What Will The Future Of Copyright Look Like? Contest Offers Prize For Best Proposal

from the crowdsourcing-change dept

Through BoingBoing we learn of an interesting contest organized by the Modern Poland Foundation, offering a crowdfunded cash prize for the best proposal to modernize copyright law:

How should a good copyright system look like? Obviously, the one our civilization uses now doesn't fit the reality of today. Outdated, over-extended and unenforceable it leads to ridiculous court cases against random people and clearly fails to meet the needs of the digital world. Without good alternatives, the only solution some can imagine is to take what doesn't work and get more of it, hoping that this will do the trick. It won't.

In order to form the future of copyright system we need to step up and craft a model that will fit the digital reality, shaped by technology of today and tomorrow. There are some initial proposals, most notably Barcelona Charter or Washington Declaration, but we believe there's room for improvement and we want to give it a try. We invite you all to take part in the global project of crafting the Future of Copyright!

There are a number of things that make this contest interesting. Firstly, the judges: one is professor Michael Geist, a vocal copyright critic who comes up a lot here at Techdirt, and the other is Piotr Czerski, who wrote the phenomenal "We, The Web Kids" manifesto that has been making waves online. Secondly, they are accepting submissions in any medium and any genre, meaning we may get to see some cool copyright fiction coming out of this contest. Finally, the whole thing is crowdfunded: they are raising the prize money on IndieGoGo (which uses a similar model to Kickstarter), starting with a modest goal of $500 that they have already surpassed.

One thing is out of place, and that's the requirement that all submissions be licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. I'm surprised they added such a specific restriction, because it biases the entire contest, essentially endorsing Creative Commons as the future of copyright despite supposedly asking for varied opinions on the topic. It also implicitly endorses attribution and some sort of "share-alike" clause, even though there are many viable copyright philosophies that require neither of those things. Why can't people dedicate their entries to the public domain with a Public Domain Mark or a CC0 license, or retain their rights but make the submission freely available? Imposing a specific license on the entries runs counter to the idea of seeking a wide variety of proposals.

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing the ideas this contest elicits, including those of any Techdirt readers who participate (and I suspect some of you might). If you want to enter, you have until April 15th.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    could provide some interesting points. however, the politicians will reject them all and the entertainment industries will ABSOLUTELY reject them (they have an excellent cash-cow atm. why would they change it?

     

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    MRK, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    The future of copyright? A corporate boot stepping on an artist's face, forever.

     

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    Suja (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    What Will The Future Of Copyright Look Like?

    Non-existent.

     

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    Suja (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Additionally, I'd actually have an entry but I don't think it will be ready for the deadline, as it is in a very very very alpha stage ATM.

    It's like a series about the internet and does get into copyright (AKA "Censoright" as it's called there) and how it harms the net, even getting into a huge final battle at the end vs. a SOPA-like construct which threatens to tear the net(/world) into bloody chunks apocalypse style.

    It's called "Dimension Zerone" (As in zero and one merged together) and I don't have any sort of site for it... Or a place to upload my stuff I just haven't been that happy with places like Deviantart... Any ideas?

     

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    fb39ca4, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Copyright...should not exist.
    Don't bother entering the contest, it's already won.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:08pm

    Rethinking the totality of the world economy

    I don't argue one way or the other about copyright because it's not my priority. I can't envision me putting in much energy on one side or the other.

    But looking at the future of content/the arts/creativity, I am more interested those as a subsection of the future of work and world economics. Rather than focusing on copyright as its own little issue, I'm interested in how we provide for people and their needs at all levels. In my ideal society, everyone would be creative, but no one would necessarily be dependent on monetizing that creativity to cover basic necessities. Maybe everyone could have a 10 hour work week and then use all that extra time for the arts, relationships, recreational activities, and so on.

    There are some interesting discussions across the Web on the future of work, the future of money, the future of capitalism, the future of the P2P economy, and so on. Copyright is a small part of that picture and it is likely that if we figure out some of the big questions, the issue of copyright will fall into place as part of that.

     

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    Mike Linksvayer (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Why can't people dedicate their entries to the public domain with a Public Domain Mark or a CC0 license, or retain their rights but make the submission freely available?


    CC-BY-SA is nonexclusive, so anyone who wants to can also offer other terms. If I were to make a submission, it would additionally be dedicated to the public domain (using CC0; the Public Domain Mark is not relevant, as it is not a license or dedication and is only for marking works already in the public domain). These are just nits that don't fully address your complaint of bias, but then I saw no intention of eliminating bias, of which there are many sources, from the sponsors to the announced judges to the name of the contest.

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

      Re:

      CC-BY-SA is nonexclusive, so anyone who wants to can also offer other terms. If I were to make a submission, it would additionally be dedicated to the public domain

      I suppose that is technically true, but the BY-SA is rendered completely meaningless if the work is also dedicated to the public domain. You can't require attribution on a public domain work.

      the Public Domain Mark is not relevant, as it is not a license or dedication and is only for marking works already in the public domain

      Whoops. You are absolutely right - post is updated.

      These are just nits that don't fully address your complaint of bias, but then I saw no intention of eliminating bias, of which there are many sources, from the sponsors to the announced judges to the name of the contest.

      Yeah, there is for sure an overall bias towards looser copyright that better jives with modern culture, that's undeniable. But even among those who want to push to loosen copyright restrictions, there is a wide range of opinions on CC in general and on concepts like attribution and SA - it still strikes me as odd that they would impose that framework on the contest right from the start.

       

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        Jaroslaw Lipszyc, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 2:44am

        Re: Re:

        We just wanted to secure freedom of use for any translation which could be made. BY-SA license worked great in this regard for Piotr Czerski - all the translations of "We, the Web Kids" are based on english version, which was free due to chosen license terms. Modern Poland foundation is based in Poland, so securing rights to use any translation was for us very important, and BY-SA license seemed to be the simplest way. No bias was intended.

         

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    monkyyy, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    has anyone submitted "none" yet?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

      Re:

      I was thinking something similar, but there are the requirements of the contest to think of. I'm not sure that, "None," or, "Abolish it," even has the necessary creative input required for a copyright to be granted, CC license or not.

      It's a bind, but I think that if you wrapped it up in enough flowery wording, you could make a copyrightable plea to end copyright. And it would have to be creative to avoid uncopyrightable legalese.

       

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    Susan, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Human Copyright for the 21st Century

    I recently published an ebook, arguably the first one ever to ship on a flash drive, and I wrote my own copyright page, as shown below. It's not eligible for the contest, as it wasn't written specifically for it. However, I published it on my blog last December (http://fleeglesblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/copyright-for-21st-century.html).

    It has been well-received, and I like to think that others might copy and use it themselves.

    Human Copyright for the 21st Century

    With the exception of the pictures that are in the public domain, almost everything in this book is under copyright. When something is copyrighted, it means that it belongs to someone else. In this instance, unless specifically acknowledged otherwise, all the words and images are under copyright by me, the author. However, it’s my firm belief that information is meant to be shared, not bound by legal stricture. I resent blanket copyright declarations that forbid the readers from using or reformatting the knowledge in any meaningful way. Thus, I’ve devised my very own copyright permission page that spells out what you, the reader, may do with the contents herein.

    You may scan, print, copy, or otherwise convert the contents to other formats in any way you wish, as long as your purpose is entirely personal. You can, for example, make backup copies of the DVD; output the contents to your printer; transfer the DVD to your hard drive; or paint excerpts on the back of your pet gerbil. You need no permission from me to do so. These permissions do not extend to making copies of this work, or any substantial part thereof, for your friends. If you are wondering about the word “substantial,” and how it might apply to what you want to do, please contact me directly and we’ll discuss it.

    You may share an excerpt for non-commercial purposes, for example, to help a friend; incorporate into a blog post; or contribute to a private group; without my express permission. Please do assign credit, however. The credit line should read: Photo/text/video courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission. In the cases where the photos or text are the property of someone else, you will need to contact them directly to arrange permissions.

    You may not share any part of this book for commercial purposes without permission and remuneration. This does not mean you may not share the information in the book. It does mean that, if you are teaching a class and printing copies of the contents, I expect some form of payment as well as credit, because in these instances, I am the teacher standing behind you as you instruct the class. A Starbucks gift card, an Amazon credit, or a small donation to PayPal is not too much to ask, considering the time that I’ve spent assembling this missive. Again, in the cases where the photos or text are the property of someone else, you will need to contact them directly to arrange terms.

    If you are an ongoing commercial enterprise, for example, a magazine, other arrangements will have to be made. In these cases, I expect fair payment commensurate with your other contributors. Please contact me to discuss terms and conditions.

    There are no reserved foreign rights. We are all of one world, thanks to the Internet.

    I have made arrangements for this book to be put into the public domain after my death for use by anyone and everyone under all circumstances. I refuse to sequester the information in the name of copyright when I am no longer around to benefit from it.

    Although this copyright page is copyrighted (see Department of Redundancy Department), I herein give express permission for it to be reused in any format by anyone who shares the same information philosophy I do. If you intend to use this page as an example of How Not to Write a Copyright Statement, the reprint and excerpt fee is One Million Dollars, US. And I will pursue you legally if I find out about it.

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Human Copyright for the 21st Century

      For the most part, that declaration just outlines copyright law exactly as it exists. The things you permit people to do are in fact the things permitted by fair use. It's good that you acknowledge and call attention to fair use, but you aren't actually loosening the reigns on your rights at all - and people don't actually need your permission to do any of that. The exception is the dedication of the book to the public domain after your death, which is noble in its way - though many would argue that the lifetime of the author is still much too long for copyright.

      Also, by saying "you may not share any part of this book for commercial purposes without permission and remuneration" you are actually claiming rights you don't have - since there are many fair use cases where someone could use excerpts of your work commercially, without needing any permission from you. For example: a publication reviewing your book and printing excerpts.

      It's good that you seem to have a generally favourable view of copying, but you're not being nearly as permissive as you think...

       

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    That gave me a mental image of the marching hammers from "The Wall" except while hammering artists/buyers into little holes for some reason.

    Do we have any media copiers in the theater tonight...?

    GET THEM UP AGAINST THE WALL!

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Copyright should give the artist full rights for 10-15 years, after that - it's public domain, pure and simple. I can't understand if someone didn't make a profit on media after 15 years why there should still be a cloud over it like there is now. This would also open up massive amounts of content to 'sate' the pirates and enforcement on new and still copyright protected media would be dramatically easier since you would narrow the scope of 'criminal vs. non-criminal' use.

    This would also eliminate a lot of the court's wasted time on 70 year old copyright suits where some obscure family member tries to sue a media company over rights.

    Non-transferable to anyone period. If it's THEIR work - BY LAW - they should retain the copyright - this would prevent media companies from taking rights over media they didn't create themselves. This will have some more impact with really 'protecting the artist'.

    Of course, if the media company commissions the work or someone who's a direct employee makes it, of course the media company would have a stake or all of the rights.

    Additionally, there should be a portion of racketeering laws that prevent media companies from trying to 'strong arm' artists into giving up rights or forcing them into an employee relationship in order to obtain the rights.

    I know there would be particulars to work out - but it's overdoing it now, by far.

    This is about protecting the artist after all, right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

    I am waiting for the day when people start asking "from which branch you download this?"

     

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    Anonymoose Custard (profile), Mar 8th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

    Clearly, lawmakers took the wrong approach...

    What they should do is mandate a series of studies: Figure out what aspects of Copyright law have a net benefit on the economy.

    Each lawmaking session, repeat the study, and make some "best guesses" on the long-term effects of the current laws, based on all of the evidence presented by those studies.

    Then, craft a law that exploits some aspect of that evidence - for example, if studies show that shorter terms have a net economic benefit, then shorten the term - and apply a "sunset" provision that requires a new set of studies. If the newly-enacted laws show a net benefit, then they may be extended with a new sunset period. If they show a net negative impact, the provisions should be repealed.

    Repeat ad nauseum.

    I predict that the end result of this process would be a maximal Copyright term of not more than 5 years from the date of the "fixed form," an elimination of criminal provisions, abolition of Patent laws, an elimination of DMCA-like anti-circumvention laws, and abolition of takedowns and domain seizure in all forms.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    It is the year 2112. The duration of copyright has been extended to forever and a day. Every word from every recorded language is copyrighted by a cabal of three multinational conglomerates. Regular citizens dare not speak or write, for they will incur incredibly huge fines and a prison sentence for using words without the proper licenses (Also, money is copyrighted, people aren't allowed to use money without paying for the right licenses). Artists sell their organs to the conglomerates for the right to publish their work. God and Satan team up to battle the MAFIAA; the MAFIAA kills them both with their patented God Killer technology. The cabal owns numerous patents related to neuroscience; imagination becomes a crime. The cabal also owns the concept of time, and censors out the parts where citizens are not paying licensing fees.

    Oh, wait, it said good system, my mistake, I thought we were predicting the future.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 8:56pm

    The future of copyright:






    #1: The device may be a limited run item and if you can't get one, we will apply any payments to a new device which will follow. The prior content will not be available without additional payment and new content may require a new device. Old devices are not supported.
    #2: The available content on the device may be limited to this single item but might include more. All content is forward compatible with the device for a small fee.
    #3: The device will be hard coded to include 2.5 hours of advertisements which must be watched prior to viewing any content.

    I believe that covers most of the bases.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2012 @ 8:57pm

    Double post, post editor got me....

    The future of copyright:
    {This line will be available in 2312}
    {This line requires a license from xyz corp}
    {This line is censored due to DMCA claims}
    {This line is determined counterfeit content under ACTA}
    {If you would like to see all of the above, please buy it from: www.asshats.com, create an account and we will possibly let you see it on a device available in the near future. #1 #2 #3}

    #1: The device may be a limited run item and if you can't get one, we will apply any payments to a new device which will follow. The prior content will not be available without additional payment and new content may require a new device. Old devices are not supported.
    #2: The available content on the device may be limited to this single item but might include more. All content is forward compatible with the device for a small fee.
    #3: The device will be hard coded to include 2.5 hours of advertisements which must be watched prior to viewing any content.

    I believe that covers most of the bases.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 9th, 2012 @ 3:32am

    This is actually some epic win. I pirate shitloads of stuff (and I buy a decent amount of stuff if it doesn't have any connections with the MAFIAA or any anti-piracy outfit) but I strongly support copyright protections against commercial use of any creation.

    However, copyright must address at least two key points: public domain and fair use. Creative Commons is actually a good idea because of the variety of possibilities but it doesn't solve the main problem of copyright: fair use and public domain. I explain: suppose there is some work with the most restrictive CC license assigned to it, a song for instance. Technically, and correct me if I'm wrong, I can't go to TPB and share that song if I buy it. It's non-commercial use, it's fair use. I don't think CC most restrictive licenses address this.

    I'll concede I'm not that versed in CC licenses. The only one I ever used was the 2.0 BY NC SA if memory serves. So I might be wrong but that's why I'm here in TD, to learn about these issues and discuss in the comments ;D

     

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    Darryl Sherborne, Mar 9th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Future Copyright

    We like to think that our site http://futurecopyright.com is the future of copyright. Easy copyright evidencing, with social networking and collaboration tools for creative artists to use to promote and share their work, on their terms.

     

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    Samuel Abram (profile), Mar 9th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    What I think about Copyright:

    I'm going to disagree with the Copyright Abolitionists here and say that Copyright needs to be mended, not ended.

    For instance, we can expand and define better fair use. And for uses of copyrighted works not covered by fair use, we can cover everything by compulsory licenses. We should also bring copyright back to two 28 year terms maximum (or 56 years maximum). And make them opt-in (i.e. formalities) so we'll have a lot more stuff in the public domain. We'll also have the databases of copyrighted works outsourced to domain registrars. And copyrighting will be "1-click" à la Amazon.com. And it will cost $1 so nobody, not even the poorest poet, would have any excuse not to. And instead of being public domain if not copyrighted, it would be "right to complain upon fixation in tangible form for five years". If the copyright owner doesn't complain or copyright his work in those five years, it's in the public domain after those five years and he loses his "right to complain", otherwise, he has the opportunity to copyright it and then enforce his complaint.

    And like I said before, copyright shouldn't give copyright owners veto power as it once did, but power to reap rewards from compulsory usage, à la cover songs and live performances. The same could be said with remixing videos and songs on youtube: amateurs would be free use, but commercial use would require compulsory licenses.

    That's how I see it.

     

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