Commentary

Copyright Is Like QWERTY: Locked-In and Retrospective

The term ‘path dependence’ is generally used to describe the development of technological standards and how they ‘lock in’ a given technical solution. The QWERTY keyboard is often given as an example of path dependence – the fact that the costs of changing the keyboard to a better, more efficient solution, hinders change. The same can be said about much of the copyright legislation today, but then at the expense of privacy and other rights.

It is no surprise that the companies making and selling QWERTY keyboards have never been eager to switch standards, as they would then lose their market advantage. In a similar sense many of the legal solutions embedded in how copyright is regulated have become path dependent and locked-in too.

Copyright laws keep on being ‘copied’, even though there are seemingly better solutions out there. The industries that depend on copyright are not in favor of change because this would mean that they would lose authority and power, and possible revenue. The worst consequence of this “path dependence” is that copyright interests gain at the expense of everyone’s privacy.

Let me explain how. Continue reading…

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