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Disney Wins, Eldred (and everyone else) Loses

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the copyright-is-permanent dept.

The Courts 1292

hondo77 writes "In a 7-2 decision, The Supreme Court gave Disney what they wanted. Story just broke, no details yet." They're talking about the Eldred case, recently argued before the Supreme Court and mentioned on Slashdot many times. The upshot is that no works produced in the United States after the 1920's will ever go out of copyright. Opinions: Majority opinion, Stevens' dissent, Breyer's dissent.

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1292 comments

Netcraft now confirms: (-1)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (621411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087720)

IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are dying.

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes community when recently IDC confirmed that IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes accounts for less than a fraction of 1 percent of all Slashdot posts. Coming on the heels of the latest Netcraft survey which plainly states that IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes has lost more comment share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are collapsing in complete disarray, as further exemplified by failing dead last [samag.org] in the recent Slashdot Trolls comprehensive crapflooding test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict IN SOVIET RUSSIA joke's future. The hand writing is on the wall: IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes because IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes is dying. Things are looking very bad for IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes. As many of us are already aware, IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. Stephen King, Author, Dead At 55 posts are the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core posters.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

*BSD Is Dying leader Anonymous Coward states that there are 7000 posters of *BSD Is Dying. How many users of 3) Profit!!! are there? Let's see. The number of *BSD Is Dying versus 3) Profit!!! posts on Slashdot is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 3) Profit!!! users. Natalie Portman posts on Slashdot are about half of the volume of 3) Profit!!! posts. Therefore there are about 700 posters of Natalie Portman. A recent article put Stephen King, Author, Dead At 55 posts at about 80 percent of the IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 Stephen King, Author, Dead At 55 posters. This is consistent with the number of Stephen King, Author, Dead At 55 Slashdot posts.

Due to the troubles of Slashdot, abysmal quality and so on, Stephen King, Author, Dead At 55 posts went out of business and was taken over by another Anonymous Coward who post another troubled crapflood. Now the other Anonymous Coward is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another crapflood house. All major surveys show that IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes has steadily declined in comment share. IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are to survive at all it will be among Slashdot hobbyist posters. IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are dead.

Fact: IN SOVIET RUSSIA jokes are dead

EVER?! (1)

notque (636838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087730)

Please say you meant "Double" or "Triple" the current length of time.

Haha.. Catch those typos... *shifts eyes around..*

The Supreme Court is usually the one to stop extremely ignorant legistlation.

What happened?!?!?!

Re:EVER?! (1)

notque (636838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087752)

I just noticed how badly this message sounded. I'm trying to convey my utter discontent with the current direction we are headed in many facets.

I don't know why it still amazes me when I see something that seems so obviously sided one way. I guess that is just my idealism (read: youth)

and I'm working... so I'm not as articulate as I would normally be.

Re:EVER?! (5, Insightful)

Jason Scott (18815) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087786)

Well, not "ever" as it currently stands, but because they've extended the copyright several times in the past century [cni.org] to the point that it's pretty much beyond our lifetimes, and the Court has now said that such machinations are legal, we can expect never to see copyrights expire again.

Assumptively, the Supreme Court said "It's not unconstitutional for such a law to pass, and if you don't like it, go pass a different law." Which is entirely correct, we could always have legislation in the future to reverse this.... but don't hold your copy of Steamboat Willy [bcdb.com] at the duplicator anytime soon.

Re:EVER?! (5, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087821)

Yes, ever.

The point about this judgement is that it creates a firm precedent for extending copyright. Therefore, copyright can be extended again next time it starts to run out. It will always be in the interests of Disney et al to keep their copyrights; therefore, it may well be that no copyright will ever expire again, any more.

This is *one* of the reasons that this judgement is such a setback for the Forces o'Good (tm).

Please do not assume that just because civil rights people are getting riled up, they must automatically be getting riled up about nothing.

The judiciary is certainly the least venial of the three branches of the US government. It is sad to see it going the way of the executive and legislative brances, but there ya go.

Re:EVER?! (2, Insightful)

Lt Razak (631189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087873)

Well, it means *Disney's* copyright is extended, right? I mean, you have to qualify for the extension. And of course you and me and Joe Blow won't be able to do this.

Although, to be honest, even if we did create anything, we'd be RIAA/MPAA/etc whores, and the copyright wouldn't belong to us anyway.

Suprise!? (0, Insightful)

Corbin Dallas (165835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087733)

Was anyone actually expecting this to turn out differently?

Re:Suprise!? (4, Interesting)

Gerry Gleason (609985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087810)

Yes. The arguments were strong and the discussion about how it went looked promissing. We'll have to wait for the actual decision to see the details. Hopefully, they worded their decision in a way that would discourage Congress from extending the term again (and again, and again ...).

Me (0, Offtopic)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087811)

I was... Now I'm just going to have to declare war against the current regime...but I lack resources...Hmm... Anyone need a soldier, anyone that is NOT associated with Bin Laden...Just because he is fighting the current regime, does not mean he is my friend.

Heh... (-1, Offtopic)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087908)

Go read the anarchist cookbook [oreillynet.com]

There's lots of stuff you can do on your own if you don't want to hook up with a 'professional' terrorist network. The cookbook also goes over things like credit-card fraud and the like for funding sources.

Re:Suprise!? (1)

override11 (516715) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087828)

Maybe not EXPECTING, but hoping like hell that someupe in the supreme court would at least have some sense enough to recognize that the patent system is outdated, and the LAST thing it needs is for the terms to be extended!!!!!

Re:Suprise!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087925)

I wasn't really expecting it, especially after how Lessig was treated by the Justice, but hope does spring eternal.

The first thing this makes me think is... (2, Insightful)

slipgun (316092) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087735)

The upshot is that no works produced in the United States after the 1920's will ever go out of copyright.

...'stealing' from those bastards is not a crime.

Re:The first thing this makes me think is... (-1, Offtopic)

Lt Razak (631189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087744)

Actually I'm a little confused on that last sentence. The "upshot" ?

Was the editor being sarcastic?

Re:The first thing this makes me think is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087917)

Yes.

Might Spur innovation (3, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087738)

who needs derivative stuff anyway

sing your own songs

Re:Might Spur innovation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087862)

Here comes Jesus Christ,
Here comes Jesus Christ,
Right down Jesus Christ Lane...

Re:Might Spur innovation (1, Insightful)

Cosmicbandito (160658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087892)

The problem with this argument is that EVERYTHING is derivative. Read Spider Robinson's "Melancholy Elephants" for an interesting take on this idea.

Disney Sucks.

Re:Might Spur innovation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087893)

sing your own songs

Hey! What a good idea!

Let's try it...

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing out happy, not sad

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don't worry if it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

La la la la la La la la la la la
La la la la la la la

Chorus:
Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don't worry if it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song
(Just sing, sing a song)
Just sing, sing a song

La la la la la La la la la la la
La la la la la la la

La la la la la La la la la la la
La la la la la la la (to fade)

Re:Might Spur innovation (2)

henben (578800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087932)

Derivative stuff like "Steamboat Willy" - a parody of a contemporary Buster Keaton movie, Steamboat Bill Jr.?

Or like "Sleeping Beauty", based on a tale popularised by a 19th century retelling by the Grimm Brothers?

Works can still go out of copyright. (1, Flamebait)

Absurd Being (632190) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087742)

You just have to wait at most 4 billion years or so, when the sun eats the earth. Or earlier, if the American Empire crumbles like the Roman Empire due to its own decadence. Or in a century if we can kick these bastards out of office. Never vote for incumbents!

Re:Works can still go out of copyright. (5, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087799)

Or leave the country after the copyright expires elsewhere. (Which brings up an interesting point; I'm sure that I could find this out by hunting throught title 17, but does anyone know off the top of their head if you could leave the country, create a derivative work, then reenter the US; or does copyright law also restrict importing stuff that would have violated US law if it were made in the US?)

The last chance... (3, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087748)

Well, OK, so Mickey Mouse (tm) wins and the american consumers lose. Big time.

But if enough people break the copyright, will the other courts of the land (not to mention the law enforcement agencies) really apply the law? That seems doubtful. Any thoughts on that?

Score another win for Corporate America.

Re:The last chance... (2)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087776)

That line of reasonsing has worked real well in the 'War on Drugs(tm)'. The goverment will just build more prisions.

Re:The last chance... (1)

Lt Razak (631189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087902)

No joke: The only law enforcement agency you'll have to worry about is the Disney Legal Dept. Give me an L.A. cop beating anytime!

What has happened to the USA? (3, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087751)

Goverment of the Corp, by the Corp, for the Corp?

Re:What has happened to the USA? (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087827)

Corp is mother, Corp is father, and in that way, you are just children who have gone astray.

Re:What has happened to the USA? (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087863)

The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

(This 2 minute delay between posting is rather stupid)

Why don't they... (2, Insightful)

dissonant7 (572834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087756)

...just go ahead and rename the country the "United Corporations of America" and get it over with.

Re:Why don't they... (2, Insightful)

Gorbie (101704) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087841)

It's better that "The United Moneyless Jobless Hungry Unclothed Wretches That Are About To Suffer A Societal Collapse And Become a Third World, Back Assed Nation of America "

Seriously People. Companies are an absolutely enormous part of what makes the U.S. possible.

And, people have a right to own what they produced, and keep it in the family if they wish. If it's worth enough, someone will buy it. If it's not, then it will stay owned and worthless to anyone except for sentimental reasons.

Re:Why don't they... (2)

benedict (9959) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087920)

Who owns the collective unconscious?

Some things are only worth anything if no one owns them.

Probably "correct" legally (4, Interesting)

MPolo (129811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087761)

Unfortunately, the Constitution left this point quite vague. It does say a "limited" time, but doesn't indicate anything about how long that might be. Since every extension is going to set a (theoretical) expiration date, the multimedia conglomerates can always argue that the law is constitutional.

This is awful for fair use, obviously. We've got to somehow get Congressmen elected who can see the folly of the current path, and who are immune to the ideal-destroying effects of large campaign donations. Doesn't look like we'll be reading Faulkner on line anytime soon...

Re:Probably "correct" legally (1)

keyne9 (567528) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087832)

"Limited time" to mortal beings is usually a fraction of one's life. Extending it beyond one's life would be more "unlimited" as far as personal time goes.

Re:Probably "correct" legally (5, Insightful)

lutzomania (139132) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087912)

Yes, but the full clause in Article I, Section 8, states that the legislature's power is: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

Authors and inventors, which I interpret to mean the actual author or inventor, not the great-grandchildren of the author or inventor, or future sharholders in a corporation that descended from the author or inventor or purchased the rights from the author or inventor.

Am I misinterpreting the scope here??

Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087762)

this only applies within the US. Those of us lucky enough to live outside the US don't need to worry about the crazy things your government is doing.

good (1, Flamebait)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087764)

The upshot is that no works produced in the United States after the 1920's will ever go out of copyright.

Its about time someone changed that. Wasn't there some major issues not to long ago about copyrights expiring and people taking advantage of it?

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087806)

If I recall correctly, the issues were Disney taking old works after copyright expiring and making derivitive works. So now they're immune to what enabled them to profit in the first place. Oh, and you can't work on these old works either, as they'd be derivitive of Disney's derivitives.

Other nations (5, Insightful)

Tar-Palantir (590548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087765)

The upshot is that no works produced in the United States after the 1920's will ever go out of copyright. ... in the United States. Fortunately, Europe and the rest of the world is not encumbered by the bought laws of the US. Once Mickey Mouse's copyright expires in, say, Britain, what's to stop someone there from distributing it online? Any lawyers know?

Re:Other nations (2)

pacc (163090) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087833)

Of course it affects Europe,
do you think copyrights was extended to 70 years
because of internal discussions.

I hate to make this a party-line issue, but... (2, Insightful)

Marx_Mrvelous (532372) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087768)

I'd be interested to see which justices were appointed by which party. I wonder if more dems or republicans voted for Disney (and against the US citizen). We're living in tough times, things will have to change, and it won't be pretty.

Re:I hate to make this a party-line issue, but... (2, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087803)

It was 7-2.

'Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer disagreed with their colleagues.

Stevens wrote that the court was "failing to protect the public interest in free access to the products of inventive and artistic genius."'

http://foxnews.com/story/0,2933,75612,00.html

Other countries (1)

Sabby (1759) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087780)

Odd. Wonder if this law will cause innovation or halt it? Derivative works will need to be produced in a country where this law wouldn't hurt them... But, original works might be created here in the stats in order to enjoy the infinite copyright status.

It's just odd that the Supreme Court would pass a law that will have an effect that will last beyond the lifetime of the union itself.

Upshot? (0, Troll)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087783)

Do you know what this word means, or were you being sarcastic? Normally, i would assume sarcasm, but Michael doesn't exactly have a stellar record with respect to great intellectual feats.

Re:Upshot? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087927)

i see you have been silently modbombed by michael. typical thin skinned editors huh? they can dish it, but can't take it.

Replying before all the info is in (3, Interesting)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087787)

But it is my guess that this won't stop, or change, anything.

For example, much of the music I listen to is old 80s death metal or thrash metal. All of it is out of print, yet the firms holding the music (and presumably the copyrights as well) won't re-release it onto cd.

No matter, many high quality bootlegs can be found from overseas. And by bootlegs I mean small no-name record companies that have re-mastered the originals onto cd, added lyric sheets, some band photos, etc.

This will continue, the material we want will be available, just not in the US.

Re:Replying before all the info is in (2)

javilon (99157) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087900)

"This will continue, the material we want will be available, just not in the US"

If it happens in the US it will be forced upon the rest of the world. Just look at the DMCA.

Chump Change (2, Insightful)

Lt Razak (631189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087795)

...A contrary ruling would have cost entertainment giants like The Walt Disney Co. and AOL Time Warner Inc. hundreds of millions of dollars."

Oooh, wow. The horror of a billion dollar company "losing" money that they had no right to continue making anyway.

Well, atleast with the hundreds of millions of dollars (chump change for them) they secured in this continued revenue can continue to fund the legislation they want to buy in the future.

They should just get it over with and build a McDonald's drive thru at the Senate Hill, with a little sign listing prices on the McCorrupt Bill with Fries, and a Jr. Congressman squaking out, "Can I take your order?"

Re:Chump Change (2)

Chexum (1498) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087879)

The horror of a billion dollar company "losing" money that they had no right to continue making anyway.

Why on earth would they even start losing money? I'd imagine, you couldn't copy your fresh Disney (whatever) DVD, since it's published recently. Not that many people have original copies of movies from the twenties/thirties... If they are like TV studios for example, they have strict controls on who can access said copies in the archives, and for what purposes, with strong audit trails.

So, all they had to do is to buy a few of the best copies they can find. Or their owners, and we would still be in the same boat. Maybe you could put them on VCD's in horrible quality, but so what? Why does *hurt* this so much for poor Disney Co.?

That sucks, but if that's the world we live in... (5, Interesting)

Microsift (223381) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087796)

then Congress should enact a law that makes people pay royalties to use public domain works. Disney takes a public domain story (Alladin, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White etc...) makes a movie, and makes a bundle. If Congress wants to encourage Disney to create new stories, there should be a cost for using old stories.

Re:That sucks, but if that's the world we live in. (5, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087888)

Bad example as Disney can't copyright the story of Alladin, Beauty, etc, they can only copyright their version of it. Fact is that ANYONE can make a version of these stories, so to spite the big boys you want to force the elementary school to have to pay a royalty to do a production of Alladin?

Thank God (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087804)

for King James

Re:Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087874)

um, no, Thank YOU!
But I didn't know I was a king....

James

Have protect those exports! (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087805)

Entertainment is probably the only thing making money for exports for the US anymore. The US is rapidly becoming a country that produces little more than marketing and car chase movies. Letting those copyrights go free would destabilise corporate America. And we can't have that, now can we?

My favorite quote from the article.. (2, Interesting)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087807)

"Congress passed the copyright law after heavy lobbying from companies with lucrative copyrights. "

The millions that these companies *could* have lost was the question here, and this article seems to imply that their lobbying easily got what they wanted.

The artists, probably dead or going to die, will not see the continuous profits. It reminds me of intellectual property agreements... things no longer belong to individuals, but companies. Would any of these original artists really mind if someone started using their base ideas more after all this time? They'd probably be happy to see their idea continued.

No, not "ever", just 20 years (2)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087808)

The ruling said that the 20-year copyright extension ("Sonny Bono act"?) was not unconstitutional. RTFA.

Re:No, not "ever", just 20 years (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087826)

Which means that future retroactive copyright extension acts will not be unconstitutional.

Re:No, not "ever", just 20 years (4, Insightful)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087881)

Exactly. And in 20 years, the next extension won't be unconstitutional, nor the one after that, nor the one after that, nor the one after that...

In other words, the Court basically just said "Hey, you're free to grant eternal copyright as long as you do it 20 years at a time." This has been their position in the past, but they reiterated it here. And as long as copyrights generate money, the people receiving that money will lobby for and receive extensions. Hence, these works will never enter the public domain.

Re:No, not "ever", just 20 years (5, Insightful)

sydney094 (153190) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087914)

Read the history of the story [slashdot.org].

The problem was the handling of the extension. The extension is retroactive. That is the part that they ruled constitutional.

The upside to the media companies is that in another 20 years, they can lobby for another 20 year extension and it too will be constitutional. And then repeat that forever.

It means that the media companies don't have to give anything back to the public, if they lobby well enough. The Constitution says that congress can define how long the terms of copyrights are for. This basically means that they can make it a ludicrous amount of time.

And now for international news (3, Insightful)

Twylite (234238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087812)

The upshot of this is that no work produced in the United States since the 1920s will ever pass out of Copyright ... in the United States. Many of these movies, books and songs are already in the public domain in other nations, even those who are party to the Berne Convention (which mandates a minimum term of 50 years for most works).

Active Use Copyrights? (4, Interesting)

stealie72 (246899) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087818)

Has anyone ever explored a sort of "salvage use" copyright? In other words, I don't have a huge problem with Disney wanting to control a copyright on Mickey, because they're still actively using him in their business.

But what about something like the Katzenjammer Kids (for a comic from about the same time as the first mickey shorts) that aren't being actively used by anyone. No real reason for something like that to not be in the public domain.

In other words, don't extend copyright for everything, but give extensions for things that are still being actively used (and no, I don't have the time to work out a legal definition of "actively used").

Well, this is pretty frustraiting.... (3, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087819)

The average voter couldn't give a shit about copyrighted works created 120 years ago or whatever, and even if they did understand the issues involved they couldn't be pissed to write their representative or whatever.

I can see why Leasing is so pessimistic...

Appeal!! (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087824)

This is not just a loss but a tragedy.

The purpose of copyright is not being served here. There are human interests at stake and not merely the humans who own shares of stock in a corporation. Can the judges who made these decisions be written to about this the way senators and congressmen are? If so, how about some identification of these people? Also, if this can be appealed or reversed, how is it done and who do we talk to?

20 years, 50 years, 100 years, eternity... copyright is not supposed to work that way. I am beginning to think I should collect "royalties" on all the work I have ever done. One time I made a burger when I was a teenager. I earned my paycheck and was paid. But the people I worked for stayed in business because I was making that burger and they continue to reap the benefits of the labor I performed so long ago. I think I need to be paid royalties not for intellectual property, but for their success which was built upon my labor.

Of course there are holes in my argument but I tend to think the same holes exist in theirs. The fact of the matter remains that there was an understood agreement that copyright would expire after a certain time after creation. They are in breech of that contract now and the public should sue.

Re:Appeal!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087878)

Appeal to where???

GOD?

It's the supreme court for gods sake! RTFA!

Re:Appeal!! (2)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087919)

The fact of the matter remains that there was an understood agreement that copyright would expire after a certain time after creation.

How has this changed, all they did was extend the term?

This started out so well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087834)

...Mr. Bono was working to protect us from "I got you, babe" and instead we're all paying for "pooh" for the next 80 years

Clarence Thomas book deal reached with HarperColli (5, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087835)

What happend to conflict of interest?

"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will receive more than $1 million for his memoirs from publisher HarperCollins.

Multiple publishers vied for the rights to Thomas' autobiography, which he started writing in 2001, but Thomas liked the package offered by the New York-based HarperCollins, including the editor assigned to work with him, people in the publishing industry with knowledge of the deal said Thursday.

The amount of the deal was not revealed, except that it was in seven figures. "

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/ ne ws/archive/2003/01/09/financial1022EST0075.DTL&typ e=books

Who's looking out for the little people? (1)

Lt Razak (631189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087837)

You know, there's a reason why there's the saying, "looking out for the little people".
Why the Supreme Court think they need to look out for the big people is beyond me.

I can't wait for the AT&TExxonGMTimeWarnerAOL merger to go through. 2004 maybe.
Who needs competition anyway.

Spin Doctors (2)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087843)

[a huge victory for Disney and other companies]

Could have been better phrased: "A huge loss for the people of the United States, their Constitution, and Public Domain."

BTW, love the Yahoo! headline... (1)

Corbin Dallas (165835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087849)

Quote: Supreme Court Keeps Copyright Protections

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld longstanding copyrights designed to protect the profits of songs, books and cartoon characters, a huge victory for Disney and other companies.


Like some evil brigade of Natzi Communist Al Queda Iraqis were trying to bring the American Capitalist System(TM) down. Thank god the justices stopped this attack on our country! Down with the public domain!


Bastards.

Why expire? (2)

spells (203251) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087852)

Can someone please explain why we need free access to Mickey Mouse, etc.? In my mind, Mickey Mouse is an asset owned by Disney, so why should it expire? Imagine the damage people could do to Disney if Mickey was used inappropriately by competitors. Not trolling, I just don't get why we need free access to this stuff.

Who are the 2 dissenting votes? (2)

MasterD (18638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087854)

I want to read the minority opinion on this and see who the two dissenting justices were. My guess -- not Republican appointees.

So in another 10 years, Mary Bono will .... (2)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087856)

introduce the Sonny Bono Memorial Let's Extend It Even Further Bill, pushing the date back another 30 years.

"Limited times" seems to this non-lawyer to suggest, oh, I don't know, LIMITS. Silly non-lawyer thinking, I guess.

Re:So in another 10 years, Mary Bono will .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087921)

Nonsense! Everyone knows the 'real' Sonny Bono Memorial Copyright Extension Act would be more like forever minus a day.

Disney (5, Insightful)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087867)

Disney has now succeeded in preventing anyone from doing to Mickey Mouse what Disney did to Quasimodo. Way to go dickheads.

Copyright expiration is part of the business (5, Insightful)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087885)

A contrary ruling would have cost entertainment giants like The Walt Disney Co. and AOL Time Warner Inc. hundreds of millions of dollars. AOL Time Warner had said that would threaten copyrights for such movies as "Casablanca," "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind."

Excuse me, but when the money was invested in these movies in the 1920's, 1930's, etc., it was done with full knowledge that eventually the copyright would expire and revenue from these works would dwindle. The same thing holds true for Mickey Mouse and every other work made. Just because it still has value even today does not change that fact. The whole thing is ridiculous.

I can understand how extending the copyright on new works could be considered constitutional -- this is a case where that great document was far too vague, unfortunately -- but retroactively extending them surely is unconstitutional. When you acquire that copyright and publish your work, it is like entering into an irrevocable contract with society that you will release this to the public domain in X years (at least, that is how I see it). There should be no whining about past works that will fall out of protection. Create more works under the new, longer protection if you want, but don't extend all existing works.

A Great Day For Peace (-1, Flamebait)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087886)

Bravo! The copyright laws were created in a day when corporations did not exist. Intellectual property is a comodity that can be bought and sold just as easily as computer monitors and tea bags. It's high time we recognized that fact. And by this, I mean that if I buy a plot of land, my wonderful children, bless their hearts, can inherit it from me. Since intellectual property is the same as a plot of land, my children should be able to inherit my intellectual property from me. Furthermore, since the U.S. has already established that corporations are to be considered people, and capable of being sued like a person, then they should be able to continually pass down their intellectual property to whomever they want, even if it is themselves. Also, the time period for the copyright nullification is too short. It too was crafted in a bygone era. People live longer now and so this should be taken into account. I don't want to invent something now and then lose my rights to it before I die, certainly!

I'm buying Disney stock!

All the arguments have been made... (1)

HeelToe (615905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087889)

The precious few of us in the US with a brain have made our arguments. What can I say that hasn't been said before. I have just three words to describe how depressed I am about the erosion of individual rights for corporate entities to make profits and continue changing America into a corporation state:

fuck this country

Mickey in chains.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087890)

Alas, but it seems that Mickey is destined to remain in chains.

It's a lost battle, but... (4, Interesting)

aengblom (123492) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087896)

The upshot is that no works produced in the United States after the 1920's will ever go out of copyright.

Some wrongs can not be resolved by the courts. I think the most poignant quote during the hearing of the case was from Sandra Day O'Connor.
"I can find a lot of fault with what Congress did," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said. "This flies directly in the face of what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. But is it unconstitutional?"
Time to educate the public--and change Congress's mind. Hard, but not impossible.

P.S. Washington Post has an AP article [washingtonpost.com] up and some links to background on the case.

Sigh.. is it just me..? (2, Insightful)

katsushiro (513378) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087898)

Or is the rest of the world looking better and better each day in comparison to the USA? You know, 2 years ago I would have never even imagined living anywhere else. But after all the issues that have popped up since 9/11, the steady erosion of civil liberties, the destruction of fair use, the bullying of giant corporations, it's getting harder and harder to love the USA.

Last weekend my fiancee and I were randomly surfing the web after an evening of playing 'Hunter' on our GC (the couple that kills zombies together stays together, we say!), and we ran across the John's Switch to Canada [cjb.net] parody of the Apple Switch ads. 2 years ago, it would have been good for a laugh and nothing more. But last weekend, after having ourselves a good laugh, we both found ourselves going "Hmmm... Canada...". I think this is the first time I've ever seriously considered living somewhere, anywhere else than the USA.. and it was even more surprising to me to see my girlfriend, who is not nearly as politcally active/concerned as I've become lately, giving the whole idea of leaving the country some serious consideration as well.

My slightly OT point here is, the more rights that are taken away from us, the less freedom we are given, the more control that is handed over to corporation after corporation.. the harder it gets to love this country. This is just another nail in the coffin. The USA has long stopped being the 'Land of the Free'.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg == Idiot (1)

gleffler (540281) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087907)

The Constitution "gives Congress wide leeway to prescribe `limited times' for copyright protection and allows Congress to secure the same level and duration of protection for all copyright holders, present and future," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said from the bench.

And, ladies and gentlemen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an idiot. 120 years is not a 'limited time' by any stretch of the imagination, especially considering that our country has only been around for ~250ish. The Supreme Court is supposed to be insulated from all that money crap, but this decision merely proves that they're just as corrupt as Captiol Hill. What a shame.

So, what do we do? (1)

Ikoma Andy (41693) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087909)

Write your congressmen, sure, but that's obviously not likely to work since I think there's relatively few people who really care. Is sharing on p2p networks a better way to procede? By basically showing the government can no longer protect restrictive copyrights, would this be a "civil disobedience" mechanism to defeat such mechanisms? Just curious what people think about actually continuing to fight this, rather than reading complaints.

Fuck you Michael Sims (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087913)

No one gives a fuck about what you have to say. Maybe you should just leave Slashdot for the better. I mean, look at what happened to censorware.org [216.239.33.100]

Shooting themselves in the foot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087916)

Basically Disney, et al are shooting themselves in the foot. Long term copyrights == higher prices. Normal people realize that the copyrights length is riduculos, and will copy stuff according to there own moral codes. For example, I am willing to copy stuff that is 40 or more years old without a second though, anything under 20 is a no-no, and in between is dependant on the ease of availability, coupled with my personal interest.

Right now, individuals are not a big deal, but when the RIAA, MPAA, etc make it so that the individuals are effected, by enforcing the laws that give jail time and/or fines to the infringers, then they will change. Why? Because everyone engages in copyright infringement, and some enterprising politition will run on that platform. At that point, Congress will listen.

Well, one can hope.

Is this really going to change anything? (2, Interesting)

Hatfieldje (147296) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087918)

Right now the government doesn't have enough power to stop people from illegally violating copyrights. People trade copyrighted material all the time. Is this decision going to somehow empower the American government with some way of stopping illegal network traffic. And had the vote gone the other way, do you think people would all of a sudden have started distributing more things? I think they would have just had a clearer conscience about the files they were already sharing.

Obviously, the government has missed the boat in this age of information dissimination. The nice part is, they were only passengers, and not part of the crew. The internet community will continue to do as it pleases because there really is no way to stop it, and I think they're going to be hard pressed to find a way to. They can make all the laws they want and throw a few people in jail, but I doubt they want to throw most of the American youth in jail for trading music, or back episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club.

So, what does this ruling really mean for the common American who just doesn't care?

Will I have to care? (2, Interesting)

rokka (631038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087926)

If a non-american company -PIRATES- mickey mouse into their own release. What will happen? Since American law isn't (yet) applicable in the (most of it anyway) rest of the world is it? And since we'll all be using the Internet, where everything is available to everyone, instaid of TV/VCR in the near future I cannot see how one nations copyright laws will have an effect at all. For now? Perhaps. In 10 years? No way! We'll all be watching streeming broadcasts from some island nobodys ever heard of then.

Disney is a bunch of hypocrites (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087928)

Obviously, they hate derivative works of anything they have produced in the last century. This doesn't seem to prevent them from pillaging and stealing other people's "intellectual property" at all though.

For example, look at "The Lion King", a blatant ripoff of Osamu Tezuka's "Kimba the White Lion" [kimbawlion.com]. Or "Aladdin", which copies heavily from "The Thief of Bagdad". Hell, 99% of their crap is based entirely around public domain works. But they don't want anything they produce to ever be public domain? Give me a break.

does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5087929)

...that copyright expiration will now be built into DRM schemes?

How Taxes and Money work (0, Offtopic)

akiaki007 (148804) | more than 11 years ago | (#5087930)

This is how it is. And this is what make the system work (in the US). It's not going to change. This applies to everything in the gov't right now.

If we explain tax cuts in some very basic terms, it might go something like
this:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for lunch. The bill for all ten comes to $100. But, instead of dividing it up equally, they decide the bill should be paid based on who can afford. So, its decided that the first four men -- the poorest -- will pay nothing; the fifth will pay $1, the sixth $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18,and the tenth man -- the richest - will pay $59.

The ten men eat lunch in the same restaurant every day and seem happy with the arrangement -- until one day, the owner throws them a curve (in tax language a tax cut). "Since you are such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily lunch by $20."

So now dinner for the ten only costs $80.00. The group still wanted to pay the bill based on who is the wealthiest... the way we pay our taxes. The first four men were unaffected, they still would eat for free. But the "problem" came when the other six -- the paying customers - tried to figure out how to divvy up the $20 "tax windfall" so that everyone would get his "fair share".

At first, the six men tried dividing up the $20, which came to $3.33 saved by each. But, when they subtracted that from everybody's share, the fifth and the sixth man ended up being PAID to eat their meal!!! That didn't seem right, so they asked the restaurant owner for an alternate plan and he suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill roughly in proportion to what they had been paying. He suggested that the fifth man along with the first four, would now pay nothing. The sixth would pay about $2, the seventh about $5, the eighth $9, the ninth $12. This would leave the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of the $59 he had been paying.

Each of the six was better off than before [the first four were already eating for free]. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He then pointed to the tenth man, "But he got $7!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man who now was getting a free meal, "I too only saved a dollar... it's unfair that the wealthy man got seven times more than I did."

That's true!" shouted the seventh man, why should he get $7 back when I only get $2 back. The wealthy get all the breaks!" Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men proceeded to surround the tenth man and began to beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. However, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered... a little late... that the tenth wealthy man was very important to THEIR well-being. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill!

And that is how the tax system works... the people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table again.
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