Should We Privatize Copryight Registrations?

from the this-could-get-messy dept

While you have to register a trademark or a patent (and go through an approval process) with the Patent and Trademark Office, the same is not true for copyright. Thanks to changes in copyright law a while back, any new creative work automatically receives a copyright, once created. However, you can still register the work, with the main benefit of doing so is the ability to sue for infringement. Also, registering a copyright soon after the work is produced (and prior to someone infringing) opens up more possibilities in terms of the damages that you could sue for, if the content is infringed. That said, in an age of widespread content creation, very few individuals bother to register their copyright. I’d argue this is for a very good reason: that the benefits to doing so are quite small and many people aren’t that concerned about the copyright on the works they create. However, some think this is a problem, and are proposing, as a solution, that we privatize the copyright registration system in the same way that the domain name registration system has been privatized (which has worked out just great, right?).

The main reasoning is that if private entities were in charge of handling copyright registrations, they’d have incentives to convince people that it would be worth their while to register their copyrights. In practice, this would be a huge disaster, however. The expansion of copyright has already taken its toll on our culture’s ability to produce new content without liability, and if everyone is registering every random thing that they do online, expect the situation to get much, much worse. Think of the “patent troll” problem, but an order of magnitude worse. It would only serve to get more people thinking (incorrectly) about protecting content, rather than sharing content and helping to create more content. It would stifle creativity and content creation by setting up incentives for the opposite: for hoarding and limiting any use of content beyond the creator’s use.

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Comments on “Should We Privatize Copryight Registrations?”

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mike (profile) says:

privatizing copyright registration...

with few exceptions, privatization has not been good for previously governmental functions. i believe that there already is a tendency to take registration at face value, and in this era of ip (as a generic concept of plagiarism or misappropriation of concepts or ideas originated by others) fraud careful evaluation needs to be a given. it’s easy to criticize someone else’s budget and suggest the private sector can cut costs without cutting services. since the venture is for-profit, the cost cutting comes first, after which they often find they didn’t leave enough to support the current level of service. a privatized copyright authority might make the process faster at the expense of infringed parties, causing them to take legal action (or backing down, depending on how good their lawyers are)to protect what should already be protected.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Copyright Reform GeneralEmergency Style...

Right off the bat, I would see to the abolishment of the automatic copyright provisions nonsense enacted with the Copyright Act of 1976. Copyright needs to have a higher bar for entry and needs to be weighted in FAVOR of quickly returning works to the public domain and making Copyright markings clearly state the exact date of term expiry. Term extension gameplaying by authors creating trivial derivative works off of thier existing work would be discouraged by a 60% new content rule.

I would tier Copyright terms and application fees as following:

Still Images, static and dynamic 2D and 3D artwork:
12 Years / $100 Fee

Audio Recordings:
8 Years / $200 Fee

Printed or Digital literary works with or without 2D static images embedded in the work:
14 Years / $300 Fee

Multimedia Audio/Video/Text combination 30 minutes or less:
17 Years / $500 Fee

Multimedia Audio/Video/Text combination 30 minutes or more:
17 Years / $2000 Fee

Elect me “King of the World” and I’ll get right on this.

Iron Chef says:

Re: Copyright Reform GeneralEmergency Style...

Under this privatized scheme, how will you manage the downstream arbritation?

Is it still fair that copyright is handled by the judicial branch? Hate to play devil’s advocate here.

But if reform is necessary, wouldn’t it make more sense, now that IP has become such a central part of our economy, (Read: because patent and copyright holders don’t know or don’t want to license) that copyright and patent examiners be elected into positions?


GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re: Re: Copyright Reform GeneralEmergency Style...

Sole redress would be in Civil Court but with a twist…the loser pays court costs. Marshall Texas style venue shopping would be discouraged by granting Defendants in cases being filed by non-individual legal entity (corporations) the right to choose the venue except in cases where the defendant is also a non-individual legal entity.

I would eliminate existing criminal penalty provisions entirely.

I would limit privatization to the registration process, where the registration business gets to keep X% of the registration fee. This percentage would be set every 5 years by the US Copyright office and the Librarian of Congress. The fee structure would also be adjusted to inflation every 5 years as well. The US Copyright office would be responsible for creating and issuing Copyright Serial numbers and maintaining the central registration database and the public Copyrighted Works Expiry Lookup Service.

Iron Chef says:

Re: Re: Re: Copyright Reform GeneralEmergency Styl

Kudos, GeneralEmergency. You obviously know your stuff.

Still playing Devil’s Advocate here…

But if IP is privatized, shouldn’t the arbitration process be privatized as well?

I mean, is it right for citizens to burden the costs of then-privatized cases of infringement, considering that it’s outside of the auspice of the Department of Commerce?

I ask this because Judges have to get paid, Juries need to be paid, and someone needs to pay to keep the lights on in the courtroom. If it’s privatized, is the Judicial system still involved under the plan? Does it need to be? Should it?

Iron Chef says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Copyright Reform GeneralEmerge

Because if what I’ve been told is correct, royalties get paid under mechanical reproduction rights (always) to the label. Artists get paid (Mostly) under ASCAP/BMI rights.

However, if the Artist decides to allow recordings to be created outside of the Label, only ASCAP/BMI royalties need be paid for the performance, as mechanical reproduction of the label’s master never occurs, and royalties for mechanical reproduction therof are not due. Therefore, it seems to be in the best interest of the artist to perform outside of the label in most cases.

I definitely don’t claim to know everything, and if I’m wrong, please correct me.

Celes says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Copyright Reform GeneralEm

As far as ASCAP/BMI, those royalties go to the creator of the musical work, not the performing artist. (My dad was a songwriter but not a performer and was a member of ASCAP.)

I’m less clear on exactly where the performing artist’s money comes from, but I believe that in cases where a deal with a label is signed, the artist receives his portion of the profits (read: pittance) from the record company. If that’s correct, then yes, it does make much more sense these days for an artist not to tie himself to a label.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Copyright Reform GeneralEmergency

But if IP is privatized, shouldn’t the arbitration process be privatized as well??


Copyright is a limited term monopoly grantd by the People to encourage the arts. The People need to bear the costs of Copyright outside of court costs so they can debate the merits of its continuance or modification on an ongoing basis.?

And once again, I would only privatize the registration “Service Bureau” front end aspect of copyright. But honestly, I would not expect this to be boomtown business because the limited terms and fees I propose here are intended to discourage usage of Copyright.

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