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Jumping In On The Lessig / Adkinson Copyright Debate 163

Posted by timothy
from the more-than-witty-dialogue dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes: "LawMeme has an excellent response to William F. Adkinson's critique of Larry Lessig's ideas on copyright reform. What I found most interesting about the article though, was the link to this paper by Ernest Miller (of Yale's Information Society Project) and Joan Feigenbaum (editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cryptography) that says we should take the copy out of copyright."
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Jumping In On The Lessig / Adkinson Copyright Debate

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not that Lessig needs any defense, but I thought I would write a response to the recent article by William F. Adkinson, Jr., Senior Policy Counsel at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, in the American Spectator. The article is entitled (Creativity & Control, Part 2) [via Doc Searls] and is a critique of Larry Lessig's arguments in The Future of Ideas. Mr. Adkinson is also co-author of a more detailed look at copyright issues (The Debate Over Digital Online Content: Understanding the Issues [PDF]).
    My counter-critique of Adkinson below ...

    Adkinson first takes issue with Lessig's claim that overly strong copyright threatens creativity. Indeed, Adkinson asserts Lessig's theory "is difficult to square with basic facts about the Information Age." Adkinson notes that Lessig apparently agrees with the idea that copyright can encourage creativity, and asks, if that is the case, why "Lessig is so concerned about the future of creativity?" But it is Adkinson's characterization of Lessig's argument that is difficult to square with basic facts. For Adkinson's question to be an intelligible critique of Lessig, it must be that Lessig's position is that copyright should be abandoned. This, of course, is not the case. Lessig's argument is not that copyright should be abandoned, but that there needs to be a balance. Too much copyright can harm innovation just as too little copyright can harm innovation as well. Given that copyright has continuously expanded over the past 100 years, is it unreasonable that Lessig believes the balance has shifted too far in favor of copyright holders? Adkinson would seem to be saying so.

    --

    Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig's new book, The Future of Ideas, was recently excerpted in these pages. Lessig describes two possible futures for the Internet--one an enormous but vacuous shopping mall, the other a flowering of barely imaginable forms of creativity. He argues that through legal and technological machinations--and specifically, the over-assertion of copyright--business interests are charting a course toward the first. And he darkly warns that "the future of ideas is in the balance."

    From the outset, this thesis is difficult to square with basic facts about the Information Age--particularly with the explosion in access to information made possible by the digital revolution. Indeed, Lessig approvingly quotes Judge Alex Kozinski, who has said that copyright "encourages others to build freely on the ideas that underlie" copyrighted expression. But if copyright leaves a rich public domain, why is Lessig so concerned about the future of creativity?

    --

    Copyright is Not About Copying
    Under current U.S. law and common understanding, the fundamental right granted by
    copyright is the right of reproduction - of making copies. Certainly, the first
    "exclusive right" granted to the owner of a copyright under Section 106 of the
    Copyright Act 1 is the right to reproduce the copyrighted work "in copies or
    phonorecords" or to authorize such reproduction. Indeed, the very word "copyright"
    appears to signify that the right to make copies must be a fundamental part of any
    system of copyright. Nevertheless, we believe that the primacy given to the right of
    copying, while seemingly intuitive, is both illogical and counterproductive,
    particularly when one considers its application to digital documents. We base our
    analysis on both the nature and characteristics of the digital realm and on a historical
    and instrumental understanding of the law of copyright.
    Our examination of whether reproduction should play a central role in copyright
    law is motivated in part by the question of security in digital rights management
    (DRM). Many designers of DRM technology seek to enforce copyright by
    controlling copying. Consequently, there is careful attention paid in the security and
    cryptology literature to the question of whether such control is technologically
  • I agree with most/some of the points made, I feel that the copyright is over-used and poorly understood. In this day of digital everything it has become very easy to copy almost anything one would want, and for that matter, this applies to both digital and "hardcopy" materials. I feel that there are quite a few laws that need updating to fit in today's digital world, however we must be careful to not "over legislate" these laws simply and over broaden their horizon and scope as this is a far worse situation than the outdated laws.
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:09PM (#3585993) Homepage Journal
    is that the current trend is to increase copyright terms into incredibly ridiculous territories (which I define as being longer than the human lifespan) instead of decreasing the terms, which one would think would be the natural response given the advances we've made in distribution technologies such as automated printing presses, aircraft, and the Internet. The time it takes to fairly achieve a return on creating a work has been going down dramatically, given how quickly it can be duplicated and transported to where it can be sold -- it's no longer a bunch of monks transcribing a book by hand for months, or even a hand-cranked printing press -- yet we're expected to believe that we need to ramp the restrictions up precisely because of the advances in distribution technology? I don't need someone to refute a guy that argues that taking 25 years off of the current copyright limit will unfairly hurt the industry because it's obvious he's full of it.
    • Most pop culture dies off within a decade. It therefore has no apperciable economic value for about 9/10 of the copyright's duration. How many of our great grandkids are going to be listening to Jimmy Eat World, Korn, Britney Spears or even Nine Inch Nails?
      • Most pop culture dies off within a decade. It therefore has no apperciable economic value for about 9/10 of the copyright's duration.
        And this last fifty years is the first half century in which that has been true.

        Maybe the unreasonable extension of copyright is actually responsible for "disposable" popular culture: after a work's first flush of popularity, it is now illegal for anyone other than the original artist to try to keep it going. Could that be the cause that the great jazz of the thirties (to pick just one example) is no longer with us (but sitting in Time-Warner's vaults) -- that Time-Warner thinks it can make a higher return on investment by pushing new crap than by maintaining older? (But of course, they don't want anyone else to re-issue the stuff either -- "I have it and I'm going to keep it to myself (and make it die) :-(

    • the Anti-Publishers. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by twitter (104583) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @11:02AM (#3587160) Homepage Journal
      Many of us are missing the big point when we look at copyright. Publishing interests are quick to jump on music "pirating" as a gross example of how new technology threatens publishing. Details of how long copyright protection last are good to think about, but the fundamental issue that should be considered when discussing copyright laws is the purpose of publishing and the reason we have laws to encourage such things.

      The purpose of publishing is to share uncommon and excellent material with the public. Traditional publishers did their best to collect such material and make some reasonable facsimille available to as many people as possible. Once it was difficult and expensive to do that, so laws were made in the US to grant publishers a time limited (14 years) exclusive franchise to the work.

      Todays publishers seek to do just the opposite. Today information, especially recorded music, is easy to share. Printed material, books, letters, and all manner of information is CREATED in digital forms now. So what's a publisher to do? Well, if your the music industry you take common material and prevent people from sharing it without paying them. Hideous new encryption technologies are being applied to music, movies and even books, which can not be deciphered without approved reading software which will not work forever. The publishers will keep the information and sell it to you each time you want it. The net result is the destruction of the public domain. Information once preserved by publishering will now be destroyed by it. Once publication becomes unprofitable, the publisher is likely to neglect it. Unlike previous ages, no monks will be able to come to the rescue.

      Adkinson claims that competition will come to the resuce, but he is mistaken or lying. Publication and tellecomunications have become very consolidated. GE, Westinghouse, Disney, Sony and the federal governement essentially own broadcasting in the US. The list of companies providing internet service continues to collapse and we will be left with very few soon enough, all perfectly willing to collude with publishers in the vain hope of making a buck. Your voice will not be heard and you will not enjoy the works that others wish to share.

      Music is a good example of this trend. What could be more common and less excellent than the "popular" music we hear on artificailly scare airwaves? Anyone can sing, most people have belonged to one kind of band or another, and generally the results are as good or better than top 40. How is it that all that work gets condensed to a National Standard Record store? Recent court decisions agains companies like MP3.com show that the big five music publishers of the world will not relinquish their cartel and the law will support them. Information is already being lost. The Bono copyright extention act to 75 years covers most of all recorded music. How many original works are perishing with their media right now? Early Jazz and other American art forms will be about as well preserved as the libraries of antiquity, sorted random and slim, instead of preserved as the original recorders wished. In the end, however, music is much less important than other published works, such as scientific papers, text books, even fiction and art work.

      Proposed publishing methods do not contribute to the public good and are not worthy of public expendatures to protect.

    • If the Supreme Court rules against Eldred etc. and allows indefinite
      copyright extensions (or even if they don't), here is an amusing idea. I
      think I saw the germ of it first in another user's comment on Slashdot
      months ago -- and now that I poke around the web and usenet I see that
      many others have discussed it a tiny bit. In such a worst case where
      copyrights are indefinite, perhaps a property tax on copyright owners
      might be enacted as a last resort, where rights holders get to choose an
      assessed value for having the monopoly of all rights to the work, and
      rights holders pay some percentage (1%?) per year of that assessment,
      with the restriction then rights holders have to release the work to the
      public domain if a payment to them is made for the assessed amount.

      Possibly the assessment would be broken down into rights categories, so
      that there could be payments for freeing specific subrights -- like
      non-commercial use. This category approach would allow a work to be
      bought into the public domain in stages.

      For example, if the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust puts, say, a
      million dollar valuation on the "Skills of Xanadu" story (ironically
      about freedom) relative to releasing it into the public domain (say, so
      they could pursue movie rights for it), at an "intellectual monopoly"
      tax rate of 1%, the trust would have to pay $10000 per year to keep the
      monopoly. But if the Trust puts only a $1000 value on "The Skills of
      Xanadu" to avoid significant taxes (only $10 a year then), I'd take out
      my checkbook, maybe along with some other fans, and it would be free
      today.

      Note this assessed amount is for release into the public domain, not
      necessarily the amount to be paid by someone else who wants the monopoly
      transferred to them, which might be higher or lower, just like what real
      estate sells for isn't necessarily the assessed rate. Since it it hard
      to assess the value of a copyright, let the rights holder do it, as long
      as this public domain buyout clause was in place to prevent overly low
      self assessment of monopoly value.

      If some people call patents and copyrights "intellectual property" (yes,
      I know that term begs the question of how to handle them) then why not
      laugh at them and just tax ownership of such "property"? After all, just
      like real estate owners pay taxes to offset the heavy continual burden
      their property puts on society (a need for police, fire departments,
      water, roads, sanitation, planning boards, zoning, local schools, etc.),
      there is a heavy continual burden on society for enforcing copyright
      (prisons for infringers, costs of salaries for judges in court cases,
      the time cost to individuals of making fair use determinations,
      government subsidized distribution channels like the internet, the need
      for the government to maintain accurate records, lawmaker's time, etc.)
      which ideally should be born by copyright holders as opposed to the
      general public.

      Yes, I know such a tax might wreck havoc with the GPL or other freely
      licensed software too. Most GPL copyright holders would probably need to
      set their copyright assessment prices low and risk public domain
      buyouts. And there are issues with previously selling off exclusive
      rights separately to a work (although such rights holders could pay part
      of the tax.) And there are issues with incrementally developed works, or
      works with multiple copyright holders...

      Still, the big issue is that the cost to society of the copyright
      monopoly on any work is potentially high, and the person who should be
      paying that social cost is really the rights holder, rather than passing
      on external costs to others, as a form of social pollution. Some would
      argue rights holders already paid a copyright tax when they registered.
      Yet, people who get real estate pay a title transfer fee (sort of like a
      copyright registration or renewal fee) but they still pay property taxes
      afterwards too. If there was no records of taxes paid on a copyright,
      it could be presumed public domain, or the copyright owner could be
      pursued for tax evasion (until they disclaimed it to the public domain,
      of course). This would make the state of copyright much clearer than the
      current situation where it is very expensive to determine if a work is
      under copyright, and if so, who currently owns it and how to contact
      them. With real estate, all this is a matter of public record.

      When registering to pay "intellectual property" taxes for their
      monopolies, copyright holders might be required to deposit a complete
      copy of the content and preferred form source in digital format in
      escrow. This escrow would be in part to allow people wanting to use
      public domain materials to easily search published content against
      registered works. Escrow would also be in part to ensure the work would
      be available unencrypted and unprotected when it became public domain,
      such as if the rights holder stopped paying property taxes on it.

      Perhaps the way to win the copyright battle, if all else fails, is to
      give copyright holders what the want, then something else too that
      naturally goes with it. Microsoft would have to put a price on releasing
      the Windows source code to the public domain for example (including all
      previous versions, which might have separate prices), and then they
      would finally be forced to pay taxes. Yes, perennially people have
      resisted taxes on capital, so it's an uphill battle, but it is another
      front of the copyright battle to consider.

      Obviously, stocks and bank accounts aren't often taxed by the federal
      government while held (though some states do like with Florida's
      "Intangible Personal Property Tax"),
      http://www.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/ippt.html
      so the argument would have to be worked through if the taxation was at
      the federal level. And of course this makes the government meddle more
      in everyone's affairs (at least, those claiming copyrights or software
      patents) but maybe that's OK considering the alternative in this case
      and how much they meddle already.

      And, while I'm dreaming :-), half the money raised from the intellectual
      monopoly tax could be used to fund more free software and free content
      (and the other half would go to pay down the Federal deficit).

      Note: even with laws like the above, I would support some form of
      author's moral rights regarding their works, enforced separately from
      copyright.
  • facts, please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:25PM (#3586033)
    This lack of effective protection from this piracy is the greatest threat to incentives to create digital works and distribute them over the Internet.

    People like Adkinson keep repeating this claim ad nauseam without any facts to back it up.

    As far as I can tell, the tightening and extension of copyright law over the 20th century is correlated with a deterioration in quality art. Many of the greatest works of history were created without the benefits of copyright protection. Many great works of art would, in fact, violate copyright if today's copyright laws had been in effect at the time because they are the highly evolved end product of a long line of copies, with incremental improvements at each step. Much of creativity involves craftsmanship, and craftsmanship requires copying and recreation before creativity can be achieved.

    So, some facts, please. If the government grants 100+ year monopolies to people and corporations, I'd like to see some evidence that this is beneficial to the rest of us. Because, Adkinson's ideological mumblings to the contrary, copyrights are not "property rights"--they are limited rights granted by the government only because they are beneficial to society.

    • In the pre-copyright era, copyright really wasn't need because, by and large, copying simply wasn't possible, and when possible, was very, very, tedious.
      • This is quite untrue.

        Copying was precisely as easy as it was to create the original copy of the work (as opposed to thinking up the idea of the work) in the first place.

        When Chaucer wrote the Cantebury Tales, he would've spent no more on a scrivener to make copies than anyone else could. When Michaelangelo sculpted the David, it was not impossible for another stonecutter to measure the original and make a replica, or to make models. (n.b. that a replica stands in the Piazza that was the original's original home) When Shakespeare's plays were performed, it was common for competing actors to memorize the lines and restage the play themselves.

        Just because it is not as easy to copy works as it is NOW does not mean that it was EVER harder to make a second generation copy than a first. Future generations are going to wonder how we ever got along with the tedious computers and such that we think are all that.
      • copying simply wasn't possible

        Sure, it was. Before the 20th century, almost all content was somehow created manually, and if it could be created manually, it could be copied manually even faster. Music and plays were performed without royalty payments. Artists and sculptors would copy the works of others, change it slightly, and present it as their own. Writers would rewrite a story slightly and republish it to the masses. Publishers would republish writings and music. Copyists would copy paintings. In the process, people honed their skills, stories matured, and artistic ideas circulated widely without being controlled by big companies.

        Today, doing anything like that would be both professional suicide and be subject to severe penalties.

        Back then, artists had to do new stuff constantly in order to make a living--no living off royalties. The US flaunted European copyrights because Americans felt that they needed cheap access to content in order to get their country educated.

        By comparison, for a consumer to copy someone's CD or sheet music today is tame. We don't even consider the possibility that allowing artists to copy the works of others liberally might be a better way. We should.

    • by AmericanInKiev (453362) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:58PM (#3586109) Homepage
      Many, such as Harry Potter, are available illegally as soon as they are released in theaters. This lack of effective protection from this piracy is the greatest threat to incentives to create digital works and distribute them over the Internet.

      These producers of digital works are the greatest threat to performing artists. The ability to reproduce at minimal cost an artistic experience is an obvious threat to those who would otherwise be able to make a living at their craft - ie live performers.

      Now that mass production has disenfranchised several generations of performers - their ox stands to be gored by the same technology they have used to destroy others - namely the performing artists.

      So begins the funeral procession of the cheap reproducers of art - Lead by the even cheaper reproducers of art. Let the tears of irony flow like wine - let us wring our hands in pathos and mourn the passing of the unnecessary.

      What the world should miss is not the Anderson accountants who would otherwise be record and movie executives - but let the world miss the Waiters and Carpenters who would otherwise be Poets and Playwrights - Violinists and Sopranos.

      • The reason why organizations such as the mass media and the companies that distribute art were able to lock out live performers is that the "public" was reinvented -- instead of the "public" being anyone a performer could possibly meet, the public became anyone a mass media organization could reach by TV, movies, radio, print, etc.

        Now the public is being reinvented again and is becoming anyone the artist or a fan of the art can communicate with. What we are seeing is not simply a war over copyright - it's a war over what the public will be and who will have the right to communicate with it. The mass media would prefer to have a public that remains large with easily controllable desires and means of distribution to it. The new public wants to control its own desires and means of distribution; it wants to be the artist, the publisher and the audience.

        There can't be laws to enforce the old mass media copyrights without enforcing the old, outdated mass media model. This is not just a battle over who has the right to distribute a work but who has the right to distribute any work and who can create a public to communicate with. The performers would like to have their public to be anyone they communicate with - the mass media moguls are calling for laws against the technologies that would make this communication impossible.
      • This should not have been modd'ed "Funny". It is insightful, even if I personally disagree.

        Where's my mod points when I need them?
    • While I agree with you this quote bothers me:

      As far as I can tell, the tightening and extension of copyright law over the 20th century is correlated with a deterioration in quality art. Many of the greatest works of history were created without the benefits of copyright protection.

      Works of 'art' such as the Mona Lisa are in fact protected, not under "copyright law" but by other rules.

      Any artist can go to the Louvre and copy the Mona Lisa. They can't however use the same dimensions and other specifics so that they can't sell them as originals.

      Digital copies can't be made, obviously, but their art equivalent is outlawed.

      Sure 100 years is too long. IMHO 50 is even too much. Copyrights in many cases shouldn't last 6 months.

      But on an aside... why can musical artists (who work for the RIAA in effect) "sample" others music but we aren't allowed to take advantage of our fair use rights?
      • I just love how slashdot people seem to think that copyright should be lessened greatly.

        If copyright lasted six months, then people would be abusing GPL software quite often. The license from GPL is for the COPYRIGHT use, that is, it's free to copy and distribute under the rules of the license. If there's no or little copyright, then people do not need to abide by the license agreements.

        And as far as people sampling others' works, have you even thought that question out? Sometimes the artists' works are for the same production studio or conglomerate, or they actually ask permission or license the work.
        • You could have attacked me on other levels but you got me in the wrong spot.

          My statement of "six months" was concerning crap - that is it. A joke, ha ha funny. Some music out there is popular for about a week while the music industry claims piracy has robbed them of future sales - pure crap.

          --

          Sampling doesn't require permission or licensing. I've got a cousin who was sued for sampling a song - which was 30 years old - actually playing the notes in reverse. They had no case and as soon as he hired a lawyer (a bad one) they dropped the charge.
          You really answered your own question. The reason one artist can rip off another is because a company can't sue itself. They turn a blind eye.

          As if Microsoft would sue their own Comcast cable or MSNBC ventures...
          ---
          I understand that the spirit of the GPL is "copyleft" while it is in fact a "copyright". It's not that hard to understand.
    • My thoughts are something like...

      30 years fiction
      20 years historic, lit-crit, and reference non-fiction
      10 years self-help and current affairs non-fiction
      5 years registered software (source code published)
      2 years non-registered software

      With a possible 1/2 period extension if you are still selling at 10% of the rate of the best year of sales.

      I don't think the right should automatically expire due to the death of the author if his will states it shouldn't but linence at a reasonable price (no more that 5% of gross say, or 20% of profit) should become cumpulsary since the author is no longer around to say some new adaption isn't to his liking.

      This isn't particularly GNU friendly extensions are all based on sales, but I think it would strike a good balance on copyright for society and hence fulfill the main reason programmers choose an open source licence.

      I would further add that the source code should be published at the end of support for any software for anyone wishing to copyright their work, and using 'copy protection' should automatically revoke and claims to copyright protection. Hence those wishing to avoid copyright would need to licence everything and sue only the person that violated the contract but once the first copy was made work would be in the open. This would discourage these licences except for made to order software where it makes sense.

      I'm just putting this out there because I want to hear what you have to say. Are my numbers to conservative? Too liberal? Just right?
      • The purpose of copyright is to provide an incentive for creative artists. We all discount the future rather heavily. 20 to 25 years is about the limit. Copyright should be no longer than this.

        The purpose of copyleft is freedom. Once copyleft expires, it is back to the bad old days of breaking interoperability for commercial advantage, keeping the source code secret, so that most programming is duplication of work already done, etc. There is no public interest in having copyleft expire.

        A rewriting of copyright law, to 20 years from publication, because that provides plenty of incentive, could also provide for two types of public domain.

        1)The current public domain, the source of copyright derivative works.

        2)A GNU domain, perpetually copyleft.
        • The purpose of copyleft is freedom. Once copyleft expires, it is back to the bad old days of breaking interoperability for commercial advantage, keeping the source code secret, so that most programming is duplication of work already done, etc. There is no public interest in having copyleft expire.

          Software is rarely current after 5 years, if some commercial company incorperates a source five years after it was initially published they would have to do a lot of work to make it competitive.

          If I thought my GNU software were perpetual I'd but an early expiration to public domain in there. In fact I may do so anyway for things I open source from now on.
      • I think a multi-tiered copyright structure can be a good idea in theory. The problems I can see (aside from convincing legislatures to pass it at all):

        You're going to have to turn the copyright office into something that decides which category a work falls into. If they handle it the way the patent office handles claims, we could see people claiming a software program is derivative of its manual, which has 20 years protection.

        Software copyright is tricky. A few years ago, saying 2 years was fine because programs would be passed by. But a 2 year old computer today is more usable than a 2 year old computer in the 80s or 90s. If Joe User can run old versions of software, it encourages commercial developers to break these old version rather than simply improve the product. I think 5 years for software and 10 years for source code is more appropriate, and even that's short.

        Basing an extension on percentage of sales is tricky, because it encourages market manipulation by publishers. When I drafted something like this, I tried to use "in print," but couldn't come up with a suitably comprehensive definition.

        Basing licensing fees on percentages of gross profit creates accounting problems, as well as a pricing problem, as someone who simply gives the original away for free does not have to pay a license.

        The moral rights argument with respect to the mandatory licensing scheme after an author's death seems specious to me. If the author's not around to approve it, either the author's estate can approve a derivative work, or the derivative author can wait until the copyright expires. Since duration of copyright in your proposed system is not dependent on the life of the author, this presents no problem.

        A copyright law shouldn't be designed to be GNU friendly; a GNU license should be designed to be responsive to changes in copyright law.

        The copy protection clause is just as ridiculous as the DMCA. "Oh, that easily deciphered format is really copy protection, so this isn't under copyright."
        • You're going to have to turn the copyright office into something that decides which category a work falls into. If they handle it the way the patent office handles claims, we could see people claiming a software program is derivative of its manual, which has 20 years protection.
          Well you could simply say that derivative works get no more protection than they would get if they were copyrighted on their own. And code in books could expire in 5 years even if the rest of the book were protected longer.

          If Joe User can run old versions of software, it encourages commercial developers to break these old version rather than simply improve the product.
          Software with source would be protected longer even in it's compiled form. The problem I'm trying to address isn't just to force innovation, but to also protect software from companies that go out of business or authors that lose the source on some utility they have forgetten about after X years. I think companies will be less likely to simply break older versions because some home users and small companies would be likely to use the expired versions and those who buy the newer versions would want to interoperate with them. But I may be wrong.

          I think 5 years for software and 10 years for source code is more appropriate, and even that's short.
          What if after 2 years they could release the source and get the 5 year protection? I think my software numbers could be a little short for small market software, but it's hard to draw that line. I remember some stat in the 80's that 50% of the sales of mass market software were in the first 6 weeks. That's no longer true, probably because software is much more mature now so there isn't as much reason to upgrade. But software written for small markets is still in much need of improvement so a 2 year old program there is probably not very useful. I think 10 years is way to long, it may allow you to get a 95% of possible sales, but I think the 80% mark is a better place to draw the line because of quickly diminishing returns. I left extensions in for those cases where they haven't reached the 80% mark by expiration, but this doesn't apply to free software so it's a little unfair in that.

          I came up with my numbers by thinking about when 99% of producers would have realized 80% of potential sales and then added a few years, except in software where I see more damage in stopping progress(probably because I'm involved.)

          Basing licensing fees on percentages of gross profit creates accounting problems, as well as a pricing problem, as someone who simply gives the original away for free does not have to pay a license.
          True, maybe the extensions idea should be abandoned, or simply be less generous with no accounting requirement. Say 1/4 term, with a flat $10,000 fee.

          The moral rights argument with respect to the mandatory licensing scheme after an author's death seems specious to me. If the author's not around to approve it, either the author's estate can approve a derivative work, or the derivative author can wait until the copyright expires.
          I was thinking of Nietzsche where his sister was a anti-semite and "saved" his reputation as a hater of anti-semites by holding back his works and editing out things in preparing manuscripts for publishing. It's also informed by those estates who even try to block movie adaptations of log expired copyrights. Maybe there are examples of estates acting on the creators behalf. I almost used the Ayn Rand one as a good example, but she'd probably think of them as leaches on her fame.

          A copyright law shouldn't be designed to be GNU friendly; a GNU license should be designed to be responsive to changes in copyright law.
          I agree to a point, it shouldn't get any favorable treatment, but I think it should be protected from significantly disfavorable treatment. As a programmer I don't want to just write software that will be immediately ripped off by a commercial interest, especially if I plan to dual licence to make some $$$.

          The copy protection clause is just as ridiculous as the DMCA. "Oh, that easily deciphered format is really copy protection, so this isn't under copyright."
          I think a reasonable line could be drawn, it's more a result of my anger at copyright being longer than the media the work is recorded on so it may be lost to humanity forever without some criminal activity(which is only likely on the more popular works). With my yearly limits it seems less needed, though I could certainly imagine a publisher loving some paper that disintigrated in the bright light of a copy machine.
  • by jfrumkin (97854) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:29PM (#3586045) Homepage
    The linked Miller article is very interesting and insightful - but I wonder, based on its discussion of public and private distribution, how libraries would work with this new definition of copyright. A library by default provides public distribution of a work - would this then be made illegal should copyright reflect distribution rather than reproduction?
    • I would think that fair use would be sufficient for libraries to continue existing. When was the last time you went to a library and found that they had ten thousand copies of "blah"? Libraries distribute one or two items at a time, they do not perform mass replication for large scale distribution. Just as fair use covers the limited "copying" today, the regressed copyright law would have to allow for limited ditribution, otherwise it would be a crime everytime you invited a friend over to watch a movie, or listened to music in a public place.
    • The Miller article's analysis of the first sale doctrine is that it applies, and should continue to apply, to particular copies embodied in physical objects -- i.e. the physical books and CDs that a library lends. They also say first sale doesn't apply in the purely digital realm.

      First sale doctrine is what lets libraries operate today, and it sounds to me like they'd say libraries could continue to lend the physical embodiments as they always have.

      But if the physical embodiment has a form which can be copied easily, then what? If I burn a copy of a library CD, hasn't a distribution happened? And, if the library is open to the general public, isn't it a public distribution? I'd say a distribution happened either when I made the copy or when I returned the original to the library, but I'm not sure whether it was a public distribution made by the library or a private distribution made by me.

      I like the general idea that making the copy is no longer the place to draw the line -- I've had the same idea myself. And distribution is the only replacement I can come up with. But I'm not sure I can see what the implications would be.

    • Is Gnutella (and other P2P networks) a library?

      I think so, they provide information, but who decides what information to give away are the ones running the software clients.

      Basically, I am a library of mp3s.
    • Their whole argument seems crazy to me. They want to outlaw distribution but allow copying. This would kill the doctrine of first sale, which says that you can distribute as long as you don't copy. First sale and fair use are the only shreds that are left of the earlier, more balanced copyright laws, and we should protect and cherish them.

      They make an argument that it doesn't make sense to outlaw copying, because on a computer, copies happen all the time, e.g., when you copy a program into RAM in order to run it. Well, that's a feature of current law that's not broken, and doesn't need to be fixed: when I load the program into RAM, I'm making a copy for myself, which is perfectly legal. I just can't make copies to sell or give away. They're being disingenuous by talking about network copying and internal copying as if they were the same thing.

  • by RovingSlug (26517) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:32PM (#3586052)
    While I agree with the premise and arguments asserted by the Lawmeme articles, I find their overall structure to be meandering and ill formed. The paper, "Taking the Copy Out of Copyright", on the other hand, is much more well written. Maybe it'd help Lawmeme if they had an editor to cut the fat and keep the articles focused.

    Hrmm. But maybe that's the point of law "memes" -- constructed to seep into the general consciousness rather than provide a well-supported web of logic. Regardless, whenever I read a Lawmeme article, I get the strong sense that they'll only appeal to the already-converted ("preaching to the choir"). Which makes me think they're wasting their breath. :/

  • Heh! Perhaps I am just getting too old. Because the point in the LawMeme article about the ability to sell above marginal cost being a leading indicator of monopoly just hit me right between the eyes!

    That is SO right, and so how come I don't remember hearing that point before (or how come I didn't think it up myself!)

    I immediately thought of games (who didn't!?) retailing at hugely above their production cost, and books the same. Why do we accept these things? I for one would buy far more books and far more games if publishers set prices at simply a "fair margin". Who would rip games onto CDs for their friends if you could get them in the store (with a free CD case and handy booklet) for $5? Who of us wouldn't have libraries twice, thrice as big if books were similarly priced?

    And if these new pricing schemes were in existance, wouldn't they force publishers to try and innovate in the way their "content" was delivered? There is no pressure to build a useable "e-book" while "paper-books" have such huge profits built into the system. There is no pressure to take the (in some cases) 3 boxes out of the packaging of computer games (3 boxes that mostly just get torn off and thrown away like christmas paper).

    Ya gotta love a good lawyer or law writer, they always make arguments that set your mind to work!
    • One thing to take into consideration in regards to this point is that, when you think about it, copyright is all about granting someone a monopoly over a particular creative work. If I don't like the pricing on the latest Metallica CD I can't just wander over and buy a competitor's version. It's a natural consequence and probably a necessary evil of copyright law, just as inflated drug prices are a consequence of patent law (you notice how quickly those drop when a patent expires?)

      At least patents expire.

      • Perhaps. But the way the laws are written now, it'll be sometime in the next century before competitor versions can even be legally sold.
      • just as inflated drug prices are a consequence of patent law (you notice how quickly those drop when a patent expires?)

        For a second I thought you said when a patient expires. What a difference one letter makes LMAO!

        -
    • You have to be either incredibly naive or extremely stupid to think that the only costs a producer incurs in making a game is the simple cost of physically making the disk, packaging and literature. There is also the cost of paying the guys who created the game, which includes salary, and workplace. And at $45K plus per programmer, payroll adds up PRETTY QUICKLY. Then there's taxes. Did you know that a corpaoration, in addition to paying sales tax on any equipment it buys, must also pay a tax simply for having the equipment? And this is every year. Running a business entails way more expenses than you think, or I can list. Those usurious profits you think all businesses are making start to get whittled down pretty quickly when you start subtracting the other costs. You should try running your own business one day, and you will see that simply having a corporation is not a licence to print money.
      • I wasn't saying any of the things you attribute to me. I am well aware of the costs associated with producing content, distributing it, etc. etc.

        Production costs, by the way, amortize out over the number of units you sell, just to respond breifly to your straw man arguments.

        But you weren't attacking my point, or the point of the original article. Perhaps my point wasn't clear. I'll put it another way:

        The thing that I came to understand, that I didn't before reading the article, was the connection between copyright and monopoly. That's all I was really saying, and I was using games and books to emotively illustrate that point. Other respondants to my post have spoken to this.

        Now I also know that admitting you didn't know something or figure something out years before is tantamount to flame-induced suicide on /.! And as I said in my original post, perhaps I am just getting old, or, as you so kindly put it, perhaps I am just extremely stupid. But there it is.
        • The thing that I came to understand, that I didn't before reading the article, was the connection between copyright and monopoly.

          Huh? Copyright is obviously and plainly a government-granted monopoly. It's always been that way, and is understood that way by the courts. That's why we have abuse-of-copyright (and patent) rules in the courts.

          C//
    • In my opinion, that marginal cost argument was
      the weakest in the article. All physical property
      owners sell their property at above the marginal
      cost, because they have a 'monopoly' on the things
      that they own. If a company spends $1 billion on
      a factory to make widgets that contain $1 in raw
      materials but sell for $10, is that somehow
      unfair?
    • Kaching. This exact point was the seed for my antipathy towrds IP. Economics (for all its faults) has some very elegant tools. The point you identified is one such. If extraordinary profits exist then there is a market externality. You should be doubly careful when running this argument though because there are two points of which you need to be aware. First the externality is not necessarily a monopoly (and monopoly is not a critical issue). The second is that retail price is not a good example of how to think about it. In general, companies do spend money to develop a game and there are hidden costs that under the current IP paradigm they spend speculatively. The important measure is return on capital. this is not even profit since that is a temporary measure and it is the capital value of development companies that is the killer critique of IP. How can a company like mirosoft whose capital assets (IP value aside :-) would be a sliver compared to the return on that capital. this is the red flag that the market is failing. But all the operations of the market seem to be working ok (even considering the "monopolistic" behaviour of some participants) so if all the deductions in the market are ok it can only be the initial premise that is flawed. And that initial premise is that property exists in the output of intellect. More and more people are seeing the flaws the market. And yet few realise that the cause is the initial premise and not the operation of the market.
    • and they wonder why technical books usually fail miserably.

      a new C/C++ programming book.. $100.00
      the SAME information from online sources ..$19.95
      (that $19.95 is your monthly internet fee)

      no it is not exactly the same verbatium.. but it is the exact same information. I see books on how to write software for the palm platform that are priced between $80.00 and $100.00 while every single bit of information in those books is available 100% free online.

      it seems that publishers have became quite stupid.. publishing to the technically adept and then gouging them. only makes the technically adept to turn to the free sources after leaving a pile of fecies in the Barnes and Noble(tm)(c)(r) programming book aisle.

      (NOTE: I have seen the SAME books 3 months later on the lasst chance pile for $9.95... that's when I buy them.. funny how they can sell it for $9.95 now..)

      CD's and movies are the same... I dont care WHO you are, no artist deserves to lead a life that is that much better than the pretty-well-to-do man. Courtney Love bitches about how the artists are getting riupped, and I agree.... but she sure does have a whole lot more stuff than I do, and leads a life that I will never attain (not want to... I'd do more inventing instead of sniffing the money up my nose or however she get's it inside her system...)

      EVERYONE needs to get their legs taken out from under them..Until everyone involved get's back to earth on this it will only get worse... There is a middle ground... and unfortunately the middle ground was written into law a reall long time ago...
    • I immediately thought of games (who didn't!?) retailing at hugely above their production cost, and books the same. Why do we accept these things?

      A game doesn't "retail hugely above its production cost" until it passes a certain number of titles. A game that sells for $59 on the shelf can easily be losing money, after all.

      C//
    • I immediately thought of games (who didn't!?) retailing at hugely above their production cost, and books the same. [...] Who would rip games onto CDs for their friends if you could get them in the store (with a free CD case and handy booklet) for $5?

      And under your hypothetical $5 per copy, where would the money come from to pay the people who spent months (or years) of their life developing the game? Do you think the companies that employ them have some secret stash of money-growing trees? They don't, and that's why games cost so much (whether $60 for a particular game is okay or $50 would be more proper is a different issue). The same goes for books, and at least as I've heard, very, very few authors make more than a decent living, if that.

      CD's, of course (which run to US$25 here in Japan, by the way), are a different matter entirely . . .

  • No matter how much I write my senator (Dashle) I never seem to get through to him. It makes you wonder just how much your congress critter actually listens.

    With all the power (money) the major corporations have it just seems hopeless. Everyday you hear about another lawsuit against another company that is allegedly violating some obscure copyright law.

    Maybe someday the government will learn that they are just turning thier people away in favor of a few thousand dollars and some stupid companies.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Create (or find and join) a grassroots organization that's designed solely to mass-mail his constituents a pamphlet describing the things he's done that you aren't pleased with and you don't think they'll appreciate either. Get a web presence that you can direct people to in your mailing, preferably with an online forum where you can reach them on a more frequent/less expensive basis. Ramp up your efforts when he gets some competition you feel will do the job better in the next election, preferably someone who will respect the honest opinion of the electorate, and make sure you can talk to him from time to time to educate him on the issues.

      That's all that the PR lobbyists do. It isn't really that hard if you can dedicate some time to it.

    • " No matter how much I write my senator (Dashle) I never seem to get through to him. It makes you wonder just how much your congress critter actually listens."

      Am I the only one who thinks that's funny? Senator Dashle? The same senator that got an anthrax letter? No shit he's not reading the letters you send him.. all of his mail goes into the real-world equivilent of /dev/null now.
      • Am I the only one who thinks that's funny? Senator Dashle? The same senator that got an anthrax letter? No shit he's not reading the letters you send him.

        An anthrax letter does not give Daschle the right to reject communications from his constituents, for the same reason a nearby shellburst does not give a soldier the right to desert his post. In both cases, it's the man's job -- to be done as safely as possible, but in any case to be done.

        There are sterilization procedures available, and presumably in place.

  • by al3x (74745) on Saturday May 25, 2002 @11:38PM (#3586068) Homepage
    The entertainment industry's war on Fair Use and consumer rights is often debated in terms of legal precedent. You'll see Slashdot comments fumbling towards a constitutional justification of Fair Use, or authors like Lawrence Lessig positing ideas like a digital commons as a rebuttal to the wave of copyrighting and litigation. But there's one simple, clear argument against much of what the entertainment industry would like to do. Read on.

    It's clear that the purveyors of movies, television, records and so forth are scared. They're losing money (or claim to be), and this does not make them happy. Their scapegoat is digital copying, as they refuse to accept that perhaps the content they provide is simply of poor quality, or badly and inconviently distributed, thus explaining their drops in sales. The response of the RIAA and MPAA has been to call for endless litigation and lawmaking, outlawing any behaviour that undercuts their profits at the taxpayer's expense. As above, many "activists" argue that this is illegal, immoral, etc. My response is different.

    The key concept to note is "at the taxpayer's expense." The entertainment industry has every right to protect their content. What they don't (or should not) have, however, is the resources of government and public money. When public funds and time are used to save a failing industry, this is called protectionism, and it's a concept more familiar to Communist ideology than our Free Market. Of course, this White House is no stranger to protectionism, bailing out airlines, the steel industry, and offering farmers massive subsidies. And perhaps one can justify saving these industries: people need transportation, crops, building materials. But who can justify saving the entertainment industry?

    It's entertainment, the superflous recreation that we fill our idle time with. While it generates a lot of money (and ergo political influence), entertainment has, ultimately, zero effect or worth to a population. Sure, music, film, and so forth are part of what defines a culture. But what the public agrees to support are the arts, works of inherant cultural value, not "Dude, Where's My Car?"

    With this in mind, I think any debate about the worth of RIAA- and MPAA-proposed legislation comes to a grinding halt. The entertainment industry is allowed to protect itself using its own time and money; if they want copy protection schemes, for example, let them pay for research and development. But the instant taxpayer time and money is being spent to save big media, we've entered into profoundly unamerican territory.
    • While it generates a lot of money

      This is not exactly true....the entertainment industry (including records, movies,etc.) makes approx. $30 Billion US.....while the computer industry (including hardware and software) makes approx $600 Billion US.

      A better question would be "Why are we trying to help such a small industry?" or "Why does a 30B industry get to tell a 600B industry how to do its job (ie: include content controls in computers)?"

    • Like giving Arrafat control of Palestine. (Now lets see if it outlives him.)

      Like giving Levesque control of an independent Quebec. (it never happened...)

      Like giving Lenin and his band of thugs control over the Soviet Union. (Who? What? I don't read history...)

      Like giving Botha control over the system of Apartheid. (South Africa is now free to find solutions it can live with rather than laboring under rules it can die from.)

      Giving the xxAAs absolutely EVERYTHING they asked for and being able to blame them for EVERYTHING that goes wrong after will lead to their membership being decimated and their being declared outlaws.

      The cessation of the creation of content is an inevitable conclusion. NO NEW CONTENT. NO NEW BOOKS. NO NEW MUSIC. NO NEW MOVIES. Nothing will be created by the "factory" system since its cheaper to re-cycle the same old shit.

      The neo-Luddites of the xxAAs will be so surprised when they finally win one after having fought EVERY technological development since the invention of the player piano and NEVER having won, not even ONCE.

      That single victory be pyrric indeed as they get dismanteled and the rules of the self-styled industry watchdogs get regulated and enforced by government fiat.
      • Are you willing to bet that the studios (which are basically PR factories) won't have enough sense to go easy. They'll be the odd bit of rough stuff, maybe, but how are you going to hear about it? Fox news? I don't think so!

        And, yes, there'll be no new content. Let's see, UK cinema listing...Episode II (aka Ep I with better swordfight) About a boy (Hugh Grant being Hugh Grant number 52) Dog soldiers (Werewolf thing, maybe cool) Ice Age (CG cartoon thing) Scorpion King (Mummy III)

        I don't see a fantastic amount of people complaining, do you?
      • Unfortunately, if we give them that control, they'll completely fuck up the computer industry, which would make me profoundly unhappy. I don't think I like that solution.

    • I agree with you. It galls me that the Media companies think that the Frequencies they are using is somehow thiers.

      Let them pay for it or if not let them loose the right to the content if they choose use this public resource.

      We might all get Broadband quickly and cheaply as an added bonus. G3 band in Europe netted $45B or so. Sure the TV spectrum can net a pretty penny.
    • quote: entertainment has, ultimately, zero effect or worth to a population

      If this statement wasn't in this ideology, I would happily nod and "Me Too" to this blog. But this statment strikes me as insensitive to the those things that we find entertaining.

      Seseme Street: Entertaining, educational, positive effect or worth to a population.

      WW2 Propoganda Cartoons: Entertaining, helped remind people of (relatively positive) civic duties, positive effect or worth to a population.

      The Seven Samurai: Entertaining (to most of us), examines and describes a cultural legend with beautiful filmography, positive effect or worth to a population.

      The point being is these things are art and art (like the specific subset of pornography) is a deeply subjective idea.

      And whose to say there is no societal value to being able to sit and numb the brain for a while? "Geniuses" like to relax their brains, so why can't everyone else?

      I am not making a case for the RIAA or any other heavy-IP control group. But the idea that all entertainment is "superfluous recreation" is decidedly erroneous.

      I would like to "Me Too" on the taxpayer comment if it wasn't for the fact that taxpayer money also funds PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other "positive effect or worth to the population" that we might call entertainment.

      If we are to can the RIAA (et al.) from getting any taxpayer money (and we should), it should be for a better reason than "it's just entertainment".

      • Let me say that I tried to reinforce in my post that movies, music, etc. (even pop ones) have cultural value. I don't deny this. I also don't think we as taxpayers need to pay to save the distribution channels that provide them when those channels are inconvienient, costly, and full of middlemen with fat pockets. I like to veg out as much as the next guy ^_^
    • By that logic, the government shouldn't be
      protecting the property of manufacturing
      companies from thieves and looters either ..
      instead, those companies shold be hiring their
      own security guards to do the job. Anything else
      is a government subsidy, right?

      The whole point of 'intellectual property' is that
      it gets protected by the government, just like
      physical property does. That's what all the movie
      studios and recording companies are paying tax
      for. And the idea that only 'quality' art is
      deserving of protection is simply ludicrous - by
      what objective measure can we detetermine what
      is quality and what isn't?
      • We already make the distinction between "quality" art - worthy of taxpayer funds - and the rest of it. Some people may disagree with that funded art (as in the elephant dung Virgin Mary thing in NYC about a year ago), but we fund it anyway. That's why we make the distinction of "the arts" and "entertainment." People seem to agree with that.

        There's a difference between legal protections deployed by a government based on existing laws, and redefining theft. I think many people feel that the DMCA and similar laws redefines what's illegal to a detrimental extent. Everyone deserves due process, and I don't believe I recind the entertainment industry's right to it anywhere in my post. I just don't believe that they should get a clearly unfair advantage - if they're legislating for changing times, than consumers should get a "consumer bill of rights/fair use declaration" for the changing times.
    • It's entertainment, the superflous recreation that we fill our idle time with. While it generates a lot of money (and ergo political influence), entertainment has, ultimately, zero effect or worth to a population. Sure, music, film, and so forth are part of what defines a culture. But what the public agrees to support are the arts, works of inherant cultural value, not "Dude, Where's My Car?"
      While I agree with the general sentiment of your post, I have to take great exception to this piece. Entertainment is art, whether you like it or not. You may not like "Dude, Where's My Car" (and trust me, I agree with you), but that does not make it any less art than Shakespeare, who in his time was a playwright playing directly to the lower class and under educated, just as "Due, Where's My Car" is. There are many good arguements against the RI/MPAA and the tactics they are employing, but the one that always sticks out as old fogeys looking at a younger culture they no longer understand is the "but all they put out anymore is crap" arguement. I do not like Britney Spears, but there are millions who do (for whatever reason it may be). My not liking her does not keep her from being art anymore than my not liking Van Gogh keeps him from being art.
  • Reading over the articles, I can't help but feel that the Atkinson article doesn't deserve the attention and response. It's more of a sound-bite recitation of the pro-intellectual-propertization CopyRighteousness than it is a reasoned analysis.

    My favourite two bits:

    1- from the Mission Statement of Atkinson's "Progress and Freedom Foundation"...
    The sentence which begins "The Foundation's public policy work brings a market-oriented, pro-technology perspective" is said without any sense of irony. Didn't copyright start out as a tool for government censorship? Is prohibiting study and reverse engineering of code really either pro-technology or pro-market?

    2- from the article itself:
    "But "we" act through highly imperfect governmental institutions, subject to influence by the very corporations that Lessig distrusts. Worse yet, as Lessig himself has recognized, these institutions tend to be bureaucratic, resistant to innovation, and insufficiently flexible to respond in Internet time." Speaking of bureaucratic and insufficiently flexible, how about still discussing/framing the issue in 2002 based on what we thought, back in 1995, that the future would be (aka: information wants to be free, internet routes around censorship, ...) instead of what it is increasingly apparent the future will actually be, (aka: more and more content encrypted and accessible only on the extremely restrictive licensing terms of the major content-owning conglomerates.) And the "we act through highly imperfect governmental institutions" bit, too, as if the DMCA or even copyright itself weren't acting through those same institutions! Man.

    Wait a minute, I fell for it too. Doh!
    My apologies to Miller. Respond-away.
    • Didn't copyright start out as a tool for government censorship?

      Not as far as I know. Going mostly on inference, it seems that the origin of Copyright came up sometime in Europe, and someone made an argument for it good enough that the authors of the US consitituion thought that it was necessarilly a power that the federal government should have.

      It's hard to imagine how copyright could be used for government censorhip, too. The government can just outright censor someone--especially when the idea of copyright was being invented, they had no reason whatsoever to "censor" someone in the convoluted scheme that "copyright censorship" would require.

      (heck, copyright, if anything, works against plagarism, rather than working for censorship.)

      Is prohibiting study and reverse engineering of code really either pro-technology or pro-market?

      Yes. Any security device is only good until it's bypassed. A blanket numbing effect on the development of new security workarounds helps lengthen the effectiveness of security.

      It's not *pro-innovation* or *pro-startup*, but it is "pro-technology" and "pro-market." ;)
      ________________

      Personally, I think the whole sheebang would just go away if code was covered by patents rather than copyrights, and copyright protection was widespread, fair, and had no legitimate reason to bypass. (and, no, that wouldn't necessarilly mean having a way to give bypass to those with fair use... they could just re-type or handwrite their own input like they were doing for years.)

      'course, doing such requires a time machine, or a massive government subsidy. The key word here is *cheap*. *sigh*
      • Personally, I think the whole sheebang would just go away if code was covered by patents...

        Huh? Are you sure you understand what a patent is and the broadness of its scope? You really don't want software to be governed by patents! This grants the author exclusive rights not only to the expression of their invention (i.e., "the code") but any other expression that follows the same process, in any language, form, or construct!

        C//
        • Huh? Are you sure you understand what a patent is and the broadness of its scope? You really don't want software to be governed by patents! This grants the author exclusive rights not only to the expression of their invention (i.e., "the code") but any other expression that follows the same process, in any language, form, or construct!

          Yes, I'm sure. Patents *only* cover either exact design (which copyright is currently used for) or an honest-to-goodness new innovation. Working for a corporation, or being a small guy with the aid of the FSF, serves as a check on big companies getting spurious patents and killing people who can prove prior art, but can't afford the legal fees.

          Patents are also filed, logged, on the public record, expire on a set time, and don't have Disney trying to continually extend them.

          Do you understand what copyright grants? Any code writen, registered or not, is the exclusive property of the author--even if a big, soul-less corporation--for three human generations. Getting rid of "copyrihgted code" would mean abandonware's illegal status would be a thing of the past, that Windows 3.11 would be free (totally, public-domain free) for the taking in just a few short years, and that software companies would have an even shorter time to rest on the laurels of prior development.

          So, yes, I *do* want software covered by patents and not copyright.
          • Yes, I'm sure. Patents *only* cover either exact design (which copyright is currently used for) or an honest-to-goodness new innovation...

            First, as the author of two patents pending and two more in process, I can say that you really need to rethink your position, and look far more carefully at patents as they are written as a matter of practice today. You don't want software patents. A software patent is far worse than a copyright. With a copyright, no one can duplicate your code or a reasonable fascimile thereof. With patent, no one can render the described procedure into practice in any language or any form even accidentally without risking an infringement case to which you will have no real recourse without spending a good $10 million dollars if things heat up.

            C//

            C//
            • First, as the author of two patents pending and two more in process, I can say that you really need to rethink your position, and look far more carefully at patents as they are written as a matter of practice today.

              No, I don't. Copyright lasts forever--patents don't. If code had to be patented to be protected, we'd have every line of DOS, Wordstar, & Word 2.0 open and free for the taking.

              You don't want software patents. A software patent is far worse than a copyright. With a copyright, no one can duplicate your code or a reasonable fascimile thereof. With patent, no one can render the described procedure into practice in any language or any form even accidentally without risking an infringement case to which you will have no real recourse without spending a good $10 million dollars if things heat up.

              And this is different from copyright how?

              With copyright, the term lasts and lasts and lasts--and there's no guarantee that the code will be useable when it's finally public domain. Everything from Linux to a "hello, world" program gets the same protection.

              With patents (since i'm dreaming, I can assume that the patents office gets competent & very conservitive people handing out these new software patents), the term is set, the innovation is cataloged, and *only new innovations* are patented.

              Let's step back and look at this from another POV. Who would suffer from software patents? Small companies trying to go toe-to-toe with big companies without enough resources to make their idea work? Big companies that sit on the laurels of decades-old work?

              It certainly wouldn't hurt me. If the enabling law also required a uniform EULA setup with pior disclosure, I'd love it. RMS & Bill G. might flip that now their code's just code, but that's just a fringe benefit to me.
              • Copyright lasts forever--patents don't.

                Yes, but this rather begs the question of why it is you are proposing one change (to wit: making software not copyrightable) and not considering another: limited durations for software copyright. I propose the latter: limited durations and no patents.

                If code had to be patented to be protected, we'd have every line of DOS, Wordstar, & Word 2.0 open and free for the taking.

                No, you would have (potentially) had every word of code upfront. But for 17 years, the only operating system using the innovations of DOS would be DOS. Any other operating system using any of the novel items of DOS would have been out of luck and been injuncted from the market place by government fiat unless they paid M$ a hefty license fee. Copyrights, while not servicing an objective you desire (to wit: leaving at the end of the period a product that is per se useful) do not squelch innovation in similar areas. Patents do.

                With copyright, the term lasts and lasts and lasts--and there's no guarantee that the code will be useable when it's finally public domain.

                Why do you keep talking about code? Patents cover the general governing principle behind the code. The code is only a matter of an embodiment of the invention. The exact expression of the code, even the language it's written in, hell, even if it's not a computer language per se, is only a barely relevant detail.

                And this is different from copyright how?

                By quite a bit, actually. Patents, because they are so general, when directed at an offending part often are actually correct on the basis of the patent as written, leading one to have to face a costly attempt at invalidating the patent itself. A copyright violation charge, if not correct, is easily disproven and dismissed. It costs far less.

                C//
    • Copyright did start as a censorship tool, yes. IIRC, it was started by Henry VIII -- today we would call it a stationer's copyright. Essentially the idea was that presses couldn't legally print anything unless it had been vetted for seditious content, etc. and approved.

      However, copyright as we know it started with a radically different law, the Statute of Anne, in England, circa 1700. Publishers hated it, because this time the idea was to promote public learning, which would harm their profits.

      American copyright is based on the same concept, and our Constitution says as much. AFAIK all modern copyright statutes are no longer of the stationer's variety, though copyrights of any sort did take a long time to catch on.
  • by Adam J. Richter (17693) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @12:04AM (#3586120)
    Chapter two of The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users Rights by L. Ray Patterson and Stanley W. Lindberg discusses the origin of the word copyright ("Copyright In The Beginning: A Publishers Right"). According to the book, copyright does not come from a "right to copy", but rather from copie, which was a noun meaning "manuscript" (not a verb meaning "to duplicate"). The title of the copie was recorded in a registry maintained by the Stationers Guild in the late 1500's to mid 1600's to record who they gave a monopoly to to publish a given book. This right lasted in perpetuity, but was only legally binding on members of the guild, which is apparently where the big push came from to turn this arragement into a law in order to prevent non-members from breaking the monopoly.

    Authorship of the work apparently did not matter. Instead, a guild member could claim a monopoly in this registry for six pence (no idea what that translates to in today's dollars).

    • It would be difficult to properly convert 16th century six pence into a modern equivelent. However, we can get a rough estimate of its worth by making simple comparisons.

      A six pence is half a shilling. A typical seasoned merchant sailor made about this amount per day. This is on the high end for skilled workers (hazard pay). With this in mind, I would make the wild guess that we're talking one or two full days for a skilled worker. This makes it an expensive endeavor to register a copyright, so acts as a limiting factor. A bookmaker isn't going to go through the trouble of registering copyrights for a few dozen manuscripts "just in case" as the expense would ruin him. He would be very selective with his choices, looking for items that would give him a reasonable return on his investment. Remember, the majority of the population would not be capable of purchasing this type of luxury, so the market is very small.

      Source of 16th century sailer pay is from "The Mariner's Mirror". Sorry, I don't have the exact citation handy at the moment.

    • Authorship of the work apparently did not matter. Instead, a guild member could claim a monopoly in this registry for six pence (no idea what that translates to in today's dollars).

      I guess on the authorship Vs control issue, nothing has changed since the late 1500s...
    • Copy means manuscript, so what? Copyright still meant the ability to publish, aka copy, the work.

      It's interesting how publishing is devolving back to the days of perpetual ownership of material and guilds. If DRM legislation has it's way, only certian people will have unecumbered machines for publication of all material. If the telcos have their way, everyone will have to meet their demands to publish on the internet. If you combine the wishes of all the stupid and short sighted comercial intests, digital content will prove more difficult to author, copy, and publish than traditional media. Traditional medial will be destroyed.

      Remember what Orwell said. The party does not exist for the public good, it wills itself to power for power alone. 2 + 2 + 4, from this all else follows, so long as you can say it and make it known. Truth is the enemy of the party. The party is growing up before us and it's main force is DRM.

  • WRT both copyright and corporations is that they are there to support the "public good." It is quite sad when people, and corporations, forget this. It appears as if many laws established for the public good have been re-interpreted as being for the "corporate good" instead.

    *sigh*
  • simple is better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sydlexic (563791) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @12:20AM (#3586145)
    if the government is going to hand out monopolies in the form of copyright and patents, then they should force the recipient of a monopoly to license the work in reasonable, equal and non-descriminatory terms. that would put an end to the corporate patent-swapping schemes since everyone would have to a) declare the value and b) all licensers would get that price. it would also make it possible for works to be disseminated/sold legally through any and all channels. it would put an end to the RIAA's stranglehold on content.
  • by crovira (10242) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @12:54AM (#3586208) Homepage
    The creation of content is anathema to the xxAAs since it involves expense and possible financial loss.

    These people(?) would rather sell reruns of crap for pure profit than spend a buck on a creative artist.

    They see artists as a necessary evil which is controlled and manipulated by putting the art and the artist through a mill which grinds out "hits" while grinding down the artists.

    Sometime the hype is so transparent that anyone with an ounce of integrity would hide their face in shame. Instead , you get some babe shilling shit while holding up a can of beer for scale.

    What gets air play or screen time is not what's good or what is worth seeing but what some soul-dead accountant decides you should see.

    Harry Potter books sold? Lets play it safe and make Harry Potter movies. How about a remake of ... ?

    Eventually, they media mavens realize that the rerun is more profitable, specially if all the artists are dead of old age. How else can you explain Alphal-fuckin'-fa still being on TV? How about the "Three Stooges," week after week after week? Used as filler between commercials.

    The reason they don't want anybody to be able to copy anything is that THEY want to SELL every byte that comes over the 'net and they don't want you to be able to hang on to any of them because then they can't charge you over and over for the same cra, uh, content.

    The creators of content, the animators, artists, authors, musicians, playwrights, thespians etcetera will soon have no market anyway.

    500 channels on TV and ALL running infomercials.

    Message-less Media in the purest McLuhanistic sense.

    The artists who are already the source for the content, will have to form their own separate distribution networks and use some form of micro payment PER COPY (the bane of the xxAAs control mechanisms. :-)

    Imagine after the introduction of IPv6, when DynIP can finally be disposed of and spoofing becomes a great deal more difficult, a very minor change to the FTP protocol, call it cFTP, which records, when necessary, the address of the recipient of a document or packet stream.

    Imagine a micro payment scheme which records charges for every copy of some artist's work collecting money from the recipient and depositing it in the artist's account.

    Now imagine the xxAAs wondering where all the sucke, uh, audience has gone? Don't we WANT to pay for the n-th rerun of "My Mother The Car?"
    • To some extent I agree with you, but... access to a channel like the imternet lets people like ourselves dies by the sword by which we would live. We can create the good content oursleves and bypass the AAs. The sponsorship for producing the great eye candy content is not yet possible (unless you are the grateful dead or someone with an established reputation) but that channel will come. Sooner or later and to start it will fund only "poor" imitations of the blockbusters, but that to will change. PAtientce is a virtue and without radical upheaval (which I cannot endorse for lots of reasons) we must let the underground grow slowly. This point clearly defines our battlefield. We must stop the AAs removing the access to the tools for the libre creation and distribution of content. Let them have their DVD and DRM but let them not enforce them on me when I do not want their content. (one of the real bummers is that I do like some of their content and it burns that I have to go without)
  • Okay, as someone who is trying to make a living from selling digitally-reproducable works (music, see sig), I can be sympathetic to copyright-holders' fears of a loss of sales due to people copying and distributing their goods for free. But what I completely fail to understand is this:

    How is making a derivative work anything but a benefit to all parties concerned? Let's say I wrote a song and included a sample of a Benny Goodman song. I wouldn't be taking away from sales of Goodman CDs--who would say "Oh I don't need to buy that CD, I have another CD by someone else with a 4 second sample on it. That's all I need." As a matter of fact, it would boost sales of Goodman CDs. I myself have bought a lot of CDs just on the basis that a bit of a song on it was sampled by an artist I really like. It's really free advertising. The only problem I can see is if I made it seem like Benny Goodman was actually playing along with me, and the song had content that would tarnish his reputation in it. But that would fall under the laws for libel, wouldn't it? Or let's say I wanted to make a movie that featured someone reading an entire Stephen King book out loud? Well maybe that could be construed as copyright infringement, since it would be reproducing the entire work, but if I used just a passage? And I credited King? It's FREE ADVERTISING!

    Here's an interesting true example: Raymond Carvers last book of poetry, "A New Path to the Waterfall", included a number of poems that were nothing more than snippets from Chekov (his favorite writer) stories. His removal of these passages from their original context imbued them with an altogether new meaning that wasn't present in the original works. It's really amazing stuff, and it pisses me off that writers of today are only able to do this with works in the public domain? What if Disney retro-extended copyrights so that they covered Chekov works? We'd all be out a damn fine book of poems.

    The wierd thing is, I can do all of these things today by buying the rights to a work, which are almost always owned by the publisher, who rarely cares about keeping intact the original artist's reputation (remember the commercials that showed Fred Astaire dancing around with a vacuum cleaner? *shudder*). For example, the movie "From Hell" was a piece of crap compared to the complex genius that is the comic book. But did it tarnish the original author, Alan Moore's reputation? I don't think so. Were there some people who didn't buy the comic book because they saw the movie? I doubt it. I bet that more people bought the comic book since it came out. Plus, no matter how much I didn't like the movie, the world is richer because of it. Its creators should have had to do nothing more than conspicuously display credit to the original authors.

    Copyright law today as it relates to creating derivative works has nothing to do with the integrity of the original work and everything to do with making a buck. Long-term copyrights may be preventing the growth of the public domain, but the bit that relates to creating derivative works is preventing the creation of many, many new works, by only allowing those with deep pockets to make those new works. If we want to see sampling as an art form develop to the levels of say, jazz or cubism, the law needs to be rewritten to either a) allow the unauthorized creation of a derivative work, but still force appropriate credit to be given, or b) everything in (a), but also allow the original author, and only the original author--this right must be non-transferrable-- the ability to sue a creator of a derivate work if he feels it tarnishes his reputation, or the integrity of his original work. Under no circumstances should an artist collect any payment from another artist for the permission to use a piece of his work.
  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Sunday May 26, 2002 @01:26AM (#3586255) Homepage Journal
    William F. Adkinson, Jr. is Senior Policy Counsel at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, a group that describes itself as a market-oriented think tank that promotes innovative policy solutions for the digital age.

    The key phrase is "market-oriented." They are a group sponsored by big business. Their sponsors include:

    * AOL Time Warner
    * BMG
    * National Cable & Telecommunications Association
    * Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
    * Vivendi Universal

    And the article was published in The American Spectator, a shamelessly right-wing rag that caters to the crowd that believes that helping big business get bigger is the most important contribution that legislation can make to our lives.

    Of course Adkinson came out with a pro-copyright rebuttal. His article is as unbiased and trustworthy as one citing the health benefits of cigarette smoking sponsored by R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris.
    • You know, the funny thing about "market-oriented" is that it seems to mean "encourages bigger and better corporations though vertical and horizontal integration". Which actually means fewer economic decisions are being made by markets, and more are made by managers at firms.

      Sometimes it seems like "the market" is just the excuse for transfering decision power around (expecially away from your consumers), and reveals a deep mistrust of the use of markets as the basis for broad economic decision-making.

      • Groups that purport to be "market-oriented" are often just front organizations that push the agendas of large corporate "sponsors." They have no concern for individual rights or the greater good of society. Their sole interest is maximizing the profits of corporations. If that means taking away the basic rights that we have all come to value, so be it.
  • by dukethug (319009)

    Adkinson claims that the "5 movie studios and 7 record labels" should be plenty to create a competitive market. He argues that there is no real monopoly beyond that which is expressly allowed by copyright itself.

    This argument felt funny to me, and it didn't take me long to realize why- there is something of a "critical mass" phenomenon when it comes to monopolies. You can have a monopoly in one big thing (e.g., operating systems) OR you can have a large number of small monopolies (e.g., in music.) The power of the record labels emerges from a single entity that has so many small monopolies at its control. This is what skews the market, as opposed to the ideal- a large number of small monopolies in the hands of many people.

    Any claims that the movie studios are anything less than an oligopoly is absolutely ludicrous. If I did a survey of 1000 people, how many of them could tell me what record label she's on? Does it even matter? Of course not. It's not even the entertainment industry. It's the copyright industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Miller-Feigenbaum piece makes some sharp arguments about the distinction between copying and distributing creative works, and why it makes little sense to regulate copying in the digital age. I'm definitely going to recommend this to my Senators when I tell them what I think of the MPAA's efforts to trash my input devices [slashdot.org].

    I Blockquote:
    Reproduction is not necessary to access a work embodied in a physical artifact. No copying is required to read a book or watch a movie. However, copying is necessary in order to read an e-book or watch a DVD. In the digital world, the right to control copying becomes tantamount to a right to control access to a work for purposes of normal use, such as reading, viewing, and listening. In the digital world, the right to control copying means that actually reading an e-book is presumptively a violation of the copyright owner's rights.

    That's the crux of it. That's why I get so riled by any attempt to legislatively force DRM (Digital Rights Mangling) into my computer. It feels like the government granting a few cartels the power to dictate the conditions under which citizens access and formulate their responses to public discourses. If that ain't speeding down the road to unfreedom, pass me the hemlock. Freedom just ain't all it's cracked up to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 26, 2002 @04:51AM (#3586520)
    Basically, if you and I cannot make any unauthorized copies, then all uses of the media go through the distributors. This level of control gives them three things they *want* very much going forward into the digitial age.

    1. They can utilize pay per view and subscription models. WIth these, the larger the catalog, the more potential dollars they make over time. --I am talking about very long periods of time.

    2. They stop the consumption problem. Right now we are busy buying media both new and old that we find interesting because the two primary digital formats promise long life and high fidelity. Once the boom in old media purchases is over, they will be left with the blockbuster profits they generate with new media productions. Over the next 10 years they face quite a revenue shortage with the current media and distribution models. Look for format changes that favor them and not us. (DIVX style, or at the least copy restricted media formats worse than what we have now.) You can bet that they will push the heck out of the blue laser DVD media and correct the "mistakes" made with existing DVD media.

    3. They eliminate potential competition. Anyone wanting to distribute anything will have to go through an authorized distributor. No more "Blair Witch Project" releases stealing revenue from the first-run hits. A secondary effect here is about control of speech in general. Harder to make artistic statements without distribution. All they need to is say "the market is not ready for that!" and you are done. Maybe they buy it from you, or knock it off to marginalize your work and its all over.

    Personally I have little sorrow for them. I am sure profits are important, but the benefit of the emerging distributed creative culture is more important to me. As others learn, they will agree. This is a large part of why this stuff does not get a lot of mainstream press.

    Maybe the above is a little alarmist, but I can find few other sane motives that explain their actions of late.....
  • The problem also lies with those or us that desire the copyright works. If you have no desire for an X-box. How much does the copyright really matter?
    If we can eliminate the attachment or wanting for these corporation's works, their power is as real as the value in a dot gone's stock options.
    Think about it, if your parents wont lend you a car and you never wanted the car from the start it will not affect you that much.
  • I have noted this every time someone talks about shortening copyright terms, the same question and concern: "What will this do to the GPL? Companies will now be able to exploit GPL'ed code in only X years." This is a stupid argument, namely because proprietary code would be public domain in X years, which would more than counter the GPL'ed code being public domain in X years. The GPL was made as a weapon against typical copyright. Its a way to live with current copyright laws while they exist. Also, any laws shortening copyright periods could have specific exceptions for GPL'ed, LGPL'ed, BSD'd, and other open-sourced or free as in freedom licenses.

    Here's my proposal for copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, and other terms. Let me briefly justify it by saying that in terms of "shelf life" music and software on average have very short periods of popularity. I know some idiot is going to respond to this saying that "people still listen to Beethoven" and that "basic UNIX code has been around forever," so let me qualify that by saying that the vast vast majority of software and music is obsolete in a few years. In software, this is especially true for the vast majority of games; older games like (i.e., Tomb Raider I) may still be played, but they're hardly selling points for their companies (i.e., Eidos). Same thing with most music. There are always a few exceptions; but even in the cases of exceptions -- i.e., music by Madonna -- the revenues from 5 year old albums is very miniscule compared to that from albums just recently released. As for movies, they have a longer shelf life. Books and artistic works (i.e., paintings) probably have the longest "life-span". On to patents; most inventors recover the cost of their investment on patents in much less time than 20 years, so I propose scaling this protection back as well. Here's my specific proposals:


    I. Copyrights.


    As a general preface, aside from the duration changes which will be mentioned, copyrights must also be reformed such as to eliminate copyright-abuses. For example, assinite terms of the EULA should not be protected by the laws. Furthermore, copyrights should be modified such that equal licensing terms are mandated. Also, any copyrighted work coupled with DRM or other technologies which in any way hinder fair use will be protected; in other words, copyright owners must by law ensure fair use priviledges to their customers (as is the law in Russia). On a similar vein, when the duration of a work expires, the owner must make make available any information pertinent to that work so as to make it public domain (i.e., the source code); this is ensured by mandating that copyright owners submit their source code to the government when registering copyrights. Furthermore, no technologies which further consumers' fair use rights may be hindered. This is hardly a comprehensive list of necessary reforms.

    A. Software.
    I propose initial terms of copyright protection for software of 5 years. At the end of the term, one extension of 5 years may be granted if sales are at 50% of the maximum; an extension of 4 years, if sales are at 40% of the maximum; etc. In short, the extension will be determined as follows: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 year extension maximum. (5yrs - 10yrs max). Open sourced software of free as in freedom software (as defined by opensource.org and fsf.org, respectively) will be protected for 75 years.
    B. Music.
    Initial term of 10 years. At the end of that term, an extension can be granted according to the following formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 year extension maximum; another, final, extension at the end of that term may be granted according tot he same formula. (10yrs - 20yrs max). Any music distributed under an free as in freedom license has a protection of 80 years.
    C. Movies.
    Initial term of 15 years. Three 5 year extensions may be granted according to the formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 year extension maximum for each separate extension. (15yrs - 30yrs max). Any movies distributed under a free as in freedom license have a protection of 85 years.
    D. Books.
    Initial term of 20 years. Four 5 year extensions may be granted according to the formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 yar extension maximum for each separate extension. (20yrs - 40yrs max). Any books distributed under the a free as in freedom license have a protection of 90 years.
    E. Artistic works.
    Initial term of 25 years. Five 5 year extensions may be granted according to the formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 yar extension maximum for each separate extension. (25yrs - 50yrs max). Any artistic works distributed under a free as in freedom license have a protection of 95 years.

    II. Patents


    As a general preface, aside from the duration changes which will be mentioned, patents must also be reformed such that no patent is granted where prior art is present. Furthermore, to aid in this goal, all pending patents must be opened up so that the public can look for cases of prior art. This is largely intended to put an end to the shameless cases of biopiracy, where Indigenous people's knowledge is being plundered by greedy corporations, which then make Indigenous peoples pay for the medicines they themselves created. Furthermore, patents should be reformed such that equal terms licensing is required. Independent or nearly independent co-discovery of the same thing will be recognized; Newton and Leibnez both invented Calculus independently. One may have invented it slightly before the other, but that hardly means that only one should be recognized. In such modern-day cases of independent co-discovery, both inventors will be entitled to rights. Finally, full and complete disclosure of the relevant materials/procedures (i.e., source code, algorithms) to the public will be required. This is hardly comprehensive list of ways in which current patent laws need to be modified to stamp out corrupted, poor elements of patent law.

    A. Business.
    Patents on business practices, models, or techniques (i.e., Amazon's 1-click or whatever its called) will be abolished. Discovering a superior way to do business is incentive enough.
    B. Software.
    Patents on software techniques (i.e., algorithms) will be abolished. Copyrights should be sufficient to cover any software. Even Bill Gates, a IP-monger, has said that patent laws threaten software innovation, and that had what is patentable now been patentable 20 years ago, the modern software era would have never come about (refer to Lawrence Lessig's "The Future of Ideas).
    C. Medicines and other medical treatments.
    Medicines and medical treatments will be covered for an initial term of 5 years; one 5 year extension may be granted according to the formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, up to a 5 year extension maximum. Furthermore, medicines for life-threatening conditions (i.e., AIDS, cancer) or otherwise severe conditions (hint: a cold doesn't count) must be provided at the cost of production to anyone too poor to afford them at market price; to discourage fraud, anyone found to be trying to defaud the companies will be forced by a court to pay at least 5 times market price afterwards. I have singled out medicines for special treatment because medicines are special in that they save lives and that most medicines are obsolete and useless very quickly (any anti-AIDS drugs quickly become useless), so it does not benefit the public at all for them to be in the public domain after 20 years. In 20 years, any current HIV-drug will be completely useless; thus, the public gets short-changed in such deals. Furthermore, any civilized society realizes that economic concerns take a backseat to saving lives.
    D. Other invensions.
    Other inventions will be covered by an initial term of 10 years; one extension may be granted according to the following formula: # years extension = (% maximum) / 10, for up to a maximum of 10 years.

    III. Trade Secrets.


    Trade secrets will be abolished. If a company wants to keep a secret, that should be their obligation and responsibility; courts should not be helping them to do so by silencing anyone who "discovers their secret". Aside from that, trade secrets are a potential danger to the public, since we know not what they are. We live in a democracy, and the idea of the government protecting corporate secrets is the anti-thesis to an open, free society.


    IV. Trademarks.


    I do not think that current durations on trademarks should be altered. Trademarks in fact help the public by allowing us to easily distinguish between different kinds of products. What should be modified is the scope of trademark laws. Trademarks should apply very specifically to their field. Furthermore, trademarks should have to be on an original phrase; i.e., trademarking "Windows" is not allowed. There are also numerous examples where trademark owners try to restrict language outside of their specific field. For example, Intel Inside and Yoga Inside; Coke suing a book-dealer for quoting praise of a book which said "its the real thing"; and so on and so forth. None of that non-sense should be allowed. Trademarks in the software industry should not cross over into other industries, and vica versa. Ideally, trademarks should be new words or new phrases, never-before-said; i.e., Intelliside should be preferable to Intel Inside. However, if that's not done, at the very least, the trademarks should only be enforced specifically within an industry. In the granting of trademarks, more scrutiny should be given to one's which are not new words or phrases, never-before-said. The idea is to prevent corporations and religions from carving up the English language amongst themselves.


    V. Scientology


    As one final note, I would like to say that something needs to be done about Scientology and copyright laws, trademark laws, and possibly patent laws. It should not be possible for Scientology -- or any other half-baked religion -- to use IP laws as a way to beat their members into submission, silence critis, and other such nonsense. In short, to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion, intellectual property laws must not apply to religion. If something is to qualify as a religion, its books, so to speak, must be completely open, public domain. No IP laws should be used to silence parody, criticism, review, or fair-use: any such attempt to use IP laws to silence parody, criticism, review, or fair-use will be deemed as an abuse of that copyright, patent, or trade-secret, and will result in losing the rights to that particular piece. Repeated attempts to abuse IP-"rights" on the part of corporations or organizations will result in them losing all of their IP-"rights".


    VI. Final Notes.


    As a final note, I should say that my system has the advantage of rewarding extended terms based on how well something is selling. There is obviously little point in offering a long extension for a work which is only selling at 0.01% of maximum volume. Perhaps using the maximum sales as a reference point is a little bit too much; perhaps the average sale over the initial term should be used, or the midpoint between the max and the average. However, the point remains the same: that this system rewards extensions in proportion to how well something is selling. This neutralizes criticism from people who say, "oh, but there's some works who sell well for a long time". Any suggestions on other ways to stamp out abuse of the IP-system would be welcome.

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