The Cycle Of Copyright: Originally A Tool For Censorship, Attempted As A Tool For Incentives... Back To A Tool For Censorship

from the the-inevitable-return dept

If you want to understand copyright law, its history, and how it's been abused, you really ought to read this excellent overview by law professor and practicing intellectual property attorney, Lydia Pallas Loren, called The Purpose of Copyright (found via Teleread). The article kicks off with a point that we've made over and over again here, that many people incorrectly believe the purpose of copyright law is to protect creators. Unfortunately, this false belief permeates many in society -- including copyright lawyers:
Copyright permeates our lives and yet, despite its impact on our lives, relatively few people, including lawyers, have sufficient knowledge or understanding of what copyright is. And far too many people, including lawyers, have major misconceptions concerning copyright. These misconceptions are causing a dangerous shift in copyright protection, a shift that threatens the advancement of knowledge and learning in this country. This shift that we are experiencing in copyright law reflects a move away from viewing copyright as a monopoly that the public is willing to tolerate in order to encourage innovation and creation of new works to viewing copyright as a significant asset to this country's economy. The most recent example of this shift is the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sign by the President on October 28, 1998.

Understanding the root cause and the dangers of this shift requires exposing the most fundamental and most common misconception concerning the underlying purpose of the monopoly granted by our copyright law. The primary purpose of copyright is not, as many people believe, to protect authors against those who would steal the fruits of their labor. However, this misconception, repeated so often that it has become accepted among the public as true, poses serious dangers to the core purpose that copyright law is designed to serve.
From there, the article digs deep into the history of copyright, from well before The Statute of Anne, back to a time when copyright was a private agreement among publishers, designed to retain monopolies, act as censors and generally control the publishing market. It certainly wasn't about protecting creators, who had nothing to do with it. From the beginning it was about middlemen and monopolies. What's unfortunate is that our founding fathers, who were so well versed in the problems of monopolies and the harm they cause, still seemed to believe that a limited version of such monopolies might encourage greater learning and education in the field of science. In fact, they specifically added the clause "to promote the progress," to make it clear to Congress that these monopolies were only to be used if they met that goal:
The framers of the United States Constitution, suspicious of all monopolies to begin with, knew the history of the copyright as a tool of censorship and press control. They wanted to assure that copyright was not used as a means of oppression and censorship in the United States. They therefore expressly provided for the purpose of copyright: to promote the progress of knowledge and learning.
While the courts and Congress initially took safeguarding that point of copyright law seriously, it eventually changed. Early on, however, Congress and the courts actually did focus on whether or not the overall public benefited or was harmed by aspects of copyright law. However, before too long, the whole concept of copyright law was bastardized into having nothing to do with the public benefiting, and only being about copyright holders (once again, often the middlemen) benefiting at the expense of the greater public. In other words, it's come full circle back to what it once was: a tool for middlemen to limit and censor expression.
Modern-day copyright harbors a dark side. The misunderstanding held by many who believe that the primary purpose of copyright law is to protect authors against those who would pilfer the author's work threatens to upset the delicate equilibrium in copyright law. This misunderstanding obviously works to the benefit of the content owning industries, such as the publishing industry, the music and motion picture industries, and the computer software industry. This fundamental misunderstanding is perpetuated by the stern FBI warnings at the beginning of video tapes, by overly broad assertions of the rights in the copyright notices, and by the general lack of public discourse about the balance required in copyright law if copyright is to fulfill its constitutionally mandated goal of promoting knowledge and learning.

This dark side, this pervasive misconception, is turning copyright into what our founding fathers tried to guard against - a tool for censorship and monopolistic oppression. This may sound extreme to some, but consider the beginnings of copyright in this country. The first Copyright Act in the United States granted only the exclusive right only to print, publish, and vend a copyrighted work, and it lasted for only fourteen years, with the possibility of a second fourteen-year term. No exclusive rights to perform the work or to create an adaptation of the work were granted, only the right to print, publish, and vend for, at most, twenty-eight years.

Under current copyright law, not only do copyright owners have the right to publish and distribute the work, but copyright owners also have the right to control the public performance of a work, to control the making of adaptations of the work, and to control the reproduction of the work independent of what is done with that new copy. And, as a result of the Copyright Term Extension Act passed in October, 1998, now the basic term of copyright lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years. This new term is a far cry from the original maximum term of twenty-eight years, and results in a much larger monopoly and a much longer time that the public must wait for any given work to enter the public domain.
These are only a few small snippets, but it's an excellent read. Many of you may already be up on these points, but whether you've read similar things before or not, I highly recommend this article.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    cc (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    The internet is full of people making the same arguments (which I agree with wholeheartedly), but it's nice to see a law professor and copyright lawyer saying these things every once in a while.

    Every time I read something along these lines, I have to wonder: how can one diffuse the "copyright is for the artists" lie? Sure, we can go into long-winded discourse about the history of copyright, or we can point to examples of artists making money despite a lack of government-granted monopolies, but most people don't have the patience or intelligence to listen to such things.

    There *must* be a shorter, easier to grasp argument that even brain-dead politicians can understand, right?

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      "There *must* be a shorter, easier to grasp argument that even brain-dead politicians can understand, right?"

      It's called campaign contributions and votes. That's all they grasp.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Frank, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:01am

      Re:

      Stephan Kinsella is a patent attorney who understand the intellectual property is not property at all. His latest is The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:20am

        Re: Re:

        It is not property because he says it is not property. Of course, this depends upon what he means when he uses the word property.

        Unfortunately for him, property has a legal construct, and it is this construct against which he rails. His views notwithstanding, historical and contemporary judicial precedent largely reject his position.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yup, I've often tried to persuade him to recognise that intellectual work is just as much property as material work.

          It's only the granted monopolies that are unnatural.

           

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

          •  
            identicon
            Jose_X, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 2:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            But the monopolies introducing the legal artificial scarcity enforceable against any and all helps a (by definition) limited few some very wealthy.

             

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Censorship

    Here's a question for all of you arm chair lawyers, let's say that I wrote a computer program for my current employer using a technique from an article that I wrote two years before my employment began. Now if my employer were to let me go, could I then demain that the now former employer stop using that program due to the copyright on the technique?

     

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

    •  
      icon
      cc (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:36am

      Re: Censorship

      No. Look through your contract and you'll find all the copyrights are owned by your employer.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Censorship

        "Look through your contract and you'll find all the copyrights are owned by your employer."

        Because it's all about protecting the rights of the artists. Or something.

         

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

    •  
      icon
      imbrucy (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:37am

      Re: Censorship

      You wouldn't own the copyright to the program because that would be categorized as a work-for-hire. Also most employment contracts contain a clause stating that everything you create on company time belongs to the company.

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Berenerd (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:03am

      Re: Censorship

      Most likely no. I know in several of my jobs (Contract and full time) everything I created either was licensed to the company or became a product of the company. it is common for companies to put stipulations in contracts and employee handbooks that ideas you have and designs you make while being paid by them gives them a right to it. if you signed anything for employment i am 99% sure that you agreed to that statement. Doesn't matter when you came up with the idea, if it was done as a result of your employment they have rights to it. maybe not full rights but rights.

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Comboman (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:46am

      Re: Censorship

      You can copyright the article and you can copyright the program (separately) but you can't copyright a technique. If the technique was unique enough, you could potentially patent it (though you would have violated your own patent when you wrote the program for your employer and presumably you would be liable for that violation). The bad news is, you can't stop the former employer from using the program you wrote. The good news is, you can continue using that technique in programs you write yourself or for future employers without fear of your old employer claiming copyright infringement.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        greg.fenton (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: Censorship

        The other good news is that you got paid for the work that you did for that former employer. I don't see that the former employer continuing to use what they paid for as ''bad'' in any way.

         

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:17am

      Re: Censorship

      You don't have a copyright on the technique, you could potentially have a copyright on the article it appeared in, but not the intellectual property for your shiny new method of programming.

      During your employment your employer gains the benefit and ownership of materials you develop while in their employ, unless you have a work contract that states otherwise (i.e. you are not developing software for them, you are doing it for yourself and licensing its use to them). So, they paid you for work and they own your products when you leave.

       

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

  •  
    icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Another confusion of copyright with progress

    Lydia Pallas Loren is yet another misguided soul who has swallowed the inference that the monopoly legislated in 1790 is the exclusive right Congress was empowered to secure by the Constitution drafted in 1787.

    The Framers had qualms about granting copyright certainly, but this grant was wholly independent of the progress clause.

    The Statute of Anne also had nothing to do with encouraging learning except as a pretext.

    The endlessly re-iterated argument that copyright was enacted to promote progress or benefit the public misses the fundamental issue. It is not the motive behind copyright people should be concerned about (the regulation and enrichment of the press), but the ethics of granting the privilege at all - and consequently the ethics of leaving the privilege on the statute books.

    Suing kids for sharing music is unethical whether it's less than 14 years after publication or 140.

    Lydia Pallas Loren, you're just consolidating the canon, and doing humanity a disservice.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      greg.fenton (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:18am

      Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

      Suing kids for sharing music is unethical whether it's less than 14 years after publication or 140.

      Though I agree with the sentiment, on what grounds do you base your unethical comment? Those who feel their ''rights'' have been infringed will likely not agree, so what is your justification for that?

      If you deny the historical purpose of copyright or say it isn't relevant, than you've already dismissed out of hand your detractors. This doesn't give your stand much weight amongst those who you need to sway (since they currently hold the powers).

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:42am

        Re: Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

        Was it unethical to sing someone else's song before copyright was granted? (US 1790)

        Bear in mind that copyright is not a right, but a privilege - the grant of a reproduction monopoly for the benefit of the press. The right to copy is annulled in the majority (from their liberty) in order to reserve it to the few (holder & assigns).

        One cannot compromise one's argument to help sway detractors, just as one cannot temper an argument that the Earth orbits the Sun to avoid offending the church.

         

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

      •  
        icon
        cc (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

        Starting offhand with the premise that intellectual monopoly is not equal to property, then from a libertarian point of view, these monopolies constrain individuals from using their own bodies and physical properties in the way they wish.

        In 1800 it didn't matter than much who could copy (print) and who couldn't, as it was rarely something private individuals could do. With the advent of the internet and insane performance laws, it has become quite noticeable that these laws limit our freedom to use our computers/mp3 players/DVDRs or to even sing in public, so people are questioning whether these laws are worth the tradeoff.

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        hxa7241, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

        > unethical ... ?

        We have fundamental rights to autonomy of our minds and bodies, and we have fundamental rights to freedom of expression. These are very standard principles of liberty from Mill, and a fundamental notion of liberal democracies.

        Copyright directly violates those basic rights of liberty.

        And the 'right's of copyright have no necessity, and are not grounded in any 'brute facts' of reality. It is entirely possible to pay someone for their work without paying for copying. And abstract objects are infinite.

         

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

    •  
      icon
      Hulser (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:19am

      Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

      The Framers had qualms about granting copyright certainly, but this grant was wholly independent of the progress clause.

      Could you provide some information that supports this statement? To me, the "promote the progress" seems very clear and unambiguous. You're saying that they didn't add this clause in to ensure that people understood the fundamental purpose of copyright wasn't to protect artists? Why?


      but the ethics of granting the privilege at all - and consequently the ethics of leaving the privilege on the statute books.

      Also, just to clarify, you think that Loren is a "misguided soul" not because she is critical of what copyright has become, but that she doesn't go far enough i.e. propose the elimination of copyright? It just seems weird that you start off with an attack of her, but you actually agree with her on what the problem is, but disagree on what the solution is.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: Another confusion of copyright with progress

        What makes you think the progress clause has anything to do with the subsequent plagiarism and enactment by Congress in 1790 of Queen Anne's statute of 1709?

        The clause is about securing the individual's natural exclusive right to their intellectual work, not about the grant of any monopoly.

        People who believe copyright is Constitutional are misguided - by a publishing industry extremely interested in people remaining so misguided.

        To transfer the stated purpose of the progress clause to the purpose of copyright transforms it into a pretext, just as much as Queen Anne's intent to encourage learning was a pretext (to enrich a consequently beholden and obedient Stationers' Guild).

        If publishing corporations' lawyers keep on stating that the purpose of copyright is to progress science and the useful arts, they engender the inference in the populace that copyright is the 'exclusive right' mentioned in the Constitution. This is further compounded when the same lawyers refer to copyright as "a legally granted right to exclude others from making copies" and contract it to "exclusive right" for short.

        The solution to copyright is its abolition. Being a derogation of individual liberty it should have been abolished along with slavery.

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    John Doe, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Are we building a false economy?

    So are we building a false economy on IP that eventually up and coming nations will decide to quit caving to our bullying and copy us? With the result of them now having what we have putting us on equal footing?

    Seems like it is time we learn to quite beating the IP drum and figure out how to add value to "free".

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Hulser (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Reprint?

    Loren's article looks very interesting and I plan to read it in its entirety, but a couple of items jumped out at me from the excepts...

    "This fundamental misunderstanding is perpetuated by the stern FBI warnings at the beginning of video tapes"

    "The most recent example of this shift is the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sign by the President on October 28, 1998."

    This makes me wonder if the article is a reprint or something she's had laying around for years. The copyright notice says 2011, but come on...video tapes? And "the President"? You mean the president as of 12 years ago? After a quick skim of her article, I don't see any reference after 1998. Not a huge deal, but it just struck me as kind of odd.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Greevar (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

      Re: Reprint?

      The reason tapes are mentioned is because after NAFTA, Interpol became the agency policing piracy of movies. I think that was about the same time DVDs became common.

       

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

  •  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Old article

    Ha, I've been linking to this article in my debates here for months. It was actually one of the first essays about copyright I read.

    Nice to see it's getting attention, but why now?

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:17am

      Re: Old article

      If there's an article anyone should link to it's this one: http://questioncopyright.org/promise

      Have you read it?

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Karl (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re: Old article

        I had not read that particular article, but I did know about the info it contained. It's pretty good.

        It does, however, sort of cannonball your claim that the Constitution's "copyright clause" was about natural rights.

         

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

      •  
        icon
        Hephaestus (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Old article

        That is a great read. I am pretty certain I have read it or something like it before. The following line stands out and leads to some interesting conclusions and possibilities ...

        "is the emergence of two parallel streams of creative work: the proprietary stream, and the free stream. Every day, more people join the free stream, of their own volition, for all sorts of reasons"

        1) Slowly the profits behind being a distributor-middle man will tank. We are already seeing this in Newspapers, Music, and to some extent Video.

        2) The average person will walk away from the legal, levels of ownership and rights, and financials burdens associated with copyright. Historically simple, hastle free, and free always win.

        3) Free and will win out making the current copyright owners gate keepers of the "old stuff" making them more and more irrelevant as time passes.

        4) When the copyright holders run out of money, copyright will finally return to something that will benefit and not burden humanity.

        In order to maintain profits, you will see the content owners trying to charge for everything in an ever expanding rats nest of rules, rights, payments, and entitlements. Eventually this system they are heading towards will collapse in on itself. I give it 15 years total.

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    bob, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Nah. Copyright!=censorship

    I censor you when I prevent you from saying what YOU think or want to say. It's not censorship when I stop you from repeating my work verbatim.

    If anything, the crazy, P2P-network-grade ideal of making all information free is closer to censorship. If you don't like the idea that making free copies is "theft", how about the idea that free copies censor the artists by putting them out of business? If a film maker can't recover the production costs, the film maker can't make a film. Sounds like a cute way to shut down someone from making a future. Sure, sharing helps the artist get plenty of eyeballs for film A, but it effectively prevents the artist from making films B, C, D etc. Pretty ironic, heh.

    But you guys are just grasping for any sophistic argument to justify taking without paying, for gaining all of the advantages of someone else's work without contributing to the development costs. You're all just a bunch of leeches. I'm looking forward to your brilliant sophistry about how this isn't censorship.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Hulser (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:46am

      Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

      Hello new TechDirt reader! See below for replies...

      It's not censorship when I stop you from repeating my work verbatim.

      Well, actually it is. TechDirt has provided examples in the past of people who were critiquing a something (books, movies, songs) and included a snippet of that something, only to be sent a nastygram by a lawyer. Preventing people from copying your entire work verbatim isn't cencorship. Preventing people from excerpting your work using copyright as a pretense because you don't like what they say is most definatelly censorship.

      If a film maker can't recover the production costs, the film maker can't make a film.

      As has been pointed out many times on TechDirt, just because an artist can't make money in one business model, doesn't mean there aren't other models where they can make money.

      But you guys are just grasping for any sophistic argument to justify taking without paying, for gaining all of the advantages of someone else's work without contributing to the development costs.

      Please cite one instance where a TechDirt author promotes illegal copyright infringement. You won't find it. What you will find is an acknowledgement that in spite of copyright infringement being illegal, it's a reality that has to be dealt with if you wish to continue to make money as an artist today. No sophistry or justification; just an acknowledgement of reality.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Bobbie, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

        Please cite one instance where a TechDirt author promotes illegal copyright infringement. You won't find it. What you will find is an acknowledgement that in spite of copyright infringement being illegal, it's a reality that has to be dealt with if you wish to continue to make money as an artist today. No sophistry or justification; just an acknowledgement of reality.
        Offering tacit approval is the same thing as supporting it. Imagine if I said, "Look girls, rape is a reality. It happens. We don't like it, but we have to live with it. So we're not going to prosecute it or do anything to in any way make those rapists feel bad about themselves. You've got to find alternate strategies for protecting your goods if you want to continue to be a woman today."
        Sheesh.

         

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

          Good job making yourself look like a moron in only a few sentences.

           

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

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:11am

          Re: Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

          I suggest that the offering of tacit approval is somewhat of an understatement. The meme is almost always the same. "I do not personally approve of it, but copyright law is of questionable validity given that the Constitution requires "Promote the Progress", a digital file is an infinite resource wherein a "shared" copy takes nothing away from the author, "sharing" has the beneficial effect of free advertising at no cost to the author, etc., etc., etc."

           

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

        •  
          icon
          Niall (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

          That is a really cr@p straw man.

          What it's really like is saying: "In an ideal world, there would be no rape or mugging - and we have police to help reduce this. Since we can't stop it altogether though, please be sensible and take care in how you display money or goods, or where you walk late at night."

          In other words, take into consideration the unfortunate realities of life.

           

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

          •  
            identicon
            bob, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

            In other words, content producers keep your content off of the Internet. It's just not safe. If something gets pirated, it's your fault. Just like it's a girls fault if she gets raped when she wears a skirt.

            I would actually like to build a better world, not retreat into a fortress. But your plan is to force the content producers into walled gardens. Good job. Way to kill the web.

             

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

            •  
              icon
              John Alvarado (profile), Sep 16th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

              Analogizing non-destructive copying to physical violence against women is nonsensical and trollishly inflammatory. In the rape case, property and liberty are clearly violated. Copying of non-scarce goods, making them even less scarce, is nothing like rape. Please drop this puerile argument and come up with facts and reasoning that relate to the subject.

               

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

      •  
        identicon
        dev, Oct 6th, 2011 @ 6:07am

        Re: Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

        Please, please give me a link, show me an article of how an author of books can make money without copyright. Please! I'm talking a bestselling author who can write a novel that people want to read. Please show me how they can make money when there are others waiting in the wings to pirate that work and earn money for themselves or simply enjoy it without paying for it.

         

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

    •  
      icon
      Bapzzy (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:58am

      Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

      How long should the author own a copyright? Tell us your opinion on public domain. Should it all be locked away for a century? You avoid the monopoly issue in your discussion.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:39am

      Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

      First,

      Hi BOB!! ... everybody drink!

      "If you don't like the idea that making free copies is "theft""

      Legally the correct word is not "theft" but "infringement".

      "If a film maker can't recover the production costs, the film maker can't make a film."

      Technology is reducing the cost to make Films. You can buy a 1080p hd camera for around 100 dollars. Video editting is a laptop and some "Free" software. CGI is getting to the point where it costs nothing but your time and some processing power. Virtual sets are easy to do.

      The solution here is to become more efficient. To not pad budgets or allow people to use accounting to remove any chance of profitability. It actually sound like you have been on the shitty end of some style hollywood accounting.

      "Sounds like a cute way to shut down someone from making a future."

      Only the movie studios with their 200 million dollar movies. ;)

      "But you guys are just grasping for any sophistic argument to justify taking without paying, for gaining all of the advantages of someone else's work without contributing to the development costs."

      Wrong blog, try one discussing bit torrent and downloading.

      Here we discuss copyright, efficiencies, the internet, the law, and on rare occasions feed Trolls some leftovers.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      bob2, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 6:26am

      Re: Nah. Copyright!=censorship

      Copyright infringement is NOT theft. "Theft" requires that someone takes something from you and *you no longer have it*.

      You sound like someone who thinks that "artists" have the "right to profit" from their work. Actually, "artists", and anyone else for that matter, have the "right to *attempt* to profit". If what you are doing isn't making the profit you wish, try it a different way, or try another line of work. Over half of new businesses go bankrupt in the first couple of years, why should "artists" be any different?

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    While I disagree in many respects with Mr. Fitch, we do agree that the prefatory clause to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 is not a substantive limit on the laws that may be enacted by Congress under the power conferred to it.

    As for the article, it is by no means a scholarly treatment of the subject simply because of the nature of the publication in which it appears. Thus, to elevate it to a status of almost being a definitive work is an oversimplification. Moreover, some of the statements made in the article are just plain wrong.

    Merely by way of example, the article states that the original purpose underlying US copyright solely for the benefit of the public and not for the benefit of the author. I submit the correct answer is both. One need only look at the original copyright act and the subject matter to which copyright pertained to quickly realize that the reward for one's labors applied to at least the first two classes of work that were eligible for protection.

    I do not agree that copyright has strayed from its roots in a very general sense. I do agree, however, that the extension of subject matter eligible for protection and the extension of copyright terms does point the law in a direction that would give the drafters of the Constitution great pause for concern.

    As for all the talk about monopolies, yes, they were a matter of great concern. However, through it all even Jefferson continued to defer the the limited exception pertaining to works of authorship and inventions. While I do not have a citation from whence it emanates, following the dabate concerning the Bill of Rights Jefferson was quoted as saying he was disappointed that the BoR was not all that he had hoped for. One of the provisions he lamented that was not included was to the effect "Article 9. Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature, and their own inventions in the arts, for a term not exceeding -- years, but for no longer term, and no other purpose." While he certainly did have in mind a constitutional term limit, it cannot be said that he was categorically opposed to all monopolies.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Nastybutler77 (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:13am

      Re:

      Merely by way of example, the article states that the original purpose underlying US copyright solely for the benefit of the public and not for the benefit of the author. I submit the correct answer is both.

      It was in so much that by incentivizing artists with copyrights the public was benefited with new works. The intended end was the latter. The former was the means.

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Greevar (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:46pm

      Re:

      "Merely by way of example, the article states that the original purpose underlying US copyright solely for the benefit of the public and not for the benefit of the author. I submit the correct answer is both."

      The correct answer is neither. Copyright is a method to enable a business model where the publishers, not the authors, can dictate how works are copied and distributed (and cited by reviewers as well). Authors don't need copyright and they never did. Mr. Fitch is correct, copyright is censorship.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Alexander Bottema, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:52pm

    Pirate Party (Sweden)

    Check this small introduction to the Swedish Pirate Party.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPEO-u_c0t0

    This will also mention the history of copyright.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Jo Deano, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    WOw

    OK dude that makes a lot of sense to me dude.

    www.privacy.shop.tc

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Matthew Brown, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Copyright now stifles progress.

    Copyright ceased to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts" a long time ago. It now stifles progress. Locking up ideas as property is indeed a form of censorship. Too bad the whores in Congress do whatever their corporate johns bribe them to, and don't give so much as a passing thought to the purpose of the law.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Young Blood, Mar 13th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Using digital technology to its full potential via file sharing, social networking, and the internet could lead to dirt cheap education where anyone with internet at any time and place would have access to ideas and art from the sum total of our civilization's culture. This would lead to social equity on scale we have never seen before because it would give everyone with internet and computer capabilities access to a "fountain head" of every type of digital media in a way incomparable to any library that has ever existed. Billions of people copying, storing, and organizing their favorite files on their hard drives would lead to cultural preservation. Cultural proliferation would then take place as billions of people would become more educated; they would start combining ideas and art to create and share new ideas and art. This would lead to cultural sustainability and creativity. Coupled with social networking and ever increasing new technology and software, this openness and creativity of culture, belonging to everyone rather than a small percentage of people, would lead to a more educated, democratic, egalitarian society. The biggest problem with this model is the fact that file sharing copyrighted material is currently illegal; No government involvement or policy will help make this change take place; it has to be a grassroots movement from the bottom up. The peaceful civil disobedience of people sharing their favorite music, books, movies, software, ideas, and creations- despite our out-dated copyright laws that were originally created to "promote the progress of knowledge and learning (but instead lead to monopolization of intellectual property and culture)- is the path of change we must take.
    Throughout history, as civilizations have been built and eventually collapse and/ or go through periods of war and conflict, libraries tend to get destroyed: some examples are the Library of Alexandria in Egypt over 2000 years ago, the burning of Mayan books during the Spanish conquest, and more recently the destruction of the Iraq National Library and Archive in the Iraq War to name a few. Because it is now viable to convert everything to digital, and because searching for, copying, and storing files virtually costs nothing, we have a supreme opportunity to make our academic/artistic/educational/cultural heritage extremely resilient and available to potentially everyone.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This