[affs-project] Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re: APIG inital report

Graham Seaman graham at theseamans.net
Thu Feb 23 00:49:53 GMT 2006

Alex Hudson wrote:
>On Wed, 2024-02-22 at 23:10 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
>>If you are the copyright holder or sole licensee of the holder
>>(a common situation created by publication contracts), then
>>you have a 100% market share and can pick and choose who can
>>enter the market in that copyrighted work. Were it not exempt,
>>most copyright licences seem be right up there among the worst
>>anti-competitive practices. How is that not a monopoly?
>Well, it's a monopoly in a colloquial sense - we're talking about
>exclusive control of something - but not in a economic sense. It's not
>control of a market, it's control of supply of a particular product in
>a market. 
It's refusal to allow a market to be created. There is a market in (for 
example) the works of William Morris, which are no longer under 
copyright. You can buy (expensive but well produced) copies of his works 
printed by the William Morris society, or if you prefer you can buy 
(nearly as expensive but trendier) print-on-demand copies through 
Amazon, or you can buy cheap paperbacks of his fantasy works; there is 
also a secondary market in (cheap but often tatty) second hand copies 
printed in his lifetime, or incredibly expensive  copies hand made by 
the man himself. There is no such primary market in  recent works (as MJ 
says, if you want to get a book printed you normally have to give 
exclusive printing rights to one publisher), and some copyright based 
licenses even rule out the secondary market. Profits made in this 
situation are called 'monopoly rents' by economists; this is the normal 
technical term for it, and doesn't necessarily imply criticism.
>As with most things, it's a balance - control of a market is seen as a
>bad thing, control of the fruits of your own labour is seen as a good
>thing. There is a continuum there, but labelling copyright as a monopoly
>on your own labour isn't going to convince many, I don't think.
I think MJ is following normal usage: google for 'copyright grant of 
monopoly' and see how many references you get. I don't think we should 
surrender the long standing definition of copyright as a temporary grant 
of monopoly so easily. The question is the length and completeness of 
the monopoly that can be justified for the claimed aim of motivating 
producers, and now in addition the costs to users imposed by technical 
measures intended to enforce the monopoly.

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