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the Big Blog Company | Whose law is it anyway?
“Who yer callin' a sparrow, you schmuck?!”
The bird on the back.
September 20 2004
Monday
Whose law is it anyway?
David Carr • Bloglaw 
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It is entirely consistent that the birth (and subsequent rapid growth) of the digital age should give rise to big, towering arguments about the law of Copyright and whether or not such a concept could, should or will survive this new technological frontier.

As a lawyer, I have been presented with many arguments against the entire concept of Copyright as a legal and enforceable principle. Some of these arguments have a sounder basis than others. But, of all the views I have encountered, few strike me as strange and ill-thought out as this one:

If I go up to Jack Valenti or Dan Glickman and ask them if I have the right to copy this DVD, they’ll say no. I can show them the receipt and they’ll still say no. If they really want to insist that I don’t have any right to make a copy, even after I explain the physics of the situation to them, then I really ought to ask them for my money back.

Now that I think about it, this could explain why I don’t have a DVD player at home and have never owned a single DVD. Ever. It could also be that I’m just cheap. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because my inner physicist is subconciously offended by any business model that is in conflict with the fundamental laws of the universe…

If the author’s “inner physicist” is offended by business models which run contrary to the laws of the universe then I suggest that his “inner physicist” needs to get out a bit more.

Business models (like the concept of Copyright itself) are an abstraction but there is nothing wrong with laws (or models) based on abstractions. Indeed, our entire tradition of law is based on expository abstraction. Corporations (or Companies in the UK) are merely notional and entirely artificial. You cannot touch them, feel them or sense them. Yet they have a legal personality that enables them to do business. Likewise the law of contract itself is an abstraction and entirely open to endless re-working and manipulation. Contractual obligations need only be certain and made in consideration of reciprocal obligations but I do not recall reading anything about the laws of the universe being involved.

We know that some animals devour their young. Presumably that is a law of the universe.

I do think that the recording industry, in particular, has responded to the digital age with a huge degree of ineptitude. I think (indeed, I expect) that they will have to radically re-define their business models in order to adapt and survive. But the laws of the universe have nothing to do with it. 

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