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RFC Deadline Looms For "Orphan Works" copy 200

Posted by Hemos
from the speak-now-or-forever-don't-hold-those-works dept.
psychonaut writes "As previously reported on Slashdot, the US Copyright Office is currently reviewing the law as it applies to "orphan works" and "abandonware". The question is how to treat works (books, films, software, etc.) for which the copyright owner cannot be found so that permission can be granted to republish or create derivative works. "The issue is whether orphan works are being needlessly removed from public access and their dissemination inhibited. If no one claims the copyright in a work," they write, "it appears likely that the public benefit of having access to the work would outweigh whatever copyright interest there might be." The Copyright Office has been soliciting comments from the public since 26 January 2005. Now, as their 25 March deadline draws nearer, the EFF, along with freeculture.org and Public Knowledge, have teamed up to produce a website,Orphan Works, which gives some background on the issue and makes it easy to submit comments directly to the Copyright Office." And while you're at, contribute to the EFF. Good organization.
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RFC Deadline Looms For "Orphan Works" copy

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  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:33AM (#11931494)
    Why would anyone have a problem with a totally unaffiliated company buying the copyright of a work from a bankrupted company for pennies and then holding that copyrighted content hostage for the next 75 years?

    Anyone that has a problem with that is applying too much common sense to the copyright system.
    • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:03AM (#11931662) Journal
      With the way copyright laws are going, we're lucky we see anything from the 20th century in the public domain. If the latest new copyright laws were grandfathered (e.g. 75 years after death of creator), we'd be looking at the 1850s.

      "Get your 100% royalty free cotton-gin blueprints right here! For an unlimited time only!!!!"
    • by Cylix (55374) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:05AM (#11931671) Homepage Journal
      I don't believe that is the issue.

      It's simply cost prohibitive for the little guy to locate the rights to an obscure piece of footage or film. (two examples I'm familiar with)

      Say for instance, you find a nice picture you want to incorporate and maybe it looks quite old, but maybe its unclear whether copyright has expired.

      It seems more to be a CYA directive and would ease some tension when using /most likely/ interesting works that have been locked away by age.

      Right now, it's not even an option to use such things even if the owner or estate owner has long since been gone. Simply because you just don't know and you probably can't afford the time or investment in something like that.

      This sorta implies that older copyrights would have to be protected much like trademark. You can just buy it and forget it. (Now you have to catalogue it and forget it)

      So if you did the leg work and came up with nothing you would have some defense in court should an issue arrise.

      For someone with not-so-unlimited resources tracking down something like that can be tough. In the end, if you are cautious about being sued, you can't use it.

      I believe the idea is that if you pursue a reasonable course of action to attempt to locate the owner and find nothing then it can be classified as abandonware.
      • by zotz (3951) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:33AM (#11932446) Homepage Journal
        "Say for instance, you find a nice picture you want to incorporate and maybe it looks quite old, but maybe its unclear whether copyright has expired."

        What about this idea?

        Can't find copyright owner?

        Compulsory license applies. Fees paid to government. Invested by government in safe investments. Government keeps half of profits on investments and other half goes to pay authors who create copyleft works. Actual copyright owners who find their works being used under a compulsory can claim monies fgrom the government. (Can't get the profits earned in the meantime though.

        Compulsory license still applies to the works in question and to any derivatives.

        all the best,

        drew
        • I was thinking along similar lines, that there should be an "orphan works database" where people can submit whatever info is known about a given work, and thus build up a catalog of "not exactly public domain, but usable by all, within the context of this here compulsory license".

          Fees should probably be prorated according to intended use, too. So if it's for noncommercial use, the fee is minimal to zilch, and for commercial use the fee is a small percentage sortof like a sliding sales tax. Since commercial
  • by barrkel (806779) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:36AM (#11931509) Homepage
    "If no one claims the copyright in a work," they write, "it appears likely that the public benefit of having access to the work would outweigh whatever copyright interest there might be."

    This indicates that the copyright office leans extremely strongly towards copyright interests. Is there any indication that they (the US copyright office) have the same perspective as most of the rest of us re copyright as enforced monopoly etc.?
    • (the US copyright office) have the same perspective as most of the rest of us re copyright as enforced monopoly etc.?

      Unlikely. Their primary interest (preservation and expansion of the copyright office) is better served through exclusive focus on copyright interests. What we really need is a public domain office where one may apply for a temporary exemption (AKA a copyright).

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:48AM (#11931586) Journal
      Personally I have no problem with "copyright as enforced monopoly", because frankly that was the whole idea with copyright to start with. You give them a temporary "monopoly", in exchange for getting those works from them in the first place.

      Thing is, most people only work for money. Yeah, in open source too. Check out the email addresses of contributors to all major components of Linux. Most work _is_ done by people paid to do so, even if they're paid by some OSS company.

      So copyright is a way to say "ok, if you do publish a book, here's how we'll allow you to make money out of it."

      I see nothing wrong with that. I _am_ willing to buy a good book, or a movie, or a music CD, rather than not have it available at all.

      "Why your work should be available for free" demagogue theories are good and fine, but in practice it never works that way: practically _noone_ works for free nowadays. The freeloaders actually get something paid for by someone else, not for free. E.g., everyone who downloaded a SuSE Linux ISO for free, rest assured that SuSE's work was paid for by people like me who bought the boxed distro repeatedly. E.g., everyone who has some free Linux distro installed on ReiserFS, can know that ReiserFS was sponsored by SuSE, so again, it was people like me whose money went into making that.

      So, again, I have nothing against copyright as a way for authors to make money. Beats not having those works available in the first place. Maybe it's not the perfect system, but it's the best we have so far.
      • See, the problem comes in that my taxes are being used to enforce your copyright. The deal is, for helping to enforce your copyright, we get free access after a limited time. The problem is that it becomes unlimited for any practical consideration. Anything created during my lifetime I can reasonably expect to die before a copyrighted work becomes public domain.
        • heh (Score:5, Funny)

          by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:10AM (#11932218) Journal
          Well, I never said I want it to be unlimited or anything. So we can easily aggree upon that part.

          But on the issue of taxes:

          <sarcasm type="heavy">
          Yes, and _my_ taxes are used to protect your car from burglars and thieves. Hey, I don't own a car, so I shouldn't pay for it. Right?

          _My_ taxes are used for government AIDS cure research. Hey, I don't screw everyone in sight, so why the heck should I have to pay for that? Let them just die, I say ;)

          _My_ taxes are used to build highways. Maybe even the one you drive on to work. WTF? I always get a flat very near the company, so I don't have to commute. Why the heck should I pay for all those commuters? No, really.

          _My_ taxes go into funding the school system. Piss-poor and under-funded as it is. Or to give a tax break to people with kids. Blah. I have no kids. Why should I pay for that? No, really? Did anyone even ask me if I want to subsidize everyone who's too stupid to use a condom? And let them pay out of their own pocket for their kid's schooling.
          </sarcasm>

          Again, that was sarcasm, if anyone can't tell. I am _not_ really advocating any of that.

          I'm sure you probably get the idea already. Yes, society sometimes must use taxes to enforce things that are considered beneficial for society as a _whole_. Yes, there might be people who do not _directly_ get a ROI on their money, but the idea is that on the whole you get more good than bad out of it.

          In this case, the whole copyright thing actually costs you _very_ little. Other than the copyright office itself, most other things are handled by lawsuits between companies. Or between companies and individuals.

          You might notice, for example, that even the much villified RIAA lawsuits didn't involve the FBI taking the suspects into custody, nor a DA doing a criminal style prosecution. So that part has cost you exactly nothing.

          So, well, I hope you'll excuse me if you're not getting much compassion out of me, over the fact that a couple of cents out of your taxes (and mine) go into sponsoring the common good. I do believe that on the whole the benefits far outweight those few cents.
          • by Alsee (515537)
            the much villified RIAA lawsuits didn't involve the FBI

            Not yet, but there's a bill floating around congress to have the FBI take over the job of filing and prosecuting copyright infringment suits. The RIAA doesn't like the hassle and cost and bad PR of doing so themselves, and why should they when they can simply lobby congress to pass a law having the government do it for them?

            -
          • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

            Yes, society sometimes must use taxes to enforce things that are considered beneficial for society as a _whole_. Yes, there might be people who do not _directly_ get a ROI on their money, but the idea is that on the whole you get more good than bad out of it.

            Society is made up of people. Copyright is set at the life of the author + 75 years. Given that you have to be alive to copyright something (at least, as far as I'm aware) and that the average life expectance is sub-75 years, that means that anyone
          • You're purposely conflating the idea of my paying taxes for something that is useless to me, and my paying taxes for something that contradicts my interests. All of those things that you mentioned, while useless, do not contradict my interests; they are simply a waste of money from my perspective. What I object to is being taxed to fund government action that I believe is wrong and which directly affects me in a negative fashion. Arbitrary copyright is one example. The war on drugs is yet another promin
        • See, the problem comes in that my taxes are being used to enforce your copyright.
          Equally my taxes are being used to enforce *your* copyright. That's called providing for the common welfare.

          (And actually the goverment doesn't spend a time enforcing copyrights - thats the responsobility of the copyright holder.)

      • "So, again, I have nothing against copyright as a way for authors to make money. Beats not having those works available in the first place. Maybe it's not the perfect system, but it's the best we have so far."

        No, I disagree, in fact, I think we have had a better copyright system in the past and have been making it steadily worse.

        I sometimes can't decide if I should fight to make it better, or fight to make it so bad that everyone cries foul and calls for scrapping the present system and trying to design a
      • Thing is, most people only work for money.

        I work for money because we live in a society where we need money. There are lots of things I would like to contribute to, not for pay but because it interests me and maybe to make the world a little bit of a better place, but I have to spend 8 hours a day + travel time in order to make enough money to feed myself and get a roof above my head.

        Capitalism truly sucks donkey balls, but it's the best system we've come up with, and untill someone invents a better sy

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:59AM (#11931646) Journal
      What I find all wrong about copyright, as it is right now, is that it also gives the right to _kill_ a work of art or a program. You can buy the copyright to something for the _sole_ purpose of burying it 6 ft deep. I.e., making sure no more copies of it will be made.

      Which was _not_ the purpose of copyright in the first place. The idea was to secure a source of income for those publishing books, _but_ that was only a means to another end: having those books available to society. Using copyright as a way to make them UNavailable, is IMHO contrary to the whole spirit and idea of copyright.

      And just for the sake of a wanton comparison with Soviet Russia, I find it stupid that while we all were/are outraged when a dictatorship tries to suppress a book, we all shrug and find it normal when a corporation does the same via copyright. I mean, geesh, Stalin could have just bought the exclusive distribution rights in the USSR of the exact same works, and killed them via copyright, and we'd all suddenly no longer find it abhominable. It would be just normal business. Think about it.

      So IMHO the copyright should only last as long as people can still order that book or program or music from you, for no more than the original price (i.e., no "yeah, it's still available, but we'll charge 10,000,000$ for it" scams), and have it delivered within a reasonable time frame. The moment that's no longer possible, the copyright should become public domain.

      It would also be a self-regulating kinda thing. It's up to the company in case to decide when it's no longer profitable to keep that stock of old books, just for the 1-2 people per year still ordering it. When they decide it's no longer profitable to play that game, sure, make it public domain. But ffs, don't bury it.
      • Are there many real-world examples of corporations saying things like, "Well, we can't be bothered to print up another hundred copies of that textbook just so your students can buy it. Go ahead and make photocopies if you really want to teach the class using our book."? This came up in a linguistics class of mine, which used Shiro Hattori's phonetics book (retail price, about $50). The professor had been using it for 20 years and found that the publisher wasn't receiving much demand.

        It seems to me that
        • Disney. Song of the the South. Also much of their WWII-era propoganda stuff. Now all-but-buried because it has become politically embarrassing.
          • As far as the US is concerned. They have no problems whoring Song of the South out to foreign countries to make a buck (Such as Japan and Europe) and not releasing it here in the US.

            Lately it's been off the market anywhere since 2001 or thereabouts. It's been off the market in the US for a hell of a lot longer. The last I saw of it was a theater release back in the late 70's.

            The Tex Avery films and other cartoon classics can still be seen overseas. I've watched Heckle & Jeckle hunt pygmies using c
        • Oracle does it (Score:3, Informative)

          by mangu (126918)
          Are there many real-world examples of corporations saying things like, "Well, we can't be bothered to print up another hundred copies of that textbook just so your students can buy it.

          I don't know about textbooks, but I do have a real-world example in software. I tried to buy a copy of Oracle's Pro*Fortran and they wouldn't sell it to me, because it's "deprecated". I also tried to buy a copy of the game "Sorcerers Get All the Girls" from the original publisher and they refused to sell it to me. Fortunate

      • ...for no more than the original price (i.e., no "yeah, it's still available, but we'll charge 10,000,000$ for it" scams)...

        I agree with the most part of your post... Except that I'd rather live in a world where copyright just cannot be taken away from one who recieved it legitimately.

        One should be able to share the rights, not give them away.

        Unfortunately, this is good for authors and general public, but bad for publishers (recording companies as well).
      • by zotz (3951) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:14AM (#11932259) Homepage Journal
        "What I find all wrong about copyright, as it is right now, is that it also gives the right to _kill_ a work of art or a program. You can buy the copyright to something for the _sole_ purpose of burying it 6 ft deep. I.e., making sure no more copies of it will be made.

        Which was _not_ the purpose of copyright in the first place. The idea was to secure a source of income for those publishing books, _but_ that was only a means to another end: having those books available to society. Using copyright as a way to make them UNavailable, is IMHO contrary to the whole spirit and idea of copyright."

        You are so right on this. There needs to be compulsory licenses at least to prevednt this practice. Perhaps they only need to kick in when the copyright owners refuse to keep the work available to the mass market at mass market prices.

        "And just for the sake of a wanton comparison with Soviet Russia, I find it stupid that while we all were/are outraged when a dictatorship tries to suppress a book, we all shrug and find it normal when a corporation does the same via copyright. I mean, geesh, Stalin could have just bought the exclusive distribution rights in the USSR of the exact same works, and killed them via copyright, and we'd all suddenly no longer find it abhominable. It would be just normal business. Think about it."

        You are certainly racking up the good points. Perhaps he could even have used "eminent domain" theories to take the work in the first place.

        "So IMHO the copyright should only last as long as people can still order that book or program or music from you, for no more than the original price (i.e., no "yeah, it's still available, but we'll charge 10,000,000$ for it" scams), and have it delivered within a reasonable time frame. The moment that's no longer possible, the copyright should become public domain.

        It would also be a self-regulating kinda thing. It's up to the company in case to decide when it's no longer profitable to keep that stock of old books, just for the 1-2 people per year still ordering it. When they decide it's no longer profitable to play that game, sure, make it public domain. But ffs, don't bury it."

        This would work. An alternative would be to have all copyrights pass back to the original authors under something like a CC BY-SA or some other copyleft license. This would allow the authors to try earning some more out of their works and at the same time let the general public get access to the works as well for copying, creating derivatives and making money if they can.

        Check some of these legal proposals:

        http://www.infoanarchy.org/wiki/index.php/Copyri gh t_Term_Reform#Legal_Proposals

        especially this one:

        http://www.infoanarchy.org/wiki/index.php/Copyri gh t_Term_Reform/Default

        Again, great points.

        all the best,

        drew
      • we all were/are outraged when a dictatorship tries to suppress a book, we all shrug and find it normal when a corporation does the same via copyright.

        Sometimes the best way to market something is first to create artificial scarcity. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it's a far cry from Soviet-style censorship. (There should be a clause in Godwin's Law to cover Soviet Russia comparisons; they're usually just as irrelevant and inflammatory as comparisons with Nazi Germany.)

        More to the point, though, is th

        • My idea (Score:3, Insightful)

          by r6144 (544027)
          If you don't make your work public, other people can't see it whether or not it is copyrighted. If you do, I don't think copyright should help you keep your privacy --- once it is public, it is public forever.

          Also, I think if the work is unavailable to someone at a reasonable price and with reasonable terms (no overly bad EULA or DRM stuff), they should be allowed to copy them (e.g. via ftp or P2P networks) as long as the unavailability persists, at least if no profit is derived. It is not strictly nece

          • Some years ago I asked the Copyright Office about this very thing. That is, whether something could be copyrighted if it was not published. They told me flat out that the object of copyright was to protect PUBLISHED works (that is, made available to the public one way or another), and therefore something that was not published could not be copyrighted.

            ISTM that by direct extension, something that is not available to the public loses its copyright protection, by the very definition of what copyright is supp
          • Well, that or there could be a reasonable period of unavailability before it's considered abbandoned and a therefore public domain. For example, if you can't buy something for 1-2 years, I'd say it's safe to consider it ok-to-copy.

            Honestly, if your workers were on strike for 1-2 years, I'd think you have bigger problems than people copying your book :P
        • you can't take this power away from one subset of copyright owners (i.e., the ones *you* don't like)

          Huh? Where did he say any such thing? Unless I missed somthing, it obviously and properly applies to everyone equally.

          government should be able to FORCE you to make it public?

          HUH? The government isn't sending SWAT teams to search your house and seize your diary. It's not forcing anyone to do anything. No one can ever copy anything they don't already have.

          Perhaps it will help to cover the correct founda
        • 1. I never said only some should live by those rules. I do want them to apply to _everyone_, not just a subset. Doesn't matter if I like them or not. Doesn't matter if they're a corporation, or a country, or a garage band publishing their own MP3s on the Internet.

          Once something is published, copyright should _not_ be a way to "unpublish" it. For anyone. Ever. That's my whole point.

          2. I'm not saying that government should come to your house, raid your diary, and post it on the web. In fact, the government
      • I think the Public Domain Expansion Act [eldred.cc] is almost what you're looking for. It doesn't go quite as far as your suggestion, but it's easier to implement and more likely to become law (odds 10e-6 instead of 10e-100).
  • by sandstorming (850026) <(johnsee) (at) (sandstorming.com)> on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:38AM (#11931521)
    I'd like to see the laws also fixed on how long it is before works pass into the public domain. The so called disney effect (the extending of copyright periods after authors death, being done just before disney stuff reaches public domain) really needs to be fixed. Someone (and I can't remember his name) did a fantastic conference somewhere on copyright issues. http://free-culture.org/index.html has some great info.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My child, you don't understand how the world works. He who has the gold makes the rules, you don't have any gold so what you want won't be the rule.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:45AM (#11931564)
      The so called disney effect (the extending of copyright periods after authors death, being done just before disney stuff reaches public domain) really needs to be fixed.

      It is fixed. The Constitution is pretty clear that copyrights have to be time-limited. The Supreme Court has ruled that that doesn't really mean anything, because Congress can extend them arbitrarily, but unfortunately, that's the Supreme Court. By definition, there is no higher appeal. "Fixing" the loophole would pretty much require some kind of "No, we really meant it, guys" amendment to the Constitution, but fat chance of that. The people with the power to amend the Constitution are too busy worrying about the total destruction of society that will obviously and inevitably result from giving same-sex couples the tax privileges currently reserved for heterosexuals.
      • by Have Blue (616) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:18AM (#11931747) Homepage
        It wouldn't even need an amendment- all that needs to happen is for Congress to not pass another law extending existing copyrights when the issue comes up again in 20 years.
        • by Alsee (515537)
          ...and when the issue comes up again in 21 years.

          ...and when the issue comes up again in 22 years.

          ...and when the issue comes up again in 23 years.

          ...and when the issue comes up again in 24 years.

          ...and when the issue comes up again in 25 years.

          Which is why it would pretty much take an amendment. And while we're wishing for the impossible, the amendment should also set the copyright term back at the original 14 years with a single option to renew for an additional 14 years, and would grant copyright on

      • by Anonymous Coward
        No, that is NOT at all what the Supreme Court ruling said. The Supreme Court very carefully stated that their ruling was not about whether 75 years after the death of the copyrighter was a good idea or not but whether it was legal. They ruled that 75 years after the death of the copyright originator did indeed meet the test of being time-limited. Congress could also make copyrights valid for 10,000 years and that would meet the test of being time-limted, unfortunately.

    • by jabuzz (182671) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#11931611) Homepage
      That's easy to fix. If Disney wants to extend the copyright from 50 to 70 years say, then it has to go and pay royalties (complete with interest) to all the copyright holders that had their works used royalty free by Disney because it had passed the 50 year mark but not yet reached the 70 year mark, at any point in the past.

      It would then immediately become far less favourable for Disney (or any other organization) to presue such copyright extensions. Imagine thay they had to pay out the first 20 years earnings plus interest on Pinochio to the estate of Carlo Lorenzini! It is also morally and ethically fair. If Disney think that Steamboat Willy deserves added protection, then surely Pinochio does as well. Very hard to argue against and not look like obviously greedy and grasping.
    • I've always wondered why the Constitution's prohibition on ex post facto laws didn't keep Congress from extending the term of already existing copyrights. Can anyone explain to me why it doesn't? I understand that Congress has the power to grant copyrights of any limited duration, as per the recent Supreme Court judgement, but do they Constitutionally have the power to change the duration of an already granted copyright? It seems to me that if they have the power to extend the duration of an already gran
      • The problem right now is that all three branches of the U.S. Government now effectively ignore that provision of the constitution. Sad as that may be.

        There is still "lip service" to the idea of ex post facto laws, but with taxation that is retroactive, and rectroactive enforcement of anti-terrorism laws, you can point out that the constitution in this regard is a meaningless scrap of paper.

        Part of the Eldridge vs. Ascroft case was being argued exactly on these grounds, that there were many copyrighted wo
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:40AM (#11931528) Journal
    Obviously in todays political environment Money Talks. Is there any interest in the collective pool of technically minded folks from Slashdot starting a Political Action Committee in the sense that we support progressive, technological and scientific issues & candidates with our money and not just our collective angst?

    SlashPAC if you will.

    It would be a great place for us to consolidate our beliefs (wiki) and put our money where our mouth is to support politics and issues that reiterate our beliefs and values as a community.

    It would make calls for help like this easier to answer and give us some strength to lean on.
    • "Hot grits in every pot & a Beowulf cluster in every basement!"
    • Try ipac. www.ipaction.org
    • by PornMaster (749461) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:51AM (#11931606) Homepage
      Wouldn't it be wiser to support the EFF who's already working on these things?
      • It's not a duplication of effort when "SlashPAC" could fund EFF issues (or any other foundation) that are inline with the goals of the PAC.
      • Depends... If SlashPAC was pro-spam, it would be equally as worthless as the EFF.

        (Yes, that single position, that the EFF presumes to tell me what I should and should not do with my private property, does indeed preclude ANY chance of me giving them one red cent.)
    • by MurkyWater (866956) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:54AM (#11931618)
      I don't know if this had previously been discussed but I've been thinking that something like this would be a good idea. We constantly see the effect Slashdot has on webservers. I would imagine a PAC consisting of even a portion of slashdotters could do great things. Especially if we worked together with other groups such as Citizen Works [citizenworks.org], the EFF [eff.org], and the ACLU [aclu.org].
      • Exactly,

        My idea of a PAC isn't to segregate ourselves from the others that exist, but use our collective voices to support existing groups under an umbrella reflective of the "grass roots geeks". EFF, Aclu, Citizen works and other groups do a fanstastic job and a new PAC could align on issues they agree with but also stand for issues specific to this community.

        The collective force of Slashdot is strong
        • This "collective voice" you speak of does not exist. If you haven't noticed, there are a lot of different opinions on various issues discussed here.
          • If i believed what you are saying then that would mean i have no reason to come back here.

            If i believed for one second that the world was perfect your saying would be true, but it isn't. We have our differences but we obviously have our collective indifferences that bring us back time after time.

    • consolidate our beliefs

      Yeah, and lemme take a look at that when you've pieced it together.

      "Our?" Who's "us?" Do you mean to imply that there is some commonality among the people posting on slashdot beyond gadget-fetish? The editors would like it if we were all left-leaning anti-copyright urban CTO's (so would their advertisers, for that matter...), but you need only spend 20 minutes here to realize that there is no "typical" poster, that our politics are all over the map, and that today's high school
    • There's already IPAC [ipaction.org], which supported several candidates financially in the 2004 US election.
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:03AM (#11931660) Homepage
    I was trying to secure rights to stream several movies.. and guess what, for all the MPAA and RIAA's heavy handedness over people not getting rights? I couldn't... couldn't even figure out who to talk to, and no one that I called could do more than refer me to some large outlets that said "We don't do that." So not only are they going after people for electronic distribution of their works, they make it damn near impossible to actually license said works for electronic distribution. silly bastards. To put this in the perspective of the post, I honestly felt that they had "abandoned" the electronic medium, I hope the law says "fire away" to people who can't find licensing channels for works.
  • Corporate influence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wschalle (790478)
    Corporate influence will play more part in this than anything the public will ever say about it.
    • why? if a copyright owner can not be found, a corporation can not buy the work. I see no corporate interest here.
      • > why? if a copyright owner can not be found, a corporation can not buy the work. I see no corporate interest here.

        Let's say a company that wrote some useful software a few years ago has gone. Now, only the competing software from Microsoft (tm) is widely awailable and supported. If the old sources went to public domain, they could easily be adopted by some new company or even a crown of hackers. And MS does not need yet another Firefox. They just don't like competition.

        Consider a book that has gone t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Orphan works legislation ... it can be used in 2020 to again increase the length of copyright ownership. The unethical publishers and copyright holders will demand that the 99 year copyright expiration date be further increased because orphan works will be available for the public. I don't know sounds like they'll be given an easy path out.

    Plus, how do you know when something is an orphan work? Is it fair that some copyright holders get more "rights" and others dont?

    All creators and profitters of new work
    • In the US anyway, it will be a hard legal case to show that a term > 99 years is a "limited time" in a constitutional sense. Under the common law, there are a number of instances where the maximum length of time something can be leased, etc. is 99 years, because a longer term would be indistinguishable from outright sale.
  • Those opposing any changes have plenty of paid commenters to drown out comment from the rest of us. And even if they didn't, the copyright office doesn't have the authority to change the law; that's up to Congress, and you _know_ who owns them. Spend your effort elsewhere; commenting to the copyright office is about as productive as posting to Slashdot.
    • You're wrong, and here's why.

      While it's true that there will be plenty of comments from copyright holders and their lawyers in this proceeding, it isn't true that "the rest of us" will be drowned out. The point of a Notice of Inquiry (the formal name for the proceeding the Copyright Office has undertaken) is to create a *record* which they can refer to in later rulemaking and in their report to Congressional leaders. In general, if and when rulemaking time comes around, they'll have to respond to every sig
  • by shimmin (469139) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:05AM (#11932155) Journal
    Let's give the creator the benefit of the doubt and say that whatever they have created is of enduring value, and the copyright on their creation is worth a perpetuity of some annual income A.

    Then, the present value of the copyright is, and will remain, A/i, where i is the interest rate.

    Meanwhile, at time t, the present value of the copyright they have already held is A/i * (exp[it] - 1).

    So, at some time, it is fair to both the author and public to expire the copyright, because the present value of the copyright (that is being transferred from author to public) is equal to the present value of the copyright that the author has held in the past (that was given to the author by the public). This occurs when t = (ln 2)/i.

    Then, the proper term of copyright depends on the interest rate, thusly:

    2% 35 years
    3% 23 years
    4% 17 years
    5% 14 years
    6% 12 years
    7% 10 years
    8% 9 years
    • I don't think you really want to go there.

      Everyone in the copyright cartel would obviously claim the lowest possible income rate for their holdings, since it would give them the longest copyright term.

      Most would be lying, of course, and would be making a lot more money off their holdings than claimed. The only way that kind of fraud could be prevented is to have a government agency responsible for auditing the copyright holders' financial records, to make sure the profits claimed and the profits made on
      • Unnecessary, because the income rate cancels out of the accounting equation. If the copyright isn't earning much, then it's not worth much, and so the term a drops out. The only variable is the interest rate, and given the lengths of time we're talking about here, it is probably fair to set that to an average of what the prime lending rate has been over the last umpteen years.
  • I just sent the following comment:

    I strongly support the concept of having works for which the copyright holder cannot be identified fall into the public domain.

    It has been suggested that there should be a registry of copyrighted works, along with contact information for the holder. This "orphan works" proposal would permit the free market to form such a registry. Copyright holders would want themselves to be identifiable to retain their copyright, so being registered, by a "copyright registrar" would e

  • Berne Convention (Score:4, Informative)

    by hacksoncode (239847) on Monday March 14, 2005 @12:24PM (#11933790)
    RTFA

    The whole reason that copyrights no longer have to be registered in the US is the Berne convention, which requires that signatory countries may not impose registration requirements on foreign nationals in order to obtain copyright protection.

    Since there's no way to acertain without finding the copyright holder whether that person is a foreign national or not, even if we required registration of copyrighted works as a way to get around this, it still would violate the treaty.

    About the only solution would be one similar to that cited in Candadian law, where the Copyright Office can determine that a work is orphaned, set a compulsary license fee, and collect it in case the author is ever found. They've granted a whole 125 of these licenses to date.

    Which doesn't really solve the problem at all...

    • The whole reason that copyrights no longer have to be registered in the US is the Berne convention, which requires that signatory countries may not impose registration requirements on foreign nationals in order to obtain copyright protection.

      U.S. copyright law already requires registration before the act of infringement in order for a prevailing copyright owner to collect statutory damages. It can do this because (as I understand it) the Berne Convention does not require party states to provide for stat

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