Happy Birthday, Statute of Anne

from the bitter-reminders dept

Early in my legal career I had the opportunity to attend a conference in London organized to celebrate the launch of the Copyright History project. The goal of this project was to translate, annotate, analyze, and even just simply make available the original primary source documents that underpin our modern notions of copyright. It is an important enterprise because all too often we forget just how these historical documents actually do underpin it. History is often like playing a giant game of "telephone," where meaning changes over time, and in the case of many of these documents our understanding of what they were telling us has also changed over time -- and often become distorted. Having access to these original primary source documents means that we can recalibrate our understanding of what these policies actually were intended to do in order to ensure that our modern notions of copyright echo them properly.

At its launch the project included primary source documents from five jurisdictions -- Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and the US (with others added later) -- and the collection now includes documents from 1450 through 1900. For the conference, some of those original documents were brought in by an archivist and displayed under glass for us to examine. One of them was the original parchment copy of Statute of Anne, which attendees of the conference -- including me -- had the privilege of getting to see up close with our own eyes.

The Statute of Anne, whose anniversary of coming into force on April 10, 1710 we celebrate today, is one of the founding pillars of modern US and UK copyright law. At the time of its passage it reflected an enormous change in attitude about how the copy right should be handled. Before it came along English law (which is not to be confused with Scottish law, whose own system already bore more features of what we would recognize as modern copyright law) granted a monopoly in the copy right to a handful of printers that had the king's permission to publish. (It was fitting, in fact, that the Copyright History conference itself took place in a hall of the Stationers’ Company, one of the most powerful companies of the 17th century that then had near-exclusive license to print.) This use of a royal printing license to create a monopoly in publishing limited to just these few printers gave the government the ability to also limit what ideas could be published, which necessarily limited discourse.

However, the political pressure for democratic reform eventually caught up with this system, and by 1695 it finally gave way for good. And that set the stage for the Statute of Anne to be enacted in 1710, which changed the approach to copyright entirely. While the Licensing Act of 1662 was “[a]n act for preventing the frequent abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed books and pamphlets,” the Statute of Anne was purposefully “[a]n act for the encouragement of learning.” Whereas the former was about government control over ideas, the latter was about spreading them. Instead of using royal printing licenses to administer the copy right as a means of controlling discourse, by its very design the Statute of Anne was meant to stimulate it.

And it did. Right away newspapers proliferated, public houses exploded with popularity (as they had during earlier periods when licensing statutes had lapsed), and democratic ideals flourished as tight government control over ideas yielded. But while the structure of modern copyright law today looks much as it did following the Statute of Anne, its limiting effects on discourse now seem more similar to the period that preceded it.

There were a few other key differences between the Statute of Anne and the licensing statutes before it, beyond just their stated policy goals, which bore on the former's ability to stimulate discourse. For instance, the Statute of Anne fundamentally shifted the role of the author. Before the Statute, authors were largely relegated to subordinate figures, barely mentioned in association with the work. Instead full authority for the work was usurped by the printer, who, as an agent licensed to act on behalf of the government, had the sole discretion to deem it acceptable to be published. With the Statute of Anne, however, authors became central to the whole system. They retained full authority for the work and as such retained the rights to control its publication.

These rights were of limited duration, however, and the Statute of Anne further enhanced public discourse by creating a public domain. In fact, the only reason the Statute of Anne gave authors any limited rights was simply to address the problem of market failure. The fear was that no ideas would be contributed to public discourse at all if it were economically impossible for authors to contribute them. With the goal of the Statute being to get those ideas out there, these limited author monopolies were intended as a means for achieving that end.

Unfortunately, however, while in the early 18th century the focus on protecting and enhancing the rights of authors was intended to facilitate the growth of public discourse around those ideas, today that same focus on authors' rights does the exact opposite. With so much emphasis now being put on the rights of the author as owner of the work to control it, at the expense of the public benefit the system is supposed to impart, it has had the effect of choking off what discourse these works might spawn. Through needlessly lengthy monopolies and overly-expansive interpretations of the reach of these rights, history seems to be repeating itself, returning us to the discourse-choking limitations of the licensing era and forsaking the promise of the Statute of Anne to promote its spread.

For, just like the 17th Century printers, these authors’ copy rights get their teeth from government. They are government-granted monopolies with government-sanctioned reaches. With those rights, and with the government’s blessing, authors can limit ideas’ consumption and dampen their reach and influence long after any economic necessity would justify -- and just as the licensed printers once did. Back then the Stationers’ Company had powers of search and seizure and could prosecute competing printers; today, particularly as copyrights are so often aggregated in the hands of a few large corporate gatekeepers, modern infringement lawsuits look much the same.

So we find ourselves at the turn of the 21st century at the same crossroads we were at 300 years earlier, faced with a choice in how we use government power. Do we use it to enable public discourse, or to stifle it? For although our modern copyright systems trace their lineage back to the author-focused structure of the Statute of Anne, that basic structure alone does not determine which value is fostered. It’s how we implement it that matters to which ultimately survives.

Yet unfortunately, today, while the original document articulating that policy value to promote the spread of ideas has been carefully preserved, thanks to how we've enshrined the notion of copyright in our modern law, the historic change it was to herald has not.

Filed Under: authors, copyright, printers, publishers, statute of anne


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    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2020 @ 9:45pm

    So are you arguing for less rights for authors and inventors? What do you mean by economic necessity? Are you advocating for limiting the incentives for authors to write, compose and invent? What about the fact that the US leads the world in innovation? Don’t you think economic incentives, which you propose limiting, are why Americans lead?

    I heard Cuomo say today FEWER patients in ICU. It’s the Trump miracle cure, right? Trump should patent this solution: a process whereby a person with a high temperature that is complaining of illness is given a malarial drug and then is rapidly cured, without any need for a ventilator or ICU.

    Of course Trump, being so generous, gave the solution away for FREE! What a Hero!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2020 @ 10:03pm

      Re:

      Shiva Ayyadurai lost, Hamilton. Trying to seduce the judge with a Fran Drescher mask isn't going to change his mind, even though that sort of bribery would pass in your world.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 4:21am

      [A]re you arguing for less rights for authors and inventors?

      They already have the right to literally censor other people by way of the DMCA. They don’t need more rights, and they could arguably stand to have less if it means taking the power of the censor out of their hands.

      Are you advocating for limiting the incentives for authors to write, compose and invent?

      People already have plenty of incentive to create, including (and I know this is going to blow your mind) creating for the sake of creation alone. They don’t need copyright, in its current form, to give them such incentive.

      What about the fact that the US leads the world in innovation?

      “Innovation” is a meaningless buzzword in this context. It doesn’t offer a form of data that can be counted or measured against other countries. Your question is bullshit and should rightly be ignored, save to tell you it is bullshit.

      Don’t you think economic incentives, which you propose limiting, are why Americans lead?

      No, Americans “lead” in “innovation” because of “economic incentives” — just not the ones you think. Or do you think major corporations (and their wealthy CEOs/owners) will pay any real taxes for the 2020 earnings they store in offshore accounts and international holding companies designed only for the purpose of keeping money out of the hands of the U.S. government?

      I heard Cuomo say today FEWER patients in ICU. It’s the Trump miracle cure, right?

      Trump is not God, so he cannot produce a “miracle”. Neither he nor anyone who knows what the fuck they’re talking about has found a treatment, never mind a cure, for COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine has no scientifically proven effect on COVID-19, and by implying the opposite, Trump is putting at risk the health (and possibly lives) of people who take that drug for other, preëxisting conditions.

      Fewer patients in the ICU of New York hospitals means efforts to “flatten the curve” — which include social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and closing non-essential businesses — are working. But that doesn’t mean COVID-19 will magically disappear in New York, or anywhere else, when the number of ICU patients reaches zero. Until a cure/vaccine is found, COVID-19 will continue to exist. When the next wave of infections will hit and what Trump¹ plans to do about that are the questions you should be asking yourself.

      Trump, being so generous, gave the solution away for FREE!

      This is a man whose presidential administration is literally forcing states to unite with each other behind the federal government’s back to obtain and distribute PPE amongst them. The federal government — under the leadership of Trump — is seizing shipments of PPE and sending them not to the hardest-hit states, but the states that have governors who’ve kissed Trump’s ass. And in case you needed reminding, Trump has a financial stake in a company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine², which means he would make money from any effort to distribute the drug, which means any altrustic intent his actions might have are non-existent.

      What a Hero!

      Only a troll, a deluded fool, or a Trump-esque narcissistic sociopath could look at a man who…

      • admitted to grabbing women’s genitals without their explicit consent
      • gutted the CDC on his second day in office
      • gutted the pandemic response teams that could’ve helped detect, and mitigate the damage of, COVID-19
      • fired people for not being wholly loyal to him and him alone instead of to the country which they serve
      • tried to gut Obamacare and thus kick millions of people from their health insurance plans (which probably wouldn’t have helped him in this current crisis)
      • has attacked, and will continue to attack, the already piss-poor social safety nets of the United States
      • said he wants the GOP to fight any expansion of mail-in voting for wholly self-serving reasons³
      • obstructed several investigations into the wrongdoings of his administration, including his own
      • used every possible (racist) pretext and justification to try banning Muslims of Middle Eastern descent — and people of color in general — from entering the United States

      …and see a hero. So which one are you: A troll, a fool, or a sociopath?


      ¹ — Reminder: Donald Trump said “because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low … when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero” three days before the first recorded COVID-19 death in the United States and a month before the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. hit 86,000. In the two weeks after that second point, the number of cases has risen to over 500,000 — and the number of deaths has risen to over 18,000.

      ² — “If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. … As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.” (Source)

      ³ — “Trump’s focus [is] clear: voting by mail “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” He’s probably trying to reinforce his vague claims that there is "[t]remendous potential for voter fraud,” but his fundamental concern is that easier access to voting is bad for his party and, by extension, himself.” (Source)

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        Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 5:08am

        Re:

        Troll, troll, troll your boat, merrily down the (Internet) stream, merrily, merrily, merrily merrily, life is but a dream.. lalalalalala.....

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        sumgai (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 10:54am

        Re:

        Stephen,

        You've praised the Lowered, so I'm going to pass you some more ammunition.

        (I don't know who wrote this originally, it's certainly not mine. If you know the author, please leave a reply to that effect.)

        An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?"

        Short answer:

        Because if you're NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering."

        The serious answer: Here's what we really think about Trump supporters - the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don't...

        That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought "Fine."

        That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, "Okay."

        That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, "No problem."

        That when he made up stories about seeing muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, "Not an issue."

        That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn't care, you chirped, "He sure knows me."

        That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, "That's cool!"

        That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw.

        That when you heard him brag that he doesn't read books, you said, "Well, who has time?"

        That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn't commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, "That makes sense."

        That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, "Yes!"

        That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man's coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, "What a great guy!"

        That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, "Thumbs up!"

        That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, "That's the way I want my President to be."

        That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they're supposed to be regulating and you have said, "What a genius!"

        That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, "That's smart!"

        That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, "That makes sense."

        That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, "falling in love" with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, "That's statesmanship!"

        That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas - he explains that they're just "animals" - and you say, "well, ok then."

        That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise.

        What you don't get, Trump supporters in 2020, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it's also...hear me...charitable.

        Because if you're NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2020 @ 6:11am

        Re:

        why not all 3

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    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2020 @ 9:52pm

    Unpublished works opened up in 2003

    The opening up of unpublished works has been a giant step.

    https://www.copyright.gov/pr/pdomain.html

    Under the 1909 Copyright Act, works that were neither published nor registered did not enjoy statutory protection, although they were protected under common law in perpetuity as long as they remained unpublished and unregistered. But under section 303 of the 1976 Copyright Act, works that were created but neither published nor registered in the Copyright Office before Jan. 1, 1978, lost their common law protection and acquired a statutory term of protection that was the life of the author plus 50 years, amended in 1998 to life plus 70 years.

    http://digital-law-online.info/patry/patry2.html

    England and the Statute of Anne
    ...
    Authors qua authors were in no way protected, although they may have been able to claim the protection of the common law for unauthorized reproduction of their unpublished manuscripts.

    .

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    TKnarr (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 12:21am

    Current copyright law bears more resemblance to pre-Statute rules than post-. The Statute of Anne gave rights to the authors. Today the authors are mostly relegated back to their pre-Statute status as copyright vests primarily in the publishers (who won't publish unless the author hands over virtually all rights to them). As pre-Statute too, the targets of modern publishers are primarily other publishers with seeming disregard for whether the published works are actually ones the attacking publisher has any rights to.

    I'd rather see a revamp of copyright law that gave copyright primarily to the authors again and prohibited any publisher from locking the author out when it comes to control over the copyrights on his works.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 4:12am

      Re:

      Looking at the history leading up the the Statute of Anne, which includes attempts to restore the publishers monopolies over a work, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the real intent of authors rights was to create something that could be sold to the publishers, restoring their monopoly. That is it was political spin used to restore publishers rights.

      It is not as though authors did not have power in the market, as publishers needed works to publish, and the source of those were the manuscripts created by authors. The ability to create new works is what keeps patrons interested, and support flowing for many creators on the Internet.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 7:03am

      Re:

      I concur. In your suggested revamp of copyright law (I would extend this to include patents, but not trademarks as they are different) to include (along with a reduction in length) a statement that IP, both the copyright and patents, are not transferable. They may be licensed, as in an author might sell a license to a publishing company to print and promote their book for some limited time which is less than the copyright length, but that is the only right transferred.

      I would also state that the creation of IP, even as works for hire, belongs to the creator and that employment contracts can merely give the employing company the right purchase a limited license for that IP, above and beyond normal compensation. Of course there will be outcry that this reduces incentive for companies to hire writers, or engineers, or musicians, etc. but the application of this rule would only mean it costs them a bit more money while incentivising the actual creators. The companies will still want the creations, they will just have less control than they do now.

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        TKnarr (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd debate the question of employment contracts. Most authors aren't, for instance, employees of the publisher. When I'm an actual employee of the company they're paying me for my time and effort in the subject they hired me for. I think it's entirely reasonable to say that what I do while I'm on the clock does belong to them, they paid me for it in my regular paycheck after all. Contractors are another matter, the company is paying them for a specific task, not their time in general, it'd be entirely reasonable to say that only the specific work product the contractor was paid to create belongs to the company and everything else belongs to the contractor. And even for employees, anything created off-the-clock and outside the area the employee's paid to work on belongs to the employee, not the company. That's already the law in many places, including Califormia and Washington, and I make sure to add a clause to any assignment-of-rights contract citing the statute and explicitly limiting the scope of the assignment to only those things not exempted by the law.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Apr 2020 @ 5:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I mention the employment contracts because if we are to take Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 to heart there is little incentive for the creators. Typical remuneration does not compare with the value (economic) of the things created. Now I realize that not all creations are done for economic purposes, but by assuming the patent/copyright of the 'employed' person, the enterprise also takes away their recognition.

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            nasch (profile), 13 Apr 2020 @ 7:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Typical remuneration does not compare with the value (economic) of the things created.

            If the creator could make more money selling their creations on their own, then they're already free to do that.

            Now I realize that not all creations are done for economic purposes, but by assuming the patent/copyright of the 'employed' person, the enterprise also takes away their recognition.

            But we're talking about someone created things in the course of working for their employer. You're suggesting that taking away the ability of the employer to retain copyright in the work-related productions of their employees would result in - what? Greater productivity? Besides the fustercluck that would result from dozens or hundreds of people jointly holding copyright in something, what are the employees going to do with the copyright over a creation designed for that business, other than hold it over the business' head and demand more money? All I can see happening is that businesses stop hiring people in jurisdictions with such laws because it would be too risky.

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              Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Apr 2020 @ 7:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "All I can see happening is that businesses stop hiring people in jurisdictions with such laws because it would be too risky."

              Then those businesses would have nothing, or much less, to sell. There is little reason that there couldn't be some standardized way to protect the company while both recognizing and compensating the creators. For example, we might say that the creators retain the patent, the license is automatic for employed persons who create on company time, and some X part of ongoing royalties revert to the creators.

              I recognize that the company has expenses in providing the creators with resources in order to do their creating, and don't want to remove their ability to recoup their investment, nor to profit. And those resources may be a reason creators don't do certain creating in their garage. But the company didn't do the creating, and the company will want ongoing creations. Providing recognition, and financial rewards to the actual creators, could help.

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              • icon
                nasch (profile), 13 Apr 2020 @ 9:55am

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

                Then those businesses would have nothing, or much less, to sell.

                Are you not familiar with the practice of offshoring? Businesses hire people in other countries to produce things sold in the US (or wherever).

                Providing recognition, and financial rewards to the actual creators, could help.

                Help with what? What is the problem being solved? That employees don't have enough incentive to create while working on company time? Personally I would prefer more money as an increased incentive, rather than some kind of IP that I can't make use of anyway. That can be implemented right now, without messing with patent or copyright law.

                Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of IP law or the abuses of capitalism, but I don't see this proposal solving either.

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  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 4:59am

    Since the intent of copyright law and patent law is largely to spur discourse and innovation by making them economically feasible, I would argue that that the duration of copyrights and patents should currently be less than they were when the laws were first passed. In the case of U.S. copyrights, the original duration was 14 years. In the case of U.S. patents, the original duration was variable, up to a maximum of 14 years.

    My reasoning is twofold:

    1) When these laws with their respective time limits were first created, the process of bringing a written work or a manufactured device from the concept stage to the profitable market stage was much longer, more difficult, and more expensive than it is today. In the late 1700’s these processes could take weeks, months, or even many years to accomplish. Today, these processes can take mere minutes. An example might be writing a document, and then electronically publishing it on the Internet. Often the processes take considerably longer, but nowhere as long as the comparable process would have taken over 200 years ago.

    2) The market for both items subject to copyright and items subject to patent is very much greater today than it was in the late 1700’s. This is due to both larger populations (domestic and international) that can afford to but the products, and the greater ease of getting a product to these larger markets. Back then a creator might have anticipated selling hundreds or thousands of the item, today hundreds of millions are not out of the question.

    Because of these two factors which have changed substantially since copyright and patent laws were first created in this country, the profit necessary to motivate people to create can generally be realized in a much shorter period of time. Therefore the duration of copyrights and patents should similarly be much shorter than those envisioned when the laws were created.

    In short: Sometimes laws need to be appropriately adapted to the times. Death to Mickey Mouse Acts and similar!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 5:55am

      Re:

      Also note, one of the reasons the stationers wanted copyrights was the nature of printing books. They had to estimate how many they could sell, and then print that number of books before they could sell the first one. Under those conditions a poorly printed pirate edition could leave them with a lot of unsold books by taking away their market. Electronic publishing does not have that investment in stock problem, and therefore less need of copyright.

      What matters to authors and other creators is being recognized as the creators of works, so that they can gain support to keep on creating new works, and for performing artists, selling out live performances.

      The main beneficiaries of copyright have always been the publishers, which is why they lobby for stronger and stronger copyrights, and more and more control over the Internet. They spin it as giving it the spin of "for the authors/artists" while finding more ways to keep more of the income from sales. When your profits depend on gaining control over the works of creative people, stronger and stronger protection over what you bought always looks like a good idea.

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        Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 6:08am

        Re: Re:

        But even you would advocate FOR a market whereby authors could sell their works to others, yes? Without that, the value of copyrighted works would be only a small fraction. Without a market, the value would plummet.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 6:33am

          Without that, the value of copyrighted works would be only a small fraction.

          So what? Any business model that must rely on copyright to make money is a business model that deserves to die if copyright would ever stop being a thing. Night of the Living Dead is a public domain film, but people still sell DVD and Blu-ray copies of that film. Hell, Shakespeare’s works are all public domain, but people still sell plenty of printed (and digital!) copies of those works.

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            Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 6:41am

            Re:

            But how did Shakespeare eat, and pay for his female inspiration? How would he eat today, or pay for ladies, today? And then where would the world be? No Shakespeare, or those he inspired? What are you, a globalist? You want to take food from Shakespeare’s mouth and deny him sex? Wow. You’re a cruel one.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 6:53am

              how did Shakespeare eat, and pay for his female inspiration?

              By directly selling copies of his works, selling tickets to performances of said plays, and writing new works on commission, I would assume.

              How would he eat today, or pay for ladies, today?

              See the above answer.

              And then where would the world be? No Shakespeare, or those he inspired?

              If copyright didn’t exist right now and Shakespeare were working in the modern day, his works would already be in the public domain, where they could (and would) inspire people for generations to come — much like the actual works of Shakespeare already manage to do.

              What are you, a globalist?

              Hate to burst your anti-Semitic bubble, but I’m not Jewish.

              You want to take food from Shakespeare’s mouth and deny him sex?

              Seeing as how William Shakespeare has been dead for several centuries, I doubt anyone is looking to feed (or fuck) a severely decomposed skeleton.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 8:07am

                Re:

                Seeing as how William Shakespeare has been dead for several centuries, I doubt anyone is looking to feed (or fuck) a severely decomposed skeleton.

                You're trying to negotiate with a guy who writes Melania Trump/Shiva Ayyadurai fanfiction, I don't think necrophilia is off the table for this nutjob.

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          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 8:26am

            Re:

            Night of the Living Dead is a public domain film, but people still sell DVD and Blu-ray copies of that film.

            Or on the opposite end of the quality spectrum: "MANOS": The Hands of Fate is one of the worst movies of all time, and nobody knew about it until it was shown with witty commentary on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and thenceforth its fan base and remixes only grew. You would think that the people making it would object to not getting residuals from the movie, but that's where you'd be wrong. In fact, two actors in the film were father and daughter and when the film was in obscurity they had an estranged relationship but the fame that MST3K gave it made their relationship closer and something to bond over, and that happens every time someone makes a adaptation of the public domain movie (the father is dead, unfortunately). When Jackie Neyman (the aforementioned daughter) needed help, she had a gofundme campaign, which I supported. If the film were copyrighted, it probably wouldn't have seen the light of day, we wouldn't have all these wonderful remixes, and Jackie and her father would not have reunited. It just shows you that there are things that are actually more important than money.

            See here to understand what I'm talking about.

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

            • identicon
              Crafty Coyote, 11 Apr 2020 @ 3:47pm

              Re: Re:

              Or my personal example is finding these designs years ago. Had the company who made these actually bothered to file for copyright, they never would have been used after 2007. But since I am the one who filed for and received a copyright, they now will be used by others, and the character can be preserved. Though I might have to sacrifice the chance of making money off of the character of Crafty Coyote himself. But if you love him as much as I do, money isn't the problem. https://www.furaffinity.net/view/20049115/
              https://www.furaffinity.net/view/20049156.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 6:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What is more valuable is the ability to create new works, and that can be 'sold' via patronage and crowd funding sites, and what is significant that ability cannot be 'pirated'.

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

  • identicon
    Any o' Mouse, 11 Apr 2020 @ 11:38am

    Wow.
    Thank you very much for that piece of history and its effects.
    I and likely many others, had absolutely no idea.
    Again, thanks.

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

  • identicon
    Châu, 11 Apr 2020 @ 5:19pm

    300 years teach use that any monopoly system have feed back loop, after time, richest groups always cpntrol it by bribe government. I think try experiment, NO monopoly for 100 years and see result.

    No person force other people create book, movies, etc. If creator not like other people can copy and change their stuff, they should do some thing else. People if

    Most book, movie, music, will NEVER become popular. Have monopoly can't motive people create much.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 7:40pm

    Most book, movie, music, will NEVER become popular.

    The importance of reforming copyright (reining in the feudalist IP barons) is that value has nothing to do with popularity. Many of the most valuable works have never been, and will never be, popular. But they are capable of transforming economies/thoughts/lives in the few cases where they are relevant, read, applied. Is it rational/social/SANE to craft the law for the sake of purely monetary gain to the richest entertainers, when it makes the valuable/rare works hard for poor creators to find and use?

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

    • identicon
      Crafty Coyote, 11 Apr 2020 @ 8:18pm

      Re:

      Which is why the best of creators realize that nothing is created as much it is remixed. That's why I want you to enjoy Crafty Coyote as many ways you deem fit. I hope you enjoy him, and I know that with what my friends don't know about Crafty's origins, they will not be held guilty for anything that happens.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2020 @ 11:09am

        Re: Re:

        Your posts are really starting to sound like little more than shameless self-promotion. I, for one, will be flagging them as such from now on.

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

        • identicon
          Crafty Coyote, 12 Apr 2020 @ 11:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm just saying that if saving any particular image, song, film or proejct is worth enough to preserve it without any hope of financial recompensation, then preservation shouldn't be an issue. And if it's worth enough to censor the public from using it, then registration is the "tax" necessary to prevent others from using it. If you can get others to remix, recontextualize, and remake those things, criminal law protections for defendants would take effect making it very difficult to prosecute them. Bottom line- owning physical property (and the means to defend that physical property) will always be more important than a legal fiction.

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

  • icon
    Stephan Kinsella (profile), 14 Apr 2020 @ 12:10pm

    Failure to strike at the root

    The problem here is that the entire copyright system and mentality is truly destructive at the core. All copyright should be abolished. The author however tries to do the moderate tech author thing and have it both ways--implicitly praise the "good" intentions of copyright while criticizing the "abuses."

    For example, the author says "The Statute of Anne, whose anniversary of coming into force on April 10, 1710 we celebrate today,"

    I know this is worded in an anodyne way but... no. Nobody "celebrates" this.

    And after citicizing the censorial aspects of copyright, the author tries to shower praise on the Statute of Anne. "However, the political pressure for democratic reform eventually caught up with this system, and by 1695 it finally gave way for good. And that set the stage for the Statute of Anne to be enacted in 1710, which changed the approach to copyright entirely. While the Licensing Act of 1662 was “[a]n act for preventing the frequent abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed books and pamphlets,” the Statute of Anne was purposefully “[a]n act for the encouragement of learning.” Whereas the former was about government control over ideas, the latter was about spreading them. Instead of using royal printing licenses to administer the copy right as a means of controlling discourse, by its very design the Statute of Anne was meant to stimulate it."

    "And it did. Right away newspapers proliferated, public houses exploded with popularity (as they had during earlier periods when licensing statutes had lapsed), and democratic ideals flourished as tight government control over ideas yielded. "

    This implies that there is a "balance" between state control of ideas that is "too strict" (leading to censorship) and "just enough" regulation and control of speech (Statute of Anne) so as to "encourage" or "stimulate" works. What nonsense. So the Statue of Anne somewhat relaxed state censorial power, and that, plus the increasing use of the printing press, led to an explosion of publishing of ideas. This is not to the credit of copyright law! IT still led to the authors being subject to the whims of publishers, as they author admits in the next sentence, and as Prince put on his cheek with his "SLAVE" notice carved into his beard:

    "But while the structure of modern copyright law today looks much as it did following the Statute of Anne, its limiting effects on discourse now seem more similar to the period that preceded it."

    So what we really have is ALL state/church control of what can be said and what can be published distorts and limits free speech and freedom of the press. IT's not that "it was bad before the STatute of Anne, then good after 1710, then bad again after US copyright law got off on a wrong footing again in the 1900s." No. No. It was ALWAYS bad. The state's copyright law always restricts and distorts free speech and freedom of the press. IT did so then, before 1710; it did so after 1710; it does so now. THe ONLY solution is to totally abolish all copyright law. There is no balance. Asking for a "balance" is like saying "but if we abolish slavery who will pick the cotton? Maybe we need a balance. We'll have slaves pick the cotton for 6 months and be free for the other 6 months--we need to be reasonable, people! Abolition is too extreme!"

    "These rights were of limited duration, however, and the Statute of Anne further enhanced public discourse by creating a public domain."

    Praising a modern copyright law for "creating a public domain" is perverse. The DEFAULT in a free, private law system IS the public domain! The only reason there is NOT a public domain is BECAUSE OF COPYRIGHT LAW. Relaxing copyright censorship controls so that less work is forced behind a paywall and a bit more ekes out into the natural public domain is not to its credit. All you need to have a public domain is to just abolish copyright law. Copyright law never "creates" public domain works. All it can do is infringe on the public domain.

    I suggest people interested in the real history of this read Karl Fogel's more clear-eyed explanation here: "The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World" https://questioncopyright.org/promise

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


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