How Copyright Makes Culture Disappear

from the to-promote-the-progress dept

A few years ago, we wrote about some research by Paul Heald that did an astounding job visually demonstrating how much copyright law today harms the dissemination of content. The key graphic was the following one:
What it shows is that while new books are available for sale, they quickly go out of print and are basically not available -- until you get down to 1923, at which point the works are in the public domain. Think of all those works that are no longer available to buy in that major gap in the middle. Heald has since updated that research to show how serious a problem this is -- and demonstrating how the arguments against letting these works into the public domain make no sense. He demolishes the arguments made by some that a public domain will be either "under" or "over" exploited (yes, both arguments are made), as neither makes much sense.

It appears that copyright is doing similar damage in Europe. At the latest Chaos Communications Congress in Germany, Julia Reda, the European Parliament member from the Pirate Party gave a talk on the state of copyright law today (you can see the video here and included a similar graphic concerning books available in Europe:
What amazes me is that this giant set of missing works isn't seen as a bigger deal by policy makers (outside of Reda). This is a massive loss for society and the public based on copyright today -- and could be easily avoided with a few basic changes to the law, including things like requiring registration of copyrights and, if not shortening the term length of copyright significantly, at the very least, requiring the copyright holder to re-register the work over time. As we've pointed out in the past, prior to the 1976 Act, copyright law required registrations and renewals (at the 26-year mark) and the vast majority of works were simply not renewed at that point, because there was no economic incentive to do so.
Yet, despite that, we still automatically grant copyright on all such works for a much longer period today. Not only does it not make sense, it leads to the massive gap in those two graphics above -- which is a huge loss for society and culture.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:30am

    Follow the money

    What amazes me is that this giant set of missing works isn't seen as a bigger deal by policy makers (outside of Reda).

    ...

    Not only does it not make sense, it leads to the massive gap in those two graphics above -- which is a huge loss for society and culture.


    It's a huge loss for society and culture yes, but it's a huge boon to those companies that don't have to compete with older, free works, and who do you think throws lots of money at those policy makers who, for the strangest reason, seem to be completely indifferent to the massive gaps in works available to the public?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:22am

      Re: Follow the money

      The sad thing is how much they fear competing with those older works. I'm all for the individual creator retaining copyright for the duration of their life, and a reasonable amount of time after their death. But the simple fact of the matter is that people go for the hot new thing, more than they go for older works. Sure there will always be a market for classics, but it's never going to be as big as the market for newer works.

      Meanwhile, many successful, profitable series build upon, or incorporate older public domain works. How many more modern stories make use of Dracula or Frankenstein's monster in some capacity for example? Or Sherlock Holmes? King Arthur? Hell, the "Arthurian Legends" are basically one centuries long study in copyright infringement. Or looked at from another perspective, they're "The Legend of King Arthur, and centuries of King Arthur fanfiction." So the various companies themselves should be well aware of how profitable it can be to take advantage of works that have entered the public domain, and they should be delighted at the idea of getting to raid the works of people who died a mere 30 years ago for material.

      Yet their fear of losing control of their handful of works of a similar age is apparently greater than their greed for all the other ideas they could be harvesting for more modern use.

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: Follow the money

        "and a reasonable amount of time after their death"

        Why do you think this is desirable? This is a serious question. I have never been able to understand how extending copyright past the authors death actually advances the purpose of copyright.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          Agree with John here..

          There is no such thing as a "reasonable amount time after their death".

          The copyright on any work should be limited just like patents. This means that if people wait long enough they can go and watch a free version of EVERY movie made or every content provide can charge anything they want to provide you a copy of it.

          Trademark will still protect Disney from someone making a copycat Mickey Mouse. If someone wants to remake Disney's the Snow White they CANT because that is a trademark! They would have to change everything Trademarked to Disney contained in the story, but the story itself should be public domain for free use when copyright expires.

          There is practically no story that can be told that has not already been told in one format or another anyways!

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          • icon
            art guerrilla (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            me too-ism here...

            IF (let's play pwetend) the purported reason of encouraging creation by giving the 'owner' (let's not open that can of worms) certain monopoly rights for a certain length of time (seemingly arbitrary) which gives them motivation to create; then it is OBVIOUS (?) that there is nothing gained by 'encouraging' them to create after they are fucking dead...

            in fact, when you think about it, payments to the creator's heirs AFTER death (um, do korporations ever die ? ? ?) INHIBIT creativity in general, in that the creator's heirs have no reason to create shit, but their signature on daddy's (whoever) royalty checks...

            taking that one step further, LENGTHENING the terms of monopoly INHIBIT creativity in a similar fashion: if person A creates thing X and it catches on for whatever reason(s), they then have no real motivation to create anything else, because they know they can milk X for a lifetime plus...
            by that logic, monopoly terms should be shorter, not longer...

            NOT TO MENTION, as someone did in another blog in the context of 'old' software that has no commercial use/value, but is STILL under the lock and key of copyright and/or patents for -essentially- 'forever'... by the time that software falls out of its monopoly terms, it will be totally useless... IF released today, it could help a lot of people...

            as was pointed out in the comments alluded to above, and as is commonly reiterated here, the copyright 'deal' is BROKEN: WE GIVE the creator certain UNNATURAL monopoly rights for a certain length of time, and we are SUPPOSED to benefit from that creation after this term has expired...

            BUT, what has happened is, the copyright maximalists have gotten it ALL their way in making ridiculously long terms, preposterous conditions, and constant clawback of fair use, etc; and OUR BENEFIT has been so diluted and delayed that it is close to worthless: we are giving people unnatural rights and not getting ANYTHING in return but IP aggravation and a STULTIFYING INFLUENCE on general creativity at all levels...

            in short, we 99% have been blued, screwed and tattooed...

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              ...do korporations ever die...


              Not sure about dying, but they can 'disappear' via merger or hostile takeover.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          20-30 years as you might be able to guess from my comment about 30 years. Ample time for any dependents that should be the ones benefiting from licensing the material (if the author was still alive) to reach a point where they can reasonable be expected to be self-sustaining. Even unborn children will have reached adulthood and should be expected to be able to fend for themselves. Spouses will have either died themselves, or have had ample time to develop their own career and plans for retirement. Any outliers would likely fall under other social programs. No one can reasonably claim to be harmed by the work being freely available for anyone to use or sell as they see fit.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            But why so you think this is a desirable aspect of copyright? How does it further the goals of copyright to use it as a form of investment for one's survivors?

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          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            Why, though? Why do dependants/spouses/kids need or deserve that?

            If a person has made and saved money from their copyright, they can of course leave that money to people when they die, just as with everything else. Same goes for any property they own when they die.

            But a copyright isn't property or money or anything even remotely like that. Why should it extend beyond death? More to the point, why should its duration be in any way linked to a creator's lifespan? Under the current copyright regime, something you create when you are 20 is "worth more" than something you create when you are 70 -- it's got a half-century of additional exploitable time just by virtue of being made when you were younger. Similarly, a work created by someone who dies young is, in terms of its total copyright lifespan, "worth less" than one created by someone who lives a long time. In fact, the value of a copyright is now tied to a person's health, constitution and luck, rather than being a fixed and evenly limited thing offered to all creators. How does that make any sense?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              It should be tied to the creator's lifespan because I find it reasonable for a creator to retain control of their creations while their alive (eg, an author retains the rights to the books they write). It helps prevent corporations from screwing them over. Retaining copyright for a period of time after death is to account for untimely deaths, and discourage companies from refusing to deal with older creators in hopes that if they just wait a few years they can use the work free of charge.

              Furthermore, in regards to the "worth" of a copyright, what I'm supporting is no different than what we have now. It's worth whatever the creator can make of it in their lifetime. I simply find the current protections post creators death to be greatly excessive, and support greatly reducing them.

              I have a far greater objection to copyrights being assigned to corporations. That's the real source of most current copyright problems, and as corporations don't die per se, it's the place a fixed length copyright would make the most sense.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:30am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                It should be tied to the creator's lifespan because I find it reasonable for a creator to retain control of their creations while their alive (eg, an author retains the rights to the books they write). It helps prevent corporations from screwing them over.

                An authors copyright will only be of benefit to them if they do not transfer it to a publisher, which largely means that they have to self publish, at least at first so that they have an audience when they negotiate with a publisher. With almost all pre-Internet publication, the publisher, not the author or the estate, holds the copyright.
                In practice long copyright has been of benefit to a publisher, because they can limit the number of works for sale, which is why they want copyrights extended on a blanket basis. The publishers do not want older works on the market, unless they are still best sellers.

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              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                " Retaining copyright for a period of time after death is to account for untimely death"

                Why do untimely deaths have to be accounted for? (I'm really not trying to play the "why" game here, I'm just trying to understand the viewpoint.)

                "and discourage companies from refusing to deal with older creators"

                While this could be a problem, I don't think that distorting the purpose of copyright is the proper way to address it. Also, this may be a temporary problem: it's already completely possible to be a successful author without having to deal with these companies at all, and I think that as time goes on it will become increasingly common.

                "what I'm supporting is no different than what we have now"

                But what we have now is, in my opinion, wrong and harmful. I would prefer that copyright is actually fixed, not that the current status quo is maintained.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                "It should be tied to the creator's lifespan because I find it reasonable..."

                Oh, well since you put it that way, of course!

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 12:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                I support a right to honest attribution (both in not plagiarising and in only attributing a work to an author if they themselves wrote it - for example, editors of updated editions should identify those passages they've changed without the author's consent), although I don't approve of any other so-called moral rights (especially not the right to prevent deriviative works)

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            • icon
              jd (profile), 3 Jan 2015 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              this is about the money, but...
              except for independently published authors
              most authors and musicians sign away all of
              their rights including copyright to the publishers
              of their works.

              so that means that as long as a publisher keeps the work
              available(super easy with online access i.e. amazon etc)
              the corporation can keep the work locked up in perpetuity.

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              • icon
                nasch (profile), 3 Jan 2015 @ 4:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                so that means that as long as a publisher keeps the work
                available(super easy with online access i.e. amazon etc)
                the corporation can keep the work locked up in perpetuity.


                It's not even necessary for them to make it available. They can keep it in their vault and the copyright is still perfectly valid.

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          • icon
            art guerrilla (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            @ a non cow -
            this is NOTHING but social engineering, with the guiding principle being: them that has, gets...

            there is no 'inherent right' that some creator benefit from some creation forever, AND their heirs do as well... that is total bullshit...

            i'm starting to think urine idjit...

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          "and a reasonable amount of time after their death"

          So how does this encourage the artist to create more, seeing he's dead and all that?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            If their survivors wish to make money on the copyrighted work, they'll have to either make use if it themselves, or license it to those that will.

            Even if they decline to make use of it, we would still be significantly better off than we are today with the current post death copyright protection reduced from the current 70 years(in the US and some other places) post death to less than half that (if 30 years) to less than a third of that (if 20 years), and the current 50 years (a number of places outside the US) reduced to slightly more, or slightly less than half depending on whether it was 20 or 30 years.

            It would for example, have forced the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. into the public domain no later than 1998, and we would have been spared further legal tantrums from his ungrateful children for over 15 years now.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              "we would still be significantly better off than we are today with the current post death copyright protection reduced from the current 70 years(in the US and some other places) post death to less than half that (if 30 years) to less than a third of that (if 20 years)"

              And we would be even more significantly better off if the term were reduced to zero years after death.

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              • icon
                art guerrilla (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                AND, another major point in this area i don't believe is made often enough:
                our founding era copyright terms of 14/14 years (and was shorter than that, originally) was made back in the day when we had town criers as teevee, horses packing ACTUAL mail for days and weeks, local papers were LOCAL, and little to nothing of a widespread means of disseminating information analogous to the inertnet... (maybe public houses, at best)
                NOW, when we have essentially worldwide instant communications and any number of specialized publications available nearly everywhere, NOW we have to have terms of life plus intolerable ? ? ?

                THAT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE ! ! !

                (for the 99%...)

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          "and a reasonable amount of time after their death"
          Why do you think this is desirable?


          I don't know about the AC you responded to, but I know why I want copyright to extend well beyond the death of the author/creator: without this protection, I can very easily imagine the major movie studios all starting their own wetwork divisions. Disney sees a new novel on the bestseller list that'd make a great movie? Don't buy the rights, just arrange for the author to "commit suicide." Sony Pictures decides it wants to make its own X-Men movie? Stan Lee accidentally falls down an elevator shaft, and boom! Public domain!

          Wait a sec, that sounds like the plot a cool novel... and I can feel comfortable writing that novel thanks to strong intellectual property laws. Without copyright, we'd all be murdered in our sleep by bands of corporate ninja death-squads.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            "Without copyright..."

            No, you just described a situation with copyright. Without copyright, it wouldn't matter whether the author was alive or dead.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:45pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              Yeah, I should have been more specific, in that I was referring to post mortem copyright. In fact, we really need eternal, hereditary copyright to prevent the mass butchery of creators' descendants in blood-feuds between post-apocalyptic public domain zaibatsu clans.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 12:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            Fixed-term copyright eliminates that problem.

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        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          If copyright automatically terminates with the author's death, then a person who is elderly or seriously ill and expects to die in the relatively near future receives little or no incentive to create from the copyright system.

          But if copyright survives for a period after the author's death, then such a person has the added incentive to create which comes from the fact that the income from their new creation can help to support their heirs in their absence.

          Thus, for copyright to continue after the author's death provides additional incentive for the author to create even in the face of impending death, which otherwise would not exist.

          How big of a difference that makes in practice is another question, but that's what I've always understood the rationale to be.

          (Just off the top of my head, I don't see any particular reason why a "life of the author plus X years" model would be needed to satisfy this rationale; a simple "X years" model would work just as well. The only requirement would be that copyright not terminate when the author dies.)

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            If copyright automatically terminates with the author's death, then a person who is elderly or seriously ill and expects to die in the relatively near future receives little or no incentive to create from the copyright system.


            I think that's a fairly rare circumstance, and such a person would probably have a greater incentive in trying to leave something to the world before they die.

            But having copyright terminate on death is silly, and potentially dangerous, since then there's only one thing standing between your work and someone who wants to freely exploit it, and that's your life.

            Copyright should be a flat number of years and not depend on death. Really, 50 years is plenty. It means the stuff that came out when you were in high school goes into the public domain about when you retire. That's more than enough time for someone to make their money. It's certainly long enough that you can't just say, "Nah, I won't see that in the theater, I'll wait until it comes into the public domain."

            And just look at those charts... the dirty little secret is that no matter how many years we make copyright last, the vast majority of works are not going to be sold decades later to a degree that will provide any real income. You can argue that an author (or his grandchildren) should be getting income 80 years later - but most of them will not, because nobody is buying an 80 year old book. Or even a 30 year old book, unless it's one of the very few that don't go out of print by then.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 7:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              But having copyright terminate on death is silly, and potentially dangerous, since then there's only one thing standing between your work and someone who wants to freely exploit it, and that's your life.

              You really think it's likely a lot of people would be murdered to get their works into the public domain? Surely somebody with that much incentive would buy the copyright instead, so they would be the only ones able to exploit it. The only possible exceptions would be people desperate to use the work but without enough money to buy it. And they would have to also be borderline psychopathic.

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            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 3:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              But having copyright terminate on death is silly, and potentially dangerous, since then there's only one thing standing between your work and someone who wants to freely exploit it, and that's your life.

              I've never understood this argument. There are already laws against murder, changing copyright to terminate at death(at the latest) would not revoke those laws, so how exactly copyright would lead to more murders is beyond me.

              Copyright should be a flat number of years and not depend on death. Really, 50 years is plenty.

              Agreed on the flat rate, disagree on the duration. To me, based upon what's shown in the article above, rolling copyright back to a 14+14, or perhaps 26+26, would seem to be plenty. The creator gets the bulk of their sales in that period, and by the time re-registration comes around, their profits from their creation isn't likely to be worth the effort to bother with, at which point the public would get their half of the bargain fulfilled.

              Now, corporations, the driving force behind copyright law for the last couple of decades(or the entirety of copyright law, depending on how you look at it), would likely throw a fit, but given copyright wasn't intended to include them, merely the public and the creators, I couldn't care less how much potential 'lost profits' they would face with a massive decrease in copyright duration.

              On a side note, I also believe, strongly, that registration should be re-instated as a requirement for a copyright to be considered valid. It would do a world of good for the orphan works problem, make it so much easier for people to know just who exactly owns a given copyright, and would allow those who do not want to copyright their creations the ability to do so.

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              • icon
                BernardoVerda (profile), 3 Jan 2015 @ 5:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                >> Copyright should be a flat number of years and not depend on death. Really, 50 years is plenty.

                > Agreed on the flat rate, disagree on the duration. To me, based upon what's shown in the article above, rolling copyright back to a 14+14, or perhaps 26+26, would seem to be plenty. The creator gets the bulk of their sales in that period, and by the time re-registration comes around, their profits from their creation isn't likely to be worth the effort to bother with, at which point the public would get their half of the bargain fulfilled.


                Indeed -- 14 + 14 or 28 + 28 was deemed quite sufficient in the Age of Steam, when everything was shipped by horse powered cartage, steam-powered rail, steam or sail powered ships, or possibly transmitted by telegraph.

                So one would expect that in today's world, with our vastly improved transportation, communications and distribution (not to mention advertising, payment and banking) infrastructure, costs and reasonable profits should be realized far more quickly and easily than ever before.

                Or is that just too sensible?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

            Artists are incentivized to create works because it's in their nature to do so. The urge to create art doesn't disappear without copyright and art existed long before copyright. Copyright theoretically provides the opportunity to gain some financial security to survive and possibly thrive while producing such works. Once an artist is dead, there is no incentive to create new works. This isn't ancient Egypt where we bury artists with the proceeds of their art sales to improve their experience in the afterlife.

            I can't imagine an artist at the end of their years deciding that they don't want to create art because they won't live long enough to profit from it.

            Not all artists have heirs either, so saying that copyright should extend after an author's life for the sake of their heirs doesn't hold true for all artists anyway.

            If an artist is concerned about securing their heir's future with a good inheritance, they can do what a lot of other people do and invest the money in a retirement fund or savings account or bonds or some form of interest-earning financial instruments.

            There's no reason to perpetually lock up our culture for the same of one contributor's children's children's children's sake.

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            • icon
              Alien Rebel (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 4:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

              "Artists are incentivized to create works because it's in their nature to do so."


              Not necessarily untrue. However, modern civilization depends on people being physically/financially able to specialize in what they're good at. We get better art, literature, science, music, and everything else when people are able to do that.

              Too bad copyright doesn't serve this purpose quite so much anymore (if it ever did), now that it's been re-tasked as a tool for corporations seeking profits from ownership and rent, rather than creation.
              --

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:23pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                "modern civilization depends on people being physically/financially able to specialize in what they're good at. We get better art, literature, science, music, and everything else when people are able to do that."

                Not necessarily so.

                Chuck Palahniuk wrote the office related aspects of Fight Club because he worked in an office and got into fights outside of the office which inspired significant aspects of the story.

                George Orwell (Eric Blair) wouldn't have been able to write Keep the Aspidistra Flying without his personal experiences in the "prostitution" of an artist's abilities to survive financially.

                Many bands are criticized for losing touch with reality and producing more "commercial" but less artistic, "honest" work once they've "made it" because they've become disconnected from the average everyday experiences that inspired their earlier works.

                As Ezra Pound said, "Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market."

                Even fictional authors are depicted as having to have "day jobs" in order to inspire their writing, such as Richard Castle having to work with the NYPD and Det. Beckett to gain material for his Nikki Heat series.

                Many artists have to do other things to get by, and often times those experiences drive their work. Art is not created in a vacuum.

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                • icon
                  Alien Rebel (profile), 1 Jan 2015 @ 12:47am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

                  I agree, art is not created in a vacuum; in fact, I've made that exact same argument to lots of would-be artists I've encountered in my twenty-plus years as a professional illustrator. I'd even go so far as to agree that life experience is probably the single most essential ingredient to creating anything worthwhile.

                  But there's this multiplier of talent, called "craft." Few masterpieces ever spring forth from a virgin birth without lots of sweat, failure, and more sweat in the beginning. On top of that, there are some art forms in which it's absolutely critical for an artist to have a deep reservoir of experience as a craftsman, someone who can combine technical know-how with a trained eye or ear, to have any hope of success. This more often than not is acquired from being in the trenches a while; whether behind a stage, in an orchestra, or in a studio. As you've noted, there are exceptions; in particular, in disciplines where one's craftsmanship can be honed outside of an industry setting.

                  I can't begin to tell you how many young artists I've encountered who have natural talent, but lack the skills to be more than just another amateur who's waiting tables. That's a different kind of vacuum- an ignorance of the tools and techniques that are needed for success, and another place where art goes to die.

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        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 6 Jan 2015 @ 5:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Follow the money

          That's why the purpose of copyright has been expanded to "Welfare for the author and family, etc."

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:25am

    Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live.

    Why doesn't Techdirt or Mike Masnick write about that?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Why don't you?

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      First, you state that as a fact as if it were self-evident. I don't think that it is, given that for all of human history, the vast majority of content creators have had to do non-creative things in order to survive. Do you have any support for this assertion?

      Second (and more importantly), you're setting up a straw man here. Literally nobody is saying that content creators shouldn't be paid for their works.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:50am

      Re:

      Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live.

      Wait, what?
      Your argument is totally wrong.

      If an artist has to do additional work to support their creation of art, aren't they now actually producing both cultural benefit through their art and ALSO tangible benefit through their non-creative work? What you are arguing seems to be a bigger gain rather than a loss.

      Now, you MAY be able to argue that without having to do other work they could be producing more cultural beneficial works than they are able to now, but that would also suggest that their works need to produce a very balanced amount of money that both keeps them able to survive without other work but yet ensures that they have to continue to produce their art basically until they die.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:56am

      Re:

      There are a lot of people in various industries who are underpaid for their work. All of this is the result of the wealthy who have purchased laws to further enrich themselves, whether it's extending copyright duration into absurdity so that the public doesn't respect it or passing anti-union legislation or fighting wars for profit or doing away with social safety nets or doing away with stock market protections.

      If you want to complain about artists not getting paid fairly for their work, join the rest of us in opposing the rampant corruption in our political system that allows the causes to be perpetuated.

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

    • icon
      Jay (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:56am

      Re:

      Do you ever get a better argument?

      The ones taking from creators aren't people that look at an end product. It's the people trying to inflate prices to fill their own coffers while selling inferior goods.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:56am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Dec 31st, 2014 @ 8:25am

      "Why doesn't Techdirt or Mike Masnick write about that?"

      Perhaps because the mpaa/riaa screams that at the top of their lungs anyway and just copypastaing those talking point contributes nothing to the discussion?

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

    • icon
      DOlz (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      "Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live.”

      Has the copyright on Neanderthal cave art expired yet?

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

      • identicon
        jimbo joned, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:09am

        Re: Re:

        no, copyright does not apply to other species' creative works as demonstrated by the baboon who took his own photo. the owner of the camera claimed that as it was taken with his device he owns it, whereas that would mean by default every record recorded would be owned by the studioand not the artist. as the ape took the picture, and as copyright only applies to human works, the photo is now public domain, although the camera owner claims copyright ownership on his website, he has had that ruled against him in court

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

    • icon
      Greevar (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:14am

      Re:

      "Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live."

      I think your online dictionary had a database error and gave the definition of the word "opinion" in place of the word "fact".

      How about we blame the economic system instead? Because of money, people can't simply do what they love, regardless that it provides societal value, because they have to sacrifice their time to occupations that earn money. Even if they can earn money doing art, they have to concede to market demands. They often can't do the art they truly desire to make, but have to make art that consumers want. That's a tragedy in itself.

      The point being, it's easy to cast blame.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:40am

      Re:

      According to the research mentioned in this article, creatives aren't getting paid because their works aren't being made available by the publisher to purchase. That's what the big hole represents - a lack of newer books available to buy.

      Not that you'd let real facts get in the way of your pretend facts.

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:46am

      Re:

      Probably. Given the amount of creative works being released all the time despite your alleged huge loss, the incentives still seem to be there, right?

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live.

      Why doesn't Techdirt or Mike Masnick write about that?


      Because it is NOT a fact.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:31am

      Re:

      I'm getting really tired of the overvaluing of "creatives'" work that nobody is even willing to pay for. The main reason it gets so much attention is political corruption, current copyright laws are a product of trying to social engineer market forces out of the economic reality of a politically-connected class.

      How about getting a job and producing something of value like everyone else? Most of this garbage could disappear and nobody would notice or care, in fact they would have to find something else to occupy their time which might do us all a lot of good.

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      Fact: A huge loss for society and culture is when people don't pay creatives for their labor and thus they are forced to do non-creative things to make money in order to live.

      Fact - the first breakthrough work of any artist is NEVER funded by the cconsumer. It is ALWAYS necessary for the artist to have a day job.

      Often that first breakthrough work is the best (or even the only work of substance - Harper Lee, JD Salinger). The subsequent works are inferior because copyright royalties take the pressure off. Great art is seldom produced in well funded luxury.

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

      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 6 Jan 2015 @ 5:28am

        Re: Re:

        That might *just* explain why the first few albums of my favorite bands were awesome but the rest aren't terribly impressive.

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

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      @ a non cow-

      you know why ?
      Fact: because EVERYONE is a 'creative' (sic)...

      and MOST OF US don't get a chance to practice our creative sides any near as much as we'd like because we have a fucking job (or kids, which is a job by itself)...

      some of us don't feel entitled enough to think of ourselves as such speshul, pwecious, pwecocious, sparkle-pony's that we not only DESERVE, but DEMAND that the rest of society SUPPORT US in our endeavor to goof off all day and (with a near 90% certainty - see sturgeon's law) produce a thing of unbeauty that you foist off on your adoring public...

      you know, the job market is bad enough as it is, but why am i guessing that you, personally, a non cow, don't have any marketable skills except being a 'creative' of some sort...

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

    • identicon
      Archillies, 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:09pm

      Re:

      Citation please. This comment has the distinct odor of personal opinion posing as fact.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:06pm

      Re:

      eat shit asshole, real art is its own reward from - the guy who plays sax at the subway

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:27am

    Did anybody else notice that there are more works available from the 1920s than 2010s?

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      In the UK, not the US. It would be interesting to figure out what happened between 1910 and 1920 in Europe. Did WWI have something to do with it? I suspect it might, but only because that was the biggest event in that time period.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re:

        I suspect it might, but only because that was the biggest event in that time period.

        I think there was also an enormous and highly lethal flu outbreak during that time.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:43am

    Wasn't copyright supposed to promote culture?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:23am

    And now there are even more incentives to keep content locked away. If someone looks for it in the market & can not find it (because in the digital age, so there is totally no way to provide content at nearly no cost o_O ) and they find it, the rightsholder can sue. We made it worth it to not meet the public demand, and reward them for locking it away.

    The rights can be transferred with a piece of paper, that doesn't need to be filed anywhere. This keeps anyone who wants to bring things back to market from even thinking about doing so, because the lawsuits are so insane. You can be sure that the work is in the public domain, but still face large lawsuits (Doyle Estate anyone?) and threats... that make it easier to just let them keep it locked away than to spend money fighting to prove the truth. (And with Garcia v. Google out there, it can be death by 1000 lawsuits and filings by anyone who ever touched it.)

    Reform needs to happen.
    The original intent has been warped by corporations to protect their business model, allowing them to ignore the public who is the stakeholder who gave up so much and gets jack shit in return.
    Copyright was never meant to keep a family in the style to which they wished to become accustomed for generations. The benefit to the creator is minimal, the benefits are all to the gatekeepers who extract a pound of flesh over and over even after the author is long dead. They exist only to rend a few more cents from the corpse of what once was a great work, but anyone who remembers it is long dead & is not telling others about these forgotten gems. Dare to try and introduce a new generation to the content, and the gatekeepers are there demanding their cut when they have done no work to promote the work. They lie in wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting then pounce.

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

  • icon
    TimothyAWiseman (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:32am

    Requiring registration is unnecessary

    I vehemently disagree with the suggestion that registration should be required. There are huge amounts of content where registration would at least slow the publication process that ought to be protected by copyright, and that is to say nothing of unpublished works.

    With that said, I do agree that either the copyright term should be shortened dramatically or else that registration could be required to get an extended term of copyright after the initial automatic protection wears off.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:53am

      Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

      "There are huge amounts of content where registration would at least slow the publication process that ought to be protected by copyright, and that is to say nothing of unpublished works."

      Back when registration used to be required (not all that long ago), these weren't problems. The way it worked was that you affixed a copyright notice to the work, submitted for the copyright, and published without waiting for the copyright to be granted. Once granted, the term of copyright began on the day of submission.

      As to unpublished works, you could submit for and get copyright on them. Copyright law requires that the work be fixed in a tangible medium. It does not require actual publication.

      The HUGE problem of not requiring registration is that it become very difficult or impossible to determine if a work is under copyright and who is the holder of that copyright. I think that was the entire point of dropping the registration requirement: to create a world where you can't tell the copyright status of individual works and therefore have to assume that everything is off limits.

      In my opinion, automatic registration is one of the big three reasons why people disrespect copyright.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 6:50am

        Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

        Registration has never been required as a condition of securing a copyright under US law. Under the 1909 Act and its predecessors, all that was required was for a work to be published and a notice of copyright to appear at a prominent location on the work. Registration was a wise thing to do for any number of reasons, and became an imperative if an infringement dispute was on the horizon.

        Under the 1976 Act registration likewise is not a requirement to secure a copyright, but it is prudent to do so in many instances, and mandatory if an infringement dispute is looming. The key change under the 1976 Act is that via an amendment about 1995 the requirement for a copyright notice was eliminated to conform to treaty obligations that had their origin under European national law (most notably France...who can also be blamed as the genesis for the incredibly long terms currently associated with copyright).

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 7:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

          Registration has never been required as a condition of securing a copyright under US law.

          "Much of the [Copyright Act of 1790] was borrowed from the 1709 British Statute of Anne. The first sentences of the two laws are almost identical. Both require registration in order for a work to receive copyright protection; similarly, both require that copies of the work be deposited in officially designated repositories such as the Library of Congress in the United States, and the Oxford and Cambridge universities in the United Kingdom."

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Act_of_1790#Provisions

          "That from and after the passing of this act, the author and authors... shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending such map, chart, book or books, for the term of fourteen years from the recording the title thereof in the clerk’s office..."

          (emphasis mine)

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2015 @ 12:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

            Thank you for reminding me to not rely totally on an imperfect recollection of laws long ago enacted and since replaced. You are correct that some of the early acts did require a work to be registered before federal rights under the law came to the fore. Importantly, sometime between 1790 and 1909 the law began to change, as is apparent from the 1909 act requiring only publication and notice as a condition of copyright attaching to a work. The 1976 act, which represented a cardinal change to prior law in the name of international harmonization, changed the requirement for "publication" to one of "creation", but otherwise retained the requirement for a copyright notice to appear on copies distributed to the public. During the early to mid 90s the law was amended to eliminate the requirement for a copyright notice as a condition to retain copyright for a work.

            Now what we have is a work being deemed preserved under copyright law from the moment of its creation, no requirement for the work to bear a copyright notice, and a requirement to register a copyright claim only as a condition to be met before a suit in federal court can be maintained against an alleged infringer. IOW, unlike what used to be an opt-in type of system (publication plus notice), we now have what is essentially a automatic system (no requirement for publication and notice) without any effective opt-out provision.

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

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:34am

      Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

      If something can trigger a 150K statutory damage for use, then it damn well better rate the "bother" of registration.

      "Unpublished works" should fall under an entirely different set of legal theories that don't pretend that every worthless scrap of paper is some masterpiece that has to be protected.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:34am

      Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

      I'm OK with automatic copyright without registration. Anything that keeps the ordinary person from having to file yet another set of paperwork with the government every time they create something is OK with me.

      Nothing wrong with requiring a registration after 50 years or something, though, if we're going to insist on ridiculously long copyrights. A very small percentage of works are still commercially exploited after 50 years.

      It seems to me that this is a compromise the studios could live with (they don't get shortened copyrights on THEIR stuff since they'd just reregister) and would still help the public domain by releasing relatively obscure works before the books or reels decay.

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

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:12pm

        Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

        If you'll look at the chart, it shows quite clearly that a very small percentage of works are still commercially exploited after only 10-20 years. 50 years is still too long.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

          Which also make long copyrights a nonsense from the paying the author/artist perspective. Long copyright has much more to do with keeping old works off of the market to try and increase the sales of new works.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: Requiring registration is unnecessary

        "Anything that keeps the ordinary person from having to file yet another set of paperwork with the government every time they create something is OK with me."

        As someone who has registered quite a number of copyrights, I have a couple of points:

        First, it's completely unnecessary to register a copyright on everything you create. There's little point in, for example, copyrighting something that you will never publish or distribute, and there's little point in copyrighting things that don't have substantial economic value.

        Second, registering a copyright is one of the easiest things you can do, and it's cheap. Yes, it's paperwork, but it's a form that you can complete in about 10 minutes. I don't think that the burden of registration is an issue, but the benefit to the copyright holder as well as the general public is enormous!

        Registration makes it possible for people to know that your work is under copyright, and that you are the holder of the copyright. This allows people who would like to license your work to actually find and pay you.

        Registration places a legally recognized date on the start of copyright, which can be very useful if there's a dispute.

        Registration places your work in the collection of the Library of Congress, which helps to ensure that when the work will still exist when it enters the public domain.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:39am

    Copyright law

    From the website of the US Copyright Office (http://copyright.gov/circs/circ1a.html)

    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.

    The purpose of copyright was to force works into the public domain.

    I think 28 years should be the upper limit to "limited times". Rights should extend to heirs and estates only if the 28-year time period has not expired.

    Orphaned works should also fall into the public domain, although with a 28-year limited time, that's less of a concern.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:41am

      Re: Copyright law (Edit to original)

      If it wasn't clear, only the first two paragraphs were from the Copyright office.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Disney copyrighting all public domain fairy tales

    Isn't it ironic that the copyright maximalist ("no term is long enough for us") Disney makes a ton of money privatizing public domain fairy tales.

    I fully expect Disney to snatch Odysseus from Homer's cold, dead hands.

    Poof! Copyright destroys culture once again!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:36pm

    With the largest per capita prison population in the world do we really need another reason to lock people up. What you in for? Bootlegging out of print books. Only in the United States of America. The day shall come, when all men will be treated equally, not just created that way. We shall overcome, or perhaps it will be burn baby burn?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 6:58am

    So I cannot purchase a copy of a work on Amazon. I am surprised to learn that it is apparently the only place to purchase books. And here I thought there were things like libraries, book stores (new and used), etc., and that this thing we call the internet places all of them at our fingertips via a remarkable device we call a keyboard (or its equivalent).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 10:25am

    Look more like they're copyrighting themselves into nonexistence.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 5:06pm

    Public Domain Day...Wait till 2054

    These works would have entered public domain today, except for copyright extension changes.

    http://web.law.dukeedu/cspd/publicdomainday/2015/pre-1976

    But....we have to wait until 2054.

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

  • icon
    royleith (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 7:04am

    The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

    'To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.'

    "[I]t leads to... a huge loss for society and culture."

    If copyright leads to a huge loss for society, it contravenes the Constitutional purpose for the law permitting the copyright monopoly in the first place.

    The Constitution limits exclusive rights to just the authors and for only a limited time so that authorship is encouraged, but society also benefits, in exchange.

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 8:01am

    Term

    The most striking thing about that chart to me is that you have to go back only 15 years to see the huge dropoff in sales. If that pattern holds across many sellers and media, it indicates copyright shouldn't be much longer than that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 1:34pm

    To be honest, copyright is why I don't create anything insanely popular. Some jerk korporation will profit from it, for years after I'm dead.
    I'd prefer it if the copyright length was about 5-10 years. Not more than that, and people are free to remix our creations as they see fit.
    "What about my heirs?" Fuck them, let them go create something else, that's new and awesome.
    The entire planet needs a revolution in how everything works, and is run right now.

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


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