Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mickey Must Die

Let's get one thing straight: it is entirely possible to simultaneously believe that the current state of copyright law is borked beyond repair and that intellectual property is a valid concept which ought to be useful for making money. The law says there's this thing called "Fair Use", an escape from copyright restrictions that lets our culture build upon and expand creative works while still respecting intellectual ownership. But it is so ill-defined and so disrespected by the courts that no one can be confident of actually using it and being safe from attack. Even if your right to Fair Use is upheld in a court, the simple threat of fees from a tactical lawsuit is enough to freeze any attempts to apply it. In this environment of fear, copyright law's primary function is no longer to encourage innovation by ensuring compensation; it is to provide a legal avenue for stifling speech and stomping out creativity. So when I say that I do not respect copyright law, that it should not be followed and needs to be eliminated, that Mickey Must Die, it is not because I think that all information must be inherently free and artists have no claim on their work. It is because my sense of social responsibility is stronger than my greed.