Copyright Society's 'World IP Day' Lesson: Give Us Your Copyrights For Nothing

from the so-let's-counter-contest dept

Every year around April 26th, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) hosts a weird dog and pony show of copyright/patent/trademark maximalism that it calls World IP Day. In the past, we’ve pointed out that the events and festivities are disturbingly one-sided and frequently clueless. For example, two years ago, WIPO used Bob Marley’s famous line “Get Up, Stand Up” as the theme for World IP Day, ignoring the history of Jamaican music, in which the lack of copyright protections in the 50s and early 60s is basically what allowed Bob Marley to become a world phenomenon (and, later, the fact that Marley and Universal Music got tangled up in a fight over copyrights).

Anyway, the “theme” for this year’s World IP Day is “Innovation — Improving Lives,” which suggests a stronger focus on the patent side of the equation this year. WIPO has a list of suggested activities for World IP Day, including staging exhibitions, setting up a booth at the airport to talk about “IP and the role it plays” in your daily lives (really), or… hosting an “essay competition.” It would appear that the Copyright Society of the USA has decided to take this approach and has announced an essay competition. Oddly, this is not on the website of the Copyright Society of the USA, but only over email — and a recipient of that email has kindly forwarded it to me.

As you might imagine, the Copyright Society of the USA tends to be fairly supportive of ever expanding and ever expansive copyright law. It is also — apparently — supportive of the idea that it’s not so much the creator who deserves the benefits of copyright law, but rather the larger gatekeepers. Such as itself. After all, here are the “rules” for the Copyright Society of the USA’s essay contest promoting the wonders of copyright:

Pretty simple. If you can’t see that, the rules are:

  • Essays must be 700 words or less in English
  • Essays must be original and unpublished. Plagiarized entries will be rejected.
  • Essays must be written by one person. Co-authored essays are not accepted.
  • Copyright of the essays entered will be assigned to the organizer.

Yup. So celebrate copyright… by handing your copyrights over to the Copyright Society of the USA for free. Well, perhaps not for free, because (based on no clear criteria) the Copyright Society of the USA will pick three “winners” who will receive credits in $100, $50 and $25 denominations to be used at (an online delivery service). Very exciting. I guess, perhaps, that will teach the young folks this contest is likely targeted at a little something about copyright: which is expect to have a larger, more well-resourced organization demand to take control over your copyrights for a pittance (if anything). That’s quite a lesson for World IP Day.

Anyway, in the spirit of… “innovation,” we’ve decided that we might as well do our own World IP Day writing contest, but (again, in the spirit of “innovation”) let’s make it an “anti” contest. Part of the wonders of the internet is that you don’t need gatekeepers anymore — and you certainly don’t need them taking control over your copyrights. There are lots of platforms where you can post your own essays, perhaps on the theme of open innovation and how that helps innovation. Or on how intellectual property has been used to stifle and hold back innovation. If you choose to post it with a permissive and open license (or better yet, a public domain/CC0 dedication) and then let us know about it, and we may consider republishing it here to get it some more attention. Or not. You don’t need us. And you certainly don’t need the Copyright Society of the USA taking your copyright in your little propaganda piece about how copyright is awesome.

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Companies: copyright society of the usa, wipo

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Comments on “Copyright Society's 'World IP Day' Lesson: Give Us Your Copyrights For Nothing”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Copyright is awesome because prevents you or anyone else from just taking MY work. That's why it's in the US Constitution.

First, it’s entirely standard in trivial little writing contests for promoting some cause that entries become property of organizer as clearly stated in the rule there. Companies have used this method for surely over a hundred years to come up with slogans or product names. Nothing at all new, shady, or hidden.

YOU DAILY USE THE SAME METHOD, trying to gain from freely contributed user comments! — But YOU try to cast their use as contemptible and contradictory.

NOTE PARTICULARLY that the organization recognizes original ownership, THEN coaxes them into assigning it in this effort on lure of rewards for adjudged winners.

*** Key point is that owner makes the choice. ***

But in Techdirt’s ANTI-COPYRIGHT notions anyone can take a created work, no matter how costly or personally precious, to enjoy and dispose of however want, including “monetize” it as Kim Dotcom illegally did.

Here you explicitly solicit ANTI-copyright views. Guess you’ve given up your “supports copyright” facade, or maybe just forgot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Copyright is awesome because prevents you or anyone else from just taking MY work. That's why it's in the US Constitution.

YOU DAILY USE THE SAME METHOD, trying to gain from freely contributed user comments! — But YOU try to cast their use as contemptible and contradictory.

Mike has said many times in the past that he makes no claim on the comments, and they are not part of the copyright that he claims here. He used to have a disclaimer on the page stating that the comments belong to the individual submitter. We’re still not sure why they disappeared, but I suspect if you’re genuinely interested in asking him, he’ll let you know that he doesn’t ask for you to assign the copyright of your comments over to him (in many cases, I’d think that Mike wouldn’t want them.)

There is one thing in asking for non-exclusive access to publish the copyrighted work (which I see all the time when submitting works to a publisher or website,) and quite different to ask for an exclusive assignment of copyright. One is done to make sure that the company publishing the work doesn’t later get sued for doing so and the other is hypocritical for an organization that says they are looking out for the interests of the creators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Copyright is awesome because prevents you or anyone else from just taking MY work. That's why it's in the US Constitution.

Reply to self: Techdirt totally hid this comment for several days at least, so that I’d have no effect on the discussion. Note that the AC only replies three days later, probably when first see-able.

Techdirt is COWARDLY AND DISHONEST. No one reasonable comments here.

That hiding makes Techdirt the publisher of all comments: it not an open platform when does prior restraint in secret.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No matter how many times you tilt at those windmills Don, they will never become the dragons you seem to think they are. Spam filters are not and will never be ‘censorship’ or ‘prior restraint’, and no amount of repetition on your part will make the fact that TD has one a ‘publisher’ of any of the comments posted here that aren’t theirs.

TechDescartes (profile) says:

All in a Name

Anyway, in the spirit of… "innovation," we’ve decided that we might as well do our own World IP Day writing contest, but (again, in the spirit of "innovation") let’s make it an "anti" contest.

"Anti" contests are so much less effective than "pro" contests. If their contest decrements innovation by 1 ("Innovation — Improving Lives"), why not call for essays that do the opposite, say "Innovation++"?

Anonmylous says:

My submission!

“By reading this work you are agreeing to assign, now and in perpetuity, copyright on all copyrighted works authored or assigned to you or any organization you have controlling interest and rights within. As owner of such Copyrights, I forbid you to use, share, distribute, copy, talk about on late night talk shows, discuss at the water cooler, Tweet, hashtag, timeline, back up to the cloud, or any other use of my copyrights. Please remove your website immediately, you are now in violation of my copyrights. My lawyer will contact you shortly with a settlement offer for this violation.”

I do understand this Copyright thing, right?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Par for the course

Copyright of the essays entered will be assigned to the organizer.

Given I imagine they’re huge fans of the majors(publishers, labels, studios), where handing over the copyright of what you create is pretty standard, it’s not surprising that they would go the same route.

We can’t have copyrights in the hands of the public after all, they wouldn’t even begin to know the proper use of such valuable things, much better to hand it to a group/company/organization that will take proper care of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Essays must be original and unpublished. Plagiarized entries will be rejected.

Not a problem. Going by the track record of catching plagiarism and lifting content from other creators and websites to pad out their propaganda machine, it’s pretty common for copyright advocate websites to end up "stealing" (I did use their term correctly, right?) photos and paragraphs from other places, then claim good faith.

"It’s called cutting and pasting!" bellowed John Steele, anyone?

DB (profile) says:

Par for the course

This is surprisingly common for “contests”. The fine print in many photo and art competitions states that you are assigning them your copyright. Not just the prize winners — the copyright to all entries.

I could understand limited non-exclusive rights to show the entries and announce the winner, but it’s not that. They are claiming all rights, exclusively. They can sell your work to stock photography sites, use it in advertising for perpetuity, etc. all while blocking the creator from doing the same. The only payment is a chance at a token prize or ribbon.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Par for the course

Non-exclusive I get, as that allows the one holding the contest to display the ‘winners’ without fear that the one who submitted it might change their mind, pull permission, and suddenly leave them open to charges of infringement.

‘You give us all the rights to your work’ though is rubbish. They don’t need that, and as you noted it means that the creator is stuck from doing anything with their work unless they want to risk being charged with infringement if they do so.

That’s the kind of ‘contract’ you’d expect from a sleazy person commissioning someone else. "Make me something good, and if you’re lucky I might give you something good in return. Even if I don’t however I still get to keep what you made."

Anonymous Coward says:

Man, I kind of want to write a really good essay, submit it, then post a copy of it online somewhere. Then, through a third party, alert the people holding the contest to the fact that someone posted a copy of (now their) copyrighted material. Then, they can sue me over it, and I can go to some media company and the whole thing Streisanded all over. Reddit would eat that shit up.

Chombs (profile) says:

Too much importance is being put on the gatekeepers, the middlemen or such. But lets not forget that the problem (too) is the source, the production houses, the copyright “owners” or holders, the authors or “creators” who expect ridiculous amount of money and in eternal fashion (rents) for the same unit of work, the same unit of effort invested, the same unit of time invested aka a movie, an album/song, a book, a software, a game, etc.

Many times middlemen, such as Netflix, cannot give lower prices and better service (as no geoblocking) BECAUSE of the terms imposed by the production studios. We do not need copyright reform, we need copyright extinction.

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even more so, this copyright scheme is a great generator of inequality. A substantial amount of the benefit and profit of copyright and patent goes to mainly American companies and American individuals, leaving the rest of the world to just become sweat shops and manufacturing plants to mass produce all those products and services based on an “original” idea or “invention” or “patent” owned by an American company or individual.

Just take the iPhone for example, most of the parts are manufactured elsewhere but who rips the most profit by far? Yes, those American company (Apple) and Individuals (Tim Cook and such) who “own” the patent, the original idea, the design, etc, etc, etc. While the real work, the real time- consuming, hard ans sweating, low-paying jobs are done by thousands overseas.

See Patent Grants for the Top 10 offices, it is ridiculous to see that between the first place (USA of course) and the sixth place (Russia) there is a tenfold difference. And that is only on the top 10 countries.


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