Saturday, January 14, 2012

Google wants copyright opt-out

Google copyright lawyer Bill Patry claims to tell how to fix copyright, part 3 and part 2. I would respond in the comments on that blog, but my comments were deleted.

He does not explain it, but a large part of Google's empire is based on the difference between opt-in and opt-out. Copyright law protects an author's exclusive right, and no other system can use his works unless he opts-in to the system. Google wants the law to be opt-out, so that Google can copy whatever it pleases until the author opts-out by formally objecting. Google finds that few authors opt-out, becaues of Google's market power and other reasons.

For example, the rapid success of YouTube was almost entirely because it was the biggest and most reliable source of pirated videos on the web. Now Google responds to takedown notices from those who want to opt-out, but the market power of YouTube is so great that most copyright owners settle for some ad royalties instead.

The Google Book lawsuit was supposedly a class action representing authors who did not want their books copied unless they decided to opt-in. But Google's proposed settlement was an opt-out system.

Patry's only proposal is to shorten copyrights, but he says, “None of those suggestions would weaken copyright, whatever that means. None of the proposals have anything to do with my employer.”

Yes, they do weaken copyright, and they are designed to help Google, his employer. A weakened copyright would be a good thing, but Google ought to be honest about its interests here.

No comments: