Argentina Plans To Increase Copyright In Photos From 20 Years To Life Plus 70 Years, Devastating Wikipedia

from the cultural-memory-loss dept

As Techdirt has pointed out, copyright extensions are bad enough, but retroactive ones are even worse, since the creation of the work has already occurred, so providing additional incentives makes no sense, even accepting the dubious idea that artists think about copyright terms before setting to work. Moreover, copyright extensions are a real kind of copyright theft -- specifically, stealing from the public domain. If you think that is just rhetoric, it's worth looking at what is happening in Argentina.

As a post on the Wikimedia Argentina blog explains (original in Spanish), a proposed law would extend the copyright in photos from 25 years after an image was taken (or 20 years from first publication) to life plus 70 years -- a vast extension that would mean that most photos taken in the 20th century would still be in copyright. That's a big problem for Wikipedia in Argentina, since it is using photographs that have passed into the public domain under existing legislation. If the new law is passed in its current form, large numbers of photos would have to be removed:

Wikipedia would have to erase nearly all the photos of twentieth century history: the mere exposure without consent of the new rightsholders would be a crime. Not only Wikipedia: even the General Archive of the [Argentinian] Nation would become illegal and 40 million Argentines would be left without access to their historical memory.
It's a great but sad example of how copyright can destroy culture on a massive scale. Let's hope that law doesn't pass.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:09am

    That sounds familiar

    Life plus 70 years, where have I seen that before? Ah yes, that would be the copyright duration in several other countries, leaving me wondering if this is yet another example of a country trying to slip in changes to the law prior to a 'trade' agreement being passed, so they can lie and claim that the agreement had nothing to do with the law changing.

    Well, either that or a few palms were greased, some not insignificant amounts of 'donations' changed hands, and a few politicians are pushing the law for the ones who bought them.

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

  • icon
    Mattmon (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:46am

    Simple. Any servers that are in Argentina, move the servers out of the country. That would work, wouldn't it?

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

    • icon
      Mattmon (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      Or just don't host the images on a server that is in Argentina.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re:

        looking into the future....

        companies will cherry-pick which countries gets to host their content

        as systems detect that users are in the country, the data will magically shift to a different country where the laws are favorable

        that way, they can protect our privacy AND provide a useful service.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It stands to make any country willing to protect it a LOT of money... but you see they are already in on this.

          Why do you think they want a global trade agreement with EVERYONE? So they can stop it.

          You must first gain a monopoly on a market in order to effectively control it! All of the secret agreements they are trying to put in place are to acquire this monopoly so they can control things.

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

        • identicon
          Michael, 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There are already companies trying to host content from low orbit space where none of this currently matters.

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

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:47am

    So Wiki needs to block Argentinians from using it, yes?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:51am

      Re:

      They don't need to go that far, they'd probably be okay just blocking any and all pictures from showing up for anyone connecting from Argentina.

      And it's not like pictures are important or effective ways to convey information, so hardly anything of import would be lost. /s

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

  • identicon
    DigDug, 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:53am

    Hmmmm - wouldn't extension only apply to "new" pictures?

    Not sure about Argentinian law, but in the US, if the work was already public domain when the law passed, it would not be "removed" from public domain. The new law would only apply to any "new" photos.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:54am

      Re: Hmmmm - wouldn't extension only apply to "new" pictures?

      Tell that to Mickey Mouse in USA.

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

    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:47am

      Re: Hmmmm - wouldn't extension only apply to "new" pictures?

      in the US, if the work was already public domain when the law passed, it would not be "removed" from public domain. The new law would only apply to any "new" photos.

      What makes you think that?

      In Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court held that it is not unconstitutional for Congress to remove works from the public domain by granting their authors copyrights long after their creation and publication. It is, as one would expect, a dismal Ginsburg opinion which, like Eldred, is willfully blind to the practice of ever ratcheting term extensions or the nefarious use of treaties as an end run around Congress.

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

  • identicon
    cfv, 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:55am

    As an argentinian, I'm already moving towards doing something about it.

    Here's hoping this is something the US won't push too much on us for.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:06am

    For the record, I'd been for 28 year limits, but after seeing examples here of how good it is to lock up crap, I'm for eternity.

    Also, corporations should never be permitted to monetize the "public domain", as they are not the public, just legal fictions that the public foolishly let get out of control.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:08am

    For the record, I'd been for 28 year limits, but after seeing examples here of how good it is to lock up crap, I'm for eternity.

    Also, corporations should never be permitted to monetize the "public domain", as they are not the public, just legal fictions that we persons foolishly let get out of control.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:48pm

      Re:

      No one's going to believe a cunt that thinks poor people don't deserve healthcare.

      Here's to locking this sack of crap up for eternity, i.e. you!

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

  • identicon
    4q, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:17am

    The Argentina's constitution and law don't permit the retroactivity

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

  • identicon
    4q, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:17am

    The Argentina's constitution and law don't permit the retroactivity

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      Pretty sure US law doesn't allow retroactive law changes either, but as everyone can see, that didn't present more than a minor speedbump in them doing it anyway.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re:

        (Hit enter too soon)

        The point being, just because it's not technically allowed under the law or constitution, don't expect them to care if they're determined enough to force the law into the books.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Pretty sure US law doesn't allow retroactive law changes either"

          The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was amended to give *retroactive* legal immunity to telecommunications companies that broke the law when they illegally spied on the public, as well granting retroactive immunity to the government officials who ordered them to break the law.

          And let's not forget that the Supreme Court basically creates its own laws that can over-ride everything else (even the Constitution).

          In Golan v. Gonzales / Golan v. Holder (2012) the U.S. Supreme Court re-classified numerous foreign-country works that had been in the public-domain for decades and placed them under new copyright terms.

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

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re:

        This is exactly right. Retroactive copyright extension is blatantly unconstitutional, because the Constitution says, in perfect plainness, that we can't pass any ex post facto (retroactive) laws. But that hasn't stopped publishing interests from getting them passed...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:17am

    Down the copyright memoryhole.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:18am

    20 year ago photo

    Personally I am haunted by my photos from 20 years ago. I was such a dork loser sporting the 70's 80's hair due though it was in the 90's. I don't want them to last longer...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 9:35am

    Is this Argentina simply kissing Americas ass, I held out hope for South America thinking it would try to be a beacon of progressive thinking, I thought wrong.

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

  • identicon
    Whoever, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:06am

    Wikipedia should replace all affected photos with a notice

    For a few days, Wikipedia should replace all affected photos with a notice about the proposed change.

    These types of changes to laws slip in because people either don't know about it, or think that they won't be affected. Show them how they would be affected and an educated populace may push back on such changes.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Shill, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:07am

    Listen, if we don't allow photo creators the rights to their photos, no one would take pictures. This is only fair, the people who took pictures in the past knew that copyright would be retroactively reinstated, which is why they took the photos. You copyright freetards are all ignorant of why people take photographs. Also my business should be able to take the copyrights that small individuals who can't afford to fight me in court over pretend to currently own.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:38am

    I still cannot wait to see how the ttp will whitewash countries that encourage slavery and if they will make it commonplace in current countries where it is illegal to make everyone the same.

    Since in theory laws prohibiting slavery would hurt profit margins. They could rule that slavery is allowed if such a thing were passed hypothetically

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

  • icon
    scann (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:50am

    FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN HELPING, with a group of colleagues we've put together this declaration (in spanish): http://www.vialibre.org.ar/2015/10/02/organizaciones-contra-la-privatizacion-del-patrimonio-fotograf ico-en-argentina/ which also has a small gif with some of the photos that will be lost if this proposal is enacted.

    A good way to help for those who have twitter is to send that gif with a simple tweet to @lilianamazure and @argra_ (the main proposers of the modification) and also to @SeminaraEduardo and @gastonharispe , which are the others who are signing the project. Or if you get inspired do your own gif, or feel free to say whatever you want to them!

    Please help spread the word!

    Thanks!

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

  • icon
    Mike Linksvayer (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:04am

    link to impacted photos on Wikimedia Commons

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:PD-AR-Photo

    10,060 photos. Some could be old enough to not be impacted, but at a glance those are a small proportion.

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

    • icon
      scann (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:15am

      Re: link to impacted photos on Wikimedia Commons

      My guess is that there are going to be plenty more than that. And anyway it doesn't matter because if you just think about it, it will mean that photos from recent historical events of great importance (such as the military coup of 1970) will basically disappear.

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

  • identicon
    Paul Messina, 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:13am

    IDS

    Would the public be able to sue for loss through an IDS tribunal?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 11:51am

    28 Years

    Copyright was originally, and really should still be, 28 years, 14 years + a non-automatically renewable term of 14 years.

    Back when the first copyright law was passed in 1780, there was no real incentive to create new works. The creators just kept raking in money from the existing ones.

    Copyright forced the works into the public domain. If you wanted a continuing income stream, you created new works. That's the way copyright works. The creator gets *SOME* protection before the work falls into the public domain.




     

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 12:38pm

    Copywrong never dies.

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

  • icon
    uberfrood (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 12:52pm

    Does this apply to things that are already in the public domain? Most of the 20th century should already have passed in to the public domain.

    Extending copyright on existing works is one thing, restoring copyright to works whose copyright has expired is quite a bigger beast.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 2 Oct 2015 @ 1:08pm

    So, should we get rid of copyrights entirely or get rid of Argentina instead? (or just cry for Argentina?)

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

  • identicon
    Giles Byles, 2 Oct 2015 @ 2:22pm

    No more pictures for you

    Management sometimes makes bad decisions.  Judges sometimes make bad rulings.  Legislators sometimes make bad laws.  When Argentina passes this bad law, simply announce that Wikipedia photos will no longer appear inside Argentina.  Let 'em use a proxy or a VPN & take the long way 'round.

    Or just shut the whole thing down for 'em.  "We're sorry, the Wikipedia service is no longer available in your region."  & the rest of the world just moves on without 'em.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 4:25pm

    citations

    In the U.S. public domain works do not need citations. If works go back under copyright, and there is no citation, how do you get permissions?

    And how do you get a copy of the Will of the deceased person, and contact the heirs? Where did the person die?

    How does this work?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:05pm

      Re: citations

      Oh but I'm sure they'd be glad to set up an extor- I mean collections agency to handle that sort of thing. And if they can't or aren't interested in finding the actual photographers to give them their money, why I suppose they'd just have to keep that tiny amount of money all for themselves, what else could they do with it?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:41am

    Could someone order argentina a nation size cake please, so that they can eat it

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

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 4 Oct 2015 @ 11:01am

    Like children around a cookie jar when mom & dad aren't looking.

    I'd like to think a lot more of all my fellow human beings, but this sort of crap isn't encouraging. Unlike cookie theft, these guys aren't even trying to hide it behind their backs when caught. It's more a "Nyaa, nyaa, you can't stop me!" insolence kind of thing. They need to be spanked (but that's abusive nowadays, I suppose).

    Pathetic. They're wandering around tossing economic hand grenades. It's depressing that they'll likely get away with it. Remember that line from the first "Rollerball" movie: "We just lost the 13th Century." QED.

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


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