Get To Know Our Members: Niskanen Center

Re:Create has launched a blog series, Get to Know Our Members, to help others better understand the type of work Re:Create members do and why they are so motivated by copyright issues. For this post, we heard from Daniel Takash, regulatory policy fellow at the Niskanen Center.

1: What is your organization’s mission?

Niskanen Center’s Captured Economy Project works to find problems where upward redistribution (criticized by the left) is caused by government intervention (criticized by the right). This is prevalent in our current intellectual property regime, and we hope to find transpartisan solutions to these problems.  

2: Why are balanced copyright policies so important to your organization?

Intellectual property is a subsidy to address the market failure that comes from the production of ideal objects, but the mere presence of this theoretical problem does not justify the open-ended expansion and creation of intellectual property rights. As a subsidy, it must be carefully tailored to address this public goods problem without creating opportunities for excess profits (“rents”) to those who hold IP rights.

3: What role does the DMCA play in supporting the work of your stakeholders?

A balanced DMCA is important to protect the incentives necessary for the production of creative works, while allowing the free flow of information and content by the creation of a regulatory safe harbor. A DMCA that provides no protection for those who, often unintentionally, host infringing content would have a chilling effect on the tremendous opportunities for creativity and knowledge transmission made possible by the internet and severely limit their ability to use their property.

4: What concerns you most about proposals to make the DMCA more restrictive?

More stringent application of the DMCA takedown process (e.g. through “notice and stay down”) would create potential for abuse by copyright trolls (whether or not they hold the rights) and place a severe burden on smaller websites. It also ignores the technical difficulties of creating even the most expansive and technologically advanced screening systems.

5: What key fact or stat about will help readers better understand how important balanced copyright policies are to American creativity, innovation and economic growth?

Incentives to create go well beyond the financial, and copyright is far from the only way to financially benefit from creation. This is a fact that is often missed in debates about copyright. The assumption that what’s best for rights holders makes for good policy ignores the balance that should exist in a copyright system designed to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.”