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[P]
Guiding the Path of Intellectual Property

By nosilA in Op-Ed
Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:08:04 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Mainstream America is finally starting to get acquainted with the dilemma of intellectual property, just as geeks did a few years ago. The "other site" posted this article from Fox News yesterday, and this one from the New York Times. Both of these articles in the mainstream press begin to educate the public about the distortions made by copyright users.

Clearly, there is some need for protection of ideas, but we need to ask ourselves, "to what end?" It is important to rediscover the roots of intellectual property to understand why SSSCA is too much, and the DMCA already went too far.


Perhaps one answer is to require copyrighters to make a choice. They can either leave copyright the way it is and have the government protect copyright, or implement copy protection measures, but lose government protection. As it stands now, copyrighters can prevent fair use of their material while receiving the protection the government grants them for intellectual property.

When Thomas Jefferson put the idea of intellectual property into the Constitution of the United States, he did so because he realized that information leaks; once people learn something, they can reuse that knowledge. If there was no protection to intellectual property, people would not be encouraged to share knowledge with others. Writers would not write, inventors would not invent, artists would not <insert artful verb here>. So in the US Constitution, it says:

Congress shall have the power [...] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
The reason why this is important is spelled out in Jefferson's own writings:
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it...He who receives an idea from me, receives instructions himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should be spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature ... Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
His assumptions are based on the fact that you can not control what people do with information that you give to them. If you hand someone a book, they can transcribe it. If you give someone a physical invention, they can disassemble it. But if you give them a new form of media, say, a song on a copy-protected CD, and they can no longer listen to it except on approved devices that they cannot copy from, why should the government provide the same protection to you?

The record companies and movie studios want to have their cake and eat it too. They want traditional copyright protection, technological copyright protection, and a government guarantee of technological copyright protection. But if they have technological protection, then why should the government give them traditional protection? It was only there because information was hard to protect as property.

How far are we going to let the copyrighters go? We need to remind people that copyright, like most laws in the US, is a balance between two forces, and the scale should not be tipped too far to one side.

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Poll
When did copyright become too strong?
o 1790 (US Constitution) 8%
o 1909 (Revision to allow up to 56 years) 39%
o 1976 (Further extension, life + 50 years) 33%
o Oct 27, 1998 (Sonny Bono Act, another 20 years) 8%
o Oct 28, 1998 (DMCA) 9%
o Not yet, but SSSCA will 0%
o All of copyright law, including SSSCA is fine by me 1%

Votes: 174
Results | Other Polls

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Guiding the Path of Intellectual Property | 99 comments (76 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
GPL (3.33 / 15) (#2)
by ucblockhead on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:23:38 PM EST

I wonder how many people realize that because the GPL is a form of copyright, that all GPL'd software will eventually become public domain software.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
And at this rate ... (4.42 / 7) (#9)
by Kellnerin on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:50:26 PM EST

any such software that does become PD will no longer be of any practical use and will only be of interest for academic study. Not to mention that any significant modifications made to the code are copyright the year of the modification, not the original creation date of the software. Shall we do another round of the GPL-as-copyright dance?

--got to be a way to make it sweeter, little more like lemon meringue--
[ Parent ]
when? (4.75 / 4) (#29)
by gnovos on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 05:02:00 AM EST

Sure it will.... 80 years after the final developer dies...

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]
GPL -> Public Domain (5.00 / 4) (#31)
by Matrix on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:50:12 AM EST

Actually, I believe this is one of the points of the GPL. It uses increasingly draconian copyright laws to fight increasingly draconian copyright laws. If copyright on software were sensible (ie, a requirement that the source be distributed, not just binary, to fulfill the original point of copyright), then even RMS would be forced to admit that there would be no need for the GPL.

Though that does raise a strange problem. When does the copyright expire on coninuously-modified software? From the first release date of any version? For each version individually? Its not nearly as clear-cut as it is with books and music, is it?


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Still need the GPL (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by rts on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:29:34 PM EST

If copyright on software were sensible (ie, a requirement that the source be distributed, not just binary, to fulfill the original point of copyright), then even RMS would be forced to admit that there would be no need for the GPL.
I doubt it, since even then you probably wouldn't have the right to make modifications and redistribute your changes. Having the source code is necessary for freedoms 1-3 (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html), but it isn't sufficient.


Ryan T. Sammartino
Ancora imparo.
[ Parent ]

You'd really want to say.. (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Weezul on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 03:59:18 AM EST

..that anyone could redistribute modified copyrighted works, but that the original author was entiteled to compensation. As an example, Sally might run arround buying old lissences to Windows 95 so she could sell her modified Windows 95 convieniently. she could also obtain the lissences directly from MS or "provide sufficent warning" to her customers that they should obtain lissences independently.

This system dose not satisfy the absolutist view of share with a friend, as it criples you and your friends by preventing you from simultaniously using the software legally. Still, I think RMS would be more or less happy with such a copyright law. Indeed, BSD lissences would be equivelent to GPL under such a law.. and all comemrcial lissences would be almost GPL with the execption that they could sue you if you do not pay for use rights.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Not strange (none / 0) (#74)
by Znork on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 08:22:37 AM EST

You only get that strange problem if you make the same mistake that 'the GPL is viral' people make.

As far as I can understand it, each and every separate piece of code in the work has its own copyright. That means you can merge GPL and BSD code, and the BSD code is still BSD licensed, but you cannot distribute the GPL parts if you convert the BSD licensed code to proprietary code. Just the same, the copyright on the separate pieces of code will expire separately. The clause in the GPL saying you have to document what and when you changed something isnt there just for the joys of documentation.

Of course, you probably wont be able to use the expired parts for anything anyway, since they are likely to be tied so deeply with the non-expired parts, not to mention that unless you have a really good version handler, you wont be able to track the changes well enough to extract a clean public domain copy anyway.

[ Parent ]
Mixing GPL & BSD Code (none / 0) (#79)
by Matrix on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 03:58:28 PM EST

Oh, I know there's no problem with it. You see people including bits from code with a "more liberal" license into code with a "stricter" license all the time. The problem is when you've got bits included from bits included from bits... It can create quite a tangled web of licenses, sometimes. And copyright holders, for that matter. They are, after all, the ones you've got to contact for permission to use a different license.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

That's fine (none / 0) (#69)
by adiffer on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:20:43 AM EST

You are all welcome to use my source code as though it had no owner after I am dead and gone the required number of years. Until then, it has an owner and my license terms are clear. My heirs may decide things will be different, but that is their problem.

I find much of the debate around copyright a silly one. As long as I'm alive, I intend to lay claim to any of my work and try to place some controls on it. If I want it widely available, I will use the GPL or something suitable. To me, licensing and ownership are two distinct issues.
-Dream Big. --Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

More Details on SSSCA (4.75 / 8) (#17)
by nosilA on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 04:24:58 PM EST

An editorial comment suggested I post some more details, so here goes.

First - why the SSSCA is important. The DMCA codifies that reverse engineering a copyright control mechanism is illegal, but it does not actually physically prevent anyone from doing so. SSSCA, however, is a far more grave step because it would force hardware and OS manufacturers to implement measures that prevent any user from engaging in such "civil disobedience." Even expired copyrights, or educational uses, or any of the other legitimate reasons to break copyright control mechanisms would be prevented.

Now - this gets into why the "choose one" methodology is so important. The copyrighters are asking for protection under the laws, without leaving anything out there hanging. They want to trample over fair use with copyright control mechanisms, and make sure that should pirates manage to break the mechanisms, they will get punished. Essentially, they are not holding up on their end of the bargain, to provide something to the public.

In Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lawrence Lessig says that copyright holders today have much more control over their works than they did in the past. But Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti (of the RIAA and MPAA respectively) want you to believe that they are being challenged more than ever with new ways of pirating their intellectual property. And yes, I can rip and mp3 encode a CD and send it to anyone on the internet if I wanted to, but this is a temporary state. It won't be long before this will be physically impossible, especially if SSSCA goes through. And then they will have *all* the control.

The most important thing, that people on both sides of the argument tend to forget, is that there is a middle ground. Copyright protection is important because we want our authors and artists to be able to sustain themselves and produce more art. But the point of copyright protection is not for corporations to make as much money as possible. Nor is it even for the artists themselves to make as much money as possible. It is to encourage innovation.

This seems like a good stopping place, I have more to add, but I think a little bit at a time is the way to go. I'll post more facts and less opinion at some later point.

-nosilA
Vote to Abstain!

expired copyrights (none / 0) (#84)
by sgp on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:42:40 PM EST

is one of my main problems here ... The DMCA allows a company to put unbreakable protection on their product (it's not been done yet, but is hypothetically possible)

That company might seem hugely stable (Enron, anybody?), but in 10, 50, 100, 200 years time, what happens then? What if the next Shakespeare has just penned his (or her) first play, and is about to sign over the rights to ${BIG_AMERICAN_CORP} who have just perfected a genuinely unbreakable copy protection? What is the price to humanity? There may be 10m disks made of this work, which even with the technology of 2200 cannot be broken (how long from writing the Egyption hyroglypics (sp?) til they were (partially) decoded?) - this does not encourage art, it destroys it.

IMHO.

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

Without the Bono Act, the DMCA is nothing (none / 0) (#89)
by pin0cchio on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:32:43 AM EST

expired copyrights is one of my main problems here ... The DMCA allows a company to put unbreakable protection on their product (it's not been done yet, but is hypothetically possible)

The DMCA (17 USC 1201) applies only to technologies that restrict a "work protected under this title." (Title 17, United States Code, contains the vast majority of U.S. copyright law.) Once a copyright expires, the work is no longer a "work protected under this title," and the restriction against making, using, and selling devices (1201(a)(2) and 1201(b)(1)) vanishes. Public domain material that may possibly find its way on DVDs includes works-for-hire of the United States government (which fall into PD upon publication). It also includes early Charlie Chaplin films (those published before 1923) and possibly early Mickey Mouse cartoons (which may have already fallen into PD because of a flawed copyright notice).

If even one DVD of a public domain work is CSS encrypted, then somebody can legitimately distribute software designed and marketed to decrypt public domain DVDs (but which has the undocumented feature of playing copyrighted DVDs, wink wink nudge nudge). Without repeated copyright term extensions, the protections that publishers get under the DMCA are moot.


lj65
[ Parent ]
ahh (none / 0) (#96)
by sgp on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 08:28:06 PM EST

So, if what you say is correct, then in 70 years time, DeCSS will be de-facto, legal?

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

Copy Protection Matters . . . (4.91 / 12) (#23)
by WebBug on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:15:20 PM EST

Not.

1)It is already illegal to violate copyright law in every country in the "industrial" world. So, why do we need a law that makes it illegal to violate the law?

2) Copy Protection is NOT copyright. They are not equivalent nor even related except where one uses CP to try to insure CR.

3) Opinion: you protect something from being copied when you are certain that you cannot trust those who have access to it to respect your copyright. How does passing a law to make it illegal to break your "copy protection" protect you from copyright violation? It doesn't, it doesn't even protect you from having people copy your thing! It is plain and simply stupid!

4) copyright :
a) the US did not invent copy rights.
b) copyright is a concept, enshrined in law in various countries.
c) copyright is valuable, not because it promotes free thought, we had that long before the US too, but because it gives an economic reward to those who produce copyrightable entities. Result: Harlequin Romance.

Conclusion: ideas will be thought, written about and discussed, no matter the legal climate. They have been for countless centuries and I'm sure will be for countless more. I believe that the law should serve the average citizen, and not a corporate entity. Any law that seeks to protect the rights of a corporate entity over the rights of individuals is prima facia wrong. We should have only those laws which are utterly indispensible for maintaining the general peace and protecting the right of each and everyone to live a long and prosperous life. All laws should apply equally to all citizens and all persons who transit through your society.

If we must have corporatiions, and I believe we must, then perhaps they should be forced to take out citizenship papers in the name of the company, then they would have to abide by the same laws in the same measure as the rest of us.

end rant
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
A minor nit (4.80 / 5) (#46)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 03:57:14 AM EST

Copyright's sole value lies in the promotion of the arts. Any economic benefit to artists is gravy -- I certainly appreciate it -- but it isn't the point. This is already spelled out in the Constitution itself, of course, and has been affirmed countless times by the Supreme Court and the inferior federal courts. If you'd like, I can dig out a list of citations.

It's clear how it all ties together if you examine it. Everyone wants to make money, so there's nothing unique about artists in that regard. (we set aside purely artistic motivations here -- that sort of person doesn't need copyright to be motivated to create) But why should the reading populace subsidize the artists? The flip side of the universal goal of making money is that no one wants to give it away for nothing. Artists only deserve our hard-earned pennies when they earn it through some equitable transaction. What could they possibly give to us in exchange? Works!

And not just any works. The most valuable works -- as everyone knows, including authors -- are the ones that are the least encumbered by messy restrictions. (just as in real property)

The utilitarian copyright system works out wonderfully, at least compared to the moral rights bull that gets bandied around, and then half-ignored, by the Europeans. Sadly, we're just not implementing it properly at the moment.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
Madison's commentary on IP law (4.66 / 3) (#24)
by lordsutch on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:21:00 PM EST

From Federalist 43, discussing the enumerated powers of Congress (Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution):
1. A power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing, for a limited time, to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned. The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged, in Great Britain, to be a right of common law. The right to useful inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors. The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals. The States cannot separately make effectual provisions for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point, by laws passed at the instance of Congress.

I'm not entirely sure what Madison would have to say about the DMCA and its offspring, but I very much doubt he would be in favor of mandatory copy controls.

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

What's missing here? (3.11 / 9) (#27)
by RobotSlave on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 02:11:37 AM EST

The reason we've got copy protection and draconian laws on the way is only marginally due to the "greed" of the record and movie companies.

The primary reason all that crap is coming is that a minority of the population have decided not to show any respect for copyright at all.

We're where we are now because some people decided to distribute recent copyrighted work without permission via distributed storage networks.

You want to reform copyright law? That's fine. Seems to me like it could use a bit of adjustment. So you know what you need to do?

Stop distributing copyrighted material without permission, or obtaining material so distributed, and come to the bargaining table.

If this is a politcal issue, then start behaving politically. Organize demonstrations. Write to your elected representatives. Get that copyright law changed. And don't leave the door open for anyone to call you a criminal while you're doing it.

If, on the other hand, you don't want to respect copyright at all, in law or in principle, then go ahead. Do what you will. Just don't complain the next time you hear someone might be violating the GPL-- after all, its authority rests entirely on the copyright (and not the patent) of the author or authors of the code it is applied to.

What was that about having cake and eating it, too?

Cake, etc. (4.80 / 5) (#39)
by vectro on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:23:41 PM EST

In my experience, those who are primary concerned about the GPL tend not to partake of more restrictive copyrighted works as much, especially with respect to software. Obviously some linux zealots are avid moviegoers as well.

On the other hand, people I know who infringe copyright left and right tend to not particularly care about such issues as source code availability, licensing, or any of that -- they are just interested in the price.

So it seems from where I sit that you are trying to use an inconsistancy in attitude to criticize others (including myself). But there is no inconsistancy, because the attitudes tend to be held by different groups.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Fear of the record and movie companie (none / 0) (#92)
by doconnor on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:25:01 PM EST

It was obvious years ago that the Internet is a vastly superior way of distributing music. The record companies are only now starting to set up a system to do so.

Had they set up a reliable, user-friendly and inexpensive system for downloading music before Nepster come along they probably wouldn't be having all these problems. They didn't because they didn't trust the users.

They think that technology, backed up by laws will solve thier problems. Unfortunatly technology can't be trusted and laws are only followed by the will of the people. If everone decided to ignore a law, no government could stop it. The only effective copyright protection available to trust people. Until they learn that, they will continue to fail.

[ Parent ]
How soon is now (none / 0) (#28)
by Ichi the Killer on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 04:24:17 AM EST

When will it be enough? huh? How long before everyone gets tired of this and not just the people with brains? This isn't even a new spin on this well beyond tired topic.


The socicopathic conscience of K5
It's a test of intelligence & sophistication (2.12 / 8) (#30)
by Double Dave Deluxe on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:04:57 AM EST

It's working quite well, too. The people in the "voted for" box are all people I despise. The people in the "voted against" box are the cream of the Western world.

In other news, we're all very, very worried about poor Dmitry Skylarov. Also, the DMCA is wrong. And it proves that everyone who isn't exactly like me is corrupt. Oh, and people who are like me are being persecuted by people who have patented things that I take for granted. The only plausible answer is to convince everyone in the world that they should behave exactly like me, or at least concede that I am the sole source of objective truth.

I heard there's an election in Zimbabwe, but that couldn't be important. Besides, if I wanted to write about it I'd have to find things out that I didn't already know or discover through the course of my everyday time-wasting. Let's face it, the only political news that anyone could find interesting is that which influences my life directly.

Did I remember to mention the constitution? It's terribly important, because it explains why the law should be interpreted according to my personal beliefs. I'm pretty sure that's what it says. I've read bits and pieces of it, and even though I had to look up some of the big words, it's pretty clear that the drafters of the constitution, whoever they were, had me in mind when they wrote it.

[ Parent ]

interesting (5.00 / 4) (#32)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 11:11:53 AM EST

hmm.. i'd like to read your comment, but your ego totally obscured it.. could you perphaps move it aside for a moment?

[ Parent ]
A joke (none / 0) (#49)
by mold on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 04:21:24 AM EST

I'm guessing that it's a joke.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
where it came from (3.33 / 15) (#33)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 01:15:41 PM EST

Well, on a rotten foundation, a rotten house. I guess it makes sense.. The "founding fathers" came from a lineage of lazy opportunists, greedy little bastards. Oppressed by the man in the Old World, they come here, kill the locals, and set up the same system of oppression, only more efficient. The bumbling idiot Jefferson, making ideas into property. As if someone could -own- an idea. Fuck, let go of the ego already... if you "have" an idea, it doesn't mean you actually posess it.. Did you hear that Leibniz and Newton came up with calculus at roughly the same time, without contact with each other? Different and separate cultures developed monotheistic religions, which all boil down to the same set of principles. Doesn't that strike you as a bit odd? No matter how hard one greedy monkey is gonna sit on his idea, if it's a ripe idea, some other monkey is gonna think of it, independently.

When Thomas Jefferson put the idea of intellectual property into the Constitution of the United States, he did so because he realized that information leaks; once people learn something, they can reuse that knowledge. If there was no protection to intellectual property, people would not be encouraged to share knowledge with others. Writers would not write, inventors would not invent, artists would not <insert artful verb here>.
Now this is a prime example of backward thinking.. what makes you think writers would not write, inventors would not invent, etc? ... Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Dante, Michaelangelo, Picasso, Goethe, Van Gogh, Chaucer, Homer, Aesop, Tolstoy, Balzac, Shakespeare, Conrad, Cicero, Milton, Mickiewicz, Darwin, Einstein, Dickens, Dumas, Schubert, Chopin, Beethoven, Chaikovsky, Poe, Lao-Tzu, Locke, Rheinhardt, Sierpinsky, Copernicus, Hendel, Bartok, Dostoyevsky, Moliere, Cayley, Leibniz, Newton, Gauss, Esher, DaVinci, Fibonacci, Euler, Lagrange, Velasquez, Pythagoras, Descartes, Archimedes, Pascal, Kepler, Riemann, Fermat, Kepler, Dali, Cezanne, Goya, Matisse, Gaguin, Renoir, Epicurus, Bacon, Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire, Hume, Kant, Schoppenhauer, Emerson, Nietzche, Diogenes, Heraclitus, Kierkegaard, Machiavelli, Parmenides, Thales, Whitehead, Ockham... do you need more names, coz I'm getting tired of listing them? The fruits of their work, none protected by some silly laws, all lasted thru the ages, widely recognized and respected in their respective fields. With no marketing.

All these creative people succeeded in leaving a permanent mark in the history of mankind, but why? I suspect it has something to do with the uncompromised quality of their work, their life-long devotion to doing the thing they loved and knew how to do best. And the reasons why they did it - not for profit, not for fame, but for the sake of doing something that rang true in their hearts and souls. The moment an artist starts doing something for profit, he becomes a whore. Abandoning his muse, he no longer makes art, but product; he ceases to be an artist. And as always, where there's a whore, there's going to be a pimp.. With the music industry, we have the RIAA (and a bunch of other institutions hiding behind acronyms.) They themselves contribute nothing of quality, their main goal being maintaining their choke-hold on artists and audiences. But talking about these people is just a waste of time.

Maybe this will strike closer to home, fellow computer programmers.. How many of you started out as kiddie hackers, playing around on computers, just tooling with them for the fun of it? That was great, wasn't it? Rolling thru highschool and college, maximum geekout, loving the stuff, just being in it so deeply that the rest of the word disappeared. Creative passion, all that stuff. Tick tick, click click, you got your programming job. Now you've got to write code for demand, to someone else's specs, pushing deadlines. Somehow love doesn't seem to fit in there with the marketing manager.. sheesh, you may even end up feeling resentful after a while. Soon enough you start feeling about work the same way a hooker feels about sex. You no longer make top quality, you settle for less - if you didn't, you'd burn out too quickly. Even now, only saving grace seem to be these power-vacations, and new gadgets. Satisfaction is gone, the muse went to hang out with someone more idealistic.. yeah, welcome home, bitter capitalist.

It's funny how the GPL got created in order to copyleft things.. just so that they couldn't be copyrighted. That's a hack of hacks.. Well, if we abolish copyrights altogether, maybe that will set things on the right course. It will certainly put the talentless wannabees out of the picture, it will force the lame artists to get real jobs, and it will truly make ideas free. Why not go back to the model where the state sponsored the artists? Right now it seems to be wasting all its money on the army anyway.. Just think of all the half-brained ideas that are marketed and copyrighted.. they would disappear, leaving a beautiful void of silence. Suddenly there would be more room for true creativity, for true expression. God forbid, maybe the next thing in line would be free higher education..

Ok, rant ends here.. feel free to spill your hate.

How self-serving! (3.62 / 8) (#36)
by Fan Fiction Friday on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 07:59:49 PM EST

May I ask, who is going to write textbooks and references for your precious computer science courses if there's no money in it? I can't really see someone reaching deep into their soul to produce "Learning C", or Programming in Perl 3rd edition.

Also, the fact that a number of the names in your list died poor and destitute should be considerable evidence that society at the time was not providing for it's artists.

Finally, more than a few of the artists you've named had their works protected by copyright. One of those people campaigned extensively but unsuccessfully to prevent his work from being published in the United States, since that nation did not respect his copyright. Think about that next time you decide to call Charles Dickens a whore.

[ Parent ]
Just look at Wikipedia. (3.50 / 4) (#37)
by pin0cchio on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 09:52:20 PM EST

May I ask, who is going to write textbooks and references for your precious computer science courses if there's no money in it?

The community. Heck, the community has managed to come up with an encyclopedia.


lj65
[ Parent ]
One thing (2.33 / 6) (#38)
by Fan Fiction Friday on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:01:56 PM EST

Which you geeks won't shut up about. It isn't exactly a publishing industry. Or a particularly good encyclopaedia. The constant claim is that it will become (magically) a good encyclopaedia in a few years, when effort pays off. Since it isn't self-funding, using it as an example implies that the non-whore "artists" of the world should pay for other people to see their work, not the other way around.

[ Parent ]
Textbooks (4.50 / 6) (#40)
by vectro on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:27:18 PM EST

Actually, I imagine that many textbooks would be written by teachers of the subject, just to use in their classes. While abolition of copyright would have a negative impact on the number of textbooks produced, I would guess it would be less than in other fields (e.g., motion pictures).

On the other hand, though, there is an enormous set of copyrighted works for which copyright would have no impact whatsoever. For God's sake, the deposit slips in my checkbook are copyrighted! How much creativity does it take to come up with a deposit slip?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Fair then (4.33 / 3) (#48)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 04:12:03 AM EST

So we have self-serving artists on one side, and the self-serving public (which necessarily includes artists, as they borrow from each other to various degrees all the time) on the other.

While I am sympathetic to the monetary needs of artists, being one myself, I am more sympathetic to the cultural needs of everyone all together. (which in any event promote the monetary goals of artists... it's an incredible effort to create works that are in no way whatsoever derivative of anything; better efficiency can be had from borrowing)

As in all things, there needs to be a balance, and frankly, that balance is not presently satisfied. Dickens should've been paid, sure. On the other hand, it's insane to think that Dickens should _still_ be getting paid, although I imagine he, thinking of his heirs, and being self-serving, would've loved the idea.

Sadly, that's the extreme we're slouching towards now.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
100% original (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by janra on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 10:40:43 PM EST

it's an incredible effort to create works that are in no way whatsoever derivative of anything

Here is a marvelous argument against the ever-increasing copyright - in short story form. And released on the internet for free.

Melancholy Elephants

The argument itself is mostly starting about halfway down, but the entire story is well worth reading.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
textbooks (4.00 / 3) (#64)
by fourseven on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 06:03:26 PM EST

the really useful textbooks get written by the profs, over several renditions of a course. they usually start out as course notes, and eventually get complete enough to be published as a book.

go to any store that carries computer-related textbooks, and you will be flooded with a plentiful selection, many books covering the same topic. guess what - most of them are liquid fecies transcribed to paper.. they are written by useless pen-nibblers, hoping to make a buck off of a trend. the only useful book on c++ is written by bjarne stroustrup, who happens to be the father of the language. another example could be don knuth's trilogy of algorightms - but most computer books are just copies of some or other half-brained conception. they remain in circulation only because they were copyrighted and published. career and profit was the main incentive of the authors, not genuine desire to teach others something.

computers are not "precious" in any way.. they're tools, and good ones at that, and we really suck at using them for proper ends. that being mostly because we're uneducated, and that is in large part because most textbooks used in schools are just drivel written by people without a cause.

reflect on that

b.

[ Parent ]

My advice: check your references (none / 0) (#86)
by Fan Fiction Friday on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 07:45:36 PM EST

The Art of Computer Programming began when Knuth was approached by Addison-Wesley to write the thing. So you're just flat wrong.

[ Parent ]
You have a point (none / 0) (#93)
by zocky on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 07:35:07 PM EST

Trying to stop pirating (which all this boils down to) is like trying to stop the rain from falling. It's too easy to do, and with technology advances it will become even easier. You can't seriously believe that they can really stop pirating. They can make un unbreakable digital copy protection and people are just going to record music on tapes and sample it back in. So they'll make ubreakable watermarking. And then what? Stop ISPs from transfering PGP encrypted mp3s? All encrypted files?

If something is going to be done anyway, it's just plain stupid to make it illegal. All you can do is to make it illegal to make money off somebody elses copyrighted material. And of course, limit the copyright to a very reasonable time (like 10 or 20 years) and make it extremely hard to tamper with it. Put it in the constitution. (Yeah, I know. Just after putting against the wall the people that are the first to be put against the wall when the revolution comes.)

So, basically, just tweak the current system back into sanity. And here's the big thing: Forget the pirates. Just stop bothering.

The impact on the arts?

Writers would still sell books, people would still go to the movies at the legal distributors, musicians would still make money on concerts (real musicians, that is) and albums (you buy original CDs as presents, right?).

And software companies would still make enormous profits. Most software used (as in really used, not just installed to toy with) in businesses is legal.

All this is driven purely by greed. They want to make more than enormous amounts of money. Sick.

These laws are unenforcable, except by busting down your door and checking your hard drive. Think about that.

z.

Disclaimer for the small minded:
I wouldn't really put anyone against the wall. Honestly.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Jefferson (none / 0) (#34)
by vambo rool on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 03:54:36 PM EST

When Thomas Jefferson put the idea of intellectual property into the Constitution of the United States,
Jefferson wrote the Declaration, not the Constitution. While he did make suggestions, he did not put anything into the Constitution.

From NARA:
Q. Was Thomas Jefferson a member of the Constitutional Convention
A. No. Jefferson was American Minister to France at the time of the Constitutional Convention.

Q. What did Thomas Jefferson have to do with framing the Constitution?
A. Although absent from the Constitutional Convention and during the period of ratification, Jefferson rendered no inconsiderable service to the cause of Constitutional Government, for it was partly through his insistence that the Bill of Rights, consisting of the first ten amendments, was adopted.

Q. Who actually wrote the Constitution?
A. In none of the relatively meager records of the Constitutional Convention is the literary authorship of any part of the Constitution definitely established. The deputies debated proposed plans until, on July 24, 1787, substantial agreement having been reached, a Committee of Detail was appointed, consisting of John Rutledge, of South Carolina; Edmund Randolph, of Virginia; Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts; Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut; and James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, who on August 6 reported a draft which included a Preamble and twenty-three articles, embodying fifty-seven sections. Debate continued until September 8, when a new Committee of Style was named to revise the draft. This committee included William Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut; Alexander Hamilton, of New York; Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania; James Madison, of Virginia; and Rufus King, of Massachusetts, and they reported the draft in approximately its final shape on September 12. The actual literary form is believed to be largely that of Morris, and the chief testimony for this is in the letters and papers of Madison, and Morris's claim. However, the document in reality was builded slowly and laboriously, with not a piece of material included until it has been shaped and approved. The preamble was written by the Committee of Style.



Tell me about it (none / 0) (#45)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 03:43:11 AM EST

I was going to say the same thing. Jefferson was in France at the time, one of our diplomats to the court of Louis XVI.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
Long-term effect of the 1976 copyright reforms (4.81 / 11) (#42)
by jms on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 11:35:40 PM EST

I believe that the turning point was the 1976 copyright reform.

In 1976, Congress removed the copyright registration and
renewal requirements and tacked on 19 years to the copyright
duration.

Without those changes, a large volume of published works would have
entered the public domain due to lack of renewal. The vast majority of
works published prior to 1974 would have entered the public domain by
now, because historically, only a very small percentage of copyrights are
ever renewed. Very few works make money two or three years down the
line, much less 28 years.

Imagine what the copyright debate today would have been like, had
Congress left the registration requirement, renewal requirement, and
durations intact.

The "big debate" today, if it even existed, would be how to convince
P2P users to respect copyright by restricting their file-sharing to the
overwhelming amount of public domain music and movies. In an
environment where vast amounts of new music and movies entered
the public domain every year, that would have been a very reasonable
request, which most people would probably respect, and the
entertainment industry might have won that debate.

Instead, we have the equivalent of a cultural war. The problem is, in
order for the entertainment industry to "win" the war, it has to win the
hearts and minds of the public. So far, they are doing exactly the
opposite, and have left themselves with no exit strategy. Apparently
their long-term strategy is a permanent war with their own customers,
but that won't work in the long run.

I believe that the best way out of the copyright mess is to reinstate
three basic terms and conditions of the 1909 copyright act that were
removed in the 1976 rewrite:

1) Registration and marking -- so that any person can clearly and
unambiguously determine the expiration date of any copyright, and
the registered copyright holder if they want to license rights to the
work. Right now, neither is required, so in many cases it is impossible
to determine the owner of a copyright, or when it expires.

2) Renewal with fee -- to speed commercially valueless (but historically
valuable) copyrights into the public domain, while allowing commercially
valuable copyrights, which are more likely to still be in print, to last longer.

3) Fixed durations. Life + n years sounds good, but what happens when
an author disappears and is untracable. Under the current copyright
regime, determining if a work is in the public domain is often impossible,
or requires geneological research, which is a ridiculous burden, bad
public policy, and often impossible.

Some good iudeas, but need changing (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by squigly on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 08:23:02 AM EST

Registration and marking
Registration is too impractical. It means you have to make sure the creator knows how to go about registering, and go through the correct channels. Patents have to be registered, and the legal complications in doing this make the process far too expensive for many people. It may not be too much of a burden, but making it that little bit harder to do will discouage some people from publishing. Plus you need an organisation to handle the registration.

Marking is a good idea. Putting "Copyright 2002" on or with a work shouldn't be too hard in most cases.

Renewal with fee
Sounds like a good idea to me. Make sure the fee is very small though. I'd prefer to replace this with expiring if it hasn't been republished within a certain number of years. We probably want something more flexible than that, but the principle seems sound.
Fixed durations
Indeed. Why shouldn't I get the same protection for a work that I create when I'm 80 as I do if I create the same work when I'm 18? And it simplifies works for hire, collaborative works, and works with an anknown author so much.

[ Parent ]
Patent registration vs. Copyright registration (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by dachshund on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:09:05 PM EST

Patents have to be registered, and the legal complications in doing this make the process far too expensive for many people. It may not be too much of a burden, but making it that little bit harder to do will discouage some people from publishing. Plus you need an organisation to handle the registration.

I agree that it's convenient to be able to copyright something by simply writing "Copyright (c) <year>" on it, and I don't think that convenience should be entirely thrown out. However, registration is not all that complicated or expensive. It certainly doesn't compare to the ridiculous and expensive process required for patents.

Patent registration requires that the idea be examined for obviousness, originality, and a host of other legal niceties (yes, this isn't always done perfectly.) Copyright, on the other hand, really requires little more than an official notary stamp and perhaps placement in a catalog somewhere. The text being registered doesn't need to be examined, it only needs to be officially marked so that a copyright holder can later call on the copyright office to "prove" that a given work was copyrighted at some date-- or so a potential user can easily locate the author to ask permission.

Clearly the cost of this process isn't going to be very high, and the fee charged shouldn't be, either. Though I don't know how much an official registration costs right now, I have semi-employed musician friends who recently managed to register works-- so I can't imagine it's too burdensome.

Ideally, unregistered copyrights would only be valid for a small number of years-- perhaps 10 or 15 (the 1909 act called for 28 year initial terms). This would cover the commercial usefulness of most works. After that, the chances of finding the copyright-holder begin to diminish, so it would be useful to have a re-registration requirement every 15 years or so (and perhaps within 3 years of the author's death), so that it would never be too difficult to locate the copyright-holder. When one considers the financial burden that enforcing copyright law places on the government, frequent affirmative re-registration doesn't seem like an unreasonable request.

As so many people have pointed out, registration requirements allowed movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "39 Steps" to fall into the public domain. But it's hard to balance that kind of glitch (which should have been dealt with by the armies of lawyers employed by the studios) to outweigh the sense of the re-registration requirements.

[ Parent ]

Required registration would kill SourceForge.net (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by pin0cchio on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:39:53 PM EST

However, registration is not all that complicated or expensive. It certainly doesn't compare to the ridiculous and expensive process required for patents.

I understand the reasoning here in an artistic release-once-sit-on-it-for-95-years context, but much of today's software is released continuously. (See also SourceForge.net and Freshmeat II. Do you want to send a CD of your software plus $30 to the Copyright Office every time you generate a nightly build, or risk losing copyright on your software?


lj65
[ Parent ]
Course not (none / 0) (#67)
by dachshund on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 11:59:50 PM EST

Of course not, which is why the "Copyright <year>" system is useful. But only for a small number of years before re-registration. Presumably those portions of the software not re-registered would simply fall into the public domain after a few years... I can't imagine that this would kill Sourceforge or any other project. It might encourage some authors to consolidate copyrights.

[ Parent ]
Half Baked Cake (4.00 / 3) (#43)
by underscore on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 12:09:06 AM EST

By way of self flagellation I tirelessly attack vapour ware and utopian claptrap but I'm about to spout pseudoStuff. Feel free to move on as nothing I say here can be defined or supported, at least not to the best of my knowledge.

Elsewhere I recently posted that historians frequently posit the year 1950 as the inception of the Present Era and dates before 1950 as BPE, or Before the Present Era. I suggested Shannon's publications and Von Neumann's computers cirica 1950 as benchmarks for the inception of the Information Technology Revolution. I further went on to suggest that the present copyright holders of the technology that introduced radio, movies and the record industry brought with them not only a new medium but a new venue and as such demanded a *reinvention* of the material that comprised our knowledge and culture base. I suggest the then new mediums rode the wave of new technology that carried with it a reinvention of our mythos and knowledge base as a force of a magnitude requiring compliance. Now the copyright holders of that aging technology are faced with the new technology that is nested in the intenet culture. The Information Technology Revolution is a cultural tsunami.

While the theft and distribution of copyrighted material may not be 'right', it might be inevitable. Our culture is reinventing itself and the speed of that reinvention has utterly outstripped the ability and willingness of our cultural institutions to keep abreast. We do not know the forces that shape our own make up or the make up of the culture that couches our individual development. In time the net will spawn it's own works and those who today wage war with the current copyright protection will have moved onto the net to hawk their warez :). The works the copyright of which are today so hotly contested will be seen to be antiquated and reminescent of a bygone age. Whether with the new technology a new ethos will emerge or whether the old institutions will underwrite and capture the new works of the new crop of geniuses is yet to be seen. Ultimately the same forces that drive the current consummerism... "have you seen the latest 'whatever,' ...have you heard the latest 'whatever, ... this cultural force will override the current copyright laws because the same institutions who now wage legal war to retain the profit rights continue to stoke the same furnace of consummerism that drives impulse buyers to want to show the latest thing or their favourite thing to their peers wherever and whenever they can. Perhaps, ironically the Force that will destroy the grip of the movie and record companies will be the outcome of the hype that drive impulse buying and the manufacture of cultural icons.

Spew over with


a geek possessed of animal cunning
is a most fearsome adversary

copyright (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by stpna5 on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 02:07:31 AM EST

There is in law and in practice a distinction between patents and copyrights. The separation or appropriate respective application may get confused due to virtual devices, vaporware and such, but the people who are trying to appoint themselves the cosmic uber-brain police are doing so over tangible assets; recordings, and copies of those recordings, irrespective of the medium. In the entire history of book publishing in America there has been nobody hauled of to jail by police over reproduction techniques. As soon as they became 'e-books'--- LOOK OUT! Not until the 1970's revision of copyrightlaw did the US even begin honoring that segment of the International Copyright agreement which included payment of royalties for jukebox records. They had been in existence for a very long time and were appropriately paid per/use in Western Europe and elsewhere, but not in America. The organized crime syndicates that controlled much of the trade in jukeboxes---unlike napsterophiles--- made alot of illegal money from people legally paying for use during the Prohibition era. Patents have always been applied to hardware although not long ago it was impossible to copyright a work of visual art or even a performance. Titles are still not copyrightable. Hence numerous movies and songs with the same title, but not even remotely the same work. Indeed in recent years MIDI files were not thought to be copyright protected.In the new international marketplace of spaceship earth the monster corporate interests act as if they are like just like, say Irving Berlin or Picasso, merely doing what they always did. (And renewing their copyrights.) It's not, however true.

Was this inspired.... (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by maroberts on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 07:32:59 AM EST

...by my <a href=http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=29119&cid=3124580>Slashdot comment</a>? :-)

Ego aside, I'm quite sure a number of other people feel this way.
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
Must use HTML mode! :-( (none / 0) (#51)
by maroberts on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 07:35:16 AM EST

Was this inspired...

...by my Slashdot comment? :-)

Ego aside, I'm quite sure a number of other people feel this way.
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
[ Parent ]

The preview button is your friend. :) (none / 0) (#81)
by quasipalm on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 05:20:54 PM EST

.. it's not just there to be pretty.
(hi)
[ Parent ]
I have little faith in congress (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by Secret Coward on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 08:30:39 AM EST

But if they have technological protection, then why should the government give them traditional protection?

The cynic in me says congress will take the open source communities' concerns to heart. Instead of passing a law that outlaws Linux, they will place the burdon on the copyright holder. Congress will grant copyrights, but only when the copyright holder distributes their work behind a DRM system. Say goodbye to that pesky unamarican GPL...

Oct 27, 1998 (Sonny Bono Act, another 20 years)
Oct 28, 1998 (DMCA)

How would the votes on these laws have turned out if congress had voted eight days later, right after the election instead of right before?

Is copyright property? (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by PresJPolk on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 10:21:38 AM EST

If a copyright is property, this won't work.

If I lock my door and put up a fence, do I lose legal protection against someone robbing my house?

For ideas like this proposal to go anywhere, you have to address the issue of Intellectual Property being property or not.

ip != property (4.57 / 7) (#55)
by infinitera on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 12:30:14 PM EST

Proudhon's definition is very useful for this. Let's take "property is theft" as an axiom; now, anything stealable is property. I steal your car, you lack a car. I copy your information... hey, guess what, you still have your information. It's not property, and should never have been called that. It's misleading. The argument is really one of authorship, nothing more, and I do think derived works should acknowledge what they're derived from or be sue-able (yes, I realize I just proposed the GPL).

'Nuff said.



-Dan

[ Parent ]
theft (2.25 / 4) (#56)
by PresJPolk on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 12:38:53 PM EST

I have a monopoly on distribution of my work.

You distribute it anyway.

You've now stolen away my monopoly.

[ Parent ]
rights (4.25 / 4) (#58)
by infinitera on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:16:55 PM EST

Kindly explain to me, in an infinite number of words or less, who is protecting your monopoly, and who benefits? Oh, that's right, the same government as all the other time. Your monopoly is artificial, and doesn't benefit the sciences. Also, please, do not reply to this with the argument 'but then nobody would invent anything.' It's been done, and it's moot. What would happen is simply a paradigm shift; instead of working on new engines, GM, for example, would fund an engine research facility with real scientists and no profit motive [on the part of the engineers there], and DaimlerChrysler and Ford would join it out of their own self interest. We, the consumers benefit. Science benefits. And it's all based on greed, as before. It's just that various elites lose their protection.

-Dan

[ Parent ]
Copyright (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by PresJPolk on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:20:40 PM EST

Who said it *wasn't* artificial?

If you're opposed to copyright at all, why are you even bothering to enter a discussion about tweaking copyright?

[ Parent ]
tweaks (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by infinitera on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:30:14 PM EST

I suggested my tweak. It's just a rather large tweak. Copyleft it all;)

-Dan

[ Parent ]
No they wouldn't... (none / 0) (#71)
by farrago on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 05:50:48 AM EST

Why would DaimlerChrysler and Ford join a research facility being funded by GM if everything was freely available?

They would just wait for the results and use those results without having had to put a cent of their own money in.

What is even more likely is that Ford/GM/whoever would release a new car design, and 3 months later some asian or african company would be duplicating it for half the price because they have no R&D costs, and lower manufacturing costs.

So what happens next? Ford/GM/whoever go out of business because they are spending large amounts on R&D and receiving no returns. Then who designs the new cars?

Limited copyright is a good thing. Unlimited copyright is a bad thing.

[ Parent ]
corps & paradigms (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by infinitera on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 10:11:06 AM EST

Someone else will replace GM, then. The point is that I'm benefitting from cheaper cars (everyone is benefitting from new discoveries) the company's welfare matters absolutely zero to me. Still, though, you're underestimating how complex groups work; it will achieve stability, not through any laws, but through human demands. Stuff will be accepted as common sense. There's a lot of chaos & game theory related to this (ie. complexity, and the idea that irrational choices can produce rational behavior).

-Dan

[ Parent ]
bad assumption (2.33 / 3) (#98)
by streetlawyer on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 05:11:10 AM EST

Someone else will replace GM, then

Why do you assume that there will be entry into a systematically unprofitable industry? Why do you think anyone will make new inventions if it is impossible to make money out of them?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

pardon the french (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by infinitera on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 08:02:06 PM EST

No shit sherlock. Of course no one would enter an unprofitable one. They'll find a way they can turn a profit, as suggested. For example, a joint research facility, so that science is seperate from stock options. It would be cheaper, more efficient, and better for the consumer if such things existed. And most of all, better for Science, which the constitution claims IP is for.

[ Parent ]
Begging the question? (4.66 / 3) (#60)
by pin0cchio on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 01:22:16 PM EST

You've now stolen away my monopoly

But now you're begging the question, as you assume that such a monopoly ought to exist. I agree with a limited monopoly: 20 year term (same as patents), and if a consumer owns a copy she owns the license to do what's necessary to fair-use it. Sadly, the US Congress is living up to an old joke, as it makes itself out to be "the opposite of progress" by creating a legal atmosphere that impedes "the progress of science and useful arts."


lj65
[ Parent ]
No. (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by PresJPolk on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 02:37:47 PM EST

er, no.

The question here wasn't whether a monopoly should exist. The question is that, if we're going to have copyright, should we change it in a paricular way.

I'm not begging the question, you're changing the subject.

Personally I think that copyright should be cut way back, but I don't think this is the way to do it.

[ Parent ]
Can't steal something you don't own (5.00 / 3) (#78)
by dachshund on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:36:17 PM EST

(assorted silliness removed)

You own the only bagel store in Springfield, and therefore have a monopoly. I open a competing store across the street. I've now "stolen" your monopoly, and should therefore face severe civil and criminal penalties, shouldn't I?

Fortunately, we're not foolish enough as a society to assign and defend property rights on such ridiculous abstractions as these. Monopolies fall squarely into that category-- you can have them but you certainly don't own them. Under certain circumstances, the government might choose to protect your monopoly, but it does so by its own choice, and (in theory) for the public good.

[ Parent ]

Justice of copyright (none / 0) (#90)
by PresJPolk on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 09:53:37 AM EST

argh

If you want to argue about the justice of copyright post your own article.

It's impossible to argue about a tweak of copyright if you can't agree on a set of assumptions.

[ Parent ]
Not the discussion I was having (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by dachshund on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 03:35:34 PM EST

argh

I'm not arguing about the justice of copyright. I didn't even start that thread.

I'm just responding to one of the silliest statements I've ever heard: "you've stolen my monopoly." Silly, silly, silly.

[ Parent ]

So, following that logic... (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by ti dave on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 08:06:17 PM EST

I copy your information... hey, guess what, you still have your information.

Then it would be kosherto order Mr. Carleton Sheets' Make a Mint from Real Estate from a late-night info-mercial, make copies of all the texts and CDs, re-package it and sell it for less?

Is that fair?

Haven't I reduced/removed the value of Mr. Sheets' copyright protected works?

Just curious...


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

[ Parent ]
Difference between commercial and non-commercial (5.00 / 3) (#66)
by richieb on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 08:56:47 PM EST

Then it would be kosherto order Mr. Carleton Sheets' Make a Mint from Real Estate from a late-night info-mercial, make copies of all the texts and CDs, re-package it and sell it for less?

Is that fair?

But is it kosher to order it and then lend it to my friends? Without charging them anything?

We should distingush between commercial and non-commercial use. I believe that the original copyrights were only meant for preventing commercial publishers from copying and reselling published works.

...richie
It is a good day to code.
[ Parent ]

Value (4.50 / 2) (#73)
by Znork on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 08:04:09 AM EST

There are two parts of the value of Mr. Sheets copyright protected works. One is the value of the works themselves, what he and other gains from posessing those works. The other part of the value is the value deriving not from the works themselves, but from the government granted copyright.

Yes, if you copy Mr. Sheets works, he still has them, and retains the use of them. What's more, if you copy and sell them cheaper, a lot of other people gain access to the value inherent in the works for lower cost, making that value higher for them. Only the value inherent in Mr. Sheets government granted copyright would be decreased.

Copyright is kind of like taxes. We take a bit of value from a lot of people (the value inherent in obtaining access to the works for a lower cost), and use that value to promote something in the public interest (to promote the creation of more new works). However, as copyright is extended, we start taking away value from the public to promote, not creation of new works, but wealth for the holders of the copyright. It isnt as immediately apparent but it is rather like raising taxes 5 percent and giving the money to a few corporations, something that most politicians would consider political suicide, no matter how much those corporations would donate.

[ Parent ]
that means (5.00 / 4) (#68)
by fourseven on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 01:15:55 AM EST

That means that when dj that uses various records and samples to make an album of his own he should list all the ingredients used. That's all fair, it works in a similar way as citing references for a book or an essay.

The unfair part is that the record companies / movie studios would like to charge for every tiniest little bit of intelectual / artistic property. Even the property which has became a part of the cultural landscape - anotherwords it has been assumed into the public domain by the society. Since the government was created to ensure the society's well-being, anyone trying to remove material from the public domain should in the eyes of the government be seen as acting against the well-being of the society.

So if a certain demographic of people lives in a certain area, and in that demographic are shared trends, the people of such set should be free to build upon, reverse-engineer and modify any and all parts of such trends as they see fit. Especially when such trends have been mass distributed, the re-action of the recipients should be most welcome. And a reaction to a flood of ideas sounds thoughts and images will most likely be a combination of regurgitation of these and original creativity. I exercise my right to remix your products into a painful parody, and combine your corporate art with unpopular ideology. I may choose to distribute it just like you do, and yes, maybe even sell it in order to distribute it. Trying to supress a reaction of people to something that is practically forced upon them amounts to torture.

But here we run into a curious little snag, where people willingly give up their rights to react by giving the government the responsibility to react for them. Then they cannot understand why the government is so curious about every detail of their lives, and get upset if the government reacts differently then they would have.

[ Parent ]

saturation point (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:07:03 PM EST

This brings up a very interesting point which I hadn't even considered before. The purpose of copyright is to ensure the well being of the public domain. So perhaps when a piece of music or artwork or what not becomes widespread and well-known enough, it should be seen as part of the culture and by law fall into the public domain before the expiration of the time limit. Unfortunately there would be really no way to implement such a plan.

[ Parent ]
it's already there (5.00 / 2) (#87)
by fourseven on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 10:42:12 PM EST

the "plan" is already "implemented." the hard part was thinking that we need a plan, drafting it out, designing and implementing it, and then hacking the solution to correct for lack of sufficient forethought.

but it all works naturally. for example, the multiple-camera pan (eg, in 'the matrix' and then in some commercials) is an idea that could arguably be copyrighted. but it was not, and to re-use such an effect in another movie would be obvious and unoriginal. even using it in commercials would soon lose its magic effect of attracting people's attention. in this instance, the people already put it in the public domain just by relating to it in a certain way. it works similarly with popular songs, say, something by james brown - if people like them very much, they will be played often, be a frequent guest in our short-term memory, have people singing and humming them. if some profiteers try to make a buck off a remix or put it in a jingle, the 'overuse' happens again, and the theme pops into the public domain.

that it prevents the original artist from milking it until it's dead - consider that an incentive to remain active and creative. :)

[ Parent ]

Hope you don't mind an extra fact here... (5.00 / 2) (#88)
by RobotSlave on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 05:28:02 AM EST

The multi-camera trick has not been copyrighted because you can't copyright camera angles or special effects.

You can however, patent equipment used to create the effect, and that is exactly what has happened with the "zero-time pan" device.

You mention James Brown. The "funky drummer" beat has been used in thousands of songs by now, but nobody seems to get tired of it, or even recognize it.

I'm sure you can find other examples. Please do-- I'm afraid I don't understand your point.

[ Parent ]

point (5.00 / 3) (#94)
by fourseven on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 08:03:10 PM EST

i'm not trying to make a point here. i put down on paper things that lock together in my mind, and share it with other people, so that they can see something i missed. that way we all learn.

the idea i failed to get across is that the infrastructure we've build to manage "property" gets in the way of our collective enjoyment of life more and more. and a follow-up idea is that the whole concept of property is overrated. really, we don't need to own much more than some clothing and personal stuff. the rest could very well be shared. every piece of material thing we own weighs us down, although we don't see it like that until we get rid of things. in this culture we're taught to gather things, or at least keep getting new ones. that's one of the key frustrations of our society, i think. but it's really amazing how much more relaxed and free one becomes once one has stepped outside the ring of the usual.

[ Parent ]

Artists and their works. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by bakuretsu on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:21:06 AM EST

Copyright is unimportant to those artists who create works for the greater good, or for some higher purpose which only they, themselves, perceive. It is when the artist becomes the "whore" that copyright comes into play, as the artist seeks monetary reward, and needs a way to assure the maximum return.

There are those artists who DESERVE copyright protection, and those are the artists who create PRODUCT (i.e. industrial/commercial) art. That is art which is directly tied to a monetary gain, as in marketing propaganda, packaging, etc. I am addressing the issue of creative works which are not directly tied to a revenue generating machine (such as Random Corp., Inc.).

With or without copyright law, artists will continue to create. The copyright law merely gives an added insurance to those artists whose purpose has turned to profit (once again i.e., those artists who feel that what they create should be worth money to someone, and who collects money for their work).

When I create my digital art, I do so for the exploration of the images, my own personal edification in the software, and to please as many people as possible. By releasing this content into the world by means of the internet, I am in a way detaching myself from it. Because I expect no monetary gains, copyright law doesn't suit me, it only makes things more complicated.

If you would like to download my images, and screw them all up, and paste their mutilated remains all around your dorm and surrounding city, that's fine with me. I'm not losing anything. Only recognition. And those whose recognition I desire will see through your childish misuse, anyway.

I want to have my cake but if you want to eat it, that's cool with me, because I didn't really bake the cake to eat it myself, I baked it because I so enjoy baking.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
I'm no artist (digital or paint) but.. (none / 0) (#83)
by sgp on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:24:18 PM EST

if I took your work and make $2m selling it to some art gallery, how would you feel?

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

Examine the True Purpose of Copyright (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by Sethamin on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:01:29 AM EST

The key point raised in this post is the original intent of the Copyright Protection written into the Constitution. Namely, that Copyright Protection is only supposed to encourage ideas and works to be shared. Jefferson did not imagine Copyright's purpose to make their originators rich, but to ensure that those originators existed and shared their ideas in the first place. That is the real issue here, not whether or not the gov't should afford protection to them.

Why is this so important? Well, consider, for one, the upcoming Supreme Court trial on copyright. At issue there is the neverending extensions Congress keeps granting to Copyright holders (insert joke about Mickey Mouse here). Lower courts have held that only Congress can truly determine what is "reasonable" for a length of copyright. In reality, if you take into consideration the intent (which liberal courts generally do) then the currently alloted protection of 70-90 years is absurd.

Would anyone actually abstain from creating any piece of copyright nowadays because they felt 70 years were just too short of a protection period? Of course not. Most people could only hope to see all 70 years of protection. These things only become issues once you have a cash cow and want to milk it (Disney springs to mind here). But what is the actual term where copyright creators have to think twice? Whatever that is, copyright terms should be set slightly higher than that and no more. Anything else is contrary to the intent of that provision of the Constitution.

Let us all hope the Supreme Court sees it that way, too. Because Congress sure as hell won't, seeing as they need money to get re-elected and the copyright holding coporations have money to spend.

A society should not be judged by its output of junk, but by what it thinks is significant. -Neil Postman

You could at least give me some credit... (none / 0) (#76)
by BeBoxer on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 12:48:10 PM EST

I suppose it could be a coincidence, but since you referenced the "other site" I can be 99% sure you read my post on the subject. In the interest of encouraging the sharing of ideas, a little credit or recognition would be nice: My 'other site' comment on this story. ;-)>

Actually, I didn't (none / 0) (#77)
by nosilA on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 01:18:46 PM EST

I practically never read comments on Slashdot anymore, and I'm quite certain I never read yours (before 30 seconds ago). It's interesting that you had such similar thoughts though. I guess "Great Minds Think Alike" ... either that or total loons occasionally have the same delusions.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]
Genius. Looney. Same difference really. (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by BeBoxer on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 04:04:09 PM EST

I guess "Great Minds Think Alike" ... either that or total loons occasionally have the same delusions.

Same difference, really. From looking thru the posts, it seems as though at least one other person had the same idea. At some level, it must be a common sense reaction to what the companies are doing.

Fundamentally, copy protection is a direct assault on fair use. Most examples of fair use are specifically times when making a copy is legal. And the difference between fair use and infringement is what happens after the copy gets made. If I copy a CD I own so that I can keep a cheap $0.50 cent copy in the car to get ruined instead of the original, that's fair use. If I copy a CD I own so that I can sell the copy on the street for $5.00, that's clearly infringement. Anybody who claims that their "copy protection" prevents one but not the other is a liar. The acts which distinguish infringement from fair-use haven't taken place when the copy is made, so the scheme would have to be psychic to work reliably.

Once this connection is made between copy protection and fair use, it's obvious to any reasonable person that the direct result of copy protection is to (intentionally or not) cripple fair use. The DMCA then goes further and gives these technical protections the force of law. In effect, it lets content publishers define what fair use is complete with draconian penalties against those who might try to assert traditional fair use rights. Ack, the more I think about it the madder I get. I think it is actually accurate to say that the DMCA, in practice, lets the MPAA and the RIAA assume powers traditionally held by the Congress and the courts.

Think about it. The only uses you are allowed to make of a DVD are those specifically incorporated and allowed by the cartel that issues CSS licenses. So while it is legal in theory to play a DVD under Linux, it is in fact illegal because the MPAA can use the DMCA to punish anybody who distrubutes a CSS implementation. Similarly, it is legal to copy pages out of a book. The electronic equivalent of printing pages from an ebook would also be legal (note I am taking into account an important precident from earlier in the century which ruled that 'licenses' publishers were printing in books prohibiting certain activities were illegal.) Yet Adobe has decided that it should control whether or not you can legally print pages from an ebook, and can use the DMCA to give it's 'law' the force of a real law. It's one thing for a company to 'prohibit' an activity by not making it easy. It's another to give them the legal authority to have people arrested if they dare to perform the activity anyway.

Another example is the whole CueCat fiasco. True, DigitalConvergence never actually managed to get anybody arrested for breaking their "law" thou shall not use our hardware independently of our software. But they sure acted as though they believed that they had the power to make a new law. Their laywers believed that they could simply make up arbitrary rules and just say "DMCA" to make people obey.

I wonder if this is a way to try and get the DMCA overturned? To argue that Congress delegated it's power to private corporations? Or rather, that it grants private corporations the ability to make laws? Hey, and if we get UCITA, then corporations can use the 'self-help' provisions to let them enforce the laws they've written! Is there a name for a form of government in which corporations are the entities which actually write and enforce the laws? I guess it would be a plutocracy since we have already decided that corporations are "people" under the law, and corporations are far and away the wealthiest "people" in our society.

[ Parent ]

Statistics (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by Cironian on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:53:36 PM EST

"Well, of course SSSCA is a good idea. We conducted a poll about this and out of 165 people only 1 said that copyright law will become too strong due to SSSCA."

...I am getting disturbingly good at this.

Guiding the Path of Intellectual Property | 99 comments (76 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
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