UK Green Party Speculates On Idea To Shorten Copyright To 14 Years... Leading To Mass Freakout

from the copyright-term-insanity dept

Last week, the Green Party in the UK got a bunch of attention when someone noticed its "Policies for a Sustainable Society" had put in a clause advocating for lessening copyright terms down to 14 years (which you may note is the same as it was originally in the Statute of Anne -- as well as under the original US copyright law).
By itself, it's not a crazy idea and, in fact, it's one that's been advocated by a variety of people as a better way to benefit the public. And, indeed, when questioned about it, someone from the Green Party said that this was based on the research of Rufus Pollock, who had argued that 14 years was an optimal time period for copyright length (we wrote about this years ago, and Pollock actually recommends 15 years based on his research). In short, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to argue for a 14-year copyright term (hell, patents only last 20 years, and there's plenty of debate on how that's way too long as well). Furthermore, as we've discussed plenty of times, back when the US had terms of 28 years and then you could renew for another 28 years, the vast majority of copyright holders (outside of movie copyright holders), chose not to renew, suggesting that there was little benefit in copyright terms so long:
Either way, it appears that the whole thing was overblown. As Tom Chance (the former Green Party spokesperson for Intellectual Property) explained in great detail, those Policies for a Sustainable Society are decided democratically by members of the party, and are a more long-term vision, rather than short-term plans. And, more importantly, the actual plan was for it to be "life plus 14":
The vision then goes on to propose “generally shorter copyright terms, with a usual maximum of 14 years”. By this, we mean that rather than the current maximum of 70 years after the creator’s death, it should only be 14 years after their death. Unfortunately, as written, this appears a bit ambiguous and has caused confusion, so it needs clearing up!
Honestly, this doesn't make much sense either. If, as the Greens claimed, they were basing the plan on Rufus Pollock's research, then "life plus 14 years" doesn't fit at all. Frankly, some of this sounds like a cop-out by a Green Party that had no idea what it was advocating. That doesn't necessarily speak well of the Party.

Either way, a bunch of folks absolutely freaked out over the idea that the Greens might support such a shortening of copyright length, with laughable claims like "how are we supposed to earn a living?"
I don't know, but in most jobs, you don't get to keep earning money off the work you did a year ago, let alone 14 years ago.

Either way, as the chart above shows, it appears that the true economic life of most books was at least well short of 28 years. Perhaps there's a magic number between 14 and 28 (again, Pollock suggests it's 15), but it hardly seems like "life plus 14" is really going to create any real hardship for anyone other than the likes of Disney or other multinational corporations.

Alas, none of it really matters, as the confused position of the Green Party quickly resulted in the party backing down and admitting that it will now review its copyright policy. Going back to Tom Chance's post, he gives a reasonable discussion as to why excessive copyright terms are a bad idea, and also highlights that the nature of copyright in the UK and the US was always about benefiting the public, not providing a "natural right" for creators to earn a living.

This is something that all too frequently gets lost in the copyright debates. Copyright system supporters insist that copyright is like a form of welfare: a right to earn money. That's why you see these ridiculous and misleading campaigns lately about "fair compensation" for creators. But that's ridiculous. Many artists make no money at all because no one likes what they produced. Or not enough people. Copyright gives you one way to earn some money, but it was never supposed to be the only system by which creative people made money. The fact that some act as if it's a natural right, and some sort of welfare program that is required to "earn" them a "living" is a perversion of history, and it makes having honest rational discussions about the optimal setup of copyright nearly impossible.

Reader Comments

The First Word

"What about authors"

What about them? Unless you have figures to the contrary, most authors who make money will make it within 14 years of writing a novel, and most people who advocate s reduction are open to an extension bring granted (limited in part of the author, not infinite on behalf of the publisher). Besides, why should copyright be beholden to one small part of one industry? Most authors don't get published at all, or didn't until self publishing became realistic on a mass level (for good or ill).


"People here at times seem to advocate a return defining copyright terms as was the case until 1978"

Some advocate a compromise based on current measures, others complete abolishment, and everything in between. It's a wider discussion than some shills would have you believe.

"but I have not the slightest doubt that even if this was to occur a hue and cry wouls almost immediately begin complaining that any term was far too long and destroying "culture"."

Many would also argue that the culture created before 1978 was far superior before corporations were able to demand effectively unlimited terms. Others would argue that even 14 years is too long given the current climates of both changing tastes and wide distribution options - that if you can't sell enough to make a living within 14 years, you're not making something worth buying. I'm not in either of those camps, but I don't hear cries to protect small businesses who didn't make money on their latest production run - we just accept that they go out of business.
—PaulT

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  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:28am

    All the way back to the Statute of St Anne and before this term was for publishing rights, it was never really even about authors. anything beyond dead is pointless if tits for the author. The US constitution seems to be a high point in terms of sensible copyright law, but it's been all downhill since.

    If these people can't make their money off 14 years they will never make it. I believe for transient stuff like software and so on, the limit is substantially less. 14 years or the death of the author would make a lot more sense, if its the author we are worrying about.

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    • identicon
      David, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      Strike any clause dependendent on the death of the author completely. Or an ill or old author will have a hard time getting any deal for publishing rights since publishers will not bother to pay a reasonable amount of money if it will likely only buy them a few months of exclusivity.

      There is also no point in rewarding publishers with longer rights just because an author happens to live longer. I don't want to have publishers have an interest in when an author is or is not legally dead. We don't want cryogenically preserved Walt Disneys in the fortresses of major publishing corporations.

      A fixed time after publishing also renders things more predictable when looking at a work by multiple authors.

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    • identicon
      RD, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      "14 years or the death of the author would make a lot more sense, if its the author we are worrying about."

      They are not, and never have been. Copyright has NEVER been about the benefit or protection of the *author*, not ever.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:29pm

      Re:

      "If these people can't make their money off 14 years they will never make it."

      More importantly, if they create nothing else in the ensuing 14 years that earns them money then copyright obviously failed in it's stated aim of encouraging creativity.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:35am

    "how are we supposed to earn a living?"


    I don't know, how about creating new works?

    They said 14 years not 14 minutes

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:48am

      Re:

      Don't tell me what to do, talentless Freetardo.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:51pm

        Re: Re:

        So what's the point of being an artist if you're not actually going to create anything?

        If you haven't created anything how the fuck can you be called an artist?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2015 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re:

        Talentless? We aren't the ones complaining that 14 years isn't long enough to make something AFTER our first published work ._.

        How much talent do you need to release something at least once every decade and a half?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:31pm

      Re:

      how about creating new works?

      Something the rest of us have to do at least 5 days a week.

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      • identicon
        David, 30 Apr 2015 @ 7:13am

        Re: Re:

        Not really. My SO spends most of her work time shoveling horse crap and the rest giving riding lessons. Not many new works here.

        As program project leader, I also spend a lot of time on what feels like shoveling horse crap. My main job is suppressing or modifying the creation of new works that would be a bad idea.

        "Creating new works" is actually done only by a very small percentage of people during a small percentage of their life time: switching actual creativity on at will is a rare skill.

        And those who manage only occasionally still contribute to cultural and scientific progress. Arguably more than most of those having a "normal job description".

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 8:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ""Creating new works" is actually done only by a very small percentage of people during a small percentage of their life time: switching actual creativity on at will is a rare skill"

          Is this really true? My personal experience is that people who create do so throughout their whole life. They're driven to it. I've been constantly creating new works since I was 12, and I don't see a day coming when I'll stop.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:39am

    "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

    Assuming anyone read Masnick that far and is still reading after my topic line:
    First, I'll take up with "I don't know, but in most jobs..." note characteristic Masnickism: HE DON'T KNOW.

    Second, that's only true if poor and money must be spent immediately: if money is saved and carefully invested, one will likely get more money from prior work indefinitely. Note that it's written by a kid who's still getting income from work his grandfather did! Let's do away with ALL continuing income, especially inheriting money.

    Third, while I'd go for 14-year limit IF "monetizing" the works was prohibited, Masnick doesn't commit, just natters.

    Fourth, paying for enjoying seems due no matter how many years pass, so long as to original creator not heirs or corporations. -- HOWEVER, I propose a means test on ability to enforce: if already HAVE millions, then definitely withdraw the ability to sue.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:57am

      Re

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re

        out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

        WFT does these out_of_teh_blue comments mean? is that same as Gwiz beggin some "Blue" for attention? old man yells at cloud? inside joke? I mean, WTF?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:34am

          Re: Re: Re

          Search for "out_of_the_blue" - an idiotic troll who keeps spamming the same nonsensical tropes on every other article. Articles from 2013 and before are smeared with his handiwork.

          He's given up his moniker, but look closely and you'll see his trademarks are as obvious as ever.

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

        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:09am

          Re: Re: Re

          is that same as Gwiz beggin some "Blue" for attention?

          Lol. I refer to "out_of_the_blue" as "Blue", but I wouldn't say "beggin for attention". Blue has a history of spouting nonsense, ignoring any rebuttals and then claiming that his points stand and he won the exchange. It's a hallmark of someone arguing from a weak position, really.


          old man yells at cloud?

          Not sure if you are referring to me or not, but I will admit that, yes, I could be considered an old man by some (and most definitely by the AARP who now send me application every month or so). I usually tend to rebut the cloud shouters though.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:02am

      Re: "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

      You seem upset.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:08am

        Re: Re: "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

        Instead of being a shill perhaps he should find some volunteer work to do. Might be more fulfilling.

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

    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:41am

      Re: "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

      econd, that's only true if poor and money must be spent immediately: if money is saved and carefully invested, one will likely get more money from prior work indefinitely. Note that it's written by a kid who's still getting income from work his grandfather did! Let's do away with ALL continuing income, especially inheriting money.

      If all the profits earned from exploiting the copyright to a work are invested, the additional profits, if any, are the result of the investment, and cannot possibly be said to be from the work.

      Further, investment in the form of speculation (even long term speculation), as well as inheritances, are well-known to be dangerous to society. You may have heard some complaints about a certain 1%, which mainly makes money by using mere capital, rather than earnest effort, and which tries to pass it all along to heirs to keep that wealth concentrated. So while 'doing away with' it might be a little too far, severely restricting these practices is not a bad idea.

      Fourth, paying for enjoying seems due no matter how many years pass

      I disagree completely. Copyright is meant to encourage the creation and publication of works, while also protecting them as little as possible for as short a time as possible, because works are only truly valuable to society when they're in the public domain. Your proposal is like saying that so long as the person who built your house is alive, you should have to pay them for the enjoyment of a roof over your head. The better answer is that houses should be paid for as a lump sum (possibly financed by a mortgage, but that has nothing to do with the builder).

      Accepting that the reception of a work in the market will determine whether or not the author makes money at all, and if any, about how much, copyright should be as short and as minimally protective as possible while still working as an incentive to get authors who would otherwise not create and publish works to do so. That is, the money the author gets should roughly be based on how little we can get away with paying him and not have him quit and do something else. Anything more is wasteful.

      Of course, we can't tailor copyright that precisely, so in some respects we need to consider average outcomes, and in others we need to arrange ways for authors and publishers to self-select for varying treatment. It won't be a perfect solution, but it would be better.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re: "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

        "Fourth, paying for enjoying seems due no matter how many years pass"

        I wonder if he knows how much money he's implying that Hollywood and other industries should be paying for The Odyssey and The Ilyad or if that realisation makes him realise how idiotic the argument actually is. I guess not.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 9:02am

      Re: "none of it really matters" -- Typical Techdirt item, then, based on mistakes!

      First, I'll take up with "I don't know, but in most jobs..." note characteristic Masnickism: HE DON'T KNOW.
      Rather than clearly state your point, you just decided to leave it vague. Perhaps you mean to take the (sarcastic) assertion that Mike doesn't know how you are supposed to make money when you only have 14 years of exclusivity and twist that to say he just doesn't know how creators can make money, despite the fact that he is, quite effectively, competing with free.
      Second, that's only true if poor and money must be spent immediately: if money is saved and carefully invested, one will likely get more money from prior work indefinitely. Note that it's written by a kid who's still getting income from work his grandfather did! Let's do away with ALL continuing income, especially inheriting money.
      Artists can invest too so not sure what you are trying to say here. Mike isn't calling for the removal of continual income. He clearly pointed out earlier in the article that back when renewal was required, very few works were renewed. There was a creator commenting on a similar post a while back, and he talked about how if it wasn't for his new album he really wouldn't get any sales on his old albums. Reading into that, it suggests that the music, despite being protected by copyright, really has no lasting value to the creator. He got most of his money just after release, and any future sales yes might be related to the work he does promoting, but wouldn't be significant enough to justify a 75 year monopoly right. Your attempt to highlight logical flaws by taking a premise to an absurd conclusion has a few flaws, I am afraid.
      Third, while I'd go for 14-year limit IF "monetizing" the works was prohibited, Masnick doesn't commit, just natters.
      Not sure what you are saying here, 14 year copyright term if the creator wasn't allowed to monotonize? or if you weren't allowed to monotonize in the public domain? What are you trying to say?
      Fourth, paying for enjoying seems due no matter how many years pass, so long as to original creator not heirs or corporations. -- HOWEVER, I propose a means test on ability to enforce: if already HAVE millions, then definitely withdraw the ability to sue.
      Several problems with this. 'Life of the creator' devalues any work done by an old creator, leading to the potential that for creators who sell a work ONCE to be paid less not for inferior work, but because of their age. Painters are a good example, Music writers (who do get residuals, but get a lump sum up front), I'd imagine script writers as well. Perhaps some book contracts? I am just speculating, but I can see how it goes wrong. You also create an incentive for an old creator to create, but not release, instead allowing an heir to take the credit (either as the sole 'author' or joint authorship). Now instead of a 10-year copyright, you've got a 30-40 year copyright! Developing a system like that is ripe for being gamed. No a flat time scale, perhaps 14+renew for 14, is better suited to provide an impartial assessment of value. Addtionally, your attack on rich creators is markedly strange. If you are a successful creator, your never get copyright? In conjuction with your earlier statements, I can kinda make a coherent statement by assuming you are arguing for life of the author except if they are rich, then its only 14 years. But then you place an inherent higher value on earlier works, and lesser value on later works, for a successful creator. If we agree that copyright is a system worth maintaining (and while that could be debated, I will grant that assumption for the sake of this argument), it needs to be neutral to the content itself allowing the market to determine its value. Removing copyright restrictions for someone because he became successful doesn't serve any justifiable purpose other then to punish his success.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:42am

    How are we supposed to earn a living?

    Produce works that people desire, and will pay for. Succeed in that, and people will support you regardless of copyright, fail at that and it does not matter how long the copyright is, the work will never make money.

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  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:45am

    Just show me the money!

    Applied Materials is (hopefully) earning $$ on a patent granted 9 years ago to me as sole inventor (but owned by my employer - Brooks Automation at the time). I got a bonus of $500 USD from Brooks when I filed the patent. Unfortunately by the time it was granted, I no longer worked for the company so I didn't get the extra $500 for that... Life + 70 for copyright? How bogus! Life + 14? Ok, that may help the kids or grandkids through college. Not entirely unreasonable.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:08am

      Re: Just show me the money!

      As said above, lifespan should have naught to do with how long a copyright lasts, it's too variable and further, it is irrelevant.

      And copyright itself would have nothing to do with providing for heirs if it's on something that never makes money.

      A work going into the public domain doesn't mean it's no longer by the person who created it, it's still theirs to turn a buck on if they can or make an effort to do so. It just becomes unnecessary for others to pay for or even ask permission to do something with it.

      One benefit of a set term is that everyone knows where they stand, where it begins and ends without having to know if the author is alive or dead, or if the rights were given over to another entity. Done is done.

      It would be helpful to all if copyrights were required to be registered also, to form a searchable database of when copyrights begin (a set term would merely involve a bit of math to determine their ends).

      Level the field for everyone, restore the public domain and the pact copyright is made of with society, and alleviate the monstrous legal issues we have with it today as it exists.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re: Just show me the money!

        And copyright itself would have nothing to do with providing for heirs if it's on something that never makes money.

        Exactly. If you want to provide for your heirs, see an estate planner. If you want to make a living, produce works. The rest of the world has to go to work at least 5 days a week to make a living. And we don't get paid for our work but one time. Why do artists think they are special?

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  • identicon
    HMTKSteve, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:48am

    compromise

    How about a compromise? Copyright last 14 years but if any for-profit group wants to use the works we keep death+14 years?

    This way 14 years after a book is written it can be freely distributed as an eBook for no charge but if someone wanted to distribute it with the intention of making money (printed or movie adaptation for example) it would fall under current copyright provisions and require consent/license from the author.

    This would free up works for general consumption by the public while also preventing others from profiting off of the works.

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:47am

      Re: compromise

      What about this compromise? An overall term of around 15 years (Pollock remains the only serious work on term lengths that I am aware of, but really it requires more study) but it's not infringing or at least is not actionable if natural persons engage in otherwise infringing activities, noncommercially.

      That way we don't have to deal with attacks on individuals doing what they're clearly going to do anyway, but whatever money remains that the copyright can be exploited for is still directed to the copyright holder.

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      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: compromise

        Unfortunately, that compromise fails as bad as the original. A copyright that can't be enforced as long as the pirate doesn't charge anyone for it doesn't serve the purpose. You are right that people will do it anyway, but don't act like the people doing it are doing nothing wrong. Can you imagine that logic applied elsewhere in the law?

        Mr. Johnson, you damaged the property of Mr. Smith.
        Yes your honor, but I didn't have any economic gain, so its ok!

        Mr. Appleton, you walked into a police office, Lied your ass off, and your sworn testimony freed a mass murderer.
        Yes your honor, but he didn't pay me for it!

        Your non-commercial clause lacks needed nuance.

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        • identicon
          cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:48am

          Re: Re: Re: compromise

          A copyright that can't be enforced as long as the pirate doesn't charge anyone for it doesn't serve the purpose.

          The purpose of copyright is to act as an incentive for authors to create and publish works which they otherwise would not have created and published, while imposing as few restrictions on the public for as short a time as possible.

          So I don't see why it doesn't serve that purpose. Perhaps you could elaborate?

          don't act like the people doing it are doing nothing wrong

          Copyright is utilitarian. There is no right and wrong. So yes, the people who would be engaged in what would be lawful acts would be doing nothing wrong.


          Can you imagine that logic applied elsewhere in the law?


          As it happens, I can. Copying certain sound recordings noncommercially, using certain media or equipment, is non actionable (i.e. not capable of being sued over, though still illegal). You can find the relevant statute at 17 USC 1008. (In practice it's not common, but it is on the books)

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          • identicon
            Just Another Anonymous Troll, 29 Apr 2015 @ 11:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

            So I don't see why it doesn't serve that purpose. Perhaps you could elaborate?
            If your job is to write books/make movies, and any jerk with an internet connection can download your work for free with absolutely no repercussions, I can imagine you'd be a bit wary of pouring a year and your soul into your next novel.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

              " I can imagine you'd be a bit wary of pouring a year and your soul into your next novel."

              Perhaps, but you'd be overreacting if you were.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

              1)Creating new works is not a job, unless it is writing software to serve some predefined purpose, or maybe prodcing screen play from an existing work.
              2) You obviously have not looked around the Internet very much, as many creators put their work up for free, while also trying to make money from it; For example:
              a) Cory Doctorow
              b) Abigail Hilton

              And may many many more creators of content

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              • identicon
                cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 4:00pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                Creating new works is not a job

                Actually, a lot of people are hired to create works. Artists are just as able to sell their labor as any other worker. It's commonplace in all artistic fields.

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              • icon
                Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 12:19am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                ‘Creating new works is not a job’
                thankfully the IRS disagrees with you.
                as a creative professional I can deduct my professional expenses against my income as all businesses do.
                do you want creative people to have less rights than other professionals?

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 1:47am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                  There is a distinction between working on commission/ being employed for your skill, and trying to make a living from the works that you create. The first group include technical writers, graphic artists working on web-sites and advertising, wedding photographers, programmers and the like, and those creating works of fiction and documentaries in book, video and audio form. The first group are hired for their skill, while the latter rely on gaining an audience for their work after it has been created.
                  The second group gain income from, and pay taxes on, the works that they have created, and while they may use the income to support them while they create a new work, they are not paid to create new works. In that sense creating new works is not a job, although it may be a hard work, and an investment in the future.

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                  • icon
                    Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 2:36am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                    yes, the distinction you are referring to is the difference between working for others and working for yourself.
                    what can you possible see wrong with someone being their own boss?
                    when you do ‘work for hire’ the people paying you are the creator not you.
                    most artists prefer working for ourselves: risking our time and resources not just for greater gain but more importantly for artistic freedom.
                    if you think royalties are a bad thing , search ‘ royalty free music ‘ there’s a lot of it. but you won’t like it, nobody does.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 4:49am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                      I think that the middlemen from the traditional content industry are giving a very biased view of how creative people make money, they are talking about the few lottery winners that make it big, and whose creativity mainly enriches the middlemen. Look around the Internet and you will see that most creativity is something that is done as a hobby, and which with a bit of luck covers the cost of hosting. The old advice to authors, and which is relevant to most creators of art, is
                      do not give up the day job
                      . Only a lucky few will gain a big enough audience to make a living from their creativity, and only as long as they keep their audience.

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

                      • icon
                        Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 10:11am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                        ‘middlemen from the traditional content industry’ ?
                        your posting about a war that has been over for 2 years.
                        here’s what’s happening in the business of music.
                        the traditional middlemen (big record labels) have merged with the new middlemen (Silicon Valley/Wall St venture capitalists) in order to squash 21st century artists who own their own recordings.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 4:58am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                      if you think royalties are a bad thing , search ‘ royalty free music ‘ there’s a lot of it. but you won’t like it, nobody does.

                      Royalties are part of a contract whereby a creator gives up their copyrights for future payment, and are but one way that a creator can earn from their creativity. Bringing up royalty free is therefore a red herring, and is no measure of quality.
                      That said, I can find more content of all forms that is available for free and which I find worth experiencing than I have time to indulge in experiencing, despite having all day every day to fill in, and no television.

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            • identicon
              cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 1:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

              If your job is to write books/make movies, and any jerk with an internet connection can download your work for free with absolutely no repercussions, I can imagine you'd be a bit wary of pouring a year and your soul into your next novel.

              Well, that addresses half of the purpose of copyright -- the part about incentivizing authors to create and publish works that would not be created and published otherwise.

              But you've ignored the other half of the purpose of copyright -- the part about offering the least protection for the least amount of time. (This is important because it reduces the harm inevitably caused to the public by restricting their use of the work)

              So I don't think you did a good job of answering the question by just ignoring the part you find inconvenient. Would you care to try again, addressing the entire purpose this time? Hint: the answer will involve other incentives to create and publish works other than copyright, as well as the value that copyrights retain, particularly as to businesses, even though no copyright might apply to natural persons acting non commercially.

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              • icon
                James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 2:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                The least least protection for the least amount of time (I am unclear where you got that bit, as it doesn't exist in the constitution or in any of the copyright acts) would be if copyright didn't exist at all. Saying we give you an exclusive right to distribute your work, unless someone else wants to distribute it for free, doesn't logically work.

                Yes there are ways to 'compete with free'. However most of those involve people releasing their content for free and tapping secondary markets. You seem to be arguing that is the only kind of creation that can occur, that copyright should be burned down to the ground. But, in contrast, I have never seen a freely released story with the kind of page count I like get finished. They always slow way down and just kinda stop. Possibly because those secondary markets aren't as robust for books.

                But you seem to know some other way to incentivize those create. So rather then laugh, enlighten us plebes who aren't aware of these magical incentives which not only support people who create, but retain value for businesses?

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                • identicon
                  cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:13pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                  The least protection for the least amount of time would be if copyright didn't exist at all.

                  Yes, that would certainly advance the other public interest, in being the least restricted, but now you're not addressing providing incentives to authors who would not create and publish works in the absence of copyright.

                  This will take a little while to discuss, but I beg you to bear with me.

                  A world without copyright is useful to consider for two reasons. First, it is the natural state of the world; any degree of copyright at all is artificial, and it's worth bearing that in mind. Second, it serves as our baseline. Copyright is meant to only serve the public interest. If a particular copyright law's effect on the public interest were to cause a worse result than the baseline -- that is, if it would literally be worse than having no copyright law at all -- then it would be imperative to fix or abolish copyright because it would clearly be serving no good purpose.

                  So straight away, the world of tolerable copyright law is limited to that which produces a public benefit greater than the baseline of no law at all. All that remains in finding the best possible copyright law is to find the one that produces the greatest public benefit. That is, after all, the only way to measure the worth of any particular copyright law.

                  Since we have our baseline, and since any copyright law will necessarily require some restrictions on the public, which is worse than no restrictions at all, we know that all copyright law will have some negative effect on the public.

                  Does this mean that we should never have copyright? No, it doesn't. Copyright is good so long as the public benefit produced by encouraging the creation and publication of works which, but for copyright, would not be created and published, outweighs the public harm caused by having that amount of copyright at all.

                  If the public benefit were evenly matched with the public harm, the rule of thumb that given two alternative laws, the best one is the one which is simplest and least restrictive, if all else is equal, would dictate having no copyright law at all. That's because if the benefit and harm were equal, it's easiest to just not have the law than to have it and get no greater overall benefit or harm for it.

                  But they aren't evenly matched.

                  The benefits we get from having works created and published which would not have been created and published but for copyright hinge on the number of works created and published; quality is subjective and not really able to be managed, but quantity is easy to do something about. And generally the more works there are, the more works of good quality there will be too. (This is a corollary from Sturgeon's Law, which states that 90% of everything is crap, basically)

                  Therefore, the more works we can get created and published as a result of copyright, the greater the public benefit of copyright will be -- but the more copyright there is (both in terms of the scope of protection, and the duration of the right), the greater the public harm of copyright will be.

                  At this point, the realities of the art world, and the market for goods and services related to creative works becomes a factor, and this is what makes it all work: The incentivizing effect of copyright typically hits its maximum for any particular work very shortly after it is first published in any given medium, and then declines from there. Pollock's work deals largely with this phenomenon, as I recall.

                  For example, a novel will make most of the money it will ever make from book sales within a few months of its publication. Book publishers wanted to try to goose book sales in the 20th century, so the paperback was invented. While book buyers might choose for hardback v. paperback on the basis of the quality of the paper, binding, etc., at least to some extent, the book publisher sees paperbacks merely as being a way to take another bite of the apple. Still though, for a typical novel in the US, the vast majority of sales -- if the book ever sells at all (most works have no copyright-related economic value whatsoever) -- will come within around 18 months. After that sales almost always decline. This is likely because there is more interest in new works than in old ones. There are exceptions, but relatively few given the vast number of works out there.

                  Movies are another good example. A movie will get released in first run theaters. After a few weeks, it will get kicked out, to make room for another movie. Then it goes to the second run theaters. After that, pay-per-view, then DVD sales and rental, then premium cable, basic cable, and finally broadcast TV. The first broadcasts will hopefully be on major networks, but eventually the movie can get no better slots than the Saturday Rainy Afternoon Movie of the Week. This whole process gets spread out over years, and with the exception of the paltry handful of movies that retain great copyright-related economic value over the long run, it's pretty standard. So while the 1939 Wizard of Oz might be so loved that it gets a major network to air it annually, the next highest grossing film of 1939, Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda is a bit more obscure, and probably wouldn't catch your attention if you ran across it whilst channel surfing.

                  So since the incentivizing effect of copyright is so short-lived (you can't plan to have a long-lived work, it's like winning the lottery) we can offer a relatively short duration of copyright protection to a work. As the copyright-related economic value of the work declines, so too does the need for protection, and then it can lapse.

                  And we know that shorter terms, and less protection are viable, because we've got a long history with them; the golden age of Hollywood existed in a period of 28+28 year protection; the golden age of rock and roll didn't even have copyrights on sound recordings; and to this day we still don't have copyrights for performing sound recordings on terrestrial radio.

                  An excellent example is architecture, which wasn't protected at all until 1990, but which produced many works, and many great works without copyright, and really hasn't appeared to produce any greater number of works, much less better works as a result of copyright; we could abolish architectural copyright today and it would certainly have no ill effect on the world of architecture, it's so useless. Non-copyright factors, like improved engineering and materials sciences, funds available to clients, etc. are what really matters in architecture.

                  So the results of the incentivizing effect of copyright protection is all front-loaded, basically, which means so is the public benefit of having those works created and published. The harms of copyright, are perpetual, however. The goal is to maximize public benefit while minimizing public harm. And the law should be as simple as possible where two alternatives would produce the same result.

                  So tl;dr -->

                  This means you want only the minimum amount of protection needed to get the most number of works created and published. The most bang for your buck, as it were.

                  As for where I got this, that copyright is utilitarian is well-known. The rest is just built on that, and all follows logically.





                  Saying we give you an exclusive right to distribute your work, unless someone else wants to distribute it for free, doesn't logically work.

                  Sure it does. We give you an exclusive right to commercially distribute your work, or to distribute it at all through the means of corporate entities. So if a theater wants to sell tickets to a performance of your work, you hold the relevant copyright. But if Alice owns a copy of your work, and Bob gets permission from Alice to duplicate that copy, and no money, etc. changes hands, then your copyright isn't relevant.

                  I mean, right now we give you the exclusive right to distribute your work only once. After that first sale, you typically have no right to control further distribution at all. We've had that rule for over a century, and sometimes authors and publishers get pissy about it (Garth Brooks, John Wiley & Sons) but no one cares what they think.

                  Copyright can be whatever we want it to be, because it's wholly artificial. The only rule is that it has to provide a net benefit to the public.

                  Yes there are ways to 'compete with free'. However most of those involve people releasing their content for free and tapping secondary markets. You seem to be arguing that is the only kind of creation that can occur, that copyright should be burned down to the ground.

                  No, I like copyright. But I also think that the rampant disregard for the law during Prohibition, and the attempts to enforce the law, caused more harm than good. While Prohibition might've been a good idea (most people honestly thought it was, at the time it was enacted), it would've been smarter to never have done it, and we're better of for having legalized alcohol. Now the same thing is happening with some drugs, and again, the cure of the drug war was worse than the disease of drugs ever was.

                  We agree that copyright infringement is utterly rampant among the population of the world. Individuals copy and distribute as they please, are basically unstoppable, and see nothing wrong with it. I think it's better to roll with that, than to oppose it. Maybe if it were really important, like shutting down racial discrimination (which was also widespread), it would be a fight worth fighting. But it's not that important; it's just copyright. The world lived without it since the dawn of time to 1710 (and not until the 19th and 20th centuries for most of the world), and if need be, can do so again.

                  Besides, we don't have to abolish it. While there is a widespread belief (and practice) that copyright may as well not apply to ordinary people, acting non-commercially, most of those very same pirates do support laws against commercial piracy, and do believe that commercial entities should not be allowed to engage in piracy. So my suggestion is that we abandon what we must, but salvage what we can. I think it's pragmatic and would leave us with a still-workable system. The paying market might shrink, and would certainly change, but I think a great deal of it would continue to exist.

                  But, in contrast, I have never seen a freely released story with the kind of page count I like get finished. They always slow way down and just kinda stop. Possibly because those secondary markets aren't as robust for books.

                  I've read lots of book-length, freely released stories that actually ended. I've also seen professionally published novels that did not (typically published posthumously, if the author was withholding publication until the work was complete). Maybe you're looking in the wrong places?

                  But you seem to know some other way to incentivize those create.

                  There are a lot of them: Practice. Art for art's sake. Popularity. Commissions. Patronage. Crowdfunding (a variation of the previous two, but worth mentioning on its own, I think). You get the idea, I think.

                  I mean, I just wrote an essay, pretty much, in replying to you, and the benefits that a copyright on this work might provide me with did not play any sort of incentivizing effect at all. (In fact, I place all my posts, including this post, into the public domain, because it's wrong for me to even be granted a copyright when I didn't need one)

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 1:48am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                    It is a long read, but I recommend reading above comment, at least to the "So tl;dr -->" point.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 2:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

                Would you care to try again, addressing the entire purpose this time? Hint: the answer will involve other incentives to create and publish works other than copyright,

                Go and sample the wide range of content available for free on the Internet. Passing on knowledge and the joy of craftsmanship is enough, for example see Tom Lipton's introductory video. Sometimes a passionate interest in a broad subject is enough, such as < a href="http://chinahistorypodcast.com/"> Laszlo Montgomery' China History Podcast. Maybe it is a passion for an art form http://blogs.gocomics.com/2014/02/meet-your-creator-gavin-aung-than-zen-pencils.html.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

              If your job is to write books/make movies, and any jerk with an internet connection can download your work for free with absolutely no repercussions, I can imagine you'd be a bit wary of pouring a year and your soul into your next novel.

              Even if that's what happened, I'm not sure it would be such a disaster if the people who were just creating stuff to make money found something else to do, and we were left with the ones creating because they love it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2015 @ 6:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: compromise

              Um... news flash. They can, they are, and paranoid rights holders are thowing INSANE amounts of money at the problem to step on a few ants and see no return of investment.

              If you can push a new novel out every year, then under proposed terms, you would have 14 monopolies to exploit before you lose access to 1. Assuming you can produce decent works that actually attract market interest, it sounds like you could not only have a strong catelog to continue monetizing, but you'd also be able to promote a strong incentive to your growing fanbase to support you by alternate means.

              Such as:
              -Crowdfunding your next book by levereging your fan base
              -Keeping a donations tipjar up for folks who really like your work, and want another way to support it.
              -Joint projects with filmmakers, musicians or other creative individuals to push your work into other markets
              -Commissioned stories where you sell your time to make OTHER peoples ideas come to life
              -Monetize your growing popularity or market position (if you've gained public attention) through appearances, marketing yourself as a crowd-getter.
              -Sell ancillary merchandise based on your works, like T-shirts, mugs, or other mass producable nik-naks that bear unique expression derivitive of your earlier works.
              -Personify yourself in such a way so that YOUR name, rather than your books, become a draw to people and utilize your own image to make money.
              -Invest money from previous projects to safeguard against decreasing popularity
              -Work with communities and individuals creating derivitives of your work to not only create a more quality end derivitive, but also earn good-will with your growing fanbase for your inclusionary practices, spurring further interest and more sales.

              No, the guy who wrote a good book a lifetime and a half ago should not still be the sole beneficiary of the work. No, the guy who wrote a good book 30 years ago should not be the sole beneficiary of the work. No, the only person who can use the name 'Jeb Bupkiss' shouldn't be the first person to write it on a page until 20XX.

              Wanna make money as an author? Be an author and keep working. Only want to write one book? Then expect a return on that book for a few years, not until your children are in old-age homes.

              I dunno about you, but if I got told 'Hey, you managed to make something popular, and you'll be making money off it in perpetuity (from your perspective anyway), I'd be alot LESS incentivised to keep working.

              If you want to work as an author (and not just write books on the side or as a hobby), then you aren't incentivised to work by a promise to be the sole beneficiary of your 'year of labor' for all of your life. If anything, you are incentivised to protect, not to work.

              You are incentivised to waste time trying to stop people from doing what people are GOING TO DO, waste money stopping a few random people as a 'message to the world' that is likely to lower demand for your work, and leave you less money.

              In short, if you want to incentivise people to keep working, don't tell them they can coast off their early works eternally and be the only one allowed to think up a 'purple three horned polkadotted rhino' because it happened to be the random thing you put in your first work.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re: compromise

          Mr. Johnson, you damaged the property of Mr. Smith.
          Yes your honor, but I didn't have any economic gain, so its ok!

          Mr. Appleton, you walked into a police office, Lied your ass off, and your sworn testimony freed a mass murderer.
          Yes your honor, but he didn't pay me for it!


          Those are just terrible analogies.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 9:16am

      Re: compromise

      Doesn't allow for derivative works, which are a major source of value in the public domain. The call by Mike, some politicians, and many economic researchers for the reduction in copyright terms has nothing to do with getting the work for free, but opening up the culture. The base assumption of your compromise is that all we want is the right to pirate the works, which misses the point Mike has been making for years entirely.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:49am

    if you're in the uk, please make sure to contact the green party and tell them not to give in to the intellectual monopolists, that you want severely reduced copyright terms.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:00am

    In most jobs you get paid in the near term, and in many instances with extra money thrown in too boot by the mandate of law. Its is even decreed the minimum that must be paid on an hourly basis, with constant clammoring by some about living wages, social justice, and whatever economics-ignorant concept tickles the fancy of these self-appointed do-gooders, busybodies.

    What about authors? Compensation as a general rule comes, if at all, at a time far removed from the act of creation, and none of the economic mandates associated with typical employment scenarios even apply.

    The suggestion that authors, by virtue of copyright, are being given some sort of an economin advantage is laughable, and continuously regurgitating such a misleading and mistaken notion is disingenuous at best.

    BTW, the original term under the 1790 act contemplated two 14 year terms, or 28 total. By the time of the 1909 act it was possible to secure a total term of 56 years.

    People here at times seem to advocate a return defining copyright terms as was the case until 1978, but I have not the slightest doubt that even if this was to occur a hue and cry wouls almost immediately begin complaining that any term was far too long and destroying "culture".

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    • icon
      S. T. Stone (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:06am

      Re:

      Remix culture, the public domain, the legal preservation of media from long-dead formats (e.g. abandonware games) — all of that dies when we allow copyright to last for the life of the author and seventy years after their death.

      So the only thing “destroying culture” right now are the elongated copyright terms by which we must all abide.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      "Compensation as a general rule comes, if at all, at a time far removed from the act of creation"

      [citation needed]

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      • icon
        Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 1:53am

        Re: Re:

        the first rule a music professional learns is: don’t sell your publishing.
        assuming a song you write is recorded unusually quickly, like within weeks or months, the soonest you would see royalties would be about 3 years later.
        Of course we all know that very few songs become hits. What most people don’t realize is how much music that is well known today was initially obscure or unpopular and gradually became known as a classic.
        That’s why when I see Iggy Pop’s ‘Search and Destroy’ in a Nike SuperBowl ad I am happy knowing Iggy got the biggest check of his life. Or when I see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ using Joan Jett’s ‘Cherry Bomb’ I’m glad that song is not in the public domain.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          the soonest you would see royalties would be about 3 years later.

          Assuming you stick with the old label system.

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          • icon
            Stevo (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 5:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            labels ha!
            you’d be waiting till hell freezes over, they never pay!
            I was writing about PUBLISHING royalties, paid to songwriters by ASCAP or BMI.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 5:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              OK then, assuming you stick with the collection society system.

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              • icon
                Stevo (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 8:06pm

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

                uh... why wouldn't you take the royalties collected by the PROs?
                if your song is being played on radio or TV, the money is waiting for you.
                I guess you could choose not take it because....
                you're protesting?
                you're too 'cool'?
                religious principles?

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                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 9:45am

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

                  You said it's impossible to get royalties less than 3 years after you write a song. My point is that it's possible to get paid for a song immediately after, or even before, writing it. The only reason you cannot make money until 3 years later is if you only use the collection societies.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:30am

      Re:

      "What about authors"

      What about them? Unless you have figures to the contrary, most authors who make money will make it within 14 years of writing a novel, and most people who advocate s reduction are open to an extension bring granted (limited in part of the author, not infinite on behalf of the publisher). Besides, why should copyright be beholden to one small part of one industry? Most authors don't get published at all, or didn't until self publishing became realistic on a mass level (for good or ill).


      "People here at times seem to advocate a return defining copyright terms as was the case until 1978"

      Some advocate a compromise based on current measures, others complete abolishment, and everything in between. It's a wider discussion than some shills would have you believe.

      "but I have not the slightest doubt that even if this was to occur a hue and cry wouls almost immediately begin complaining that any term was far too long and destroying "culture"."

      Many would also argue that the culture created before 1978 was far superior before corporations were able to demand effectively unlimited terms. Others would argue that even 14 years is too long given the current climates of both changing tastes and wide distribution options - that if you can't sell enough to make a living within 14 years, you're not making something worth buying. I'm not in either of those camps, but I don't hear cries to protect small businesses who didn't make money on their latest production run - we just accept that they go out of business.

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:23pm

      Re:

      What about authors? Compensation as a general rule comes, if at all, at a time far removed from the act of creation, and none of the economic mandates associated with typical employment scenarios even apply.

      That depends on their particular situation. If you work for royalties on sales of copies, then sure. But nothing is stopping a plumber from arranging to get paid on the basis of a thousandth of a cent per flush, for life+70, other than that no one would want to make such a deal. Plenty of authors make money by selling their labor, just like most workers do.

      The suggestion that authors, by virtue of copyright, are being given some sort of an economin advantage is laughable, and continuously regurgitating such a misleading and mistaken notion is disingenuous at best.

      The economic advantage is a monopoly on the work. Whether it will yield a sizable advantage or not depends on the work and the market. A monopoly on water would be ultra valuable. A monopoly on being kicked in the face by a giraffe is not too valuable at all; there are more people who want to drink water than who would pay monopoly prices to be kicked in the face.

      But if as you say, there is no advantage for the author, why should we bother to grant copyrights? Their only saving grace is that, through a rather circuitous scheme, they benefit the public by giving an economic advantage to the author. If they don't even do that, then they're useless for everyone.

      BTW, the original term under the 1790 act contemplated two 14 year terms, or 28 total. By the time of the 1909 act it was possible to secure a total term of 56 years.

      True, but remember that the second term had to be requested, and authors usually didn't bother.

      People here at times seem to advocate a return defining copyright terms as was the case until 1978, but I have not the slightest doubt that even if this was to occur a hue and cry wouls almost immediately begin complaining that any term was far too long and destroying "culture".

      Well, the terms were 28+28, previously 28+14, previously 14+14. The idea of 14 years came from patent law, and they got it from the 7 year length of an apprenticeship to a guild master. The idea being that 14 years was long enough to train two full sets of apprentices from scratch, in the new technology.

      Term lengths should be based on serious research, not on medieval guild law.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:07am

    How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

    That is how they'll earn a living, just like every other regular laborer on this planet.

    The entitlement these people exhibit is absurd. The notion that they should be able to do something once or twice and then earn a living from that thing for the rest of their natural lives plus allow several generations of their kin to also earn a living from it is, for me, the hardest part of the copyright debate for me to stomach.

    The idea that the many should be forced to seemingly permanently acquiesce to the nearly limitless and largely unchecked demands of the few is unacceptable to me. I can support a copyright regime that grants people these rights for a brief period of time, say 10 to 20 years or upon death of the original creator, whichever comes first. Beyond that, you get no support from me.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:15am

      Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

      It's not the author's that have such an entitlement. It's the selfish middlemen that pushes for these laws for their own benefit. Don't blame the authors for what the middlemen have done. Disney was largely responsible for extending copy protection lengths. They did so undemocratically and they did not have the author's interests in mind. Only their own.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:16am

        Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

        authors* ... authors' *

        Excuse my poor grammar.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 1:55am

        Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

        The selfish authors sit back and wait for the terms to be extended. They aren't out lobbying for shorter terms.

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    • icon
      Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 2:08am

      Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

      copyright ownership should be for the life of the creator. not a day less, not a day more.
      only problem is; you don’t want to give an incentive to profiting from shortening a creator’s life.
      it’s probably a good idea to add 10 years so distributors aren’t tempted to murder artists so they don’t have to pay them.

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      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:13am

        Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

        It's *NOT* property!

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        • icon
          Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:30am

          Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

          understanding the concept of intellectual property requires that a person has an intellect .

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

          The best counter to the idea that copyright should be treated as just another form of property takes the form of a single word:

          Taxes.

          People pay taxes on their houses, their cars, and other forms of 'property'. If copyright is to be seen, and treated as, property, then it should be taxed just the same. And much like other taxes, not paying would lead to it being seized. Don't pay the taxes on your house? You lose it. Don't pay the taxes on your car? You lose it. Don't pay the taxes on your copyright? You lose it.

          Not to mention, taxes are based upon the value of the property in question, and if simply infringing on a copyright is worth tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, then the value of a given copyright, and the taxes based upon it, are likely to be immense.

          Suddenly that idea of 'copyright is property' isn't looking so great, is it?

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          • icon
            Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 6:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

            Property and cars are taxed because the government provides infrastructure to maintain those assets. We taxpayers come out well on that deal.
            I certainly pay taxes on the INCOME from my songs and if someday the government becomes an infrastructure provider for songs (like suppose they took over the functions of ASCAP or BMI ) then I would happily pay taxes for that.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 1:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

              What infrastructure is the government providing to maintain planet earth? Space junk?

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            • icon
              Gwiz (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 7:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

              Property and cars are taxed because the government provides infrastructure to maintain those assets.

              Isn't using tax dollars to enforce copyright via the court system and the DOJ also providing "infrastructure to maintain [the] assets" of the copyright holders?

              Would you happily pay a copyright tax to offset those expenses?

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      • icon
        JP Jones (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

        copyright ownership should be for the life of the creator. not a day less, not a day more.

        Why? What reason to do you have for copyright to be the life of the creator? What about works with multiple creators or when corporations own the copyright? When does the copyright expire, when the first creator dies, or the last? Do corporations keep the copyright until they go bankrupt?

        None of what you wrote makes sense to me. Please explain.

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        • icon
          Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

          yes clarification needed!
          I was commenting on a discussion about individuals and their progeny. and to be even more specific, I can only speak about musical artists as that’s the only thing I have deep and hard earned knowledge of.
          Naturally when one collaborator dies the survivors still own their portion.
          Corporations don’t write songs so that’s irrelevant but I would like to say that ‘corporate personhood’ is a repellant concept and a vile abuse of the english language.
          I don’t think corporate entities should EVER own the works of artists, they should only be allowed to license them.
          Legal protection for musical artist in their dealing with a traditional label is quite evolved .
          Even if an artist is coerced into selling or giving away their publishing, they still get 50% of the income.
          Sound recordings revert to the artist after 35 years , though of course the labels are now trying hard to change that.

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          • icon
            nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

            You still didn't answer why "life of the author" is a good copyright term.

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            • icon
              Stevo (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 8:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

              Because if an old song is still making money, one of the people it should be making money for should be the creator!
              Almost the entirety of a songwriter’s income comes from publishing royalties . Almost the entirety of publishing royalties comes from broadcasting and film/TV/ad licensing. When a song becomes public domain it is STILL generating income.
              Why should the creator be cut out just so Clearchannel , Google, Pandora or Disney Pictures can collect what used to go to the songwriter? And then probably the aged songwriter has to go on public assistance that you and I pay for with our taxes!
              Do you think Pandora or Spotify charges you less for streaming a public domain song? Do you think they charge advertisers less? No, they just get a bigger cut for themselves.
              All the songs in Disneys’ Guardians of the Galaxy are 40 or 50 year old.
              Do you really think Disney would charge you less if the songs were public domain? No, they just get a bigger cut for themselves.
              I personally prefer that the artist continue to receive the income stream of his product rather than that stream being diverted to the bottom line of Disney Pictures or the fuel tank of Daniel Eks private jet.
              Not because of fairness or justice but because artists put their income back into the cash ecosystem we all live in as opposed to the venture capital closed loop that the corporations are sucking all the assets of the world into.
              It’s May 1 !
              Workers of the World Unite!

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              • icon
                nasch (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 9:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

                Because if an old song is still making money, one of the people it should be making money for should be the creator!

                That still does not answer the question. The creator is still free to make money from a song even if it's in the public domain.

                And then probably the aged songwriter has to go on public assistance that you and I pay for with our taxes!

                They can't make money from the song they wrote 50 years ago so now they have to go on the dole? Wow you lot really do have an overblown sense of entitlement.

                Do you think Pandora or Spotify charges you less for streaming a public domain song? Do you think they charge advertisers less? No, they just get a bigger cut for themselves.

                And what's the problem with that?

                I personally prefer that the artist continue to receive the income stream of his product rather than that stream being diverted to the bottom line of Disney Pictures or the fuel tank of Daniel Eks private jet.

                How would short copyright terms divert money from artists to Disney? If you mean it's because Disney could use works that have fallen into the public domain without paying, keep in mind that every other artist could do the same thing. Disney can easily afford to pay licensing fees and royalties, whereas the struggling small time artist might not be able to. A richer public domain helps the little guys more than the big corporations.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2015 @ 1:05pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

                  And then probably the aged songwriter has to go on public assistance that you and I pay for with our taxes!

                  What's wrong with investing some of your income into a pension fund; that is what other people do?

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

        copyright ownership should be for the life of the creator. not a day less, not a day more.

        Why? Benefiting creators is the side-effect of copyright, not the goal. The goal of copyright is to benefit the public, by incentivising creators to make more stuff, and have that stuff enter into the public domain so other people can use it to build their own creations.

        And I don't know about you, but locking a creation up past the lifespan of pretty much anyone living when it was created, and allowing someone to coast by on one creation for their entire life doesn't seem to be incentivising more creations, or serving the public by enriching the public domain.

        it’s probably a good idea to add 10 years so distributors aren’t tempted to murder artists so they don’t have to pay them.

        This is hardly the first time I've seen this particular argument, but honestly, it never gets any less stupid. Murder is already illegal, very much so.

        Make other arguments for why copyright should be a certain duration, or not tied to the lifespan of the creator, but leave the completely ridiculous 'We can't make it last the lifespan of the creator, because someone might murder them so they don't have to pay licensing fees' argument at home.

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        • icon
          Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

          I don’t agree with your idea of the ‘goal’ of copyright. Most people don’t nor does a single creative professional I’ve ever met.
          I assume you are referencing the Constitution, a document that also protected slavery and defined black people as 3/fifths of a person?
          The popular arts had not yet developed during the writing of the Constitution. The evolution of the artist from being a back door servant dependent on the whims of the rich to being able to take his art directly to the public and so being self sufficient without the patronage of lords and kings is a social phenomenon that developed over the course of the 19th century.
          I don’t understand your outrage that a creative person is allowed to share in the profit from his work.
          The public benefits from artists being able to sustain their careers .
          I feel deeply indebted and inspired by the careers and works of the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Bowie, Stevie Wonder and songwriters like Holland/Dozier/Holland, Burt Bacharach and Lieber and Stoller.
          The careers and works of these creators was only made possible by the control , security and freedom that they derived from owning their compositions.
          When an artist gets his royalty check , he spends it at the grocery store or buys equipment, and so enriches the community he lives in.
          As opposed to the monetization of music as practiced by Google, Pandora and Spottily where the money just gets recirculated in world of venture capital, thus reinforcing the current dilemma of the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer.
          Many songs from 50 years ago are still valuable and making money for broadcasters , advertisers and digital distributors.
          Why do you feel a sense of injustice if some retired bluesman is able to use his royalties to buy an oxygen tank?
          Should the music of the past only fill the tank of Daniel Ek’s private jet?
          Or buy Pandora’s Tim Westerberg another yacht?

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 2:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

            It's not 'my idea', it's the stated purpose and justification of copyright in the US.

            '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.'

            Pay close attention to those bolded words, as they define what parts are the goal, versus what parts are the means to reach that goal. The 'exclusive rights' granted by copyright are not the former, but clearly fall under the latter category.

            I assume you are referencing the Constitution, a document that also protected slavery and defined black people as 3/fifths of a person?

            And freedom of speech, ending slavery, various other rights, and oh yes, providing the legal justification for US copyright in the first place. Yeah, that's the one I'm referring to all right.

            The evolution of the artist from being a back door servant dependent on the whims of the rich to being able to take his art directly to the public and so being self sufficient without the patronage of lords and kings is a social phenomenon that developed over the course of the 19th century.

            Say instead 'the last couple of decades', and you'd be more accurate. The difference between rich patrons, and major labels was primarily a matter of clothing, how they treated artists was pretty much the same. In either case, if you wanted to be known, or have any chance at all of becoming famous, you had to go through them, both sides knew it, and the 'patrons' used this fact to make the 'terms' be completely in their favor.

            It's only as new services have shown up that have allowed creator to connect directly with fans and would-be-fans, rather than having to go through a parasitic middleman(labels rather than rich patrons), that musicians and other types of creators have begun to truly be able to offer their works directly, and maintain control and ownership over their creations.

            I don’t understand your outrage that a creative person is allowed to share in the profit from his work.

            My 'outrage' stems from the fact that copyright was meant to be a deal between the public and creators, wherein the public would give up certain rights for a limited time period in order to incentivise the creation of more works, and in exchange those works would, after the limited time period was over, pass into the public domain, so that the next 'branch' of creativity could grow from those works.

            My 'outrage' stems from the fact that the 'deal' has been completely broken, such that the public gets nothing out of it, leaving the 'deal' utterly one-sided.

            My 'outrage' stems from the fact that copyright has been 'amended' several times, every single time in a manner not in the public's favor, and always retroactively and thanks to rich parasites who abhor the idea that the public domain might actually grow, ever.

            I don't have any problem with the idea that a creator be rewarded for their creation, so long as that 'reward', and the means to it, are within reason. Durations that are for all intents and purposes eternal, the ability for copyright owners to threaten people with absolutely obscene amounts over minor infractions, the constant and unrelenting pushing to have third parties do all the work and foot all the bills in order to 'protect' the 'poor artists'... none of that is within reason.

            The public benefits from artists being able to sustain their careers .

            Just because something is good for the copyright owner(rarely the actual creator until very recently), does not automatically make it good for the public. The public is best served by creations moving into the public domain, so that they can build upon them and make even more stuff, yet copyright law has been twisted to such an extent that that pretty much never happens in the US anymore.

            The careers and works of these creators was only made possible by the control , security and freedom that they derived from owning their compositions.

            (Ignoring for the moment I'm almost dead certain that very few, if any of those artists actually owned any of the rights to 'their' music...)

            Or it could have been because they all had hair, or spoke languages understood by their fans, or made music that people wanted to listen to and were willing to buy so they could support the musicians and listen more.

            A good number(the majority I would guess) of other musicians also had that 'control, security, and freedom...' and never struck it big, never got famous, never got rich, and were forgotten, their music ignored or gathering dust, with the musicians themselves stuck looking for other work.

            Why, it's almost as though copyright wasn't the thing that made them rich and famous... /s

            As opposed to the monetization of music as practiced by Google, Pandora and Spottily where the money just gets recirculated in world of venture capital, thus reinforcing the current dilemma of the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer.

            Please, you want to talk about the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer with regards to music, look no farther than the recording industry, where they've honed fleecing artists to a form of art. Whether it's completely one sided 'take it or get out' contracts, 'advances' that get re-paid several times over by the time the band makes any money at all, being forced to sign over the rights to their own music, and various other tricks, no one screws artists over like a major label.

            Why do you feel a sense of injustice if some retired bluesman is able to use his royalties to buy an oxygen tank?
            Should the music of the past only fill the tank of Daniel Ek’s private jet?
            Or buy Pandora’s Tim Westerberg another yacht?


            ...Or pay for a record labels exec's multi-million dollar 'bonus'?

            Funny thing about using an appeal to emotion based upon royalties, as example after example after example after example after example after example after example show, record labels and 'collection' agencies hate actually paying those out, and that poor retired bluesman is probably completely out of luck, unless he was smart enough to save up some money to cover his retirement, because he's not likely to get anything from his music a couple of decades past.

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          • icon
            JP Jones (profile), 8 May 2015 @ 7:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How will we earn a living? - GET. A. JOB.

            The popular arts had not yet developed during the writing of the Constitution.

            OK, really? You mean the Constitution written right during the end of the Renaissance period? I'd recommend against using history as a basis for your argument when you clearly don't understand it at all.

            Most people don’t nor does a single creative professional I’ve ever met.

            And this (among other statements) is the core of your issue. Not the anecdotal evidence used to strengthen your point (it doesn't). The "creative professional." You use it again when you say "The public benefits from artists being able to sustain their careers."

            This comes from the false belief that three things are true...there are "professional artists" and "consumers" and that the two are never the same, that money is the primary motivation for artists to create, and that those artists must make their living from royalties on previously produced content.

            The fact is few people are able to make art a career, and even fewer on their own. Like any business, you need a market and demand for your goods; the demand is not automatic, and a business is not guaranteed to succeed.

            Likewise, never in human history has monetary gain been the primary motivation to create art. For those few that are able to produce enough quality art that has a high enough demand they can make a living off it but the majority of "artists" make content because they enjoy it. I've written books, made videos, wrote poetry, made (bad) music...and I've never made a dime. And I never needed that incentive to make it. Maybe I'd be able to make more stuff if that's all I needed to do, but really there's no guarantee that's the case.

            Lastly, if you believe that publishers are giving a fair deal to content creators, you're either incredibly ignorant or delusional. The very services you claim are harming artists are making them more money with royalties than their publishers ever did. Even Megaupload, the boogie man of the anti-piracy crusade, helped artists. I find it very interesting that the last Megaupload commercial before its shutdown was a group of actual, well known musicians, including Kanye West, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Will.I.Am, Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx and more [1] thanking the service for the money it was bringing them...and this was because Megaupload's paid content was actually making more money for them than their record labels.

            Again, I ask, why are you entitled to get paid for something your created previously for the rest of your life? No other industry gets the same benefit, unless you count banking investments, but even that is not a guaranteed return (as we all discovered circa 2008). And why are royalties on previous works your sole source of income?

            No wonder so many "artists" are poor. If they're hoping the scraps fed to them by publishers will sustain their income I can't imagine any other outcome. Go read some books on economics, business, and entrepreneurship and stop playing the victim.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:14am

    > "how are we supposed to earn a living?"

    I don't know, not rely on mommy's residuals?

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  • identicon
    Owain, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:32am

    When this hysteria was doing the rounds, I was told by a composer in a public forum that any suggestion that the copyright length of life+70 for his compositions might be too long was "a direct attack on him and his family", and that I was "anti-composer".

    I felt sorry for him: he makes a living from his work now, but seems to think that long after his death, somebody is still going to be keeping his self-published works available for purchase and that this will be a substantial income for his descendants.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Was this an anonymous composer? If so it could very well have been a shill instead. No sane person would condone the current system, it is purely a product of corporations buying politicians undemocratically.

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    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:52am

    Once again, pirate mike supporting theft of artist hard work with no compensation.

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      identicon
      Sunhawk, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:08am

      Re: "pirate mike"

      Your persistence is really almost admirable.

      If it weren't so boring and, well, kind of pathetic.

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  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:09am

    Bad idea, but...

    I'm going to enjoy wading into that one on twitter.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:11am

    Some of these comments should be on her blog:

    http://jabberworks.livejournal.com/703055.html

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  • identicon
    mooper, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:17am

    curious

    Here is a nice start to reforming copyright law:

    I) Copyright can only be held by the creator of the work to be copyrighted.
    Ia) Creator is defined by a physical entity which can be jailed (JE, Jailable Entity).

    II)A copyright my not be bought or sold only transferred to another party upon the death of the creator.

    III)The duration of copyright will last not less than 20 years, unless the copyright is waived.
    IIIa) Transfer may only take place between the creator and another JE upon the death of the creator providing that it is within the first 20 years of the copyright and is only good till the end of those initial 20 years. (20 years chosen because the JE most likely to receive the copyright would be a spouse and should there be kids, after 20 years, should a child be born the day the creator dies after finishing the new Harry Potter replacement, would allow for the kid to be raised and hopefully be able to make a good start in life, get school paid for, that kinda thing.)
    IIIb) Once the initial 20 years is up, proof must be supplied by the creator that further copy protection is required. This further protection will cost 10% of gross revenues derived from the protected media. Furthermore each year, till the death of the creator, the average interest rate charged by credit cards must be paid on the previous years derived revenue from said work. (no reason why i chose that interest rate just liked the idea)


    Sorry it so long, was longer but ya get an idea and ya just gotta share it. Go figure, i created an unworkable idea even though it is better than what is around now, and i didn't get paid for it

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:30pm

      Re: curious

      (20 years chosen because the JE most likely to receive the copyright would be a spouse and should there be kids, after 20 years, should a child be born the day the creator dies after finishing the new Harry Potter replacement, would allow for the kid to be raised and hopefully be able to make a good start in life, get school paid for, that kinda thing.)

      Bad idea. Works usually don't have any copyright-related economic value. Of the handful that do, the value is typically almost entirely to be had straight away after publishing in a given medium. Only the tiniest fraction of works have 20 years of value in them, and they were typically valuable right from the get go.

      An author who did nothing to provide for his spouse and children but leave them a copyright would be as irresponsible as someone who left a whole box full of scratch-off lottery tickets.

      If you are concerned about people who will survive you, the proper thing to do is to do a job that is certain to make at least a reasonable amount of money, to invest it wisely, to take out a life insurance policy, to minimize expenses, and as a last resort, to take political action to ensure that there is a good system of social welfare available if it should be needed. Plus, this works well for everyone, not just for a handful of successful authors.

      The widows and orphans premise for copyright is utter crap.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:18am

    Time and Money

    You will never find the "right" amount of time for a copyright, either in the sense of pleasing the various constituencies or in the sense of what is appropriate for a particular work. The copyright in a book written in 2001 may well have economic value today. Your state-of-the-art website design from 2001? None. So instead of focusing solely on time, why not bring back copyright renewals but with a use-in-commerce requirement (as with trademarks)?

    For example, if I write a book and sell $10k of books every year for fourteen years, I should be allowed to renew my copyright and keep that revenue stream. As with a trademark, let me file a sworn statement showing my continued use in commerce, on the basis of either direct sales or licensed use, with some minimum requirement. Also as with trademarks, sham transactions would be disallowed. The copyright would then be renewed but go to the public domain after that period expires.

    But if I write a book and sell $10k of books every year for four years and then sell only a few copies for the next ten years, the copyright office should refuse my renewal. First, I probably no longer care about the copyright and wouldn't seek to renew it in the first place, so the system would be self-correcting (as it used to be). Second, if I did care, I would not be able to make the required showing of continued use in commerce and so the renewal application would be refused. Either way, the book would go into the public domain.

    The benefits are two-fold. First, I was given 14 years to find a way to make revenue from my copyrighted material. If it takes me 12 years to get it off the ground, so be it. I just have it get it going and keep it going at the renewal time. Second, if I can't make it happen after 14 years, maybe someone else can. But there is no reason to allow me to protect something that I am no longer using in commerce, whether through inability or lack of market.

    Finally, by allowing copyrights to expire, I will be incentivized to create new works because I must to keep revenue coming. Hunger is a powerful motivator. And if my existing works are still popular after 28 years, letting them become public domain might make people willing to buy my new works. Someone who might not have paid for books one and two in my series might be willing to read them for free down the road. Now, my audience has expanded for the rest of the books in the series that I am motivated to create because of copyright expiration.

    P.S. On a side note, isn't it ironic how everyone observes the shortening of product lifecycles, etc., in our modern world, yet we need to extend the 1701 Statute of Anne's time period to infinity?

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:33am

      Re: Time and Money

      "You will never find the "right" amount of time for a copyright, either in the sense of pleasing the various constituencies or in the sense of what is appropriate for a particular work."

      True, but pleasing the various parties should not be part of the equation. The "right" duration for copyright should be based on only one consideration: what is the shortest duration that adequately encourages the creation of new works?

      All of the evidence I've seen indicates that whatever this length is, it is less than 28 years.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 9:34am

      Re: Time and Money

      Far too much subjective decision making in that process. I would prefer a manual renewal process that doesn't factor in a subjective analysis, but if you want it, you can have it. Why include the subjective analysis subject to the whims (and bank account) of a person?

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re: Time and Money

      So instead of focusing solely on time, why not bring back copyright renewals but with a use-in-commerce requirement (as with trademarks)?

      I like the idea of steeply increasing registration fees. First, a work must be registered to be copyrighted. The first X year term (probably between 10 and 20) is free. The next is some significant fee - maybe $10,000 (to be inflation adjusted). Then every ten years the fee is multiplied by ten. If you want the 40 year extension, it's going to cost you a million dollars. Now there is no messy argument about whether something is used in commerce, and I would think nearly everything would pass into the public domain after ten years. Even if you cut my suggestion to a tenth, we would still see very few works copyrighted longer than 20 years.

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  • identicon
    s7, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:07am

    https://twitter.com/jabberworks/status/593449785627127808

    Maybe she should write better selling books..

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:45am

    Why even have extensions

    Over here across the Pond, copyright extensions are automatic. Why bother even having extensions in the law?

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:57pm

      Re: Why even have extensions

      The idea behind extensions you have to apply for (but will automatically get if you do apply for them) is to discern just how little copyright we can get away with granting.

      If we had a legion of psychics working at the Copyright Office, we could just figure out what the least amount of copyright was that the author needed to get him to create and publish the work, and then only grant that, and no more.

      Instead, with an opt-in system, authors only get copyrights if they care enough about them to fill in a simple form and pay a modest/token fee. The hurdle needn't be high, but should require some active effort to clear. Renewals are the same way; if an author doesn't care enough to renew, it's safe to assume he doesn't care about the additional copyright term and the work can enter the public domain all the faster. If he does care enough to apply, presumably he needed it.

      It's not perfect, but it basically worked. I'd suggest having one year terms, and therefore annual renewals, and varying the number of renewals available on the type of work and the general economic lifespans of such works (books and movies might get longer overall terms than software or newspapers).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:47am

    Blame SCOTUS

    Copyright is supposed to be for a limited time. 28 years sounds like a limited time to me.

    However, SCOTUS declared a few years back that a period longer than 100% of the lifespan of the population is still a limited time.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:47am

      Sonny Bozo

      Don't forget the Sonny Bozo copyright extension act. That's part of what got us into this mess right now.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:47pm

      Re: Blame SCOTUS

      Oh it gets worse, they've also argued that as long as the individual retro-active extensions to copyright aren't infinite, then an infinite number of them would still fulfill the 'limited time' requirement.

      So according to their argument, infinite duration copyright(more than just the 'effectively infinite' version we've got now) is perfectly fine, as long as the steps to get there aren't themselves infinite.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:52am

    Nice to see the Green Party lying their asses off like the other parties.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:53am

    Here's how to earn your living

    The original copyright act was intended to *FORCE* works into the public domain. Previously, it was owned by the originator essentially forever.

    Copyright actually increased the number of works available, because authors had to *CREATE* new works to assure a continued income stream.

    In return for protections given to the author, they were allowed a limited period of time to control their work, and then it passed into the public domain.

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

  • identicon
    anony, 29 Apr 2015 @ 11:11am

    HAHYAHA

    Copyright is only applicable to those using content to make money, we as citizens have no issues with copyright as we are not making any money from sharing with each other, well there are some that make money like demonoid and now eztv but hey they could easily get a licence to distribute the content they are allowing people to share are they not, Oh no it is impossible to get copyright laws to give anyone the right to sell or distribute content in any meaningful way, well no wonder some are making money and none of it going to the studios they do not supply any way to allow the websites to pay them, there fault not the supposed pirates. Again the fact that there is no easy way to allow people to sell content that is copyrighted is only a problem for the studios not the middlemen who are laughing all the way to the bank. Nobody is losing anything from the game of thrones being shared other than the studio.

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

  • icon
    FamilyManFirst (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 11:12am

    A Form of Welfare

    Copyright system supporters insist that copyright is like a form of welfare: a right to earn money.

    What a great phrase! Let's rewrite the debate: start calling Copyright "Authors' Welfare" or "Publishers' Welfare". The term "welfare" has negative connotations to much of the American public, so if we can reshape the debate with these terms we can perhaps shift public sentiment against these insane copyright terms.

    We can state something like, "It just makes sense to reduce the time that authors and, especially, publishers are feeding at the Welfare trough of excessive Copyright at the public's expense." There, you've insulted Copyright by equating it to Welfare and made it clear that these excessive Copyright terms are stealing from the public by taking Public Domain works away from them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 11:59am

    the 'Greens' will have to hurry then as the UK has just blocked access to popcorntime, on the orders of the USA MPAA, when the judge openly admitted there is no legal basis for the ban. it looks that like the other article here, getting sued at any stage of the proceedings is what the various industries are doing, even to the point of stopping something before it has even happened. i assume the next step for the entertainment industries will be to block, stop, ban ideas!!

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

  • identicon
    David, 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:28pm

    Looking at Pollock's analysis, 15 years isn't really the 'ideal' length; it's the median (50th percentile confidence level) value implying that the ideal is X years or less. The 75th percentile is at 21 years, 95th at 31 years, 99th at 38 years, and 99.9th at 47 years.

    From that, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years are all also valid, based on how much certainty you want about the overall value.

    I would be against any term renewals for copyright. It's too annoying to know if a work which is past the first term length (which you can determine from the copyright date on the work itself) was actually renewed. I'd prefer a fixed length, non-renewable form.

    The main problem with shorter lengths is abusive exploits by other industries (ie: movies vulturing books). For example, the first Spiderman movie was 40 years after the original comic publishing date. Maybe not the best example, but you can certainly count on such exploits being attempted.

    From all of the above, I would go for 30 years (95th percentile), but with an additional factor — loss of copyright.

    Loss of copyright would be an explicit removal of copyright, reverting it to the public domain. I would designate this as being 3 years after it is considered 'abandoned'. The creator can also explicitly give up his/her copyright at any time.

    What constitutes being 'abandoned' depends on the type of work.

    For commercial works, like books or DVDs, that would be when they're considered "out of print" — no longer published or made available for sale from the copyright holder.

    For software, it would also include when the software is no longer supported (ie: no more updates or bug fixes). For example, Windows XP's support officially ended April 8, 2014, so it would lose its copyrighted status on April 8, 2017.

    For non-commercial works, such as webcomics, fan movies, freeware, etc, it's a bit more difficult to decide what constitutes making something available. Is a freeware program on SourceForge that hasn't been touched in 15 years still valid? You might actually have a similar contention with commercial works. Is something that's only sold on VHS or laserdisc still 'available'? I would probably add the condition that the product still be 'consumable' on a standard, modernly-available device (ie: runs on a current OS, can play back on a system that you can buy at Walmart, etc).

    So, basically, anything that is considered "out of print" (which isn't the same as "hasn't sold any") for 3 or more years reverts to the public domain, since it clearly shows that the original copyright owner no longer finds value in maintaining the work themselves.

    Of course, it's fairly easy to use that as a loophole with digital works. Since there's basically no cost to 'make them available', they can bypass any risk of loss of copyright even if there's no real value in maintaining them. There are other nitpicky bits that would need fine-tuning, but overall I think this seems a reasonable approach.

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      Looking at Pollock's analysis, 15 years isn't really the 'ideal' length; it's the median (50th percentile confidence level) value implying that the ideal is X years or less. The 75th percentile is at 21 years, 95th at 31 years, 99th at 38 years, and 99.9th at 47 years.

      From that, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years are all also valid, based on how much certainty you want about the overall value. 95th precentile to determine what? Are you saying the longer the copyright duration the more likely that 78% of works will be in the public domain? Or are you trying to say that the actual analysis suggests that the optimal length based on usage is 30 years, with a 95% confidence level? If so, you are looking at the data differently then Mike. Therefore you aren't explaining your conclusions very well in light of the portrayal of his work on Techdirt, the summary of which is that 15 years is ideal because we find parity in percentage of public domain works in the late 1700's.

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

      • identicon
        David, 29 Apr 2015 @ 4:53pm

        Re: Re:

        From the actual original paper:

        Table 1, by nature of its form, implicitly gives the inaccurate impression that each of the outcomes [nb: optimal copyright term length based on underlying math] listed is equally likely. We present the distribution function in Figure 3. As this shows, the mode [nb: highest probability for any single length to be the optimal result] of the distribution is just under 20 years.


        Then, describing the percentiles I was referring to:
        From the underlying cumulative distribution function we can calculate percentiles. The 25th percentile is 11 years, the 50th (the median) at 15 years, the 75th at 21 years and the 95th percentile at 31 years, the 99th percentile at 38 years and the 99.9th percentile at 47
        years.

        That is, the cumulative probability that the optimal copyright term length is N years or less. Thus, 25% chance that it is 11 years or less, 50% chance that it is 15 years or less, 75% chance that it is 21 years or less, etc.

        This leads to:
        This would suggest, that at least under the parameter ranges used here, one can be extremely confident that copyright term should be 50 years or less – and it is highly like[ly] that [the] optimal term should be under 30 years (95th percentile).


        And the concluding remark:
        Using the estimates for these variables derived from the available empirical data we obtained a point estimate for optimal copyright term of approximately 15 years (with a 99% confidence interval extending up to 38 years).


        That is, 15 years if the estimated value, but the confidence interval stretches up significantly higher (38 years for the 99% confidence interval).

        The lower limit isn't given, and I don't feel like doing the math, but assuming an arbitrary value of 7 years as the lower 99% limit, you could present it as: a 99% probability that the optimal copyright length is between 7 years and 38 years, with the median estimate being 15 years.

        Mike's use of 15 years is not 'wrong', but it is misleading, because it ignores the confidence interval. And, in fact, it's almost certainly not the actual ideal value, simply because of statistical variance. The most likely value is in the 18-19 year range.

        As an aside: There are actually errors in the paper, where the written text does not match up with the charted graphs, so I'm somewhat skeptical of the 15 year value, in and of itself. For example:

        With our default discount rate of 6% and cultural decay of 5% this implies an optimal copyright term of around fifteen and a half years.

        However if you look at the referenced chart, the calculated value for 5% decay/6% discount is 18.5 years, not 15.5 years.

        In addition, Figure 3, being a graph of probabilities, looks like its midway point should be around 22-24 years or so, not 15.

        Given that there are reasonable arguments to be made in favor of a longer term (that is, no 'ideal' value will survive contact with humans intent on exploiting it), and that there are some questionable elements in the paper (I should really see about running the numbers myself), it makes sense to tilt a legislated value towards the conservative end of the confidence interval. I could see anything between 20 and 30 years as being reasonable.

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

    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 6:13pm

      Re:

      Looking at Pollock's analysis, 15 years isn't really the 'ideal' length; it's the median (50th percentile confidence level) value implying that the ideal is X years or less.

      Or to put it another way, it's probably not higher, and it's probably not lower? Sounds like a workable definition to me.

      I would be against any term renewals for copyright. It's too annoying to know if a work which is past the first term length (which you can determine from the copyright date on the work itself) was actually renewed. I'd prefer a fixed length, non-renewable form.

      I disagree. Copyright should be as short as possible. If a particular author of a particular work is okay with a shorter span of time, as evidenced by a failure to renew, that's a nice bonus for the rest of us. I'd prefer annual renewals. If there's a registration system, it won't be hard to stick the registration number on published copies post-registration (or to lookup the registration from the title, name, etc. on the work) to facilitate looking up whether the term has run out. That's already the rule for patents and trademarks, and again, it works out okay. If you're lazy, you could wait for the maximum possible time to elapse, though.

      The main problem with shorter lengths is abusive exploits by other industries (ie: movies vulturing books). For example, the first Spiderman movie was 40 years after the original comic publishing date. Maybe not the best example, but you can certainly count on such exploits being attempted.

      This is neither abusive nor an exploit. You're supposed to wait for a work to enter the public domain, if you want to use it without an applicable exception, license, or assignment. You're complaining about people obeying the law now. I don't understand that at all. Copyright isn't a permanent right to control the use of a work; it's a time-limited right. If you can't get any customers in the time allotted the problem may well be your own.

      (Also Spider-Man had TV shows as early as 5 years after first appearing; if they couldn't get a film actually out the door until 2002, I think it's because they had problems with the financing, not because of a cunning plan to wait out the rights)

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

      • identicon
        David, 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:25pm

        Re: Re:

        Or to put it another way, it's probably not higher, and it's probably not lower? Sounds like a workable definition to me.

        You have that backwards (or maybe inside out). It probably is higher or lower, but there's no preference as to which direction to lean (ie: not more likely to be higher, or more likely to be lower, vs the other option).

        Also, as I said, Spiderman isn't really a good example, but then there aren't any examples right now because of the way the current copyright system works. Maybe the Harry Potter series would work better to illustrate.

        The point is, the shorter the duration, the easier it is to wait out the copyright rather than license. And, given that part of the point of the copyright monopoly is to have control over that licensing, the easier it is to avoid it entirely, the less value copyright has at all. Despite the fact that that's fundamentally part of how we want things to work, it's still an exploit because it lets you game the system.

        So you want it long enough that licensing is preferred if someone wants to ride the popularity of an existing work, but not so long that someone can't easily pick it up within a generation (~20 years).

        On the issue of renewals, I'll grant that there are valid approaches on that side, numerically. However the maintenance overhead for both the producer and consumer seems like it could be far more trouble than a mere handwaved dismissal. A searchable database like the patent office's, though... maybe.

        For a renewal system, I'd probably propose something like: All works are automatically copyrighted for 10 years. After that, a work can be given renewals of 5 year durations, for an initial fee of $1000, and tripling every additional renewal. The total cost of renewing a work out to 20 years would be $4000, and to 30 years would be $40,000, and would cost $81,000 for the next step. An alternate version would be a 15 year initial duration, $10,000 fee for the first extension, and doubling thereafter.

        There would be no upper limit, except the point where the copyright holder decides it's no longer worthwhile to continue to pay the renewal fee. Due to the exponential growth, that point will be hit eventually.

        However, despite the fact that it would eventually force a work to the public domain, I don't really like it, as it's far easier for a large corp to tie works up even if they take a loss, so there would be a tendency for small-time creators to have fairly short durations, while big corps would have much longer durations. That would tend towards a preference for assigning the copyright to a larger corp that can more easily afford to stockpile longer-held works, shifting the balance of power away from the smaller creators.

        Thus a money-based limiter is probably not a good solution. Any limits should be built in directly.

        Thus I'm back to a preference for ~20 years as a flat duration, or up to 30 years if it includes an abandonment expiration.

        Of course.. a forced abandonment expiration system could be exploited to. If a company has a contract with an author that prevents them from publishing with someone else, and then just sits on the work without publishing it themselves, they could force a work to be abandoned via the 3-year clause I proposed.

        So perhaps the flat 15 year automatic, plus optional renewals of either a single 15 year block, or maybe three 5 year blocks, would give the best balance, while putting a hard cap on the duration that isn't based around money. That would give you a range between the 50th percentile and the 95th percentile, to be flexible enough to give a near-optimal result for almost all cases.

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

        • identicon
          cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2015 @ 8:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The point is, the shorter the duration, the easier it is to wait out the copyright rather than license. And, given that part of the point of the copyright monopoly is to have control over that licensing, the easier it is to avoid it entirely, the less value copyright has at all. Despite the fact that that's fundamentally part of how we want things to work, it's still an exploit because it lets you game the system.

          Why wait, though? The major licensees who you'd want to deal with during the term aren't going to want to wait, because then they're all in competition with one another. While that is acceptable sometimes, with long-standing, proven works (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan), it's quite nice to have exclusive control. Remember, copyright originated with publishers; claiming that it would help out authors was just an excuse in the beginning. And even now, the system still favors publishers, because authors are a dime a dozen.

          I don't think there'd be so much waiting as you expect.

          However the maintenance overhead for both the producer and consumer seems like it could be far more trouble than a mere handwaved dismissal.

          There should be some overhead for copyright holders. Not more than a change of address form; certainly nowhere near the level of doing your taxes. But enough that it's not automatic, and therefore requires a conscious decision and at least a token fee. If a copyright holder doesn't care enough to undertake that minimum level of effort for something we're told is so valuable, I don't see why we should care enough to grant it.

          For a renewal system, I'd probably propose something like: All works are automatically copyrighted for 10 years. After that, a work can be given renewals of 5 year durations, for an initial fee of $1000, and tripling every additional renewal. The total cost of renewing a work out to 20 years would be $4000, and to 30 years would be $40,000, and would cost $81,000 for the next step. An alternate version would be a 15 year initial duration, $10,000 fee for the first extension, and doubling thereafter.

          I'm happy with a simple form, and a dollar fee, but the system is opt in from the beginning, and renewals are frequent, meaning that terms are short. The rationale of not wanting to grant copyrights where they are not necessary (as evidenced by the author taking action to get one) applies from day one. Why wait ten years? (Though for manuscripts intended for publication and works published contemporaneously with their creation, a lesser degree of protection could subsist for a little while, depending on the general circumstances)

          History is a good indicator that not everything will get copyrighted, and not everything copyrighted will get renewed. And if some big company pays all the fees and fills out all the forms to protect everything, I'm willing to put up with it; after all, it can't be worse than the present situation.

          the flat 15 year automatic ... to be flexible enough to give a near-optimal result for almost all cases.

          You just copyrighted everyone's text messages, and for no good reason. Remember, the majority of creative works don't require copyrights as an incentive for their creation and publication. Therefore, they don't merit copyrights. Opt-in worked fine from 1790 to 1977. Why not go back to that?

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

          • identicon
            David, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            There are a lot of points that can be said both for and against your statements, across a wide range of how such a system could be applied, and I can't legitimately argue that you're either right or wrong (it requires getting into much more esoteric discussions and research, and I'm not up for doing that in a comment thread like this). Mostly the feeling I get is that your proposals are tied heavily to idealism, and not giving enough consideration to practical reality and human nature.

            Basically, it needs a heavy dose of "How can I break or exploit this system?", as well as tackling a large number of user experience issues, more mathematical analysis, and lots of thought as to "Why should it work this way rather than that way, and what's the ramifications of each?" (regarding things such as copyrighting everyone's text messages, where edge cases matter)

            Regarding the specific question of "Why not go back to that?" (for opt-in), that ignores the question of "Why did they change it in the first place?" I don't have a transcript of those discussions, nor do I have experience in the use of the pre-1977 system, so all I can say is: Don't change the system if you don't know what the problems with the old system were. If you don't know what the problems were, you can't fix them, or properly compare the competing options.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:42pm

    Why are artists so special?

    The only incentive I need to produce new works is the incentive to eat.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Why are artists so special?

      I know a lot of artists, some who make art for a living and some who don't. The one thing they all have in common is that they make art because they are driven to do so by something deep inside of them, not because they want to make a buck. Any buck-making is just a happy side-effect.

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

    • icon
      Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 12:54am

      Re: Why are artists so special?

      and how do musical creators eat?
      from royalties. publishing royalties from copyrighted works.

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

      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:14am

        Re: Re: Why are artists so special?

        From performance fees, merchandizing, sponsorship, crowdfunding... it's not the only way to earn a living from your work.

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

  • identicon
    Jake, 29 Apr 2015 @ 1:58pm

    Huh. If they'd just pull their heads out of their arses about nuclear power and defence I might just vote with these guys.

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

  • icon
    Andrew "K`Tetch" Norton (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 2:13pm

    I ended up correcting a lot of people on twitter, facebook and on the telegraph when this first came out.

    Sadly though, they all thought it was a new Green policy, rather than just copying the existing Pirate Party policy :-(

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

  • icon
    McFortner (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 2:34pm

    Making a living.

    WHAT? Green Party aim to cut down copyright to 14 years. How are we supposed to earn a living?

    Um, here's a crazy idea: Produce NEW content.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 10:11pm

    There once was an out_of_the_blue
    Who hated to process of due
    Each film that he'd paid
    Was DMCAed
    And shoved up his ass with a screw

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 7:40am

    The cost and "forever" copyright.

    Everything costs. The law giving monopoly, too - imagine Ford requested a law giving them monopoly on car production. How much would they have to pay for it?

    Why then such a guaranteed protection should be free? In case of patents it is not, maybe it should be the same with books, songs and movies. For example - $0.01 for the first year. $0.02 for the second one. $0.04 for the third. And so on.

    And why limit this - let it run forever. As long as the fees are paid, let it be protected. Otherwise the works would become public domain, with no return.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 11:40am

    welfare?

    How is it WELFARE for an artist to receive a portion of the income that their creation is generating?
    Talk about Orwelliian double-speak!
    Are you prepping to be a commentator on Fox News?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:16pm

      Re: welfare?

      If a mechanic fixes up a car that's used in a business(perhaps delivery of some sort), does he deserve a cut of all the profits made from it?

      If an architect designs a building that a company then uses, does he get a cut of their profits?

      Does someone who builds and sells a chair get paid each time someone sits down on it?

      In pretty much every other field of business, the creator gets paid once for their creation, when they sell it, rather than creating one thing and then getting paid for it for the rest of their lives(plus several decades after).

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 8:17am

      Re: welfare?

      How is it WELFARE for an artist to receive a portion of the income that their creation is generating?

      It's welfare to set up the copyright system to ensure a living for an artist, his children, and their children, for works created in the distant past.

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

  • icon
    Stevo (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 6:14pm

    I would love to have a mechanic who took royalties !
    I could tell him: I can’t pay you up front for a new engine, but if you put one in , I’ll pay you a quarter every time I drive it.
    Please lemme know if you can find that guy! My mechanic won’t take that deal, believe me I’ve asked.
    If I could be paid for a hit song up front I would like that , who wouldn’t?
    how is one paid for a hit song? All people are created equal,
    all songs are not!
    the only way to arrive at VALUATION of a song is when it makes it’s way thru the marketplace . That process can take months or years. that’s just one of many reasons why royalty compensation is the most efficient and fair system for creators, for the public and for enterprise.

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


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