
It is not possible to release genuinely free music under current copyright law, because:
There are plenty of moral justifications for copying music (and more widely, for not respecting copyright law). One may believe that such moral justifications are flawed or self-serving, but they do exist, just as do moral arguments against copying music. Examples:
"Copying music increases the sum of human happiness," really is a deeper moral question. However, others describe responses to the situation where art either has no intrinsic cost or that the existing purchase costs and economic infrastructure for the production and dissemination of art are unjustified based on their perceived value. To be more specific
I don't claim that music is properly priced. I claim that the issues are within the power of capitalism to solve provided it isn't hampered by protectionism. I also claim people don't get this.
If you believe that these arguments are economic ones, then I claim that you don't get them! For example, the belief that "property is theft" is a fundamentally moral assertion - it parallels the belief that "slavery is murder". Even if music was "properly priced", the belief that property is theft could be used to justify abolishing copyright law.
This is not to say that they are divorced from economics. In Utilitarianism, economic wealth is a useful first approximation to the sum of human happiness. The Wiccan moral prohibition against causing harm applies to economic harm as well as to physical and spiritual harm. But they are moral arguments, not economic ones, in my view. Perhaps providing some economic justifications for contrast would clear this up?
Property can't be theft; that is logically meaningless, even if it sounds rhetorically interesting. See Dictionary:theft. Dismantling the notion of property is still an economic argument, as you necessarily claiming there exists a better economic model as long as you consider property economic.
I don't think Utilitarianism is really very useful, especially in the 21st century. Needs theories may suggest that wealth is a necessary precursor condition to happiness, but money by itself cannot bring happiness. For instance, Hofstaeder would claim that money is a hygiene factor. I think it is fair to claim that some people will always produce music for the altruistic purpose of making other people smile as long as they themselves had no other economic needs left unsatisfied. If so, then copyright law still does not need to be dismantled as it is still legal, moral, and justifiable to release music for free. This makes no claim, of course, that free music is or would be good music. --SunirShah
All arguments about copyrights, both for and against, are arguments about economics, because copyright is a feature of economics. However, many of them, both for and against, are moral arguments, not economic arguments. When a supporter of copyright claims that authors have a moral right to control distribution, that's a moral argument, and when an opponent of copyright claims that the ability of authors to legally control distribution is immoral (IE, that such property is theft), then that is also a moral argument.
I believe the barriers to the creation of free music are a major justificaiton for PirateMusic. Artists, venues, composers, are all hindered from creating free music by record company and union entanglements. A recording artist cannot issue a few free songs even if they should so choose, because the labels won't allow it and prohibit it contractually. And even if they could themselves, they would find that their usual collaborators are stuck in similar entanglements. --Steve
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