VP Of EU Commission On Copyright Reform: 'I'd Sing You Happy Birthday, But I Don't Want To Have To Pay The Royalties'

from the copyright-problems dept

Neelie Kroes, the VP of the European Commission, recently gave a speech about rethinking copyright in Europe, which kicks off with a little joke about the ridiculousness of Happy Birthday still being covered by copyright:
Happy birthday to you all at the Institute for Information Law.

I would sing you "Happy Birthday". But technically I think the song is still under copyright — I don't want to have to pay the royalty.
Of course, whether or not Happy Birthday is truly under copyright is at the heart of a big legal fight, with significant evidence suggesting that the song is clearly in the public domain.

However, Kroes is making a larger point about the way we view copyright today, and how that does not fit with how the world works. As such, she suggests rethinking how a copyright system should work:
I start from principles. What should a sound EU copyright system do?

First, it needs to promote creativity and innovation. To encourage and stimulate innovative new works, new opportunities, new channels, new models. To enable the research that leads to new discoveries.
This is a great start, and it highlights a key point of copyright law: it is supposed to encourage those kinds of things. The problem is that very little research has actually been done to determine if it actually does that. Instead, it's often taken on the basis of faith that it must do that, without considering whether it really does, or if there are other limiting downsides to how it's currently done. Some people claim that I am somehow "against" copyright. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am happy to support a copyright system that has been shown to actually promote creativity and innovation. I've just seen very little evidence to suggest our current system really does that.

Unfortunately, Kroes' next point seems a bit off to me, though I understand why she's making it:
Second, it must remunerate and reward creators. That's not just about fairness. We expect creators to invest their time and talent. Of course reward, recognition, remuneration are essential: without them, the creative tap would fast stop flowing. I have always believed that.

But the current copyright system does not do it well. Not nearly well enough. Many creators scrimp by on a pittance, unable to find their full audience, unable to share or sell their works as widely or creatively as they want. Limitations and obstructions do nothing for creativity.
A few points on this. First, it seems to come from the incorrect assumption that copyright is a sort of "welfare" system for artists. That's not its purpose, nor how it was designed. Copyright itself has never "remunerated or rewarded creators." You can create all you want, and if no one likes it, all the copyrights in the world won't get you paid. It's the market that decides if you'll be rewarded for your creativity, and sometimes the market is cruel. It's possible that copyright can, in some cases, help create such a market, but to argue that copyright's job, alone, is to help get artists paid is misleading, as it leaves out the basic fact that that's never been the job of copyright. It may be an offshoot of the first point -- creating the incentives for creativity and innovation -- but to elevate the "help people get paid" point, dangerously positions copyright as more of a welfare system for artists, rather than as a tool for incentives in the market.

At the same time, the argument that "the creative tap would fast stop flowing" also does not seem supported by the data. At a time when artists keep complaining that it's harder and harder to get paid, we've seen an astounding explosion in new content being created. Part of the issue is, in fact, that the money being spent today is spread much more widely -- thus you have a lot of artists making that said "pittance," but it does not appear to have resulted in any decrease in creativity.

That said, I'm all for figuring out more ways for there to be more creativity, and if we can figure out ways to get more artists paid, that's a great idea. It's why I'm excited about new innovative services that helps drive that process forward. Platforms like Kickstarter, Patreon, YouTube, Bandcamp and more have created entirely new ways for artists to make money from their artwork. But, there's something important to note in all of that: almost none of those really are reliant on "copyright," and pretty much all of them would function in nearly the identical fashion without copyright.

Again, this is not to say that copyright is not important. It's to point out that it's faulty and dangerous to assume that copyright alone is the tool by which to get artists paid. It leads to poor policy choices that often ignore more interesting (and potentially lucrative) methods being developed in the market.
Third – it should enable a digital single market. Removing the barriers that get between artists and their audience, that prevent innovation, that shatter economies of scale. The EU's leaders are signed up to a full, vibrant digital single market. So is President-designate Juncker. Now they need to act on their ambitions – copyright is a major, essential part.
I'll leave this aside for the moment because it's a messy and complex issue in Europe that isn't quite as simple as some would like it to be. I agree that taking down barriers would help, but there is a lot of nuance at play in this particular issue.
And last: perhaps most importantly, the legal framework needs to take account of the needs of society. Users' interest and expectations matter alongside creators' rights. Rules cannot be impractical, uncertain, or unreasonable for ordinary users.
Indeed, this is the most important, but I think it also goes hand in hand with the first item on the list. If you take into account the needs of society, and make sure that copyright really does focus on incentives for creativity and innovation, then everything else in the system works out nicely.

But still, Kroes is absolutely right to note that today's copyright laws don't function well under these current principles, and because of that copyright itself is at risk of becoming irrelevant:
Every day citizens here in the Netherlands and across the EU break the law just to do something commonplace. And who can blame them when those laws are so ill-adapted.

Every day, startups, small businesses, scientists abandon innovative ideas because the legal fees are too great.

Every day, people bypass the copyright system using alternatives like open source: something which can lead to huge creativity, innovation, and richness.

Copyright risks becoming an irrelevance.
And Kroes further points out how it's not just that copyright is out of touch, but it may actively be harming the principles she states above:
The Internet gives enormous opportunities for artists and consumers. More direct access to a wider audience, and a wider range of content. New ways to share, spread, sell. New ways to reward and recognise. New ways for audiences to appreciate – getting what they want, when they want it. A good copyright system would help us achieve that. Today's does not.

Some examples.

When uncertainty prevents people remixing or creating their own content, how does that boost creativity?

When teachers are afraid to share teaching materials online, how does that help our society?

When a European Video-on-Demand provider tries to expand to new markets, but gives up because clearing copyright is so catastrophically cumbersome: how does that benefit our economy?

When consumers want to buy films or TV shows online but find they are geo-blocked: how does that benefit the fight against piracy? How does it benefit the artists whose works they could be watching?

When lovers of old films have to physically fly to a different country to see them, even if they're no longer in commercial circulation, how does that support European culture?

When museums have to take out insurance specifically against the risk of copyright lawsuits, because it's too complex and costly to figure out – how does that help promote European heritage?

When you can't sing happy birthday, or post a picture of the Atomium, how is that fair or reasonable, how is that something you can explain to ordinary citizens?

When European scientists have to abandon text or data mining because they can't afford the legal fees – how does that help innovation and scientific progress? And by the way that restriction is costing our economy tens of billions of euros.

I see no real winners in any of those cases. Creators lose out; innovators lose out; users lose out; our economy loses out. The system serves no-one. Solve those problems and I see only winners. We just have to jump over our own shadow.
As she then notes, it's basically impossible to explain copyright to the average "man on the street." Many now see copyright as "a tool for obstruction, limitation and control" rather than "openness, innovation and creativity." The speech is well worth reading, and has some very good points. I just fear that the focus on that second point -- of pretending that copyright is a tool for guaranteeing payments in a kind of welfare system, is part of what leads to the current problems of the system, and takes it away from those other key goals of benefiting the public. If the system is designed properly to benefit the public, it should automatically create incentives that help artists, whose work is in demand, get paid.

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 12:00pm

    I would love to see an explanation to the myriad of things that have been created before copyright and the shitloads of content that is still created today on the outskirts of copyright. Really. Then we can start discussing why - or rather IF - copyright is needed.

     

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    DaveK (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    >"people bypass the copyright system using alternatives like open source"

    Well, she got that wrong. Open Source totally relies on copyright, in order to make the licences enforceable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 12:37pm

    Re: >"people bypass the copyright system using alternatives like open source"

    Only the "copyleft" licenses need copyright to work. Other licenses like the BSD ones can work fine in a world without copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: >"people bypass the copyright system using alternatives like open source"

    And by the way, the "copyleft" licenses are named that way because they use copyright against itself. They enforce the opposite of copyright: they force you to share. In a world without copyright, they wouldn't be needed.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 12:56pm

    You are not hard ENOUGH on copyright, Mike ;)

    Copyright balancing only leads pro-copyright advocates to the slippery slope of "but if you say this must be protected then THAT must be protected too" ad infinitum, that all starts from the assumption that an exception can be made to the 1st amendment to accommodate the theory. Hence why you end up with so much prior restraint when the theory is put into practice.

    After all, copyright's theory is in sacrificing some freedom of expression in order to preserve others. In other words, prior restraint.

    "Ownership of expression" is another way of saying "copyright", and it cannot be compatible with freedom of expression. Inherently, it is the claim that objective judgement can be cast over subjective matter, and that derivative works can be declared and foreseen in advance to be not worthy of existing. Nobody can possibly be in a position to make such a call.

    The great thing about being a copyright abolitionist is that Occam's Razor is on my side, and I can say that all constants involved with futilely watching over subjective expression to get it "just right" are not necessary to multiply.

    The monetisation is in the action of expressing oneself, not the "tangible" end-result expression.

     

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    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:01pm

    Have you ever noticed that the majority of songs that you hear on TV series and movies are not major hits by big name artists? The price demanded is just too much for most productions. I have a friend that has had his songs featured in dozens of movies and TV episodes. He has only had one song ever charted yet he does very well on his royalties. Many great series of the past like "The Wonder Years" will never make it to DVD because they just can't afford the music rights. When "Married With Children" was released on DVD the theme song "Love and Marriage" was replaced with an instrumental because a nearly 50 year old Frank Sinatra song was just too expensive.

    The point is the copyright holders are stiffening the artists they represent by pricing them out of the market. When Ferris Bueller's Day Off used the Beatles song "Twist and Shout" nearly 25 years after the first hit it was back on the charts for 7 weeks. Who knows how many times artists could have made more money like this for their works if the rights were more affordable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    But the current copyright system does not do it well. Not nearly well enough. Many creators scrimp by on a pittance, unable to find their full audience, unable to share or sell their works as widely or creatively as they want. Limitations and obstructions do nothing for creativity.


    There is very good reason to be nervous about this, but from reading the rest of the quotes you posted, it seems to me that this is directed more at the middlemen taking 80% of a work's revenue, and then that only after the artist has 'paid back' for the middlemen's 'investment'. At least, I certainly hope that's the case. And it could certainly argue that copyright is at fault here - when you're locked into giving up your rights for 35 years or so, it can be very hard to fight back against the unfair splitting of profits, because it's not like you can pull the rights at any time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    Of course reward, recognition, remuneration are essential: without them, the creative tap would fast stop flowing. I have always believed that.

    The creative flow has increased in visibility due to the Internet and self publishing. Historically all publishers had more creators vying for their acceptance than they ever had a hope of dealing with. That is one of the reasons that they could treat the creators so poorly, if one fell by the wayside there were dozens more vying for their opportunity.
    When the production resources were limited, printing presses, record presses etc., the problem was not the flow of creative works, but rather the ability to produce copies. In this world the publishers served a role, and copyright regulated the production of physical copies. Now with services like Youtube, Bandcamp etc, the publisher as a gatekeeper is no longer required, nor is the regulation of the market provided by copyright. Unfortunately, the traditional publishers wish to control the Internet because it is threatening to swamp the works that they control with self published works, where the creator can make a living with far less of an income than a publisher needs to pay all their overheads, like lawyers.
    The creative world is switching from where success required getting past a gate keeper, because they controlled access to the copying factories, to one of put the work out there, and see if there is enough interest to make it worthwhile creating another work, and whether it is possible that after 4 or 5 works, or maybe more, a sufficient fan base builds up to allow for full time creation.
    Note however, that for most creative people their first works will likely not be good enough to build a large enough fan base to make a living from, but can gain enough fans who via criticism and encouragement will get them to improve to the point where they can start to make a living. This is a big change from the gate keeper model, in that there is more feedback and encouragement than than silence from the gate keepers, or the occasional rejection slip, where only dogged persistence would get them anywhere.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    And yet the Wonder Years can be streamed on Netflix. It's not exactly a copyright problem, but a contractual problem in a musical work inside an audio visual work has to be licensed for different uses of the audio visual work.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    If they try winding back copyright

    If a g'ment ever tries winding back copyright, it will go through some of the following steps (feel free to chip in with more)

    Your favourite bands will come out with how this will kill music

    A large amount of money will transfer from big IP to sympathetic politicians

    Big IP will paint scenarios that make the awakening of cthulu look like a mild winter day

    A massive effort will be used to use international treaties to block it

    (After the action) The sun will rise, creators will create, innovators will do what they do, big IP will find new ways to make money. Life will go on.

    As a quick aside, I was writing a book chapter a few yeas ago. I wanted to use an image from a journal article. The publisher wanted fifty bucks. I used something else. They got nothing. The work didn't get cited.

     

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    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    I was not aware that Wonder Years was available on Netflix but this series is not the only one that will not ever make it to DVD because of the music. There have even been series released in syndication that have had the original music replaced with lesser known artists and covers. Even shows about famous artists cannot afford the music. The movie "Backbeat" about the early Beatles only used their cover songs because Lennon/McCartney songs just cost too much. I seem to remember there was a mini series about Paul McCartney that did not use any of his music.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Wonder Years, Series 1-6 is being released on DVD in a few weeks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    To be fair even most of the extremists don't claim a complete stop to culture if copyright is abandoned. Their argument is a faith-based "more culture, better quality".

    It would be nice to see some era-analysis on the creative industries: The effects of new technology on markets and particularly the effect of communising production media (What did the typewriter do to books? What did the tape recorder do to music? What did beta max/recordable video tapes do for film industry?). I think those are very interesting questions to understand, especially for modern publishers.

    Even better would be to look at the last step where you are communising distribution, but publishers are still too slow and narrow in their approach to be able to provide good data on those effects.

     

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    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Again, news to me. Took them long enough. Maybe since most of the music hasn't made a dime except from the oldies radio stations and a few "best of" releases in 30 or 40 years the price finally came down.

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    Quoted for truth

    Again, this is not to say that copyright is not important. It's to point out that it's faulty and dangerous to assume that copyright alone is the tool by which to get artists paid. It leads to poor policy choices that often ignore more interesting (and potentially lucrative) methods being developed in the market.

     

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    andypandy, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 3:11pm

    Seriously

    If the middlemen were taken out of copyright a hell of a lot would change, if content creators were paid directly or studios paid directly and were not allowed to sell their copyright or licence their copyright for longer than 6 months at a time a lot of these issues would fall by the wayside. I still believe any changes need to incorporate free sharing of content for personal use, but anyone with creativity that is used by a business needs to accept that they have to pay, and pay fairly an amount that encourages those that create to create more.

    Sadly for most creators there are a whole host of sites that have content and content that is free. Competing with free is hard and something only those with very high qualities of content can do.

    Me singing on youtube for 3 minutes would make a lot of income as it would be so bad it would be funny well maybe not even funny, but what if I wanted income from my content can I demand it or should I just accept that though I may think I am really one of the best singers in the world and receive a huge income that i cannot make anything from my content.

     

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    Anonymous, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Remember the episode of "The Greatest American Hero" in which Ralph had to disarm a nuclear missile? The original broadcast version featured Joey Scarbury's cover of "Eve Of Destruction". The DVD releases feature something totally different in its place. It's just not the same.
    I believe I still have the broadcast version that I taped off TV...somewhere...

     

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    Anonymous, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Re:

    Some of those original songs are very good, like Jana Jillio's "Am I Asking For Too Much?" in the movie "Splitz" and Billy Jacoby's "Killer Machine" in the movie "Dr. Alien".

     

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I believe I still have the broadcast version that I taped off TV...somewhere..."

    Filthy freetard.

     

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    Cerberus (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Re:

    One thing to consider is that copyright may stimulate superficial mass culture over smaller-scale, possibly higher-quality culture.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 6:26pm

    and then she changes her mind on how to maintain 'net neutrality'. what a weird woman!

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 6:28pm

    Bathwater

    Third – it should enable a digital single market. Removing the barriers that get between artists and their audience, that prevent innovation, that shatter economies of scale.


    And the single biggest such barrier is (drumroll) copyright.

    Many now see copyright as "a tool for obstruction, limitation and control" rather than "openness, innovation and creativity."


    A state-granted monopoly is a tool for obstruction, limitation, and control. It cannot be anything else by its very nature.

    I'm increasingly convinced that copyright must go, entirely. It's a regulation of expression inherently prone to capture by monied interests, so reforming it will just turn back the clock after which it will ratchet and metastasize anew until it's back to where it is now, or even worse. And there's no danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater because there's nothing but bathwater in there. There was enormous creativity throughout the ten thousand years of civilization before some idiot invented the idea of copyright; why would it have magically become necessary all of a sudden just then?

    We should just get rid of it. Patents, too.

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 7:31pm

    Actually, she's kinda right...

    Second, it must remunerate and reward creators. That's not just about fairness. We expect creators to invest their time and talent. Of course reward, recognition, remuneration are essential: without them, the creative tap would fast stop flowing. I have always believed that.

    But the current copyright system does not do it well. Not nearly well enough. Many creators scrimp by on a pittance, unable to find their full audience, unable to share or sell their works as widely or creatively as they want. Limitations and obstructions do nothing for creativity.

    The above isdd absolutely correct. After all, without copyright for Shakespeare, Hamlet's Soliloquy would never have seen the light of day and I could never have repurposed it as I did in the following fanfic. I would also not now be listening to Ode to Joy by Beethoven if it wasn't for copyright incentivising him to compose it, and then what about Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella et al.? Oh, wait...

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 7:35pm

    Actually, she's kinda right...

    Second, it must remunerate and reward creators. That's not just about fairness. We expect creators to invest their time and talent. Of course reward, recognition, remuneration are essential: without them, the creative tap would fast stop flowing. I have always believed that.

    But the current copyright system does not do it well. Not nearly well enough. Many creators scrimp by on a pittance, unable to find their full audience, unable to share or sell their works as widely or creatively as they want. Limitations and obstructions do nothing for creativity.


    The above is absolutely correct. After all, without copyright for Shakespeare, Hamlet's Soliloquy would never have seen the light of day and I could never have repurposed it as I did in the following fanfic. I would also not now be listening to Ode to Joy by Beethoven if it wasn't for copyright incentivising him to compose it, and then what about Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella et al.? Oh, wait...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But is it the complete version?

    And without the original sound tracks, it is not complete.

     

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    Whatever (profile), Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 10:40pm

    Re:

    The issues of older TV shows is that in order to make the most profit at the time they were released, they negotiated very limited use rights. The case of WKRP in Cincinnati is a perfect example. They could have obtained the additional rights at the time of production for relative peanuts, but those rights are significantly more expensive if obtained separately at a later date for a different distribution type.

    Most of them just didn't seem to consider that the shows would have any life after their initial run and syndication, which is all they bought rights for. Some apparently didn't even buy the rights for syndication, a truly huge oversight in the 1000 channel universe.

     

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    OldGeezer (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are right. I would not be surprised to see them change. I found this info about WKRP in Cincinnati:
    In the 1990s, reissues of the syndication of WKRP had nearly all music played by the DJs changed. While the original run of the series prided itself in both writing and acting by using current hit songs, it was later deemed too expensive to keep the rights for the originals in syndication (hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake). Instead, songs were removed and replaced with "generic" studio music; even original "generic" music was replaced to avoid any possibility of later lawsuits. Because the actors often spoke over the music, voice impersonators were hired to emulate the actors in those scenes. In some cases this meant revising lines so that jokes about the song just played were removed, and changed to often-meaningless new titles.

     

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    Shaku Arai (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 8:23am

    The first wrong assumption about copyright is...

    That it somehow fosters innovation, new works and discoveries... How? It is so focused on the side of profit and locking away works in effective perpetuity that it works against innovation at every step.

    Let's put copyright in perspective:
    If I build a house I get paid one time for the services rendered and that's it. but if I write something or compose a song somehow people are expected to pay me in perpetuity... it should be credited to me as the original author and perhaps protect my song from being distributed for a very reasonable amount of time to allow me to make some money off it but the current model of people expecting to make a living on copyright royalties alone for even a single work and then handing it off to descendants so they can mooch off it too is hardly conducive to innovation nor new discoveries.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2014 @ 12:50pm

    CopyWRONG!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If ever there were a poster-child that exemplifies the destruction of culture that copyright can cause, it is the mangled carcass that was the WKRP "reissue."

    "All right fellow babies, I'm back with more music and Les Copyright." (I might be paraphrasing.)

     

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    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 4:57pm

    OK, people, you've got Copyright wrong

    Prior to copyright in England, creators owned works essentially forever. Copyright forced works into the public domain, with a limited time period for them to earn compensation from their work. If you wanted a continuing income stream, you created new works.

    Now, copyright lasts longer than the lifetime of the majority of the population. To me, that's like having no copyright law at all.

    Snow White, from the 30s. Star Wars is protected until about 2047 or something. Are you copyright supporters really trying to say the creators haven't received a sufficient return on their works?

    I think copyright reform should limit terms to, say, no more than 35 years with one renewal. Corporations would not have the right to renewal. It would no longer be life plus some period of time. It would be life plus a period of time not to exceed 70 years.

    Think about it. A work published in 1950 would still be protected until 2020. Certainly they can recover their investment and a fair return by then.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re:

    They could have obtained the additional rights at the time of production for relative peanuts, ... Some apparently didn't even buy the rights for syndication, a truly huge oversight in the 1000 channel universe.

    Dead-on. They failed to recognize how their standard way of doing business might be affected by the evolution of technology and cultural attitudes, and they should have to pay the price. Just like the big studios and major la... oh, uh, never mind.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jul 4th, 2014 @ 8:28pm

    Re:

    The great thing about being a copyright abolitionist is that Occam's Razor is on my side, and I can say that all constants involved with futilely watching over subjective expression to get it "just right" are not necessary to multiply.

    Yes - and one other thing. Once you have copyright you have a group of beneficiaries with a "money for nothing" income stream and time on their hands to lobby for more. Their existence is what has got us into this mess.

    Many people say that the original 14+14 copyright was fine - but they forget that we got from there to here once - and it will happen again even if we did manage to reset it. Copyright is a cancer - we have to cut the whole thing out or we will only be in remission not cured.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2014 @ 1:43am

    Re: OK, people, you've got Copyright wrong

    Prior to copyright in England, creators owned works essentially forever

    Prior to the printing press the owner of a copy controlled its use, and could allow someone else to copy it. This either involved loaning the volume, or allowing someone access to it long enough for the to copy it by hand.
    After the printing press was invented books and pamphlets started to circulate more widely, but they could also contain ideas that the rulers did not like. This was the root cause of the reformation, and various revolutions and upheavals to ordering of society. In order to implement censorship, a right to produce copies was granted to publishers, who then had perpetual control over the production of copies.
    When this censorship right was abolished, publishers lobbied for a replacement system, initially using the image of starving printer/publishers. This effort went nowhere, and so in a typical political maneuver they switched to an image of starving authors. This gained the laws that granted authors copyright in their own works, but this was only useful when sold on to a publisher, who nonce again gained control over printing copies.
    About the only right that been consistently granted to authors, and other artistes is that of attribution, that is the right to be acknowledged as the creator of the work, and this right continues as long as it is known. Obviously this right can be given up by publishing anonymously. Attribution can be lost if the creators name is not placed on a work, or any copies. Even this is a relatively recent right in human culture, as it had to wait for the invention of writing. This has had the peculiar result, dating back Homer, of the name of the person who wrote the stories down becoming associated with the stories, i.e. Homer, the bother Grimm, and other collectors of traditional tales.

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    *ouch*
    that'll leave a mark !
    oh, wait, its whatevers, he's MAFIAA connected, we can't lay a glove on him...

    also, *how* telling is it that a MAFIAA apologist is reduced to making such 'jokes' about THEIR theft of the commons...

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    Copyright is definitely needed. Without it, the authors own the works essentially forever. With copyright law, we get fair use (e.g., education), and eventually it drops into the public domain (with copyright extensions, it's essentially forever.)

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: >"people bypass the copyright system using alternatives like open source"

    Har! BSD software is copyrighted, and the copyright license must be included when you copy the software:

    Redistribution and use in source and binary forms are permitted provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are duplicated in all such forms and that any documentation, advertising materials, and other materials related to such distribution and use acknowledge that the software was developed by the .

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    Without a copyright, you HAVE no rights.

     

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

  39.  
    icon
    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    Sherlock Holmes

    Here is an example of how weird copyright has become. Every Sherlock Holmes story prior to about 1910 (or 1915ish), is in the public domain. The estate of Doyle claims that all Sherlock Holmes work is copyrighted, because the character is not fully developed until the final stories. (Why do we pass on copyrights to estates for such an insane period of time?)

    Anyway, it was determined recently that only characters, plots, and such in the final few books are still under copyright. And look what has happened with Sherlock Holmes after it came out of copyright. Hundreds of actors, a gazillion movies and TV episodes.

    That's what we have to look forward to when these unconscionable copyright terms expire.

     

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

  40.  
    icon
    1st Dread Pirate Roberts (profile), Jul 5th, 2014 @ 10:44am

    Short copyright history

    http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1a.html

    Notable Dates in United States Copyright

    August 18, 1787
    James Madison submitted to the framers of the Constitution a provision “to secure to literary authors their copyrights for a limited time.”

    June 23, 1789
    First federal bill relating to copyrights (H.R. 10) presented to the first Congress.

    May 31, 1790
    First copyright law enacted under the new U.S. Constitution. Term of 14 years with privilege of renewal for term of 14 years. Books, maps, and charts protected. Copyright registration made in the U.S. District Court where the author or proprietor resided.

    June 9, 1790
    First copyright entry, The Philadelphia Spelling Book by John Barry, registered in the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania.

    April 29, 1802
    Prints added to protected works.



    July 1, 1909
    Effective date of third general revision of the copyright law. Admission of certain classes of unpublished works to copyright registration. Term of statutory protection for a work copyrighted in published form measured from the date of publication of the work. Renewal term extended from 14 to 28 years.



    January 1, 1978
    Effective date of principal provisions of the 1976 copyright law. The term of protection for works created on or after this date consists of the life of the author and 50 years after the author's death. Numerous other provisions modernized the law.



    June 26, 1992
    Renewal registration became optional. Works copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977, automatically renewed even if registration not made.



    October 27, 1998
    The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended the term of copyright protection for most works to the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jul 6th, 2014 @ 6:02am

    Re: Actually, she's kinda right...

    Actually the Ode to Joy was crowdfunded - commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society.

     

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

  42.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jul 6th, 2014 @ 6:51am

    Re: Sherlock Holmes

    The estate of Doyle claims that all Sherlock Holmes work is copyrighted, because the character is not fully developed until the final stories.


    That claim got smacked down pretty hard by Judge Richard Posner and was covered and discussed here on Techdirt already:

    https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=arthur+conan+doyle

     

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

  43.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jul 6th, 2014 @ 7:12am

    Re: OK, people, you've got Copyright wrong

    I think copyright reform should limit terms to, say, no more than 35 years with one renewal. Corporations would not have the right to renewal. It would no longer be life plus some period of time. It would be life plus a period of time not to exceed 70 years.


    That's too long if you ask me. Something near the original 14 years + another 14 year renewal, like where the original US copyright laws started is a better position to start bargaining from.

    Even better would be something like the sliding scale that Derek Khanna suggested, where free at first, consecutive renewals cost increasing amounts. This would allow us to stay within the Berne Convention by *allowing* copyright to have sufficient lengths, but not necessarily encouraging it. This would also help with our orphaned works problem too.

    Also, I don't think excluding corporations from owning copyrights is very feasible, especially in collaborative endeavors. Why shouldn't the entity footing the bill for a $100 million dollar movie own the copyrights for it?

     

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

  44.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:20am

    Re: OK, people, you've got Copyright wrong

    Prior to copyright in England, patrons and their families owned works essentially forever.
    FTFY. It was the same situation as in the rest of Europe.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re:

    Without copyright, there is nothing for the authors to "own" (seperate attribution etc. rights notwithstanding[1]). Without any kind of copyright, everything is in the public domain because there is no concept in law of anything else.

    Sure, an author can keep the work secret, but then they can't derive any benefit from it anyway. They could only give it to people who sign an NDA, but that's enough of a pain that it would only be used in limited situations, such as commercial software.


    [1] non-mutilation rights are nasty, though, since they can amount to an eternal restriction on derivative works.

     

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


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