There’s a very interesting article over at TechRadar about how draconian copyright infringement penalties actually give copyright monopoly holders a motivation to encourage infringement:
In a somewhat cynical table-turning exercise, a German anti-piracy body seems to be encouraging illegal downloading of music and other media in an effort to strong-arm money out of lawbreakers.
DigiRights Solutions (DRS) from Darmstadt has circulated a presentation to potential clients explaining how they might make more money by pursuing illegal filesharers than from regular, legal sales. …
This was inevitable, really. It’s a kind of reverse tort law: if the penalty for a single infringement is a sufficiently high multiple of the price of a legal acquisition, and most people will pay up without fighting, then it makes more sense for the monopoly holders to try for infringement penalties in the first place.
We often hear people say “Look, copyright may not be perfect, but there would be lots of unintended consequences if we just did away with it or replaced it with attribution laws. You can’t predict everything that would happen!” Indeed, no one can. Our response has always been that there are unintended consequences either way, but that therefore it makes most sense to start from a position of no monopoly and no censorship. This lovely development should put to rest any doubts that there unintended consequences to copyright enforcement just as much as there are to copyright reform.