California Still Looking To Copyright All Sorts Of Government Works, Despite Protests

from the bad-bad-ideas dept

Back in April, we were among the first to write about an absolutely horrible bill in the California Assembly, giving various government entities not just the ability, but strong encouragement to copyright and trademark whatever they could. As we noted, this was a very confused and poorly thought out kneejerk reaction to a weird dispute involving Yosemite National Park and its former concession vendor, which had trademarked a variety of famous names at Yosemite, and then tried to sell them back to the park after losing its contract. That was a crazy situation, but the proper response is not granting bad trademarks, not suddenly encouraging the government to copyright and trademark all the things. As a simple example of why this was such a bad idea, it was easy to point to the City of Inglewood which tried to sue a critic for posting videos (plus commentary) of city council meetings. The lack of copyright in those videos helped get that case tossed.

And, of course, as you probably know already, copyright law bars the federal government from getting copyright in any works created by federal government employees (it does not bar the federal government from getting copyrights on works done by others where the copyright is then transferred to the government, but that's a different situation). Following some of the criticism of the bill, the state Assembly made a minor modification that stopped local governments (e.g., city governments) from getting these rights, reserving that unnecessary power just to state agencies. This was likely in response to everyone pointing to the Inglewood example. But, again, this is a really short sighted view. The state does not need more copyright, and as we've seen, granting them will be abused.

Unfortunately, the bill still was passed by the Assembly, as they still seem unable to grasp why people are worried about this. Perhaps the state Senate will actually pay attention to the large and growing coalition of people and organizations opposing the bill and noting how much harm it will do. This now includes various free speech and public interest groups as well as libraries and researchers. It also includes a variety of business organizations, including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Internet Association. When you have a bunch of public interest, free speech, library groups teaming up with a variety of business groups all opposing the bill, it makes you wonder just who is in support of this bill... other than California government employees, and perhaps some IP lawyers?

Filed Under: california, copyright, mark stone, state copyright, trademark


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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 11:44am

    Copyright is necessary

    Without copyright, what incentive would government have to create new copyrightable works?

    Government works created by government employees are true works of art. Masterpieces of creative genius and originality. You would never find anything boring in a report or other work copyrighted by the government.

    Should the incentive to create such works be rewarded?

    And wouldn't each use of the work be a Lost Sale, which would undermine one of the major things governments are supposed to do? (Selling things to the citizens.)

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 11:46am

      Re: Copyright is necessary

      Some government works certainly qualify as good fiction.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Copyright must be abolished

      Nope.

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

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re: Copyright must be abolished

        But how could you want to abolish copyright when it is such a fantastic tool for censorship?

        In a world without copyright, how would HBO keep people from speculating about what might happen in an upcoming episode?

        Without copyright how would a major motion picture company or record label be able to file a DMCA to take down its own promotional materials that its own marketing people put online?

        Web Sheriff demonstrates that if someone says something unfavorable about you online, that the DMCA is the first tool to reach for? Without copyright there would be no DMCA.

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

    • icon
      klaus (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:36am

      Re: Copyright is necessary

      Ha ha! If copyright exists for the lifetime of the creator +70 years, who has to die for these works to become public domain?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 11:50am

    no one in government, whether central or state or even town, gives a flyin' fuck what the people want or say! and what makes it worse is these ass holes who want to continuously ignore the very people they are supposed to represent, but actually do the exact opposite, then expect to have them vote the fucker back into office so he/she can abuse their position and the people even more for even longer! why people dont wise up to it, i dont understand!

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

  • icon
    techie1 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 12:30pm

    AB - 2880

    I have contacted my State Senator's office to express my strong opposition to this bill, AB 2880. And I urge all California readers of this article to do the same.
    Also, I've asked to be informed of my representative's stance on this bill (since the staffer professed ignorance of the subject).

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 12:35pm

    The more we use copyright as an instrument of censorship...

    ...the closer we get to abolishing it altogether.

    Or just being completely silenced.

    This is totally going to be used to silence dissenters who object to (now copyrighted) law.

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

  • identicon
    Jim, 10 Jun 2016 @ 1:13pm

    Maybe Copyright is a good idea...

    If the law were to require a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 1:18pm

    ever more, ever more

    So, the state got stung by someone being overly aggressive with a copyright club, and the response is that they need more copyright clubs rather than less. Is there any question about bad things whose answer is not to increase the amount of bad things? Part of me wonders how the human race managed to take over the world, but this kind of reasoning is probably why. That whole "one way trip to Mars" thing is looking better every day. With my luck, once I got there someone would have copyrighted potato DNA and trade marked the word "air."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 9:19pm

    Sonny Bono, MPAA, Government Copyrights, Section 230 nullifications, ...

    What other gifts does California have in store for us?

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

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 11 Jun 2016 @ 7:26am

    What's with the Democrats?

    It seems that the Democrats, at least in California, are attempting to pass laws that achieve political goals. In another instance, the Democrats attempted to pass a law, which some assert, would allow criminal charges to be placed against someone who criticizes global warming.

    California Senate sidelines bill to prosecute climate change skeptics

    We seem to have entered an era where the "law" is ever more twisted to promote a special interest of some type to the exclusion of serving the needs of society.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Jun 2016 @ 11:53am

      Re: What's with the Democrats?

      That behavior is neither new nor limited to the Democrats.

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

    • icon
      klaus (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:54am

      What's with the Great American Political Circus?

      Politics is a sick joke. Tuesday, November 8 2016, the USA has it's presidential election.

      As a European, I think it's hilarious that all the worlds leaders except Putin dread the arrival of President Trump.

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

  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Jun 2016 @ 5:36am

    Once more, with feeling...

    This is what happens when you refer to copyright, patents, or trademarks as property. These people don't understand what the fuss is about; as far as they're concerned, they're just fitting a tollbooth and gate to their intellectual real estate.

    If we got into the routine habit of talking about intellectual output as the temporary monopoly privilege that it is, we wouldn't be seeing this kind of thing.

    You DO realise this is about revenue seeking, don't you? It's what happens when you try to run a government department without enough tax revenues to fund them. You either shut them down, putting people out of work and denying the populace much-needed services (but hey, low taxes!!) or raise the damn taxes. Turns out that reducing taxation doesn't increase tax revenues. Who knew?

    So now people hoping to remain in remunerated employment are resorting to scams like this to keep their departments funded. And they are scams. This stuff is supposed to be public domain.

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


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