In a recent article in National Review, Joe Karaganis of American Assembly notes that copyright law is increasingly out of step with social norms. His polling suggests that it’s only a matter of time before a majority supports a broad copyright reform agenda.
As I’ve noted before, copyright has for too long been a bipartisan issue, but it will soon become a partisan one. The question is, which party will take up the winning copyright reform issue?
How would an Internet politics emerge in the Democratic party? The answer is probably simple: It is impossible in the short term because of the power of Hollywood and inevitable in the long term because of the power of time. Most of the young are already Democrats.
How would an Internet politics emerge in the Republican party? Given the decades of rhetorical entrenchment around property rights and law enforcement, it would probably require the recasting of intellectual-property rights as government monopoly, of SOPA-style bills as crony capitalism, and of Internet enforcement as part of a digital-surveillance state.
Such views in favor of recasting IP rights already have a home on the right, and are supported by congressmen such as Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz. Tactical considerations alone could produce Republican-led majorities on these issues, galvanized by the prospect of wounding the Democrats’ Hollywood money base or splitting Silicon Valley libertarians.
Seems to me like the case is strong for a Republican-led movement, but time is of the essence. Will the G.O.P. squander this opportunity?