Bureau Of Economic Analysis Shows Why Copyright Terms Should Be Greatly Diminished

from the half-life-of-economic-usefulness dept

We've pointed a few times in the past to a chart from William Patry's book, looking at how frequently copyright was renewed at the 28 year mark back when copyright (a) required registration and (b) required a "renewal" at 28 years to keep it another 28 years. The data is somewhat amazing:
As you can see, very few works are renewed after 28 years. Only movies, at 74% are over the 50% mark. Only 35% of music and only 7% of books tells quite a story. It makes it quite clear that even the copyright holders see almost no value in their copyrights after a short period of time. It appears that the Bureau of Economic Analysis is coming to the same conclusion from a different angle. As Matthew Yglesias notes, as part of its effort to recalibrate how it calculates GDP, the BEA is considering money spent on the creation of content an "investment" in a capital good, which needs to be depreciated over the time period in which it is valuable. Frankly, I'm not convinced this is the smartest way to account for money spent on the creation of content, but either way, the BEA's analysis provides some insight into the standard "economic life" of various pieces of content, which match up with the chart above in many ways.
The most ephemeral cultural works turn out to be musical records, which depreciate at a staggering annual rate of 26.7 percent—meaning they earn a huge share of their lifetime income in their first year of release, and only a tiny number of works have a meaningful level of back-catalog sales. Television shows come next, depreciating at a 16.8 percent rate. Then you have books at 12.1 percent. Movies turn out to be far more durable than TV, music, or books, depreciating only at a fairly low 3.8 percent rate.
While books and music flip flop from the chart above, movies seem to be the only one, in both measurements, that have a particularly long economic life. Yglesias wonders if that's also about to change for movies, especially as studios are forced to move away from windowed releases.
The reason for that, presumably, is that movie studios are quite sophisticated about selling the same product repeatedly. First in theaters, then in DVD and pay TV stations, then to cable networks, and with simultaneous rollouts happening abroad. My guess is that when the BEA looks back in five or 10 years, they're going to find that they've miscalibrated this number because the movie industry is facing substantial business-model transformation on precisely this point. The rise of on-demand entertainment options and the falling quantity of films produced in any given year is putting pressure on traditional market segmentation practices, and this number may not hold up.
I'm not sure if that's really going to be true, especially since one of the advantages of on-demand systems like Netflix is that they open up a wide back catalog to viewers. Prior to the VCR, that was non-existent, and even with the VCR, the back catalog was limited to what a video store could hold, and old products were regularly on the chopping block. So I could see how movies could still have an extended economic life.

Still, as Andy Howard noted in alerting us to this story, this actually gives us yet another tool for evaluating a more reasonable copyright term. If the Bureau of Economic Analysis is saying that the economic life of a piece of music is just a few years, after which it's basically a zero, it seems silly, pointless and counterproductive to keep that work locked up under copyright. Instead, it would make tremendous sense to move it into the public domain, where it might be useful. As we had just discussed recently, when works are in the public domain, it often inspires more creativity as people build on the original work. From an economic standpoint, all of the time between the end of the economic life of a work and when it finally goes into the public domain is simply a massive loss to society and culture.


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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    The rise of on-demand entertainment options and the falling quantity of films produced in any given year is putting pressure on traditional market segmentation practices, and this number may not hold up.

    Notice he talks about a falling quantity of movies being produced. I find this to be pretty much false unless you look at the output from the MAFIAA itself who is focusing in multi-million blockbusters. Overall I simply have to let a lot of titles float by without watching them simply because there's too much to watch.

    Anyway, I think ANY creative work be it a book, music, movie and so on can have as much economic value as the author puts effort in maintaining the magic around it. And there will be outstanding productions that will basically support themselves such as Lord of the Rings, Beatles, Queen and others. Just see Sir Paul McCartney still touring around with 50+ yrs-old music.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    I think copy'right' should be abolished or at least reduced to no longer than 5 years with the possibility of a 2 year extension with a fee. It should also be opt in. Why shouldn't the public be allowed to get economic value out of the monopoly they shouldn't have an obligation to grant.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:31am

    To get copyright reform first one needs to slay the dragon and then let its offspring grow in a different environment.

    Meaning first abolish the current system and then implement the new one that was thought out in advance and it is ready to be put into the space.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    I agree, what we need to do is to abolish IP laws for like ten years to let all the dinosaurs die and then maybe we can implement a new people sourced system

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Here are some suggestions.

    - Monopolies should not last forever.
    - Monopolies must only be applied when there are no other means to achieve some purpose.

    With that in mind, if one needs to implement a monopoly it should be constantly monitored to see if it still necessary, meaning every so often lets say 50 years we get 10 years without them to collect data to see what happens when they are not in place.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    Monopolies should not be allowed to develop in the first place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    so when is the 'Bureau of Entertainment Industries' and the 'Bureau of Financially Encouraged Senators' going to release their analyses that debunk the whole 9 yards then??

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    28 years is hardly "such a short period of time". That is a long long time, nearly all of it in fact (although not as nearly as I'd like). It's not exactly surprising that people would only care to remember the standouts by then.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    Didn't need no Ivy League McEducation and 15 years of complaining and dithering to come to that conclusion!

    http://cheezburger.com/6522441728

    "So, turns owt I wuz rite abowt DAT as I habs been abowt ebbryfing else."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    I think you missed the point with his analysis of on-demand offerings. Yes, it makes movies and television shows valuable for longer, but the value of reselling it over and over will greatly diminish. His point is that studios have been able to maximize revenues through reselling over multiple platforms, but the Internet and digital media is cutting into that. Studios will no longer be able to make one movie and then sell it in a dozen different ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Still, as Andy Howard noted in alerting us to this story, this actually gives us yet another tool for evaluating a more reasonable copyright term.

    So Mike, are you affirmatively and explicitly saying that works should be copyrighted for some period of time, i.e., that authors and artists should have some exclusive rights?

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    "Notice he talks about a falling quantity of movies being produced"

    My thought as well, and I'd like to see his data for that. Everything I've seen suggests that numbers are rising in all areas from theatrical (659 released in the US vs. 601 in 2011 and 356 in 2001 according to Box Office Mojo when I just checked) to foreign (niche markets like Bollywood and Nollywood always seem to be rising from what I read). With the explosion in digital and indie/no budget filmmaking, it seems unlikely that this area is dropping either. A quick glance at the wiki pages for Sundance suggest that fewer films have been submitted in 2012 than 2011, but the 2011 figure was huge compared to the 2008 festival (the next previous wiki page that lists the number), although that's only one indication of independent film production, let alone foreign production that never gets actively sold overseas.

    It's possible that he has access to figures that us mere mortals don't see or that I've made a few assumptions that are incorrect, but I'm seeing facts that contradict him. Especially if you look at film as an international including medium rather than cherry picking criteria to favour the legacy American producers. It would be very nice to see what these claims are based on, and whether the criteria are fair to non-Hollywood filmmakers.

    Regarding this part of the comment:

    "putting pressure on traditional market segmentation practices"

    I should damn well hope so, though hopefully he's referring to the fact that trying to artificially apply segmentation that only existed due to geography or differences in standards is doomed to failure in the modern marketplace. As I always maintain, offering the same level of on demand service to the rest of the world as the US enjoys is going to be a big step toward killing casual piracy. Removing artificial windowing would also be a massive step.

    As for other media, I always think there needs to be a balance. One of the major problems with the current system is that everything is copyrighted unless people opt out, and that the term of that is extended indefinitely by those who can profit most from it. Often leaving less successful or orphaned works to literally rot in vaults.

    I usually maintain that a 20 year automatic copyright, with a limited number of options for the creator to renew, is a reasonable compromise - though the exact terms can vary depending on the medium and subject of discussion. I'm yet to hear a reasonably argued opposition that doesn't devolve into arguments about abolishing copyright or stupid claims that reducing copyright is only motivated by piracy.

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    I don't understand, ootb agrees with something, and the mafiaa still hasn't chosen to roll their law back to 28 years.. what could have gone wrong? :)

     

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    A Different Mike, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    He's quite clearing saying he wants copyright to be scaled back to reasonable levels. Trying to draw out his personal stance from that is just silly.


    Personally I'd like a 7-12 year term with exclusive non-transferable rights going to the actual creators. But you don't care because I'm not the Mike you were trying to hound.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re:

    He's quite clearing saying he wants copyright to be scaled back to reasonable levels.

    No, he says that this is a tool that could be used to roll things back to a more reasonable level. That leaves open the possibility that he still thinks that no copyright at all is the most reasonable level. Hopefully he can pop in to explain, though I have no doubt that he won't.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    Not much get past you does it?

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re:

    Personally, I think any step in any direction other than where we have been going would be a miracle.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    I understand that he thinks less term = more reasonable term. I'm trying to understand if he also thinks that no term = the most reasonable term. Of course, he'll pretend like it's impossible for him to have an opinion on that, despite the fact that he has many, many opinions about copyright about which he has incomplete and imperfect data. He could pop in and clear this up with one post. I doubt that he will. He doesn't want to admit that he doesn't think there should be any copyright, and he'll never admit that some copyright is good.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Re:

    It may or may not be short, but it's a damn good step in the right direction. 28 years before today would be 1985. That is, everything produced before 1985 that had not been renewed by the end of this year would be out of copyright. Ask any cinephile, and I can bet they'll name some of those films that are unreleasable or region restricted out of their reach, etc.

    There's a massive number of movies that deserve to be seen but are either locked up away from release, poorly treated by studios or otherwise blocked from general release - and it's this blocking that causes them to be forgotten. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the only thing that makes a movie stand out is its quality - often it's the treatment it's had from the copyright holders in the first place. Those films you've never heard of may well be far better than the ones you haven't...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    I have figured out why movies have regional releases, and other staged releases. It allows them to pile on more charges to prevent them making a profit. If all the income came in the first year or two, the charges to avoid making a profit would look ridiculously high.

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm sure, if it was handled properly, at the right time and under the right circumstances, some form of copyright could be beneficial.

    With the monstrosity that they have made of it, it's pretty hard to picture it doing any good though. I certainly wouldn't blame anyone for thinking it's just plain pure evil under the current circumstances.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    Finally blue cites a source with more expertise and better language skills. It's about time!

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re:

    I usually maintain that a 20 year automatic copyright, with a limited number of options for the creator to renew, is a reasonable compromise - though the exact terms can vary depending on the medium and subject of discussion. I'm yet to hear a reasonably argued opposition that doesn't devolve into arguments about abolishing copyright or stupid claims that reducing copyright is only motivated by piracy.

    I'd just as soon abandon an automatic copyright altogether, at least for published works, and require registration upon publication as we did prior to 1978. It worked fine then, and I don't see why it couldn't now. Perhaps a short grace period similar to patents could be introduced. Terms could have a duration of a year, with the number of renewals permitted varying by type of work (movies could have more renewals than software, for example).

    The point being that if a work isn't valuable enough to an author to seek to get or maintain a copyright, why should the public have to wait?

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re:

    Oh no he won't lose the chance to be obnoxious it seems.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    +funny. Can I click it twice? Also I think it's an impostor. Or something. No time stamp!

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, he says that this is a tool that could be used to roll things back to a more reasonable level. That leaves open the possibility that he still thinks that no copyright at all is the most reasonable level. Hopefully he can pop in to explain, though I have no doubt that he won't.

    So what?

    I wouldn't characterize myself as a copyright abolitionist, but I do want copyright reformed so as to maximize the net public benefit enjoyed as a result of copyright. If this means more copyright than now, great. If this means less copyright than now, great. And if there is literally no possible copyright law that produces a greater benefit for the public than having no copyright law at all, then the best option is abolition, which would be great.

    There's no reason to take abolition off the table. I think it's unlikely that there is no possible better copyright law, but why would we want to exclude the best option if it comes to that?

    Even if your criticism of Mike is correct, in that he thinks that the best copyright law would be no law, so long as he's coming to that position rationally rather than arbitrarily, you're just saying that he is acting in an admirable manner. What's the problem?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Joe, you keep asking, but it sounds like you already have your answer.

    Why stay?

     

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    madasahatter (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Sales curves

    I have often wondered what the actual sales curves were. I suspected they were skewed towards the initial release with relatively high sales volumes in the first few years and reaching about 99% of all sales within about 5 to 10 years and virtually 100% of all sales within about 10 to 15 years.

    If my suspicion is correct then a fair copyright period is probably 20 - 25 years maximum with no renewal.

    Remaindering in the book trade was common years ago for publishers to clear out their back stock. You could buy a new hardback book for $1.00 when they sold for $15-$20 at retail.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's why it's a compromise, not an ideal solution. The problem I can see happening is that if *nobody* got automatic copyright, then artists who weren't quick off the mark or who had bad advice/knowledge about how to register them properly could end up with their work "stolen" from them by others before the copyright is applied.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it's the current corporates who did that to true independents, either. Submit your script to a corrupt agent or studio employee who "rejects" it then makes the film anyway, claiming the work as their own? You'd better have spent your last couple of grand on legal fees to be the copyright owner...

    While it's not a great solution, I'm uncomfortable about going to a system where it's the people with the deepest pockets/best lawyers who get everything copyrighted as a matter of course, and everyone else depends on what they know or can afford.

     

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    gnudist, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    No only do I agree with out of the blue on something, that's exacty the term I advocate for!

    This is sign of the end times dogs and cats living together shit folks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    AJ, the master of derailing tries yet again to derail the topic to avoid discussing the meat of the matter and exposing himself to even more ridicule.

    Keep going AJ. Maybe some day you'll accidentally be insightful, because I sure as hell have given up hope on you doing it intentionally.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:28am

    Re:

    Exclusive rights yes, but from a utilitarian viewpoint of public benefit and not from a rights of the author view

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I wouldn't be surprised if it's the current corporates who did that to true independents, either. Submit your script to a corrupt agent or studio employee who "rejects" it then makes the film anyway, claiming the work as their own? You'd better have spent your last couple of grand on legal fees to be the copyright owner...

    In that case automatically grant copyrights to unpublished works, but keep protections low enough, and the term short enough, that authors won't prefer to sit on unpublished works instead of getting them published in one way or another. After all, unpublished works do the public no good.

    While it's not a great solution, I'm uncomfortable about going to a system where it's the people with the deepest pockets/best lawyers who get everything copyrighted as a matter of course, and everyone else depends on what they know or can afford.

    They never did before. And there are strategies that might be tried to combat this if it became abusive.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Notice he talks about a falling quantity of movies being produced

    Right. I think that the movie and television industry has definitely stepped up its game in the last few years. I suppose you can quibble over what defines "quality", but the fact is that 13 of the top 15 grossing films of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and all of the films in the $1 billion club are less than 15 years old.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    You're starting to scare me man. I agree with you more everyday on certain points. Keep up the good work. Your still good for laughs most of the time though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:49am

    Re:

    They don't already?

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re:

    what defines "quality", but the fact is that 13 of the top 15 grossing films of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and all of the films in the $1 billion club are less than 15 years old

    You're not adjusting for inflation, I think.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    I know that this copyright for 28 years has not happened and it may not even happen but if it did happen and it was only applied for 28 years and just that and nothing more then would it not overturn the Grooveshark ruling that stands at the moment in stating that pre 1972 sound recordings don't come under the DMCA safe harbour as they don't come under federal copyright law?

    Would someone like to give a response if this will effect the Grooveshark ruling?

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:07am

    Base term on half-life of a product

    Okay, so Copyright is intended to induce creative output by paying the people who create stuff.

    So there are two conflicting priorities: we want the creator to earn as much as he can for a work, but we want a work to go in to the public domain while it's still relevant.

    I really, really like the way Id software did this with Doom and Quake: once the product was no longer commercially relevant, Id opened up the source code to the public domain - but kept the game data closed. So anyone could create a new game engine that would run the Quake levels, or they could use the original Quake engine to power their own, original game.

    So here's my proposal:

    Copyright lasts 10 years (give or take), unless you continue to exercise your copyright. You can exercise your Copyright one of several ways:
    1. Publish a sequel to your product.
    2. Adapt your product to a new medium. (Make a movie from a book. Make a comic from a movie. Novelise a comic. Create a video game based on a book or movie.)
    3. Significantly revise and re-release your work. (Textbooks, for example, will go through many revisions before their utility is exhausted.)


    If a publisher simply puts something out there and abandons it, then after a decade it's public domain.

    In all cases, the extension would have to be a fair commercial effort: so you can't, for example, add 2 deleted scenes to a DVD, run a limited print of 100, and call that a revision.

    The idea here is to make the publisher put their money where their mouth is: if they really believe a work is still commercially viable, then they should spend time and money to keep it active. If they're not willing to spend the money it takes to create new artistic works from an existing property, then the work should go in to the public domain to allow other people to create new works.

    I'm interested in the fairness of this model: does it reward the creators enough? Does it allow a work to go in to the public domain soon enough? Too soon? Let's not get hung up on the details of how the specific registration or extensions would work.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Given how litigation-happy copyright holders tend to be, if they get around pissing off enough people like Prenda does it may very well turn out that scaling copyright back to a zero might be the least reasonable you can get.

    If copyright maximalists insist that new laws are due to pirates abusing loopholes, it follows that copyright needs to be scaled back when it's abused.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re:

    I think television has reclaimed a lot of its slide in quality, but I don't think that movies have at all. I also don't think you can judge quality by sales (McDonald's, anyone?), so we might be using different scales here.

     

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    Beech, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    I'm still a fan of a scrolling copyright fee. Free copyright for 1 year on your work. $5 for a second. $25 the third year. Then $525, and so on in multiples of 5 (or something else, squares, cubes, x2, x3).

    The nice thing is that after the first year the wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak. Those who don't value their copyright lose it. Then every year the need to reconsider how much it's worth to them. Is mickey mouse really worth a $250000 copyright extension for a year? Or is it time to let him go? The initial fee and yearly multiplier can be adjusted higher or lower depending on how much incentive you want to give, but you would need to make sure Hollywood wouldn't be able to sneak their grubby mitts into the process of changing it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    Re:

    no, actually. The grooveshark ruling basically boils down to saying that pre-1972 copyrights fall under the superseded state copyright laws. (1972 was when the first federal coyright law came into force. this might actually be a double-edged sword - IIRC, none of those state laws had copyright terms that extend to today.) That is unaffected by any subsequent reform of federal copyright law.

     

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    Bengie, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    Base copyright length on peak revenue

    28 years base, but then you spike your revenue in the first 2 years, then it drops down to 50% of your peak.

    Now your Copyright term is only 50% of 28 years.

    If you can't keep your revenue up relative to peak popularity, then it's time to let it die and get absorbed by public domain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's great that you're willing to explicitly state your position. I think all of us here are similarly willing--all except for Mike, of course.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I want Mike's explicit answer. The fact that he avoids the question and uses all sorts of weasel words tells me I'm hitting a nerve. Why's he so scared of just saying what his opinion is? He's obviously very opinionated about copyright. Why won't he answer this question?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re:

    I'm not embarrassed to ask Mike to explicitly state an opinion about his beliefs about copyright. The embarrassment is Mike's since he's clearly incredibly opinionated about copyright yet unwilling to discuss this issue directly. What's he hiding? What's he scared of? Why can't he just share his honest opinion? I'll keep asking and asking and asking. Only way to get rid of me is for him to answer. I've been trying for years. I'll try for many, many more, reminding everyone that he's too dishonest to give an honest opinion.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's great that you're willing to explicitly state your position. I think all of us here are similarly willing--all except for Mike, of course.

    So? What's the reason for this obsession with what Mike thinks? Other than one or two trolls, AFAICT, no one's asking, no one's curious about it, and no one would likely care if they did find out.

    What meaningful and significant thing do you think would happen if Mike posted a lengthy and comprehensive statement of his opinions? For my part, it wouldn't matter to me any more than if a dog farted on the other side of the country.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Maybe copyright term will be addressed. Rep Goodlatte is announcing a copyright reform initiative and will be holding a number of hearings in the next few months.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:12am

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

    He's the most opinionated, loudest voice on the anticopyright side of the debate, yet he's unwilling to even admit that he's anticopyright. What's not to understand? I want him to be explicit about his beliefs without his usual silence or weasel words. Mr. Opinionated suddenly can't find words when asked directly about his beliefs. What does that tell you? It tells me that he's embarrassed about his own beliefs and too dishonest to discuss them.

    This article is a good example. Mike appears to be saying that the proper term of copyright is ONLY about how economically valuable the copyright is to the owner. I don't think that's true, but even if that were the only consideration, that would indicate that some period of copyright greater than zero is what's economically best. But will Mike use that logic to state that the term of copyright should be whatever produces the greatest economic return for the copyright owner? Of course not. He's using that test for this post, but then he won't defend it or tell us why he doesn't use that test when deciding what's the best term of copyright in general. Nor is he willing to discuss any of this on the merits. What's he hiding? Hmmmm.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    When did you argue to roll back copyright length? I can't recall you ever saying that. I do recall quite clearly you arguing against anyone other than the creator using a work in any way.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:27am

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

    AJ, read this and then answer a question for me.

    One definition of insanity is repeating a certain action, over and over and over again, and yet expecting different results.
    Given that you constantly demand Mike answer you, and have for years, doesn't this apply to you? Aren't you the textbook definition of insane?
    If you're not, explain why and how. Why we here at Techdirt should care at all about whether Mike answers someone whom he basically has nothing but righteous contempt for, and how you're going to accomplish your stated goal while retaining some dignity.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:30am

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

    He's the most opinionated, loudest voice on the anticopyright side of the debate, yet he's unwilling to even admit that he's anticopyright. What's not to understand?

    That's the problem with squares, everything has to have sides. And anticopyright? What was wrong with freetard and freehadist?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I want a nice car, a big house and a large pot of gold.

    We all want things. Why are you so special, that your wants should be met without question? What obligation does Mike have to answer your question? What will you do if you cross Mike in the street in person? Identify yourself as AJ and demand an answer, then stand there dumbfounded when the first thing he does is call a lawyer and apply for a restraining order?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The only thing you'll be reminding everyone of is that you are OCD and/or the textbook definition of insane. We've got the equivalent of a man standing outside a house demanding the truth, even after he's been answered plenty of times already. At that point, you've gotten as good as an answer as you're going to get, so continuing to stand outside only serves to illustrate how asinine you are, that nothing will satisfy you.

    The reason Mike doesn't answer you, and he's said this plenty of times, is HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU. You are unimportant to him, he's a busy man and prefers to spend his time debating with people he actually respects, whether or not they support or oppose copyright. Mike has sat in debates with staunch supporters of copyright and questions and answers have been slung back and forth. That happens because everyone involved knows the basic rules of debate. They know not to stand around screaming "ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME! I WANT IT! WAAH WAAH!" They learned that if asked and no answer was forthcoming, to STOP ASKING.

     

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    TimothyAWiseman (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    TV Depreciation

    This was enlightening and rings intuitively true.

    My one surprise was how fast TV shows depreciate. Now that I have netflix available, I often find shows more interesting after they've been around long enough for friends and community to tell me what is actually worth watching. I just started with Game of Thrones after it has been on for a while, and I find myself enjoying Thundercats when I watch it with my young children. (Far too few good shows that young children can watch that still entertain adults if you ask me.)

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:41am

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

    Copyright is a law. To go around calling someone names like "anti-copyright" is basically saying that that law is perfect, and only evil heretics destined for hell would dare question it.
    So AJ what's so holy and blessed about copyright? Why is it bad for someone to be anti-copyright? I said it before, you're attacking Mike merely for questioning a law, irregardless of his opinion's strengths or merits.

    For example, I'm personally against abortion (although I can see myself agreeing with in extreme circumstances), yet I wouldn't go around saying someone is evil merely for being pro-abortion. I recognise the possibility that I may be wrong and that trying to push my morals and ethics on everyone else is in and of itself damaging.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In the world of commercial art: movies, records, and video games, the only relevant judge of quality is sales.

    What other objective metric is there? ANY other system of measurement is purely subjective and therefore cannot be used in the realm of law. And businesses certainly don't care about "quality". They care about profit.

    People tend to spend money on what they like. And if they enjoy it, that is the very purpose of art. So the amount of money spent on a particular piece of art is the only objective measure we have of that piece's quality.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's true, but I also have no way to measure films based on just their theatrical run. Gone With The Wind has a higher gross adjusted for inflation than any other movie of all time, but it is also been collecting revenues for the last 7 decades.

    If we were going to more precisely measure these things, we'd have to account for the total tickets sold as a percentage of the market population during the movie's original theatrical run... and I just don't think there are numbers out there for that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    While I find those numbers revealing, I question whether they're still relevant today.

    In 1958, the _only_ way to distribute content was on a physical medium; books had to be printed, records had to be pressed, and so forth. After a few production runs, there typically wouldn't be enough consumer demand to justify the sunk costs of another run, and so the producer would stop selling new copies of their work. This is why books used to go out of print, for instance.

    With the rise of the internet, there's no need for production runs, and the marginal cost for selling an additional copy is essentially zero. Ebooks simply don't go out of print. A large e-book retailer like Amazon doesn't have any real restrictions on shelf space, storage, product life, or production costs; if they keep an ebook around for twenty years and sell thirty copies, that's still a profit for them (and the publisher).

    Don't get me wrong, I strongly support a reduction in the term of copyright; I just question whether or not these numbers are still relevant to the debate.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    Re: TV Depreciation

    The thing about TV shows is that once they get in to syndication, they'll be played and replayed for a long time. You can still find I Love Lucy on TV, for example.

    The problem is that many shows end up falling out of syndication or never get syndicated in the first place, because they weren't on the air long enough to reach the magic number of 100 episodes.

     

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    JarHead (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe a 2 yrs automatic grace period. Within those 2 yrs, the author can opt in for a 5 yrs protection with 1 time 2 yrs extension. However, if the author opt in after the grace period, he can only get 2 yrs opt in protection without chance for extension, if it is done no more than say 3yrs(?) after the grace period. After that, if the author still not opt in, the work automatically enter public domain, if he not specifically declare the work as public domain before hand.

    The problem with that setup is the 3yrs after the grace period, which can make a work in an undetermined state. Maybe the system will better off without the 3yrs "last chance" period.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    You're getting in to the "long tail," which is a relevant discussion.

    Some people have argued that there's still value in the long tail.

    Starship Troopers, for example, was published in 1959, and adapted to a movie in the mid 90's. When you consider the time it takes to make a movie, you have to figure that the producers bought the option sometime in the early 90's... more than 30 years after the book was published.

    So there's definitely some value in older works... but in that case, why aren't we seeing more adaptations of books from the 20's or even the 19th Century?

    To be honest, I think a lot of the arguing over Copyright is nonsense: as you pointed out, it is so cheap to "print" a book today that the cost is effectively zero. Even 5 year old books can be had for less than $5 in e-book form. To be honest, I don't see the problem in letting people continue to own their works as long as they're doing something with them.

    I think a bigger problem is abandoned and orphaned works: so many books, movies, and computer programs have disappeared from the market because the publisher went under and nobody has seen fit to re-publish those works. In the computer software world, we call this "abandonware", and people distribute it anyway - but they occasionally land in hot water because of it.

    Take the Infocom text adventure games, for example: there are a few that can't be re-released because there's not a clear owner of the works. And so everyone is afraid to do anything with it, fearing they might be sued.

    Personally, I think Copyright reform efforts should focus less on the term of Copyright and more on a "bill of rights" for Copyright users:

    1. Address orphaned works and ensure that they will never be lost to society.
    2. Ensure customers' rights to own their copy of a work that is purchased on physical media or with DRM.
    3. Change the DMCA rules regarding copy protection to allow out of print works to be preserved for society's benefit.
    4. Ensure that a work, once published, can never go out of print, "put in the vault", or otherwise pulled out of publication or made rare just so the publisher can hike up the price.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    The way point 2 there is worded, it ironically means that games sold digitally but without DRM (Gog.com for example) shouldn't have their purchaser's rights ensured.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:29am

    Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Great points. I'm sure Mike will not address them. Nor will he address whether he's saying that the proper term of copyright is decided solely by the economic value to the copyright holder, because, well, that would mean saying that there should exist some term of copyright.

     

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    JarHead (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:32am

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

    To be obsessed with someone's position like this, I'm starting to think you're browsing to see if Mike is eligible for your vote to a position of power, specifically an authoritative position over you. It's like you're looking for someone to do all the thinking for you, or in BDSM parlance (AFAIK), a Slave looking for a Master.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    You're not addressing anything either. You're just standing around shouting for the world to give him what he wants for no reason.

     

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    madasahatter (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    I think data reveals that many works would likely lapse into public domain if you had a system were the term was about 15 years with possibly one renewal for about 10 years. They would naturally lapse because the work was not selling enough to justify getting an extension.

    The data indicates most copyrighted have the majority of their sales within about 5 years of release and taper off. If after about 10 years 99%+ of all the sales have been made I can not justify having copyrights longer than about 15 years. A few works do continue to sell well and thus the extension. Also, remember there are very few works that are really multi-generational that continue to sell well for lengthy periods.

    An interesting exercise is to pick a year, say 1995, and ask if you know the top ten books, movies, TV shows, songs, etc. in popular culture. Without Google, I suspect most will only name a few, if any. Next question, are any of these works something you want to buy today. Again, for most, I suspect the answer is no.

     

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    JarHead (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    Though I get the gist of what you're saying, I think point 2 of how to exercise copyright needs more clarification. What about derivative work?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Classic AJ.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, we simply disagree. Sales and quality are largely, but not completely, independent variables. Quality is not what generates sales, value does.

    To oversimplify, value can be estimated as the ratio of cost to quality. The highest quality things are rarely the best sellers, because they tend to be expensive and the value proposition gets increasingly problematic.

    Again, look at McDonald's. Low-quality food, but it is a best-seller because it's cheap and convenient. It has a high value proposition.

    As far as objectively measuring the quality of art, this is an interesting subject all by itself. I have an eternal debate with a close friend of mine about this: I don't believe that there is any such thing as an objective "quality level" for art. He disagrees with me. We've never been able to settle this point between us.

    The subjective part is what you mean by "quality", of course. It could the amount of technical skill, or some other measurable feature of the art itself, or even popularity (as you are suggesting, measured by proxy through sales).

    I maintain none of these are indicative of how high-quality art is. The purpose of art is to communicate something on an emotional level. High quality art is art that does so effectively. Unfortunately, there is no objective way to measure this effectiveness.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

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

    Nope. I just love pointing out that Mike is too scared to actually discuss the nonsense he posts and to articulate a definite position. He's the ultimate pretend fence sitter.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Yep. Always there to point out what a chicken Mike is. Wonder why he's so scared to discuss his beliefs on the merits. Hmmmm.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    Don't worry -- he's still wrong in his implication that this is only a recent realization around here.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    The way point 2 there is worded, it ironically means that games sold digitally but without DRM (Gog.com for example) shouldn't have their purchaser's rights ensured.

    Correct. First sale rights apply to the physical medium. That's why you can legally resell a CD but not an MP3. Only the Copyright holder is authorized to make a copy outside of fair use.

    When you buy a digital copy without media, you are making a copy of the original work. Since there's no physical media to transfer, the first sale right does not apply. Even if you delete your copy, you have still made an unauthorized copy when you transfer your downloaded game to a friend.

    However, if you have a downloaded item that uses any sort of DRM, there should be a way to revoke or reassign that DRM. In the case of serialized items (CD keys), recording the sale of that unique serial number should be good enough to qualify for first sale rights.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    An interesting exercise is to pick a year, say 1995, and ask if you know the top ten books, movies, TV shows, songs, etc. in popular culture. Without Google, I suspect most will only name a few, if any. Next question, are any of these works something you want to buy today. Again, for most, I suspect the answer is no.

    I recently bought a Mike & The Mechanics album. I wanted "Silent Running", and it's not available on Spotify or Amazon MP3.

    I am also strongly considering buying the new Rolling Stones retrospective.

    I bought Spaceballs and The Last Starfighter the other day.

    I have been considering re-reading all of Heinlein's SF novels... which will entail buying them again, since I've since lost or sold all of his books that I've owned. I also recently re-read Asimov's Foundation trilogy.

    For Christmas 2 years ago, I bought my mother Season 1 of Magnum PI.

    I bought myself the box set of Star Trek: The Next Generation that same Christmas.

    I own the Back To The Future trilogy, the Indiana Jones series, the Star Wars trilogy, and all 11 Star Trek movies.

    There are reruns of 80's, 70's, and even 60's TV series on TV every day.

    Yes, there's lots of stuff from before 1995 that's still commercially viable.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    I want TechDirt to turn off the anonymous option so that I can simply block the trolls.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    What kind of derivative work?

    I admit I'm mainly thinking of music, motion pictures, written works, and software here. Photographs and paintings would need a different set of criteria.

    A derivative work in the form of a sequel or spinoff would continue to qualify a work for protection. So would, for example, using a song as part of a medley in a concert.

    My point is really that Copyright should have some aspect of "use it or lose it". If the point of Copyright is to encourage the creation of new works. Once a publisher has ceased to do anything with an old work for a period of time, then that work should be available for other people to use in their creation of new works.

    For example, Cheers has long since gone out of production, and Fraiser's last new episode was in 2004. Next year, if the producers don't create a new spinoff or tie-in, I should be able to create The Adventures of Cliff Claven, a show about a motormouth postal carrier. Or perhaps I could create Norm And Friends, a show about, well, Norm and his friends.

    Under the current system, those shows could not exist without me paying a ton of money up front to whomever owns Cheers right now. But wouldn't you love to see Woody And Carla On The Town?

     

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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

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

    Mike appears to be saying that the proper term of copyright is ONLY about how economically valuable the copyright is to the owner. I don't think that's true, but even if that were the only consideration, that would indicate that some period of copyright greater than zero is what's economically best. But will Mike use that logic to state that the term of copyright should be whatever produces the greatest economic return for the copyright owner?

    The purpose of copyright is not provide a mechanism that allows the copyright owner to produce the greatest economic return possible. It is to grant the copyright owner a limited monopoly to profit on the creation in order to provide incentive for the creator to produce new works. Note the key words "limited" and "incentive to create". You are beginning from a flawed premise.

    What this article is trying to show is that certain types of copyrightable material lose almost all economic value after a defined period of time. Current copyright law allows for the monopoly to last well after the creator passes away as well as his children and their children. This allowance is absurd, and this article clearly shows why. Please do not confuse setting a copyright term length that balances the owner's ability to effectively monetize the work with one that provides the owner with the greatest economic benefit. The later system is what we have now which is essentially an endless copyright and is a perversion of copyright's original intention.

     

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    JMT (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

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

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re:

    The government is responsible for more monopolies than could possible be created by the market. As long as monopolies are non-coercive, I'm all for them. Google is the search leader because it offers a good product. Your cable bill is high because the government deemed it "more efficient" to have one provider of TV.

     

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    JMT (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

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

    "But will Mike use that logic to state that the term of copyright should be whatever produces the greatest economic return for the copyright owner?"

    I certainly hope not because that's not the intended purpose of copyright.

    As a wannabe IP lawyer it's no surprise you'd want copyright to be enforced in a way that produces the greatest economic return for you...

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    It's not perfect, but there's a simple 3-step way to deal with AJ when he starts throwing one of his 'why won't you debate me Mike?!' tantrums.

    1) Hit report.
    2) Post the following, which explains why Mike doesn't respond to or debate with AJ, for any others that might read his ranting and think he has a point:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-wee k-techdirt.shtml#c1210

    3) Ignore him afterwards.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your cable bill is high because the government deemed it "more efficient" to have one provider of TV.


    Not exactly. Your cable bill is high because the government didn't want to build a public infrastructure for it. Instead, they wanted private companies to do it.

    To make cable TV work, wires had to be strung on utility poles. That's a "natural monopoly" right there: there's a very limited amount of space on the poles, after all, so you couldn't really have any and all cable companies stringing their separate wires for their own distribution network.

    Instead, the government granted monopoly rights to single companies to do this.

    In my opinion, this was a horrible, horrible mistake. It would have been better if the government strung and owned all the wires, then allowed access to all companies who wanted to provide cable service.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Solid ideas, and it seems to me the way to handle points 1 and 4 would be to make registration for copyright on something mandatory in order for it to be considered covered by copyright law. Don't register it? No copyright protection.

    This would make it so that there would always be a clear record of who owns the copyright over what, getting rid of the problem with orphaned works, as well as making it so a publisher or someone couldn't pull their works back from the public, in order to manipulate demand/prices, because if they do the agency that the work was registered with would just release it to the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

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

    You constantly call mike 'anticopyright,' but can't point us to a single instance where he has taken that stance. Anywhere. Given that you continue to do this, I would say you are a bald-faced liar. This obviates the necessity of just ignoring all the spew coming from you until you can offer up citations to back your stances, something you have consistently neglected to do. If you can't offer up any proof, why should we ever believe you?

     

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    horse with no name, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 5:21pm

    60 year old data = reliable source?

    I have to wonder, does using 60 year old data, before the days of easy communications, cable TV, DVDs, VCRs, home taping, and computers seem like a good way to make current policy?

    How many copyright works do you think were pirates in 1958? 2?

    It's another shockingly bad story on Techdirt.

     

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  88.  
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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    The problem with requiring registration is that so many works are not formal publications: for example, if I post a poem on a forum somewhere to cheer up a friend, do I need to register that with the LoC?

    And certainly, unpublished works should be inviolate: until the day I actually publish something, it should be my property.

    1 and 4 can both be satisfied by simply finding a published instance of the work in question.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    The problem with requiring registration is that so many works are not formal publications: for example, if I post a poem on a forum somewhere to cheer up a friend, do I need to register that with the LoC?

    Only if you want a copyright on it. Since the vast majority of posts to fora are trivial enough that the authors do not want copyrights on them if there is even the slightest hurdle placed to test their desire (e.g. A $1 registration fee and a simple form), this is no problem. Whereas granting copyrights automatically is reckless and wasteful -- vast quantities of material that could immediately enter the public domain don't.

    The person in the best position to tell us if a work should be copyrighted is the author. Registration serves many vital purposes, one of the most important of which is to let the author tell us that he wants a copyright.

    And certainly, unpublished works should be inviolate: until the day I actually publish something, it should be my property.

    Absolutely not. The purpose of copyright is not to kowtow to your miserliness, it is to cause the greatest number of works to be created and published which otherwise would not be, to enter the public domain as fully and quickly as possible.

    Unpublished works do not help the public. If the work is still in progress, or is being shopped around to different publishers, then I'd agree that we should grant some protection to allow the author to have it published as he intends, and to discourage people pirating manuscripts. But if the author just sits on it, he does not deserve a copyright; the public would be better served by the manuscript pirate in that case. There is a similar policy for patents intended to discourage inventors from sitting on inventions.

    I'd say that an automatic grant for unpublished works (where the status of being unpublished is read narrowly) is tolerable so long as the protections are fairly weak and even then only last for maybe a decade or two, tops. Authors should be strongly encouraged to publish (and register, if they like) quickly.

     

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  90. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

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

    Thousands of posts about copyright, all of them negative. This isn't hard.

     

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  91.  
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    JarHead (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:36pm

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

    If you do think Mike is spewing nonsense, why bother keep coming here in the 1st place? I'm sure there's more productive ways to spend your time than this. If you're not looking for a Master, then another possibility is he hurt you somehow (either real or imaginary) and you're looking for revenge, not unlike a scorned ex-boy/girlfriend.

    If you are saying that you want the "truth" about Mike to come out in the open, then stop wasting time posting chastisement here and create your own blog. There you can write all the rebuke you want and present your case.

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: YES, as I've said, ROLL IT BACK to 28 years tops!

    I also remember out_of_the_lube saying something about not doing anything against creators' wishes, including going against copyright extensions.

    The suggestion that out_of_the_lube ever advocated copyright reduction, especially considering his ardent support for the RIAA, is laughable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    And I'm always here to point out what a chicken you are. Wonder why you're all so scared to discuss your beliefs on Prenda. Hmmmm.

     

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    JarHead (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    What I'm thinking is AFAIK under current US laws derivative work are eligible for a separate copyright. The way you define "adapting to new medium" is not merely format shifting, but also include a fair amount of creativity. Adapting a movie to a novel, or in reverse, for example, is not straightforward.

    If the law for derivative work stay as it is, and by my reading of your proposal that adaptation is exercising copyright hence not eligible for a separate copyright, there will be a dilemma, at least for the holder. The incentive for creating an "original" adaptation (i.e. quality work) will not too strong, as under law "any" adaptation will do. However, the market won't accept "unoriginal" work, but if the goal is only exercising copyright, then it still beneficial to create one after another.

    Also, what if the one doing the adapting is not the original copyright holder. Can the adaptation be considered as exercising copyright by the original holder? Does the adaptor get a separate copyright?

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    So there are two conflicting priorities: we want the creator to earn as much as he can for a work

    We do? I don't. I want them to earn enough that it's worth it to them to make it and release it.

    Copyright lasts 10 years (give or take), unless you continue to exercise your copyright.

    It would be much simpler to just require registration and an extension fee. This would ensure publisher's can't keep things out of the public domain for long periods of time but still give them plenty of time to earn a return.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    And certainly, unpublished works should be inviolate: until the day I actually publish something, it should be my property.

    Absolutely not.


    I don't know for sure what he meant, but he said "property" not "copyright". I would say an unpublished work has the strongest possible property claim of any intellectual work. Whether it deserves any copyright protection as well is another matter.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Yes, there's lots of stuff from before 1995 that's still commercially viable.

    As a percentage though, it's fairly small.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    I would say an unpublished work has the strongest possible property claim of any intellectual work. Whether it deserves any copyright protection as well is another matter.

    Works can't be property. If they could, we wouldn't need copyrights, which are basically a sort of simulation of if they were (with some limits). It's copyright or nothing. Of course, access to the copy is a normal property issue, but didn't strike me as being worth mentioning, since it's no different from copies of published works as personal property.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

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

    It needs to be scaled back. This isn't hard.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 12:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Man, I do not know if you're familiar with the italian term "duro di comprendonio", but man, you are "duro di comprendonio".

    Can't someone (like Mike) be against something (copyright law as it is now) without being for something (copyright term reduction, copyright abolition, copyright term extension)? Is that an impossible thing in your mind?

     

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    JMT (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 1:09am

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

    Thousands of posts about the negative aspects of copyright, and how they could be fixed. This isn't hard for us, but you're certainly struggling with it.

     

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    special-interesting (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:22am

    The economic analysis is a great way to approach the eternal copyright problem. These types of articles (however over my head) is one of the reasons this site is cool. This is the type of rational, logical, scientific way to prove the point that current copyright policy is a drain on the economy. A culture of profitability needs something/things to build on.

    Eventually its likely that the present legacy based media industries will implode because they refused to change. (happens all the time) It would be wise to document the real reasons as they will surely blame everyone but themselves. (its them darn pirating fools!)

    Since the study was based with 1958-9 data there are many new technology factors, of which some are pointed out, that will affect any current analysis. On-line and mail media sales have changed the way we view movies and other content greatly.

    The observation (that its questionable) of money spent on content creation applied as capital investment seems apt. Some authors write a 600 page novel over a month spending just a few hours a day only 3 days a week but might claim otherwise. Others take 7 years working 18 hour days over a work of love and devotion. The IRS would have a fit in either case. Most authors don't care and keeping track is too much a bother.

    Its well known that the economic lifetime of books is over in the first year or so. The big surprise for me was finding that Maps were at 48% renewal. Especially since maps are out of date very quickly. Of course that may have changed negatively over the years also.

    The falling quantity of movies was interesting also. What happened to the low budget movie? Star Wars IV (the first movie) was a low budget movie with low budget special effects. (although considered good in its day) In speculation this may be a time based local effect that was happening during the 1948-9 time period compared to the next few years. (not enough data to be clear)

    The only constant is that MPAA figures should be totally ignored. Who knows what Hollywood accounting distortions will pop up for whatever current rational. (Wow they change so rapidly. A bad signal for consistency.)

    Using the data given its safe to offer that a 40 year total term would be more than generous and a great improvement for culture to boot. Assuming that Fair Use Rights are expanded and better protected.

    However. Society and culture are directly dependent on the use and sharing of content (whatever the source or format) during the lifetime of its citizens. Culture, and the sharing of it, is much more important than any economic rational. The value to us is healthy cultural growth via technology and innovation and that is whats most important to society.

    Considering this; what ultimate terms would be acceptable to both society and authors. Each have opposing viewpoints. (notice that publishers are not mentioned, yet)


    Reactionary,

    Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of how long limits should exist. (Wow, culturally speaking, that is so healthy!)

    Currently its a personal opinion (the shorter the monopoly the better) that a ultimate limit of 28 years. 14 with conditional, creative commons like, extensions to 28 and more conditions (only for treaty satisfaction until 40 years and then only until treaties can be modified to 28 years). Its not quite arbitrary in that it allows a huge time span for the author to dally with and yet guarantees that the works enter the Public Domain (Rights) well within the lifetime of an average citizen. The only reason the terms might sound appealing is that they are based on the original copyright act.

    Many a post mentioned copyright terms of less than 10 years. Its fine with me as long as the rational is culturally based. What we are hopefully aiming for is nothing less than continual cultural revolution. (in a good way) A society with a culture of sharing ideas and knowledge has a higher IQ than otherwise. It is up to society itself to determine the rules. (its scary if a government even has an opinion)

    Increasing the fees for every reapplication might also be a good tactic. If a work was not producing revenue it would fall back within Public Domain Rights.

    When it comes to the bump and grind; No copyright at all is preferable to present law. When cultural IQ and societies growth potential is considered... Its that important. Democratic American Culture of freedom of expression (whatever the format) is the greatest achievement, and foundation of, western civilization. To throw it away for, the likes of present Hollywood, ideals of fakery and illusion allows the intrusion of everything it stands against.

    Interesting how once Hollywood stood for clear dreams and bright ambition has now become muddied with cloudy falseness and dark lies. Special interest groups are like hired political assassins. (very dirty work) And accounting methods have been sullied forevermore.

    Not mentioned are the inevitable abuses of trademark law as exemplified by Disney. All the Disney characters are trademarked in perpetuity and will NEVER enter Public Domain Rights. The fee (250/year?) is nominal compared to the permanent monopoly it grants. Batman, Superman, etc... all trademarked and no derivative work can use them ever.

    Limiting a trademark to one per company does not work well since every movie and TV show is a corporation itself for the obvious reasons of limited liability. But there may be some merit to this.

    Have thought about is a bit and only solution might be to let society decide by vote if a trademark is being used properly for identification or abused just to perpetuate a monopoly on content. Any other ideas? Would there be room for a trademark abuse court?

    Tomxp411.

    The copyright continuation rational that was dependent on production of new derivative work was refreshing. The 10 year limit is fair and reasonable also. The attitude “make the publisher put their money where their mouth is” is great.

    Textbooks would hopefully run into some ultimate time limit because they sometimes are updated continuously for 40 or more years. (and still going and any firm, worth their salt, would do so in perpetuity if a monopoly was at stake)

    The concept of 'out of print' will soon be obsolete and already is for books issued in only electronic form.

    DRM is evil in almost every way. The great danger DRM represents is not just inconvenience but the loss of knowledge. A book or video that has DRM will quickly become unreadable/un-viewable as new hardware is purchased and this has happened to anyone who bought any media over the years. Its understandable that consumers are angry about it.

    What we need for out society to survive (yes its that important) is a DRM that can be broken easily. Or none at all. Any electronically stored media is, like a delicate not quite permanent glass flower, easily crushed or destroyed. Backups and copies are a necessary consequence of any attempt at permanence.

    Its a valuable, important Nobel goal for a society and its culture to enter a realm of semi permanence. If we allow all our teaching, learning, educational or entertainment/edutainment materials be put under DRM (or physical) lock and key... how will we live and learn?

    It might be that any culturally advanced society would outlaw DRM in any form.


    Reading the comments for this article was very enjoyable.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Interesting suggestion, though I'm unsure of how that would be monitored, and it still risks the less savvy, less legal minded getting ripped off. Maybe my suggestion of 20 years is too long, but I wouldn't like to see an artist having their work ripped off just because they didn't understand a change in copyright law regarding their publication date. There's also the problem of how publication is tracked and evaluated - it sounds difficult and would probably lead to expensive court battles if they're violated.

    "They never did before."

    Things have changed drastically, though. Most mainstream entertainment is now controlled by a handful of corporations, and said corporations have proven willing to do a lot a unsavoury things to protect their copyrights. The landscape is completely different. Using loopholes to literally steal the work of others is something I honestly think would become a reality if they had said loophole.

     

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  104.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:24am

    Re: 60 year old data = reliable source?

    Lots of copyright works were based on pirates, but I haven't heard of any copyright works that were pirates.

    What, only the MPAA gets to use unreliable data?

     

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  105.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I might be wrong, but I think that the grosses adjusted for inflation do take into account threatical grosses only. The skewing is sometimes because multiple re-releases are considered so all the releases for Star Wars are collated (at least here: http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm). But, while GWTW might have been re-released several times, it certainly hasn't been playing in cinemas all that time.

    Also, just accounting for tickets sold wouldn't necessarily change many of the results. Modern tickets are very expensive and often include surcharges for 3D, etc., while older films like Star Wars and Gone With The Wind got most of their sales from repeat tickets sold. You'd probably still find those movies at the top of a ticket chart as well.

     

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  106.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "In the world of commercial art: movies, records, and video games, the only relevant judge of quality is sales."

    That's bean counter thinking, and that's what's really destroying the industry, if anything is (which is not in evidence). That sort of thinking can be used to claim that McDonald's is significantly higher quality food than a Michelin starred restaurant. just because more people buy low grade hanburger, that doesn't alter its low quality.

    Thankfully we have more options to get real artists funding by people who don't think that way. that thinking is the reason why so much crap is produced - and yes, lots of people spend money on entertainment only to find out the product is crap. More people spent money on Transformers 3 in 2011 than spent it on Drive, but there's a lot of people who came out of the former thinking they wasted their money, while many cite the latter as the best film of the decade.

    "And if they enjoy it, that is the very purpose of art."

    Wrong again. That's the purpose of *entertainment*. If you don't understand the difference between the two, you're part of the problem.

    "objective measure"

    Ah, here's the real problem. Quality is not something you can measure objectively. It's impossible. About the only way you can really do it is by looking at the ratings on a site like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic or IMDB - and those can be skewed heavily at times.

    If you're looking for an objective measure of a purely subjective quality, you will fail.

     

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  107.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 5:46am

    The heart of the thing.

    We have to get rid of the idea that copyright is property.

    All of the abuses arise from losing sight of the real point of it all.

     

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  108.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 5:54am

    Books versus personal papers.

    In this rush to treat every worthless scrap of paper like some kind of gold mine, we have largely lost the awareness that much stuff does not deserve copyright protection nor should it even be distributed widely.

    Not everything is meant to be published. Some documents are meant to be private.

    The default of "it's under copyright" and "there's no record" complicates a great many things. These tend to be issues of property that should not at all be in any doubt.

    That's why we have deed repositories for real property. Stuff that's really property is far too important to leave to chance.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 5:58am

    Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Copyright doesn't exist to make Disney money.

    If you are trying to frame the argument in terms of what will allow people to make money, then it's the wrong argument period.

    ANYONE should be free to reprint old Trek episodes and ancient Sci-Fi movies. Being about to sit on one's laurels and continue to exploit works where all of the associated talent is DEAD is not the point of copyright.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The reason Mike doesn't answer you, and he's said this plenty of times, is HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU.

    This is not true actually. The reason I don't answer his questions nowadays is because I did, many times, in the past, and he flips out because he doesn't like the answer.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130121/14473121743/global-hackathons-prepared-to-carry -forward-work-aaron-swartz.shtml#c377

    At that point, what are you going to do? He's clearly shown that he's incapable of having an honest discussion. The few times I've "answered the question" he then goes on a total rampage.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-w eek-techdirt.shtml#c1210

    I don't dislike AJ. I just don't have time for people who are incapable of being honest in a debate.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Absolutely not. The purpose of copyright is not to kowtow to your miserliness, it is to cause the greatest number of works to be created and published which otherwise would not be, to enter the public domain as fully and quickly as possible.

    So you think it should be acceptable for someone to publish my diary or an incomplete story that I haven't finished yet?

    No, that's completely unacceptable. Copyright should only apply to PUBLISHED works. Unpublished works should be my property, absolute and inviolate, and there should be NO rights to copy or reproduce my private, unpublished property.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 10:05am

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

    it still risks the less savvy, less legal minded getting ripped off.

    While I'm sympathetic, authors for whom copyrights matter are engaged in business, and it is not too much to ask them to act appropriately. If someone wanted to open a restaurant, they'd be expected to know about the health code and follow it, to make sure that their establishment complied with local zoning laws, fire codes, etc. They'd have to pay their workers appropriately, and know about how to handle tips, minimum wages, and filing taxes. And so on.

    If authors want to make money from copyrights, they'd better learn something about them. The Copyright Office should help with outreach, but ultimately authors who are ignorant and do not lift a finger to get informed are responsible for much of the ills that may befall them. Copyright should not be coddling.

    There's also the problem of how publication is tracked and evaluated - it sounds difficult and would probably lead to expensive court battles if they're violated.

    What publication consists of is mostly well established, though it should be enlarged a bit. Without getting too much into it, what it should consist of (and mostly already does, if you look at the definition at 17 USC 101) is to, with the authorization of the copyright holder: 1)offer or distribute copies of a work to the public, including by sale, renal, lease, or lending, or; 2) publicly perform or display a work.

    Things have changed drastically, though. Most mainstream entertainment is now controlled by a handful of corporations, and said corporations have proven willing to do a lot a unsavoury things to protect their copyrights.

    Things haven't changed that much since 1977, when publication without registration would put a work into the public domain in the US.

    Using loopholes to literally steal the work of others is something I honestly think would become a reality if they had said loophole.

    It's not too popular, really, since it means that the person who forces a work into the public domain doesn't get a copyright over it himself. If you want to profit at the expense of an author, you're better off convincing them to willingly sign the copyright over to you in exchange for a pittance. That's been a very popular tactic for centuries.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    ANYONE should be free to reprint old Trek episodes and ancient Sci-Fi movies.

    ancient SF movies, yes... but Trek? Star Trek is still an active, ongoing enterprise, and all of those old episodes are still being printed, produced, and sold.

    If you go back to my original proposal, you'll see that I endorse active creation, and

    Star Trek is possibly the most prolific science fiction franchise in history. In terms of sheer volume, it's got more movies, TV episodes, and books than just about anything else.

    Contrast this with Firefly: they're not producing any new TV episodes or movies, and Fox actively blocks anyone else who tries to create derivative works. THIS is not what Copyright was intended to accomplish. The best thing for society would be to release the Copyright and let people create new stuff.

    The difference? Star Trek is still making money, so people are still producing. Firefly isn't, so nobody is producing.

    So the answer is simple: when something is no longer making money, let its Copyright expire. The easy way is something I've already proposed: after 10 years, you can't extend Copyright protection to a work that is no longer being actively extended through derivative works.

     

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  114.  
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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    So you think it should be acceptable for someone to publish my diary or an incomplete story that I haven't finished yet?

    As I said, the public interest isn't promoted by not publishing. You should have time to finish creating works and to publish them, but if you don't, while you shouldn't be forced to publish, neither should you be given extraordinary assistance in keeping them unpublished.

    Your personal papers -- the actual physical objects -- are yours, and should not be stolen, or unlawfully accessed for just the same reason that people should not steal your clothes or furniture. But if the intangible information those copies contain does leak out somehow, the public is better off with that than with nothing.

    No, that's completely unacceptable. Copyright should only apply to PUBLISHED works. Unpublished works should be my property, absolute and inviolate, and there should be NO rights to copy or reproduce my private, unpublished property.

    I feel you may not understand what copyright is, precisely. Copyright is a right to prohibit other people from doing certain things -- copying, distributing, etc. -- with works. It isn't a right to actually do anything, just a right to exclude others from doing things.

    If you have no copyright on a story you write but don't publish, your only method of keeping other people from publishing it is to destroy all the copies of it, or to keep it secret from everyone. If even one other person reads it, and there is no copyright, that person can lawfully copy and publish the work.

    And the reason we have copyright is because it's impossible for a work (that is, the intangible information, as distinct from the copy -- a tangible object containing the work -- and from the copyright -- a right pertaining to works and copies) to be property. It just can't happen, mainly due to works being non-rivalrous.

    And remember, a lot of the greatest works in our culture exist because someone ignored the author and published them anyway from Dickinson to Kafka. Typically this happens posthumously due to the issue of access to manuscripts, so take heart. But if it should happen during the author's life, what's important is that the public is better off, and it is the public that copyright exists to serve.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    Your personal papers -- the actual physical objects -- are yours, and should not be stolen, or unlawfully accessed for just the same reason that people should not steal your clothes or furniture. But if the intangible information those copies contain does leak out somehow, the public is better off with that than with nothing.

    You're making an awfully specious argument: it's not okay to steal my diary, but it is okay to steal the information on my diary. I don't agree, and you're not going to come up with an argument that will convince me that it's ethical to copy my personal papers or my confidential business documents.

    feel you may not understand what copyright is, precisely. Copyright is a right to prohibit other people from doing certain things -- copying, distributing, etc. -- with works. It isn't a right to actually do anything, just a right to exclude others from doing things.

    You are the one who misunderstands: Copyright is a two way street. It grants rights and restrictions to the creator and the consumer of content. It also LIMITS the rights a creator has in regards to his content: things like parody, news reporting, or classroom use are rights that are explicitly granted by Copyright. In short, Copyright actually grants certain permissions to the users of a published work.

    Now look at industrial espionage regulations: it is illegal to steal trade secrets from a business, for example. What does that have to do with Copyright? Absolutely nothing.

    In my opinion, a trade secret and an unfinished manuscript are both in the same category: none of the public's business.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Instead of making a bunch of excuses for why you won't/can't stand behind your posts, why don't you just come down off your high horse and have an honest discussion for once? The excuses are just sad. You're a smart guy. Join in with the discussion. I really don't get why you're so scared of me, Mike. I'm not *that* smart. Try just having a pleasant conversation with me. You might be surprised at how productive it is. Way more productive than these slimy excuse posts that you make to save face with your fans. Seriously. You obviously have very strong opinions about this stuff. Can't you discuss your beliefs on the merits? Does honest conversation really scare you that much? It shouldn't. Prove me wrong by having an honest and open discussion. Prove to me that you're not deliberately lying.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

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

    All the proof he needs is in those links.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

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

    Excuse after excuse. Where's a link to where he had a nice discussion about his beliefs on the merits? Oh yeah, there are none. What's he so scared of? I actually feel sorry for him that he's so incredibly opinionated yet so completely incapable of defending his opinions. It's remarkable to me that such a person exists.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

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

    All the excuses (on top of loads of bs) are coming from you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

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

    I'm here, ready and willing to discuss the issues on the merits. All Mike can do is try to save face by pretending like it's my fault he can't do the same. It's terribly sad and hilarious at the same time. I love this place. Mike's dishonesty keeps me coming back for more.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    It grants rights and restrictions to the creator and the consumer of content. It also LIMITS the rights a creator has in regards to his content: things like parody, news reporting, or classroom use are rights that are explicitly granted by Copyright. In short, Copyright actually grants certain permissions to the users of a published work.

    The point is, copyright doesn't give anyone any rights they wouldn't have without it - other than the right to restrict others' behavior. Those rights you talk about copyright granting to the users of a copyrighted work are a subset of the rights they would have anyway if there were no copyright.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    Also, what if the one doing the adapting is not the original copyright holder. Can the adaptation be considered as exercising copyright by the original holder? Does the adaptor get a separate copyright?

    Remember that the goal is to see works created and kept in print.

    The adaptation would get its own Copyright, since it's a new work. This would also serve to make the original work eligible for extension.

    I compared Star Trek and Firefly on another thread. The comparison fits here:

    Based on a 10 year inital term of Copyright, episodes of the Star Trek series would have required renewal in 1980. Since then, there have been more movies, books, spinoff shows, and video games. This is more than enough to allow the Copyright on all those works to be renewed.

    Now Firefly, on the other hand, is being all but ignored by Fox. People want to revive the TV series and even build a Firefly MMO. But Fox won't allow it, even though they're not doing anything to leverage their rights. Serenity was the last Firefly motion picture, produced in 2005. So barring any other investment by Fox, the Firefly franchise would enter the public domain in 2015. (Yes, I know there have been comics and stuff... but let's ignore that for now.)

    Under current Copyright law, Fox can just sit on Firefly forever, never doing anything about it.

    Under my proposal, Fox would have to "use it or lose it", effectively forcing them to make a decision: do we produce half-assed works just to keep the license (effectively throwing money away to no good end), do we put money in to producing a genuine effort, or do we just let the rights expire?

    Now I have to confess.. the real intent here isn't to force companies like Fox to give up Firefly, but rather to eliminate the ambiguity around orphan works or works where the ownership is in dispute.

    Look at the Robotech franchise: essentially, Harmony Gold owns all the US Copyrights for Robotech, but there are legal issues surrounding other Macross movies. So basically, Robotech and Macross are both off-limits for US distribution. My plan would end the legal fight by basically eliminating the Copyright.

    In this instance, the original Robotech TV series and the characters and artwork created for the series would enter the public domain, but any new movies or TV shows would be Copyrighted.

     

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    cpt kangarooski, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Interesting, but is it still relevant?

    You're making an awfully specious argument: it's not okay to steal my diary, but it is okay to steal the information on my diary. I don't agree, and you're not going to come up with an argument that will convince me that it's ethical to copy my personal papers or my confidential business documents.

    Personal property law deals with the diary as a physical object, made out of paper. Copyright law deals with the diary as a creative work, which may be fixed into not just the particular physical object you originally wrote in, but also in many other objects. For example, Anne Frank only wrote the one diary, but there are many copies of it now.

    As for ethical, I never weighed in on that one way or the other. Copyright law (and property law) are both utilitarian bodies of law, without a moral component. Copying a work against the author's wishes is neither ethical nor unethical.

    And it's interesting that the private papers are now business papers. They weren't before.

    It grants rights and restrictions to the creator and the consumer of content.

    What restrictions does copyright place on an author that he would not suffer from if he immediately placed the work into the public domain upon fixation? What is he now obligated to do or not do that he was not obligated to do or not do otherwise? I'm genuinely curious about this.

    AFAIK copyright grants no rights to anyone to do anything that they couldn't already do, places no limits on the author that he is obligated to accept. Basically all it does is restrict the public from doing things that it could do but for copyright, all else being equal, and gives the author the option as to whether to lift or enforce those restrictions at his whim. Oh, he may have to jump through the odd hoop or two to back up his commands, but no one ever forced him to exercise the copyright in the first place.

    It also LIMITS the rights a creator has in regards to his content: things like parody, news reporting, or classroom use are rights that are explicitly granted by Copyright.

    No they're not. If a work was not copyrighted, parodists could parody, news reporters could report, and teachers could engage in classroom use. Nothing is granted to them by copyright law. Hell, those aren't even solid fair uses -- just the other day I mentioned Harper & Row v. The Nation, in which news reporting was infringing and not fair use. Fair use depends on the circumstances, there are no canonical uses that are always fair.

    Now look at industrial espionage regulations: it is illegal to steal trade secrets from a business, for example. What does that have to do with Copyright? Absolutely nothing.

    If you can maintain a trade secret (which many works won't qualify for, at all) then kudos to you. But that still shouldn't dictate our copyright policy, nor should it be mistaken as a substitute for copyright. As Dastar made clear, there is no substitute for copyright. Trade secrets may provide a cause of action against the first pirate, maybe, but it will rapidly fizzle out if you try to apply it to the rest of the world, which is what copyright is for.

    In my opinion, a trade secret and an unfinished manuscript are both in the same category: none of the public's business.

    Except that, of course, the public need not listen to you. It's common to impose regulations on businesses that compel disclosure of trade secrets in actual use. And in some areas, this needs to be pushed further.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    It would be much simpler to just require registration and an extension fee. This would ensure publisher's can't keep things out of the public domain for long periods of time but still give them plenty of time to earn a return.

    That does not encourage new works: Fox could keep re-registering Firefly's copyright, but what good does that do the public if Fox doesn't actually do something with it?

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    That does not encourage new works: Fox could keep re-registering Firefly's copyright, but what good does that do the public if Fox doesn't actually do something with it?

    True, I was thinking of ordinary people. Entertainment companies would renew the copyright just to keep competitors from using it. Some have suggested a steeply increasing copyright fee but I'm not sure I like that. There definitely needs to be a reasonable limit set though. Just because Paramount is still making Star Trek movies doesn't mean 50 year old Star Trek episodes should still be under copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 5:59am

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

    In other words, you're a parasite? What kind of world do you live in where admitting to that would be a good thing? Oh, right. The RIAA's universe.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    Just because Paramount is still making Star Trek movies doesn't mean 50 year old Star Trek episodes should still be under copyright.

    Well, there are no 50 year old Star Trek episodes yet. The show premiered in 1967. We're getting close, though: another 4 years and Star Trek will turn 50.

    And I'm not so sure I agree. The point of Copyright is to encourage artistic creation, and it's clearly working in the case of Star Trek: there's new Star Trek content all the time.

    Where it's not working is with all these old TV shows and series that have been cancelled and nothing else has been done: Robotech/Macross (in the US). Firefly. I Love Lucy. The Andy Griffith Show.

    I may be in the minority, but I don't care if someone keeps an exclusive Copyright for a long time if they're actively producing. I actually agree with the concept of artistic integrity, and I think that keeping a consistent vision makes for a better product.

    It's when they stop producing that I think society has the right to force the owner to give up their exclusive rights. Aside from outright piracy, letting things disappear is the absolute worst thing I can think of when it comes to Copyright.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    The point of Copyright is to encourage artistic creation, and it's clearly working in the case of Star Trek: there's new Star Trek content all the time.

    To make that work, you would have to argue that if copyright expired on TOS, Paramount would stop making new movies (and whatever else), and also that nobody else would start making equally high quality materials. I don't see any reason that would happen. Rather I think there would be an explosion of Trek material, some great, some good, some terrible. I don't see how it would cause a problem.


    I may be in the minority, but I don't care if someone keeps an exclusive Copyright for a long time if they're actively producing.


    There's a long time, and then there's too long. IMO anything over 20-25 years is too long.

    I actually agree with the concept of artistic integrity, and I think that keeping a consistent vision makes for a better product.

    It's hard to say, since we can't compare and contrast, but either way artistic integrity is not part of the constitutional purpose of copyright.

    Aside from outright piracy, letting things disappear is the absolute worst thing I can think of when it comes to Copyright.

    I think that is far, far worse than piracy.

     

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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    To make that work, you would have to argue that if copyright expired on TOS, Paramount would stop making new movies (and whatever else), and also that nobody else would start making equally high quality materials.

    Let's look at this point: Say the Copyright on the original series episodes expired tomorrow, and Paramount could no longer claim exclusive rights to Captain Kirk, the USS Enterprise, or any of the characters and artwork in the TV show.

    The first thing that would happen is that there would be an explosion of amateur fan art and fan fiction. A year or so later, you'd start seeing the first b-quality YouTube movies. 2 years later, you'd see new movies coming out of the same studios that created "Transmorphers".

    But would Paramount bother with another AAA Blockbuster scale movie? Big movies with $100 million budgets are already risky enough; my guess is that the market would become so saturated that nobody would even want to hear the words "Star Trek" for at least another decade afterward.

    So it's an interesting question, whether making Star Trek public domain would be better or worse for society.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    But would Paramount bother with another AAA Blockbuster scale movie?

    I'm not convinced it matters. Somebody will make high quality Star Trek movies, and I don't care if it's Paramount. I also don't care if they cost $100 million or if they make a billion dollars at the box office. It seems unlikely that the potential loss of AAA titles (of which there is only at most one every few years anyway) would outweigh the benefit of everyone having access to the material.

    my guess is that the market would become so saturated that nobody would even want to hear the words "Star Trek" for at least another decade afterward.

    I doubt it. It's not like all of this stuff would be marketed like crazy like big productions are now, so if you're not looking for Trek stuff you probably won't be overwhelmed with it.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    I might be wrong, but I believe that even if the original episodes went into the public domain, only the footage would actually be free to use. The characters, designs, etc. could still have trademark and other protections. They would also retain trademarks on the name Star Trek for anything not related to the public domain material. So, somebody could re-use the footage and so on, but they couldn't necessarily make competing movies with the same title & characters.

    Also, don't fall into the trap of assuming that only big budget movies by the original copyright holders can be any good. For a start, the original creators are just as capable of creating crap as anyone else (have you seen Star Trek V?). Then, why does the movie have to cost $100 million? There are excellent sci fi adventure movies that cost far less, they just have to have decent scripts. One of the things that makes $100 million+ movies risky is that they have a tendency to throw money at the effects rather than getting a decent script to work with. A crapfest is a crapfest whether it cost $25 million or $250 million.

    Also, who cares if The Asylum could create rip-offs for lower budgets? Their version of War Of The Worlds didn't make Spielberg's version suddenly flop because they released a film with the same name based on the same material. The only real danger is if the low budget version turned out to be a much better film - but the public will only stand to gain from a situation that allows higher quality movies to be made. I honestly don't see the problem.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Base term on half-life of a product

    The characters, designs, etc. could still have trademark and other protections.

    Yeah, characters and titles should never be eligible for trademark protection. Trademarks never expire so if you can get a trademark on a character or the title of the work, then you have an end-around permanent copyright on it. Even if the footage went into the public domain, you would be risking a trademark suit from Paramount if you did anything with it. Would they win? It doesn't matter if you don't have tens of thousands of dollars (at least) to defend the suit.

     

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