Copyright Extension: A Way To Protect Hollywood From Having To Compete With The Past

from the makes-sense dept

There has been plenty of talk over the years about why we keep extending copyright. Of course, we've discussed the infamous Mickey Mouse Curve, showing how copyright extension always seems to happen whenever Mickey Mouse is going to hit the public domain.

However, Julian Sanchez notes that this doesn't explain the whole story. After all, if it was just about protecting the very, very small number of works that still have commercial value after so many years, then you would think we would have evolved away from the "copyright absolutely everything for as long as possible" model, to one that plenty of people have suggested: one where there are regular (and perhaps escalating) recurring fees to keep renewing your copyright registration. That way, works like Mickey Mouse could stay covered by copyright, but all the other works which have been otherwise abandoned can actually contribute back to culture and be used by anyone who wants to make something with them.

As Sanchez notes, you would think that even the Disneys of the world would like this model better. Even if it had to pay such recurring fees, the overall cost will ultimately be tiny compared to the value of the copyright. Plus, it would then open up a treasure trove of public domain material that they could use in their own works -- and Disney, in particular, has a well known history of making use of public domain works.

So why do we still have a "copyright everything for as long as we live, plus 70 years" (for now)? Sanchez posits a compelling theory. That Disney and other big copyright holders like this, because it keeps them from having to compete with their own back catalog:
Insanely long copyright terms are how the culture industries avoid competing with their own back catalogs. Imagine that we still had a copyright term that maxed out at 28 years, the regime the first Americans lived under. The shorter term wouldn’t in itself have much effect on output or incentives to create. But it would mean that, today, every book, song, image, and movie produced before 1984 was freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Under those conditions, would we be anywhere near as willing to pay a premium for the latest release? In some cases, no doubt. But when the baseline is that we already have free, completely legal access to every great album, film, or novel produced before the mid-80s—more than any human being could realistically watch, read, or listen to in a lifetime—I wouldn’t be surprised if our consumption patterns became a good deal less neophilic, or at the very least, prices on new releases had to drop substantially to remain competitive.
This story certainly fits with Disney -- who famously decides to completely stop selling certain old classics and put them "in the vault" for a while, pulling them off the market entirely. For Disney, it's all about keeping out competition, which it wouldn't be able to do if copyright didn't last so long.

This actually reminds me of the missing 20th century of books that we discussed a few months back, highlighting how the amount of new works from each decade drop off rapidly the further back you go, until you hit 1923 -- the current cut-off for the public domain.

Sanchez does note that it's possible this actually drives more investment into new works, since they don't have to compete with the old. And, if you believe (which he doesn't) that new works automatically have more value than old, then you could make a twisted sort of argument that this kind of protectionism, and effective locking-up of about a century's worth of creativity, does "promote the progress" in that it moves the focus to newer works, rather than older ones. But I don't buy that at all. It ignores the fact that the giant gap doesn't just represent competitive works, but also raw material and inspiration for all kinds of amazing new works -- which are effectively killed off.

That gap represents lost culture. But, for the big legacy entertainment players, it might also represent repressed competition. That shouldn't really be surprising. After all, that is the whole purpose of government-granted monopoly privileges.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    Not only do they not have to compete with their back catalog, they can pull out an old 'gem' like Red Dawn (mentioned in another post recently) and remake it without them having to pay anyone anything for the 'privilege' of updating our culture....

    Or they can take existing material (comic book films seem to be popular since the current special effects make things easier to do these days compared to when Superman came out), license it (MARVEL), and then claim 'copyright infringement' on any knock offs or fan additions...

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    This story certainly fits with Disney -- who famously decides to completely stop selling certain old classics and put them "in the vault" for a while, pulling them off the market entirely. For Disney, it's all about keeping out competition
    Now I know where my weekend will be going. I've got to find all the dates for when Disney pulls their various films out of the vault and puts them back in and see if there is any correlation with their new releases around those dates. Perhaps they pull them out when they don't see any big releases coming soon, or they do it just before new toys come on the market. This could be fun.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:03am

    Which is why I always recommend people download everything from past 1970. When it was created, the people who created it fully expected it to fall in the public domain by now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    In other news, Robocop is being remade.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:13am

    "Sanchez does note that it's possible this actually drives more investment into new works"

    It almost certainly does. Can you imagine how poor as a people we would be if everything we got now was just a reprint of a 30 year old book?

    As for the cutoff in books in the 1920s, have you considered that little thing called the great depression, followed by world war 2? That hole has way more to do with what was going on, and not some magic shift in copyright.

     

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    Jesse (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    But it would mean that, today, every book, song, image, and movie produced before 1984 was freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Under those conditions, would we be anywhere near as willing to pay a premium for the latest release?

    And then you realize that every book, song, image and movie produced up to and including this exact moment are freely available to anyone with an Internet connection, and that plenty of people still pay a premium for content. (That is, when they are given a reason to buy.)

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    Not sure what you might find. However, one thing to remember is that Disney does the whole vault thing to convince the public that there is value in buying a film again. They don't even do it with all their movies, just the ones that have high marketability. If you look, you will find movies like Fox and the Hound and Robin Hood and a few others always on the shelf, but the Disney Princess line of films are the most often targeted for vaulting.

     

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    IronM@sk, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    As is Total Recall :(

    Please, Hollywood. Leave my Arnie flicks alone. You've already ruined Conan.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    It almost certainly does. Can you imagine how poor as a people we would be if everything we got now was just a reprint of a 30 year old book?


    Nowhere in the debate did anyone advocate the stopping of new works.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    Saw. How many of this are there already? Some say there's a creative plot somewhere. I think this might be true for the first 3 or 4....

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    I think you don't understand what that chart is portraying.

    The chart is the number of new editions of books on the shelf TODAY, from those various decades. So books that are in the public domain are all over the place, while the oldest copyright covered books are not found very often.

    Meaning, there are more companies reprinting books from 1910 decade today than there are companies printing books from 1920 decade.

    "Can you imagine how poor as a people we would be if everything we got now was just a reprint of a 30 year old book?"

    Can you imagine how rich we would be if anyone could expand on works created 30 years ago? Imagine all the movies, other books, comics, game etc that people could make using those properties if they didn't have to seek permission and pay exorbitant licensing fees.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    I wonder if someone can come up with a mathematical model of how much content people actually need. Is there a limit?

    It's easy to intuit why new creators don't want to compete with older cheaper works. If given the choice between paying $35 for the Avengers blu-ray or just streaming something from netflix...my choice is clear.

    But, I don't think I've ever seen a model were artificially limiting competition somehow produces higher quality works or services.

     

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    Simon, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    I've always thought that when they extend copyright it should only be on content published after the date of the decision. Retroactively applying it to content that, as you point out, was created with a different expectation in place, seems like conning the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    Not seems like it, IT IS conning the public.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    If everything is under copyright, then the smart thing to do is own everything.

    A handful of companies own most of the content the U.S has produced. The smart thing for them is to hoard as much as possible and then see what they can make money on; and more importantly, they're the only ones that can make money on content.

    Most of our culture is sitting in corporate vaults inaccessible and unseen. It's likely these corporations don't even know what their vast holdings contain.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    It's not ruined if you don't watch the remakes.

    They make these things because people go see them, even though 99% of all sequels are crap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    Your post is so ridiculous I sense sarcasm. Then again, shills are so stupid that it's hard to tell the difference.

     

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    Miko, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Gee, I can't imagine why Congress hasn't passed a bill allowing Disney to renew its copyrights indefinitely instead of the current system where Disney has to continually donate large sums of money to the re-election campaigns of Congresspersons in order to ensure periodic extensions of copyright. If only there were someone here who understood public choice theory and could explain this phenomenon to us.

     

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    Liz (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re:

    I've noticed that as well. The Princess movies are pretty popular and seem to be re-released every 10 years or so. Just in time to market to a new group of little girls.

    But in reality I think it's more about creating artificial scarcity in order to boost sales in the short term. But doing it with a larger catalogue so it's a bit more sustainable practice.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    It's not how much content a person needs, it's the variety of content they have to choose from.

    Limiting competition means you can produce lower quality work, because you have less high quality work to compete against you.

    Hollywood would like their movies to be the only choice, and go to your average Redbox and that's all you'll probably find. But Netflix is filled with independent and foreign films - all competition for Hollywood product.

     

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    Tor (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:38am

    Availability of free works "undermines the market" ?

    Christian Engström has an interesting quote from a mail that he received in 2009 from the Director General of GESAC, which is an umbrella organization for collecting societies. The dicussion there is just about orphan (hostage?) works, so imagine how strongly GESAC must feel about an increase of the general availability of free works:

    "What possible justification can there be for allowing a work to be used free of charge on the pretext that its author has not yet been identified? Not to mention that making such a distinction would be apt to undermine the market by encouraging users to use only orphan or purportedly orphan works in order to avoid paying remuneration. [emphasis added]

    In fact this inspired me to write a blog post very similar to Sanchez's with the title "Protective tariffs against the history".

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:41am

    Re: Availability of free works "undermines the market" ?

    yeah, I mean what possible justification can it have? Its not like copyright is meant for use by authors and the public, its only purpose is for corporate profits.

     

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    IronM@sk, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:41am

    Re:

    Can you imagine how poor as a people we would be if everything we got now was just a reprint of a 30 year old book?

    Or a remake of a 30 year old movie. Oh, wait...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    It's easy to intuit why new creators don't want to compete with older cheaper works. If given the choice between paying $35 for the Avengers blu-ray or just streaming something from netflix...my choice is clear.


    This is true, but that pricing is based on a flawed (and fairly bizarre) business model.

    Remember, the studios get their cut of the money regardless of whether you get a movie off blu-ray or netflix. The reason why the price is so much higher for new movies is because the studios are trying to make back the massive amount of money that they sunk into the movie, and they're trying to do it in a hurry. Each time they release a new movie, they're trying to make a whole lot of money off it very quickly -- it doesn't seem like they ever prioritize making less money over a longer period of time.

    Personally, I've always suspected this is linked to studio's apparent inability to tell which films are worth making. There's simply no rational basis for it; in a single year, most studios will release some good movies (that have a high chance of being watched for years to come) and some bad movies (that are just crap, and almost instantly forgotten). As a trivial example, look at the list of films released by Paramount in 1997: they released Titanic, Good Burger, the Rain Maker, Kiss Me Guido, Volcano, and Private Parts. It's pretty clear that their model with new films is to throw a whole bunch of shit at the fan, and see what sticks to the blades -- but this also means that they can't rely on movies earning lots of money over time, because they can't tell which movies people will actually want to watch more than once.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re:

    It's not how much content a person needs, it's the variety of content they have to choose from.


    There's clearly an upper bound to how much content can consume. Namely, there's only so many available hours in a life to consume content.

    I wonder if someone can calculate what the average person in America needs given the need to work, eat, sleep, etc.

    Obviously as more options become available it's tougher for any single content creator to grab money. I guess the legacy people find this as bad. But, tough, that's how markets work.

    I'd also be curious as to where the money goes. If piracy magically stopped - how do the legacy players think that all that money would go back into music/movies?

    Given the savings rate in America it's clear that we're not just saving it for when we're forced to pay for stuff. It's most likley going to other entertainment choices. (though, given the obesity rate, maybe one could argue it's going to fast food?).

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    "...they can pull out an old 'gem' like Red Dawn (mentioned in another post recently) and remake it without them having to pay anyone anything for the 'privilege' of updating our culture..."

    How many remakes have we seen of the PD character Sherlock Holmes in the past 30 years? (several films, three different tv series)
    Snow White? (two different movies this year alone)
    Wizard of Oz? (several projects in the works)
    Jules Verne or HG Wells books?

    If anything, allowing properties to fall into the public domain seems to ENCOURAGE creativity (not to mention lots of work for actors, technicians, writers, directors, etc)

     

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  27.  
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    Greevar (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    "It almost certainly does. Can you imagine how poor as a people we would be if everything we got now was just a reprint of a 30 year old book?"

    Your logic doesn't follow. You're assuming that nobody would make new books without copyright and we know that is just plain false. Those that are just out to milk works for all they can may just reprint public domain books. However, people will not sit idly by and be happy with a stagnant supply of books, they will want more and new. Either the author will have to write more or people will write their own and share them.

    "As for the cutoff in books in the 1920s, have you considered that little thing called the great depression, followed by world war 2? That hole has way more to do with what was going on, and not some magic shift in copyright."

    That's a load of fallacy. That chart refers to reprints of books authored in the 20th century, not how many were authored in the 20th century. It would follow that there aren't many reprints of 20th century works because it is harder to get the licenses to reprint them because they are copyrighted, whereas the pre 1920 works are not. You logic also fails to hold true when you look at the decades following the great depression. Even up to the 1980's, there is a deficit of books being reprinted from original works. The supply of authorship isn't deficit, the reprints are. You're just plain wrong.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    "As for the cutoff in books in the 1920s, have you considered that little thing called the great depression, followed by world war 2? That hole has way more to do with what was going on, and not some magic shift in copyright."

    Actually, both the publishing and movie/radio (there was no tv) industries were booming during the Depression and WWII.
    People wanted something cheap to take their minds off the "real world".
    Slick magazines/pulps/comics and movies were less than 25 cents for hours of escapism.
    During WWII, creatives were often given special dispensation because their work was considered vital to the war effort by boosting morale!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    BUT....

    How many of those remakes have spawned infringement issues due to overzealous enforcement by the new 'rights holder' (since they claim copyright on their version) taking out other versions of 'public domain' works or totally unrelated material that includes these public domain characters, with the CLAIM that they are infringing on the NEW version....

    SSDD..

     

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  30.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Copyright extension is not a victimless crime!

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:

    Zach, think about it for a minute. How many books were made in the 1920s? Would you say that the great depression and the war that followed might have limited the number of works being made?

    Without those sorts of numbers to match up, there is no indication why these numbers are the way they are.

    Further, let's consider: What is the actual demand for books from that time period? Was it a classic period in literature, or was it one of those times when things were not just all that good?

    You really need to know what is out there and what was written and published during those times to understand what is really going on.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    "That's a load of fallacy. That chart refers to reprints of books authored in the 20th century, not how many were authored in the 20th century"

    yes, but if there were less books authored during that period, there would be less books also republished.

    Copyright isn't the old thing at play here.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    As for the cutoff in books in the 1920s, have you considered that little thing called the great depression, followed by world war 2? That hole has way more to do with what was going on, and not some magic shift in copyright.

    Sorry - that theory doesn't fit the data.

    On that basis you would expect the inital falloff to occur later than is observed and the graph should also come back earlier - no later than the late 1950s - not 1990.

    Next time try proper scientific analysis - not wishful thinking.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    If you look at the statistics from a typical annual release across all of the studios, something like 25% break even in the theatrical release window.

    Given how formula driven the industry is, you would expect that they would, by now, have figured out how to produce/distribute content with a higher overall win rate.

    What is the underlying root cause? If you could articulate the answer to this question, you could rule Hollywood.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are you saying that the Great Depression Depression and The Two World Wars had a lasting effect on literature to the tune of 70 years? From 1920 to 1990 there is a gigantic hole in works from those eras being published today. Yet there is a plethora of works from prior to the 20s being published.

    Sure there is some merit to looking at the actual content from those eras but it is hard to consider that 70 years of content is just not worth the trouble of printing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    why are there fewer books from the 20s than from the 1880s then? The 20s was the peak of the pre-depression/war economy. Since the dropoff clearly starts in the 20s, seems like the 1923 public domain threshold is far more significant here.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re:

    To support your theory you should have looked for data about the number of books published originally in each year. In the two minutes I could spare I managed to find this graph here

    http://www.booksonbowls.co.uk/decade.html.

    Now admittedly this relates only to books about bowls - but it would be very surprising if books about bowls were booming whilst the rest of the publishing industry collapsed.

    You will see that the number of books published shows a steady rise during the depression, falls off slightly during the war (but still above pre-1920 levels) and then comes back strongly.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Copyfraud is, apparently, a victimless crime. Just ask the RIAA.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm currently trying a 28-hour circadian rhythm. IT keeps me up all weekend.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    The problem I have with that is I don't want to keep being told the same stories with the same characters with a new spin.


    Its like, do I want another star wars, or do I want something new like Farscape gave me?

    For me, Ill always go for the new so long as its good.

    Sequels, remakes, new spin on old characters etc are boring to me. There's simply nothing I find exciting about a new Wizard of Oz, or Sherlock Holmes or Snow white. But then there's also nothing exciting about Battleship, etc either.

     

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Did you forget about WWI that happened during the 1910s? That doesn't seem to have made much of a dent.

     

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    aethercowboy (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Let's use the mobile phone industry's definition for "unlimited" next time we extend copyright...

     

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    DanZee (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    Number of books printed has increased each decade...

    For the people trying to come up with a conspiracy theory about why there's a dip in books in print post-1923, the number of titles printed has risen each decade, so that makes the dip even more pronounced.

    As a general comment, probably 95% of everything ever published never gets reprinted until it enters the public domain. It's crazy that the US keeps extending the copyright period just to keep a handful of works out of the public domain.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    OMG. I thought you were totally kidding until I googled and was appalled to see that you were serious about remakes of Robocop and Total Recall.

    I guess that means that every possible movie idea has already been made. Nothing new and original remains.

    Since nothing new remains, I suppose that means no new copyrights are needed for nothing new that will be created.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    A different way to look at it is that Hollywood wants to keep putting out periodic remakes of old public domain stories in order to keep them under copyright protection.

    Hey! You can't make a Snow White movie or story or fansite! Snow White is copyrighted!

     

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    aethercowboy (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    FWIW,

    According to Wikipedia, the top 10 grossing films in 2011 were as follows:

    1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (second part, sequel, based on a book)
    2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (sequel, based on toy line, etc.)
    3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (sequel, based on amusement park ride and unrelated pirate book)
    4. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (sequel, based on book)
    5. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (sequel, based on television series)
    6. Kung Fu Panda 2 (sequel)
    7. Fast Five (sequel)
    8. The Hangover Part II (sequel)
    9. The Smurfs (based on television series, comic)
    10. Cars 2 (sequel)

    I'm wondering how many films released lately are actually original...

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    RD, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re:

    "why are there fewer books from the 20s than from the 1880s then? The 20s was the peak of the pre-depression/war economy. Since the dropoff clearly starts in the 20s, seems like the 1923 public domain threshold is far more significant here."

    That time period was also the dawn of a massive surge in Scifi and Fantasy works. Many that laid the groundwork for almost all scifi and fantasy books/movies/tv/stories we have now originated during this explosively creative period.

     

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  48.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    // I guess that means that every possible movie idea has already been made. Nothing new and original remains.

    No, it means that Hollywood has lost the ability to be creative. It has become a risk-avoiding culture that seeks the relative security of remakes and proven franchises.

     

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  49.  
    icon
    ChrisB (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    I recently watched the Saw's consecutively and found it a compelling story of a serial killer whose legacy is co-opted and corrupted.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    LOL, they are remaking EVERYTHING. Seriously, Google "Jack the Giant Killer remake".

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    But the interesting thing is most of the shill/troll type ACs insist that remixing or remaking or editing something is somehow theft and/or not culture when it's done by say a person like you or me or anyone here or even those "indie" directors and actors and whatnot. But when Hollywood (as in a big studio or labels) remakes a movie or reboots a series of films (some that are literally less than a decade old)... well, that's perfectly okay. Ditto music when done by the bigs.

    It's quite amusing really. Point it out to them and they'll try and turn it around and paint us as the hypocrites though.

     

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  52.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Zach, think about it for a minute. How many books were made in the 1920s? Would you say that the great depression and the war that followed might have limited the number of works being made?

    Are you implying that the Great Depression, which started after the market crash on October 29, 1929, but which didn't really get bad until a year or two later, somehow affected the number of books published in the proceeding ten years?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    Not many, and that's precisely why Hollywood sucks these days and I havent went to a movie theater in years. Mining the public domain for the umpteenth telling of The Wizard of Oz doesn't help that situation at all.

    On the flip side, I can stay home and watch the excellent Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, read the latest novels from my favorite authors or get online and play the latest online video games (though games don't really feel all that fresh lately either, but still better than what has become the worst era in Hollywood history).

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    Well, not every book, song, movie, etc...but all the popular ones at least.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

    What's next?

    "Buckaroo Banzai Across the Tenth Dimension"?

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "yes, but if there were less books authored during that period, there would be less books also republished. "

    [citation needed]

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Re: What's next?

    Well, weren't they originally planning to make a sequel to Buckaroo Banzai? That's what I seem to recall hearing/reading awhile back. But it was never green lit originally so the idea just kind of stagnated til it was forgotten entirely.

     

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  58.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    Wait, lost? As in they had it at some point?

     

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  59.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe it's not how much they could consume, but how much they should consume?

     

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

  60.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: What's next?

    There are only about a dozen sequels that are as good or better than the originals. Watching sequels is a waste of time.

     

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

  61.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    They have every ability to be creative, but creativity doesn't sell tickets.

    They make what can be easily marketed to people who are easily duped. The marketing departments are calling the shots.

     

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  62.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    It's okay because they own the copyright, as if that makes all the difference.

     

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  63.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    FWIW, the trailer for the new Total Recall looks amazing.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    It's easier and quicker to remake a movie or base a movie off of something that already exists than it is to make something original and exciting that everyone wants to see but takes years to develop and make. Because it's all about volume the more you make the more money you could possibly make. The longer you take to develop something the better the quality of the end product(usually). You can't have quality AND quantity you can only have one or the other but not both.

    Sorry for my crappy grammar. lol

     

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  65.  
    icon
    Dionaea (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    True, some things are damn hard to find...

     

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  66.  
    icon
    skinny poppy (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 4:11pm

    You pay for what you don't get

    Could it be creative accounting? Or perhaps it's massive flops like Ishtar. Maybe all the 18-24 year old males text and don't go to movies anymore. How about too many little kids kicking your seat, spilling their food/drinks on you, or crying. Then the parents could have just decided they wanted to drop off the whole neighborhood at the local cheap movie as a stand-in babysitter so they could enjoy themselves, and now you're stuck with the brat pack.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    Oh I agree, its also less risky (not always though, hello John Carter).

    But as a consumer I only care about two things, that its good, and its appealing. I don't care how long it takes, or how risky it is. I also don't want quantity, as I have plenty of other entertainment options.

    Remakes aren't appealing to me after watching them being retold time after time.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, the data doesn't bear out you hypothesis. If you were right and the Great Depressions was to blame, how is it that the trend continues well in to the end of the century? Your argument doesn't hold weight because there were a great number of authors selling books throughout the latter half of the century. The logical conclusion is that copyright is to blame. The books went out of print and without any rights to the works, nobody else can print them either. You're still wrong.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are still ignoring the point: What really changed? Copyright is not the only thing that happened.

    Could it be that this period was not particularly powerful for literature?

    How many books were published on those years? What are the numbers relative to the time periods?

    Without that information, you cannot draw any conclusions - unless you are a rabid anti-copyright person trying to turn ANYTHING into a reason to bash copyright.

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What changed? The length of copyright. Right up until 1930, there is an increasing trend of books from those periods that are still in print, then for books from the span of 70 years, coincidentally during a period of rapid copyright expansion, there is a drop in new prints of works from that period.

    You sure are trying hard to say it absolutely isn't copyright. You keep saying it can't be because of "this" and "that", but when I point the fallacy of your argument, you just backpedal and come up with an even more vague reason that it can't be true. And you even throw in an ad hominem! Just who is grasping at straws?

    "...unless you are a rabid anti-copyright person trying to turn ANYTHING into a reason to bash copyright."

    LMFTFY: "...unless you are a rabid baby killer trying to turn ANYTHING into a reason to bash copyright."

    Yeah, it bears the same level of intellectual integrity.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 10:03pm

    Graphs always present me with a quandry when the bases for the data presented are unclear. Take the Amazon graph for example. Just what aspect of Amazon's business unit(s) is being depicted? "New Books from Amazon Warehouse by Decade" is not a model of clarity. For example, what is meant by "Amazon Warehouse"? Perhaps I am mistaken, but it does seem possible that it refers to a unit that sells overstocks, returns, damaged goods, etc. If this is the case, the "dip" may very well have a different explanation altogether than something associated with copyright.

    As for the graph illustrating how copyright terms have expanded over the years, the so-called Mickey Mouse Curve, it too is devoid of context. The US signed on to the Berne Convention in 1988, and in 1989 passed the Berne Implementaion Act, almost 103 years after the Berne Convention entered into force. In 1886, when the Berne Convention was first adopted, the stated terms of years for the duration of copyright was, if my memory serves me correctly, was for at least the life of an author plus about 30 or so years after the author's death. The United States did not accept a Life+ term until January 1, 1978. Importantly, US participation in Berne bounced around the Congress starting about 1962, at which time Disney's "Steamboat Willy" was only a few years into its second term and had almost two decades remaining. To even suggest that the change from 56 max (28 initial term plus 28 extension if requested and requirements met) to Life+50 was driven by Disney does not appear to square with the legislation's timeline. Maybe it did influence the addition of 20 years under the Copyright Term Extension Act, but it must be noted that Act was driven in part by the then provisions of the Berne Convention. In fact, even the DMCA was driven in part by the provisions of the Berne Convention.

    Yes, Disney and many others, large and small alike, have benefited, and continue to do so, by term extensions, but to call the graph the Mickey Mouse Curve is a misnomer, likewise devoid of context and, most importantly of all, history.

     

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  72.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 2:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Did America actually bother turning up to WW1? Oh wait, you got in 3 years late, with just one to go...:)

    Maybe you'd better look at the effect of WW 1 & 2 on European publishing...

     

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  73.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The answer is simple: They cook the books.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Silly pretense.

    There is no need to try and get pretentious about this.

    There are already cord cutters that seem perfectly satisfied with what is available on Netflix. You also have others that find OTA broadcasts adequate. The bulk of either of those is content that should rightfully be in the public domain right now.

    If the public domain were as it should be, the P2P sites would be full of legal content. They would be like free and legal versions of your local non-network reruns channel.

    A lot of people would find that more than adequate and it would be perfectly legal.

    If you are more demanding, you could just buy stuff outright with the funds that you would otherwise spend on cable.

    Either way, you can turn your back on much of the new stuff.

    Classics from any age versus today's mindless tripe.

     

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

  75.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This allows them to 'remix' the past and resell it.... who wouldn't want that?

    According to Wikipedia, the top 10 grossing films in 2011 were as follows:[lots of sequels most barely watchable without hurling]
    And for that reason the total amount of money spent by me on that list of films... hmmm maybe £40-£50 and that only because I have children.
    On the ot
    her hand back when... oh I suppose about when the Smurfs were on TV the first time or so when I had way less money, spending a far larger percentage of the money on myself rather than others and still no problem accessing free copies of anything if I chose I'd estimate that if you produced a similar list from that time the amount I spent on them would probably be about the same - i.e. £100-£130 today allowing for inflation.
    Wonder why that is...

     

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  76.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Could it be that this period was not particularly powerful for literature?

    Uh huh... well since as usual you're going for the "wild supposition to deny the evidence without presenting any yourself" schtick, here's some anecdotal information:
    Authors from ~ the 40's:
    Poul Anderson Isaac Asimov Alfred Bester
    James Blish Nelson S. Bond Leigh Brackett
    Ray Bradbury Fredric Brown Bertram Chandler
    John Christopher Arthur C. Clarke Hal Clement
    L. Sprague de Camp Lester del Rey Robert A. Heinlein
    L. Ron Hubbard C. M. Kornbluth Henry Kuttner
    Fritz Leiber Walter M. Miller, Jr. C. L. Moore
    Chad Oliver Frederik Pohl Ross Rocklynne Eric Frank Russell Clifford D. Simak E.E. "Doc" Smith
    Theodore Sturgeon William Tenn A. E. van Vogt Jack Vance John Wyndham
    Yes, I see... clearly not one single famous and well-loved and read author in that lot. Yep, that definitely explains why there's only 40 or so currently published titles from that decade.
    Oh, in case you were wondering, personally I've not heard of about 1/2 that list but I happen to own probably around 70 books by the ones I have heard of, which probably represents less than 1/5 of their total output. I'd also be suprised if as many as 1/5 of that list were still alive when I first read one of their works. So much for literature of that period having no readership value....

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Could it be that this period was not particularly powerful for literature?

    How many books were published on those years? What are the numbers relative to the time periods?

     

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

  78.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ug, ate my post.

    Issac Asimov alone published 506 books from 1950 to 1996.

    So no, there was no lack of literature created in that time. Certainly 300 or so books is insufficient to represent the output.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 6:10pm

    Re:

    Having found the source:

    This is a random sampling of 2500 books from Amazon's warehouse of new books. They are not used, they are not returns. They are newly printed books.

    The data was generated by a student using a web-crawler to scrape data from Amazon. The web-crawler was fed a series of random numbers which it used as indices to find the books, so the sample is properly classified as a double-blind* psuedo-random sampling.


    *Books can't be anything but blind.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Forgot to link:

    video

     

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

  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I have already seen the video, but it suffered from poor (to say the least) sound quality (barely audible on my desktop) and did not go into any detail where within the Amazon organization the date was gathered, not did it make any mention of the titles that were found. This left me in a quandry as I looked at the chart.

    For example, it shows that for the decade comprising the 1990's only 120 or so book titles are available for purchase (not to mention there is no breakout for bound volumes, e-books, and audio books). Something does not compute when a decade averages out to only 12 titles per year. To me it takes a leap of faith to suggest that the extension of copyright terms is a good indicator that copyright bears any relationship to what is associated with book titles from the 1990's. Moreover, why the large jump for the decade comprising the 2000's, a level substantially equal to the 1900's and 1910's?

    Without some some detailed breakdown of book titles and the form in which they are available, It seems to me the most that can be said it that the chart bears a striking resemblance to a part of a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate in SF.

    Perhaps if the lecturer ever publishes his work in a journal article some of my questions may be answered. Until then the most that can honestly be said is that a chart has been presented, and that somehow linking the chart to copyright terms is merely speculative.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Elwood, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 5:18am

    So does remaking their own films every few decades give them a new copyright on the remake which keeps the entire concept out of the public domain for another extended period of time?

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Patent Attorney, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    It just goes to show that if you have a good idea that you should protect yourself for the future. It’s just good business sense for entertainment companies like Disney to watch laws such as these.

     

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


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