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Statistical Analysis of Copyright Registrations 337

Posted by michael
from the number-of-the-beast dept.
linuxizer writes "I've been poking around in Penn's Library for most of my Freshman year, looking up copyright statistics. What I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation. Perhaps most fascinating is the strong 40-year upward trend in registrations which is sharply broken in 1991 with a precipitous decline. Also included are some interesting observations about the RIAA's data. The numerous graphics should be well-enough explained that you don't need to go to the data files, but they are included if needed."
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Statistical Analysis of Copyright Registrations

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  • Jeez (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:31PM (#6454668) Homepage
    linuxizer writes "I've been poking around in Penn's Library for most of my Freshman year, looking up copyright statistics.

    By $DEITY man! Get out, get drunk, get laid! There'll be plenty of time to poke around libraries when you're 40!

    • He *is* 40, (Score:5, Funny)

      by deego (587575) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:43PM (#6454802)
      you insensitive clod!
    • People who choose user names such as "linuxizer" don't generally have much chance of getting laid anyway. The best we can hope for is getting him drunk while he plays everquest with 14 year olds pretending to be girls.
    • Re:Jeez (Score:3, Funny)

      I've been poking around in Slashdot's archives, looking up nerd behavior. What I found is basically what many suspected all along: The age has little effect on the chances of nerds getting laid. Perhaps it's because 80% of the nerds don't get laid at all. So it doesn't matter if the nerd in questions is 16, 25, or 65. His chances are equally null.

    • By $DEITY man! Get out, get drunk, get laid! There'll be plenty of time to poke around libraries when you're 40!

      I'm really hoping there's a girl at Penn named Library. But I think we actually need to shoot this kid.

    • Or better yet, just do whatever you like to do, and ignore the people who think they know what's best for you. And I am sure that you can't spend ALL your time getting frunk and getting laid, leaving plenty of free time to read and hang out in the library.
    • Walter Library at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, was a big old, unrenovated building with a huge "stacks" area in the back where many of the books were. These stacks were a series of floors of about 7' in height filled with bookshelves and small, out-of-the-way study areas.

      The stacks weren't well-traveled and you could get yourself into some nooks and crannies where you could hang out and not see a soul for hours (or even days I'd wager).

      Well, needless to say, it was trivial to bring booze i
  • by ajlitt (19055) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:32PM (#6454673)
    There's something wrong with you if most of your freshman year of college is spent looking up copyright statistics.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:35PM (#6454722)
      There's something wrong with you if most of your freshman year of college is spent looking up copyright statistics.

      My freshman year was highly spent looking up statistics:

      for example,
      Milwaukee's Best Ice Light: 5.1% alcohol, $3.99
      Natural Light Ice: 5.4% alcohol, $4.29.

      I could never decide which was the better deal, but I preferred the Beast's taste and I was most like to have 4 $1 dollar bills, as opposed to 4 $1 bills and random change, so my scientific analysis dictated the Beast Ice.
    • by alptraum (239135) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:32PM (#6455259)
      Ari Friedman, I whole heartedly commend you for your efforts in academia and drive to learn and explore. Great job, keep up the good work.

      As for the /. posters above, why is the desire to learn looked down upon in America? If all you want to do is party and get drunk, why are you paying thousands dollars to do so?

      The mentality is what is causing the sharp decreases in students going into mathematics, the sciences and engineering fields, because they are viewed as being only for "nerds". A recent article posted on yahoo news stated that it is believe by 2010 that 90% of all physical scientists will be Asian, and that over 50% of them will be working in Asia. What's America going to do with a society comprised largely of business students and other "soft" degrees?
      • Great for you if you want to hide in a library during some of your most formative years. I tooled around with NetBSD on a VAX I scrounged and learned a good deal about my chosen field (comp. engr.). I also met some interesting people and had some good times. Now that I'm working in the real world, I've come to realize that most of the knowledge I use on the job was self-taught, and that those thousands spent on my education were pretty much wasted if the only value I ever saw in college was just in educa
  • zinger time (Score:5, Funny)

    by Savatte (111615) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:33PM (#6454683) Homepage Journal
    "I've been poking around in Penn's Library"

    I thought the only one who did that was Teller.

    Thank you, I'll be here until I get booed off stage.
    • "I've been poking around in Penn's Library" I thought the only one who did that was Teller.
      Thank you, I'll be here until I get booed off stage.

      I think I speak for everyone when I say :

      Booooooooooooooo!

  • Innovation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UTaimSRC (689392) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:33PM (#6454690)
    extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation but how do you measure innovation? you can't just say that so many more CD's were sold or so many more compositions were written. The statistics are there but I believe that they don't prove the hypothesis.
    • Actually, in a large enough population of artistic material, the ratio of innovative works to derivative/crappy/meetoo works is some constant.

    • how do you measure innovation?

      I was wondering that as well. Also, this "study" seems like a correlational one, yet there are no correlation stats (pearson r, or whatever). And everyone knows that correlation does not mean causation.

      All the nit picking aside, I'm impressed with this work from a freshman. Much better than anything I did the first couple of times as a freshman :)

      One thing to keep in mind is that the US population is the largest of any industrialized nation [npg.org]. More people mean more custom
  • Horrid advertising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:33PM (#6454695)
    Site contains multiple popups and spyware.
    • Lose IE (Score:3, Informative)

      by blunte (183182)
      Strange, I went to the site and saw nothing but some scary statistical info.

      Maybe you should switch to Mozilla [mozilla.org]. I've been happily-popup-free for quite a while now.

      • Re:Lose IE (Score:5, Funny)

        by ScuzzMonkey (208981) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:46PM (#6455409) Homepage
        Oh, stop gloating... there are many of us sitting here, wasting our corporations' valuable time and bandwidth surfing Slashdot, who don't have the freaking option to install or use anything other than IE.

        I mean, seriously, are you suggesting that we actually get work done and do our surfing at home? Please!
  • Ye Gods! (Score:5, Informative)

    by (startx) (37027) <slashdot.unspunproductions@com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:34PM (#6454707) Journal
    I clicked on the link and there were 5 popups plus a Gator install! What kind of a sadistic freak are you?

    (yes, I know, don't use IE, etc. work computer, don't have much of a choice)
    • Luckily I don't read the articles, how is this acceptable to the average slashdotian. I mean a site filled with spyware and the gator is allowed on the front page? What would Howard Dean think?
    • I'm lucky, I installed Firebird here on my work computer. No popups, no Gator install, jus the site. Makes me wonder why corporation don't install Mozilla/Firebird by default these days.
      • Indeed.

        But the platform whoring button on the bottom of the page says *any* browser! You aren't getting all the content you rightfully deserve if you're blocking the pop ups!

        Strangely, I feel absolutely no compulsion to switch to my *any* browser to view it.
    • ...of course, I'm using Mozilla Firebird as my broswer however. :-)
    • by odin53 (207172) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:13PM (#6455099)
      There are popups and a Gator install?
    • Re:Ye Gods! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ctrl-Z (28806) <{tim} {at} {timcoleman.com}> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:14PM (#6455109) Homepage Journal

      Dude, I use IE at work too but I don't see popups. The latest Google toolbar [google.com] has a built-in popup blocker, among other cool features.

      If you can, give it a try.
      • The latest Google toolbar has a built-in popup blocker, among other cool features.

        If he had any sofware choice, he'd be running Mozilla. If you are going to get busted for adding software to your computer, a toolbar is just as big a bust as anything else. The poor devil had better get back to work before his corporate task masters notice and revoke his "internet" privs altogether.

        Not having to look at M$ crap is about the only good thing about being fired. That and the 15% bonus my former peers are goi

  • And everybody is surprised about this because...?
  • Congratualtions on directing us to one of the most ugly, popup ridden site it has ever been my displeasure to visit.
  • innovation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekmetal (682313) <vkeerthy@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:39PM (#6454749) Journal
    What I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation.

    Well you have to also analyze the quality of the those extensions. A well thought out extension to the copyright terms could certainly have a positive effect on innovation, but sadly the viewpoint of the bodies making those extensions is only to protect. Little thought is given as to how it could be used to effect innovation positively.

  • Perhaps most fascinating is the strong 40-year upward trend in registrations which is sharply broken in 1991 with a precipitous decline.

    Isn't that about the time that the US copyright law changed so that you no longer had to register to claim copyright? I thught it was some time around the late 80's.
    • Renewal registration becaome optional on June 26th, 1992. Works copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977, automatically renewed even if registration not made.
      • I know that renewals are an option. But on March 1, 1989, there were some changes enacted to bring US copyright in line with international standards. One of those changes according to this bitlaw article [bitlaw.com] was that you were no longer required to make an explicit statement of copyright to preserve your copyright.

        I was working in a university at the time and I thought I recalled that the requirements for registration no longer applied. It appears however, that registration never applied, but that after 1989
    • If you don't register your copyright, you can't then turn around and sue a college student 150K per infraction for violating it.
      • Weirdly enough, this is only true for Americans. Foreigners are automatically granted copyright protection without registering under the Berne Convention. [lgu.com] American authors still have to register in order to sue someone so that we maintain full employment at the the US Copyright Office.

        Also, I think the Berne Convention lets you bid no-trump if you hold three aces, but I have to check my notes.
  • by Gorny (622040) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:39PM (#6454754) Homepage Journal
    "I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation."

    Innovation isn't always completely tied to copyright terms. Take the GNU/BSD licenses (copyright terms) of the recent decade. They're successfull and at least a part of their success comes from people being not satisfied with other copyright terms.
    Indirect the innovation comes from the strengthening of other copyright terms, but you cant say it doesn't have any effect. It does, people are searching for other ways in order to not infringe other stupid copyrights (MS EULA).
  • by jrstewart (46866) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:40PM (#6454768) Homepage
    My understanding is that registration isn't required in order for your work to be copyrighted, and hasn't been required since at least 1976. Everything I read on this give some line about how registering a copyright makes your court case easier if you have so sue someone over infringement, but I wonder how many published works are registered.

    I would venture to guess that most mainstream works are.
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:47PM (#6454837)
      My understanding is that registration isn't required in order for your work to be copyrighted

      While strictly speaking you are correct, at least in the field of screenwriting of which I'm familiar, registering your material with the copyright office within 90 days of completion entitles you to extra classes of monetary damages in the event of infringment that are not available otherwise.

      • In fact, you can't even sue someone for infringement until you've registered your work. (whether extra damages are available depends on if you registered prior to the infringement; just to get to that point you'll have had to register anyway)

        So since the copyright holders of non-registered works appear to not care if their works are infringed upon, I think it's safe to discount them; they're getting protection that AFAICT is meaningless to them, and isn't motivating them to create. They'd act the same with
        • Nonsense.

          To sue you register. So, when you find someone infringing, then you register and then sue. Big deal. The difference in damages is meaningless if the copyright is actually valuable. Thus, when the a priori probability of infringement is seen as low, there's no point in wasting the time and money of registering.

          We can conclude nothing at all about the value of the innovation, or the movivation that copyright had on it, from the nonregistration of a work.
        • Eh, I hold all my unregistered copyrights seriously. I can't afford the whole process, but I DO care if someone infringes on my rights. Mostly out of ethical principle, and not monetary reasons. If I create something, it is MY creation, and to use it without attribution (officially copyrighted or no) is ethically wrong.

          If I ever found someone using some of my writing as there own, I would then research way in which to stop them, and try my damnest to force them to stop, or at least own up to the fact th
    • After 1976, anything you write is copyrighted by default. What a copyright does is help establish when a work was created. If you sue someone for a copyright violation, the copyright date is proof of the time/date of creation. If you have not filed for copyright, then you have to come up with your own evidence of time/date of creation. Let's say that person A copyrights work X in 2003. You find out that person A stole (NOT independtly created) your work X (that you had written in 1999, but didn't copyr
  • by Carbonite (183181) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:40PM (#6454777)
    Made curious by the continual claims of politicians and industry executives that stronger copyright leads to more innovation, I went to the library early Freshman year to see if there was any corroberating research. I was unable to find any, so I went to a historical index of statistics. However, that only had data until 1970, so I extracted the more recent data from the annual Statistical Abstract(s) of the United States.

    The trends are fascinating, especially in a field where a surprising amount of innumeracy and overinterpretation appears from people who should know better. For instance:

    "We did a survey in April that asked people the reasons why they downloaded, and 65% said because it was free," a BPI spokeswoman said.

    They are, of course, absolutely correct. But they leave it up to the reader to infer that those respondents are displacing purchases with free music. In effect, however, what is happening is price discrimination. Those who are willing to tolerate lower-quality music are paying less (nothing) for it. Those who are not pay more. Society gains, the industry loses--and then only assuming recent studies showing that downloads serve as a form of music sampling, a free preview for users that later buy music, are incorrect.

    Now, on to the data. Some of this pertains directly to copyright, others directly to the RIAA.

    Most interesting to me was one trend that my statistics professor, Professor Wyner, pointed out. From the early 1950's until 1991, copyright registrations rise exponentially. In fact, a simple quadratic fit shows an Rsquare of over .99 .

    That a four-decade trend of such strength could reverse itself in a single year so dramatically--and without an apparent cause--is incredible. The fact that it happens across all categories of copyright suggests the effect is perhaps due to a change in the way the Copyright Office records entries. However, given that music registrations correlate well with overall registrations, it would have to have been a policy change for all copyright entries. The sheer precipitousness of the plummet belies many otherwise viable explanations. However, in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-307, making renewal automatic for works from 1964-1977. Depending on whether the Copyright Office was including renewals in its statistics, 1991 could be a break in analyzability for the data. Furthermore, if they did, indeed, include renewals, trends will be blurred and obfuscated by the lagging renewal registrations.

    The single-category music registrations show the same plunge.

    Also interesting is that, as the price of CDs increase, shipments increase. This trend is not nearly as strong as the former, and is only based on a decade of data provided by the RIAA. Possible explanations for this trend include that CDs are a luxury item--unlikely, I should think--or that the economy's rise during this period (1990-2000) lead to an increase in spending.

    And, in fact, it did. A classical Demand Curve. Not such a great mystery after all, as it turns out.

    Since we are starting to analyze statistics provided by the RIAA at this point, I should mention that they have a nasty tendency to only release data which they can put a proper spin on. Consequently, analyzing becomes much more difficult and leads to kludges such as the 2002 CDs shipped data extrapolated from news of an 8.8% decline from previous years. If anyone would provide me with a complete set of Nielson SoundScan statistics this project would be much easier. If anyone disputes my figures please provide me with a better set. Many of these numbers took hours to find, here from one source, there from another. Fortunately, most of the time there was some overlap in data provided, so I was able to see that the numbers were directly comparable.

    That said, the numbers are interesting. The RIAA has been shipping fewer CDs in the last few years, by all accounts. The most recent (and most contested) numbers come from SoundScan

  • May be we could have less spyware pop ups!

    Friendly
    • The only way to stop pop-ups from being used on sites is for everyone to stop loading them. Try out Mozilla. It's quite effective at stopping the pop-ups you don't want, while letting you enable pop-ups you need for specific sites. Even if the pop-up plague does not stop, at least you won't see it.
  • Conclusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Webtommy88 (515386) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:42PM (#6454787)
    So the premise remains valid. The conclusion is pretty clear as well, as seen from the decades following the passage of the 1909 and 1976 laws: the drastic expansions of copyright had little to do with increasing innovation in this country.

    Like the study says, this is good grounds to stop extending copyrights as extending them would only serve to give incentive to innovate through prolonging the period of returns on said innovation. If this becomes widely accepted then it's just a matter of arguing copy rights are too long, (or too short?) as to provide enough incentive to innovate.

    Note that the conclusions (and in the entire study) says nothing about copy right extensions slowing innovation.

    I really would like to see some analysis on the negative effects (if at all) of copyright extensions on innovation.
    • Part of what is said that the periods around the expansion showed little difference from the overall trend, either better or worse.

      Of course, the problem with this is the 'what' question. Simple population expansion led to more papers/magazines/movies/books over the years, so the quantity increase really doesn't mean much on its own (though comparing it to population/economic indexes might be interesting). Even baseball games our copyrightted nowadays. Copyright extensions have two effects: extend the
    • I really would like to see some analysis on the negative effects (if at all) of copyright extensions on innovation.

      Normalize for population. [hypertextbook.com] =:) We have a rising copyright registration rate. Does it keep up per capita? If not, what does that tell us about laws that are designed specifically to increase copyright restistration, if not promote art itself?

  • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:43PM (#6454801) Homepage Journal
    Innovation is impossible to quantify. Using the number of copyright registrations as the measure of innovation is ignoring much, mostly innovation in the public domain. There's nothing wrong with puting together these statistics for analysis, but jumping to any conclusion about quantity of innovation is impossible. It's simply impossible to factually state whether innovation increased or decreased during any period of time. It's purely judgemental.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:45PM (#6454826)
    Most movies made in 1923 and later now are covered by copyright extentsions. The effect as been a virtual halt in private film preservation efforts. Most movies made before 1950 were printed on nitrocellulose film stock, a very unstable and highly flammable substance. It is expensive to preserve nitrate film stock, and transfer the print to safety film.

    Prior to copyright extension private preservationists undertook the job of saving many, many obscure films that had no economic value to the former copyright holder, yet to have a cultural and historical place in the history of cinema. Now these films are totally off limits. Major studios have no interest in preserving obscure silent movies from the 1920s, yet the copyright extension has stopped private efforts to fill the gap.

    The copyright extension removes all financial impetus for private individuals to undertake film preservation. Previously, companies such as Grapevine Video [grapevinevideo.com] would undertake the preservation and recoup expenses by selling video tranfers to libraries and collectors. Maybe 200 or 300 sales at most. Now Grapevine Video is being forced out of business because they can no longer preserve and sell obscure films from our past.

    The studios who own the copyrights are not going to fund preservation of films for which they can sell only a hundred or two videos. This is where private enterprise filled the gap through the meager financial incentive that public domain material offered. Now that incentive has completely gone, and most small companies involved in film preservation are now going out of business.

  • What are the statistics on the number of pop-up ad windows and attempted spyware installs on sites dedicated to Statistics?
  • A similar report concluded that 76% of all statists are made up.
  • by Feynt (680159) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:51PM (#6454880)

    According to an obsolete brief [eff.org], on 1993-02-16, the Copyright Reform Act of 1993 was introduced in both houses of the US Congress. If the bill passes [I assume it did?], [it will] remove the requirement for registration prior to bringing suit, and would remove the restrictions on statutory damages that are described above.

    Looks like a reason why registrations would trail off...

  • by umrgregg (192838) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:52PM (#6454895) Homepage
    Kent: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?

    Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.

    -- Effective interview responses, "Homer the Vigilante"
  • by tstoneman (589372) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:53PM (#6454909)
    Playing devil's advocate, if copyright extensions have no effect, then the Bad Guys can say,

    "Let's extend copyrights forever, so that people can never gain from other people's ideas. This is legitimate, since extending doesn't affect the number of copyright registrations... innovation is not hindered by copyright extensions!"
  • VERY Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by q2a (519813) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:53PM (#6454911)
    Here's the thesis:
    "The conclusion is pretty clear as well, as seen from the decades following the passage of the 1909 and 1976 laws: the drastic expansions of copyright had little to do with increasing innovation in this country."
    We all need to ask ourselves how much is the public domain worth anyway?
    The answer is A LOT [illegal-art.org]. Our artists and culture are suffering.
    /END RANT

    -- Have you read 1984? [gutenberg.net.au]
    Since 1997, clicking this link is a Jail-able offense in the US.
  • by JungleBoy (7578) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:56PM (#6454931)
    I believe that before 1991 (or 1992) works had to be explicity declared and registered as copyrighted to get protection. Changes in law (or rulings, I can't remember which), made all created worked copyrighted by default so that copyright registration was no longer required.

    note: this is all dredged up from memory and may be grossly inaccurate.
  • Interesting Article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ispeters (621097) <(ispeters) (at) (alumni.uwaterloo.ca)> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @02:56PM (#6454933)

    All jokes about the wasting of his freshman year, and the innumerable popups (Long Live Mozilla!) aside, this was a rather interesting article.

    I'd like to have seen the copyright numbers graphed next to some population numbers to see how they compare. Do the number of copyrights registered in the US correlate with the number of people in the US?

    Also, the number of copyrights seems to follow a fairly linear trend until 1950, and then it suddenly becomes quadratic until 1991. Why? Was there some huge up-swing in population growth at that point, or something? (The baby-boomers wouldn't have started registering copyrighted works until much later, would they?) Did everyone suddenly discover acid and become that much more creative?

    Ian

  • Crappy article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, I know it fits in great with the Slashdot party line, but did anyone actually *read* this article and look at the graphs he presents ?

    In one graph, he attempts to show a dramatic "reversal" in the number of copyright registrations by year, fitting a quadratic. Did anyone LOOK at the quadratic he fit ? If so, how could any such person not question his claim of an R-squared > .99 ??The graph only fits in part of the graph. I can't even believe whoever was advising this dufus would suggest he TRY to
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:00PM (#6454979) Homepage

    Most interesting to me was one trend that my statistics professor, Professor Wyner, pointed out. From the early 1950's until 1991, copyright registrations rise exponentially. In fact, a simple quadratic fit shows an Rsquare of over .99 .

    a*exp(b*x)!=a*x^2+b*x+c

    • Mistake geometric for exponential? Oh well, most hyperbole tends to infinite error. Judging the rest of the work by this error would be a non-sequitur. Try not to do that, OK? If you do, I'll sick my power functions on you.
    • how the fork did he claim an r^2 of 0.99 or something? That other half of the parabola looked a bit off of that. Seriously, use an exponential fit, any decent software can do it.
  • I'm confused... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hackwrench (573697)
    extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation. Perhaps most fascinating is the strong 40-year upward trend in registrations which is sharply broken in 1991 with a precipitous decline.
    Does that precipitous decline correlate with copyright extensions. Were you being sarcastic when you said extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation. What am I missing here?
  • by zpiderz (646360) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:08PM (#6455046)
    So the author wanted to find out why copyright registrations declined after 1991? Well, there was a big depression shortly after that time. The article's author was pointing out how the Great Depression and the different major wars of the last century negatively affected copyright registrations, so it makes sense. I know he/she was probably 8-10 yrs. old in the early 90's so maybe he/she never really grasped how bad times were. And look! registrations start rebounding around '95-96 when IT started taking off.
  • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:10PM (#6455072)
    Since the page in question doesn't really come to a tidy conclusion, this is what I extracted from his "pretty data":

    * Around 1991, the overall number of copyright registrations plummeted compared to what the data would predict.
    * The number of musical compositions experienced a similar plunge, implying that fewer musical compositions led to fewer copyright registrations.
    * During those years, the RIAA continued to ship certain CDs in proportion to their price, in keeping with the law of supply and demand.
    * Probable conclusion: The RIAA's current financial woes are due to nothing more than an abrupt reduction in the number of recordings released.

    Of course, IANAS. Did I miss anything?
  • by ktakki (64573) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @03:10PM (#6455076) Homepage Journal
    The author seems to make a correlation between the number of copyright registrations and the number of musical compositions. I don't believe that a true 1:1 comparison can be made between them.

    It's been my experience (as a songwriter and producer) that a single work can be covered by a number of copyrights. For example, I would regularly compile a tape of unpublished recordings, entitle it "Compositions, 19xx to 19xx", and send it in with a Form PA and $20. Once I'd published a recording of a song, I'd copyright just that work. Also, the recording (tape, single, LP, or CD) would have its own copyright (under Form SR, which covers sound recordings specifically, that (P) sign that often accompanies ©). Additionally, lyrics could be copyrighted separately (under Form TX, for written works).

    Sounds anal, but I had a lawyer who specialized in entertainment law suss it all out for me.

    k.
    • Sounds anal, but I had a lawyer who specialized in entertainment law suss it all out for me.

      Yeah, ya, ya. Lawyers are not always good with math, but I expect better logic from you.

      This study would be much more powerful it it were NORMALIZED FOR POPULATION, which also spurts in times of economic prosperity. It might make the other trends look smaller, but the 1992 turn around of registrations would look much bigger as the population has continued to grow. Really, what I expect to see is a decline in "in

    • Err, so? The statistical trends are still valid. ie, assuming a constant factor of, say, three copyrights per one musical work, the two data sets will still display a correlation. Basically, what you're describing should disappear in the analysis.
  • I don't think he really proved anything. While the end of his article addresses the larger issue, does increasing the length or protective powers of copyright has any effect on innovation as measured through the number of registrations?, his premises miss the main point.

    First of all, I don't know that the number of registrations has much to do with innovation. As we see in the music industry, more CDs does not necessarily mean better. It only takes one boy band to change the industry, and 15 boy band c

  • by CommieLib (468883) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @04:02PM (#6455547) Homepage
    Also interesting is that, as the price of CDs increase, shipments increase.

    Did he adjust for inflation? I assume not. I don't know whether that would affect the outcome because he didn't show that data, only data derived from that data.

    RIAA...has a nasty tendency to only release data which they can put a proper spin on...

    The author knows this...how? Or the author has a strong gut feeling this way? Tendency?

    If anyone disputes my figures, please give me a better set.

    Uh, sorry, that's not the way science works. You're the claimant.

    Constitution proscribes

    Picking nits here, but proscribe means to forbid. Everybody misuses this word.

    However, given that hundreds of thousands of works are produced each year, one must assume that the sheer numbers involved evens out the effects of differing quality. So the premise remains valid.

    Here is the fatal flaw of it all: with less copyright protection, we would tend to less a lesser diminution of lower-expense copyrights (music in particular). If works are being produced irrespective of a minimal investment, copyright protection won't generally affect them, and indeed copyright may be an afterthought. So the quality of the patents is an overwhelmingly important question; if protection changes the character of the innovation, then the actual amount of it is irrelevant.

    What it will affect is the willingness of creators to spend money to develop an article, since reduced copyright protection diminishes their ability to recapture those funds later. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be the correlation between R&D funds and copyright protection. That would seem to be an even more hellish proposition in getting the data.
    • Oh bullshit, we're not talking about patent law. This is copyright, where the most extravagent expenses in pursuit of investing in a creative endeavor are probably buying coke for Snoop Dog's posse and hiring some poor guy to shove a coffee enema up Janet Jackson's butt. Wait, there's the huge pack of lawyers and middlemen too. Reducing copyright terms at worst would hike up prices to recoup projected losses, and at best would encourage artists to stay active and create for all their lives.
      • I'll surprise you by agreeing with you. I think that the author was trying to extend some vague ideas he had about copyright behavior to patent law with blanket statements regarding "innovation". That's what I was addressing. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

        Music has never been expensive to write. Produce perhaps, but agreed, coffee enema, etc. The best new music seems to be coming from a kind of coffee-house, single acoustic guitar vibe...which is obviously rock bottom cheap to produce.
  • by crucible (75690) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @04:26PM (#6455744) Homepage

    I quote from the article:

    Also interesting is that, as the price of CDs increase, shipments increase. This trend is not nearly as strong as the former, and is only based on a decade of data provided by the RIAA. Possible explanations for this trend include that CDs are a luxury item--unlikely, I should think--or that the economy's rise during this period (1990-2000) lead to an increase in spending.

    What, is this guy crazy? Of course CDs are luxury items! When I was flush with my phat geek paycheck, I was buying CDs like there was no tomorrow. When I got laid off last year, what do you think one of the first things I stopped buying was? CDs, of course! I can live without the latest White Stripes CD, I can't live without making my mortgage payment and buying food.

  • by gilroy (155262) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:32PM (#6456325) Homepage Journal
    This is the sort of thing for which I exorciate my senior-year students in high school:

    From the early 1950's until 1991, copyright registrations rise exponentially. In fact, a simple quadratic fit shows an Rsquare of over .99 .

    OK, class, repeat after me: "Quadratic" is not an example of "exponential".

    But, teacher, isn't a quadratic a curve with an exponent of two?

    Yes, but that is not an exponential curve. It is a polynomial curve -- a curve wherein the function depends only on integer powers of the variable. So x^2, x^3, or x^15-x^7 are polynomial. An exponential curve is one wherein the variable appears in the exponent. Examples are e^x, (1/2)^(x/3), and so on.


    I have to admit, fair or not, once I hit that mistake I stopped paying attention...

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