More Evidence Of How Copyright Makes Culture Disappear In A Giant Black Hole

from the more-distressing-data dept

A few years ago, we first wrote about the supposed missing black hole of culture due to copyright, based on some excellent research by Paul Heald, looking at the availability of new books on Amazon based on the years they were published. It produced this chart:
As you can see, there are a bunch of recent books, then a huge drop off... until a sudden spike at 1922 -- also known as the year before which nearly all books are in the public domain. That giant gaping hole on the right side of the graph should be pretty distressing. It counters the totally false narrative by certain legacy copyright system supporters that copyright is necessary to get books published and also that without copyright, no one would bother to sell the works, because they could just be copied by others. But, more importantly, it shows how much important culture is totally locked up because of copyright law -- unable to be published by those who'd like to offer them, and not worth it for the copyright holders to actually publish.

Late last year, EU Parliament Julia Reda published a similar chart concerning the EU:
That one also looked at books, in the same manner as Heald's original research. On top of that, Heald himself has continued to explore this issue, including comparing new books to used books and also looking at the music space.

Now we've got even more evidence of how copyright kills such culture. Europeana has taken a similar look at a large corpus of digitized works in Europe and mapped it out. Guess what? Despite being a totally different data set, the graphic looks astoundingly similar:
Of course, the "black hole" in this case only goes back to the early 1940s, rather than the 1920s, because copyright terms in Europe tend to be life plus 50 rather than life plus 70, but there have been some efforts to change that as well.

Once again, this should raise serious questions about the problems of copyright term length. It seems fairly obvious that at their current length, copyright terms are actively suppressing a ridiculous amount of cultural output, much of it likely to be lost forever to history -- as by the time it actually goes into the public domain, it may not even exist any more. This is a pretty big problem -- especially given all the claims about how necessary copyright supposedly is for protecting culture. It seems fairly clear from these charts that it's frequently doing the opposite.

And yet... rather than fix this aspect of copyright law, policy makers seem to be focused on making it worse. The final version of the TPP agreement forces all countries who sign on to move to life plus 70 instead of life plus 50. It's likely that the TTIP agreement will include some similar provisions.

Every time we post these charts, we also post this chart from William Patry's book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, which showed the copyright renewal rates on various works in 1958 and 1959, back when you had to "renew" your copyright after 28 years.
As the chart makes clear, for most types of works the copyright is clearly worth basically nothing after 28 years. Movies are the main exception, as are some maps and at least some musical compositions (this was in a time before sound recordings could even get a federal copyright, though I imagine those might have a decently high renewal rate, probably at least on par with musical compositions).

All of this should raise serious questions about why we have copyright terms that are so long when the vast majority of content doesn't value that protection and (more importantly) the clearly visible harm to culture and public knowledge created by such long copyright term lengths. And, again, it raises the question of why we don't move to a system whereby copyright holders should be required to renew their copyright at specific intervals, to make sure that such monopoly rights are still more valuable than the public interest in those works.

And, in the meantime, anyone pushing for longer copyright terms, given how much of this information is now out there, is outing themselves as someone who is clearly against the public interest and shouldn't be taken seriously. And that includes the current negotiators from the USTR who pushed strongly for the copyright expansion in the TPP in the face of all of this evidence.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:34am

    small fix for the article in 'suppressing a ridiculous about of cultural output'; s/about/amount/

    This comment may be removed afterwards.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:34am

    Mickey Mouse is on the event horizon.

    Disney isn't going to allow the mouse to die that way.

    If you think copyright has a black hole now, you haven't seen anything yet.

    In as little as 6 years, what you know as "copyright" is about to change.

    And it's going to get much, much worse.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:39am

      Re:

      They can go fuck off then.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:49am

      Re:

      The black hole is Micky's nose and content is cocaine.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      I think Family Guy (or maybe it was American Dad?) summed it up best about Mickey Mouse, by having this be Disney's slogan in one of their episodes.

      "You only love him because he was the first cartoon character"

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re:

        Except Mickey wasn't the first. The first fully animated fleshed out character is considered to be Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914. Mickey was, I believe, the first character with sound.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:55am

      Re:

      Maybe we should actually push for the 70 years provision in TTIP. If the USA/Disney wants to change the term again it will be against TTIP and TTP. Anyone screwed out of future profits (booksellers, musicsellers, moviesellers that reproduce public domain stuff!) can then use ISDS against the USA...

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    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      I take solace in the Disney movie 'The Black Hole' remaining in the black hole.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re:

        Hey, I liked that movie. Of course, I was five years old... and I guess I didn't like the movie, just the robots. Now that I've refreshed my memory, VIN-cent would make a great replacement for Cartman on South Park.

        (http://www.nerdist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Black-Hole-5.jpg)

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 3:09pm

        Re: Re:

        Streisand effect. Now you've made me want to go and watch it.

        But FWIW I think that whole "vault" thing is stupid. Especially with some of the "P.C." reasons they've given for locking up titles that aren't up to snuff with today's virtue signaling culture. Namely, Song of the South. The Jesse Jackson brigade threw a tantrum about Uncle Remus and now you can't find this film anywhere but pirate sites and eBay.

        WB has locked up eleven titles deemed particularly egregious in light of present tastes; known as the "Censored Eleven," they haven't been seen on television or anywhere else for that matter (other than YouTube bootlegs which WB actively tries to take down), and rumors circulate that the prints were destroyed.

        When will people get over themselves and realize that simply watching a program or movie or reading a book that might offend someone's delicate sensibilities in no way amounts to a "hate crime" or a an act of violence?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:47am

    "Of course, the 'black hole' in this case only goes back to the early 1940s, rather than the 1920s, because copyright terms in Europe tend to be life plus 50 rather than life plus 70, but there have been some efforts to change that as well. "

    That doesn't explain it. EU countries are all have a copyright duration of life+70 years for most types of works. See Directive 2006/116/EC, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32006L0116&from=EN

    But, as it happens, 1945 was 70 years ago and a disproportionate number of European authors likely died in or around 1945 (WWII), so maybe that explains the trail off at that point in time.

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    • identicon
      DCL, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:42pm

      Re:

      I was also going to point out that the graphs are a strong correlation but there are other factors like major wars that could be factored in.

      And then why would you want to write books in the 60's 70's or 80's... too much lov'n and drug'n going on ;-)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:15am

    more evidence

    This is also the case in New Zealand's aggregator:

    https://twitter.com/fogonwater/status/666302843255586816

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  • identicon
    Alan Gallery, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:35am

    Copyright panic attack.

    It seems that loading copyright for all the reasons that "culture disappeared" ignores other factors for the decline in new book publications post 1910. There was a disturbance between 1914 and 1918 called World War One which may have had an effect. This was followed by the Great Depression that ran up until the mid thirties when there was another global war. During this time the economic situation may have had an impact on the willingness of publisher to pay authors but this was massively out weighted by the explosion of new technologies that enabled mass advertising to have a more profound impact on culture and the growth of mass culture by in part bankrolling it. Book publishing was displaced by more appealing media that could be enjoyed together and less expensively. Radio and cinema* as well as a publishing revolution that flooded the markets with other publications from pulp magazines to high class aspirational magazines targeting advertising at specific demographics. Then along came TV and shifted the whole thing into hyper drive. Somewhere in there is sub cultures and the emergence of the teenager and youth and counter culture with associated cultural production. I am only scratching the surface but it is evident that you just cannot keep culture down.

    Trying to pin the whole thing on copyright is more than a bit pathetic and shows how much the anti copyright lobby is struggling. Of course if this is published here the walkers are going to start growling so knock yourselves out.

    *Try reading a book while making out.

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:44am

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      Trying to pin the whole thing on copyright is more than a bit pathetic and shows how much the anti copyright lobby is struggling.

      You nailed it. Mike is so desperate to bash on copyright. It's fun to watch.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:40am

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        You're projecting so hard,people are going to start calling you PowerPoint.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        It is. But people need to call him out on Twitter more. He needs to be embarrassed in a forum bigger than this one.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          "He needs to be embarrassed in a forum bigger than this one."

          Yeah, sure, lets go with that. Lets start with you. Identify yourself and embarrass Mike on Twitter. Put your reputation and identity where your mouth is if you are so confident that it is Mike, and not you, that will be embarrassed.

          The only one being embarrassed here is the IP extremists. Too bad they're anonymous while Mike isn't because the IP defenders are too afraid to be embarrassed in person. It's so easy for you to ridiculously claim that Mike was embarrassed behind the anonymity this forum provides but if you really believe Mike is the one being embarrassed here and not you why not identify yourself (I'm not identifying myself but I'm not the one claiming that Mike was embarrassed).

          I dare the IP defenders to attempt to embarrass Mike in person. They won't do it because they know that the only ones they'll be embarrassing is themselves. Hence they proclaim, anonymously (and ridiculously), that they embarrassed a non-anonymous person. Way to go and very convincing.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          Or, if you refuse to identify yourself answer me this. If Mike is the one so embarrassed, and not you, why is it he's the one that's willing to identify himself and not you?

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          The only thing embarrassing here is that you actually think your juvenile comments are embarrassing to anyone but yourselves.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 4:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          So why haven't you? Even M. Slonecker, about the only jackass we can pin a name to, refuses to use his name or handle in his sad attempts to "embarrass" anyone here. Could it be because none of you want to be identified since even children would laugh at your pathetic "if we don't sue them all music is fucked" speeches? Nah, couldn't be!

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    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:53am

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      If that were true, then why does the number of available books in 2000 and 2010 match 1910's levels? It's not as if books have suddenly become the dominant form of entertainment. It looks much more like publishers are only focused on their latest and most profitable books, while keeping most of their back catalog off the market and out of print - a century of culture locked in a vault.

      But it is worth considering how many books were actually published each decade, if such data were available. I suspect it would be the opposite of what you propose - with far more books published in the 20th century than the 19th century.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:57am

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      Do you actually have a citation to support your claims? What are the publication rates for the time periods you're claiming? People still wrote and published books during those times.

      This source shows a graph that illustrates slight dips during the war years, but overall an increase is publication rates: http://katranpress.com/stamps-and-research/twentieth-century-book-design-minus-name-dropping/.

      I've been conducting research for a book I'm writing and my research spans the time period between 1910 and 1940. Guess what? The research materials available for my work degrade in availability significantly after 1923. It's harder to find the material I need after that. Even if Google Books has a searchable copy, I can't find the books in print to purchase even if I wanted to. So this dearth of public domain books from the 20s and 30s (or just the fear that they might still be under copyright when many probably aren't) is literally inhibiting the creation of new copyrighted works.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        Interesting link. Don't expect the shills to respond to it, responding to the data is beyond their capabilities.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:53am

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      Nice straw man there, the problem being reported is lack of new copies of books published in the past, that is titles being no longer available. Nothing was said about lack of new titles being published in the past.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:31pm

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      It seems that loading copyright for all the reasons that "culture disappeared" ignores other factors for the decline in new book publications post 1910

      That would be interesting if the data above was about new books being published. It is not. The first chart was about new books available from those time periods. The second chart is digitized publications. Interpreting the chart above as being about the number of new works published is just... wrong. If you look at the actual data on new works published it has generally continued to rise over time.

      During this time the economic situation may have had an impact on the willingness of publisher to pay authors but this was massively out weighted by the explosion of new technologies that enabled mass advertising to have a more profound impact on culture and the growth of mass culture by in part bankrolling it. Book publishing was displaced by more appealing media that could be enjoyed together and less expensively.

      Again, that has nothing to do with any of the charts above, but really, nice try.

      Also, if you look at the massive changes on the chart, they date EXACTLY to copyright terms, and NOT to the specific dates/events that you mention. The US data hits a cliff at exactly the public domain cut off of 1923. The European data, you'll see, has an initial decline around the same date (countries who follow life + 70) and a second decline in the early 1940s (countries who follow life + 50).

      So, yeah, nice story, but the data does not say what you think it says. You read it wrong and then made up a story about it that doesn't even fit with what you claimed. And you claim that the folks with the actual data are the desperate ones? Wow. Buy a mirror.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 2:36pm

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        Why did you have to go and embarrass the poor shill like that?

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      • identicon
        DCL, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:49pm

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        The graphs show a strong correlation (an eye raising one for sure) but I think you need a few more data points to further your discussion here.

        Here are some other strong correlations (and quite funny to boot):
        http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

        My favorite to imagine the possible causation links: age of Miss America vs murders by steam and other hot objects

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        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          That's a pathetic cop-out. The correlation between long copyright terms and lack of availability is backed by strong, even obvious reasoning. There is no such reasoning to back your Miss America link.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 1:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

            Exactly. Long protection lengths are logically expected to result in a lack of availability and the evidence is very indicative of what we would expect.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          Here are some other strong correlations (and quite funny to boot):
          http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations


          Yes yes, correlation does not equal causation. But sometimes it is because of a causal relationship and in this case, the precise timing of the drops -- exactly matching with the copyright terms, provides a very, very, very direct and clear match with the data. The alternative explanations don't even remotely come close to explaining the data.

          So, sure, it's a theory, but it's the best one so far. If you've got a better one, present it.

          And, yah, I love that page and have pointed people to it in the past, but this data is not the same thing. It's not correlation in mapping two graphs (which that page frequently, if hilariously, games by changing the scale on each side), this data, REPEATEDLY, using three different data sets ALL SHOW a MAJOR SHIFT at EXACTLY the moment of the public domain cut off. That's not just "these numbers correlate." That's evidence of a serious issue.

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          • identicon
            DCL, 18 Nov 2015 @ 9:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

            Thanks to reading Techdirt for a long time I am very very concerned about how detrimental copyright has become and I do believe there is a major issue.

            In this instance on first read I found it was too easy to find alternate and extraneous variables (granted I didn't read the source article). Now because I generally follow Occam's razor I don't have a better alternate theory to, but that doesn't mean this is the only one. Anecdotal data is hard to use to prove history happened given way, but it is useful to build possible explanations.

            I guess the bottom line for me is I wanted it to be bit more of an overwhelming argument to convince people things need to change but ultimately I felt it was too easy for trolls to dismiss it.

            Just trying to keep you at your best game Mike!

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            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 18 Nov 2015 @ 11:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

              The thing is that things changed long ago. Copyright was overhauled, and terms were extended to extraordinary lengths, and orphaned works became a thing. Where was the data that said all this would be beneficial to the public?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 2:40pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

              Science doesn't deal in absolute proof. Otherwise no one would ever progress.

              The point is that there is strong evidence to suggest that excessive IP laws are harming knowledge of our historical culture. and extensive lengths are reasonably expected to do so. So we have a reasonable expectation that excessive IP laws will harm historical knowledge and we have evidence to back it up.

              The burden of proof is and has always fell on IP defenders to provide evidence that their laws are socially beneficial. Not only have they miserably failed but we have strong evidence and reasoning to suggest the opposite is true. Too bad money in politics and conflicts of interest between industry and politicians/regulators are more important to law making than merit.

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Nov 2015 @ 10:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

              In this instance on first read I found it was too easy to find alternate and extraneous variables

              I'm curious what extraneous and alternate variables you found?

              Because I cannot find any that would explain that data. I'm not saying they don't exist, but since you found it "too easy" to find them, I'd appreciate it if you could share them.

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      • identicon
        Alan Gallery, 19 Nov 2015 @ 1:40am

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        Mike read the title of the article - you claim that there is a culture black hole 1910 to 1980 on the basis on one metric that relates to one media. People will and do consume culture on the basis of what is available and post WWI there were an increasing number of options as there was for cultural producers and packagers. Do you deny the 100 years of dynamic cultural innovation that went on through the 20th century? Or were people not really enjoying it because of their anguish about the iniquity of copyright terms?

        Its not just a nice concocted story Mike it well documented cultural history driven by technological innovation and I would have thought the Techdirt crowd would have some clue about technology.* The folk making vastly overblown claims based on a narrow ideological interoperation of a data set that only relates to one media are desperate.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 19 Nov 2015 @ 8:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

          Almost all modern entertainment media is locked down by copyright, so there's no way to gauge what culture might be like if a significant portion of it were public domain. Books are an exception because there's a significant number of public domain works that are still widely popular - so it makes sense to study copyright's effects on culture through books. I suppose you could also look at the still thriving market for classical music, where the vast majority of work they perform is pre-copyright.

          If copyright terms had not been retroactively extended, there would be a significant body of 20th century films and sound recordings in the public domain to make a comparative study. Unfortunately, we may see the 20th century fall into the public domain until the 22nd century.

          You praise all the progress of the 20th century but who's to say that progress wouldn't have been improved if things were different? For one thing, maybe a handful of multi-national corporations wouldn't own the vast majority of our culture, and maybe more than just the most economically viable material would still be available to us.

          Since the internet became mainstream we've learned that there's a vast amount of culture that was being filtered out of the corporate system that existed before. The 20th century method of big companies controlling popular culture probably wasn't the best system - it was just the most efficient at the time. It hinged on controlling access to mass production and distribution.

          The internet gives creators access to these things that before they could only get by giving up their copyright and control to a handful of major players if they wanted to participate in mass culture.

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      • identicon
        Alan Gallery, 19 Nov 2015 @ 1:40am

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        Mike read the title of the article - you claim that there is a culture black hole 1910 to 1980 on the basis on one metric that relates to one media. People will and do consume culture on the basis of what is available and post WWI there were an increasing number of options as there was for cultural producers and packagers. Do you deny the 100 years of dynamic cultural innovation that went on through the 20th century? Or were people not really enjoying it because of their anguish about the iniquity of copyright terms?

        Its not just a nice concocted story Mike it well documented cultural history driven by technological innovation and I would have thought the Techdirt crowd would have some clue about technology.* The folk making vastly overblown claims based on a narrow ideological interoperation of a data set that only relates to one media are desperate.

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      It seems that loading copyright for all the reasons that "culture disappeared" ignores other factors for the decline in new book publications post 1910. There was a disturbance between 1914 and 1918 called World War One which may have had an effect.

      Except that the graphs match the 1922 date much better than your dates.

      Try again.

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      • identicon
        Parody, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: Copyright panic attack.

        "Except that the graphs match the 1922 date much better than your dates."

        Not relevant. My explanation stands no matter what the data shows!!!

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    • identicon
      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:21pm

      Re: Copyright panic attack.

      That sounds like a very easy claim to prove, through year-to-year counts of published works. Why haven't you provided the data to do so?

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  • icon
    Richard (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:41am

    Peter Pan

    The culprit in "life +70" is actually Peter Pan.
    https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2015/10/21/peter-pan-and-the-copyright-that-never-grew-up/

    The push for Life+70 started in the UK in response to the impending transfer of "Peter Pan" to the public domain. JM Barrie had assigned the copyright to Great Ormond St Children's Hospital and terrible sob stories were created around its impending loss of revenue.

    Of course the other copyright holders that pushed this line knew that they themselves would benefit from term extension. Fortunately, at the time (1988), only Peter Pan had its copyright extended but the push for life+70 had started and a few years later it came in.

    Of course what should have happened is that another generous author should have stepped up to donate a valuable copyright to Great Ormond St - to replace Peter Pan - allowing the older work to slip gently into the public domain.

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  • identicon
    Christenson, 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:20am

    Mickey Mouse copyright: disappearing culture since 1920!

    or was that:

    Better living through Disney Culture -- Mickey Mouse Copyright!

    Nothing new here except the relatively boring recreation of results reinforcing what we know, and some exposure to history.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 8:21am

    Culture of Copyright or Not

    culture noun (WAY OF LIFE)
    › social studies [C/U] the way of ​life of a ​particular ​people, esp. as ​shown in ​their ​ordinary ​behavior and ​habits, ​their ​attitudes toward each other, and ​their ​moral and ​religious ​beliefs: [U] He ​studied the culture of the Sioux ​Indians.
    culture noun (ARTS)
    › [U] the ​arts of ​describing, ​showing, or ​performing that ​represent the ​traditions or the way of ​life of a ​particular ​people or ​group; ​literature, ​art, ​music, ​dance, ​theater, etc.
    culture noun (ARTIFICIAL GROWTH)
    › biology [C] the ​growing of a ​group of microorganisms (= very ​small ​organisms) or other ​cells in an ​artificial ​environment for ​scientific ​purposes, or a ​group of ​organisms so ​grown
    From the Cambridge Dictionary

    The selectivity of those definitions used in copyright is of interest. Way of life, in each of its parts is not copyrightable though descriptions of them would be. While some of the things described in the Arts definition are copyrightable a few things are missing or included under etc., and might not be copyrightable.

    Dance for instance is not copyrightable to my knowledge, yet it is an integral part of defining cultures. When cultural celebrations occur, dance is often used to express the culture of the celebrators. The music they dance to is often copyrightable, even if the tune is hundreds of years old, some would like to lay claim to those tunes for (entirely altruistic) economic reasons, while the dance steps are not.

    Similar is what we call fashion. It has been determined that the fashion industry does not require copyright in order to be economically feasible. In times past or in cultures less influenced by Euro-centric idiosyncrasies they would call it the way we dress in response to our environment and morals rather than fashion. Of interest is that some of the earliest proponents of copyright were button makers. Similar to dance, when cultures are celebrated those dancers mentioned above dress in culturally recognizable attire.

    The third definition appears to be the one used by copyright maximalists, where they artificially grow copyright into a revenue stream for non creators such as funders or managers of the creations.

    I would be interested in seeing some studies that dig more into culture and the impact that socioeconomic constructs have on it. Is anyone aware of such studies?

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

    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:43am

      Re: Culture of Copyright or Not

      Dance for instance is not copyrightable to my knowledge

      Did you look?

      17 USC 102(a):
      Works of authorship [eligible for copyright] include ... (4) pantomimes and choreographic works

      Now that doesn't include common or traditional dance steps nor probably social dance steps or simple routines (i.e. it's to protect professionals, not people who just want to have fun on the dance floor), and there's little case law (which suggests little need to protect this), but some dance is indeed copyrightable. Horgan v Macmillan, Inc., 789 F.2d 157 (2d Cir 1986) may interest you.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: Culture of Copyright or Not

        No, I did not look. I have heard about issues regarding music in clubs, I have never heard about IP issues with regard to dance.

        I have experienced the Nutcracker Suite a number of times but never considered that the various performances were under some kind of license. After all the music is pretty old.

        I find it interesting that your example case is about a photographer taking pictures of someone's choreography. Sounds a bit like suing someone for taking pictures of a publicly financed statue in a public park. Completely ridiculous.

        But thanks for the heads up about choreography.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:51am

    Of course, public domain books are on internet sites for free

    .... but so are pirated books despite the best efforts of industry so copyright isn't harming availability in modern times because it doesn't have the practical power to

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      This isn't strictly true. A lot of public domain books that I've found to exist are not scanned and put online or else they're scanned by Google Books and in the possession of the HathiTrust, but Hathi doesn't release the full text. You can download a page at a time or else you have to sign in via a membership from universities within their system. And that's just the books that they cover.

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

  • identicon
    BoyHowdy, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:52am

    How many unique books?

    My problem with the charts is that that it is just looking at a raw total of books available now. However if you drill down on Amazon (or whatever source) you see that there are dozens of copies of the same book from different publishers because they can all publish the same book in their "classics" lines. So the pre-copyright numbers are skewed by this inflation. Come back when you have produced a chart with UNIQUE titles per decade that are currently available.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:12pm

      Re: How many unique books?

      What makes you think they didn't do that?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: How many unique books?

        I've been trying to find info on the data behind the first graph. All I've been able to gather from following the link chain is that the author looked at only 2,500 books. Considering that over 300,000 books are published in one year alone, that seems like a vanishingly small sampling to pull from over a hundred years of publishing. (That's less than 1% of books in a single year, and a fraction of a fraction of a percent over 100 years.)

        Is there anywhere to find this info? I just keep going in circles ending up back at the same TD and Slate articles. Where did this graph come from? The author's blog doesn't seem to have it.

        I'd like to know, for instance, if every different edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz counts as a separate data point, or if only the work itself is counted as one entry, regardless of the number of publishers who have published the book.

        Were the titles randomly chosen, or "randomly" chosen? I assume there must have been some criteria that kept the author from ending up with 2,500 books published in the last ten years. How did that selection process work?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: How many unique books?

          I suppose I should also ask whether the whole process was run multiple times with different random selections of 2,500 books. How many times? Can the results be replicated?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2015 @ 9:58am

          Re: Re: Re: How many unique books?

          "All I've been able to gather from following the link chain is that the author looked at only 2,500 books."

          You should take a statistics class. You don't need to look at all the books in order to get a good random sample that can give you a good idea of the overall data with reasonable confidence. I don't really expect IP defenders to understand this though, even composing a coherent sentence can be beyond their mental abilities yet alone math and statistics.

          "Where did this graph come from? The author's blog doesn't seem to have it. "

          From the site

          "The chart comes from University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald."

          http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/the-missing-20th-century-how-copyright- protection-makes-books-vanish/255282/

          "if every different edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz counts as a separate data point, or if only the work itself is counted as one entry, regardless of the number of publishers who have published the book."

          Presumably the former but regardless the metric used was likely consistent throughout.

          "Were the titles randomly chosen, or "randomly" chosen? I assume there must have been some criteria that kept the author from ending up with 2,500 books published in the last ten years. How did that selection process work?"

          He randomly chose 2,500 books as stated on the site.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:06pm

    Sharing vs. locking up

    The third graph shows a really interesting possible side-effect. Take note of the lower copyright renewal rates for books, periodicals, lectures and technical drawings. I'm going to hazard a guess that these are more educational in nature. Productions by scientists and researchers, for example. They seem to want to share their work and make it available for others.

    Compare to works more intended to be entertainment in nature: music and movies. They are renewed. Presumably because the holders want more control over what they do. And that's fair enough. Copyright holders can be given the choice to renew or not.

    Then comes another interesting observation: the lower renewal rates (lectures, art, drawings) are probably produced by individuals. The higher renewal rates (maps, music, movies) are probably produced by companies.

    Of course, there is not nearly enough information to prove or disprove the about. But it does show possibly interesting gaps between those who care about copyright and those who don't, and who they are and why.

    And quite possibly, if individuals don't care about the copyright of their own works, maybe that's why they're less likely to care about the copyright of others' works.

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


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