Copyright Is An Exception To The Public Domain

from the a-manifesto dept

A bunch of folks have been sending in this wonderful Public Domain Manifesto, put together by Communia. It's a wonderful read, highlighting the importance and value of the public domain, and putting forth a series of general principles which appear to make a lot of sense. It also discusses other aspects of related issues, such as the importance of individuals choosing to not use copyright, as well as the value of fair use and fair dealing. The point is both to highlight how important the public domain is to a vital thriving culture, and also to point out how the public domain has been steadily eroded over the last few decades. A key point is found in the first principle, and it's to remind everyone that copyright is an exception to the public domain, not the other way around:
The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.
Unfortunately, it's rarely thought about like this. Instead, most people consider copyright to be the rule, and things like the public domain and fair use to be exceptions. This is a problem, and it impacts how people view, understand and respond to things like copyright and the public domain itself.

To be honest, I have no idea how useful something like this manifesto really will be. Very few politicians seem to understand or care about the public domain and its importance. The manifesto might not have much of an impact on its own, but as a general set of principles for people to understand and gather behind it does seem like a good thing.


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  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:18pm

    Sigh

    A "manifesto" from "Communia"?

    Yeah, that ought to make the comments thread of this story interesting....

     

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  2.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Sigh

    Yeah, that ought to make the comments thread of this story interesting....


    Don't read too much into it. It's a group put together in the EU to study the public domain:

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

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Sigh

    Oh, I educated myself on them before posting my comment. It isn't my own ignorance I'm fearing here. Can't you just hear the "Mike is a socialist/communist/anarchist/raporist/Marxist/pedophile/puppy-killer/grandma-beater comments now?

     

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  4.  
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    Colin, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    RE

    With new organizations like Creative Commons reinforcing public domain along with various forms of remixing and re-using art in different ways seems to have increased drastically in the last few years, due almost entirely to new media and technology.

    And don't forget that copyright law was written so that artists could get paid for their work while they were alive! Before that businessmen took advantage of the labor and creative power of artists.

     

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  5.  
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    The Sarcastic-Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    The public domain is a vile creature that must be destroyed. Did you know that there are great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren of long dead artists who are NOT getting paid!?!

    Outrageous! Doesn't anyone realize that without paying for every single use of our shared culture that art will up and die?

    Won't someone please think of the great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren!

    Please support copyright extension today!

     

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  6.  
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    Rooker, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    This needs to become a meme

    "The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception"

    Best phrase I've seen all year. Everybody should repeat that as often as possible.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Translation of Hugo Quote?

    Any French speakers out there want to take a stab at translating the Victor Hugo quote in the article? I ran it through babelfish and it didn't look quite right. Something was getting lost/garbled in the translation.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    Politicians

    One of the problems is that there has not been much push back for public domain. How many politicans were interested in civil rights originally?

     

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  9.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Sigh

    DH: please stop posting my thoughts before I can submit them myself.

    PS: How are you able to read them? Is the foil in my hat too thin?

     

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  10.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:43pm

    Re: This needs to become a meme

    Add this in to the list of things to repeat:

    "The free-marketers are the public-domain supporters!"
    "The copyright promoters are for government intervention!"
    "Public domain and fair use are pro-citizen, copyright is pro-monopoly!"

    Note, the above are true, but don't necessarily make Intellectual Property bad...but they are realities that must be admitted in any honest debate on the subject. A lot of pro-copyright people think that they are free-marketers, when they just aren't.

     

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  11.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Translation of Hugo Quote?

    "Le livre, comme livre, appartient à l’auteur, mais comme pensée, il appartient—le mot n’est pas trop vaste—au genre humain. Toutes les intelligences y ont droit. Si l’un des deux droits, le droit de l’écrivain et le droit de l’esprit humain, devait être sacrifié, ce serait, certes, le droit de l’écrivain, car l’intérêt public est notre préoccupation unique, et tous, je le déclare, doivent passer avant nous."

    (Victor Hugo, Discours d’ouverture du Congrès littéraire international de 1878, 1878

    The book, in and as a book, belongs to the author, but as a thought, it belongs...and I am not overstating...to all humanity. All sentient beings have a right to that thought. If these two rights (the authors right to the book and the people's right to the thoughts) has to be sacrificed, this should be, for sure, the rights of the author. This is because the public good is our primary concern, and I declare this [as an author], the people's rights come before ours.

    (Translation by Derek Kerton.)

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Translation of Hugo Quote?

    Sorry, I missed two key word: "If ONE OF these two rights"

    corrected below:

    The book, in and as a book, belongs to the author, but as a thought, it belongs...and I am not overstating...to all humanity. All sentient beings have a right to that thought. If one of these two rights (the authors right to the book and the people's right to the thoughts) has to be sacrificed, this should be, for sure, the rights of the author. This is because the public good is our primary concern, and I declare this [as an author], the people's rights come before ours.

    (Translation by Derek Kerton.)

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Copyright has nothing to do with respecting, honoring or valuing the works of anyone.

     

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    Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:01pm

    Can someone help me understand the movement to abolish copyright?

    To me it seems unfair that copyright doesn't last forever. If I were to start a business on an idea I came up with, my heirs would be able to profit from that business forever (or until it went bankrupt or was sold to someone else)

    But if I create art, my heirs would only have a limited access to this form of "business."

    Why not make copyright infinite, but incorporate creative commons into it? eg. Anyone can re-use, remix, modify a work if it is not commercialized. Wouldn't this allow creators and their heirs to continue to profit from their work while allowing it to be used in the public domain as well?

     

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    Henry Emrich, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: This needs to become a meme

    "A lot of pro-copyright people think they are free marketers, when they just aren't."

    No they don't.
    In the vast majority of cases, the term "free market" is nothing but a convenient buzzword/cover-up for the *real* agenda --- total corporate hegemony, enforced by their cronies in Government.
    For-profit Corporations (by far the most prevalent and powerful businesses out there right now) are explicitly created by the State, and involve the State granting some really extensive boons and "safety nets" to those utilizing such a business-form: limited liability, legal "personhood" (up to and including the ability to essentially "buy" elections with no restraint whatsoever, thanks to the recent Supreme court decision regarding "citizen's united").

    Corporate pond-slime and their apologists wouldn't recognize anything even vaguely resembling a "free" market if it bit them on their cost-externalizing, too-big-to-fail asses.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    To me it seems unfair that copyright doesn't last forever. If I were to start a business on an idea I came up with, my heirs would be able to profit from that business forever (or until it went bankrupt or was sold to someone else) But if I create art, my heirs would only have a limited access to this form of "business."

    It's more unfair that my boss expects me to keep coming to work every day (and actually working, no less - can you believe that?!?) if I want to continue to be paid.

    He should keep paying me (and my heirs, and their heirs, and so on) for the work I did last year, right?

     

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  17.  
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    Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re:

    "It's more unfair that my boss expects me to keep coming to work every day (and actually working, no less - can you believe that?!?) if I want to continue to be paid.
    He should keep paying me (and my heirs, and their heirs, and so on) for the work I did last year, right?"

    I don't really see the connection to my comment. You go to work and in return you are guaranteed a payment. The creator of art isn't guaranteed any money. He only gets paid if the art/book/music is great. If it moves people.

    Again, it seems it is a lot more like starting a business. There is no guarantee your business will make money, but if it is successful it is yours to do with whatever you please (hand down to your heirs).

    And again to cultivate the creation of new culture integrating creative commons into copyright law would solve this problem, wouldn't it?

    The works can be used and modified in the public domain, and the life's work (business) of an artist can continue to make money if there is a demand for it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re:

    Business is not made in a vacuum. Money is not made in a vacuum. Art is not made in a vacuum.

    Copyright covers the expression of an idea and not the idea itself, which is free for all to hold.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Right, nothing is made in a vacuum. A good artist learns from all the other artist's who came before him in order to make his own masterpiece.

    In this way access to other works in needed for the cultivation of culture.

    But if we were to abolish all copyright, how would these artists survive. It simply doesn't seem reasonable to abolish it. Instead amend it so the public has access and the creator still gets paid.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't utilize copyright and I survive just fine.

    However! If all the interested parties being the public, the artists and the corporations who control creative work could get together to amend copyright laws so it actually makes sense in the 21st century then I am all for that.

    Reform IP!

     

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  21.  
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    kellythedog, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    Its not a movement to abolish copyright.
    Its a movement to Return Balance.

    ReMix Manifesto

    1. Culture always builds on the past
    2. The past always tries to control the future
    3. Our future is becoming less free
    4. To build free societies you must limit control of the past

     

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  22.  
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    DocMenach (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 5:13pm

    Re:

    To me it seems unfair that copyright doesn't last forever. If I were to start a business on an idea I came up with, my heirs would be able to profit from that business forever (or until it went bankrupt or was sold to someone else)

    That's the thing right there. The business can continue to profit indefinitely as long as it continues to produce the good or service that it is in business for. If the business stops producing goods and/or services it no longer makes money. Same goes for the Artist, as long as he keeps producing, he can continue to make money on it. But if he stops producing then the money stops as well. Now, I do think that some sort of protection against copying is necessary, but I think that the original copyright terms from the turn of the century (28 years max) made a lot more sense than the current terms (life of the artist+70 years).

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    Re: RE

    "Before that businessmen took advantage of the labor and creative power of artists."

    Copyright has put an end to that straight away

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: This needs to become a meme

    What he said

     

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  25.  
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    Hello, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Dear Mike,

    You seem a bit dense. I suggest thinking about the world, the universe and everything in a less selfish manner. This suggestion may or may not help you present situation, if not then maybe professional help is in order.

    Yours Truely, Concerned Citizen

     

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  26.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: This needs to become a meme

    Um...OK, but my point was that they "think" they are free marketers. Just ask them, or read what they write.

    Like the RIAA that wants to limit your legal ability to do a variety of things and control every aspect of the market, THEN have a "free market" for music. They just need a couple of new laws to support this "free market".

    Or the tech product makers that make reverse engineering a crime under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, then support the "free market". Sure, just so long as competition can be limited because people can't build competing or complementary products without reverse-engineering to their specs.

    Or wireless telcos who rely on spectrum regulation for their services to work, then argue for a "free market".

    Or fixed telcos who received free rights of way, franchises, monopoly periods, and funding help from the government to deploy their networks, then argue for a "free market" for Broadband service. (Hands Off The Internet dot org)

    Of the thousands of companies that don't want to count economic externalities like pollution as a cost of their business, then argue for a "free market" for their goods and services (so long as we exclude their negative goods).

    Not to say here whether any regulation is good or bad, but lots of people think they are in favor of de-regulation and free markets, but choose simply to ignore the times when they're not. They show up all the time in the Techdirt discussions, for example, in favor of patents so the "free market" can thrive.

    So there. Yes, they do.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah yes...and now the claws come out.

    If I am dense then I apologize. One of the reason's I started my comments with a question..."Can someone help me understand the movement to abolish copyright? "

    I asked this question so I could truly understand the answer.

    You talk about thinking about the universe in a less selfish manner. If I'm not mistaken how would the extension of a copyright beyond the author's death be selfish? Once the author is dead he no longer benefits. However is it wrong to assume he would want to care for his heirs and loved ones?

    This seems to be a most unselfish act, wouldn't you say. Just as many environmentalists care to clean up this planet, not only for themselves, (whom the impact of climate change will be less severe) but for their children, and grand children.

    Moving on... @DocMenach

    I think I understand what you are saying. But isn't there another way to look at it? Who is to say that there will be any demand for a particular piece of music/art/book in the future, maybe sales for that work will dry up no matter the length of the copyright.

     

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  28.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Mike,

    You start a company. Say...the first bicycle company. You are entitled to the profits, and can pass the company down to your heirs.

    However:
    - Your bicycle company will soon be faced with competition from other bike makers. You will have to CONTINUE to produce good bikes, offer some innovations or some distinct advantages to remain profitable.

    - Your offspring can inherit the company, but there is no guarantee of success. There are plenty of examples of "Smith and sons" companies that went bust when "Smith" died. The offspring will need to continue to compete in the market. If they are still selling the same bikes 30 years later, they will be crushed in the market, and have zero profits to fight over.

    This is very different than writing a book, and thinking your offspring can sit on their butts earning royalties. Where is the ongoing innovation in that? The ongoing competitiveness?

    I have a company. If I bequeath it to my kids, I'm basically giving them a rubric for doing work and earning money. There is a list of clients, tools, staff, and reputation...but they're gonna have to work their butts off to make money from it. That's fair.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Re:

    "To me it seems unfair that copyright doesn't last forever. If I were to start a business on an idea I came up with, my heirs would be able to profit from that business forever (or until it went bankrupt or was sold to someone else)"

    What stops you profiting from your art and passing that profit and any assets to your heirs as you would be doing by your business example?

    "But if I create art, my heirs would only have a limited access to this form of "business.""

    How is their access limited? Oh, you mean because you had talent and they might not.

    "Why not make copyright infinite, but incorporate creative commons into it? eg. Anyone can re-use, remix, modify a work if it is not commercialized. Wouldn't this allow creators and their heirs to continue to profit from their work while allowing it to be used in the public domain as well?"

    Because copyright being infinite makes no sense even to the most fervent supporters should they stop and think. Read Melancholy Elephants for a picture of a world with perpetual copyright. Limiting it to only commercial works does nothing to solve that problem.

     

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  30.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You talk about thinking about the universe in a less selfish manner. If I'm not mistaken how would the extension of a copyright beyond the author's death be selfish? Once the author is dead he no longer benefits. However is it wrong to assume he would want to care for his heirs and loved ones?"

    It's wrong for the same reason that counterfeiting is wrong, because it compromises the system. If you could create diamonds or something else you can trade out of thin air then more power to you. What you advocate is pretty much printing money for personal gain, no good can come of it.

    "This seems to be a most unselfish act, wouldn't you say. Just as many environmentalists care to clean up this planet, not only for themselves, (whom the impact of climate change will be less severe) but for their children, and grand children."

    Which is them investing their own time and effort. Not trading their time and effort at artificially inflated prices and then passing their figurative money tree to their heirs as an asset.

    "Who is to say that there will be any demand for a particular piece of music/art/book in the future, maybe sales for that work will dry up no matter the length of the copyright."

    Is 'Red Herring' the right observation here?

     

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  31.  
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    Mike, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 7:45pm

    Thanks Vivaelamor and Derek for your reasonable responses.

    So infinite copyright probably isn't a great idea. What do you guys think of these movements sprouting up to abolish copyright entirely?

    Are these ideas equally as foolish?

     

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  32.  
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    Hello, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You suck at trolling, try something else.

     

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  33.  
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    Richard Corsale (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 10:26pm

    Re:

    You know, some (the vast majority) of the greatest works of art known to man happened without copyright, and even until recently copyright was only 15 years, with an option to apply for an additional term extension. To really understand whats going on, you have to go all the way back to the beginning and look at all cultures and their artifacts of creativity.

    What were experiencing now is a dismal example of greed and entitlement. It's important to also understand how these royalties are delegated in this new system and who really wins with each copyright extension. Lets say it lasted forever as you have pointed out.

    1. one thousand years from now who do you think will hold all of these rights? It's not the panacea of artists children .. It's a weapon that will be used to crush other artists who don't pay up. Just like Patents don't really protect inventors. They only protect monopolies and lawyer's seven figure incomes.

    2. The point of the public domain is not only so that works can be enjoyed. It's also important to cultural identity. The Monalisa is an example of this. If every time someone used that likeness in a commercial or on a TV show they had to pay someone somewhere whatever they asked. You and I probably would never have seen it. It would be just another option in the media vending machine, and it wouldn't return investment.. It's only the Monalisa because it's ubiquitous.

    See.. these classic works are so important because they tell the story of a species. Standing without context, alone as media inserts, the greatest creative achievements of our history are worthless.

    3. Say you write a song. You have to "infringe" on others work, because all songs sound alike at some level. This sounds silly, but it's a legal battle that takes place amongst copyright holders (Vanilla Ice and David Bowie, ColdPlay multiple times .. etc etc ).


    4. Lastly if everything ever made was under copyright how much would a text book cost? What information would be left out because the rights holder couldn't / wouldn't license.

    What's happening with copyright at this time, is potentially a tragedy of historic proportions.

     

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  34.  
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    :), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 10:41pm

    Skizo!

    What I see inside the European Union is a faction fight for power there are people who would like a better world inside that government body but their are being silenced by a minority of very powerful people.

    In the U.S. government machine unfortunately I think everybody is on the same page apparently there are no dissenting voices on the management level.

     

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  35.  
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    Tor (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

     

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  36.  
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    Thomas, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

    Or not tin enough

     

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  37.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    Mike, I am glad to have people such as yourself come here to ask thoughtful questions and debate in an intellectual manner. You bring questions and an open mind.
    I try to maintain an open mind as well but when people like TheAntiMike show up with horrible arguments and never answer our questions, I feel that there is nothing possible to learn from such a person.
    In that regard I will ask you to ignore 'Hello'. Your presence here is welcome.
    I used to think that maybe copyright could still hold a place in today's world, if it was reduced to something like five years. But being a young person who is on the internet a lot, for anything that can be digitized easily, even that seems kind of long now. I am not so sure what I think would be optimal anymore, but it really seems like it should be less than five years.

    There are also plenty of ways for artists to make money without using copyright, right now today even. Perusing some of this blog's history will show you some of these methods. Such as the one most made fun of by the detractors, selling t-shirts. =)

     

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  38.  
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    Mike, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Hey guys thanks for the responses.

    So if what I understand is correct, most of you don't think we should do away with copyright entirely but instead should shorten it to a few years.

    My only concern would be that since the rise of the internet we really have had a fragmentation of audiences. The trend is that songs, and increasingly books, don't really sell a million copies much anymore.

    So while of course small time artists will always be making more art, if they are only selling to small niche groups (5000 here or 7000 there) Will a very short copyright allow for them to survive above the poverty level?

    I realize that many artists have day jobs and create their art at night or as a hobby. But many great "timeless" works were created by people who spent 100% of their effort on art, usually resulting in them being destitute.

    Can't we somehow instead of shortening or abolishing copyright amend it to protect a musicians/artist work while allowing it to be used in the public domain?

    This will allow artists to make money off their work through liscensing etc, while still allowing work to be freely shared (for non commercial purposes) and used for education.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    No length of copyright is going to "save" artists from obscurity (or lack of talent).

     

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  40.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    "Can't we somehow instead of shortening or abolishing copyright amend it to protect a musicians/artist work while allowing it to be used in the public domain?"

    You keep coming back to this and I can't understand why. Copyright is supposed to be an incentive for artists to create more works. I can't fathom a single reason why it should last more than a year total. Artists can paint more than one painting a year. Bands can put together more than one album a year. Authors can write more than one book a year.

     

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  41.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    What geeks want...

    I think it is safe to say that merely rolling back copyright laws to their circa 1970 condition would be sufficient to satisfy pretty much all of the copyright dissidents here.

    That would eliminate prohibitions against "cracking tools", reverse engineering, require registration of works, reduce terms to a reasonable length and decriminalize small scale non-commercial piracy.

    I think only the absurd statutory damages would be left.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re:

    This, I believe, is the backbone of all anti-copyrite.

    Copyright, as a writer myself, is important to me. But even more so, in my opinion, it must be mitigated to an extreme from where most want it to go. I would rather not own a new private jet when a few million people, normally unable to even hear about my writing, are now able to have in their grasp a copy of the text I created.

    Perhaps they'll enjoy it so much, they'll buy a true copy to contribute. But even if they don't, it makes no difference to me. The fact that even more people have access to a work that carries the thoughts and ideas I strove so hard to give out to people makes me happier than any amount of money.

    If your product is worth 'pirating,' (as so many 'artists' are so afraid of nowadays) you should be proud of what you've accomplished as a person or people.

    And for those of you who would take the jet, you downgrade the importance of free knowledge in today's time. It may seem like a thing of the past where the mind is the greatest tool, but it's a truth that cannot be denied in any era or day. When it comes to entertainment, I've nothing to say against where copyright is going for the most part. It's not a necessity to knowledge, although it may help those few lacking in imaginations and not lacking in extra pocket change. If I get bored enough, I'll make my own music and have just as much fun trying. Or I'll make my own video, huzzah for youtube.

    However, as I'm also a college student, I cannot stress enough how little copyright means to me as a writer even though I'm a classic example of someone who you'd think would want any money they could get. It means more that others can now share in what I was thinking and visualizing than that I can get my hands on a little more money in my short time on this planet.

    But then perhaps I'm too old fashioned in my young years and should be more greedy for money rather than knowledge.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Knowledge will be vastly more important than money in this here 21st century.

     

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  44.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Cheers to you, sir, for a well-structured thought. Out of curiousity, any place in particular I/we can find anything you're currently working on or have released? As an author myself, it's one of my greatest joys to find new emerging authors.

     

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  45.  
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    Richard Corsale (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    I'm not even against a life of the artist + 5 years. That's reasonable and gives the artist a lifetime to realize the fruits of his/her labors. It also allows the family of the artist to prepare financially for the expiration of royalties. The 70 years postmortem goes almost exclusively to "big content" and subsequently to lobbies that will buy new laws in 69 years to extend it yet again. It's cultural fleecing of society dressed up as a "common sense argument".

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    manon ress, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Translation of Hugo Quote?

    [my translation]The book, as a book, belongs to the author but as ideas, it belongs -the word is not too broad-- to humankind. All minds have a right to it. If one of the two rights, the right of the author or the right of humankind, had to be sacrificed, it would certainly have to be the right of the author because the public interest is our unique concern, and I am declaring that all of humankind must come before us. [end of quote]
    But it has to be translated by an English speaker to sound right. I have been looking for the translation of the Discours for years...

     

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  47.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    To me it seems unfair that copyright doesn't last forever. If I were to start a business on an idea I came up with, my heirs would be able to profit from that business forever (or until it went bankrupt or was sold to someone else)

    intellectual property is a form of monopoly. monopolies are bad, government protected monopolies are doubly bad, and everlasting monopolies are also doubly bad. an everlasting government protected monopoly is bad to the power of ten.

    while having monopoly control of a creation sounds like a good thing, this control is often abused (SLAPP, DMCA takedowns) or produces unintended consequences (orphaned works). while it's important to you to be rewarded for your work, it's more important to safeguard the public domain, not to mention the individual freedoms of others.

    all works are based on the works of others, so a plentiful public domain is critical to providing the raw materials for new works.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Henry Emrich, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

    Clarifications for Mike:

    Hi, Mike:

    1. Glad to see that you're willing to come up to speed on these issues, at least partially. Sorry if you decide to take that as "the claws coming out", or whatever, but you need to actually read some of the bullshit we get from copyright apologists, not just here on Techdirt, but other places as well.

    2. Copyright and patent are (and yes, folks, I'll keep re-iterating this point every time I post), monopoly privileges granted by the State, for a strictly limited time, and for a very specific purpose. As expressed in the Constitution, to "promote the advance of science and the useful arts". NOT so people are required to bribe the great-great-grandchildren of a song-writer every time they sing "happy birthday" at a birthday party.

    http://www.unhappybirthday.com/

    Ultimately, it all comes down to something called the "copyright bargain". (The situation with patents is similar, which I'll get to in a bit.)

    One of the clearest explanations of the Copyright bargain comes from Richard Stallman over at the Electronic Freedom Foundation:

    Quoting him:

    "The copyright system works by providing privileges and thus benefits to publishers and authors; but it does not do this for their sake. Rather, it does this to modify their behavior: to provide an incentive for authors to write more and publish more. In effect, the government spends the public's natural rights, on the public's behalf, as part of a deal to bring the public more published works. Legal scholars call this concept the “copyright bargain.” It is like a government purchase of a highway or an airplane using taxpayers' money, except that the government spends our freedom instead of our money."

    "But is the bargain as it exists actually a good deal for the public? Many alternative bargains are possible; which one is best? Every issue of copyright policy is part of this question. If we misunderstand the nature of the question, we will tend to decide the issues badly."

    "The Constitution authorizes granting copyright powers to authors. In practice, authors typically cede them to publishers; it is usually the publishers, not the authors, who exercise these powers and get most of the benefits, though authors may get a small portion. Thus it is usually the publishers that lobby to increase copyright powers. To better reflect the reality of copyright rather than the myth, this article refers to publishers rather than authors as the holders of copyright powers. It also refers to the users of copyrighted works as “readers,” even though using them does not always mean reading, because “the users” is remote and abstract."

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html

    3. Every copyright term extension represents a violation of the copyright bargain, in that somehow, those who have been *permitted the privilege of monopoly* on condition that they eventually *stop* being able to gouge other users for access to it ("sampling" clearance, etc.) just don't want to do it. They don't want to come through with *their* side of the bargain, which was the only thing that justified (or more exactly, excused) such monopoly privileges in the first place.
    So your first, and most basic error is failing to understand that copyright and patents ARE monopoly privilges, at all. Then you compound that error by saying that you think the expiration of such monopoly privileges is "unfair".

    Think of it this way:
    Say you sell corn. Should the State grant you (and your heirs) exclusive monopoly franchise over being able to sell corn? Or, how about having the State "permit" others to sell corn, but mandate that everybody else selling corn pay *you and your heirs in perpetuity* for the "privilege" of entering the corn-sale market?

    That might sound like a stupid example, Mike, except for the fact that at least a perpetual monopoly franchise on corn would *require you and your heirs to CONTINUE GROWING AND SELLING CORN*. The latter situation (where your family gets to charge other corn-growers "clearance fees" in order to allow THEM to grow and sell their own corn, is more closer to situations like copyright and patent, in that your heirs would get paid to "permit" others to do something.

    THe rule of thumb with stuff like copyright and patents is: the shorter and less restrictive the monopoly privileges are, the less damaging they are.

    The primary reason many people (myself included) are increasingly in favor of abolishing them entirely, is simply the fact that the terms and scope of such monopoly privileges (particularly in terms of copyright length) have been increased steadily, something like forty times in the last thirty years.
    To be blunt: monopolists (and wannabe monopolists) have spent decades being rapaciously greedy, and doing everything in their power to attempt to get copying-related technologies suppressed BY THE GOVERNMENT. For example, Jack Valenti from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) compared the Consumer VCR to the Boston Strangler, during congressional hearings where his organization attempted to get the VCR banned.

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

    http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/31/1622232

    So, again being as forceful as I know how to be without turning into a total asshole about it: if the multinational corporate megaliths who "own" the vast majority of such copyright monopolies can't bring themselves to be satisfied with 25, 50, 75, 95, or 150 year monopolies, then they DESERVE NO MONOPOLY PRIVILEGES WHATSOEVER.

    Likewise, if the evidence is amply clear that copyright and patent privileges do NOT, in fact "advance science and the useful arts", but instead allow the aformentioned multinational corporate megaliths to collude with government in an effort to get potentially innovative/disruptive/competitive technologies suppressed --- well, you get the idea.

    http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

    Ultimately, the whole debate about how artists/inventors/creators will "get paid" absent such monopoly privileges is nothing more than a corporate-financed smokescreen. We *know* the major-labels screw artists. We *know* the organizations ostensibly responsible for collecting and distributing royalties screw artists. Further, the closest thing to the small inventor releasing a revolutionary technology on the world most of us have seen, has been the development of the very p2p (peer-to-peer) file-sharing applications which the corporate media megaliths keep trying to destroy.

    It's really very simple. A single 7-year monopoly, REQUIRING registration with the copyright or patent office, with no renewals, etc. would be *infinitely* less damaging than the current morass, but, given the frenzied efforts to get longer and longer monopolies over the past several decades, it's extremely dubious as to whether even such very strictly limited monopoly privileges wouldn't simply be "abused", exactly as they are now.

    Hope this clears up some of your misunderstandings.

    L8r

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Clarifications for Mike:

    The primary reason many people (myself included) are increasingly in favor of abolishing them entirely, is simply the fact that the terms and scope of such monopoly privileges (particularly in terms of copyright length) have been increased steadily, something like forty times in the last thirty years.

    To quibble but I believe it's been 11 copyright extensions in the past 40 years.

     

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  50.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    The sky is not blue. It is actually that the reds and other colors are refracted away, leaving only blue. The true natural state of the sky is white.

    It all depends how you look at things, but it doesn't really change anything.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Henry Emrich, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    "only" 11 extensions in thirty years?

    Oh....that's fine, then. :)

    Seriously tho: ANY extension or -- or even renewal -- is bad.

    Gotta give Anti-Mike some credit, ironically. In among his non-sequitur about the sky, he states: "It's all about how you look at things." True. He and other corporate lapdogs see "piracy", while anybody who actually understands the issues sees the entirely justifiable global backlash against runaway corporate privilege.

    He's also right that how you view it "doesn't change anything": the "pirates" are correct about the history and justification of IP monopolies. They're also correct that such monopolies don't actually even do what they're *supposed* to do (advance "science and the useful arts"). They are *also* infinitely more tech-savvy than the technophobic morons on the anti-p2p bandwagon.

    For once, I actually agree with the guy. :)

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

    Re:

    That's right! And the public domain is still the repository of all our shared culture going back to the dawn of civilization.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:54pm

    Re: "only" 11 extensions in thirty years?

    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/15-12/mf_morris?currentPage=all

    [Universal's CEO Doug] Morris insists there wasn't a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. "There's no one in the record company that's a technologist," Morris explains. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

    Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me." Morris' almost willful cluelessness is telling. "He wasn't prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology," says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. "He just doesn't have that kind of mind."

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Henry Emrich, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:56pm

    He wasn't "prepared" to have his business-model challenged by technology....

    Because he "doesn't have that kind of mind".

    Valenti probably didn't understand the technology behind the VCR too well, either. Still didn't stop the stupid bastard from comparing it to the "Boston Strangler".

    What, Anti-Mike? No non-sequitur gibberish in response?

    (Come on now: at least you can manage a "but...unless...plus", or something else equally stupid.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:01pm

    Re:

    Translation: I don't like reality, so I'm just going to pretend it doesn't exist.

     

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  56.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 11:02pm

    Re: He wasn't "prepared" to have his business-model challenged by technology....

    Not much to it really. The original post is pretty much a "what I saw after the 9th cup of koolaid" sort of stuff, the 30,000 foot view. It isn't wrong, you just can't apply what you see from 30,000 feet to each inch of the road you are traveling on today.

    Everything ends up in the public domain eventually. from way up there, you can miss the part where sometimes it isn't right away.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re: He wasn't "prepared" to have his business-model challenged by technology....

    You really need to invest in a telescope as that might help you out with your perspective.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Calman Rosen, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re:

    "Copyright is supposed to be an incentive for artists to create more works." It appears to me you have it backwards. The copyright is an incentive NOT to produce more. Having protected the old and thus able to live from its proceeds you have diminished the need to produce more.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    J.D. Salinger died today. The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951. It will enter the public domain in 2080. We must ensure that Mr. Salinger still produces artistc work which is why copyright is so long.

    2080. Good job!

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: He wasn't "prepared" to have his business-model challenged by technology....

    "Everything ends up in the public domain eventually."

    Good job accidentally supporting the position you're supposed to be knee-jerking to.

     

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  61.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    "So infinite copyright probably isn't a great idea. What do you guys think of these movements sprouting up to abolish copyright entirely?"

    To avoid it being abolished I would hope that those supporting it can justify it. So far the vast majority of those supporting copyright have been content to not make any reasonable arguments in its favour. Those that do start to make reasonable arguments tend to support drastic reform and are largely lumped on the side of the abolitionists. That fact ensures that for the foreseeable future there will be no great discussion on whether copyright has any use, as those interested in discussion are still battling against those opposed to reform entirely.

     

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  62.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re:

    "So if what I understand is correct, most of you don't think we should do away with copyright entirely but instead should shorten it to a few years."

    As I say in my previous post, I think most of us are still waiting for that discussion to happen.

    "My only concern would be that since the rise of the internet we really have had a fragmentation of audiences. The trend is that songs, and increasingly books, don't really sell a million copies much anymore. "

    I'm not sure what you are getting at, perhaps you could provide some examples?

    "So while of course small time artists will always be making more art, if they are only selling to small niche groups (5000 here or 7000 there) Will a very short copyright allow for them to survive above the poverty level?"

    You seem intent on asking questions about hypothetical scenarios that have no obvious logical basis. Why would an artist make more art if they cannot survive doing so? How would longer copyright help them survive?

    What I guess you mean is that the internet is effecting a significant market change. What I don't understand is how that issue has anything to do with copyright and why the market wouldn't stabilise eventually anyway.

    "I realize that many artists have day jobs and create their art at night or as a hobby. But many great "timeless" works were created by people who spent 100% of their effort on art, usually resulting in them being destitute."

    I would be interested in any evidence you could provide that copyright has been instrumental in this process. Most full time artists already spend the majority of their time touring even with copyright.

    "This will allow artists to make money off their work through liscensing etc, while still allowing work to be freely shared (for non commercial purposes) and used for education."

    That would certainly be a welcome development and for me is roughly the minimal I'd expect from copyright reform.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Catharine Lewis, Jan 31st, 2010 @ 3:12pm

    a short story

    Here's an ultrashort story for you all, situated something like 20 years from now, maybe less ...
    (it's not copyrighted)



    English ©
    by Catharine Lewis


    hey, Frank, me ... you off your rocket or what?

    yeah, morning to you too ...

    that last story, article, whatever?

    statement, sure, Frank ... you any idea what your precious statement would cost me to weblish?

    you don't intend to ah ... hèhèhè ...

    Frankie, think for a minute ok? you can't move against them, simple as that ...

    because they have the rights, that's why ...

    well, there's at least seventy-three of them in there ... could have my lawyers check ...

    course you did it deliberately ... got the pic ... ever noticed I'm maybe not a total moron?

    look, Frank, take it from this benevolent nerdy agent of yours: I'm not going illegal, period

    you actually realize what it means those being patented by the big corporations?

    what? ... and just do it ... blatantly ... fuck the corps and so on ... you a necrophile, Frankie? ... hèhèhè

    no, that one's still free of charge I guess ... hèhèhè

    take it to the courts? ... you'll never get backed by the public, they're happy, ok? ... least of all by
    what's left of the the govt ... they're the ones sanctioned the deal in the first place, get their cut ...

    mmm, should be, yes, but the way the world turns it's only in private, “not more than 6 (six) persons
    attending, be it in physical presence or in any other ...” dammit, YOU're the expert on this, no?

    come on, don't give me the cheap crap, ok? ... they're NOT copyrighting pronouns and articles ... well, for now ...

    hèhèhè ..., then you might start writing Turkish, doesn't have articles ... copyright arrangements
    should be much less stringent as well I think ... could have my lawyers ah ...

    an idea? well, first one your nerdy agent must have given you, hèhèhè

    yeah, shoot, at your service

    yeah, I could find you someone I suppose ... hèhèhè ... if only to get you off my neck

    what? ... what in the solar system is Aymara??

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Henry Emrich, Feb 2nd, 2010 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Re:

    "To avoid it being abolished I would hope that those supporting it can justify it. So far the vast majority of those supporting copyright have been content to not make any reasonable arguments in its favour. Those that do start to make reasonable arguments tend to support drastic reform and are largely lumped on the side of the abolitionists. That fact ensures that for the foreseeable future there will be no great discussion on whether copyright has any use, as those interested in discussion are still battling against those opposed to reform entirely."


    1. They *can't* make "reasonable arguments" supporting the current state of copy"right" law because they known it's indefensible. That's why they keep bribing their way into ever longer term-extensions, and desperately trying to get bullshit like ACTA put through, without public scrutiny or comment.

    2. The other reason they can't put forward "reasonable" arguments for such monopolies, is that doing so would involve admitting that they ARE monopolies. Intellectual "property" is completely and utterly unlike physical property. Copying is utterly and completely dissimilar to "stealing" a physical object.
    So long as they keep trying to make us believe the Orwellian mind-screw that *making more of* something (copyies) = "stealing", they will remain utterly incapable of formulating anything but the inane jabberings we've all come to know and love from the likes of Jack Valenti, "Reasoned Mind" (over on Torrentfreak), "Sam I Am", and, of course, our own resident Zen-Master TAM. ("And...but...unless" is still my favorite thing of his....absolute genius in it's all-encompasing vagueness.)

    Any more nonsequiturs, TAM?

     

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


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