Why People Hate Copyright

by on July 31, 2009 · 26 comments

Probably largely the same reason that people hate lawyers:  Anytime you’re dealing with legal rights and contracts, it’s a pain to get anything done. (Having just celebrated my fifth law school reunion, I should know!)

Case in point: I was thrilled to discover the Canadian radio show The Age of Persuasion, dedicated to a subject I’ve come to know and love (to the point of considerable repetition): advertising! Yup, that’s right, those annoying little ads that fund all the free online content and services we all take for granted.

Anyway, the good news is that the show is available online.  The bad news is that it’s only available in streaming audio form—which means I can’t take it with me on my iPod, which means I’ll basically never listen to it.  From Podcasting: what’s ‘holding up the delay’?:

Okay, we’ve got to stop meeting like this.

Time, she passes, yet the legals surrounding podcasting are yet to be settled. Meanwhile, our finely honed spider-sense (and a steady stream of daily emails) tells us many of you are wondering when an AOP podcast will happen.

Alas, for the moment, we are bound not to release Age of Persuasion episodes for podcast. (No, we don’t like it either.)

Hey, the cupboard isn’t entirely bare: we are happy to be able to offer online streaming here on our site, with the latest show added early in the week following its broadcast. Meanwhile, there are five chances each Saturday to listen to the Age of Persuasion live feed online. Click on the “Listen to CBC Radio” link on the right side of our page and find the CBC station in the appropriate time zone. As we’re fond of noting: you’ve gotta love a country where 11:30 a.m. happens five times a day.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, podcasting is new enough that the law, and lawyers, haven’t caught up with it yet. Broadcast has laws and agreements that govern the use of copyright materials, podcasting doesn’t- yet. And our episodes tend to be loaded with copyright elements.

Please don’t picture us sequestered in some dingy hotel meeting room with sleeves rolled up, negotiating over plates-full of little egg salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and cold half-filled cups of coffee.

We aren’t involved in any negotiations; like you, we’re simply waiting by the phone. When we hear something, you’ll be the first to know.

And when agreements are reached that allow us to podcast, we’ll be all over it.


Mike Tennant

Producer, AOP

This kind of sloth is a cost inherent in any regulatory system, from copyright to antitrust. But as long as we’re making that essentially utilitarian calculation about costs and benefits, and continually re-evaluating the system as technology evolves, copyright will be working towards, if not actually fulfilling, its intended function:

the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

And now you know why I don’t write about copyright:  I just don’t know what the right balance is! I’m glad there are others patient enough to try to figure it out. This is why we have economists and… yes, even lawyers! But like many people, I just want my damn podcast!

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