Want To Get A Sense Of Just How Complex And Confusing Copyright Law Really Is?

from the then-check-this-out... dept

Michael Scott points us to an article concerning the Library of Congress issuing a report on how copyright law applies to libraries who possess unpublished audio works recorded prior to 1972. The problem, you see, is that no one was exactly sure whether or not these recordings were actually covered by copyright law. The real problem, though, becomes pretty clear pretty quickly as you read through the article: copyright law is a house of cards. We just keep layering new rules on top of old rules, and figure the courts will sort out the places where they contradict, overlap or confuse. But that leaves a ton of uncertainty in a variety of situations -- including this particular one. It should be a simple question: if a library is in possession of an unpublished sound recording from before 1972, what's the copyright status? But the mess that is copyright law makes it such that it's hardly an easy question at all -- and actually requires an 85-page report from the Library of Congress to go through all of the nuances. And then your everday individual is expected to understand what is "right" and "wrong" in copyright law?
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Filed Under: confusion, copyright law, libraries, unpublished


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  1. identicon
    ASH, 10 Apr 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Youve got it backwards

    #3/#4--

    Congress wasn't allowed to make the new terms retroactive; it would have been unconstitutional. As mentioned, the "Takings" clause of the Fifth Amendment doesn't allow the government to arbitrarily remove your existing property rights.

    #2--

    You've still got it exactly backwards. The writer wants us to believe that the new copyright laws are what have mucked things up; when in fact it's the other way around. (Except, of course, for Fair Use, which is an unholy mess.)

    In fact, even the latest major revision to copyright law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, simplified things greatly, giving protection to service providers and web sites for the unmoderated copyright violations of its users--something else anti-copyright activists didn't have any objection to.

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