Garett Jones  

Zero Price, Today Only: *Copyright Unbalanced*

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Today is the first anniversary of Wikipedia's SOPA Blackout: A 24-hour shutdown to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.  To commemorate the anniversary, the Mercatus Center is making Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive To Excess available free for today only.  Download it here in .mobi or .epub format (free software for reading these formats are easy to come by).  

Here's the start to Tom W. Bell's chapter: 

On November 28, 2009, police arrested a 22-year-old Chicago woman named Samantha Tumpach, jailed her for two nights, and charged her with "criminal use of a motion picture exhibition"--a felony offense punishable with up to three years in prison. Her crime? She had captured two brief clips of The Twilight Saga: New Moon while recording her family's surprise birthday celebration for her sister, who had come to the theater to watch the film. Tumpach copied under four minutes of the movie in total and obviously had no intention of making a bootleg for resale. "You can hear me talking the whole time," she explained.

Bell would like "IP" to stand for "Intellectual Privilege." 

Eli Dourado's piece on the easily-avoided paywall for the New York Times illustrates the public choice point that government-enforced IP is just one more tool at the disposal of content providers, and without the state they'd find some other alternative to generate revenue.  A continuum, not a cliff.  

After reading his piece you might find it tougher to see even blatant copyright violation as a criminal act and a lot easier to see it as a mere tort.  Dourado: 

Given that the Times spent extra money to make sure that its paywall was especially porous, it seems absurd to criminalize the act of circumventing it. 

Other worthy essays too as Tyler noted.  Remember: Free today only


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Tom E. Snyder writes:

Amazon says it's $3.99.

Vipul Naik writes:

Your attribution in the last line should be to Alex Tabarrok (the author of the linked post), not Tyler Cowen.

Vipul Naik writes:

@Tom: Don't follow the "Get it now" link on the page -- scroll down the page to get to the downloadable versions.

Joe Cushing writes:

I have long decided that IP is a public good. It is not excludable and not rivalrous. Charging for IP would be like charging for a fireworks display. It's possible. For example, you can put on a show at a sports arena and sell tickets. You cannot however charge people outside the sport arena with a crime for turning their heads to look at the fireworks.

Joe Cushing writes:

Oh I almost forgot. We don't need IP anyway. The clothing industry has no IP and they are very competitive. New designs come out all the time.

Essen writes:

Was reading the ebook. Did Jerry Brito intrinsically have the right 'knowledge' when he made the book freely downloadable only for a day? He says the Congress does not have the knowledge of created laws. He says it does have intrinsic knowledge of common laws. Downloadable for one day is akin to created law: trying to balance public good versus incentive for the creators. So does he have the intrinsic knowledge in this case?

Was the public good served by keeping it open for a day? Were the authors incentivized enough to create more books about copyright by closing it after a day?

Tom E. Snyder writes:

@Vipul, thanks, I found it.

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