The Economist On Why Copyright Needs To Return To Its Roots

from the monopoly-money dept

An article in The Economist from earlier this month highlights what many Techdirt readers know well: the current state vs the historical intent of copyright brought forward by The Statute Of Anne.

When Queen Anne gave her assent on April 10th the following year—300 years ago this week—to “An act for the encouragement of learning” they were less enthused. Parliament had given them rights, but it had set a time limit on them: 21 years for books already in print and 14 years for new ones, with an additional 14 years if the author was still alive when the first term ran out.

Thinking about the times, one could see how such a system might encourage the creation of more works of art.  An artist is given a limited time on which they have a monopoly on the production of copies of their works, a limited time for exclusively monetizing their works via those copies.  After 14, 21 or possibly 28 years, the author had better have another work available to copyright if they decide to continue living off the proceeds of their works.

But today's rules give no such incentive.  An artist that creates a popular work is almost guaranteed of being able to derive income from that single success well into their afterlife.  Not only is the artist not incentivized to continue their creation, some of their descendant generations can rest on their laurels, allowing lawyers to gather income for them -- often from well-intentioned future artists who actually are trying to create new work from the existing.

The Economist goes on to highlight:

Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right.

Surely there will be copyright supporters who will cringe at such a statement. They believe that copyright is "intellectual property", and therefore their arguments often confuse the requirements for laws that support copyright with those that support physical properties.

At the moment, the terms of trade favour publishers too much. A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable. [...]. The value society places on creativity means that fair use needs to be expanded and inadvertent infringement should be minimally penalised. None of this should get in the way of the enforcement of copyright, which remains a vital tool in the encouragement of learning. But tools are not ends in themselves.

Encouragement of learning, inadvertent infringement, societal values. These are all crucial with the original intent of the establishment of copyright. Yet over time the publishing industry and others have shifted the focus, and thus the legal system, away from the benefits that society gains from access to these works towards a radically limited system focusing on maximizing control (in the hopes of maximizing profits).

A few hours, weeks or even years of work turn into a lifetime (plus) guarantee of exclusivity. Where is the social value in that? How does this current system encourage learning? Though it is great to see a popular media outlet like The Economist talking about a reduction in current copyright terms, it would be even more fantastic to see them tackle the alternatives to copyright systems.



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    Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Net Present Value

    A few hours, weeks or even years of work turn into a lifetime (plus) guarantee of exclusivity. Where is the social value in that?

    Playing devil's advocate, I can see an argument for extending the duration of copyright, even past the author's lifetime. In short, the longer the copyright, the higher the net present value is of the copyright, and the more incentive that an author will have to create a new work. If an artist writes a book and wants to sell it to a publisher, the longer that the publisher has the rights to that book, the more money that the author can demand for the rights. Sure, the author may die long before the copyright runs out, but he'd get the benefit of that extended copyright duration in his lifetime.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:31am

      Re: Net Present Value

      Ah, but the idea is to get artists to create MULTIPLE works, not one. Anything that doesn't encourage the majority of creators to keep creating fails the original impetus for copyright....

       

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        Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        Ah, but the idea is to get artists to create MULTIPLE works, not one.

        No it's not. "Promoting the progress" has no stipulation about the output of any one particular artist. It's about the overall output and its benefit to society. If you're a Margaret Mitchell or a J.D. Salinger, you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career. To the extent that money is an incentive to create a copyrightable work, the argument that an increased NVP allows for a greater monetary reward is equal regardless of the number of works. In short, "promoting the progress" doesn't care if one author writes ten books or ten authors write one book each, as long as those ten books are written and benefit the public.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          Would Salinger really not have bothered writing a novel if copyright was only 15 years? or 10? I somehow doubt this. Most authors don't even know the exact terms of copyright until advised by an agent, let alone have that as the primary motivation for writing in the first place.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            Would Salinger really not have bothered writing a novel if copyright was only 15 years?

            Based on your reply, it appears you missed or did not understand the following clause in my post...

            "To the extent that money is an incentive to create a copyrightable work,"

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          Ummm - I take issue with the phrase "you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career". In every other endeavor, you get more reward for more work - why should the arts be different?

           

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            I didn't say that an non-prolific author should be rewarded more than a prolific author, just that they shouldn't be "punished" or looked on as less of a contributor to society based solely on the number of published books. Sure, if someone writes multiple Catcher in the Rye quality books, they should get paid more than J.D. Salinger. But from an overall benefit to society, I don't see any real difference, on a per work basis, between a book written by someone who only wrote one book and a book by someone who wrote multiple books. It's irrelevant to the overall benefit to society.

             

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              Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              You also assume that a limited copyright is a punishment. Copyright in and of itself is above and beyond rewards. It's an added incentive on top of the other benefits to creating. Why should a non-prolific author get rewarded for years and years when I (in a non-copyright oriented job) cannot?

              This is not to say copyright should not be there, it just should be limited. 28 years sounds like more than enough.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                "28 years sounds like more than enough."

                28 years sounds like much too long.

                 

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                You also assume that a limited copyright is a punishment.

                That was not my intent. Discounting the emotionally charged term "punishment", the point I was trying to get across is that the goal of "promoting the progress" is met equally by (all other things being equal) ten authors writing one book as one author writing ten books.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  The fact is that 95 year copywrong laws for corporations and the lifetime of an artist plus 70 years for individuals is absurd. These laws do not promote the progress, they only hinder progress, and copywrong length and terms only exposes the true intent of IP laws more generally and who they truly come from. They come from corporations who do not care about the public interest, they are the ones who lobby IP laws in place. The public does not lobby to have IP laws in the first place and the public would not lobby for such absurdly long laws. But IP length and terms demonstrate that the government doesn't even pay attention to the public interest or care, they only pay attention to special interest groups which is the only reason IP laws even exist. IP length and terms exposes the fact that those who want IP laws to exist are only self interested and are not interested in the public interest or the promotion of progress. and if the true intent of IP laws is not to promote the progress then why should I trust that they actually do anything to promote the progress, especially given the total lack of evidence. Why should I trust the corporations that lobby for these laws to know, decide, or even care about what's in the public interest? The true intent of these laws is only to enrich the elite and the laws themselves are evidence of this (ie: length). IP laws do little to nothing to promote the progress, they aren't intended to and those who lobby for them don't intend them to, they are only used to hinder progress and unfairly exploit the public.

                   

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                    Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:58am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    The fact is that 95 year copywrong laws for corporations and the lifetime of an artist plus 70 years for individuals is absurd.

                    I agree, but I fail to see how your rant relates to my original point. I never said that "life plus 70" was the best term for copyright. What I said was that a longer copyright duration can provide for more monetary incentive to create based on the principle of NPV. Where is the real sweet spot where the benefits to society are balanced by the benefits of the individual artist? I'm not sure, but I agree wholeheartedly that it's less that "life plus 70". But, just because the net effect may be negative, it doesn't mean that there aren't positive effects.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                      I think some IP privileges are OK but anything more than seven years, I think, is too long. No extensions either. Anything less would not justify the fixed costs (in government money and in how it must add to or change everyone's behavior and restrict our actions) required to implement these laws. Either seven years or abolishment. I also think that copywrong should be opt in and that if you don't opt in within at most 90 days of releasing your work, it's automatically into the public domain with no way of recovering it. Upon opting in your work gets listed on some public directory so others can know that copying your work will infringe on their privileges instead of requiring people to be psychic, like our current system does. I also don't want these laws interfering with anyone's private E - Mails online or anything like that, they can't interfere with anonymous free speech on blogs or message boards or websites, and they can't be used to hold service providers (ie: Be it Bittorrent or Youtube or whatever) liable for the actions of users and they can't be used to interfere with my ability to anonymously post (non infringing) videos or music on youtube or any place I choose. They shouldn't interfere with the ability to to freely host open Wifi services, the service provider shouldn't be held liable for the actions of it's users in cases of infringement. I also think that anything broadcasted on monopolized broadcasting airwaves should be in the public domain, these laws should not interfere with anyone's right to record, copy, and redistribute anything they record on public airwaves. Unfortunately most of these requirements strongly negate even having IP laws to begin with being that if these privileges can't reasonably be enforced without interfering with my civil rights and liberties then why even have them. This is why I am on the border of trying to decide whether we should have them or not. but my civil rights and liberties always come before your intellectual property privileges, period.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                        ....so others can know that copying your work will infringe on your privileges * ...

                         

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              but by definition, they ARE lesser contributors. Leonardo da Vinci was incredibly prolific, and is tremendously valued as a contributor to our culture, precisely because he did produce so much.

              Society's benefit comes from having multiple points of view to discuss, from having multiple works produced. If an author can produce ONE work, then they most likely can produce MORE works. It's a shame the Salinger and Mitchell didn't produce more. But society would have received more benefit if they had - and a system that rewards artists with enough sufficiency that they can produce one masterwork, and never have to produce again, is going to receive LESS benefit.

              IMHO, of course - based on my own understanding of creativity, the publishing industry and the needs of writers. The more you do anything, the better you get at it, in general.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                It's a shame the Salinger and Mitchell didn't produce more. But society would have received more benefit if they had

                Agreed, but no more than if another author created a work of equal worth.

                 

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Leonardo da Vinci was incredibly prolific, and is tremendously valued as a contributor to our culture, precisely because he did produce so much.

                Yes, da Vinci is recongized as one of the most important artists/inventors of all time. However, does that fact that a single man contributed the works of art and science make them intrinsically more valuable to society? I don't think so, at least not to any appreciably amount. Sure, you have to admire the greatness of a person who is so prolific, but if ten different people made the same contributions, the benefit to society would be pretty much the same.

                Now, from the standpoint of incentivizing new works i.e. the part of the analysis before the works are created (not their net worth to society after creation), I can see where having that level of genius concentrated in one person would make more future works likely. If you painted the Mona Lisa, odds are you're going to get another commision.

                So, while the affect may not be as much as for existing artists as new artists, I still think that my original argument, that there is a positive effect on the incentive to create new works from longer copyright durations, is valid.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:29am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  "So, while the affect may not be as much as for existing artists as new artists, I still think that my original argument, that there is a positive effect on the incentive to create new works from longer copyright durations, is valid."

                  but even if it is valid, despite the total lack of evidence and logic (ie: plenty of artists contribute work under CC licenses, licenses designed to circumvent copywrong laws and heck, you and many others even freely contribute your work to this blog by spending time to respond to posts), for economic reasons mentioned above I would much rather have a government that does not subsidize artists with monopoly rents.

                   

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              PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Hmmm... I do wonder why you think that "only" being able to make money for 25-30 years from a single work rather than an entire lifetime is "punishment".

              You also seem to be concentrating heavily on the outliers of authors successful with their debut work, whereas even money-motivated authors like Thomas Harris and Dan Brown still write occasionally and had to write a couple of novels before hitting it big.

               

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          Michael, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          Ok, but let's examine that a little. You are making the assumption that for every 1 writer that can produce 10 works, there are 9 other writers that can produce one great work and regardless of whether the incentive is going to promote the artist producing 10 works or each artist producing 1, society is in the same position.

          Doesn't that statement assume that there are few artists that can product many great works and many that can produce a single great work? That sounds like you are saying "anyone can write one hit song".

           

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          Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career.

          Try that one out in any other walk of life and see how far you get.

          Try telling any ordinary employer that he should pay you a weeks wages for one days work on the basis that "you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career" and I think you wouldn't last long...

           

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:33am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          "No it's not. "Promoting the progress" has no stipulation about the output of any one particular artist."

          While technically true, isn't there more progress if more works are outputted? Are you arguing that the intent of copyright WASN'T for an artist to recoup for their time so they could continue to create?

          "If you're a Margaret Mitchell or a J.D. Salinger, you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career."

          Interesting PoV, but not one I share. Those artists wouldn't be PENALIZED for only creating one work. They just wouldn't be REWARDED as ridiculously as they are now. Might seem like semantics, but I don't think it is. It think that it's an important insight into the point of view of the individual....

          "In short, "promoting the progress" doesn't care if one author writes ten books or ten authors write one book each, as long as those ten books are written and benefit the public."

          Ah, I see the point you're making now, and there's sense in it. But wouldn't it be better to try and find the sweet spot where the most output is generated? And isn't it logical to assume that extending income protection to beyond the life of an artist almost assuredly misses that sweet spot?

          Keep in mind that I don't advocate for the dismissal of copyright altogether. 4-5 years is long enough, IMO....

           

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            Hephaestus (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            " 4-5 years is long enough, IMO...."

            Actually it should be 4 years recuring for 28 years and only upon registration and re-registration of the work. No more this if its published its its automatically copyrighted. Because that leads to a sense of entitlement. If you dont register and re-register it it falls into the public domain. There must be a fee associated with the copyright. Changing the foreword doesnt entitle you to re copyright it.

            This way works that are popular can continue to be monetized by the author.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Terms should be assigned once and then expire permanently with no chance to extend or re-apply. The term length could be anything the creator so desires! Taxes on the oh so very real property would start at a base of 10% or net worth for 1 year and asymptotically approach 100% at a term of 20 years. 15% of taxes collected would be put in a pool which is drawn upon by members of congress (their incentive) and the remaining funds would be distributed as income taxes are. The 15% figure would be fixed with no ability to amend, but the base rate and maximum rate of tax would be able to increase (but not decrease).

              This way society benefits, we are able to work with the corruption of our officials, and people who think their privelages are property rights get to enjoy full property rights (for as long as they want!), including paying taxes on them.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                "Terms should be assigned once and then expire permanently with no chance to extend or re-apply. The term length could be anything the creator so desires! Taxes on the oh so very real property would start at a base of 10% or net worth for 1 year and asymptotically approach 100% at a term of 20 years. "

                I disagree with this. Much of the reason for extending copywrong laws is simply to prevent older work from entering the public domain and competing with new work. Work after a reasonable period of time, no more than 7 years, should automatically enter the public domain.

                 

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              The Infamous Joe (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              No more this if its published its its automatically copyrighted. Because that leads to a sense of entitlement.

              Copyright itself leads to a sense of entitlement. The real argument against automatic copyright is that it creates "orphaned works" which, no matter how you spin it, goes directly opposite of "promoting the progress" because in that case, someone did create, sees no return for it *and* we can't use it.

               

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              hegemon13, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Actually, I wouldn't mind if changing the content a bit DID allow for a re-registration of copyright. It would still allow the original version to fall into the public domain, but it would be a way in which the original author could continue to receive rewards from a work by improving it. People could pay for the newest version, or get an older version for free. Nothing wrong with that.

              The newest version may not necessarily be an improvement, of course, but there are certainly plenty of instances where an experienced author could improve their early works using the experience they had gained over the years.

               

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            SteelWolf (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            Why do people so vehemently deny advocating for the dismissal of copyright? We see on TechDirt every day how it's practically unenforceable and irrelevant to modern business models. Arguing for term reduction ignores the fundamental problems with the system.

             

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              vivaelamor (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              "Why do people so vehemently deny advocating for the dismissal of copyright? We see on TechDirt every day how it's practically unenforceable and irrelevant to modern business models. Arguing for term reduction ignores the fundamental problems with the system."

              Pretty much because it has become an institution. The other day I found out about Equity (British entertainment trade union) and how they used to be closed shop. The person explaining them to me thought that was still how it worked, I was horrified at the idea that such a thing could go on and not surprised when I found out that it has in fact been an illegal practice since 1981. Something that seemed so obviously broken to me was just 'how things are' to another person. Frightfully similar practices seem to still go on some US industries.

               

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            Ah, I see the point you're making now, and there's sense in it. But wouldn't it be better to try and find the sweet spot where the most output is generated? And isn't it logical to assume that extending income protection to beyond the life of an artist almost assuredly misses that sweet spot?

            I don't know who said this, but one of my favorite expressions is "It's not reality, but the perception of reality that is important." I alluded to this in another response, but the monetary incentive that an author would have to create a new work is affected by how much the publisher values similar works. So, while you and I might agree that the "sweet spot" between the benefit to society versus benefit to the individual artist comes much sooner in the lifespan of the copyrighted work than what big content want, I think you have to look at what incentives are actually in play, not what incentives should be.

             

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              greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Where is the evidence showing that the existence of copyright leads to progress in the arts? Where is the evidence that the existence of copyright leads to the creation of more works of art?

              In fact, where is the evidence that the absence of copyright hinders progress or creation?

               

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:37am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Where is the evidence[...]

                In terms of hard evidence, to be honest, I don't have any. That's why I come to TD, to read about the hard evidence. However, from memory, I don't think that most the studies referenced on TD indicate that the principle of copyright can't (directly) lead to the creation of more works. It's my understanding that many of the problems with copyright indicated in the studies deal with implementation i.e. the lengths of copyright, the levels of enforcement, the deviations from the original intent, etc.

                I think it's fair to say that if TechDirt has an official position on copyright, it's that it needs to be reformed, not scrapped. So, while copyright as it's currently implemented may, on the whole, not be fulfilling the promise of effectively promoting the progress, I don't think that this damns the general principle of copyright.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:40am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  I think copywrong length exposes and thus condemns the true intent of copywrong laws and if the intent is not beneficial to society then why should I trust that copywrong laws are beneficial to society in the first place? because corporations who lobby for them say so? I think not.

                   

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                    Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    I think copywrong length exposes and thus condemns the true intent of copywrong laws

                    The true intent? Do you mean the original intent? If so, that you really think that the founding fathers were part of a conspiracy and they created copyright in such a way that it would be corrupted over time so that big content providers could sue girl scouts for singing campfire songs, then I think you may want to get a new tinfoil hat.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                      No, I said the true intent, not the original intent. and if you want to go back to the original intent, it was also nefarious. Here is a history lesson on copywrong laws.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08gfh_6sbQI

                      The original intent came before the Constitution gave Congress the ability to grant such privileges. The founding fathers may not have carried over the same intent, but that's not to say it didn't have such an intent before them. and many of those who put pressure on the founding fathers to maintain these laws probably also had similar intents. They started out with more reasonable terms but that's not to say those more reasonable terms were intended for the public benefit by many of those who encouraged these laws to exist. They always say it's about the public benefit, but I think the current state of these laws helps demonstrate that it was almost never about the public benefit, those who lobby for it are and have always been dishonest with their true intent.

                       

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                        greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                        The use of "copywrong" makes it really hard to take your comments seriously. Seriously.

                         

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                          The Infamous Joe (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                          I agree completely, it's almost as bad as the pro-copyright people calling copyright infringement stealing.

                          I usually don't bother to read posts from either type of person. :)

                           

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                          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                          It's not a right so I'm not sure what to call it. Copy privilege? I guess I can continue calling it copywrong.

                           

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                            Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                            Well, copyright is a right, it's just a right that doesn't belong to the holder - the holder is privileged with the public's right to copy the covered work - consequently being able to exclude others from making unauthorised copies (if they can afford the litigation).

                            So, copyright from the perspective of the holder is a privilege, and that's the most appropriate term.

                            Copyright abolition is the only way of restoring the public's natural right to copy cultural works in their legitimate possession, i.e. as was once the case with respect to folk music, folk tales, etc.

                            Copyleft licenses can simulate this, but only for specific works, and only as long as the copyleft licenses are dutifully adhered to.

                             

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                          vivaelamor (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                          "The use of "copywrong" makes it really hard to take your comments seriously. Seriously."

                          At least it wasn't copyread.

                           

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                        greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                        BTW: that video is great! I hadn't watched it before.

                         

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          ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          "In short, "promoting the progress" doesn't care if one author writes ten books or ten authors write one book each, as long as those ten books are written and benefit the public."

          Hmmm. I see your general point, but I think the fallacy lies in the fact that we have no real way of knowing if there is a ten-to-one ratio here. In fact, it would be safer to say that the ratio is *not* ten-to-one, even if we don't know exactly what the actual ratio is.

          Given that we can't make a safe prediction on whether a long copyright inspires enough new authors to take up pen or brush or whatever to make up for the author who stops creating - We are much safer extending a short term, and taking that variable out of the equation. Now we can be more certain of the fact that a certain number of new and existing authors will feel a need to continually contribute rather than create one work and spend the rest of their career in courtrooms defending their income, and serving as an inspiration for others to try the same.

          CBMHB

           

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          jsf (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 6:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          If you're a Margaret Mitchell or a J.D. Salinger, you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career. Actually you should be penalized. If I, and most people, only work part of the time we don't get paid full wages. Why should an artist?

           

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        Michael Long, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        "... it lets them rest on their laurels ..."

        This horse is often trottled out of the barn durning these discussions, and to my mind it's simply made of straw.

        Did Edison just create one invention, and then rest on his laurels? Did King or Clancey or Heinlein just write one bestselling novel and call it quits? Did Spielberg just direct one blockbuster?

        Heck, even bands labeled as "one hit wonders" aren't in that category on purpose. Most at least tried to come up with another song or hit in order to build on their earlier success, but simply failed to capture the public's fancy.

        I suspect that if you look at almost any inventor, author, director, or musician, you'll find that the "hit" upon whose larels they're supposedly resting was neither their first attempt, nor their last.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          Many people create multiple works under creative commons licenses just as well, licenses designed specifically to circumvent copywrong laws. Why should we impose all these expensive to enforce laws to enforce, laws that invade our privacy and restrict our behavior, to subsidize a couple of artists when there are plenty of artists perfectly willing to create art and music without such laws.

          There is no reason for the government to subsidize art with monopoly rents just like there is no reason for the government to subsidize chairs. The free market is best at determining how much of each should be produced. If an artist requires a monopoly rent subsidy to do art and that artist does art in favor of something else, it takes away from marginally more important aspects of the economy. Not saying that art isn't important, just that laws favoring one job will take away from other jobs that the free market has determined are marginally more important. The value of any product in an economy experiences diminishing returns as its production increases, each additional unit becomes less beneficial to the economy and society. They also experience increasing opportunity cost, that is, each additional unit of whatever they take away from increases in value. Free markets are best able to allocate the inputs to production (ie: labor), not government monopolies and subsidies. If someone who would otherwise do something else, something marginally beneficial to the economy, decides to do art instead due to government monopoly subsidies, that's an economic loss that takes away from something else. Not that art isn't important, but so is that something else they would otherwise be doing. I would much rather them be doing something else and appropriately contributing to the economy.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            errr...

            "If someone who would otherwise do something else, something marginally more beneficial to the economy .." *

             

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            Michael Long, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            "... copywrong laws..."

            Never argue with cowards. Especially the 17-year-old variety that have to make up cute names for things they don't like nor understand.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              My right to make copies is greater than your right to prevent me from making copies. Good luck in the future.

               

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          Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          "I suspect that if you look at almost any inventor, author, director, or musician, "

          Because there are non-financial motivations many "one hit wonders" do keep trying however there are some examples of resting on the laurels.

          Salinger and Mitchell have been mentioned on this thread already and I remember Paul Gambaccini saying "The Rolling Stones have been on 'Commercial coast' since 1970".

          I can think of few modern musicians who have produced their greatest work in mid to late career - though this was the standard pattern in the past.

          Now there may be other explanations for this - but I do not think the "resting on the laurels" theory can be dismissed quite so easily.

           

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          Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          The question is not whether artists actually do "sit on their laurels," but whether long copyright terms allow them to do so. If the answer is yes, then copyright law is not serving its purpose.

          With the examples you cite, I doubt that longer copyright terms had anything to do with their output. Edison, for instance, was prolific at a time when patent terms were shorter than they are now. (He also "stole" liberally from others, but that's a topic for another day.)

          And though the artists may not "rest on their laurels," the publishers certainly are. It's far cheaper to release a "Best Of" record by an established artist than it is to fund an upcoming one, so that's what they do, and lengthy copyright terms encourage this behavior. Since copyrights are supposed to encourage publishers to fund new works, it seems like the laws are broken.

           

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            Michael Long, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            "The question is not whether artists actually do "sit on their laurels," but whether long copyright terms allow them to do so."

            I can build a house, sell it for a profit, and then sit on my "laurels". I can start a business, sell it, and then sit on my "laurels". So what's the problem with my creating a good book, selling a million copies, and then again sitting on my "laurels"?

            I created something. I sold it. To argue that one is fair and the other is not seems a bit disingenuous, at best.

            That said, I do believe copyright terms should be much shorter, on the order of 17 years or so. If you can't monetize a work in that period of time, give someone else a shot at it.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              "That said, I do believe copyright terms should be much shorter, on the order of 17 years or so. If you can't monetize a work in that period of time, give someone else a shot at it."

              17 years, I think, is still much too long.

               

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                PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                I always think that a term of either 15 or 20 years, with the option to renew a maximum of 2 times, would be the best.

                If you, as an artist, cannot work out a way to sell your work then you have failed. Hopefully you have created something else in your portfolio that's more successful.

                If you have managed to sell, but you think that you might be able to wring a bit more money out of the work, or you just don't want to turn on the TV and see your work being used to sell detergent, you can continue to renew for most of your natural life. This also allows any corporation to buy your work and make a reasonable profit, hopefully trickling down some royalties to you (not guaranteed).

                However, after 60 years the incentive to create works will have disappeared. You are an utter failure (or just don't care) if you have not created a single other successful work in this amount of time. The ownership of your work should then revert to the rightful owners - the people whose culture you have contributed to. This has other advantages - corporations cannot depend on works from a previous century to provide their profits, while works that have become "orphaned" and impossible to legally release in any format becomes available once again.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  "I always think that a term of either 15 or 20 years, with the option to renew a maximum of 2 times, would be the best."

                  I would disagree. Especially for a risky investment, you won't invest heavily in a risky stock based on potential returns 20 years from now. Why a book or anything else? Twenty year terms is too long.

                   

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                    Matt (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:34am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    No, but it is frequent that investors invest with an eye to returns for the next 20 years. Notice that that is the patent term for many US patents, in which people and institutions often invest in hopes of a 20-year revenue stream and the potential for future streams from derivative works.

                    On the other hand, fixed durations are counterproductive (although a fixed maximum duration might make sense). If the work contributes to society but has no economic value in its first 3 years, society should not have to wait 17 more to use it. On the other hand, if it is still selling like hotcakes after 20 years, or if it took 17 years to get warmed up but then hit and has sold well for 3, it seems unfair that its life should arbitrarily end. Among other things, that disincentives certain kinds of creation (namely, creations whose time has not yet come - precisely the kind of creations that promote progress).

                    A better strategy is to permit renewals on a showing of economic viability. And a showing of economic viability can be made simply by requiring a fee for renewal. So short initial terms with short renewal terms for a fee.

                     

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      PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:45am

      Re: Net Present Value

      "the longer the copyright, the higher the net present value is of the copyright, and the more incentive that an author will have to create a new work"

      I strongly disagree.

      If an artist has to create a new successful work every so often in order to make money, they are more likely to do so. If they can profit from a single work for for the rest of their life, they are less likely to bother. That's if money is their primary motivation, of course.

      All that longer copyrights do - *especially* when they extend beyond their author's life - is enable corporations to tie up our cultural heritage in order to make easy money. This benefits nobody, especially the artists who don't create works that are profitable enough for those corporations to bother making available.

      The non-availability of said works (which could be released by anybody if they were public domain) makes our culture poorer - the exact opposite of what copyright was intended for.

       

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        Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        If an artist has to create a new successful work every so often in order to make money, they are more likely to do so. If they can profit from a single work for for the rest of their life, they are less likely to bother.

        From my previous post in this thread:
        "In short, 'promoting the progress' doesn't care if one author writes ten books or ten authors write one book each, as long as those ten books are written and benefit the public."


        All that longer copyrights do - *especially* when they extend beyond their author's life - is enable corporations to tie up our cultural heritage in order to make easy money.

        I couldn't agree more that there are negatives to extending copyrights, even that the negatives far outweigh the positives. However, the question was about if there is any social value in extending copyrights. There may be more more drawbacks that counter the benefit that I'm pointing out, but I still believe that what I describe is a valid benefit.

         

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          Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          In short, 'promoting the progress' doesn't care if one author writes ten books or ten authors write one book each, as long as those ten books are written and benefit the public.

          I don't see any actual logic or argument supporting the idea that a longer copyright term would encourage more artists.

          The fact is that most works don't have a very long active shelf life anyway. They stop generating meaningful income long before the rights expire. A tiny minority keep earning more or less indefinitely but no one can predict before the work is created that it will fall into that category.

          The reality is that the likes of Salinger and Mitchell only found out that they had a huge moneyspinner AFTER the work
          was created and at that point sat back on their laurels.

          A long copyright term has no effect on the incentives for the first work but a huge disincentive to create more for those few whose early work is an obvious hit.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            The fact is that most works don't have a very long active shelf life anyway. They stop generating meaningful income long before the rights expire.

            Be that as it may, the perception of big content is that it is worthwhile to have longer copyright durations or else why would they want to extend it? I would agree that, for the most part, a corporation is going to make most of their money in the early lifespan of the work, but if I'm an agent working out a deal with a publisher and I know that the publisher believes they'll make more money in the long run, the fact that they probably won't is irrelevant.

            The reality is that the likes of Salinger and Mitchell only found out that they had a huge moneyspinner AFTER the work was created and at that point sat back on their laurels.

            Agreed, however, in the context of the argument that the monetary rewards from a government-granted monopoly contributes on an overall basis to "promoting the progress", it makes sense that extending the duration increases the potential monetary reward and therefore the incentive. If you don't believe that there are any benefits to copyright, then yeah, extending them wouldn't make any sense.

             

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              Modplan (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              it makes sense that extending the duration increases the potential monetary reward and therefore the incentive

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              "or else why would they want to extend it?"

              They want to extend it later on because as the future becomes the present the present value of those future monopolies start to materialize. I don't see why this is such a difficult concept to understand? But that's not to say that the same future value had a lot of value in the past, during a time when the present income from the works were unknown and during a time when the current present value had less present value in the past.

               

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              Modplan (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              it makes sense that extending the duration increases the potential monetary reward and therefore the incentive
              Increases the incentice for their first succesful work, not necessarily their most beneficial and impactful to society. To weight the system in such a way effectively assumes that an artists first major succesful work is indeed their most beneficial to society, with little incentive need afterwards to create more. Limited lifetime of copyright better ensures a consistent incentive to create and lead to a high success rate of outputting beneficial works.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Increases the incentice for their first succesful work, not necessarily their most beneficial and impactful to society. To weight the system in such a way effectively assumes that an artists first major succesful work is indeed their most beneficial to society, with little incentive need afterwards to create more.

                I think this would apply moreso to copyright than to patents, but you make a good point. However, I think you can factor out the effect of either the first-time author or the repeat author. Take two hypothetical book negotions...

                Agent F represents an unpublished author. The book is very good, but the subject matter doesn't match what's currently popular. The publisher wants to buy it, but it will be a risk.

                Agent R represents an author of several books in a series, every one of which has been on the best seller list.

                Now, obviously Agent F is going to be starting the negotiations at a much smaller amount than Agent R, but in both cases, the NPV comes into play. It's just that the NPV of Agent F's author's book is lower. But all other things being equal, the longer that the publisher knows that they'll be able to recoup their investment, the more worth they'll place on the publishing rights and, the more willing they'll be to paying more. And, the more money people get from doing something, the more incentive there is to do it.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  "But all other things being equal"

                  But all other things aren't equal. Increased risk diminishes the present value of future returns the further into the future you go giving less incentive to invest now for a return in the future. So risk really isn't an argument to justify longer monopolies, they are an argument against longer monopolies.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    meaning if you know your investment is risky, you are less likely to invest now for a return that you are going to potentially get 20 years from now vs a return that you would potentially get 10 years from now. The same is true for a less risky investment but it applies more for a riskier investment. In other words, more risk diminishes the justification for investing more money today to acquire a return further into the future and hence risk is not a valid argument for longer IP terms.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                      Imagine if you were to invest in a very risky stock, vs a non risky stock, and the risky stock promised the potential for a huge return twenty years from now. You will be unlikely to invest. You would be more likely to invest in a less risky stock that promised the potential for a return in, say, 30 years from now. Increased risk does nothing to justify potential returns further into the future.

                       

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                    Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:22pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    But all other things aren't equal. Increased risk diminishes the present value of future returns the further into the future you go giving less incentive to invest now for a return in the future.

                    OK. Was that meant to contradict something I said? Because I don't see how your statement above is at odds with anything that I've said. Of course the longer you look into the future, the more inaccuracy there is going to be. I don't think anyone would dispute that. But that doesn't change the general principle that the longer you have to recoup your investment, the more value you'll place on it. How much more value for how long, now that's the question.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                      but what it means is that increased risk isn't a valid justification for longer IP terms.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                        and even if increased length increases the tendency to make riskier investments, why should we have laws that encourages people to make unnecessarily risky investments and take unnecessarily huge risks to the determent of doing something less risky (being that if you're doing something more risky, it takes away from doing less risky stuff and making less risky investments). There is no reason to have laws that artificially make an investment less risky, that sounds somewhat like a government sponsored insurance (and I'm not saying increased IP terms is the same thing as government sponsored insurance). People should be encouraged to take reasonable investments based on free market conditions. Artificially promoting risky behavior will take away from less risky behavior that the free market deems more necessary, since people can only conduct a fixed amount of behavior in a fixed amount of time.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                          and I would argue that having laws that encourage riskier investments can hinder the progress. What would you rather invest in, a new car that offers many innovative features that runs on a regular car engine, or a new car that has similar features elsewhere but it runs on a horse pulling it? The later is a riskier investment, because it's a stupid investment, and I would much rather you going with the less risky, more sensible investments. I'm not saying that all risk is bad, just that I want people making reasonable risks and that less risky investments that may further advance society are probably going to be more beneficial to society than riskier ones. The free market encourages people to make a combination of investments that offer the most present value to society creating the proper balance between the innovation that risks create and the loss of innovation that results in making investments that are too risky.

                           

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              Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              "the perception of big content is that it is worthwhile to have longer copyright durations or else why would they want to extend it"
              Big content - by definition - own some rights in that tiny minority of works that do have a long shelf life.

              That doesn't have any impact on the incentives to an author about to create their first work.

               

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              Matt (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Just to play God's advocate: it seems equally likely that longer copyrights actually undermine the economic motivation to continue creating, because an artist could conceivably (and in some cases correctly) believe that their second work will actually undermine the market for their first. The most obvious example is 2nd editions: it hardly makes sense to create a new edition of a work until the prior edition has sucked the market dry.

              If trye, the argument then becomes about whether new editions of old works are more or less valuable than wholly new works (sight unseen). Not an argument capable of being won, I think.

               

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      The Anti-Mike Fanclub Member #1, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:53am

      Re: Net Present Value

      That is an interesting way of looking at it. Of course, you still have to balance that against the cons of extending the duration of copyright, which are overwhelming in the balance. Also you have to wonder whether the government shouldn't offer bounties for any complete work of copyrightable material, which would certainly increase the net present worth, and be less risky to boot.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:56am

      Re: Net Present Value

      "In short, the longer the copyright, the higher the net present value is of the copyright"

      I would say the limits of net present value only apply up to your lifetime. After that, except for perhaps your childrens' income (which copywrong should not be intended to fund since that does little to nothing to promote the progress), income occurring after your death can not possibly add present value because after you die you can't have income. I suppose they can put money in your coffin but the point is that the income has no value to a dead person, so present value doesn't apply after death.

      "If an artist writes a book and wants to sell it to a publisher, the longer that the publisher has the rights to that book, the more money that the author can demand for the rights."

      While the publisher is a corporation, corporations are composed of people who have limited lifespans and are therefore subject to the same analysis mentioned above. I would argue that present value can only be added only to the extent that future returns do not exceed your lifetime. After that, you have no income and so future returns are meaningless to you.

      Another thing is that the present value of future returns diminishes in value the longer into the future the return occurs. and increased risk only adds to this diminishing effect (and the possibility of death is also a risk and that risk increases into the future). This is why 20 year patents are too long, especially for risky investments.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        Now of course you may ask the question, "well then why does copywrong and patents last so long if the length doesn't add much present value." The answer is obvious and it's that the extended length doesn't add much present value at the time the patent was granted, but later on when the future becomes the present the past monopoly length becomes irrelevant. Corporations are now interested in maintaining their current monopoly on the product being that if it is released into the public domain it will compete with their sales of the same product and it may act as a substitution product and compete with their sales of other products just as well. That's why Disney et Al constantly lobby to extend copywrong laws and have those extensions apply retroactively to existing content.

         

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        Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        income occurring after your death can not possibly add present value because after you die you can't have income.

        It adds to the net present value because the "ownership" of copyrights are transferable to third-parties (mostly corporations). So, the author may die, every employee of a corporation may die, but the corporation itself still "owns" the copyright. Because the corporation can calculate how much money the IP will make over the duration of its lifetime, regardless of the lifespan of any one particular person, the work has a reasonably knowable NPV.

        Another thing is that the present value of future returns diminishes in value the longer into the future the return occurs.

        It's a good thing then that NPV takes diminishing rates of return into account.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          "It adds to the net present value because the "ownership" of copyrights are transferable to third-parties (mostly corporations)."

          But as mentioned above, those third parties are equally subject to the same analysis being that corporations are composed of people and people have limited lifespans. It adds to the present value in the future but it does not add to the current present value, except (as mentioned above) for the case of you passing it on to your children (which does little to nothing to promote the progress) or giving or selling it to some very young person who has longer to live than you, that person might experience more present value and buy it for more from an older person.

          "It's a good thing then that NPV takes diminishing rates of return into account.'

          No one said otherwise, I know how NPV works.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            But as mentioned above, those third parties are equally subject to the same analysis being that corporations are composed of people and people have limited lifespans.

            Given how corporations work, your argument makes no sense. If an author sells the rights to their book to a corporation, the corporation owns the rights, not any of the individuals in the corporation. Every single person who worked for the corporation at the time the book's rights were purchased could die and it wouldn't make a difference. The corporation would still own the IP. That's one of the main purposes of a corporation.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              "Given how corporations work, your argument makes no sense.'

              No, it makes perfect sense. You act like the corporation itself is some separate eternal person that exists apart from those who run it and that cares about what happens to it 500 years from now. It does not, a corporation is composed of people who act on behalf of the corporation and those people have limited lifespans and, at any given time, they are only interested in operations that affect either them or perhaps their children and operations occurring 500 years from now have little to no bearing on those alive today.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:13am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Why do you think corporations have had administrators that act in their immediate best interest at the expense of the long term interests of the corporations because those administrators know they are about to retire soon or will leave the corporation, leaving things up to the next person taking over? Why do you think corporations/corporate owners and the government put so much effort into ensuring that corporate administrators act not only in the immediate best interest of the corporation but also in the long term best interest? Because corporations are composed of people with limited lifespans and can hence only be expected to act in the best interest of its components, those who own, administer, and work for the corporation. and their best interests only extend to the lifespans of the corporation's component parts (and perhaps the interests their children since parents often want their children to have a nice future. but I submit that IP law shouldn't worry about that).

                 

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                You act like the corporation itself is some separate eternal person that exists apart from those who run it and that cares about what happens to it 500 years from now.

                You've just defined the term "corporation".

                 

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              and the fact that corporate employees and ownership of the corporation always changes hands only strengthens the argument against long copywrong laws. A person investing or making decisions in the corporation now doesn't care much about current IP 95 years into the future. Many things could happen by then; investors and employees could change hands (especially given how often people switch jobs these days), the economy could fail causing huge problems for the corporation, the corporation could go out of business, etc... Those investing in and working for a corporation today are probably not very concerned about what will happen to the corporation 95 years from now or even 20 years from now, they just want to make a fast buck.

               

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          PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          "It adds to the net present value because the "ownership" of copyrights are transferable to third-parties (mostly corporations)."

          But this does nothing to encourage new works, which is exactly the problem. A 3rd party who had nothing to do with creating the work rakes in the cash, while no new works are encouraged from the original author, and those works not deemed profitable disappear from history.

          Bad on all sides. I know what you're trying to say, but even if we accept the rather shaky premises you're trying to push, the negatives still far outweigh the positives for the majority of works.

          "Because the corporation can calculate how much money the IP will make over the duration of its lifetime, regardless of the lifespan of any one particular person, the work has a reasonably knowable NPV."

          ...and forever bury those works it deems "unprofitable". For every work that's currently available, there's many that are never reprinted and never made available in any format because the marketing drones decide it won't make "enough" money. If they were public domain, those works would be available to all, in any format.

          A great example recently is Clive Barker's movie Nightbreed. The movie was butchered by the studio on its first release and flopped, and the excised footage was thought lost. Last year, the footage was found and Barker's original vision restored. Despite strong interest from fans and a very successful public screening, the studio who own the rights are refusing to release it, preferring to "monitor the state of the horror market" before deciding to release it. This benefits nobody - not the fans, not Barker and ironically not the studio (assuming the re-release would be a success).

          What does this have to do with copyright? Well, the movie was made in 1990, meaning that Barker would be able to release the film himself when the rights expired sometime this decade. He won't be able to do this under the current system as the rights won't expire until his bones are dust, and so has to convince a studio's marketing drones who are apparently waiting to see how well the latest tired, crappy remake fares before making a decision.

          Yet again, our culture is poorer due to excessive copyright.

           

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            ChrisB (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            Clive Barker re-mixed Nightbreed? Awesome! That movie takes place in Alberta, Canada, right near where I live. I hope Clive "accidently" releases it on Pirate Bay.

             

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            But this does nothing to encourage new works, which is exactly the problem. A 3rd party who had nothing to do with creating the work rakes in the cash, while no new works are encouraged from the original author, and those works not deemed profitable disappear from history.

            Longer copyright duration encourage new works because longer copyright durations increase the NPV of copyrightable works. Yes, a big part of the motivation to write a new book is for personal reasons, but money is a big part too. The simple fact is that people are motivated by money and people are more motivated by more money. It's as simple as that.

             

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              greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Where is the evidence that NPV leads to the creation of more works and/or progresses the art?

              There is evidence that in the absence of copyright, creation continues (see the fashion industry for one example).

              Just a bit of evidence to back your reasoning would be beneficial to your stance.

               

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Where is the evidence that NPV leads to the creation of more works and/or progresses the art?

                I'm not a researcher or an expert in this field. What I know about coyright, patents, trademarks, and the like come mostly from reading TechDirt. My assertion is based on a logical argument based on what I believe.

                For the record, I'm not saying that our current copyright system is without flaws or that it's the best way to achieve the goal of promoting the progress or even that promotion of the progress can't happen in the absense of copyright.

                What I am saying is that, to the extent that you believe that copyright provides a monetary incentive to create new works, because of the principle of NPV, that the incentive is increased based on a longer copyright duration.

                Now, how long does this effect have a meaninful effect and what does the curve look like? Again, I don't have these hard facts. I personally believe that it's less than what current copyright law dictates, but the actual monetary incentives aren't based on my opinion. They're based on the opinions of the corporations cutting the checks. And if they think that it's beneficial to them to have a term of life plus 70, I think that logically means that they'll pay extra for that right. (If I were an agent, this is the argument I'd make, anyway.) And if they'll pay more, there is more monetary incentive.

                 

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                  PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  The problem here is that you keep looking at "NPV". That's not something that authors and creators of other artworks look at - that's the domain of the accountants at corporations. A high NPV will not encourage an author to create new works, and may actually damage the "promotion of progress" as it encourages said corporations to invest in low common denominator trash rather than the advancement of any art or culture.

                  "And if they'll pay more, there is more monetary incentive."

                  Granted, this *may* be true - but only for those artists who create what the corporations think will sell. Do you think that Catcher In The Rye would ever get published in today's corporate culture? I have many doubts.

                  Corporations have time and time again been completely and utterly wrong about what they think will sell to the public, from The Beatles' infamous problems getting signed to Tolkien's difficulties in getting Lord Of The Rings published. To say that they should have such total control over popular culture just so that they can get an extra 70 years' worth of royalties is troubling at best. I'd wager that the number of classic works being buried by these corporations in the name of profit far outweigh anything they actually encourage.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:07pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    The problem here is that you keep looking at "NPV". That's not something that authors and creators of other artworks look at - that's the domain of the accountants at corporations.

                    Whether or not a group of people "look at" or are aware of a particular principle has no relationship to whether or not they're affected by it. So, while most authors may not have taken any accounting classses, the principle of NPV can still affect them.

                    A high NPV will not encourage an author to create new works, and may actually damage the "promotion of progress" as it encourages said corporations to invest in low common denominator trash rather than the advancement of any art or culture.

                    Well, obviously I disagree that my point about NPV doesn't affect the incentive to create new works, but as for your point about LCD works...I think even if the tide turned and laws were in place that were strongly in favor of the public good, you wouldn't stop artists from pandering to the lowest common denominator. No matter what the laws are, we're going to have to suffer the crap artists of the world.

                    Granted, this *may* be true - but only for those artists who create what the corporations think will sell. Do you think that Catcher In The Rye would ever get published in today's corporate culture? I have many doubts.

                    That's a good question. I think the answer is yes, but you might have to stretch the definition of publish. No, it might not go through the "normal" channels the publishing industry, but it were written today, but updated in contemporary language, it think it would somehow rise to the top of the world awareness.

                    To say that they should have such total control over popular culture just so that they can get an extra 70 years' worth of royalties is troubling at best.

                    It's a good think that I didn't say this then or I'd be in trouble.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:12pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                      But 20 year terms is also too long, and to allow twenty year extensions on top of that is also too long. You are just trying to find the longest period of time that you think the public would find acceptable since current IP length is not publicly acceptable, but if were up to you IP length would probably last forever, just like the industry wants and lobbies for.

                       

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              The Infamous Joe (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Longer copyright duration encourage new works because longer copyright durations increase the NPV of copyrightable works.

              The logic flaw in this statement is that you assume that the only reason people *don't* create is because they don't feel there is money in it. Phrased differently, you are assuming that anyone can *decide* to be creative. This is obviously not true, or we would all be MegaSuper Stars, wouldn't we?

              Now, if we remove this logic flaw, it's much easier to see that we don't want the few people capable of creating great works doing so only once, we need to give them incentive to create multiple works in the short time they live. Thus, shorter copyright lengths, so that they must continue to create, are best for everyone.

               

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          greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

          the work has a reasonably knowable NPV.

          This statement is quite inaccurate. Extremely few works of art have a "reasonably knowable NPV". No movie, album, book, painting, etc... has a knowable value prior to it being exposed to the market, and even then it often isn't knowable beyond a short introductory spurt (boxoffice release, NYT best sellers list, Oprah, etc.)

          Big, known acts can reasonably guess a base value from even a bad work (True Fans will likely buy regardless of quality). But the majority of works are impossible to predict.

           

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            Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

            Extremely few works of art have a "reasonably knowable NPV".

            I guess it depends on how you define "reasonably". Of course, the potential profit of works of art are wildly variable. But every hour of every day, some book deal or record deal is signed and the amounts of those deals are based on a standard set of rules and assumptions. It's this "market value", determined by the relative content industries, that are higher based on longer copyright durations.

             

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              Modplan (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              No they're not, because it's unforeseeable what works will still be selling many, many years from now. You're confusing a guesstimate with genuienly accurate and precise fortune telling.

              The short term value estimate will inherently outweight any kind of idea or insight into the long term.

               

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              greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

              Your argument that higher NPV leads to greater output is unsupported. What type of curve do you view this NPV vs artistic output graph is going to have?

              Are you also going to claim that greater output infers "encouragement of learning", the intent of the copyright system?

               

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                Hulser (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                Your argument that higher NPV leads to greater output is unsupported.

                Well, this isn't exactly my argument. In what situation the NPV would have a meaningful effect is up for debate. In general, I think it makes logical sense that the more money that a company thinks it can make from a property, the more they'll pay for it. At the heart of it, that's really all I'm saying. To apply this to copyright, if you want back in time to when extending the copyright duration was first proposed, I think my argument would have made a lot of sense. But if you're trying to use the argument to justify extending it beyond life plus 70, then no. I don't think it would be as effective as most other arguments.

                PS: Sorry for threadjacking your contribution to TD, Greg. :-)

                 

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                  greg.fenton (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 6:24am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                  I understand your point of view that higher value would give the optics of higher incentive. However, take this concept out beyond that first work and you see that at some point a high value becomes a disincentive to do future work.

                  Take, for example, a job that pays $10m for a year's work. For some, that would lead them to work hard so that they get a higher salary the next year ($11m!!). But for many others, they'd work hard enough for that first year...then retire! Why work any longer than they need to? Most people I know don't want 10 houses and 30 exotic cars. They'd be happy with a nice house, the ability to travel a few times a year, and a golf club membership. They have no need to work beyond that $10m.

                  Going back to your take on NPV, if copyright is extended to a point where NPV puts enough money in an artists pocket on the first go, then why bother with future work?

                  PS: no threadjacking going on, I welcome any and all healthy discussion!

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 8:41am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value

                    The economic term is the backwards bending labor supply curve.

                     

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      Matt (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:40am

      Re: Net Present Value

      Agreed, which is why copyright should track the the current value of the work. As long as an author, or their heir or devisee, is producing copies for profit they should be permitted a certain amount of exclusivity in doing so. But when they stop, copyright should die. Thus, a sensible system will have copyright for a limited (short) time, then renewals for a fee. Of course, this must needs require registration of every copyright work, but that is not a bad thing - it facilitates finding the copyright-holder in order to obtain permissions and licenses.

      The other point the article makes is about copyright's scope, and it is equally correct. Determining whether a particular work is truly "derivative" of the original is not easy. But that does not mean the definition should be over-inclusive. Courts specialize in difficult line-drawing problems, and they should not get off the hook on this one. Regardless of one's _inspiration_ for a work, it is not (and should not be considered to be) derivative of an earlier work unless it actually includes substantial copyrightable elements of the earlier work.

       

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        greg.fenton (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:06am

        Re: Re: Net Present Value

        Why are we trying to bind copyright to a revenue stream? This is one of the things that led to our current problems.

        What if an "author" decides to maintain control of copying, but is giving away those copies at no charge? And what does "producing copies" mean in the digital era?

        In addition, what if the author has relinquished copyright to others, possibly to multiple parties? Or what if the author is already multiple individuals/companies (look at the fights between the members of Pink Floyd)?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:54am

    "This benefits corporations at the expense of the public"


    There, fixed that for you.

     

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    WammerJammer (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    Tell your representative!

    Send this link to your Senators, Congresspeople and all other public representatives. They all need a history lesson. Of course in America the individual no longer counts. A thing has no value to the society at large unless a corporation has control of the thing. At least that seems to be the thinking of our leaders in the United States and the reports I'm hearing from other countries on this issue shows the majority of support for the corporation rather than the individual. So who cares about your copyright unless you were published by a major corporation? If you try to self-publish, the powers that be (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, etc) reject you and you never get the so-called protection unless you have deep pockets and can sue everyone on your own. This sort of system stifles creativity enormously and will eventually make creative endeavors simply a software program.
    Canned pablum!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:40am

      Re: Tell your representative!

      Does my representative help before or after he goes to the bank to cash the checks from lobbyists? Please, can we let this illusion of a replublic (not democracy) fade? They don't represent us and it is childish to even suggest we contact them.

      If you attempt to contact your representative this is what will happen: Letters, email, and phone calls will go into an automated bucket or go through any number of assistants. The actual representative will never hear what you have to say. It will never reach his eyes/ears. You will get back a stock letter with blocks copy/pasted from a standard document based on the content of your message. That is it.

      But let's pretend we live on candy-cane lane and the representative does actually get your message. He will still ignore it because he is being paid to do so. Unless you can out-buy him, this is as far as you will go.

       

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        Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re: Tell your representative!

        Not necessarily true. Sure, politicians are in the back pockets of the lobbyists. But if enough people write letters, then that politician will suspect that he'll be voted out of office. It's hard to cash checks from lobbyists if they have no reason to lobby you.

        So, yeah, it will take more of a groundswell than we have now, but that doesn't mean you can't try.

        Besides, at least you'll have the smug satisfaction of knowing you tried. :)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    i assume the masnick is no longer writing his own blog. i can also tell that the people writing now havent spent much time here because they keep going over stuff already covered. nothing like quoting from an unattributed opinion piece in a magazine that likely is op-ed or even reader submitted. heck it could be a techdirt planted article, who knows?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      Care to research the origins of copyright and prove the facts wrong? Instead of your unattributed opinion.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      "i assume the masnick is no longer writing his own blog."

      A few seconds of skimming show that he does still post.


      "heck it could be a techdirt planted article, who knows?"

      I know you wear a tin foil hat to keep the gubbment from stealing your brainwaves, but you might want to at least allow the blood to reach your brain.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:11am

      Re:

      What was that about arguing the issue not the author, TAM?

       

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      PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      Techdirt has always had multiple authors (at least the years I've been reading it). Mike always just happened to be the most prolific.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:40am

        Re: Re:

        typical techdirt day for the last few years is 99% masnick, 1% other. all of a sudden, about a week ago, its suddenly 99% everyone else and 1% masnick. the worst part being the other posters are nowhere near as sharp as the masnick making for dull reading. in this case its going over familiar ground that has been trodden down hard already. its preaching to the choir not advancing new ideas.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I agree, pretty much everything said here on this post, all the arguments and counter arguments, have been argued repeatedly many many times on techdirt already in past threads. Oh well, there could be newcomers on techdirt who are interested and may learn something.

           

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          greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          At the top of the page, the Submit a Story link, it is available to all.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What was that about arguing the issue not the author, TAM?

           

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          PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So, Mike's not allowed a week's vacation? I'm going to guess that you'd be just as indignant if posts stopped for a week rather than switched author. I'm also not seeing a major change in the direction here - Techdirt's modus operandi has always been to refer to an article, statement or ruling made elsewhere and then comment on it. How is this post different to all the others in that respect?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            the story is weak the assumptions poor and the techdirt adds nothing to it. for the masnick if he wants to go on vacation he might want to mention something. traffic is way off this week as a result of the 3rd stringers posting.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Aren't you TAM? Why are you all of a sudden the anti Techdirt and not just the anti Mike? Perhaps we should just call you TAF, the anti freedom.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Who cares?

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      Have you thouht about taking a creative writing class or course, it might help?

       

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    Medbob, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    Social Value

    Focus appears to be off a bit. The idea is to maximize value to society. Limiting copyright no only insures that artists must keep producing, but it also insures that art and ideas are continually released into the public domain.
    It maximizes production. Admittedly, the value of the work enters the equation, but there's a counterbalance to that:
    Art and ideas are unique critters in that they are created intangibles. Usually, it's a limited number of people involved in production of the "work". That would mean that any value above a certain point would be worthless in terms of motivational value. The counterbalance to that is the cost to society to "service" the reservation on that work. The longer the timeframe, the more it costs society.

    There is one horrible aspect to this tho. Milli Vanilli might still be around ;-)

     

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    Sam I Am, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Inherently Inequitable

    When a developer builds houses and leases them out for rent, he not only owns the houses and the income from their leasing in perpetuity, but he can also pass along the property to his heirs who then enjoy both the short term rent roll income as well as the long term property growth and ownership if they wish to someday sell.

    People who work in intellectual property (and often in the arts) have no such property rights to the “houses they build” and especially now in the digital age when their work is routinely ripped off. This deprives them of both the short term licensing income it could/should have produced if it is taken and used and enjoyed, but also the long term ownership when the copyright expires. Intellectual property workers literally have nothing of their work to leave to their heirs; not the revenue stream, not even ownership of the creations themselves. This is inherently inequitable and a wrong to be made right.

    Intellectual property creators (me included) have long lobbied government to mitigate this inequity and remove the 2nd class status on the intellectual property we create, bringing it into the modern era in equivalence to the real property a real estate developer (for instance) can create. Our property is intangible, true, but it is no less the result of our labor and no less real to us than the houses are to the developer.

    It’s taken digital piracy to finally draw government focus to this inherent injustice borne by all intellectual property workers. As our economy moves more and more to IP for the products we create to license, “stealing” intellectual property will remain stylistically different but will become legally no different from the theft of tangible goods. It’s a great thing for artists of all kinds now that government is finally listening.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:29am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      "Intellectual property workers literally have nothing of their work to leave to their heirs; not the revenue stream, not even ownership of the creations themselves."

      Their fault. Move along.

       

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:32am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      Wow - just wow.

      If you don't like the t's and c's I suggest you go build houses instead.

      Then you will find that the creators of physical property don't routinely get to have their cake and eat it (sell their work and still retain the rights) like those who make so called "IP".

      You make something and you sell it - end of deal.

      Creators of IP have A stupendous privilege in the degree of downstream control of their work that they get.

      If you think you hard done by here then I really think you need a personality transplant!

       

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:34am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      2nd class status on the intellectual property we create,

      You are just playing devil's advocate here aren't you!

       

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      greg.fenton (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:34am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      Why do you insist that "copyright" is some type of property? As the article linked to above points out copyright is not property, intellectual or otherwise. It is a temporary monopoly granted by the government on the copying of the works.

      Copyright is not, in any way, meant to be a guaranteed revenue stream as your unrelated rental property example is.

       

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:40am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      When a developer builds houses and leases them out for rent, he not only owns the houses and the income from their leasing in perpetuity, but he can also pass along the property to his heirs who then enjoy both the short term rent roll income as well as the long term property growth and ownership if they wish to someday sell.

      The correct analogy for this would be threatrical scriptwriter who is able to go on putting on the same set of plays for ever (by never releasing the script to the public) and is thus able to pass the script on to his heirs so that they can do the same thing.

      However once you sell a copy of your work then the deal you get is better than that of the physical property creator. Please do not forget this.

       

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      Strofcon, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:44am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      To me, you seem to be trying to say, "our work is intangible, but it's still tangible and should be treated as such."

      Your copyrighted works are not the same as owning a building or any other tangible good, and they never will be. This is not a bad thing, just the way things are... perhaps they need to be handled differently than they currently are, but the answer is not to start treating intangibles as tangibles. There's kind of an impossibility in that approach...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:49am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      "also the long term monopoly when the copyright expires."

      FTFY

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:14am

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      Garbage in, garbage out.

       

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      Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Inherently Inequitable

      Actually, you do have something to pass down to your kids and grandkids. That is all of the profit you made off your work when it was under copyright.

      When the copyright on a Rolling Stones song expires, it's not like Mick Jagger suddenly has to give away all of his money.

      If houses were copyrighted materials, not only would you own the house you built, you would have the right to prevent anyone else from building a house of their own.

       

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    Rob, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    ... on the shoulders of giants.

    New art ... new learning ... new culture ... occurs best when we can build on what has gone before. The quote from Isaac Newton, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" reflects this reality.

    Does anyone here seriously challenge that this is our reality today and for the foreseeable future?

    Many people would create new works with no thought of remuneration ... and they do. But if a creator can support his/her avocation then surly he/she will be at liberty create more if not force to dig ditches or flip burgers for support.

    That is what copyright sought to do in the beginning. But the balance between creator support and creator freedom to "stand on the shoulders of giants" is now been thrown off in favor of creator support. And not thrown off by creators themselves by others who profit from what the creators have wrought.

    Keep in mind that a company, in and of itself, can create nothing. It can only employ humans to do the creating or buy what has already been created.

    So what I hope for is a restoration of some balance in light of new technologies and new wisdom. How can we simplify the licensing of works? Can we make fair use a right, not just a defense. How can we encourage works being released into the public domain? How can we find a balance where everyone wins?

    It's time to create a new balance from the old.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:08am

    The life expectancy in the UK 300 years ago was approximately 35 years. [source: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/seminarpapers/dg09102006.pdf ]

    This meant that a copyright period of 14 - 28 years was sufficient to cover the average person's lifespan (assuming people did not write books before the age of 7!). One could therefore argue that a longer period might be justifiable.

    Personally, I do not think that a reduced copyright period of 14 - 28 years would stifle commercial creativity in any way.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Encouragement of learning?

    "For the encouragement of learning" was a pretext.

    Copyright was tailored specifically for the commercial interests of the Stationers' Guild and the Crown's interest in suppressing sedition/insurrection.

    See http://questioncopyright.org/promise

     

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:37am

      Re: Encouragement of learning?

      "For the encouragement of learning" was a pretext.

      Yes, and although I'm prepared to argue the rights and wrongs of copyright based on the "encouragement of learning" theory. I really think it belongs in the same bin as all the other justifications that are put forward. There is no real evidence that it works but even if it did I don't think that would make copyright morally acceptable.

      Usury was condemned by all the ancient religious and moral codes on the basis that it enabled "money for nothing".

      I believe copyright would have received the same condemnation had it existed then.

       

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    herodotus (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    'you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career.'

    "Try that one out in any other walk of life and see how far you get.

    Try telling any ordinary employer that he should pay you a weeks wages for one days work on the basis that "you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career" and I think you wouldn't last long..."



    Artists are NEVER paid for the 'work' they do.

    No one cares about how many hours were involved or how hard they worked. They don't get a bonus for giving that extra 10 percent. They don't get a commendation for staying late after punching out. In fact, it would be hard to find a single standard workplace virtue that artists are rewarded for demonstrating.

    No, whether or how much an artist is rewarded depends entirely upon the completely fortuitous condition of whether or not people think that artist is 'cool'.

    Now tell me, if a prospective employer were to say to applicants: "We might pay you handsomely, but the amount you get paid depends completely on how well you do in a daily office popularity contest", don't you imagine that any applicant who had a choice in the matter would tell them 'no thank you'?

    But imagine that you were one of those unlucky applicants who didn't have a choice in the matter, a poor slob who was just good at this one thing and nothing else, and you had to accept this shitty bargain or live in your parent's basement for the rest of your life.

    Now if you were such a person, don't you think it would occur to you to insist that if you were lucky enough to win that office popularity contest occasionally, that you get a decent sized amount of money on the occasion?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      "Now if you were such a person, don't you think it would occur to you to insist that if you were lucky enough to win that office popularity contest occasionally, that you get a decent sized amount of money on the occasion?"

      No one is forcing you to produce art. If you don't like the terms that society gives to you, then do something else. I don't want a society where art is subsidized by retarded copywrong laws. Find another, more productive, job and do something to contribute to the economy. There are many people more than willing to take your place without monopoly rents. Go away.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      Society refuses to pay the price I demand for my work! Everyone else in the world must be wrong and I must be right!

      All this outrage from artists comes simply from the realization that their works are not as important as they think. When someone says, "Oh well I'm an artist are you saying I can't get paid?!!!" it is just the sound of their egos fighting back against the insurmountable tide of reality.

      If artists would simply accept that their works are not worth as much as they currently believe (admit they are wrong), then we could all move on. But people (especially artists) are very stubborn and will almost never admit they are wrong, even when mathematically proven to their faces. They will spin, rationalize, and resort to logical fallacies until the cows come home.

      When you say the value is one thing and all of society says otherwise, chances are high that you are wrong. This is not always the case, but you are not a magical snowflake. Your art is not special and it represents the rule, not the exception.

      Get over your ego and admit you were wrong. Rethink how you plan to make money with your art and give society a reason to invest in what you have to add to culture. Is that really so hard?

       

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:47am

      Re:

      "Artists are NEVER paid for the 'work' they do. "

      Palpably false.

      Artists are frequently commissioned to produce work. Much great work has been created this way - for example the Sistine ceiling. Over historical time most artists who have made a living from their art have been paid this way.

      What you are talking about is "speculative artists" who produce what THEY want to produce in the hope that someone else will want it too.
      If they do this to fulfill their own inner yearnings then they have no cause to complain if they make no material reward.
      If they do it with the direct purpose of making money then
      they belong in the same category as property speculators - no sympathy required.

       

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        herodotus (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

        I really should acknowledge that all of what follows is sort of a side issue. I, personally, agree that US copyright law should revert to being how it was in the past, and I think we should go back at least as far back as 1975, if not earlier.

        That being said.....

        "Palpably false."

        Well, sure. But you were talking about artists as if they were employees with unrealistic expectations. I was trying to point out that their situation is very different, so of course they have different expectations.

        "Artists are frequently commissioned to produce work. Much great work has been created this way - for example the Sistine ceiling. Over historical time most artists who have made a living from their art have been paid this way."

        Yes, here the popularity contest takes place before the commission. The commissioned artist is better off than, say, someone signing a standard publishing contract, because the money is less speculative. But whether or not you get the commission is still a fortuitous matter.

        "What you are talking about is "speculative artists" who produce what THEY want to produce in the hope that someone else will want it too."

        Well, as a matter of interest, it should be mentioned that according to some people, many of them actual artists, there is really just one artistic path that you can follow if you want to achieve your potential as an artist. If this is true, then ALL artists are essentially just 'producing what THEY want to produce in the hope that someone else will want it too', only it's not what they 'want' to produce, but what they have to produce.

        I realize this sounds flaky, but let's face it, artists are a flaky lot. I mean look up Jaco Pastorius or Eric Satie, Dylan Thomas or Robert Graves, Antoni Gaudí or Marcel Proust, H.P. Lovecraft or Charley Parker: flakes, the lot of them. If you really are trying to 'promote the progress' of art, and not just trying to get your entertainment artifacts at the lowest possible price (which is not at all the same thing), then the sad fact is that you might have to make allowances for this flakiness. Especially if what you are trying to do is convince these flakes that the laws that provide them with a source of income are bad laws. I mean, this is a hard sell. Getting all tough-love about it has a really low chance of working.

         

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          Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 5:30pm

          Re:

          Especially if what you are trying to do is convince these flakes that the laws that provide them with a source of income are bad laws.

          The problem with that argument is that the current copyright laws do not provide artists with a source of income. Especially when you look at people like Pastorius or Lovecraft.

          Copyright laws grant publishers a source of income. They may or may not pay artists, depending upon what they can get away with. Example: roughly 90% of all professional artists signed to a major label have never make any money whatsoever from the sale of recorded music.

          You're confusing copyrights with "moral rights." That's a pretty common misconception, one that is exploited by copyright holders.

           

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      Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

      Re: artists and payment

      The only thing you're really saying is that it's not the artists who set the value of their works, it's the consumers.

      That's true, but it's also Economics 101. It applies to anyone who produces anything.

      Incidentally, that "popularity contest" argument happens in every single field where the "worker" will be a public figure. Every one. That's because their value as an "employee" is determined by their popularity.

      Them's the breaks.

       

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    Write something good, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    Art VS Drek

    First let me preface this by saying I do believe that publishers and corporations abuse copy right laws.

    A common sentiment here seems to be that ten pieces of crap, produced regularly. Is better then an exquisite piece of art that someone labored over for a long time to produce.

    Further more, no matter how wonderful the work may have been. We as society are going to demand. That the artist who gave us something glorious. Must further produce or it's to bad so sad???

    Hey, the book sold out every reprinting till the copyright ran out. It is time for someone ells to make money off this work?
    Evan if they're going to rape the work in question in the process. It all should be fair game.


    Please, lets allow the authors of works to die before others start to ruin them.
    Remember, quantity does not make quality and those who want to force genius... simply do not understand it.

     

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      Richard (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

      Re: Art VS Drek

      A common sentiment here seems to be that ten pieces of crap, produced regularly. Is better then an exquisite piece of art that someone labored over for a long time to produce.

      No - never seen that sentiment here. You have incorrectly inferred it.

      Further more, no matter how wonderful the work may have been. We as society are going to demand. That the artist who gave us something glorious. Must further produce or it's to bad so sad???

      No - we believe in a fair reward for a fair day's / week's /year's work.


      Hey, the book sold out every reprinting till the copyright ran out. It is time for someone ells to make money off this work?
      That is an anachronistic statement. Fact is that given modern technology "piracy" doesn't usually mean "someone else making money" since money is no longer involved.

      Evan if they're going to rape the work in question in the process. It all should be fair game.

      Who is this "Evan" person.


      Please, lets allow the authors of works to die before others start to ruin them.

      Don't tempt me.....


      Remember, quantity does not make quality and those who want to force genius... simply do not understand it.

      Forgive me for being cynical here - but this genius thing is nothing more than pomposity - it reads more like self declared sainthood than anything else.

      If you want to declare someone else a genius fine. If you want to give them some money, OK do it. But if you want to use self declared genius as an excuse for extortion then don't expect many people to go along with it.

      The bottom line is that art , in the end, is not that important.

      I have recently had fairly major surgery. That surgeon's skill is infinitely more important to me than any work of art, writing or music could ever be. However he does not demand lifetime rights over my bodily functions as a result. So I these "oh genius needs to be rewarded" whinges don't cut much ice with me right now.

       

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Lets see here

    a keyboard and maybe dragon naturally speaking to make it easier and quicker to write, editing features for books words ....half those times

    if your a decent story teller you could chunk out book after book, if your some lazy old fart whose about to die ...you better a saved some cash int stead a floating around at tea parties tipping your pinky at people

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Lets see here

      "if your a decent story teller you could chunk out book after book"

      Sorry, but no. Telling a story and writing a novel are two very different things. The average "decent story teller", if writing full time with no other job, could probably crank out a novel every 6-9 months or so. For the new writers that don't have that privelage, expect it to take more like a year and a half....

       

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    Rekrul, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    There's a simple solution that would satisfy all the arguments for and against copyright. Of course the copyright industry would never accept it and would use every last cent they have fighting it.

    Copyrights should only last for a year at a time. If an author or company wishes to retain the copyright past that period, they should be required to pay a substantial sum of money to do so. This sum would vary depending on the type of work in question and whether the copyright holder is an individual or a multi-billion dollar corporation. The cost of each work should be expensive enough that the copyright holder would only be willing to pay it if the work in question is still commercially viable. If the copyright holder no longer believes that they can make enough money on a work to justify paying the copyright fee, they would be legally required to release the work into the public domain. There would also a small grace period so that authors wouldn't lose their copyright because they got the date wrong, or the check didn't clear in time. However, there would be limits on the number of times that a copyright holder could do this, in order to stop them from letting works become public domain, seeing which are the most popular and then buying back the rights to those works.

    This would stop corporations from hoarding copyrights on works that they don't intend to ever release, such as old video games, or failed TV shows. They would be forced to pick and choose which of their works are worth keeping. TV networks and movie studios would be forced to release a large portion of their back catalogs to the public domain simply because they wouldn't be able to afford to keep them all.

    As for TV shows and movies, which contain other copyrighted material, such as music, the work as a whole would become public domain, although the music in it would still be copyrighted. The logic being that the music copyright holders weren't profiting from having the work rotting away in a vault, so they lose nothing by having the work freely available. This would free up a ton of movies and shows which are currently in copyright limbo.

    I'd additionally add a clause that says that any work which hasn't been commercially available at a reasonable price within the last ten years, (starting from when this system goes into effect) automatically becomes public domain, regardless of whether the fees have been paid or not. If a copyright holder thinks a work has enough value to keep paying the fees, they should be making it available to buy. If they're not, what are they holding onto it for?

    Of course all this is just a pipe dream. The reality is that the media corporations are in control and they will never allow any form of meaningful copyright reform. Copyright will only be expanded, not reduced. They'll see to that, no matter how many politicians they have to buy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      The problem with your argument is that it seems to somewhat negate the alleged intent of these copy privilege laws. If you intend to create a book for the sake of making a profit increasing the cost of maintaining a monopoly on such a risky investment that may not even make you a dime would be a huge deterrent.

       

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        Rekrul, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 5:31pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem with your argument is that it seems to somewhat negate the alleged intent of these copy privilege laws. If you intend to create a book for the sake of making a profit increasing the cost of maintaining a monopoly on such a risky investment that may not even make you a dime would be a huge deterrent.

        Ok, a slight modification would be to grant free copyright protection for a period of maybe five years from the date of publication. That would allow half a decade to judge whether the work is profitable enough to justify extending the copyright. If the work is earning a profit, enough to cover the copyright cost and still making a profit for the author, they will pay the fee and renew the copyright. However, if the work isn't that profitable, the author will probably decide not to renew the copyright and the work will pass into the public domain. The author will then have to create something new if they want to continue getting paid.

        The term was longer and there were no extra costs, but that's how copyright was supposed to work. The idea was that an author only had a monopoly on their work for a limited time. When that time was up, they either had to create something new or find another line of work. They weren't allowed to create one thing and then sit back and collect royalties for the rest of their lives.

        Maybe shorter terms and renewal fees would cut down on some of the crap being produced today. Half the new horror DVDs that are being offered for sale were filmed by amatuers with a rented camcorder and actors who couldn't act scared if you put a gun to their heads. Sure, there's an occasional gem, but for every decent film that gets produced there are another ten that wouldn't get a passing grade in a highschool film class.

         

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    herodotus (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    "Them's the breaks."

    You say this as if you were informing me of something I don't already know.

    You people are missing my point.

    You, and indeed, we, are the ones arguing against the trend. The trend is ever-expanding copyright law with ever more draconian punishments for infringement. If you want to win artists over to the struggle against this trend, 'Them's the breaks' is worse than useless.

    It's like saying 'please join our cause and act against what you perceive to be your interests because if you don't I'll make fun of your unrealistic expectations', when the problem is that those unrealistic expectations are continually being written into new laws.

    And finally, @Richard, who wrote:

    "I have recently had fairly major surgery. That surgeon's skill is infinitely more important to me than any work of art, writing or music could ever be. However he does not demand lifetime rights over my bodily functions as a result. So I these "oh genius needs to be rewarded" whinges don't cut much ice with me right now."

    I don't know if you are aware of this but surgeons get paid A LOT more than the vast majority of artists. And many people do indeed spend the rest of their lives paying for the advantages conferred upon them by the skill of surgeons and anesthesiologists and pharmaceutical researchers.

    And no one cares about lifetime rights over your bodily functions, as they couldn't possibly earn them any money, so why you are bringing them up is beyond me.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

      Re:

      "The trend is ever-expanding copyright law with ever more draconian punishments for infringement."

      Not to mention the punishment for falsely claiming to have Intellectual property privileges on something that you don't have such privileges on are small. Yet the punishment for infringement is huge in comparison. and corporations merely claim that they didn't know they didn't have privileges on something whenever sending a bogus DMCA takedown on something they claim to have thought to have privileges on. This reduces any punishment as the courts are quick to buy this excuse. There is little incentive to ensure that someone infringes before actually issuing a takedown and plenty of incentive not to. Yet, if an individual tries to issue a bogus takedown on corporate content it would probably be considered intentional and the punishment would be worse. But corporations merely deny that their actions are intentional, claiming they "own" so much work that they did think they had privileges on such work. The laws were intentionally designed this way.

      The fact is that a privilege holder, for both a copy privilege and a patent, is in a far better position to know what they have privileges on than some third party. So the privilege holder should at least face far greater punishment for unintentionally claiming privileges on something they do not have privileges on than the punishment those who unintentionally infringe on something face.

       

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      Karl (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 6:18pm

      Re: winning them over

      If you want to win artists over to the struggle against this trend, 'Them's the breaks' is worse than useless.

      My point was that what you're talking about has nothing to do with copyrights at all. It's basic economics, whether copyrights are involved or not.

      Unless you mean that our copyright system allows publishers to screw over artists. In that case, I agree with you.

      In any case, most artists seem well ahead of the curve on this subject. It's only the most highly paid and established artists (hence the ones with the most weight in the press) that need convincing.

      Well, them and the grunts who still believe the fictitious "rock star" myth. These types want nothing more than to "rest on their laurels" anyway, so who needs 'em.

       

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    darryl, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 1:54am

    Again, with the legalised theft :)

    "Re: Re: Re: Net Present Value
    by Anonymous Coward
    Ummm - I take issue with the phrase "you shouldn't be penalized because you don't have a prolific career". In every other endeavor, you get more reward for more work - why should the arts be different?
    "

    Because they are....

    And why should you want them to be the same ?

    What you're trying to do is fit an existing successfull business model and method of expression to you're picture of greed and 'wanting what someone else has done for no effort'.

    If you work for someone, there is a strong chance you get paid once a week, no matter what.

    Writers, artists, inventers do not work like that, they may spend years trying to write a book or doing their 'trade' and it could be a flop. They make nothing from it.

    Sure, some writers write very popular books, and they make lots of money from it.

    So what do you want, do you want to be able to make money (or save money) off that product just because some time has passed?

    Again, you would ONLY want something if you see it as value to you, but you're argument is that after a period of time it's value should automatically be 'up for grabs'.

    So you can use what you see as valuable for you're own gains, and deny the creator of that item of value the reward for creating it.

    If you do not think it is of value when you copy it, why would you copy it ?

    You would not, you only want it because TO YOU, YOU see some value in that item.

    Some parents want to leave a legacy for their childen, and will often work hard all their lives to set their childen up.

    A writer may be more than happy knowing if he/she writes a best seller it will not only make him good money, but will continue to provide for his childen/wife/family for year to come.

    If that is the case, the item he has the copyright to has value, people are still buying it and paying for it.. therefore to at least some people it has value.

    The value of that item belongs to the creator of that item, or to whoever HE/SHE chooses to gain from that value.

    That is copyright

    A copyrighted text book does not stop you from learning from it, or reading it, or gaining knowledge from it.

    It stops you taking that work, and making profit from that work for you're own gain. After all, you did not do the work writing that book in the first place. So what right do you have to profit from it by copying it.

    It's copyright, not reading right... you are allowed to read and gain knowledge from it, you're just not allowed to take that product for you're own direct gains.

    And as for taking "the economist" as a definitive guide to law and finance, is a joke right...

    when are you going to stop reporting on reporting, and actually reporting on "facts". ??

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 5:31am

      Re: Again, with the legalised theft :)

      "What you're trying to do is fit an existing successfull business model and method of expression to you're picture of greed and 'wanting what someone else has done for no effort'."

      If that someone else doesn't like it, s/he is free not to produce. What I want is for a government that doesn't go through the costs and required restriction of everyone's behavior just to enforce monopoly rents.

      "Writers, artists, inventers do not work like that, they may spend years trying to write a book or doing their 'trade' and it could be a flop. They make nothing from it."

      Yeah, so? It's called risk, and it's not the governments job to help guarantee anything.

      "So what do you want, do you want to be able to make money (or save money) off that product just because some time has passed?"

      People want to be able to COPY products because they have a RIGHT to.

      "Again, you would ONLY want something if you see it as value to you"

      But just because something has value doesn't mean it is deserving of monopoly rents. No one owes you a monopoly on anything.

      "So you can use what you see as valuable for you're own gains, and deny the creator of that item of value the reward for creating it."

      A monopoly is an undeserved reward. If a creator creates for profits it is the creator's job to find a business model that creates deserved rewards. If it's a good creator society will find a way to fund him/her. Groups of people will easily donate a little bit of money each, because each person only donates a small part of the costs yet each person benefits from the creation as a whole, and the sum of the donations and what people donate would be enough to determine what works should get created and what works shouldn't in a free market. The free market is better at determining what works should continue and what works shouldn't than any non free market and it will find ways to fund those that should continue.

      "Some parents want to leave a legacy for their childen, and will often work hard all their lives to set their childen up."

      and this shouldn't be the intent of copy privileges. The intent of these privileges should be to encourage those children to create works or find a job instead of being economic deadbeats that freeload off of others and the economy.

      "A writer may be more than happy knowing if he/she writes a best seller it will not only make him good money, but will continue to provide for his childen/wife/family for year to come."

      and if writing a book means I will win the lottery I would do it too. In fact, I want the government to grant me 1 million dollars for every letter that I type on techdirt or else I will stop typing. It doesn't work that way. No, the government isn't this big entity that hands out what everyone who otherwise refuses to work wants. Stop trying to extort our gullible politicians. Others will write books perfectly well without such long copy privileges.

      Not to mention all that time and effort those parents put into writing a book could be spent contributing to the economy in other ways. I don't want a market that encourages people to make these risky lottery type investments in favor of sound investments, like getting a real job, that the free market would prefer because the risks * benefits of those investments are greater for the economy than the risk * benefits of the investments that the government encourages. The government does a horrible job when it comes to facilitating what investments people should make and passing laws that guide how people should spend their time. Artificially encouraging people to make books will invariably take away from other market activities that the free market deems marginally more important.

      "It stops you taking that work, and making profit from that work for you're own gain."

      Fine, but I want to be able to take that work, make copies of it, and give those copies to others. It's my right.

      "It's copyright, not reading right"

      It's copy privilege and preventing the free distribution of a piece of text restricts others from reading it by increasing the costs necessary to read it, especially when that text goes out of print. When it goes out of print there are only so many people who can read it at any given time since we can't simply make copies. No, if something goes out of print it should be in the public domain.

      "you're just not allowed to take that product for you're own direct gains."

      and you're not allowed to make copies of it and in many instances you're not even allowed to improve upon it or make changes or remixes to it or parodies or derivative works of it without facing potential expensive lawsuits. See

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100420/1303349118.shtml
      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/ 20090602/0734325094.shtml

      How about this for a deal. You get no monopoly rents on anything and if you don't like it find another job.

       

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


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