Lessig Mobilizes Copyright Reform

from the will-it-work? dept

While I saw Larry Lessig’s original petition to change copyright law on Monday when he launched it, I haven’t signed it yet, and I’m still debating if it’s worth it. However, ZDNet is now running an interview with Lessig about why he decided to do this, and where he plans to go with it. Lessig basically admits that he’s not sure what to do with it – this was mostly an experiment to see what would happen. My main issue is that this petition doesn’t have an informed debate behind it. I’d be more interested in signing it, if I got the full story (including reasons why some people don’t like it). As it stands, it’s become something of an “in-crowd” thing to sign – without really understanding the consequences. It sounds good on the face, and I probably do agree with the plan, but I don’t feel comfortable signing something without hearing the full debate on the issue. Furthermore, I still wonder how much attention any politician will pay to a bunch of geeks online signing a petition. Politicians have shown a willingness to ignore the “online community” before.

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Comments on “Lessig Mobilizes Copyright Reform”

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Ed Halley says:

Crisis of Culture

While I admire Lessig, he of all people should know that online petitions are irrelevant. If you want to promote change, you have to talk directly to the leadership and you have to prove to those leaders that you’re not just the voice of an individual. Online petitions don’t talk to leadership: leadership ignores them precisely because they are so unaccountable.

Now, something like a photo-op “declaration of copy independence” presented on Capitol Hill, signed by Lessig, Eldred, O’Reilly, some like-minded authors and singers, that might speak to the leadership in a meaningful way. Enact skit plays from the Brothers Grimm and other fables, upon which the Disney Empire owes its very lucrative existence. Visually demonstrate Jefferson’s “light my taper from yours” theory of sharing ideas, candle to candle, long into the evening. Drive home the timelessness of the argument and the timeliness of combating this crisis of culture.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

What the heck are you talking about – a petition missing a debate. Of course the petition doesn’t have a full debate–it’s a petition. The fact of the matter is most politicians haven’t ever taken 2 seconds to actually think about copyright and the reasons for extending it (virtually) forever. The petition is to show that a lot of people would like to tell their legislator that they should reconsider the changes they made to the law. Plain and simple.
If you would like to see a debate on the issue, just read the Eldred v. Ashcroft rulings. There are multiple dissenting opinions written by the justices which show how they see the issue in terms of the Constitution.
This is not an issue where you can complain about a lack of information – yes the public and most politicians are uninformed and yes it’s not something you see openly debated or talked about enough, but there’s loads of excellent information out there.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

No one seems to be discussing the potential downsides of this plan. Would it create a bureaucratic nightmare, for instance? Would you need to alert the owners of copyrights that have hit the fifty year mark to see if they need to pay the $1. There are issues that need to be discussed, but no one is discussing them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Simple–you gotta pay to play. Whatever overhead this adds to the system should be covered by the individuals receiving the copyright protection. Aside from the whole balance issue between the original principles of IP, anyone who receives a copyright, patent or trademark is receiving a government supported (limited term yeah right) monopoly and as such they should cover the cost to support that system. And as added bonus, the patent office is so completely overwhelmed and doing such a miserable job, perhaps they would be able to get the money to actually spend the time researching assinine patent claims–and even hiring consultants or professionals from various industries who have the background to tell when a patent claim is laughable. I don’t know whether this would reverse their trend of allowing patents for self evident business plans but it couldn’t hurt.
As far as whether they would need to contact the copyright holders for renewal no way. If you want to continue to receive the benefit of monopoly on your IP, you need to recognize when it will be up for renewal and take the steps to get it renewed. Considering trademark holders are required to actively defend their trademark in order to continue to receive protection, adding this to copyright is not at all excessive. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I still love the idea of a renewal fee that requires active renewal and a renewal fee that doubles every time–say at 5 years, it’s a dollar, 10 years $2 and so on. So if my math is right, by year 95 that’s $262,144 and just over $500,0000 at 100 years. The reason I think this makes sense is that the cost to the public domain due of a work plus any derivitive works is cumulative. It ends up being so heavily backloaded that early years are very cheap – 25 years of protection for $31, 50 years for a grand. By being so cheap early and scaling up, emphasis is placed on the creation of ideas which should actually “promote the useful arts & science” which was the original intent of the Constitution. Not to mention, if you’re still renewing well after 50 years, it means you’re still making enough off of it to cover it so you should pay up. And most importantly it would mean that abandon works that our out of print and disappearing quickly will be turned over to the public domain.

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