NY Times Comes Out In Favor Of Fixing Small Parts Of Copyright Law

from the missing-the-forest-for-the-trees dept

A bit of a surprise, but the NY Times editorial board has come out in favor of making two specific changes to copyright law, in response to two separate issues recently discussed here. Both are in response to the recent NY Times story (that we discussed) concerning the treasure trove of jazz music that the National Jazz Museum has, but cannot make available due to copyright laws. The first problem is that, thanks to quirks in copyright law (including Congress' strong belief in 1909 that sound recordings could not be covered by copyright, as per the Constitution), sound recordings from before 1972 are locked up for much longer due to state laws. The second issue, discussed over and over again, is the concept of "orphan works." The NY Times figures that if we fixed both of those issues by (1) bringing those older sound recordings under federal law and (2) passing a slightly revised orphan works act, it would allow those jazz classics to be heard again.

While it's nice to see the NY Times editorial board concerned about this, it seems like if they were really serious about fixing copyright law, they wouldn't just focus on this one situation, but the overall issues associated with current copyright law. But, of course, since the newspaper mistakenly thinks it needs strong copyright laws to survive, that seems unlikely.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    RadialSkid, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Baby steps, baby steps...as long as they're in the right direction, I'm okay with it.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    There are some nice lines in the article, such as:

    Congress needs to bring all these recordings under the purview of federal copyright law, which generally applies during the lifetime of the author or musician plus 70 years. That time period has been criticized as too long, but is unlikely to be changed because it is part of a global trade treaty.

     

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

  3.  
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    IronM@sk, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    If you extrapolate that paragraph to another popular situation covered hereat length on TechDirt: Sounds like the NY Times is, if somewhat unintentionally, morally against such claims by ACTA proponents that certain parts of ACTA will not affect US law, amongst anecdotal evidence that the "international obligations" contained within will in effect "lock" them in.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re:

    I agree. Its annoying when on the one hand big media claims that international agreements can't impact U.S. law in order to get those agreements passed and then on the other they claim that international agreements, often ones that we pushed for, obligate us to keep the status quo.

     

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

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 11:33pm

    What I don't understand is this. If copying something violates state copyright law why can't I just take the thing that I want to copy to another state and then copy it all I want. If I violate NY law in Texas then who cares, so long as I don't violate Texas law in Texas.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    Because the National Guard(local militia) is under Federal authority now?

     

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  7.  
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    Frances, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    But, of course, since the newspaper mistakenly thinks it needs strong copyright laws to survive, that seems unlikely.

    Quit wasting your time shooting pot shots. Show the world how to do it. As far as I can tell, this website has only one byline these days and it's not clear that it makes much money because all of the supporters have already bought all the t-shirts they need.
    So go to it. Raise some money. I challenge you to send one reporter on one trip. Then publish the results without strong copyright. Let the aggregators use your photographs for free. Let people republish large blocks of your text with all of the important details and pay you back with a link that no one will click upon because they've already read all of the important details and seen the free photos.
    One of the common rhetorical games on this website is to claim to be in favor of a hazy definition of copyright while slamming everyone who ever enforces the copyright. So give us some details. Show us how to publish a newspaper with not-so-strong copyright. Spell out some good rules about just when you're going to let people reuse your work without paying you. Then you're going to need to confront the fact that if you're successful at writing something worth repeating, you're going to need to crack down on some kid who thinks that he's just making a few bucks with Google ads.

     

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

  8.  
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    Modplan (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 6:42am

    Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Do you realise the Techdirt is actually part of a business?

     

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

  9.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    They will not impact U.S. law as long as they do not try to change it unless it is to extend the time.

     

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

  10.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    A business that's been around since 1997, longer then most internet businesses.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Yeah, because we all know Beethoven and Mozart needed copy protection laws to do what they did.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 7:45am

    Yea! We need another biased opinion on copyright laws. Be serious!! The New York Times. Who cares. It's just another expensive newspaper that no one needs. Be green, read all of your news online for free. Someone out there wants to tell you about the news and if the newspapers want to play games with delivering the news then ignore them. It's a big world out there with lots of competition. I see no reason to ever buy another newspaper.

     

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  13.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    1p2U.com is my ongoing attempt to show you how to publish news without ANY copyright. It's not finished yet tho, so I'm not making a big song & dance out of it.

     

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  14.  
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    Frances, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Sure, everyone knows it's a business. But it's not a very big one and it doesn't do very much reporting. Most of the articles consist of a (1) link to another bigger article, (2) a short summary of the other article, (3) a repeat of the idea that copyright is bad, and (4) some links to previous stories. There's not much calling or digging involved.

    That's fine. I like the site. But I don't confuse it with a real newspaper filled with real reporters doing real reporting. Oh sure, from time to time Mike finds a clever story but he's got a choice. He can either write 10 posts a day attaching snarky comments about how other people aren't as cool as he is to the hard work of others or he can write one original post every few days. To keep the page views up, he makes a rational choice.


    If he really feels that newspapers can run without "strong copyright", I invite him to step up and do it. He should send a reporter to Afghanistan. Heck, he should send a reporter to the Consumer Electronics Conference in Vegas. Don't make abstract proclamations. Prove that TechDirt can be more than just a one man, t-shirt shop run like a hobby. Quit yapping about how the geezers don't get it and prove them wrong.

    And I'll bet that if you try to do it without strong copyright, Mike will end up suing some kid or a fly-by-night leech who wants to repost all of the stories just to get some quick ad revenue. Then we'll see how he feels about copyright.

     

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  15.  
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    Modplan (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    But I don't confuse it with a real newspaper filled with real reporters doing real reporting.


    Since when has he claimed Techdirt is any thing more than a blog?

     

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

  16.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    "Show us how to publish a newspaper with not-so-strong copyright."

    I know you are baiting but I am going to respond anyway.

    The trends are towards more personalized news. News that follows your interests. Personally I follow Nanotech, physics, computers, high end biology and genetics, IP issues, general technology, open wheel racing, and general world news via BBC and NPR. In any given newspaper I find maybe one article I will actually read.

    I hate to act like a fanboi but. Mike has it right he is targeting a small set of topics in the same general area IP and copyright. Where the news is going is very topic specific. With people picking an choosing what they want to read. Starting a newspaper at this point is a fools errand.

     

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  17.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    You really don't get it do you?

    The newspaper industry is dying a quick death. It's an outdated and expensive way to show people what happened yesterday when they already know what happened yesterday because they saw/read it on the web and/or television.

    Perhaps, I should challenge you to create a successful buggy whip company since you apparently believe outdated industries are a future endeavor worth pursuing.

    You didn't miss the tree or the forest, you missed land!

     

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  18.  
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    Tonsotunez, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Other Rights To Consider

    1. These are not orphan works ... they are bootlegs, made, apparently without the knowledge of the participants. Issues other than copyright issues are involved - not the least of which is the contractual relationship between the artists and their labels. Most label deals prevent the artist from recording for commercial release by any other entity during the term of the recording agreement. Unless a waiver was secured from the record companies before recording, the tracks cannot be released without label approval. Congress is unlikely to take a position on contractual relationships.

    2. There are also union issues. Royalties, pension, welfare and health care issues might come into play here... and, seeing as the National Jazz Museum has done such a wonderful job of tracking down all the participants, these issues can easily be dealt with.

    3. And let's not forget about the songwriters. If these recordings are to be sold ... licensed must be secured. Congress is unlikely to touch that issue with a 10 foot pole when the owners of 98% of the music can be easily found. Streaming, too, requires a license from a performing rights organization ... easy to get.

    There are 100 tracks involved ... clearing will be somewhat difficult but not impossible. We've got enough problems in this country that Congress can't seem to handle ... This would be a complete waist of time on their part ... and the part of out nation's well being.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Re: Other Rights To Consider

    You really do live in a state of entitlement don't you

     

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

  20.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Show the world how to do it.

    We've worked with some companies that are figuring it out. Just pay attention and you would see.

    As far as I can tell, this website has only one byline these days and it's not clear that it makes much money because all of the supporters have already bought all the t-shirts they need.

    Heh. We do just fine, and it's not because of t-shirts, I assure you.

    So go to it. Raise some money. I challenge you to send one reporter on one trip

    Wait, why? I love people who insist you can't talk about a dying business model unless you do it yourself.

    As someone else mentioned, it's like saying you can't criticize the buggy whip makers unless you are one.

    Then publish the results without strong copyright. Let the aggregators use your photographs for free. Let people republish large blocks of your text with all of the important details and pay you back with a link that no one will click upon because they've already read all of the important details and seen the free photos.

    Um. We already do make all our content public domain and anyone is free to reuse it any way. Many do.

    But we still get the traffic. Why? I'll give you a hint, which might help explain how actual journalism operations can do fine without copyright as well: it has to do with the community.

    One of the common rhetorical games on this website is to claim to be in favor of a hazy definition of copyright while slamming everyone who ever enforces the copyright. So give us some details. Show us how to publish a newspaper with not-so-strong copyright.

    Did you attend our event in June? We've heard from many folks that it was quite valuable in rethinking how to build a successful journalism operation. Or are you just full of snark towards anyone trying to help you?

    Show us how to publish a newspaper with not-so-strong copyright.

    Rule #1: stop thinking of it as a newspaper.

    Spell out some good rules about just when you're going to let people reuse your work without paying you. Then you're going to need to confront the fact that if you're successful at writing something worth repeating, you're going to need to crack down on some kid who thinks that he's just making a few bucks with Google ads.

    Not at all. If you recognize that you should be selling scarcities, cracking down on the kid trying to make a few bucks with Google ads is a total waste of time. First of all, he gets no traffic. Second, if he does get any traffic, it's helping to draw attention to who you are.

    If you want to survive as a news organization today, you have to recognize what business the news business really has always been: it's always been about bringing together a community of folks, and then selling their attention. But they still don't realize this. So, when competition came along for communities, those communities went elsewhere -- in part because some folks had such a snooty look-down-upon-the-community attitude.

    Look at most news operations today. There is little effort to build any sort of community. There is little effort to support or enable that community to do anything interesting or valuable.

    If you want to build a successful news operation today, stop worrying about copyright and start focusing on building something that serves a community.

    If you want specific help with your particular operation, feel free to contact us. We charge perfectly reasonable rates.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Bob, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    You're building a community. Just a question: obviously I can copy your stories without paying you anything. Can I copy the comments too?

     

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

  22.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    You're building a community. Just a question: obviously I can copy your stories without paying you anything. Can I copy the comments too?

    All of the content placed on this site is in the public domain, meaning, yes, you can copy the comments too. In fact, some sites do.

    I would warn you, however, that if you think that's "copying the community," you will likely discover it's the opposite.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Frances, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    If you want to survive as a news organization today, you have to recognize what business the news business really has always been: it's always been about bringing together a community of folks, and then selling their attention. But they still don't realize this. So, when competition came along for communities, those communities went elsewhere -- in part because some folks had such a snooty look-down-upon-the-community attitude.

    That's a pile of horse manure. Almost every newspaper on the planet allows comments on stories-- essentially the same thing that you do here. They've known about this argument about building community from before you or anyone on this planet was born. That's why they've been running letters to the editors all of these years. I see no commenting technology here that's any different from what I see at all of the major papers.

    Um. We already do make all our content public domain...

    You still fail to grasp my point. There's a difference between being the moon and being the sun. One reflects and the other creates. While you do some creation from time to time, most of your light is just reflected. You can't keep the front page filled with new headlines if you're off digging up news. So you do what everyone else does: link to some story by the sucker who did the work and add a bit of off-the-cuff analysis. In most cases, you just play to an echo chamber of commentators who seem to want to get some kind of moral reassurance that it's a-okay to ignore copyright.

     

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

  24.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    And this is why you fail.

    You think that all we do to nurture the community here is allow comments.

    Your ignorance is amusing.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    frances, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Your arrogance is amusing.

    Tell us ignorant people what you do to nurture community that the newspapers don't do. Perhaps you haven't tuned in lately to see that they've been trying all of the ideas.

    * Comments? Everyone has comments.

    * Moderation? Many have little "like" buttons.

    * Echoing the political opinions of the audience? Many papers have columnists who tell people exactly what they want to hear.

    I'm curious.

     

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

  26.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Don't complain, show the NY Times how it's done

    Frances/Bob,

    Again, if you wish to hire us to help you out of your particular mess, feel free to contact us.

    One of the key things is actually understanding your community -- and that's got nothing to do with technology. That you think because two sites have comments that they value their community equally is quite telling. We would definitely need to start from scratch with you.

    Some questions to ask: what have you done to enable your community? We have helped give them a voice, helped connect with companies who want to hear what they had to say, and even helped them earn money for their intelligence.

    Did your newspaper do any of those things? I'm not saying any of that is necessary -- each community is different. But to think that all we've done is put up comments is ignorance. That's not an insult. It's the truth.

     

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


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