Reforming Intellectual Property Law?
Lots of people say IP law in the U.S. needs to be reformed. The usual complaint is that IP is skewed towards the interests of mass media at the expense of creators and users. There exist various proposals to reduce the period of IP protection and otherwise cut back on rights. These proposals are unlikely to succeed: Congress tends to expand not reduce IP rights.
I propose a different fix: stopping overreaching. Overreaching is when somebody uses IP to claim rights beyond those the law confers. E.g. reprints of public domain materials (Shakespeare’s plays, The Federalist, old paintings) carry false copyright notices. Fair use is wrongly denied. Trademark is claimed where it doesn’t exist.
Rather than cut back on the scope of rights, let’s work on keeping rights within the confines the law sets.
How to do it? Will it work?
I am writing a book on this topic. Some initial thoughts here: