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Tyranny of the Few: The Case for Copyright Buyout

Tyranny of the Few: The Case for Copyright Buyout

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This paper won first place in a regional writing competition and has been submitted to the 2010 national Nathan Burkan Memorial Writing Competition.
This paper won first place in a regional writing competition and has been submitted to the 2010 national Nathan Burkan Memorial Writing Competition.

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Published by: Christopher Meredith on Jun 24, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2011

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T
YRANNY
 
OF
 
THE
F
EW
: T
HE
C
ASE
 
FOR
C
OPYRIGHT
B
UYOUT
CHRISTOPHER H. MEREDITH
4911 Old Canton RoadApartment 240 Jackson, Mississippi39211(601) 212-8845
 
T
ABLE
 
OF
C
ONTENTS
I. B
ACKGROUND
 
AND
I
NTRODUCTION
..........................................................................................1II. F
OOD
 
FOR
T
HOUGHT
– R
IGHTS
 
OF
O
WNERSHIP
 
IN
 
THE
F
RUITS
 
OF
C
REATIVITY
..............................2
A. The Philosophical Rationales for Recognition of Intellectual Property
.....................21. John Locke.............................................................................................................22. Jeremy Bentham.....................................................................................................43. Friedrich Hegel......................................................................................................7
B. Legal Development of Intellectual Property Rights
...................................................91. Competing Visions of Copyright and its Legal Evolution in England..................102. Copyright, the Constitution, and the Founding of the United States....................133. Congress and the Copyright Acts.........................................................................18
C. Foundational Socio-Economic Principles of Property Rights
..................................231. The Commons Tragedy or Comedy?.................................................................242. An Anticommons Problem?.................................................................................253. Free Riding and Copyright...................................................................................27III. W
HERE
D
O
W
E
G
O
F
ROM
H
ERE
?....................................................................................30
A. Civil Disobedience
...................................................................................................30
B. Public Buyout 
..........................................................................................................341. Michael Kremer and the Patent Buyout Proposal...............................................352. Open Source Software Bounties..........................................................................373. Copyright Buyout – A Modified Bounty System.................................................39IV. C
ONCLUSION
..................................................................................................................45
i
 
T
YRANNY
 
OF
 
THE
F
EW
: T
HE
C
ASE
 
FOR
C
OPYRIGHT
B
UYOUT
Christopher H. Meredith
I. B
ACKGROUND
 
AND
I
NTRODUCTION
The Constitution confers upon Congress the right “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors theexclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
1
The first exercise of thisauthority came in the form of the Copyright Act of 1790. Since that first foray intofederal protection of what has since been termed intellectual property, the level of government involvement has steadily increased.As legislative policy regarding intellectual property has evolved, it has steadilymoved away from its legal, economic, and philosophical underpinnings, causing theconcept of intellectual property to assume a life of its own. The focus has shifted fromthe interests of society to the interests of authors and producers. As a result, copyrighthas transformed from a necessary evil intended to achieve a greater public benefit into aan entitlement in its own right, one that enables strong industry players to form large andwealthy information empires.Industry-fueled Congress has abandoned its Constitutional moorings and allowedexpanded copyright power to be wielded by interested parties rather than by the people,as the founding fathers originally intended. Without this protection, the law allows thepublic good to be sacrificed to the whims of private entities and powerful corporations.The suggestion of this Essay is that our current copyright scheme places
Law clerk to the Hon. Jess H. Dickinson, Mississippi Supreme Court, 2010-2011; J.D.,Mississippi College School of Law, 2010; B.A., Biblical Studies, Belhaven University, 2004. The authorwould like to acknowledge Professor Alina Ng for her thought-provoking scholarship, classroomassignments, and insight, and his family for their support, feedback, and love.
1
U.S. C
ONST
. art. I, § 8.
1

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