Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why copyright protection is politically popular

Spend a few minutes on the Internet, and you'd think copyright is about as popular as the plague. Back in the real world, however, the PRO-IP Act passed the House last year 410-11, and by unanimous consent in the Senate. Why the disconnect? There are many reasons, chief among them that legislators simply don't buy the copyleft's argument that piracy is no big deal.

This Financial Times article is a reminder of another: having management and labor on the same side of an issue creates an almost unstoppable force:
Unions on both sides of the Atlantic are joining forces with media companies to lobby for tougher action against piracy, as rising unemployment levels focus their attention on the threat to members’ jobs and incomes from copyright breaches.

Representatives from media unions, including the the Federation of Entertainment Unions and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu), joined rights owners at a London conference this month to co-ordinate their approach to the government’s Digital Britain report on the future of the UK’s creative industries.


“It has become crystal clear that the issue of fighting piracy and counterfeiting is a jobs issue and is about the economy,” said Rick Cotton, general counsel of NBC Universal. The co-ordination with unions has been “a tremendous multiplier” of media companies’ lobbying efforts, he said.

“Politicians like to see management and labour together so they don’t have to pick sides,” said Mike Mathis, a 20-year Teamsters union veteran now running an independent labour consultancy.

Solidarity forever....

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