|Looking at things from a high level view. Shows much work is needed.|
Advocating for changes in copyright and patent law is basically a sharks versus minnows problem. The sharks are the relatively few businesses who are able to write laws and lobby for their passage. The minnows are the 200 million plus people who buy material covered by copyright and patent protection.
At the level of Federal law, the sharks have been winning by arguing for and lobbying for broader laws and longer terms of copyright and patent protection.
I write here about the problem by cutting it into three parts. One part is “How do you organize the minnows.” Part two is: “How do you argue for less restrictive copyright and patent laws? Part three is: “What law do you write and what do you ask elected representatives to vote for?”
On the problem of “How do you organize the minnows?”I recently discovered an article that shows how and why an organization effort could plausibly employ a social network site like Facebook. The kind of action group that is plausible is: A loose social network.
The article title is “Small Change Why the revolution will not be tweeted.” by Malcolm Gladwell, published in The New Yorker magazine, October 4, 2010.
- Copyright and patent reform needs to be a non-partisan movement.
- As an issue for the large numbers of “minnow” advocates, this will be a relatively small commitment activity that does not require the intense friendship and hierarchical structure of the American Civil Rights movement. The Malcom Gladwell article above eloquently disassembles the presumption that a Facebook type advocacy program can create a disciplined, hierarchical organization. Instead of an institution, a Facebook advocacy program tends to create a loose network.
- The hundreds of thousands of reform advocates need a set of winning arguments.
- Money and rhetoric: In the absence of a better rule of thumb, the lobbying and campaign donation dollars deployed needs to match or exceed by a factor of two the lobbying and campaign donation dollars spent by the “shark”advocates. The movement needs a well documented estimate of the shark lobby hours and dollars and shark campaign spending and a matching tally for the “minnow” advocates.
On the problem of “How do you argue for less restrictive copyright and patent laws?”
- Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.
- Lawrence Lessig, law professor and copyright lawyer.
On the third problem of “What law do you write and what do you ask elected representatives to vote for?”
One good discussion is:
- In the area of patents, I think we should explore removing the process of patent accumulation and cross licensing as a business practice of excluding small businesses. I suggest that cross licensing agreements create industrial oligarchical relationships. Legally regulate patent licensing so there are only two prices for a patent license. One price is the institutional license. The other price is the “capped per embodiment” license. Capped per embodiment means that in a physical object or computer program, all the patents taken together can not exceed 2% of the wholesale price of the object or program. The point of patents as named in the U.S. Constitution is to advance the useful arts, not exclude businesses from engaging in the best practices.
- In the area of copyright, I think we should again, put a licensing model into the law. For copyrighted objects that can move over the Internet there are two licensing fee models I feel we should explore. One, a fee based on the limit of hours of attention that the recipient of data downloads experiences. Two, a fee based on a tax added to storage media when sold. Then payment to copyright holders based on a sample and audit of user storage media for copyright tags and serial numbers prepended at the head of every downloaded file of copyright material.