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Digital Copyright and Con Fuzz Ling Rhetoric

Digital Copyright and Con Fuzz Ling Rhetoric

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Published by: Antonio Martínez Velázquez on Apr 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The entertainment industry tells people they shouldn‘t steal music because they wouldn‘t
steal a car, but has anybody ever downloaded a car? Music fans praise Napster and other file-
sharing services for helping to free artists from the stranglehold of the music industry, but how
many of these services actually have shared profits with songwriters and performing artists?
Industry representatives claim that people use YouTube primarily to listen to or watch
copyrighted contents, but are they missing a big piece of the user-generated content picture?
Artists are encouraged to forget about copyright and hold live concerts instead, but can all artists
succeed under this alternative compensation model?

Over the years, policymakers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, civil
libertarians, academic commentators, and user communities have advanced many different
arguments for or against stronger copyright protection and enforcement. Some arguments are
convincing, but others are not. Indeed, many of these arguments are quite confuzzling, as some
internet users would say. As the entertainment industry continues to push for stronger copyright
protection and enforcement in the digital environment—which range from the introduction of the
graduated response system1

at the domestic level to the negotiation of the Anti-counterfeiting

Trade Agreement (―ACTA‖) at the international level2

—it is time we revisit some of the
unconvincing arguments that have been advanced for or against online filesharing and digital
copyright reforms.

To help us better understand the rhetorical challenges in the present debate, Part I
examines four unconvincing arguments that have been advanced to support reforms that
strengthen copyright protection and enforcement in the digital environment. Part II then
evaluates four equally unconvincing arguments that have used to advocate the retention of the
status quo or the weakening of the existing copyright system. In light of the lack of persuasion
in the entertainment industry‘s hitherto efforts to drive digital copyright reforms, Part III outlines
five strategies that seek to help the industry make its reform proposals more convincing. Part IV
concludes with two short stories to illustrate the tremendous difficulty for the public to
appreciate the complexities in copyright law. The Article underscores the paramount importance
of making convincing arguments in the digital copyright debate.

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