Copyright Extension Moves To Japan

from the ain't-no-such-thing-as-a-public-domain dept

Looks like the latest battle over copyright extension is about to take place in Japan, where the new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has vowed to extend certain copyrights. Specifically, he says that posthumous copyrights for compositions should last 70 years, rather than 50. This makes no sense, no matter what basis you judge copyright on. Copyright is supposed to serve a simple purpose: to encourage the creation of new works. It never makes sense to extend copyright on existing works, because those works were already created. In other words, the social "bargain" that was offered in terms of the limited times of protection available were clearly sufficient. But, it's making a pure mockery of the law to specifically single out posthumous copyright protection to be extended because, as far as I know, the dead no longer have any incentives to create new content, no matter how long the copyrights on their old content lasts. The only explanation for doing so is to create a special welfare program for songwriters and composers. But, if that's the case, let's make it clear this is a welfare system, rather than anything to do with copyright.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    It's to destroy the public domain in an attempt to destroy competition and hence give monopoly rents to the existing status quo.

     

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  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Boo!

    "as far as I know, the dead no longer have any incentives to create new content"

    Obviously you've never heard of a ghost writer, have you?

     

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  3.  
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    Hulser (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    I find it interesting that the linked article doesn't actually provide any justification for the extension. Oh, other than that the "JASRAC, other rights holders societies and music industry bodies in Japan" want it. At least in America, the RIAA/MPAA has the decency to lie to us to our face.

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Re: Boo!

    My favorite ghost writer is Thomas Jefferson--if only I could locate his twitter feed.

    Speaking of, have you head the song?

    RJD2 - Ghostwriter on YouTube.

     

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  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Boo!

    I hadn't heard it before, but I like it! Trip hop is one of my favorite obscuraties.

    If you're into that kind of sound, definitely check out the Dust Bros. Fight Club soundtrack. It's one of the most interesting experimental albums I've ever heard....

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:22am

    This is just the mentality of intellectual property maximists. Intellectual property is not, and was never, about promoting the progress. It was always about promoting the profit margins of the plutocracy. and that's exactly what it does. It hinders innovation in order to help the rich better exploit the public.

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Boo!

    Been listening to 'em for awhile now. Good stuff.

     

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  8.  
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    Moron N Ahurry, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:41am

    So naive...

    Copyright has been about promoting progress or additional works since... well... let's just say men were wearing powdered wigs and had wooden false teeth back then...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:46am

    Before criticizing the proposed change, it is helpful to at least have some familiarity with Japanese copyright law. It is not based upon what we have here in the United States.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    Please elaborate, what's there not to criticize?

     

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  11.  
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    Hulser (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    So, you're saying that Japanese copyright is not based on "promoting the progress"? Do you know this for a fact or are you just saying that it's not necessarilly based on the same principles as in the US? If it's not based on promoting the progress, what is it based on? Enriching the elite?

     

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  12.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Boo!

    Jefferson just blogged at QuestionCopyright.org!
    http://questioncopyright.org/ideas_should_spread_freely

     

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  13.  
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    Christopher (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Disobey

    It's the only way to proceed.

    I would propose: Copyright plus zero years after death, period. Heck, 30 years or death, whichever comes first. If it's truly a form of welfare or pension, make it work like a pension plan, expire the time or split total to a beneficiary after death.

    Patents, seven years period, no extensions, nothing.

    Trademarks is the only one that defies my awesome ability to cut through the bullshit.

     

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  14.  
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    TheStupidOne, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    I was wondering

    (Slightly off topic, but related) What would happen if a group of American citizens sued the government over ownership of copyrighted works that are only under copyright because the copyright was extended? The claim would be that congress does not have to right to retroactively change an agreement between content creators and the public. This agreement is of course that they would have x number of years of the exclusive right to copy their work in return for the content being created and for it to be given to the public after x years. However Congress changed that agreement preventing the public from receiving the content once the initial agreed upon time frame had expired.

    I would compare this to ex post facto laws which are expressly forbidden by the US constitution (Article 1, Section 9) Though that part of the constitution has been interpreted as only pertaining to criminal offenses.

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Re: I was wondering

    What would happen if a group of American citizens sued the government over ownership of copyrighted works that are only under copyright because the copyright was extended? The claim would be that congress does not have to right to retroactively change an agreement between content creators and the public.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eldred_v._Ashcroft

    Tragically, it was done, and it failed. There are a few reasons why it failed -- some of which had to do with how the case was argued, and some of it had to do with the Justices' understanding of copyright law. The book "No Law" has a very depressing, but thorough analysis of how badly the justices screwed that one up.

     

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  16.  
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    Liquid, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    My Thoughts

    If you think about it. Everyone is saying the creator of the song gets the copyrights to it. Well that is not true most of the songs are copy writed to the label. Which is where the extension comes in to play. You don't see a programmer, or a designer working for company A designing or programming for them. Then getting fired going to company B, and taking all that work with them. That designer/programmer would be sued in a heart beat.

    Same with music industry you don't see an artist working at Disney lets say, and then leave to work for Sony. They don't take the work's that were done at Disney with them, because it's all owned by Sony. So saying an artist can't claim money on a song after they died. That is true, but the label is the one who gets the money first then pays the artists their cut just like any other business.

     

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  17.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 11:56am

    Christopher:
    "I would propose: Copyright plus zero years after death, period. Heck, 30 years or death, whichever comes first. If it's truly a form of welfare or pension, make it work like a pension plan, expire the time or split total to a beneficiary after death."


    There is a big problem with something like this.
    Say someone wants to use a work that is still under copyright, but they don't want to wait for it to enter the public domain, and they don't want to pay a fee for permission to use the work. Well, the poor artist/copyright owner may be the victim up some kind of 'unfortunate incident' which 'tragically' takes their life, and bingo! the work in question is instantly public domain!

    copyright that lasts 25 years after date of publication, regardless of the artists life-span solves this potential problem.

     

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  18.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re:

    this would at least make it honest and achieving it's goals, i suppose :D

    that said, a lot of weirdness in Japanese law can be traced back to US interference.

    of course, it's Japan. it's also just outright weird in the first place :D

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    http://www.washlaw.edu/forint/asia/japan.html

    Another link with a compilation from lots of countries and their laws.

    Some Japanese case studies about copyright law and how those differs from the U.S.
    http://www.softic.or.jp/en/articles/fordham_sugiyama.html

    Note that Japan don't have statutory damages, and payments from infringement are very low. That could change.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    http://www.washlaw.edu/forint/asia/japan.html

    Another link with a compilation from lots of countries and their laws.

    Some Japanese case studies about copyright law and how those differs from the U.S.
    http://www.softic.or.jp/en/articles/fordham_sugiyama.html

    Note that Japan don't have statutory damages, and payments from infringement are very low. That could change.

    Some interesting blogs that keep track of what happens on that side of the world.

    http://asiajin.com/blog/
    http://fumijp.blogspot.com/2009/06/copyright-law-amendment.html (this is an article about a law controversial copyright amendment that passed)

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Disobey

    Zero years after the book goes out of print.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:13pm

    Re:

    Good analysis. Also, zero years after the book goes out of print .... Provided ..... that the book didn't go out of print because the artist died.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Then again that could create incentive to kill an artist to extend a books copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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