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Archived updates for Monday, October 25, 2004

The Creative Destruction of Copyright

According to a paper by Raymond Shih Ray Ku, the denial of access to
music may no longer be necessary to prevent the inefficiencies associated with free riding on the investments and efforts of others to distribute music. Consumer copying via the Internet "creatively destroys" the need for copyright's exclusive rights in reproduction and distribution when

  1. the consumer of a work makes copies of it, and
  2. creation of the work does not depend upon funding derived from the sale of copies.
When both conditions are satisfied, copying does not lead to the underproduction of creative works because consumers distribute the work themselves, eliminating the need for content distributor middlemen while continuing to fund the creation of those creative works. Recognizing this process of creative destruction as fair use is not only consistent with an economic interpretation of copyright, but represents the most coherent interpretation of the consumer copying decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.
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