How to organize for a political push to restructure copyright and patent law?

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.
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell



  1. Copyright and patent reform needs to be a non-partisan movement.
  2. 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.
  3. The hundreds of thousands of reform advocates need a set of winning arguments.
  4. 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.
Unless something changes, let's assume that money talks in politics. The movement needs both money and quality talk. The copyright and patent reform activity needs both a coherent rhetorical argument and matching donations.

On the problem of “How do you argue for less restrictive copyright and patent laws?”


There are many instances where copyright and patent protections are an encumberance and annoyance. For instance:

German Kindergartens Ordered To Pay Copyright For Songs http://idle.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/12/29/169253

Several legal arguments are of great importance to the development of an effective advocacy argument. Some thinkers are:
  • Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.
    • http://shop.fsf.org/product/free-software-free-society-2/
  • Lawrence Lessig, law professor and copyright lawyer.
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Lessig

The intellectual property and entertainment industries have a very strong argument for more restrictive copyright laws. The advocates for stronger laws and longer terms of protection claim the stronger laws are needed to prevent illegal copying and unpaid distribution of copyrighted works.

It seems to me that the counter arguments should be rhetorically organized using ideas developed by George Lakoff. Mr. Lakoff proposes that metaphors built around the “strong father model” regularly get a strong acceptance response from American people of the conservative persuasion. One book by Mr. Lakoff that summarizes this idea in a political context is: Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. See this Wikipedia article for a summary:



On the third problem of “What law do you write and what do you ask elected representatives to vote for?”




One good discussion is:
Six Steps to Digital Copyright Sanity: Reforming a Pre-VCR Law for a YouTube World
http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1244

My recent private citizen thoughts have been like this:
  • 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.