by Mike Masnick

One Writer's "Truth" About Copyright

from the say-what-now? dept

I'm a bit confused as to what's going through Thomas Greene's mind over at the Register, but he goes on quite a rant about the "truth" of copyright today. I'm not quite sure exactly how one anecdotal (and apparently completely made up) story proves any point whatsoever, but he seems to think it's conclusive. I also tend to wonder about any argument that starts with "I've always argued for this one thing, so you know I've got my street cred - and because of that, you should listen to me when I tell you you're full of crap on this other thing".

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  • identicon
    neilathotep, 18 Oct 2002 @ 1:53pm

    No Subject Given

    You know, I purposely avoid articles written by Greene these days. So much crud has come out of his keyboard that it's generally not only a waste of time, but a waste of brainpower to read his articles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Snyder, 18 Oct 2002 @ 3:14pm

    Greene makes a few good points

    First of all, I think you're being a bit harsh on Thomas Greene. He's a much better tech writer than most and has in fact been pretty vocal in his criticism of the MPAA, RIAA and especially congress, so I don't think it's a false credibility thing.

    He does raise some interesting points in this article which I think are right on. For example, he clearly criticizes the DMCA where it tramples on fair use rights. And parts of Eldred & Lessigís argument are based on flawed logic and perfect world ideals. They are overlooking the realities of printing and publishing and assuming that itís the same as the internet. Eldred is going to lose and for reasons Greene points out in another article: the justices are afraid of invalidating all the other extensions and because the Constitution says ďpower to promote creative works,Ē not ďto optimize production.Ē While the Mickey Mouse Act is wrong, and bad legislation, itís not unconstitutional--in this case, the Constitution gives congress the power to be wrong.

    That said, I disagree with him on a few points in this article (and others). I found his analogy of the imaginary writer to be somewhat convincing--if that were the way things really worked, itís a somewhat compelling example of copyright working. But I really donít think that itís like that for most authors. My biggest problem with copyright is that it seems like the actual creators of the works are forced to practically give away their copyright to a publisher. As far as Iím concerned, once the copyright exchanges hands, the term should be cut down drastically. If the purpose of copyright is to encourage arts & science, then once a writer gives up his copyright to a book publisher, it is no longer an incentive. The second biggest issue I have with copyright is that it kills the availability of lower volume books that are out of print. In many cases, a publisher that owns the copyright on an out of print book will not print the book because it wonít sell enough to be worth printing. Combine that with the acid-based paper most books were printed on that will only last a few decades (best case scenario) and you have a recipe for works being completely lost--forever. If a copyright owner is not willing to publish their work in some manner, their copyright should be void. Finally, Iíve heard that something like 90% of the money generated from a copyright is made in the first few years. If there is true hard evidence of this, then the benefit to society of copyright ending after those few years (plus few years to be safe) vastly outweighs the benefit of the creator of a few extra dollars. Anybody know whether this statistic is true or just anecdotal?

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  • identicon
    Tom Poe, 20 Oct 2002 @ 8:22pm

    truth copyright and the greene way

    Hi: Let's tit-for-tat with him.
    Dear Mr. Greene:
    Are you ready for the Digital Age? Doesn't sound like it, from reading your fine article in the Register on the 18th.
    My Magnum Opus One is up on the web. Viewers are reading it, downloading it, printing, sharing it, talking about it, and quoting it around the world. Twenty-three languages, and translations continue as-we-speak.
    I'm beginning to see revenues, speaking engagements, travel ops, commissioned works offers, and best of all, merchandising opps coming in weekly. Why, I've even had three universities offer positions.
    I worked hard on my research for Magnum Opus One, spending three years, researching and writing. Sort of equivalent to someone going to college to earn a degree. I managed to survive by using the Internet to plug my work, engage an audience of supporters through a weblog, and some creative merchandising campaigns. It wasn't easy, but every nickel comes to me, now, and I decide how to spend it. Nice having control, I think.
    I just completed a contract with a traditional publisher to provide hard cover books. On my terms, mutually agreeable to all parties. The Internet let me run a campaign for orders up front. Pre-paid to the tune of 100,000. Imagine.
    Welcome to the Digital Age, Thomas C. Greene. You'll like it! So will the publishers. All this because we have the Creative Commons Project where sanity and reality meet, protecting our Precious Public Domain.
    Oh, and in case you're interested, marketing budget includes factoring "lost sales" as promotion, which is advantageous when calculating one's tax liabilities.
    Tom Poe
    Open Studios
    Reno, NV

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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