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Here’s How Republicans Can Show They’re Serious About Free Markets

Here???s How Republicans Can Show They???re Serious About Free Markets
Photograph by Gabriel Bouys

On Friday the Republican Study Committee, a policy shop for congressional Republicans, published a memo on how to fix copyright law. By Saturday afternoon the group’s executive director had pulled the memo, which had evidently failed to approach the subject with “all facts and viewpoints in hand.” This is Washington’s way of saying that an interest group hit the roof, and indeed, Ars Technica reports that lobbyists from the “content industry”—Hollywood and recording companies—pressured the group to renounce the memo.

Copyright being in fact broken, you can still read copies of the memo online. It lays out what copyright reform advocates have been saying for years. Copyright protections now extend 70 years past the life of the author; for a corporation, 95 years after publication. This, along with punitive laws on copyright violation, hinders creativity and innovation. These facts aren’t new. What’s new is the tone. Derek Khanna, the memo’s author, writes like an unashamed free marketeer, and in doing so manages to latch on to a larger point: Laws that help businesses often harm markets. From the memo: