Boyle on WIPO and webcasting rights

Lovely Financial Times column by James Boyle. Sample:

I teach intellectual property law, a subject that is attracting attention from economists, political scientists and people who simply want to make money. These, after all, are the rules that define the high­technology marketplace. Are we doing a good job of writing those rules? The answer is no. Three tendencies stand out.

First and most lamentably, intellectual property laws are created without any empirical evidence that they are necessary or that they will help rather than hurt. Second, the policymaking process has failed to keep track of the increasing importance of intellectual property rights to everything from freedom of expression and communications policy to economic development or access to educational materials. We still make law as though it were just a deal brokered between industry groups – balancing the interests of content companies with those of broadcasters, for example. The public interest in competition, access, free speech and vigorous technological markets takes a back seat. What matters is making the big boys happy.

Finally, communications networks are increasingly built around intellectual property rules, as law regulates technology more and more directly; not always to good effect…