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The Economist Weighs In For Shorter Copyright Terms

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the and-that-guy-ought-to-know dept.

Government 386

lxmota writes "The Economist says that long copyright terms are hindering creativity, and that shortening them is the way to go: 'Largely thanks to the entertainment industry's lawyers and lobbyists, copyright's scope and duration have vastly increased. In America, copyright holders get 95 years' protection as a result of an extension granted in 1998, derided by critics as the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act." They are now calling for even greater protection, and there have been efforts to introduce similar terms in Europe. Such arguments should be resisted: it is time to tip the balance back.'"

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When they're right, they're right (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786146)

A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable.

It has been reported that 14 years is closer to optimal [arstechnica.com] .

Maybe reasonable would be 7 years, or two.

And of course these speaches [baens-universe.com] on copyright make a good primer on what to expect when the copyright law is percieved to be unfair.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786178)

Finally some semblance of sanity is returning to the Copyright argument.

The whole trouble with this is that it provides a completely unfair playing field for inventors, which are the people that the concept of copyright was meant to protect in the first place. Unfortuantely, being right by law is only ever as good as the lawyer that can argue that you are right. Big companies mean more money, which provides better lawyers.

Re:When they're right, they're right (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786808)

"...it provides a completely unfair playing field for inventors, which are the people that the concept of copyright was meant to protect in the first place..."

Err, no...
Inventors get Patents, not copyrights.

Copyrights were for writers and other artists.

Re:When they're right, they're right (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786210)

As always, the case against Intellectual Monopoly:
http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm [ucla.edu]

(Not that I'm against it all, but sometimes you have hear from people on one extreme to balance out the extremist corps like Disney, etc.)

Re:When they're right, they're right (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786282)

I think reasonable is about midway between the likes of Harlan Ellison and Disney Corp and Richard Stallman.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Interesting)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786308)

A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable.

It has been reported that 14 years is closer to optimal [arstechnica.com] .

Maybe reasonable would be 7 years, or two.

And of course these speaches [baens-universe.com] on copyright make a good primer on what to expect when the copyright law is percieved to be unfair.

Maybe you should support the Pirate Party [pirateparty.org.uk] ? When (ha) we come to power we'll cut the duration of copyright to 10 years.

Re:When they're right, they're right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786840)

When (ha) we come to power we'll cut the duration of copyright to 10 years.

'Ha' indeed. Moron.

By the way, could you please stop spamming your nasty little party on Slashdot? Kthx.

Re:When they're right, they're right (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786388)

A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable.

It has been reported that 14 years is closer to optimal [arstechnica.com] .

Maybe reasonable would be 7 years, or two.

And of course these speaches [baens-universe.com] on copyright make a good primer on what to expect when the copyright law is percieved to be unfair.

Hey, a starving man will be happy to gulp down a half-eaten crust. Sure, it's not perfect but at least it's sort of reasonable.

Re:When they're right, they're right (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786424)

I'm going to tell you why that argument alone will not sway the general public (although it is part of a good argument).

Most people agree that the original author should have control of his creation. For example, my sister was very upset that someone wrote a sequel to Gone With the Wind, because the original author didn't want a sequel to be written (it was written after her death). That could have been prevented with modern copyright law. A lot of people view the descendants of Tolkien as the official guardians of the lore, and would be annoyed if someone else tried to hijack that (although the result couldn't possibly be worse than the cartoons). People like the feeling of officialness. They want the original author to be able to own the work. I think this is related to the fact that in our culture we really don't like plagiarism.

In other words, if you want to get political motion behind copyright reform, you are not only going to find the ideal economic balance, you're also going to have to find a way to convince people that giving control to the original author isn't all that important. Otherwise you can forget reforming copyright law. I am not sure of the best argument for this, maybe someone else can think of a convincing one.

Re:When they're right, they're right (3, Insightful)

Stolovaya (1019922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786574)

The thing is that there wouldn't be anything preventing Tolkien's kin from keeping things "official". Anyone could write and add on to the story, but you can't falsely advertise that you're Tolkien himself when writing those stories. It would be pretty much commercialized fanfiction.

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786580)

So who is the guardian of snow white?
Jack Horner?
The 9 tailed demon fox?
The skin walkers of indian lore?
Pride and Prejudice?

"Fables" comic book (which is excellent) wouldn't even exist if all the characters in it were locked up. and it's an excellent *new* creation.

When did our culture become the exclusive property of "royal" families?

Re:When they're right, they're right (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786640)

You seem to be pretty upset about this idea, but I'm not trying to convince you that it's the way it's supposed to be, I'm just reporting on my attempts to educate people about copyright reform. If you want to make any meaningful progress in changing things, you are going to need a lot of people agreeing with you (if you can't get that, having a lot of money works almost as well). Right now this is a serious obstacle to copyright reform. A lot of people are going to need to understand that having a short copyright isn't the end of the world. Otherwise you can kiss copyright reform goodbye.

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Insightful)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786624)

Most people agree that the original author should have control of his creation.

You say this, and then you follow it up with an example of two authors who died, and are thus bereft of all control over their works. Why should people who did NOT write the works (okay, Christopher Tolkien might be given latitude here) ever be given control over the copyrights, especially in an age where that copyright is becoming ever more perpetual?

Mitchell didn't want a sequel written. Tough. Given her feelings, we can consider her lucky that she didn't live to see it. The Tolkien estate is protecting the legacy of the literature. Good on them. But like the works of literature before them — some of which were the basis of other, later, better works — these works will eventually fall into the public domain, and anyone can do anything with them. I, for one, am not willing to extend copyright until the heat death of the Universe (plus 70 years) to prevent it.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786682)

Given her feelings, we can consider her lucky that she didn't live to see it.

I find your sympathy and compassion admirable, good sir. Basically your argument amounts to, "I don't like it, so she can suck it." Even if you are right, which often isn't the case in political situations, you still aren't going to convince anyone with that argument. You look like a self-centered fool. So the question remains, what argument can we use to help people see that short copyright is good, even though it removes control from the original authors?

Re:When they're right, they're right (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786874)

A technical answer to that might manifest shortly in the musical scene.

"Music" follows set mathematical grammars, and as such, has only a finite number of "Pleasant" sounding progressions. It is entirely possible for all possible "Pleasant" musical scores to become copyrighted, and thus, essentially destroy the process of creating "new" musical scores. (Since the only way to make such new scores would be to either radically redefine musical structure (would require rewiring human brains)-- or to utilize the existing progressions in novel configurations.)

So, you end up with either: All music is copyrighted, so forget about being a musician unless you have deep (DEEEEP!) pockets; Submit to having your brain rewired so you can appreciate "Discordant" "music"; or finally admit that lifetime of creator + 70 years (with option to extend ad infinium) is batshit fucking crazy, and needs to be repealed/reformed.

Alternatively, you could ask them what they feel about MotherGoose nursery rhymes, and about Brother's Grimm fairytales. (Since BOTH collections would have been impossible to make under existing copyright laws.) Just ask them to imagine a world without those two collections, and how western culture would have been had they never been created.

Then, remind them that you are not saying that you want to take somebody's novel work, and remove all control from them (the creator); You want to compromise with the creator, and give them a sufficiently large window of time to monetize their work, before it is released for totally unfettered consumption, and want to make sure that the creators are not being the ones who are greedy, by robbing the future of its heritage.

If confronted by the "What if the author didnt want $ThingAuthorDidntWant to happen?" (Like "Gone with the Wind" sequel); Ask if they enjoyed the Disney versions of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, etc-- because these were only possible because the source material was public domain.

"Culture" and "heritage" exceed the individual, even though individuals are the source of culture. Excessive copyright exerted by greedy/selfish individuals destroys culture.

Re:When they're right, they're right (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786668)

A lot of people view the descendants of Tolkien as the official guardians of the lore, and would be annoyed if someone else tried to hijack that (although the result couldn't possibly be worse than the cartoons). People like the feeling of officialness.

Yeah. Because the "official" continuation of the Dune series by Brian Herbert was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786694)

For example, my sister was very upset that someone wrote a sequel to Gone With the Wind, because the original author didn't want a sequel to be written (it was written after her death).

That's not a sequel and shouldn't be treated as such. It's fan fiction, and I don't see anything wrong with it as long as it's not marketed as canon. From an "official" point of view, it doesn't exist.

I think this is related to the fact that in our culture we really don't like plagiarism.

Plagiarism would be if she wrote a different ending to the story, and published the whole as her own. Meanwhile, did you stop to consider the artistic qualities of the sequel?

See, that's exactly the problem with copyright debates: you're treating the right to use ideas, the right to modify existing works and the right to distribute existing works as one inseparable topic.

Re:When they're right, they're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786954)

I think this is related to the fact that in our culture we really don't like plagiarism.

Plagiarism would be if she wrote a different ending to the story, and published the whole as her own.

He never said that WAS plagiarism. It was a passing remark, an aside. How you can read the words "this may be related to" and interpret them as "that was an example of plagiarism" is a mystery with only one explanation - you're a five star idiot.

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786700)

I think this is related to the fact that in our culture we really don't like plagiarism.

The continued economic success of Disney makes me inclined to believe otherwise. The vast majority of their content is ripped directly from Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, and others. Occasionally, they even plagiarize more modern content, like Kimba, the White Lion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba_the_White_Lion

Otherwise you can forget reforming copyright law. I am not sure of the best argument for this, maybe someone else can think of a convincing one.

"The Congress shall have Power ... 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"

Why didn't the drafters add in:
"The Congress shall have Power ... To promote Warmth and Welfare of the Populace, by securing for limited Times to Citizens and Free Peoples the exclusive Right to the Shirts on their Backs"

The second version sounds absolutely ridiculous, because, unlike ideas, we actually own our clothing. The founding fathers understood that publishing an idea is like pissing in the ocean. Once you decide to do that, you can't get it back...it's not your piss anymore; you don't own it.

TJ's thoughts on the matter:
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12.html

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786732)

I suggest we drop by the house of everyone that doesn't understand IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DON'T WATCH/READ/LISTEN TO IT, and slap them in the side of the head.

I don't believe retarded notions such as "offical" keepers of fictional characters eg. tolkien, should be pandered to or encourged.

this idea that the author some how controls the works from beyond the grave is equally stupid, and deserves a bigger slap in the head.

20 year copyright terms were more then generous, if you haven't milked every drop of profit from a work in 20 years, your an incompetent fool who deserves to be driven out of business.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786746)

I suggest we drop by the house of everyone that doesn't understand IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DON'T WATCH/READ/LISTEN TO IT, and slap them in the side of the head.

This is the best presentation of an argument I've heard in weeks. I can't imagine why you've never run for public office.

Re:When they're right, they're right (5, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786798)

I suggest we drop by the house of everyone that doesn't understand IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DON'T WATCH/READ/LISTEN TO IT, and slap them in the side of the head.

This is the best presentation of an argument I've heard in weeks.

True enough when it comes to copyright and patent debates on slashdot...

I can't imagine why you've never run for public office.

It would be far too exhausting. Can you imagine how many voters would need their heads slapped during the campaign?

Re:When they're right, they're right (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786836)

People like the feeling of officialness.

Perhaps some do, but I would suggest they're in a minority, and certainly not historically significant.

Works ranging from the Christian bible through every fable to Alice in Wonderland exist in multitudes of versions. Whoever may have once been an early author of the work simply is of very little interest to most people; the versions are easily differentiated between by prefixes such as 'King James', 'H.C. Andersens' or 'Tim Burtons'. As long as there is no deliberate deception on who is the author or what the parameters of the relation to some original work, these are all considered perfectly acceptable and are usually judged, accepted or rejected, on their own merits.

Those who think the Tolkien estate are doing a good job of guardianship will simply regard only those works with 'approved by the Tolkien estate' as being associated with the work, most who do not accept a sequel to Gone With the Wind simply would not consider such a sequel as being valid and ignore it.

Personally I get more annoyed when there are actual 'approved' sequels that obviously have nothing to do with the original work or author, as this appears to confer an 'officialdom' which shouldn't be there, ie, a kind of deception. And copyright certainly doesn't protect any work from bad stewardship; we'd be better off with anyone able to write, modify and extend the works and pick the better ones ourselves, than left to the chances that one single heritage or business deal turns out to be a good one.

Re:When they're right, they're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786434)

The copyright should be tailored and tuned to the time it takes to get feedback and create a second edition of a book, or the time it takes to create a director's cut of a popular movie. Maybe that's 7 years or 10 years or 14.

When the copyright goes out on the original work, you can still have exclusive copyright on the new edition.

If your book or movie or whatever does not deserve a new edition, then you are probably not selling much of it anyway.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786452)

If 14 years is optimal, than 7 years would be unreasonable. Not quite as unreasonable as 95 years, but unreasonable nonetheless.

The basic idea behind copyright (providing security to invest in creating new products) is one I can support, the current implementation of that idea significantly less so. It has come to a point where the copyright itself has become the business model instead of the product.

Re:When they're right, they're right (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786568)

The pirate party i s abit more extreme than that :
* Authorization of non-commercial sharing
* 5 years of commercial exclusivity
* +5 years if derivative non-commercial work is authorized
* +10 years if derivative commercial work is authorized (but you still want to get credit)

I am fine with this position.

Re:When they're right, they're right (2, Interesting)

un_om_de_cal (1387133) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786902)

The pirate party i s abit more extreme than that : * Authorization of non-commercial sharing * 5 years of commercial exclusivity * +5 years if derivative non-commercial work is authorized * +10 years if derivative commercial work is authorized (but you still want to get credit) I am fine with this position.

What about works where almost all use is non-commercial?

For example, what should professional musicians do, only record advertisements?

Or computer games - I can't imagine a business model that would work for them if non-commercial sharing was allowed.

Re:When they're right, they're right (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786958)

I think Copyright on any piece of work must be inherently owned by the creator. Which means it cannot be owned by another person or company, just leased. Copyright on any works should also be immediately public domain if the author dies. I think this gives the creator greater protection, as the copyright laws are supposed to do.

I have no problem with longer copyright terms... (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786184)

... as long as the copyright holder is still actively publishing the work. Once they stop publishing the work/cease making it available to the general public, I think that the work should revert to public domain in 5 years.

Of course, that leaves a hole for companies that may stop publication for a while and then want to start back up... I should think that they must maintain distribution for a certain minimum period before my above proposed 5-year clock would reset... perhaps at least six months or so.

Re:I have no problem with longer copyright terms.. (3, Interesting)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786260)

Well, then there would be the equivalent of Patent-Troll-Companies.

They would just run websites to claim that their are still distributing the work (against a fee)

Re:I have no problem with longer copyright terms.. (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786304)

If they are distributing the work, then it is still readily obtainable from them... I have no qualms with copyright holders charging money for their stuff, nor paying fees to access it, what I have a problem with is stuff that the copyright holder abandons, but still holds onto the copyright for and there is NO legal avenue through which to obtain it.

Re:I have no problem with longer copyright terms.. (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786306)

What's wrong with that? Part of the problem has been that these works aren't being distributed at all in any sort of legal sense. Meaning that for a bunch of them, even if one is willing to pay for a copy, one might well be out of luck because they're not being sold.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for this, but there needs to be some balance and if somebody isn't trying to make money off the idea, then perhaps it should go into the public domain.

Re:I have no problem with longer copyright terms.. (3, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786324)

I have a problem with long copyright terms as long as the definition of derivative work is as large as it is. I also have a problem with the preventative scope of copyright in general. Exclusive rights to profit from a specific production used to be the basis of copyright. But nowadays, that is just a minor aspect of copyright.

Re:I have no problem with longer copyright terms.. (3, Interesting)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786444)

Agreed. I'm an amateur playwright, trying to write a musical at the moment. As I write, I hear how the songs sound in my head. Some time later, I'll be humming a tune from it to myself and then suddenly say "crap, that bit sounds one heck of a lot like this song that was sung in the 70's/80's. Damn. Now I have to go back and change it to avoid any crap I might get into on the off-chance this might get published and become successful in the future".
Think I'm willing to risk it? There was recently an idiotic court ruling in my country [yahoo.com] . I'm not taking any chances.

They're already LIFE + X ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786338)

How can they keep publishing the work when the copyrights last long after the artist is dead?

Oh, right, they end up forced to sign them away to companies who exploit them to promote the progress of science and useful arts.

Who reads The Economist? (0, Troll)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786186)

I never read anything useful in The Economist.

Here they are disappointing again, with a really short article, short compared to the scope of the topic. It can really only count as a draft; maybe the author was interrupted, and clicked Submit by accident?

Stephan

Re:Who reads The Economist? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786264)

You know, as an Economist author, I'm very offended by the implication that

Re:Who reads The Economist? (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786410)

Incomplete.

Re:Who reads The Economist? (3, Funny)

jayke (1531583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786548)

Incomplete.

Not at all, the rest of the post is simply behind the Murdoch paywall.

Re:Who reads The Economist? (4, Insightful)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786270)

The Economist is actually one of the more thoughtful news periodicals, in my opinion. Moreover, having a non-American perspective is very nice for those of us who get a majority of our news from American sources. The political coverage is especially enlightening, as it manages to transcend the Democrat / Republican talking points in a way that not even the New York Times or Wall Street Journal is able to.

Re:Who reads The Economist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786318)

Who reads the New York Times or Wall Street Journal?

Re:Who reads The Economist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786346)

Self righteous idiots who think that the two sides to the story are the Republican side and the Democrat Side. Seriously, neither publication transcends anything except stupidity to the nth degree. Example, the hundreds of retractions printed by said publications on a daily basis. I miss when reporters were investigators who got to the truth of the matter, rather than trying to find a good spin to things, regardless of agenda.

Re:Who reads The Economist? (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786644)

It is by far my favorite news publication. It benefits from being a weekly paper, not subject to the constant rush of a daily or hourly news cycle. Their articles tend to be more balanced and more considered, in part I think due to the extra time they have to devote to research and fact-checking.

Re:Who reads The Economist? (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786400)

I never read anything useful in The Economist.

There are a number of reasons for this that I find plausible. Here are two:

1. You are very well-versed on the topics covered by The Economist that you have read. This is very likely true in this specific case, as our community is very sensitive to copyright law and history. The Economist, while targeting a highly educated audience, must sometimes seek common ground even among such heady heights. Copyright is a topic most people have not considered so deeply; so even the brightest of those outside our community are likely to require a more elementary starting point than we.

2. You have read a few articles here and there in The Economist, but have rarely read entire issues. The Economist covers such a broad range of matters -- so many things touch the global economy -- that it is easy to find many articles which are of little use to any given individual. In my case I find the majority of their articles to be, while well researched and written, relatively uninteresting to me. In such a broad space there is bound to be a great deal of chaff relative to each reader's mind.

A possibility that I find extremely implausible is that The Economist is, in fact, utterly lacking in significant content. I say this based on the variety of people I know who find it to be one of the few truly substantial periodicals. Off the top of my head, there's a couple Ivy League grads, a PhD computer scientist, a PhD candidate in some field of biology, and three college drop-outs who are nonetheless among the smartest people I know.

All of which is to say; I can completely understand that you may have found some articles you have read to be shallower than your own knowledge of their topic space (assuming you are fairly astute regarding said space), and others that covered a subject you found inconsequential. I think it is unlikely, however, that the magazine is objectively and entirely mere fluff.

Most nonsensical argument (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786218)

"long copyright terms are hindering creativity"

How so? Do we really need a Citizen Kane movie of the week or mini series? How is preventing t-shirt stands from selling knock off Mickey Mouse T-shirts "hindering creativity"? It's hindering cheap knock offs and everyone and their brother from exploiting some one else's work. Here's a though, Come Up With Something Original! Can't do it? Not the artist's fault. Arguing about copyright issues is one thing but arguing it's hindering exploitation is just plain silly.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786288)

It also loses sight of why we grant such protection: To promote the progress of science and useful arts
Then again, I have heard it argued that indefinite copyright extensions encourage artists to sit on their laurels instead of creating more.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (5, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786290)

Considering that much of Disney's stuff is a knockoff of earlier works that are out of copyright, I don't see your point of view as having much validity. Second, this whole "lock it up for eons" mentality has spread beyond copyright - there has been talk of incorporating patents on things like plots or the very subject matter of a given story. This whole ownership thing is WAY out of hand.

Ironically, today's technology offers copyright holders means of distribution (opportunity to make money) that FAR exceed what was available when copyright was first enacted. So to be fair, what do they do...demand longer copyrights? No, they should be feel lucky that the term of a copyright hasn't been reduced. I don't think it was ever the intent of copyright to provide for multi-generational revenue streams.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786440)

Actually, a fun and ironic way of handling this issue is extending copyright to 500 years, retroactively. Add a clause that breach of copyright on works where no direct descendent can be found, the infringing party will be subject to a fine equalling 200% of all sales (pre tax) on the items in question AND the infringing work becomes public domain.

At the very least it'd give Disney such a kick in the balls, that they'd shut up about copyright extensions

Re:Most nonsensical argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786618)

That would be Disney's wet dream. They'd find the rights holders, pay them wholesale and fight off any claims that those were not the actual copyright holders in court. Small price to pay for basically eternal copyright. Nobody would even think about touching Disney's works with the threat of a lawsuit hanging over them.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (4, Interesting)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786298)

The simple response to your argument is this. Make copyright limited to something like 7 years but give an option to extend it. Even if its infinite. But it has to be renewed every 7 years and has to be produced continually during that time. If Disney is still around in year 2500 and Mickey Mouse is still going strong and worth protecting then let them protect it. But your 2 year olds doodle with crayons and snot don't need automatic copyright protection that lasts until she dies of old age.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (1)

Kong the Medium (232629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786518)

Sorry, but 7 years is too short. I have nothing against copyright for as long as the artists lives. He has to eat, pay rent and should have every right to earn the fruits of his labor. If it's a truly magnificient work of art or at least popular, he will make heaps of money with it, most of which his heirs will inherit.
But why should his heirs or even worse big media conglomerats have any right to something that was created 60 years ago? I sniff a little whiff of feudalism in this line of reasoning.

I can see the argument, that to market media nowadays costs a lot of money and therefore we need publishing companys and such. But to have a copyright term of life+75 years stinks of greed.
As long as the artist lives he should reap the fruits of his creativity, but if he is dead, the copyright should fall into the public domain.
For copyrights transferred to publishing companys I propose a progressivly higher cost for copyright. First 7 years are free, every new 7 years term costs 10% of profits gained by the work of art times the number of prior renewals.
So after 70 years the cost of copyright renewals will be 100% of profits gained, +/- creative accounting and it'll be not cost-efficient to renew the copyright. This will be a win-win situation for both sides, the company will reap enough money to regain the costs of marketing and the public will gain access to the work after a reasonable timeframe.
Companys want the rights of persons, than they should act like persons and die after 60-90 years.

Seven years free, then fee doubles each year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786610)

OK, how about the first seven years is given free, and the copyright fee to extend it a year starts out at $1 and doubles every year to extend it another year. Large corporations could decide how much they wanted to extend it out very far with only Disney contemplating 25 or more years. After eight years, if it's not worth $1 to extend it a year, then it reverts to public domain. After nine years, if it's not worth $2 to extend it a year, then it reverts to public domain. This grows to $16 million after 25 years. Is it worth another $16 million to make it go to 26?

Re:Most nonsensical argument (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786616)

Sorry, but 7 years is too short. I have nothing against copyright for as long as the artists lives. He has to eat, pay rent and should have every right to earn the fruits of his labor

But copyright wasn't invented to repay them for the fruits of their labor, but to encourage things to be released to the public that wouldn't have been released without copyright. If it would have been released anyway (the obvious stuff) then it shouldn't be copyrightable. And it should only be protected for the minimum term to encourage discoveries. That it is not hampering discoveries indicates copyright is in violation of its charter and unconstitutional from any plain-English reading of the Constitution.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (1)

Laser Dan (707106) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786814)

Sorry, but 7 years is too short. I have nothing against copyright for as long as the artists lives. He has to eat, pay rent and should have every right to earn the fruits of his labor

But copyright wasn't invented to repay them for the fruits of their labor, but to encourage things to be released to the public that wouldn't have been released without copyright. If it would have been released anyway (the obvious stuff) then it shouldn't be copyrightable. And it should only be protected for the minimum term to encourage discoveries. That it is not hampering discoveries indicates copyright is in violation of its charter and unconstitutional from any plain-English reading of the Constitution.

If they don't make enough to last them until they can create a new work, they will have to have another job, which takes away from the time available to create such works. It needs to be a balance: Too long and there is no encouragement to make anything new, too short and there is no time to do the creation. Considering that every creation may not be successful, I think 14 years or so is reasonable.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786870)

Sorry, but 7 years is too short.

Most books, movies, etc make the majority of the money they are ever going to make soon after publication/release. Those which continue to make money for many years are exceptional. Those which suddenly start making money after a period of time are very exceptional.
Typically if you havn't made a profit after X amount of time then you are never going to. Where X is often considerably less than 7 years. A short copyright term is likely to be better at encouraging the creation of new works too.

Super-Nonsensical Argument (5, Insightful)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786582)

All that would do is give Disney and large corporations copyright in perpetuity. That is, forever. They would love this even more. Compare that to an artist who can't afford the filing fees, or simply forgets, or a photographer who isn't going to file extension applications for 10,000 photos. They lose. Disney wins. Corporations are Supercitizens. They live forever. People don't. People have moral and civic obligations. Corporations can instead argue they're "looking after their shareholders." Copyright laws need to be adjusted to recognise that supercitizens don't deserve copyright above and beyond that of normal citizens.

Re:Most nonsensical argument (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786354)

no one gives a shit about mickey mouse. it's the endless milking of idea's and preventing anything remotely similar that is the issue. thanks for tackling a non issue.

Science & art flourished better w/o copyright (5, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786238)

The biggest and most important achievements in science and art happened before the existence of copyright and patent laws.

To tell people that they cannot freely share the ideas of another person for one hundred years...it just seems to fly in the face of advancement. People act as if not paying money to someone for a hundred years will make art and music disappear.

If 14 years was considered an adequate amount of time to capitalize on an idea back then, before the days of speedy digital distribution (and speedy analog distribution!), why is it so long now?

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786244)

And then there are the racists who say "Look at India, they have no patent system, and what technology do they have?"....

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (2, Interesting)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786322)

The biggest and most important achievements in science and art happened before the existence of copyright and patent laws

It's a little specious to imply that it was the lack of copyright and patent laws that caused this, no? I would contend that what really caused the greatest achievements in science and art is the ignorance/narrow culture preceding its creation.

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (3, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786760)

" I would contend that what really caused the greatest achievements in science and art is the ignorance/narrow culture preceding its creation."

sweet so we are in for a boom in achievements in art and science any day now.

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (4, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786404)

The biggest and most important achievements in science and art happened before the existence of copyright and patent laws.

I disagree. The biggest achievements has happened in the last couple of hundred years. However, I also think that there is a huge difference between correlation and causation.

To tell people that they cannot freely share the ideas of another person for one hundred years...it just seems to fly in the face of advancement

Agreed.

If 14 years was considered an adequate amount of time to capitalize on an idea back then, before the days of speedy digital distribution (and speedy analog distribution!), why is it so long now?

Because neo-mercantilist companies and individuals have lobbied to extend it so that they can profit more. And don't expect it to change. With an expected resource crisis due to massive consumption and popultion growth on earth, the mercantalist ideas will just grow strong among those in power.

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786570)

why is it so long now? Greedy Bastardism! Corporations are by design cheap. They don't ever spend more money than they have to. Innovation almost always costs money. Innovation goes against their principle about being cheap. Holding copyrights as long as possible means that they get to maintain a monopoly for as long as possible, and charge high prices for as long as possible. Copyright lets them break away from the rules and market of fair competition. They always talk about the free market, but what they really want is an unfree market. They want unfair competition and are always striving to monopolise whatever industry they are in, in order to charge the highest possible prices (and make the highest possible profit). Copyright is a legal stick that gives them a copyright. An exclusive licence to make whatever it is that they have. Lengthening it means they get to gouge the market for longer. Its to be expected that they would want to extend it out to infinity. There are even corporations that have talked about extending copyright into the hundreds or thousands of years. In reality, nothing should be locked more than 10 years. No art, no work, no craft or design in any field. Innovation can only flourish if ideas are allowed to progress. Holding many generations of ideas hostage stifles innovation. Corporations are geedy. Its their nature. They are also lazy and cheap. We can excuse the first, the second two, not.

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (2, Insightful)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786646)

If 14 years was considered an adequate amount of time to capitalize on an idea back then, before the days of speedy digital distribution (and speedy analog distribution!), why is it so long now?

Because corporations never die and they have a lot of money to spend indirectly on political campaigns. Oh, and now they can spend it *directly* on political campaigns. Let the kleptocracy be complete!

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786672)

I believe it is a massive fallacy that copyright promotes creativity and that we'd be far more creative without it. It's never been proven that a world without copyright will be less innovative.

What copyright actually promotes is for-profit art (which isn't really art at all. read: pop music) and monopolies on innovation. If an innovation is required, someone will get to work and think it up and if it's not required then it's not required. We don't need a law to create artificial markets for the sake of promoting the arts and science. This distorts the market for innovation which can only hurt us in the end.

How can one say that restricting the free flow of information will somehow inspire creativity? I think the problem is that most people just can't imagine a world without copyright; they are too attached to the way things are. Maybe some corporation will imagine a world for them and happily trade it for some paper.

Re:Science & art flourished better w/o copyrig (2, Informative)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786744)

The biggest and most important achievements in science and art happened before the existence of copyright and patent laws.

Even in modern times there are plenty of examples where copyright appears to have been more or less irrelevent. Typically obscurity is more of a risk that "piracy".

To tell people that they cannot freely share the ideas of another person for one hundred years...it just seems to fly in the face of advancement.

Ironically "advancement" is one of the justifications for such laws in the first place. Though this may be an example of "too much of a good things is bad for you".

If 14 years was considered an adequate amount of time to capitalize on an idea back then, before the days of speedy digital distribution (and speedy analog distribution!), why is it so long now?

There are also much more (literate) people around compared with the 18th century, thus many more potential customers.
In many cases the majority of money is made in much less than 14 years. With movies and popular music this may be closer to 14 days...

Interesting (3, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786248)

Here's hoping it's indicative - or will lead to - a groundswell of public opinion.

What us nerds need to do is remind people that copyright is a trade. I've explained to people that Disney nor your favorite band 'deserve' any protection, which they find crazy. But when I explain the idea of copyright is to promote new works by allowing the creative types to make a living - with the understanding that we'll all get it in the end - they start to look at copyright how it was originally intended.

We would still have books and music and art without copyright - people do those for free all the time - but big movies, etc legitimately take a lot of money to make. So I think copyrights are necessary, but drastically limited in length. It's a travesty that the Beatles' work doesn't belong to the world yet, and it's obscene that Mickey Mouse doesn't.

Copyrights were much shorter at the founding of our nation - and that was when a significant portion of the time allotted was used in physically moving stuff around. Now that that's almost instantaneous - or perhaps a few days - it should be shorter than that.

Re:Interesting (0)

fryjs (1456943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786398)

Why are you, or anyone else, owed free access to other people's work? Copyright to me is about protecting my ideas, it's not a trade I make, it's about the state protecting my property. Now I think that if I want that protection I should have to pay for it, and be required to renew copyrights periodicially, however I reject your claim to a right to my work.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786556)

A creative work is not something naturally owned. It's not a tangible item that you have. Only a social contract allows you to simulate ownership, and to use words like "my", on something as vaporous as a creative work.

The default is for creative works to not be ownable.

Re:Interesting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786788)

The very idea of "owning" something--even something tangible--is, itself, intangible: it is just a social contract that lets you have control over a particular item. This is a very useful contract, but the default really is for nothing to be ownable, with anyone able to take anything they can.

Re:Interesting (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786888)

True, the default for your car is also not to be ownable, I'll be taking it now.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786636)

Copyright to me is about protecting my ideas, it's not a trade I make, it's about the state protecting my property.

Awright, fair enough. And since said state is a representative of me, Joe the Voter, what's in it for me?

So let's make a deal. I agree that you get protection from the law w.r.t. your intellectual property, and you agree that after a set amount of time...say 14 years or so, your work goes into the public domain for the betterment of mankind? Deal?

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

Moddington (1721244) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786658)

We're owed access to other people's work, because they openly published it to the world. The point of copyright isn't to keep your ideas yours; that's easily enough achieved by simply not publishing your ideas. The point is to give you recompense for giving your ideas to the world.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

sahonen (680948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786818)

Because an idea is not property, it is an arrangement of neurons in your head. If one person takes a piece of property, he deprives everyone else of the use of that property... However, the same idea can exist simultaneously in every single mind in existence, and no person is deprived of the ability to hold that idea in their head by the fact that someone else is also holding that idea in their head. The natural, default state of an idea is that it is freely available to *everyone*.

However, we recognize that certain people have ideas that most people couldn't have by themselves. In general, these ideas are useful to society, so we want these people to keep having them. In order to free these people from the distraction of having to earn a living by conventional means and allow them to spend all of their time coming up with more of their ideas, we create a mechanism by which people can profit from them... A completely artificial concept of imaginary property. We allow these people to be the only ones who may use their idea for profit for enough time to keep checks in their mailbox till they come up with their next idea. After this time passes, the idea reverts to its default state of being available to everyone.

The reality is, when you come up with a creative work, you do the original work of creating it *once.* Most people have to work continuously to earn a continuous living. What gives a creative person the right to earn a perpetual living off of a single act of creation?

Re:Interesting (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786960)

if every idea was protected forever, that would eventually create a legal minefield for anyone trying to publish something new. they'd have to go through ages of creations to check if anything remotely resembled their own, and it'll only grow as more people find gaps. eventually, you'll need someone specialized in finding these gaps to assist you while you create. is that your dream world? it isn't mine.

Here's one (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786252)

It's time for the "Everyone who had anything to do with creating the mouse is dead now act". It will revert the term on all existing works to the length it was when the work was created. Last I checked, no amount of retroactive incentive can further encourage the dead.

Re:Here's one (2, Interesting)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786320)

For a while now, I've been hoping we'd eventually see a court rule that the possibility of retroactive copyright extension is incompatible with the Constitution's wording ("for limited times"), and that Congress therefore does not have the power to grant copyright extensions.

Re:Here's one (3, Informative)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786612)

Your Supreme Court already ruled that any finite duration of copyright is, in fact, constitutional.

Eldred v. Ashcroft [wikipedia.org]

Protect Mickey Mouse with trademarks instead (4, Interesting)

jasmusic (786052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786340)

Copyright? No, Mickey Mouse is more like a trademark that ought to be maintained in perpetuity by the legal person who owns it. We don't need long copyrights for any reason. This way, people can't misuse Mickey for cartoon porn, but Walt Disney can't sit on their ass either.

Re:Protect Mickey Mouse with trademarks instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786466)

Copyright? No, Mickey Mouse is more like a trademark that ought to be maintained in perpetuity by the legal person who owns it. We don't need long copyrights for any reason. This way, people can't misuse Mickey for cartoon porn, but Walt Disney can't sit on their ass either.

He's been trademarked for decades as are all the Disney primary characters. The better example would be doing a porno version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the Disney style. Seriously are we all being damaged by "not" seeing that?

Re:Protect Mickey Mouse with trademarks instead (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786590)

What? Does it make you Grumpy instead of horny?

Re:Protect Mickey Mouse with trademarks instead (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786976)

i've spent too much time on the internet; i laughed instead of crying.

'Asuri Woman' - a form of the goddess Durga. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786382)

A more extreme form of ritual is related in Sudhir Kakar's "Shamans, Mystics & Doctors" (1991). This is sadhana (practice) directed towards a demoness named Karna. The sadhna is carried out over three days before the new moon. It requires ten days of preparation, and a further ten days of ritual after the sadhana is completed. For ten days the practitioner abstains from all the sacred acts prescribed for a Brahmin. He did not clean his teeth, change his clothes, and used the same dirty plate for each meal. In the three days of the sadhana itself, the practitioner satisfies his thirst by drinking his own urine, and satisfies his hunger by eating his own feces. On the first night of the sadhana, the practitioner locks the doors of his house. He lights eleven large oil lamps in his room. He wears a string of fifty-four bones which he has dug up from the cremation ground at night, and holds a similar string in his hands. Facing south, he begins to recite (japa) a mantra 115 times. He urinates and defacates without breaking the repetition, and rubs the shit and piss over his body. Finally, the practitioner relates how he is visited by "an attractive woman, twenty-five to thirty years old, completely naked...". She sits next to him, fondles his penis, smears both their bodies with his feces, and disappears when he has finished the recitation of the mantra. On the third day, she "incited" him to have intercourse with her. Upon commencing his final period of japa, she appears again, sits down on his lap, and defecates & urinates all over him, again, smearing him body with her urine and feces. She then tells the practitioner "Whenever I want intercourse I'll come to you and you will have to satisfy my desire. Whenever you ask a question I'll whisper the answer in your ear." Kakar's correspondent writes that, as a result of this sadhana, he can no longer perform the sacred tasks and rituals of a Brahmin, but that his astrology business has boomed, due to the powers of the demoness in giving him knowledge of his clients' past and future and in drawing more clients towards him.

Copyright should never be extended. (5, Insightful)

Solarhands (1279802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786412)

The one thing that makes absolutely no sense in all this is that copyright gets extended when new laws come out.

Suppose that copyright is now 50 years. Now supposing that the government thinks that say 100 years is a more optimal time period for copyright. They write a law which changes the time period for copyright law.

Why do the copyright end dates for those works already under copyright change? There is no reason for them to. There is no way that the new law is going to affect whether or not people 50 years ago write more books and music. But clearly the government seems to think that if they keep pushing the date back on existing copyright that they will reach some point where the financial incentive of the new law will convince the Beatles to write another album back in the 1960s. Perhaps they believe that we will soon have time traveling agents, who can inform the artists of the past of their rights.

Re:Copyright should never be extended. (2, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786710)

You keep insisting that the government is "thinking." If it is, it's not thinking about copyright as related to what is good for our society, it is thinking about it in the way that gets senators and representatives re-elected. It's lobbyists that get copyright extended.

Re:Copyright should never be extended. (3, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786778)

``The one thing that makes absolutely no sense in all this is that copyright gets extended when new laws come out.''

Looking at how things have worked out in practice, it seems the terms have been chosen in such a way as to make copyright simply not expire. Perhaps the reason for that is that those pushing for the extensions are afraid of what will happen if works do go into the public domain. For example, it might then be found out that this actually _promotes_ the arts and sciences. Obviously, they can't have that, because it would wash away all their argumentation for extending the term.

Perhaps, however, the explanation is much simpler: the difference between a work that you hold the copyright for and a work that is in the public domain is that, in the former case, you are in control, and thus in the best position to profit from the work. In fact, you have a monopoly - nobody else is allowed to do certain potentially profitable things without your permission. Given the choice, who wouldn't prefer to keep control over losing it? If someone has an idea that you approve of, you can always grant them the necessary permissions.

Easy Solution (3, Insightful)

dghcasp (459766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786450)

Simple Solution:

  1. Copyright lasts for some period of time (say 20 years)
  2. An single individual copyright can be extended perpetually by paying an annual fee (say $10,000)

That way, Disney can keep Mickey Mouse copyrighted forever, but anything that isn't generating more than 10k of revenue a year is cheaper to let lapse. Plus, it's another source of revenue for the government.

Of course, simple solutions never survive politics.

Re:Easy Solution (2, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786522)

Of course, simple solutions never survive politics.

It won't even survive Slashdot.

Is that $10,000 per idea? Per character? Per story? Per song? Album? Lyric?

Does Disney have to pay $10,000 to copyright Mickey, and another $10,000 to copyright Steamboat Willie? What about that song he sang during the short?

Not that I'd mind making Disney pay for an infinite amount of $10,000 copyright units... But I'm also curious what I personally can expect to have to pay.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786742)

I like it, but two things I'd change there.

2. An individual can assign copyright to another, and the assignee, or the person, can renew up to two times. After the second, the copyright expires.

3. In order to renew, the copyright must be centrally registered. After the end of the first period, copyright expires if the work is not registered.

Rule two lets the corporations milk their employees, but still ensures that copyright finally ends. Rule three puts a final definitive stake through the hearts of ghost copyrights. If the original creators do not assert their ownership publicly, the public should have to respect them 30, 40 and 70 years later.

As a software developer (2, Informative)

brit74 (831798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786480)

As an independent software developer who lives off of my copyrighted work, I'm perfectly fine with shorter copyrights - even 14 years. I really don't think long copyrights (beyond, say, 40-50 years) help anyone other than corporations, who have an insatiable appetite to maximize profits, and grandkids who want a trust fund. A 50 year copyright is going to extend copyright beyond the life of the author in most cases, and even if the author is still alive, he should've saved some money for old age - that's what everyone else does.

fridadesai (-1, Offtopic)

fridadesai (1786380) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786544)

Thanks for the insight! There is a lot of helpful information within those links. Best Attorney [bankruptcy...fornia.com]

Grr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786584)

I wish I got paid for work I did up to 95 years ago - could you imagine if business had to pay employees for their "contributions to society" 95 years after they'd left the company?

Copyright should only have a short life span - Its sad that "artists" like the beatles and live off their huge back catalogue profits - yeah ok you sang some great songs BACK THEN - but what have you sung LATELY? Nothing?

If Copyright was 25 years - people who continued to contribute original ideas to society CONTINOUSLY would profit - people who do one "great" thing then sit back in their lounge chairs would get paid for what they do - not much

Go out an get a job you copyright riding hippies!!!?!

On an unrelated note... (2, Interesting)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786738)

Just proves why I enjoy The Economist as much as I do. Remind me to renew my subscription...

7 years on both patents and copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786750)

Originally copyright was the right to make a copy. Corporations were declared persons in the US, and then those persons (who happen to live forever) wanted goods created (not by them but by people who breath air) to have an infinite copy protection. They want what they want. They don't give a fig about innovation. Seven years should be the maximum time for both. Further, copyrights and patents may not be held by immortals. God may not hold patents or copyrights, nor corporations. Corporations cannot create anything. Corporations have never created anything. People working for corporations create things. Occasionally there are people who get confused about that issue. Its only by a very stupid quirk in the law that corporations have been allowed to own ideas. Corporations are paper creations. They are artificial and have no basis in reality. Innovation was rampant prior to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. It was even more effective when the terms limiting it were short. 7 years. Copyright and patent. No immortals. Done!

A new way for IP (1)

UglyMike (639031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786758)

Copright was from the time that multi-media was limited to books. So for books, the idea is still valid. One should have to pay the creator/writer for the right to print ('copy') his work for larger diffusion.

So, one could revise current copyright to say that copyright on books should be something like the livespan of the author or 40 year, whichever lasts longest.

Voila, author and family protected without going overboard.

The same could be extended to music, although this becomes difficult as you have the music and the performance(s). For the music itself, no problem. Music notation is almost like a book. That could get the same rights. Performance is a different thing. One could of course argue that the performer is already paid for his/her performance (certainly the case with live shows, they will have been paid for the music video etc) and thus no copytright needed whatsoever on the performance, just on the music itself. Music video's would be treated more like film. So, write music and get copyright protection lasting 40 years or lifespan.

In both cases, this copright protection would extend only to commercial copying (books, sheet-music) of the articles. No legal shenannigans like music in a Taxi, elevator music etc. Some negotiation could of course be done to see where non-commercial and commercial meet.

Note that I extend this copyright to the original author! Transfer of ownership of a copyrighted work to another entity (a company or maybe a benefactor wanting to help the author) would automatically lead to a copyright period of 10 years, not to exceed the copyight period that would have been the case were the item would remain property of the author. Same as for work done as a service, which is how I beliieve the music inustry works. The music creators 'create' for the company and are paid by the company for this. So no need for additioanl protection, they are already paid. Since however ownership of the copyrighted work does not reside with the creator but with the company, copyright would be limited to 10 years (and lets be fair, todays Lady Gaga song will have limite value in 2020...)

Now, films are a different matter. There is no single 'creator'. Usually, the rights will belong to a company. I would buy the argument that the film roll containing all the frames of the film is the same as a book and thus should get the same treatment, but in the absence of a single 'creator' and allowing fo the enormous cost of such a project, I would limit this to 30 years fix with a stipulation that a non-DRM encumbered verion needs to be deposited in a central 'storage' à la Library of Congress or so.

However, films can have 'additional' value. Take Star Wars... The initial film should already be public domain, free for anyone to copy, use excepts from, change the soundtrack etc. Public domain of the film and all its frames. This however would not extend to the characters. The StarWars 'franchise' is worth a lot more than the first movie itself. To a lesser extent the same is true for 'serial' books (Harry Potter, Hercule Poirot, Jack Ryan ...) Just because a film/book they star in is PD does not mean everyone can use the characters to their liking or make their own commercial follow-ups. (non-commercial fan-movies are somewhat different but here again, some give and take would be required). Just the reproduction would be allowed. This would mean all the 'old' Mickey movies would be PD but the mickey character would still be protected. This protection would NOT be based on copyright but on a new kind of IP, maybe a 'renewable' 5-year license. So as long as the character 'owner' (human or company)is interested in it, he/she/it would pay the fee to be allowed to commercialize it practically indefinitely. If he no longer pay for the protection, the character becomes 'public domain', free for everyone to do with as he pleases.

Absolutely not! (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786772)

Why, my short story took me almost an hour to write. And I only get to keep copyright on it until 70 years after my death. I certainly wouldn't have bothered were I only going to keep making an income from it for 50 years after I die. What would be the point?

The Emperor Has No Clothes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786776)

Cried the little boy. He is not wearing any clothes!

I'd actually like to see a gradual reduction (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786816)

I have a lot more sympathy for the rights of someone to control the original version of their work than for absolute control over derived works. I'm sure Psycho is still making money, and even though it's made several dozen times its initial cost, I can live with that. However, if I wanted to write a story from the point of view of Norman Bates' split personality, why should Paramount have a right to stop me? It's not going to displace sales of the DVD. It's become as much a part of our culture as King Arthur or greek legends, but we're not allowed to do anything with it.

Spider Robinson's Take on Perpetual Copyright (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31786956)

Is well worth a read:

Melancholy Elephants [spiderrobinson.com]

In the year 2525 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31786986)

Now it's been ten thousand years
Man has shed a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
Something isn't right
Mickey mouse is still in copyright

*sigh*

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