Jonathan Pink — Entertainment, Internet and New Media Partner at Lewis Brisbois, LLP Rotating Header Image

Another Opinion on Whether the Copyright Act Should Survive in the Era of Bit Torrent

I recently wrote about an artist who tried to gather support for a national day of “dining and dashing” to promote what he considered to be the injustice copyright owners face in the era of BitTorrent. There is no doubt that there currently exists an inconvenient mismatch between the real word of P2P file sharing and copyright jurisprudence, and that this inevitably leads to the question: can copyright ownership survive in an era of fast evolving, dynamic, disruptive innovation and should it?

Now a new book tackles this very question. Entitled Against Monopoly, and written by two econ professors at Washington University, David K. Levine and Michele Boldrin argue that intellectual property rights may stifle – rather than encourage – innovation, claiming that competition requires some degree of imitation.

Maybe.

As I argued in my last post on this issue, Professors Levine and Boldrin would seem to agree that even with P2P file sharing, musicians for example have an ancillary ability to make money off of their work, for example by using their increased popularity (that comes from easy access – read no coast – to their music) to sell more concert tickets, tee-shirts, etc.

While I wouldn’t go as far as they by suggesting we abandon the Copyright Act (far from it), I do think it needs some revision in order to allow for the reality of easy access to material in the Digital Age. Maybe the solution is to levy significant taxes on file-sharing companies such as BitTorrent, and use those proceeds to the artists whose works fuel these P2P sites. OK, that sounds pretty unworkable, even as I write it. But then again, what’s your bright idea?

Jonathan Pink is a business lawyer with a specialty in copyright, patent and trademark litigation. His clients include many of the biggest names in the automotive and motorcycle aftermarket parts industries, and one of world's largest media companies. He has extensive experience in a wide range of intellectual property and commercial disputes including breach of contract, fraud, and the misappropriation of trade secrets. He can be reached at 949.223.7173, or at jonathan.pink@bryancave.com, and his full profile can be viewed at www.bryancave.com.

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