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Music and Movies and Books Oh My!

By WinPimp2K in Op-Ed
Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:42:23 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Yes, this is my rant on copyright reform in the US. Many folks think that copyright law has come to favor the copyright holder to such an extent that it no longer serves anything resembling its stated purpose(please consider mandatory quote from US Constitution inserted here).

I shamelessly encourage you to comment. Especially on how to handle things like movie soundtracks...


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My solution: Keeping in mind the idea that creative types are given copyrights for a limited time in order to encourage them to produce more such works in the future.
  • To receive a copyright, an unencumbered (unencrypted, etc) copy of the work must be filed with the Library Of Congress
  • Copyright will last for a period of 20 years. Any copyrights issued prior to this will expire in 20 years or when their prior copyright would expire whichever comes first
  • No corporate entity may be issued a copyright. Corporations are by their nature incapable of the creative act. While it is true a corporation may fund individuals or groups of people who do create, the corporation itself has created nothing.
  • If ownership of a copyright is transferred to a corporation, its term shall be reduced to a maximum of ten years from date of transfer or the current copyright expiration, whichever comes first.
  • Once a copyright expires, the covered work will be in the public domain. If the original creator hasn't been encouraged to create anything more by this time, they probably aren't going to.
  • Copyrights may be renewed for a progressive annual extension fee.We are no longer talking about encouraging the creator, but allowing them to retain control in exchange for a fee paid to the government.(What is Steamboat Willie really worth to Disney?) Now they must pay to mainatin the copyright and must pay more each year.
  • All copyrights shall expire on December 31st (for ease of bookkeeping)
How it would all work:
Example 1
I.M. Tarnished writes "The Bodice Ripper Interviews" in 2005 and obtains a copyright. His copyright will expire on 31 December 2025. The book does well enough in a secure online release that he signs a "dead tree" distribution contract with Fixed Casino Publishing. The contract will expire when the original copyright expires (2025). The book is a modest success, avoiding the best seller lists and the attention of the other media (movies, TV). By 2010 the book is out of print, but still available for purchase in digital form. In 2015, he is approached by a composer who would like to do a musical comedy based on the book. They are unable to come to terms. By 2025 it is still selling a few dozen copies per month. In November 2025 he decides that it is worthwhile to pay the fee for a one year renewal of the copyright. In 2026 his "dead tree" distribution contract with Fixed Casino Publishing has expired. If they want to do another printing of the book, they will have to negotiate a new contract that will automatically expire at the end of 2026. Although the book continues to have modest sales in 2026, the increased renewal fee for 2027 is more than the book would earn for him so he allows the copyright to lapse. In 2027, "The Bodice Ripper Interviews" opens off-Broadway and will provide a modest income stream to the composer.The musical also stimulates more interest in the book - now freely available from a revived and invigorated Project Gutenberg. Although Tarnished is no longer making any money off "The Bodice Ripper Interviews", his more recent works also enjoy some additional success due to the publicity.

Example 2
Two Horse Studios Inc. hires Steve Playburg to make a movie for them. PlayBurg will receive the copyright, but the contract stipulates that the copyright will be assigned to the studio. Accordingly, when "Rattletrap Galaxative" is released in 2010, its copyright will expire in 2020. "RG" as it comes to be known is an enormous success, and spawns many sequels Two Horse is not interested in allowing the original "RG" to fall into the public domain. They pay a hefty fee (lets say $50,000 for example) to extend the copyright through 2021. To extend it through 2022, they pay an additional $100,000. It will cost $150,000 for 2023 and so on. At some point, "Rattletrap Galaxitive" is going to become part of the public domain.

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Poll
How long should copyright last?
o There should be no copyright 10%
o Less than 10 years 27%
o About 20 years 33%
o 30 years 18%
o Current law is good 1%
o One day less than forever. 5%
o Whatever Jack (Eternal Copyright) Valenti says is good enough for me. 1%
o huh? 2%

Votes: 80
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by WinPimp2K


Display: Sort:
Music and Movies and Books Oh My! | 67 comments (59 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
corporations (4.00 / 2) (#1)
by ODiV on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:17:10 PM EST

When a group of programmers employed by a corporation codes a program (as part of their job), they own the copyright under your system? I'd argue that this is pretty clear evidence that corporations can produce copyrighted works.

After reading the above, I guess it's sort of what you're saying. The contract of the workers would stipulate that the rights be turned over to the corporation. It doesn't really matter whether you think corporations 'create' or not. If they're employing people to create for them, I don't see the problem with the corporation having the copyright... it's what they're paying for after all.

Any particular reason that corporations can only own copyright for 10 years under your system, whereas individuals can hold copyright for 20? Spite, maybe? (what about non-profit organizations, etc).

Having to file copyright is no longer required. You're suggesting a reversal of this? Any particular reason? I suppose it could be funded by the "keep my work copyrighted" fee, but with the amount of copyright works being produced, this would be a big pain in the ass.


--
[ odiv.net ]
Well... (none / 0) (#4)
by WinPimp2K on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:30:21 PM EST

I'm not too fond of the abuses the corporations that generally get all excited about copyright tend to engage in (recording industry and motion pictures) But the main reason is that a corporation will not pursue a copyright unless they see a clear profit in it for themselves. They also tend to be oriented towards the short term so a shorter copyright term shouldn't matter.

Why would a non-profit want to hold a copyright? If they aren't making money off of it what are they doing with it?

Why bring back filing for copyright? Well the main reason is to make realy darn sure that when the copyright expires that the work will be released into the public domain. It doesn't do much good to say some thing is in the public domain if the only masters rotted away in some studio execs basement or is only available in a heavily copy-protected digital format.

[ Parent ]

non-profits and such (none / 0) (#6)
by ODiV on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:40:30 PM EST

Non-profits can make money... they just don't personally profit from it (financially speaking). I was on the board of a non-profit called NTnet Society which provided Internet access through a T1 to parts of the Northwest Territories. They had to charge for it (hence, make money), but the money they made went to improving hardware and subsidizing connections to communities which weren't profitable.

A non-profit could hold a copyright for something and charge for its use in order to subsidize their non-profit goals.

Also... punishing all corporations (including future ones) for current abuse of copyright doesn't seem exactly fair. It seems your system is specifically fashioned to prevent such abuses. Isn't that good enough?


--
[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
Hmm.. maybe it can be a bargaining chit? (none / 0) (#9)
by WinPimp2K on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:54:43 PM EST

I do think we are in real need of significant changes to copyright law. I could see easing up on the extra restrictions in exchange for the really important parts (the real time limits and disincentives to maintain control) - I just wouldn't be happy about it :)

[ Parent ]
types of copyright (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by ucblockhead on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:11:39 PM EST

I think that's a very good reason why program code should not follow the same sort of copyright law as artistic works. It really isn't the same sort of thing as novel writing, and frankly, if a company pays me $X/year to write code, I think they ought to own the code. It is also very problematic in that it is generally easy to determine who worked on an artistic work, while it is rare to see a computer program where it was obvious who did what. A program written under corporate auspices generally does not look like the work of a single individual the way most art (excepting the average Hollywood screenplay) does.


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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Copyrights (4.57 / 7) (#2)
by ucblockhead on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:24:29 PM EST

First, a comment. If your ideas were law, then most open source software would be losing any protection it gets under the GPL in the next decade or so.

But anyway, I think that it is a real bad thing to expire copyrights before the author's death. A copyright is a very different thing from a patent. A patent generally restricts the ability of others to compete in the same field. A copyright does not. Because of this, I see little reason to take this away.

Charging a fee is a horrible, awful, despicable idea. It helps corporations and hurts starving artists. The guy working three jobs while trying to right his first novel is exactly the sort of guy we want to give legal support to. You'd be taking away his ability to protect his work!

But I do think that corporate ownership of copyrights ought to be restricted. In my own view, a couple simple changes would make things better for the artists.

  • The copyright expires with the artist. Always. Regardless of who currently "owns" it.
  • Copyrights can only be leased. That is, they always revert back to the author five years after being sold.
  • Copyrights must be assigned to persons, or groups of persons, as you say, not corporations.
That, I think, would do a good job of protecting artists without giving corporations untoward power. It would make it very hard for a corporation to screw artists as so many record companoes have done to songwriters.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
Ok, (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by WinPimp2K on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:48:27 PM EST

But the purpose of both patents and copyrights are to encourage more creative works. How does giving a person a lifetime income from one song (Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" is still pulling in six figure royalties fifty plus years after he wrote it) encourage him to write any more songs?

Charging a fee is only for the renewal. That gives the starving artist 20 years to earn enough for a Big Mac and fries off the royalties from his novel.

But I do like the idea about leasing the copyrights - it would work for me as well.

As for the GPL, how much current software is really likely to still be running unchanged in another decade or so - and how would it really be hurt if it did fall into the public domain? Any new development would still be protected after all.

[ Parent ]

Twenty years (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by ucblockhead on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:04:00 PM EST

I can name a number of artists off the top of my head who didn't earn a damn thing with their art for the first twenty years...

Some of them are even good friends of mine who've yet to make it big.


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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

But... (none / 0) (#35)
by mikael_j on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:35:53 AM EST

are they earning money from it now?
And if they are, is the art that they are earning money from the same art that they produced 20 years ago? or have they produced other art since, that they are now making money of?

/Mikael Jacobson
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
one hit wonder syndrome (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by electricbarbarella on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:12:36 PM EST

what about the artist that manages to put out one good book, or song, or whatever? If people are still willing to pay for it after 30 or 40 or 50 years, then why shouldn't that money go to the artist?

This is a discussion that hits home with me rather deeply. I write. A lot. I'm hoping to have the book that I'm currently on published: gods know that worse books have been. Personally, I want to hold the copyright on any works that I produce for my entire life.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
[ Parent ]
Why it shouldn't (none / 0) (#19)
by WinPimp2K on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:12:15 PM EST

Because the Constitution says "for a limited time"? Obviously we can have different ideas of what constitutes a "limited time". The first US copyrights were for 14 years with a single 14 year extension...

Copyright is a compromise that reflects the nature of intellectual endeavors. It was actually intended to protect authors from publishers originally. But the main thing (to me) is that once you publish it, you have shared it with everybody. (The "info wants to be free crowd" will now chime in - it is their mantra after all). Of course, if you are not rewarded for your effort you probably won't make another one and the world will be deprived of any further examples of your genius.

On the other hand, other people might be able to build upon your work and give us something different that we might enjoy also. By way of example a recent issue of Analog had a story in it that was told from the viewpoint of the Eloi girl in HG Wells "The Time Machine". The author could do that because Wells work is in the public domain. On the other hand the author of "The Wind Done Gone" - a satire of an overblown melodrama set in The War Between The States - has been shut down by the Mitchell estate because her work is still under copyright. Heck, the Mitchell estate even commissioned a sequel when the copyright was about to expire (before Congress extended copyrights again) just to make sure no one else would be able to tell any more tales of Rhett and Scarlett.

For myself, I code. A lot. I already hold the copyrights on programs that make me money. Of course, the money now comes from providing support to the folks who use the programs (my market has been overrun by large chains who have their own in-house software). I agree with the idea that computer software needs something different from the sort of copyright provided for books, music, etc.



[ Parent ]

Satire (none / 0) (#43)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 09, 2001 at 11:51:22 AM EST

On the other hand the author of "The Wind Done Gone" - a satire of an overblown melodrama set in The War Between The States - has been shut down by the Mitchell estate because her work is still under copyright.

They should have fought it. Under copyright law, satire is supposed to be allowed, as the Tolkein estate found out when they tried to prevent the publication of Bored of the Rings, and as the Orbison estate found out when they tried to block 2 Live Crew from parodying "Pretty Women".
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Legal fees (none / 0) (#53)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 01:25:21 AM EST

The author of "The Wind Done Gone" doesn't have the money to defend against the lawsuits.

[ Parent ]
Legal system (none / 0) (#60)
by ucblockhead on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:45:03 PM EST

That's a problem with the whole legal system in general, not with copyright law in particular.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Idea (none / 0) (#58)
by strumco on Thu May 10, 2001 at 11:10:27 AM EST

I agree with the idea that computer software needs something different from the sort of copyright provided for books, music, etc.
Perhaps copyright should only be granted for the purpose intended. So, a novelist would be granted a copyright on printing, e-books, audio books, public readings. On payment of an additional fee, he could protect possible plays or films derived from the work. If a techie wanted to compile it in C++ and run it as an executable - good luck to him.

A software author, on the other hand, would be granted protection for executable products. If an actor wanted to read his code out loud in an auditorium, the ticket money would all be his.

This approach would have the added advantage that different periods of protection and different degrees of protection could be assigned to different purposes. If the government wanted to, they could vary the costs to encourage/discourage necessary/unnecessary innovation.

How's that?

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

20 years -> gpl-like? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by evvk on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:13:11 PM EST

> First, a comment. If your ideas were law, then most open source software would be losing any protection it gets under the GPL in the next decade or so.

I've been thinking that maybe after a primary copyright period (e.g. twenty years, perhaps less in case of software --- there's so much less than twenty-year-old games that you can't buy anywhere) the work would not automatically become public domain, but something equivalent to the GPL, or even free'er if that is what the author wants. That way the work can not be exploited, yet people have the right to use it.

While I am anti-corporate and all, I think there is a slight problem with not assigning copyrights to corporations. True, no corporation should receive rights to the work of an artist or group thereof. But software is a totally different case. There may be so many people working on a software project, that the group is essentially the corporation. And those people were specifically employed to create that product, unlike most real artists.

And no, copyrights should not be leased, only special distribution rights given. The author should always retain all rights to the work. Suppose an artist would allow putting mp3 samples of some of his songs on a fan page but the corporation owning/leasing the copyrights would not approve of that. (A true story infact...)
Also, we would still have the problem the author having to request the right to reuse parts of his _own_, earlier work if publishing through other channels.


[ Parent ]
I see why Futurama keeps the heads in jars (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by Highlander on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:11:41 AM EST

It makes sense - put the head in a jar, add life support, do everything so that the copyright doesn't expire.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]
Poll options (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by ODiV on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:25:12 PM EST

What about life of the creator?

hmm... I suppose if the corporation is the "creator" it would be the last person alive who produced the work as part of the corporation or something... but that would likely be a filing nightmare. Hrm... Maybe life isn't so good. I think around 50 years would be good (completely arbitrary). You didn't really put anything like that in your poll though :(.


--
[ odiv.net ]
Notes on Capitalism. (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by Signal 11 on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:31:27 PM EST

In a market economy, especially, a capitalistic one, money and goods flow in what is called a "circular flow" model. You have input and output markets, and you have corporations and individuals on each side.

A highly simplified version of this is that you (as an individual) provide: land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship on the input markets. Corporations then pay you for those goods in the form of rent, wages, interest, and profit. On the output side are goods produced by the corporations which you purchase (using the resources given to you in exchange for the above) goods which they created. There's more, but that should convey the essentials.

Intellectual Property is a strange beast, because corporations and many people believe it is a good or a service. But strangely enough individuals produce intellectual property, but it is not owned by individuals. Intellectual Property is almost wholly owned by corporations in this country. Corporations do not compensate individuals for their contributions, but they most definately are selling intellectual property goods and services back to us. For me, this represents a 'leak' in the circular flow model.

Some might argue that your labor (used to create intellectual property) is being compensated by wages, hence corporations are indeed paying for the rights to IP that you create - you're getting a paycheck out of it. I would quickly point out that corporations are increasingly adding clauses into contracts that you sign that state that they are entitled to any inventions/designs/etc. that you create whether or not company resources are used. In other words, what you do on your own time can be comandeered by a corporation without cost to them. Sadly, this is becoming more common all the time. In addition, I have yet to see or meet someone who, as a worker of a large corporation, be compensated adequately (if at all) for major contributions to the bottom line. "The Wage Is Enough" they say.

This to me is a disturbing trend in economics. It's unbalancing the markets - all the intellectual property is owned by corporations, not individuals. Royalties are becoming rare. Only shareholders and executive officers are making money in this business, at the expense of the workers. For workers who produce solely intellectual property, the results are even more devestatingly obvious: It is almost impossible to make a living as a music artist, a novelist, or many similar jobs in the entertainment industry, arguably the largest industry to make use of intellectual property.

The conclusion I have reached is that intellectual property is biased too far towards corporations. If this economy continues to shift resources towards the production of services (at the expense of goods), that means that IP law will become increasingly relevant to economic power in this country. My thoughts is that it'll shrink the middle class, as it only profits a small subset of society at the expense of the majority.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

huh? (none / 0) (#7)
by ODiV on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:44:43 PM EST

"Corporations do not compensate individuals for their contributions"

What do you mean?


--
[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
Balance (none / 0) (#11)
by ucblockhead on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:06:52 PM EST

I believe what he means is that if a corporation hires two people at $40k/year to each write a song, the guy who wrote the dreadful thing that everyone hated and the guy who wrote the multi-million selling thing both end up getting the same $40k.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
bonuses (none / 0) (#18)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:07:27 PM EST

Most corporations don't really work like that though. The majority (though not all) corporations employ some sort of performance-based compensation model. In your music example, this takes the form of percentage-based royalties. In most corporations, it takes the form of promotions/pay raises and performance bonuses (many people get anywhere from 10% to >100% bonuses if they do particularly valuable things).

[ Parent ]
I disagree. (none / 0) (#27)
by Signal 11 on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:54:37 PM EST

The majority (though not all) corporations employ some sort of performance-based compensation model

I disagree profusely with that. Outside of the entertainment industry, such compensation (royalty, basically) is rare. Only when the dot com labor shortage became so severe that they had to offer more incentives did that start to appear in mainstream business.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

"mainstream business" (none / 0) (#29)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:19:05 PM EST

I disagree profusely with that. Outside of the entertainment industry, such compensation (royalty, basically) is rare. Only when the dot com labor shortage became so severe that they had to offer more incentives did that start to appear in mainstream business.

I think looking at the very non-standard case of dot-com startups is a poor measure of "mainstream business." These things didn't just start appearing recently, as you seem to indicate; they've been steadily increasing in popularity for at least the past 20-30 years, long before any of these startups even existed. (You may be right in the dot-com case; I'm not very knowledgeable about such companies, though stock options do seem to indicate at least some sort of performance-based compensation). When I speak of mainstream businesses, I mean companies like BP, IBM, Dow, Exxon, Du-Pont, Breyer, etc. These companies have all, for at least 10-20 years, especially for the past 10, offered significant performance-based incentives. The way it works at most companies is that each department (20 or so people) is allocated money at the end of the year based on the department's performance for bonuses, and the manager distributes it as he/she sees fit based on individual performance (with some minimum/maximum percentage to avoid it all going to one person or something). Thus, your bonus is tied to the performance of your particular part of the business (for example, if you're in a polymers division and the polymers aspect of the business does very well, your group gets higher bonuses; if your group really fucks up you get no bonuses).

Anyway I don't know all the details, but my point was that it's very widespread in mainstream business, and has been for quite some time now.

[ Parent ]

On the nature of Soundtracks... (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by cei on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:55:00 PM EST

My company is doing a website for Disney to promote the DVD release of "Unbreakable". One of the elements of the site is an interactive story, done in Flash. This is a legitimate promotion for Disney of a property owned by Disney (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, to be exact).

They told us that we couldn't use any of the music from the soundtrack (released on Hollywood Records, also owned by Disney).

As a result, I got to spend a couple days writing new music that met the feel necessary for the Flash game.

Now, I'm not complaining. Any time my bosses pay me to play in the studio is OK with me. But somehow, I feel I won't be afforded the same protection that the original composer was. I'm doing this work for hire, so my bosses own it. But they're doing it under contract from Disney, so THEY own it.

Should I care? Or is it just cool that M. Night Shyamalan will be listening to my stuff when he gives his aproval?

agreement/disagreement on a few points (3.80 / 5) (#17)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:05:34 PM EST

Keeping in mind the idea that creative types are given copyrights for a limited time in order to encourage them to produce more such works in the future.

While this is indeed the premise behind copyright as discussed in the US legal system, I disagree that it's fundamentally the proper way to view intellectual property. If I write a book, you cannot copy this book without my permission because it is my book. Not because buying it instead would encourage me to produce more books in the future, but because you have no right to my creative work. [Note: I could go into a full analysis of the philosophy of ownership if you wish; technically I don't consider intellectual property a right, but I don't consider physical property a right either. However, since IMHO the ways they should be treated greatly resemble rights for most purposes, it's easier to talk about them in that way.]

To receive a copyright, an unencumbered (unencrypted, etc) copy of the work must be filed with the Library Of Congress

I disagree with this. I shouldn't have to give Big Brother a copy of my essay in order to ensure that nobody else will copy it. I should be able to publish whatever zines, essays, music, etc. I want and retain full rights without submitting a copy to the US government. If I produce something, I should get to control its dissemination, period. If I hate the LOC and don't want them to have a copy, that's perfectly fine; hell i should be able to grant everyone except the LOC full rights to use my work, if that's what I want to do.

Copyright will last for a period of 20 years. Any copyrights issued prior to this will expire in 20 years or when their prior copyright would expire whichever comes first

Now the idea of time-limited copyright makes sense to me. Property rights are not inalienable, so it's justifiable to place limits on them (for example, your property in the form of money is taken from you by the government to pay for public works projects, schools, defense, welfare, etc.). The exactly timeframe might be debatable, but 20 years doesn't strike me as unreasonable. If I were to pick a period I'd probably pick something closer to 30-40 years though, to cover the majority of the life of the creator.

No corporate entity may be issued a copyright. Corporations are by their nature incapable of the creative act. While it is true a corporation may fund individuals or groups of people who do create, the corporation itself has created nothing.

I disagree with that. Take, for example, a game like Deus Ex. No one person has created anything of significant value. Sure, somebody created some AI, somebody created some artwork, etc., but none of it was particularly important. The corporation, on the other hand, created a game. The corporation's role was not as incidental publisher, it was as creator.

If ownership of a copyright is transferred to a corporation, its term shall be reduced to a maximum of ten years from date of transfer or the current copyright expiration, whichever comes first.

I don't see any real reason for this. The originaly copyright holder should have unconditional license, in my opinion, to do whatever he wants with those works. If he'd like to allow a corporation to exercise his rights in return for cash, I don't see a problem with that. A scheme like this would just lead to rampant circumvention, with the original copyright holder retaining rights officially, but signing contracts in effect giving someone else (either another person, an organization, or a corporation) control over their use.

Once a copyright expires, the covered work will be in the public domain. If the original creator hasn't been encouraged to create anything more by this time, they probably aren't going to.

Well yes, that's how things currently work as well. Works on which copyright has expired are not copyrighted.

Copyrights may be renewed for a progressive annual extension fee.We are no longer talking about encouraging the creator, but allowing them to retain control in exchange for a fee paid to the government.(What is Steamboat Willie really worth to Disney?) Now they must pay to mainatin the copyright and must pay more each year.

I don't think this is a good idea at all. It'd just create copyright protection for the rich. Unless you're going to engage in some massive appraisal scheme in which you hire "independent" appraisors to determine the value of the work, and then charge a percentage of that; I don't think that'd be workable though.

Copyright expiration (none / 0) (#22)
by WinPimp2K on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:37:05 PM EST

When is the last time a copyrighted work was released into the public domain via copyright expiration? in the US? I'll wait while you check it out.

Hint? Think flappers and speakeasies...

As to the Library of Congress requirement. Well the main reason is so that there will be a copy that can be released to the public domain when the copyright expires. A second reason is (bad me) a potential revenue source for the gubmint. I suspect that relatively few items would have their copyrights extended.

Renewal fees. I'd think something based on a simple classfication of the work - wordcount /pages for books, "performance time" for videos and music. The progressive part would ensure that no matter how rich you are, at some point the renewal fees will be more than the income.

Corporate restrictions: As I mentioned elsewhere, this is my bias peeping out from under the bed.

[ Parent ]

stuff (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:54:42 PM EST

When is the last time a copyrighted work was released into the public domain via copyright expiration? in the US? I'll wait while you check it out.
Hint? Think flappers and speakeasies...

Yeah, I don't like the retroactive extensions of copyright either. It should be set to a fixed period, and kept to that fixed period. If there are any changes, they should take effect from the date of the law's passage (in fact this is a good principle in most areas, to avoid laws specifically designed to remedy one person/company's complaints).

As to the Library of Congress requirement. Well the main reason is so that there will be a copy that can be released to the public domain when the copyright expires. A second reason is (bad me) a potential revenue source for the gubmint. I suspect that relatively few items would have their copyrights extended.

Hmm, well this might be a good idea (for public knowledge and such) if it's not mandatory. The current system doesn't seem too bad to me: if you register your copyrighted works (and thus submit a copy to the LOC) you can then sue for punitive damages in the case of copyright violation, while non-registered works are still fully protected, but you can only get compensatory damages.

Corporate restrictions: As I mentioned elsewhere, this is my bias peeping out from under the bed.

That's probably the source of a decent portion of my disagreement here (and on a lot of other issues in other stories lately). In general, I'm not a huge fan of large corporations, and certainly am far more anti-corporate than the average American (for example, over 50% of Americans opposed the government's anti-trust case against Microsoft, while I supported it). But it seems a lot of people here are even more anti-corporate, and I don't hold the same intense distrust of corporations that a lot of other people seem to do.

[ Parent ]

The LOC idea... (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by SubPar on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:14:00 PM EST

I think the LOC idea is a good one at least for one reason: ensuring that the work survives the copyright period.

There's been a lot of talk lately about preserving information. CDs will rot. Floppies are being erased by Earth's magnetic field. Dye-based inks fade. And so on. Take, for example, programs from the '80s that expect certain sectors on the floppies to be bad as a copy prevention system. How can one preserve something that is tied to its medium for the copyright period when the medium will most certainly be dead and gone (inadvertently or not) by the end of the term? One of the goals of copyright is to ensure a robust public domain. In this case, a company releases a program with the aforementioned copy prevention, and gets the copyright protection afforded to them. However, the encumbering that the company put on the work renders it useless or destroyed by the time copyright expires, and the public gets nothing in the end. That's not how copyright is supposed to work.

I really would like to see something that is meant to preserve works until they enter public domain, and since copyright is granted by the government, it only makes sense to me to have it done through the LOC (or the National Library of Canada, or your own country's equivalent). But I'm open to ideas.

[ Parent ]

Are you Insane? (none / 0) (#32)
by ti dave on Wed May 09, 2001 at 03:43:24 AM EST

"If I write a book, you cannot copy this book without my permission because it is my book."

And if I purchase a copy of "your" book, is it still "your" book? Do I need your explicit permission to purchase it? Do you have veto authority over which shelf I place it on?


"Not because buying it instead would encourage me to produce more books in the future, but because you have no right to my creative work."

If that's your belief, then why would you even bother to disseminate your creative work?


"...but I don't consider physical property a right either"

So I wonder if you would bother to call the cops if your car was stolen?
You surely don't have a right to that item of physical property, do you?


"I want and retain full rights without submitting a copy to the US government. If I produce something, I should get to control its dissemination, period."

So, if I buy a copy of your essay, and then I place it in the lobby of, let's say, an abortion clinic.

Let's imagine you're against abortion. You likely then wouldn't be happy that your essay was entertaining women patients at the clinic.

How far are you willing to take this controlled dissemination policy?

I've always been taught to not accept gifts with strings attached.

Creative works seem to be gifts to Humanity, otherwise why not keep the concepts locked up in your skull...

Cheers,

ti_dave



"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Not as insane as you seem to think. (none / 0) (#38)
by rbt on Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:42:08 AM EST

"If I write a book, you cannot copy this book without my permission because it is my book."

And if I purchase a copy of "your" book, is it still "your" book? Do I need your explicit permission to purchase it? Do you have veto authority over which shelf I place it on?

Actually, he does. The owner of the work can choose if the book is allowed to be sold at Amazon, Chapters, etc. They can state which section and potentially whether it's in the top row, middle or bottom of the shelf.

Whether or not stores will want to sell the book with those rules is questionable but it's completely within the right of the owner to ask. In fact, publishers do that all the time. It's more common in grocery stores to 'buy placement' within the store itself.

Oh, and if they bound it into the stores contract that they cannot sell to any person under 19, or something thats of reasonable discrimination that could be enforced as well. All this is unlikley as it reduces sales, but they're well within their right to request -- and those at the other end of the contract at within their right to refuse.

Could go into the rest, but don't feel like it :)

Oh, and I allow this message to appear on Kuro5hin only. It is not authorized to appear on any other website or printed media.



[ Parent ]
A point or two... (none / 0) (#45)
by ti dave on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:22:36 PM EST

"The owner of the work can choose if the book is allowed to be sold at Amazon, Chapters, etc."

Bad examples, I think. Not familiar with Chapters, are they Brick-and-Mortar? In any case, you're leaving out the Publisher, and the Distributor of the Book.

Once the Publisher takes the work and pays the Author, I believe it's pretty much out of the Author's hands.

Let's say B&N orders 500 copies from the Distributor. Great. Likely all 500 copies will be sold, no returns.

If not all copies of the run are sold, the last guy holding the proverbial bag is stuck with it.
This means that if the Bookstore is stuck with 70 copies that it can't sell retail, they can and will sell the overstock to anyone who will take those copies.


"They can state which section and potentially whether it's in the top row, middle or bottom of the shelf."

I'd wager that, if this isn't stipulated in a contract, then "tough shit", it goes where we (the store) want it to go, for as long as we want it to be there.

ti_dave



"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
or three or four (none / 0) (#49)
by WinPimp2K on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:27:02 PM EST

The publishing industry is just plain weird.

The bookstore is not stuck with the unsold books - they get a refund from the publisher. They return the books (or at least the cover - which is why you can read the notice in a paperback telling you that if you bought it without a cover it is a "stolen" copy).

As to product placement, if it hasn't happened yet, they will be following everyone else in retail and charging the publisher for shelf space and favorable placement soon enough.

[ Parent ]

copyright and such (none / 0) (#64)
by Delirium on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:07:58 PM EST

And if I purchase a copy of "your" book, is it still "your" book? Do I need your explicit permission to purchase it? Do you have veto authority over which shelf I place it on?

It depends what the terms of the deal were. If I sell you a copy, no-strings-attached, then it's yours. With most books, you buy a copy with no caveats except that you can't republish it or copy non-trivial portions of it. But if I wanted to refuse to sell you my book because I dislike you, I should be able to do so. And if I wanted to rent you a book I should be able to do so as well.

If that's your belief, then why would you even bother to disseminate your creative work?

Just because I don't think other people have an inherent right to my creative work doesn't mean I can't give them permission to use it. I might want to disseminate it just to get my ideas out, or to make money, or any number of other reasons.

So I wonder if you would bother to call the cops if your car was stolen?
You surely don't have a right to that item of physical property, do you?

Yes, I would call the cops, because that's how the system is set up. While I don't believe people have an inherent right per se to any property, it benefits society to grant certain rights (more like licenses really, since they're given by and enforced by society/government). Society tends to work better, in my opinion, if people feel secure in the property they possess, so outlawing theft seems reasonable, even if it's not actually violating anyone's rights. In other cases, taxation benefits society overall, so you are not allowed to keep that particular bit of property.

So, if I buy a copy of your essay, and then I place it in the lobby of, let's say, an abortion clinic.
Let's imagine you're against abortion. You likely then wouldn't be happy that your essay was entertaining women patients at the clinic.
How far are you willing to take this controlled dissemination policy?

It depends on the terms of the sale. If I sold you an essay with the caveat that you agree not to display it in abortion clinics, then I certainly would be justified in demanding that you remove it. If, on the other hand, I sold you a copy without putting any restriction on your usage of it (beyond the basic copyright restrictions; you can't photocopy it 1000 times and sell it), then I wouldn't have any basis for asking you to remove it.

I've always been taught to not accept gifts with strings attached.

That might be a good idea, and in fact I often would much prefer things to be this way. When I buy a CD, I want to be able to record it to mp3, to a cassette, do statistical analysis on the waveforms, etc. However, I can't really demand that an artist provide me with this. What I'm arguing for isn't that gifts with strings attached are good, but that someone who produces a creative work should be allowed to offer gifts with strings attached, so to speak. You're can then of course choose to not accept the gift, but what you can't do, in my view, is demand that the gift be re-offered with no strings attached.

[ Parent ]

In a few rare instances (2.83 / 6) (#21)
by spacejack on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:18:46 PM EST

I wish copyrights were eternal.

Like when I see a bank ad that uses a piece by Beethovan, or some other large corporate entity using Van Gogh to prop up their "cultured" image, I can only think that these artists are squirming in their graves.

Oh well, they're just plant food now.. but y'know what I mean.

Excellent article! (4.00 / 5) (#31)
by decaf_dude on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:37:34 AM EST

What most people fail to realise, even after this has been debated to death, is that copyright isn't a license to become a millionaire - it assumes that while artistic work is primarily meant for public benefit, artists need to eat too so they should be given some financial incentive to create.

When the concept of copyright was established, 14 years of exclusive business exploitation of artwork can be equivalent to today's 6 months - just imagine how many copies of anything could you have sold in 10 years in 1800's compared to today. Hence, the idea was to give some financial incentive for artists, but only just. Yet, instead of shortening the period of copyright according to the "speed of life", it has been increasing ever since, and is very likely to be extended indefinitely thanks to generous bribe^H^H^H^H^Hcampaign donations by the "content owners" - music and film cartels such as RIAA and MPAA.

Copyright length should be different for different things. For instance, how usefull to the author is a copyright on a Java 1.1 book today? Do you think some anyone's actually going to listen to some teeeny bopper's this month's hit in a year's time?

The issue is far from straight-forward and should be considered as such. Unfortunately, thanks to people like Jack Valenti, the issue is being lumped together in a way that will profit the few at the expense of the many.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


Mortality (none / 0) (#39)
by bittur on Wed May 09, 2001 at 09:06:25 AM EST

This is indeed a hot topic. What happens here may alter our economy! Anyways, I'm going to be the first to admit that I'm not an expert on many of the areas under discussion here today, but I can't hold back, so many apologies in advance for erroneous statements (if they appear) or if my comments become 'rantish'.

That said, the most important 'thing' about a corporation is that it is not a living being. It is immortal. The frequently used accounting term is 'going concern'.

Therefore, because corporations have this incredible advantage over humans, all they really have to do is wait for the human to (a) die; (b) go broke; or (c) retire. Once one of these events occurs, the corporation can step in and tie up copyrights for all eternity. I'm assuming the same would apply for trademarks and patents (please correct me if I'm wrong).

As a result of this structure, artists have been shafted for decades, so we must encourage change. I truly believe that when an artist dies, their work should become part of the public domain, but only if they haven't bequeathed their work to a family member or other loved one (and that's debatable). If no transfer occurs, no other entity, human or otherwise, should be the given the right to own that product. Artists create because they want the world, not a CEO, to enjoy their ideas.

As programmers, we should be bothered by what happens to artists because when we die, our code, our contributions - our art, if you will - will (in most cases) be transferred to a legal entity with which we had a contract, rather than a spouse, friend, or family member. For many, our life's contribution will go to someone we loath rather than love. In other words, all employees should be able to protect their work, even if it was funded by another entity.

Of course, what does that do to the company that hires us? Most companies pay wages as an investment in the individual's efforts. If they can't own those efforts when the individual dies, what happens to our economy? What happens when a key coder with MS croaks and I can swoop in as a small company and use his/her code shortly thereafter because it's now open source? My instincts lead me to believe that we'll have a lot fewer monopolies on our hands!

In the end, to quote an old saying, we may wind up biting the hand that feeds us, but this must stop. Copyright should belong to the artist (or family) or the public. No one else.

[ Parent ]
I like the filing with L.o.C. (2.66 / 3) (#34)
by Highlander on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:22:11 AM EST

I like the filing idea.

But most of the other ideas are hard to put into practice - I mean, reducing copyright length after Disney shelled out some millions in bribes to prolong sounds hard to do.
On the other hand, what better idea is there to guarantee income to congresspersons and senators ? I mean, bring up a bill like this every year, and get paid every year to vote against it :-)

Clipping all currently existing copyrights down to 20 years might force the state to pay compensation, because it takes away rights people already have.

If you want a fee to be paid every year, I think the fee should double every year, and be inflatio n adjusted :-)

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

I don't like it (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by Pseudonym on Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:18:25 AM EST

Why should I, as an artist, open source developer or whatever, be obliged to submit my work to the central library of any country that I want protection in? Not only is it a logistical nightmare, but in an effort to "streamline" the process, the WIPO would probably step in as a proxy and thus get more power.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Progressive renewal fee (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by WinPimp2K on Wed May 09, 2001 at 09:48:33 AM EST

I suggested a linear rate of increase in the fee where the fee is "X" times the renewal year, so renewal for the 5th year would be 5 times the fee for the first year of renewal.

A geometric progression just seems a bit too extreme. After all, a studio with a "franchise series" of movies might want to maintain control of the original whilie they are pumping out a new one every couple of years - they would have an incentive but once they decided the cow was dry they could drop it easily. Think in terms of every episode of a TV series with its separate copyright. Now think Paramount and Star Trek. 70+ episodes of the orginial series with ever increasing renewal fees each year.

As too it being hard to do, well yes, but the entertainment business really isn't that large compared to the overall economy. Maybe we could get a bidding war going?

[ Parent ]

Renewal fee (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by error 404 on Thu May 10, 2001 at 03:57:27 PM EST

Why not just hold an auction every 5 or 10 years, half the proceeds going to the original creator? If the original creator wins, that means a discount. The right to the half of the proceeds would be non-transferrable. If there are no bids, the work falls to public domain.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Auction leads to permanent copyright (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by WinPimp2K on Fri May 11, 2001 at 09:51:50 AM EST

But it sounds like a good idea at first.
Example

In 2005 Joe Author (former MSFT marketroid) writes "My Sci-Fi" which despite the title turns out to be the ultimate space opera. He did lots of research and designed a living breathing working universe and was just using the first book as a springboard for an entire series of works - even inviting other authors to write stories in his universe. Of course one of the appendices is basically a writer's bible for this universe...

Paramount obtains the copyright at auction for a relatively low price(can you say backroom deals on which studios bid on which properties?).
Paramount builds an incredibly successful franchise on it - making Star Trek look like "Misfits of Science" in comparison.
Paramount always repurchases the rights at auction - "My Sci-Fi" will never fall into the public domain. So much for the series of books set in that universe Joe Author had planned.

Or worse (from the authprs POV):
Paramount obtains the copyright at auction
Paramount makes a incredibly successful movie.
Paramount drops the copyright on the book, and uses their copyrights on their derivative work as they build an incredibly successful and lucrative franchise.

And in both cases:
Paramount authorizes every mid list hack and his pet monkey to produce "official" works based on their franchise.

[ Parent ]

An additional bullet. (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by Kugyou on Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:10:35 AM EST

Without getting into the parts of your new policy I agree or disagree with, this is something I feel you might want to consider - perhaps something that might be useful in current copyright law (note, all the italicized sections in [] are my thoughts):
  • Any use of a work whose copyright is still active (hereafter referred to as "the Sample") must be credited, without exception.
    • In the case of works with acknowledgment or other "credits" sections (i.e., books, movies, CD liner notes), the Sample must be credited in that portion of the work. [Note: this is already the way things stand, I know]
    • In the case of visual broadcast works without acknowledgment or other "credits" sections (i.e., televised commercials, news segments), the Sample must be credited during its use in such a way and for such a duration that the credit is both legible and of sufficient duration to be read by a viewer.
    • In the case of audio broadcast works without acknowledgment or other "credits" sections (i.e., radio commercials), the credit for the Sample must be made available to the public for no more than a nominal expense [postage? Internet use fees? Phone expenses for a toll-free call?]
    • In the case of visual non-broadcast works (i.e., collage art), credit for the Sample (or Samples) used must be given, either in the work (in the form of leaving copyright information on the Samples used), or on a seperate item that identifies the Samples used and their respective copyright information [Perhaps a card off to the side?]
Now, before you see fit to respond, I just want to ask: Have you ever been watching TV and seen a car commercial that played a song by some obscure band that you happen to know and love? Did it ever piss you off that your local news broadcast included music samples from movie soundtracks? Ever seen a work of art in which the artist practically stole the work of another artist, with no credit? Perhaps I'm just taking this too seriously, but I've had all those happen to me. Just wondering how these suggestions fly with the others here.


-----------------------------------------
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains

Giving credit where it is due.. (none / 0) (#41)
by WinPimp2K on Wed May 09, 2001 at 10:00:33 AM EST

Yes, I agree that the artist should always receive credit - and some monetary consideration would be good as well. Of course, that gets into the realm of mandatory licensing and I know I'm not well enough informed to go into that particular area and come back out intact.:-)

Well, the only example of music stealing that I know of in a commercial was the Nike "Revolution" ad, but the fact that they tried that with such a high profile song tells me it probably happens a lot.

Just last night the local news broadcast played clips from "The Mummy Returns", while the sportsvermin tried to tie them into what happened with the local baseball team. That really pissed me off - not from a copyright standpoint - nor from a sports standpoint (I am the Anti-Fan), but the pure shamelessness of the plug.

[ Parent ]

adCritic (none / 0) (#42)
by guinsu on Wed May 09, 2001 at 10:15:45 AM EST

If you go to adcritic.com, they have a list of car commercials and what songs were used. I remember being pretty suprised hearing Stereolab a while back on a VW commercial. I always thought it was sorta neat when they'd use an indie band in a commercial (except beer commericals, what a great way to destroy a song forever)

[ Parent ]
Or... (none / 0) (#44)
by Kugyou on Wed May 09, 2001 at 02:52:30 PM EST

Propellerheads (featuring Miss Shirley Bassey) for the Jaguar Type-S. :P
-----------------------------------------
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
[ Parent ]
Software? (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by br284 on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:55:58 PM EST

So, what happens if me and a five of my best friends get together and create the best Myst-like game since Myst? One person does the sprites and 3D models, another does the engine programming, and another does the music. The remaining two do whatever work needs to be done to fill in the blanks.

Now, do we have five different copyright holders for this work? It makes more sense to have the copyright assigned to the group in this case (which would be a corporation), because each part, when taken as separate from any others really do not constitute any sort of creative work that is anything by itself. Furthermore, the amount of filing and paperwork to try and keep track of who does what so we know who owns what copyright will be nothing more than something to take us away from our work.

Now... Let's say a company creates an application. As in the previous example, each part of the software that is owned by an individual is useless by itself. The work has no value without all of its pieces. Now, with the copyright scheme that you have proposed, how does a company protect its licensing of its product when Joe Pirate illegally violates the copyright of the software and starts peddling disks on Main Street. Does each copyright holder bring a suit against the pirate, because the company really doesn't have the copyright, or what? It seems really ineffecient to have to have hundreds of copyright suits when a single piece of software is being copied illegally. Furthermore, who owns the copyright of code that has been modified? The original author, or the modifier? Have fun keeping track of all of that.

Methinks that in our collective fear of evil corporations and copyright holders out there, we have concocted a plan that only increases the amount of bueracracy (or however you spell it), and makes the whole process of creative output more inefficient. Doesn't seem too bright to me. Want the solution to all of these copyright problems? Convince the producer of the works to quit assigning their copyrights to corporations.

My thoughts are this: if I create something and wish to release it to the public domain, so be it. If I wish to have my work wither and die rather than have it released, so be it. I would hope that people would have more pride in their work to ensure the longevity of their work by releasing it, but if they don't feel like it, who are we to say otherwise? It's not as if we are prohibited from our own creative endeavors. Personally, I'm starting to lean towards granting complete control of works to copyright holders. Don't like the terms? Get your creative works from those who have terms you like better.

-Chris

You do raise a good point (none / 0) (#48)
by WinPimp2K on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:19:12 PM EST

Although I specifically did not include software -(I think it needs something different from regular copyright but not for the reasons you mention) It is certainly not the only type of creative endeavor that involves more than one person.

I have an admitted bias against corporations - due to their lack of accountability, but there are other ways to organize a business besides a corporation - Partnerships seem to work fairly well. Accounting and law firms come to mind and many motion picture production companies are set up as partnerships.

[ Parent ]

Maybe... (none / 0) (#50)
by br284 on Wed May 09, 2001 at 09:10:38 PM EST

So, maybe your whole beef with copyright has nothing to do with copyright per se, but rather the rights that are afforded corporations? Am I correct in guessing that you are a lot more inclined to support giving copyright to partnerships and other non-corporate types of businesses than corporations? If so, this discussion could take a very interesting turn.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Nope. (none / 0) (#52)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 01:19:49 AM EST

I really think copyright should only be granted for a limited period of time. A long copyright period is not good for encouraging new work. For example (one of poor quality IMO, but that is beside the point) Consider the "Secret Adventures of Jules Verne". If Verne's work were still under copyright we wouldn't see things like that. Most of the innovative and new sci-fi adventure series are based on things which have lapsed into the public domain. I really don't much care for watching stuff based on HG Wells, Jules Verne, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but that is what is freely available.

I think some really good stuff could be done with sci-fi from the sixties and seventies (which would be out of copyright by now if Congress hadn't kept extending copyrights). I want to see a reasonably long storyline (maybe 15-20 hours) based on "The Mote In God's Eye" for one example. A decent treatment of "The Forever War" would eat "Sgt Rock In Space" (Above and Beyond) for breakfast.

We are approaching the point where a single person can make a CGI movie by themselves, but if they are limited to stories that were written by people who died at least 75 years ago, or remakes of movies made 95 years ago what are they going to do?And of course the same applies to the soundtrack.

Hmm.. This was pretty heavy on the motion picture aspect but have I made it clear that I think long copyrights are a Bad Thing regardless of who holds them? Oh yes, if "Planet Of The Apes" had lapsed into the public domain, I think we would see the studio trying something new rather than remaking yet another big budget 'B' movie

[ Parent ]

However... (none / 0) (#54)
by br284 on Thu May 10, 2001 at 07:34:00 AM EST

I must admit that with respect to books and music, I share many of your sentiments. However, in your writeup, you might want to make the distinction you made in a previoous comment about software being a different beast with respect to how copyright is treated.

Now, going back to your immediate comment, the first thought that struck me with respect to your comments on movies and books, is why do you think that it is necessary for people to have access to prior works of others in order to create something new and innovative of their own? Your mention of a CGI-moviemaker's limitation of being limited to material made 75 years ago or greater immediately makes me ask why is it necessary to retell the same tales? To be honest, I don't think that I would be that interested in seeing a CGI remake of someone else's ideas. I guess that I just don't see what is so wrong with creating your own story and making a CGI-based movie off of that. You mention the new rehash of Planet of the Apes, but I don't think that a single movie is enough to convince me that the studios are recycling material to the extent you suggest. I see plenty of new stories in movies every time I go to the theatre.

I also wonder about the rights of the creator of a work. I can understand the possible thoughts of an artist, who wants their works viewed in a certain way, as they intended them. For example, I feel that if Jules Verne only wanted 20,000 Leagues to be read in book form, he should have that right to specify so. His reasoning may be that the story is not intended to painted on the canvas of CGI or modern movie making, but rather that the story is painted to work with the imagination of the reader, which to him, may have been a much more powerful medium, and would have better preserved the purity of his work than a Disney remake. This is a hypothetical example, but it is something that I think many people miss. This sort of control is something that George Lucas exercised with respect to the Star Wars franchise, and I feel (at first, anyways), that this sort of control kept a degree of purity within the Star Wars universe, which enabled better storytelling later on. (The Zahn novels, not Episode I.) But, this may be a bad example as the hundreds of Star Wars books out there (that have since come out) feel to me more like knock offs of the original that cheapen the original. I am quite disturbed that you can go to a bookstore now and see a complete Star Wars section. But anyways, enough ranting...

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Rights of the creator etc. (none / 0) (#56)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:16:37 AM EST

Well, when the work is shared (publihed etc.), the creator has given up control over it. Copyright allows them to have some say over what happens to the work - and I am obviously in favor of very definite limits on copyright.

Sticking with movies, what percentage of movies are created from "whole cloth" as it were as opposed to being based on literary works? A person with the special talents needed for telling a story in motion picture form is not necessarily going to have the right sort of talents for creating the story. George Lucas's story is like a Frankenstein's monster - with bits and pieces stolen from the moldering corpses of old war movies and mythology. But it was fun to watch.

The studios don't recyle a lot?
Charlies Angels, The Brady Bunch, the Flintstones, The Avengers, The Wild Wild West, The Thomas Crown Affair. How many times has the Titanic gone down on film? Sabrina? The Road To El Dorado (go watch the old "Road" movies - Bing Crosby & Bob Hope) How many remakes of Dracula?, Frankenstein? Romeo and Juliet? The Mummy? Tarzan? I've got more, but I think you're catching on by now. (I just really hated Planet Of The Apes)

I suppose I feel that most moviemakers are storytellers and not story writers. Give them a story and they will tell that story as they see it within the limits of their craft.

[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#55)
by decoy on Thu May 10, 2001 at 09:51:27 AM EST

"The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" sucks ass.

[ Parent ]
The authors ain't dead! (none / 0) (#67)
by brion on Tue May 15, 2001 at 04:31:53 AM EST

I want to see a reasonably long storyline (maybe 15-20 hours) based on "The Mote In God's Eye" for one example.

Talk to Niven and Pournelle and their publisher and see if they'll agree to license it (if someone thinks they can fund such an endeavour)... If they say no, there's nothing stopping you from making your own story based on the elements of that book which you liked while still avoiding outright plagiarism. If you don't feel creative enough to do this, hire a writer.

If you just want to take other people's ideas outright for free without permission, well what can I say... God forbid people should make up new stories from time to time!



Chu vi parolas Vikipedion?
[ Parent ]
Details (none / 0) (#57)
by strumco on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:48:10 AM EST

Although I broadly agree with the ideas you present, I also think there a few details we need to work on.

One element of (artistic) copyright is protection of the original artistic vision - it allows the artist to prevent others from producing bowdlerised versions of his/her work, or outright plagiarisms.

So, in your example, I.M.Tarnished's "The Bodice Ripper Interviews" re-appears in 2026 as F.Megently's "My Night's Work", claiming new copyright. I.M.Tarnished must have the right to stop that.

It may be that the big mistake is to imagine that we can deal with all creative effort equally; that a piece of software is somehow the same thing as a 500-page novel.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk

How does current law handle this? (none / 0) (#59)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 11:41:48 AM EST

I'm really only interested in getting copyright duration under control. I suspect that F.MeGently would soon wind up with a poor literary reputation regardless.

[ Parent ]
A related link (none / 0) (#61)
by WinPimp2K on Thu May 10, 2001 at 02:29:32 PM EST

I ran into this link over on Slashdot.

I'd say Stallman has put some thought into the matter :-). I like his ideas on different sorts of copyrights for different sorts of works. I have been fumbling around that concept but certainly haven't come up with anything nearly as clear.

Creative Control (none / 0) (#62)
by TheWhiteOtaku on Thu May 10, 2001 at 03:04:02 PM EST

But isn't one of the advantages of copyright ownership creative control? Shouldn't an author be able to prevent the exploitation of his/her work, at least until their death? If everything became public domain in 20 years, then that would open so many things up to crappy movie adaptions, unapproved merchandise, reprintings with changes, etc. He's right though, no corporation should be issued a copyright.

Lifetime copyrights (none / 0) (#65)
by lovelace on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:31:57 PM EST

But isn't one of the advantages of copyright ownership creative control?

No! No! No! Copyright was never supposed to last for an author's lifetime. That's a fairly recent (within the last century) change to copyright law.

[ Parent ]
Music and Movies and Books Oh My! | 67 comments (59 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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