Son Of Writer Of First Episode Of Doctor Who Now Claiming Copyright On The Tardis

from the time-and-relative-dementia-in-copyright dept

It's amazing the stories that find me these days. Apparently, a guy named Stef Coburn, whose father Tony Coburn wrote the very first episode of Doctor Who, is claiming copyright on the Tardis, the iconic police phone booth that is also Doctor Who's mode of transportation (through time and space, of course). The younger Coburn claims that his father came up with the idea for the Tardis and told his children about it over the dinner table. He then takes it a step further and claims the informal agreement his father had with the BBC expired upon his death (which happened way back in 1977), at which point the rights transferred to his mother, who has since passed them on to him. He's now demanding that he get paid for every use of the Tardis since his father's death.
"It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's programme. The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate."
It would be great to get some UK copyright lawyers to weigh in on the specifics, but it seems like there are a bunch of interrelated issues here, none of which bode well for Coburn's claim. There's a question of whether there's even a legitimate copyright here at all (copyright is supposed to be on expression, not ideas)? If there is a legitimate copyright, would it even have belonged to Coburn and not the producers of the show he was hired to write for? If it did belong to him and not the producers, what was the nature of the contract -- formal or informal -- between them and was there any indication that it would end upon his death? And, of course, there's the only issue of laches, for not doing a damn thing about this for 35 years. It seems fairly likely that nearly all of those questions are likely to be answered in a way that favors the BBC and not the younger Coburn.

Once again, though, it seems like yet another case where the popular myth of copyright -- that it's about "ownership" of some "creation" -- leads to this kind misguided attack.


Reader Comments (rss)

 

Not quite a lawyer but...

The way I see it he has several challenges to his claim (which still seems to be in the "pay me money" stage, rather than the "I've talked to lawyers" one) - I think that if he had a case he wouldn't be telling newspapers.

* Showing that there is copyright in the Tardis; it's not quite clear what he is arguing he has copyright over - obviously not the idea of a blue police telephone box, or a time machine, maybe combining those two (with it being bigger on the inside) or the name. The name might be an interesting claim, although then there's the argument that it isn't a literary work on its own, but part of a larger one - the script for the first episode. Then there's the question of whether or not it is a substantial part.

* Showing that his father was the first copyright owner; that requires raising evidence that it was his father (and not anyone else working on the show) who came up with the idea. Wikipedia suggests that he did come up with the idea of it being a police telephone box, but that might not be sufficient if that itself isn't covered by copyright. If he was employed by the BBC (rather than commissioned) then the copyright would start with the BBC anyway.

* Showing that there was an informal licence and that it expired on his father's death; I think this is the one where a court is most likely to throw the case out. Copyright licences are binding on (most) successors in title, so if there was a licence that allowed the BBC to use the Tardis in other episodes, there is no reason why it would expire on his father's death. He would have to raise evidence as to the terms of the licence; given that it was informal and the circumstances (writing for a TV show), there may be a strong presumption against it.

That said, it worked for the estate of Terry Nation (credited with creating the Daleks and co-owning rights to them, with the BBC) - although I don't think that ever went to Court.

Plus it seems the BBC isn't being entirely honest with the truth. The statement from them reads "The BBC registered the TARDIS trade mark in the 1980s unchallenged and there have been no challenges since..." (the Independent getting it wrong and thinking they were talking about registering the copyright - which isn't registered in the UK). There seem to be about 15 trade marks registered for "The Tardis" or "Tardis", not all owned by the BBC, the earliest (now expired) from 1931.

While there is one from the 80s it only applies to books etc., the main BBC ones seem to come from 1996 - possibly after the film was released. I think it may have been those ones that the Met Police challenged unsuccessfully, but I'd need to do more research to check that.
—Duke

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Parasite to English translation:

    "It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's programme. The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate."

    "After all these years, I suddenly realized that the Doctor Who fandom is huge, and growing due to the new series, which means a lot of money. Given my father apparently wasn't greedy enough to shake down the fans of the show he'd created for those extra few dollars/pounds, I figured it was only fair that I get his share, as well as the rights to what he'd created, because money."

    So many of the idiotic and abusive uses of copyright could be headed off with two simple changes:

    1) Copyright dies with the creator, and lasts only as long as they do, at most, before entering the public domain.

    2) Copyrights are nontransferable, if you aren't the creator, the most that can be assigned you is a temporary license, allowing for such things as reproducing, sales and similar, though never enforcement rights like the right to sue, which is solely the domain of the original creator.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:09am

    " proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate."

    Usually, in order for one to be compensated for something, one has to have done something/lost something first. So, since the estate did not have a hand in the creation of the Doctor, nor did they lose anything...why should they be compensated?

     

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    Guardian, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:10am

    good

    we will now see the doctor in a rolly royce traveling the universe

     

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    DannyB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Copyright and Insanity

    Copyright and Insanity go together.
    Like Bacon and Eggs.
    Like Politics and Corruption.

    (ooops, but that's another movie reference)

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:19am

    MORE amazing are the stories that miss you! -- Or you miss them.

    So what's your fix for this dire problem, Mike? Got one? Just going to let the 13-year-olds who worry about such trivia try and solve it themselves? ... We've waited FIFTEEN years and you still haven't a fix for this or any other aspect of copyright! Not enough data yet? How very academic of you.

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

    03:18:56[d-325-2]

     

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    Steve, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Eh!

    The police box isn't a fictional concept, they actually existed in the UK in the form it is portrayed in the series. So surely, if there is a 'copyright' issue at all it's the designer of the police box that should be bringing it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: Parasite to English translation:

    As always, I stress that proper copyright duration ought to be a fixed number of years (my favorite candidate is zero). If copyright dies with the author, then hugely successful works provide a perverse incentive to have people die.

    As far as I can reason, this is why copyright terms went straight from fixed duration (28 + optional 28 renewal) to life plus 50. The argument was likely made that copyright ought to last as long as the author does; but at that point there needed to be "insurance" against untimely death, lest things expire too soon or anyone be encouraged to off a prominent author.

     

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    GMacGuffin (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Some points:

    * Stef Coburn's story is apocryphal at best
    * Coburn states he is not a Doctor Who fan, and calls it a "children's programme" in the same sentence? Way to engender support for your cause.
    * Coburn's a prick
    * Strictly speaking, it's "TARDIS" or even "T.A.R.D.I.S." - being an acronym. (But Guardian spelled it "Tardis" too, so point not belabored.)

     

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    DannyB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    Re: Eh!

    > The police box isn't a fictional concept,
    > they actually existed in the UK in the form it
    > is portrayed in the series. So surely,
    > if there is a 'copyright' issue at all it's the designer of the police box that should be bringing it?


    The box isn't a fictional concept.
    They actually existed in the UK and elsewhere.
    If there is a 'copyright' issue at all, it's the designer of the BOX that should be bringing it.
    And patent claims just to be sure they get their fair recompense.
    (with rounded corners!)

     

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    S. T. Stone, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    I’d tell you how Whovians will respond to this, but…spoilers!

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    While the 'insurance' idea would make some sense, there's already laws in place to deal with that sort of thing, namely ones dealing with murder, and as for honest accidents and untimely deaths, the creator would be dead, they are hardly going to care if their works are available to the public at that point.

    No, sadly, the real reason for the 'life+X years' copyright duration is entirely based on corporate control and profits.

    Various companies(in particular one with a, shall we say 'mascot of rodent persuasion') purchased, or through contracts had signed to them, numerous copyrights. As a company is quite able to outlast a person, assuming it avoids going under, they needed a way to keep control over the 'valuable IP' they'd managed to acquire after the original creator had passed away, and so (to put it bluntly), they either tricked, or greased the palms of, various lawmakers, convincing them that (somehow) extending the duration of copyright past the death of the creator would (again, somehow) be beneficial to the creator and the public, by 'providing greater incentive to create', as though holding a copyright for your entire natural life wasn't incentive enough.

     

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    Pragmatic, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Eh!

    As I've said elsewhere, there's no such thing as original. Everything is derivative, including this statement.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    This actually came up with the Terry Nation estate and Daleks - one of the most iconic of the enemies of Doctor Who. That was one of the major issues to be resolved before the entire series could restart in 2005.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Eh!

    This statement is derivative of this statement is derivative of

    This statement is derivative of this statement is derivative of

    ...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Some points:

    He's doing himself no favors on his twitter feed either.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Let me get this straight. You're saying that the argument was made that some people were so desperate to use works legally without having to obtain a licence/permission, once the author is dead, that they would go out and murder the author, just to get the copyright to expire...and the usual punishments against murder weren't enough to deter it? So the solution was to extend the copyright duration?

    Normally, I'd say bullshit...but given how crazy I've seen copyright supporters act, I won't.

     

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    Ricky, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Eh!

    if there is a 'copyright' issue at all it's the designer of the police box that should be bringing it?


    Not sure about the designer, per se, but the police force itself already tried a trademark case on the BBC, and lost:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2352743.stm

    Copyright is a different animal, sure, but if the BBC is able to trademark the TARDIS, they are surely able to copyright it as well.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    I'm sure many authors saw their copyrights expire, only to see Hollywood made film versions that raked in millions of dollars, of which they got nothing. Easy to see how that's unfair and how life + x years of copyright came about.

    However, this has nothing to do with giving people an incentive to create, nor does it recognize the incentive to use public domain material to create even more work. Maybe the author doesn't get as much money in the long run, but a film was created that might not exist otherwise, and lots of other people could find ways to capitalize on those ideas. The whole basis of culture is recognizing and reusing the works of the past - that's how a heritage is created. Right now the only heritage we get is the one that's most profitable.

    The maximalist will just scream "I made it, therefore I own it forever" but that's not always what's best for the economy or culture, which is the real goal of copyright law.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Sounds entirely plausible to me - though it would rarely happen.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re: Some points:

    I've heard that in England it actually is considered a children's program, but that may only mean it's okay for children to watch rather than aimed at children.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    "I'm sure many authors saw their copyrights expire, only to see Hollywood made film versions that raked in millions of dollars, of which they got nothing."

    To authors like that, I say "Boo fecking hoo". Unless they provided some sort of labour or consultation or did anything at all to help with the movie production, they don't deserve anything.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    If the Author has a publishing contract for his life, his publisher has a strong interest in keeping him alive, to keep the contract alive.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    Been a while since spam like this got through the filters. Wonder how? Shouldn't they have caught the wording of "get paid $X per hour" along with the extremely-suspicious link?

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Re:

    Here’s what I've been doing,


    Actually, we can see what you are doing without going to that link - you're a spammer.

    Reported.

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Ironically, copyright was already very long in the early days of Hollywood (75 years in 1920). So the example you give can't possibly be why copyright is the way it is.

    However, even with our insane copyright laws, Hollywood just takes existing works and changes them slightly to screw over writers. Look at Underworld and "The Love of Monsters", and Knocked Up and the book "Knocked Up".

     

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    Michio (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Unless they provided some sort of labour or consultation or did anything at all to help with the movie production

    What, like writing the actual story you mean? ;-)

     

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    Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:16am

    There's also documented evidence that he's talking bollocks

    BBC Archives - Doctor Who

    The BBC background notes for the series, before any episode was written, suggests the Doctors "Machine" could look like "a common object in the street such as a night watchman's shelter". That Coburn rounded out that idea for the first episodes should therefore be irrelevant.

     

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    Duke (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Not quite a lawyer but...

    The way I see it he has several challenges to his claim (which still seems to be in the "pay me money" stage, rather than the "I've talked to lawyers" one) - I think that if he had a case he wouldn't be telling newspapers.

    * Showing that there is copyright in the Tardis; it's not quite clear what he is arguing he has copyright over - obviously not the idea of a blue police telephone box, or a time machine, maybe combining those two (with it being bigger on the inside) or the name. The name might be an interesting claim, although then there's the argument that it isn't a literary work on its own, but part of a larger one - the script for the first episode. Then there's the question of whether or not it is a substantial part.

    * Showing that his father was the first copyright owner; that requires raising evidence that it was his father (and not anyone else working on the show) who came up with the idea. Wikipedia suggests that he did come up with the idea of it being a police telephone box, but that might not be sufficient if that itself isn't covered by copyright. If he was employed by the BBC (rather than commissioned) then the copyright would start with the BBC anyway.

    * Showing that there was an informal licence and that it expired on his father's death; I think this is the one where a court is most likely to throw the case out. Copyright licences are binding on (most) successors in title, so if there was a licence that allowed the BBC to use the Tardis in other episodes, there is no reason why it would expire on his father's death. He would have to raise evidence as to the terms of the licence; given that it was informal and the circumstances (writing for a TV show), there may be a strong presumption against it.

    That said, it worked for the estate of Terry Nation (credited with creating the Daleks and co-owning rights to them, with the BBC) - although I don't think that ever went to Court.

    Plus it seems the BBC isn't being entirely honest with the truth. The statement from them reads "The BBC registered the TARDIS trade mark in the 1980s unchallenged and there have been no challenges since..." (the Independent getting it wrong and thinking they were talking about registering the copyright - which isn't registered in the UK). There seem to be about 15 trade marks registered for "The Tardis" or "Tardis", not all owned by the BBC, the earliest (now expired) from 1931.

    While there is one from the 80s it only applies to books etc., the main BBC ones seem to come from 1996 - possibly after the film was released. I think it may have been those ones that the Met Police challenged unsuccessfully, but I'd need to do more research to check that.

     

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    Duke (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: Some points:

    On the last point, I'm not sure if it is still the case but for a while the BBC had a policy whereby acronyms wouldn't be capitalised, while initialisms (like BBC) would be. Partly because of that, "Tardis" is a fairly common way of writing it.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    A sticky subject

    My cousins here in the USofA used to run the Doctor Who fan club, and licensed the rights to produce Doctor Who cruft, such as model tardis toys, sonic screw drivers, and such back a couple of decades ago for the US market. I don't know if they still hold those rights, but it could make for some interesting courtroom scenes... :-)

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Unless they specifically wrote the story to help with the movie production, then no. If it were a case of an author writing and publishing a book 20 years before the movie studio came along, then why should he paid? He hasn't done anything extra for him to be compensated.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    I believe the life + x years was part of the Berne Convention to make our laws the same as European laws - so I suspect the offended parties were originally European and it wasn't Hollywood's fault.

    And there's nothing wrong (ethically, perhaps not creatively) with altering a work enough to make it a new work - that's essential to culture. Almost everything is a variation on something else. The only question is how much does it need to vary.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    and as for honest accidents and untimely deaths, the creator would be dead, they are hardly going to care if their works are available to the public at that point.


    Actually, I expect most creators, if given time to prepare for their death, while having an unfinished work, would care about what happens to their work after their death.

    Some will want their work to be finished by either someone they select, or people they trust select.

    Some won't mind it being a free for all of publishing fanfictions as the "ending" to the series.

    One that is relatively young and has young children and was the primary or sole breadwinner would likely want the copyright to remain with their family so people can't massively profit off their work while their family falls into poverty, simply because they happened to die before they could finish negotiating a movie deal or some such.

    One that's single with no children, or relatively old, has grown children, and is generally set financially probably would not mind as much if their work fell into the public domain after their death and others swooped in to profit off their work.

    Bottom line, lots of different authors are going to have varying opinions about what happens to their work after their death, depending on their personal views and circumstances.

    To say "they're dead, so they aren't going to care" is horrible logic. People caring what happens after their death is precisely why we have legal wills and estates and executors to carry out those wills. And life insurance. For that matter, the basic concepts of inheritance and choice of successor.

     

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    justok (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    it's all abit lawy-wawy

     

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    Colin, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:02am

    "It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's programme. The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate."

    He could have just started with that bolded part and gotten to his point a lot quicker...

     

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    Steve, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Eh!

    Wicked!

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Some points:

    It originally was a children's program. The original idea was for the Doctor and his companions to explore history and possible futures to educate. The first few episodes didn't do so well so they added the Daleks and changed the show to more of a SciFi fantasy style show. The show exploded in the ratings.

     

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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    Sorry Old Bean

    Your claim is too weak for you to join the "How much money is it going to take to make you go away?" club.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    "He then takes it a step further and claims the informal agreement his father had with the BBC expired upon his death (which happened way back in 1977), at which point the rights transferred to his mother, who has since passed them on to him. He's now demanding that he get paid for every use of the Tardis since his father's death."

    The way I read this, he didn't even hold the copyright (assuming it even existed) from the death of his father. How can he expect to retroactively enforce something he didn't own for the whole duration he's asking for damages?

    Plus, is it really policy that you can wait this long and just wait and wait and wait to assert damages even if you know it's happening? I mean if that's the case, why not copyright something (say a new standard), wait until it's used all over the world, then assert your copyright and collect from everyone everwhere around the world?! You could collect billions (if not more) after just waiting a couple years when it's $150,000 per infringement!

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:11am

    Perhaps not

    Once again, though, it seems like yet another case where the popular myth of copyright -- that it's about "ownership" of some "creation" -- leads to this kind misguided attack.
    I would guess that the attack is not misguided and that the asshat doesn't actually expect to win.

    I think it's more likely he reckons if he shouts loud enough and causes enough trouble, that copyright law is muddy enough that the BBC will chuck a few quid his way as a settlement rather than test it in court and pay lots of lawyers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    As pointed out in the article - ideas can't be copywritten, only the specific expression of a work.

    The TARDIS might fall under trademark law, but only if a trademark was established (and I'd be surprised if the BBC didn't own the trademark on the TARDIS.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Re: Parasite to English translation:

    But if I can't be guaranteed the right to turn my children into insipid, cash-grabbing douche bags of the highest order where's the incentive to create?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    How does 'life + 50' change that incentive at all? If anything it makes it stronger because it concentrates the incentive in a single individual i.e. whoever stands to gain the copyright at the author's demise. Without copyright terms that extend beyond the life of the author the only incentive is for someone who wants the work to be public domain of which I'm sure there are many but no one of them stands to gain overmuch from that state of affairs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Except that's not unfair. At all.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    So what?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re:

    In the case of the Daleks, Nation conceived the characters and pitched them to the producers.
    After the producers approved, he wrote the script that introduced the Daleks, their home world, Skaro, their enemies the Thals and other elements.
    That's why Nation (and his estate, since he's dead) has the copyright on Daleks.
    As to this, we should see as to what elements (including the TARDIS) were conceived by the producers/show runners.
    Generally, the show creators produce a "bible" with all the pertinent elements (cast/settings/devices and props/etc) and pass that on to writers to read through and conceive plots around.
    I find it hard to believe the producers wouldn't have conceived the main character's mode of transportation, leaving it to a freelance writer to come up with it...

    BTW, you'll note the revival of Doctor Who brings back very few old characters/monsters/villains.
    The whole "Terry Nation owns the Daleks" situation is why.
    The new characters, including River Song, Weeping Angels, Judoon, and companions are created by the production team who plot out the season and assign stories using the staff-created characters/aliens accodingly.
    (Of course, there are exceptions like writer Neil Gaiman)

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    "Ironically, copyright was already very long in the early days of Hollywood (75 years in 1920)."

    Copyright in 1920 was 28 plus 28 for a total of 56 years.
    And, you had to renew at the end of the first 28 year period or the copyright expired then and there.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    "I'm sure many authors saw their copyrights expire, only to see Hollywood made film versions that raked in millions of dollars, of which they got nothing."

    Disney waited until the day after the American copyright expired, then announced production of an animated version of Kipling's "Jungle Book".

     

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  49.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    Outrageous

    Come on, Mike! It's not 'Tardis', it's an acronym, so it should be TARDIS. (T)ime (A)nd (R)elative (D)imension (I)n (S)pace

    Only a copyright pirating leech would make such a mistake.

    (That's sarcasm for the sarc-impaired.)

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    (of whom I was never one) = "I want to make it clear that I don't think much of this show but still feel entitled to the money it has made."

     

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  51.  
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    Jasmine Charter, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:47am

    Copyright is OUTDATED...

    Copyright is completely outdated. Trademark, not so much.

    A copyright on an idea should last 3 years. Milk it for all it's worth for 3 years. If the author creates another work using the same characters, etc. (ie. the Harry Potter series, Twilight, etc.) then the copyright is extended for another 3 years. So, in order to maintain the copyright, the author must continue to publish on it.

    Also, the copyright expires on the person's death, unless it's passed to someone else and a new work is published within 3 years.

    That's incredibly fair. You get exclusive use of something you create... until you stop using it. Simple as that.

    If THAT doesn't promote the arts, then I don't know what does. It would promote the creation of new works by existing authors and TONS of fan fiction if the person doesn't.

    Same thing with drugs. Milk it for all you can for 3 years, then get ready to compete with generics. Don't like it... get out of the game.

     

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  52.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    It may seem unfair to the artist. The question is does the general public view it as unfair?

    Where's the balance between an author's control of their own work, and the general public's cultural assimilation of that work so that anyone can freely use it for their own creativity without having to ask for permission (such as producing a Shakespeare play)?

    That's what this whole copyright debate is about - at what point does the artist give up control? Right now it's many decades after they're dead. And we're asking is that fair?

    For example, if a writer refused to have his book turned into a movie while he was alive, and now his heirs uphold that wish, is it fair that that book may never be turned into a movie for another 90 years (ignoring the arguments of the artistic value of turning a book into a movie) and how is this beneficial to culture?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    So what you're saying is the author of the first draft of a movie, who did all the heavy lifting of creating the setting, characters, and dialogue, should never get a cent for their work.

    Yeah, the author totally doesn't deserve to be compensated because the movie studio paid someone else to chop out a few scenes and shorten some dialogue.

     

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  54.  
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    AB, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Many people would dearly love to see their families continue to recieve whatever paychecks they were getting at the time of their death. Currently only corporations (including incorporated estates) recieve that luxury. No politician ever cared about copyright for any of those reasons, they were just spouted as excuses to the public.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Re: Parasite to English translation:

    I've always believed you should not be able to sell a right. I can't sell my free speech rights to a guy in North Korea, so why can you sell a copy right?

     

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  56.  
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    Jeremy2020 (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Re: Parasite to English translation:

    The guy also obviously has issues with the show itself. Why go out of your way to say you are not a fan? Why call it a 'children's program' when the people watching it now tend not to be children?

     

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  57.  
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    AB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Like preventing drug dealer murders by passing laws making drug dealing legal... Makes sense..?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    Re: Copyright is OUTDATED...

    Considering that it was almost 3 years between Harry Potter books 4 and 5, it took 5 years for A Song of Fire and Ice book 4 to come out, and nearly 6 years for book 5 to come out, and about 17 years between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, not to mention roughly 23 years between the LotR and post-humous publication of The Silmarillion (work on which began right after the Hobbit was published). I'd say that 3 years is far too short.

    You're basically demanding an author churn out a single series like a factory, regardless of what other series they might be working on, or how long they feel is needed to properly develop their story.

     

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  59.  
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    AB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    The author IS being compensated. By massivly increased book sales. Of the book the author wrote in the first place.

     

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  60.  
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    JMT (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    "It may seem unfair to the artist. The question is does the general public view it as unfair? "

    Well the artist in this particular case had up to 56 years to monetize their work, which is also plenty of time to create other works and monetise those too. So as a member of the general public I think it was perfectly fair back then and would be today too. What we have today is grossly unfair to the general public, but big publishers/labels/studios have managed to warp the whole system into a monster that's grossly unfair to artists too. Yay for us all...

     

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  61.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Re: Parasite to English translation:

    > So what you're saying is the author of the first draft of a movie, who did all the heavy lifting of creating the setting, characters, and dialogue, should never get a cent for their work.

    If it's been more than 30 years since the book was published? Hell yes. That's what PUBLIC DOMAIN means. The next generation gets a chance to make something and they can exploit old works in the process. It's exactly the same deal as the "poor original author" got.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    A profitable movie or TV series does not automatically mean a massive increase in book sales. And if a movie is being made because the copyright has expired, then even if the book sees a massive increase in sales, the author is not guaranteed to see a cent of that either, as anyone can re-publish the book to cash in, and even the original publisher for the author will likely not be under any obligation to pay the author.

     

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  63.  
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    AB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    A CEO getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars in salary is also unfair. So is a corporation paying someone seven hundred dollars an hour to wine-and-dine polititions. And the poor dinosaurs getting killed off like that before they had a decent chance to develope intelligence...now that's _really_ unfair! Life itself is unfair.

    If we are going to address unfairness let's start with the really big ones and work our way down the list. In the meantime we can get rid of all paid artists by letting machines do the work instead. Now that they have advanced to the point were that is possible.

     

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  64.  
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    AB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    And if the author is still milking it after 75 years then I say let the greedy git die.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Daleks are a creation of the Dr Who production staff.

    The outside of the TARDIS is just some common item from 1960's London. It is not an original creation. It's just a cabinet that someone ELSE created. Perhaps THAT person might have some ownership interest in the TARDIS.

    THAT person is not a member of the BBC staff or any relative of same.

    I would be like DC claiming ownership of the typical American phone booth.

     

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  66.  
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    AB (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    As an 'artist' I am whole-heartedly in favour of copyright. Limited copyright. I am absolutely against the current copyright cesspool. Which does more harm then good.

     

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  67.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Since copyright is purely a legal construction, the issue of fairness is far more relevant than in other aspects of life. The whole point of law is to determine what is fair.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I attended many Dr. Who/British SF show conventions in the 80s and met Terry Nation a few times. He related a tale where a BBC exec mentioned to him in passing that the Beeb was planning on having a candy company create chocolate Daleks for the kiddies for sale at Christmas and Terry said to him, "Oh, no, dear boy, not without my permission." The BBC was shocked that he'd gone out and done something so unsporting as to copyright the Daleks without their knowledge, and were angry that he got such a big cut of the profits from their Dalek merch. He added that he suspected that was why the spaceship "Liberator" (in his TV show "Blake's 7") was designed as an ungainly mass of vicious-looking, needled nacelles; the spaceship designer was told to do that in order to prevent Terry from going out and selling a model as a children's toy.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Re: good

    That's what a working chameleon circuit is for!

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    avideogameplayer, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    Weebly, woobly, timey wimey...

     

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  71.  
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    avideogameplayer, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    All you wanted to know about the TARDIS:

    http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/TARDIS

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Eh!

    Didn't superman use a phone booth to change from Clark Kent? It's not really anything more than a plot device.

     

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  73.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Copyright is OUTDATED...

    You're basically demanding an author churn out a single series like a factory, regardless of what other series they might be working on, or how long they feel is needed to properly develop their story.
    I'd agree to some extent that 3 years is too short a term as I don't have a problem with copyright per-se, just the current stupid version of it.

    On the other hand, however, you're missing or ignoring the obvious fact that not having a copyright in no way "forces" an author to do anything or stops them from doing anything or selling more books. Quite the contrary in fact. All it would mean is that other people could also write in the same or similar world and frankly some authors could use a bit of encouragement in the way of competition to finish series rather than leave fans hanging.

    I'd have happily paid for and read both the Harry Potter books and the subsequent Middle Earth books no matter how many other titles in the same world existed as I like how they're written. I'd also have probably have read other author's work in the same worlds as I enjoy the worlds. A Song of Fire and Ice, however, I gave up on after book 3 because I found it dull despite liking the world and other GRR Martin creations. I'd have been intrigued to see what another author could have done with the backstory. Bottom line, if it's good I'll read it, if not I won't and other similar works wouldn't change that.

    Copyright removes choice plain and simple and whatever it's supposed to do or not, it locks up ideas not expression and reduces culture. Is that worth it for a short term? Perhaps. But don't pretend it's anything other than protectionist.

    Incidentally, ironically I think some of Martin's best work is in a shared world that several authors write in.

     

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  74.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Because copyright is not really a "right" in that sense. It is a limited monopoly granted by the government in exchange for the work entering the public domain at the end of the monopoly.

     

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  75.  
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    JMT (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Don't let the copyright maximilists get you confused about the difference between natural rights (like free speech) and constructed legal rights. One of their favourite tactics is to conflate the two as if they're of equal importance. They're not even close.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Michael Biel, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Some points:

    It WAS a children's program. It aired in the afternoon and was categorized by the BBC as a children's program. it is only later that the fans changed that category. But we are talking about the first episode from Nov 22, 1963, and it was a children's program then.

     

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  77.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright is OUTDATED...

    Without copyright, other people could print their own Harry Potter books and sell them, with the author getting nothing. It's not just about adaptations and derivatives.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    I think that a significant problem with the concept of artist control over their work is that it was never fully their work and never will be again even if it ever was once it is published. no work is ever created in a vacuum. Unless you completely invent a new language in which to publish your work, you're going to be borrowing significantly from other sources in your culture. And when your audience experiences the work, it will then splinter into a million different variations on the original work, even if the original text is never altered. It will be interpreted and reinterpreted and reimagined and parodied and remixed. People will misremember and misquote it. It may even be updated by the original creator, Star Wars being a significant example, so that an original form of the work doesn't really exist anymore. It is only when you start speaking the language of money that art becomes a mere commodity and the perception of its properties and nature shifts to whatever is the most profitable perspective for the wealthy.

     

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  79.  
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    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Not quite a lawyer but...

    It's my understanding that script writers for DW were normally commissioned, but I don't know about this particular case.

     

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  80.  
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    PaulT (profile), Nov 13th, 2013 @ 12:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    "the author of the first draft of a movie"

    You're letting your biases show if this is what you think a novel is.

    Plus, can you name such a production? Somewhere a LIVING author was deprived of royalties from a film version of their novel because copyrights had expired?

    "the movie studio paid someone else to chop out a few scenes and shorten some dialogue."

    Come back to me when you've learned what actually goes into adapting a novel for the screen.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 1:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, Scotland Yard did sue for the rights to Police Boxes... AND LOST! It had become more associated w/ Doctor Who than the police.

    The only thing that really would be covered by this would be the IDEA of the inside of a time machine being in a separate dimension from the exterior (being "bigger on the inside" is technically a misnomer, since the "inside" isn't inside), the exterior being able to blend into the new environment, the mechanism for the camouflage function being broke (technically negating the blending in), & maybe the central control console/ pillar, as well as the acronym.

    Which brings up back to ideas, an exterior that was someone else's construct, & the often changed, usually hexagonal centralized controls/ time rotor & the name/ acronym.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 1:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    us*

     

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  83.  
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    Pragmatic, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 3:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Parasite to English translation:

    Except that there's not much you can do to control what happens to your work even while you're alive. What authors and creators fight for is the illusion of control.

    I mean, how would they stop a parody from being made and circulated? That's what I mean by the illusion of control.

    What if their opus ends up in the bargain box? The dollar store? Doesn't the fact that it's there declare that it's unpopular, therefore cheap, therefore "lacking in worth/value" as far as some people might be concerned? It's what some maximalists call the "currency" of the product. The fact is, you can't control what happens to your work even while you're alive. You can only ever have the illusion of control.

     

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  84.  
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    Niall (profile), Nov 13th, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I still have my little die-cast Liberator and love it!

     

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  85.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 13th, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright is OUTDATED...

    Without copyright, other people could print their own Harry Potter books and sell them, with the author getting nothing.
    Well, firstly the original poster referred to "copyright on an idea", which seems to me to refer to the characters and world concepts etc - i.e. perhaps a separate copyright term for derivative works. Not sure that's a great idea, but that's how I read it and thus people couldn't print a copy of, say, "Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone" and sell it.
    Secondly, assuming the original poster didn't mean that (in which case the idea of linking copyright term to "re-usage" of the copyright doesn't make much sense, but hey-ho), if not 3 years, what do you think is a fair term to be consistently paid for doing zero extra work? How long is it "fair" to be able to ignore normal market forces of competition to provide a service?

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    DP, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re: MORE amazing are the stories that miss you! -- Or you miss them.

    There's an old phrase......Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. This seems to fit the current run of postings from the resident troll. Yes.....your own, your VERY own raving nut-case, OOTB. This entity needs some form of treatment, methinks.

     

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