Bill Patry has this great post on the Google / Joan Miro spat from a few days ago. His analysis is, as usual, spot on, but the most interesting part is his assertion that baseless copyright claims like that made by the Miro estate lower the status of copyright in general:
Last week the Estate of artist Joan Miro demonstrated why copyright has gotten a bad name; not just among those who don’t believe in protection at all, but among those, like myself, who have believed that the existence of protection is important and appropriate, and at a fair high level.
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The tragedy is that such unseemly efforts give fodder to those who oppose any protection.
I think Patry points out an important turn, and one that could be dangerous for copyright holders in the long term. Copyright began as a regulatory regime, ordering relations among companies that made money from the creation, reproduction, and dissemination of creative works. As copyright extends into the personal sphere, and as rights holders like the Miro estate attempt to leverage copyright protection into a form of all-encompassing control of styles and concepts, copyright holders risk losing the support of the public. In a democracy, the loss of such support can be hazardous to owners of government-created exclusive rights.
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