“This disconnect between the public’s view of copyright and fair use and what should and should not be prosecuted, versus the ‘copyright maximist’ view of the law, is our generation’s Prohibition,” says Ben Huh, CEO and founder of Cheezburger and a loud voice in the recent backlash to SOPA and PIPA, two congressional bills aimed at curbing internet piracy.
Copyright exists to “promote the useful arts” according to the Constitution. But is it still doing that? And should the government protect so-called “intellectual property” in the same way it protects other forms of property? Reason.tv posed these questions to Ben Huh, as well as a professor and a movie studio representative.
Tom Bell, a law professor specializing in property law, has serious reservations about attempts by groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to equate property and copyright through ad campaigns admonishing viewers with messages like, “You wouldn’t steal a car. Downloading pirated movies is stealing.”
“As soon as we start using [the word] ‘copyright’ for ‘property,’ we start taking less seriously our property rights for things like cars and houses,” says Bell. “When you steal a candy bar or a car, you’ve left somebody without something to eat or something to drive.”
April 20, 2012
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