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UK Government Order Review of IP Rights 159

Posted by Hemos
from the changing-of-the-mind-&-guard dept.
quaker5567 writes "The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has ordered an independent review of intellectual property rights in the UK. The review will be led by Andrew Gowers, formerly the editor of London newspaper The Financial Times. The review will look into the awarding of IP rights to business, the complexity of current laws and the extent of "fair use" in the current law. Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate. Andrew Gowers recently criticised the print industry for not realising the true power of the digital platform, comparing them to a record company which specialises in vinyl."
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UK Government Order Review of IP Rights

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  • by ill dillettante (658149) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:13AM (#14184431) Homepage
    I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.
    • Not necessarily... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

      Things might not actually go so badly.

      Gordon Brown has been playing to the people a lot lately. Blair has said he will not be seeking a fourth term, and so will probably step down in a couple of years' time; Brown is the heir apparent, and has been plotting to become Prime Minister for a long time.

      So, Brown's been doing popular things wherever possible. He was very big on the whole debt-cancellatio

      • by mikael (484) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:30AM (#14184546)
        More likely he's looking for new ways to raise taxes, especially after raiding pension funds, applying stealth taxes on property inheritance through fiscal drag, and introducing an new tax on landowners who sell land to property developers.

        As soon as anything can be "owned" and has "value" in the eyes of the law, then the right to use and transfer of ownership can be taxed.

        The biggest danger as always is that the large multinational companies will squeeze out the small software developers, especially when government contracts are concerned.
      • I am not so optimistic. Brown is an uncritical supporter of the US ways of doing things. He also sucks up to big business on the same massive scale as his boss. I never thought I would find myself writing this, but IF David Cameron becomes leader of the Conservative Party, and IF he manages to fight off the right wing, he might be a better bet for the next Prime Minister. Although the Conservatives tend to euro-scepticism they also do have a healthy tendency towards US-scepticism. And some Conservatives in
        • I was at a lunch once with Michael Heseltine (centrist Conservative) where he likened many industry bodies to the Trade Unions and said that if Britain was to modernise they had to be defeated just as much as the miners and the print unions had to.

          Heseltine, I fear, is among the last of a dying breed. He and Kenneth Clarke are all that remains of the Tories as they once were, the party of old Mr Heath. I wouldn't attach too much hope to him.

          Many of the rest are hideous Little Thatchers. Authoritarian, x

          • Wait 20 secs...

            I suspect flat tax rates will prove a con too, but in principle they are better than the present system which actually means that poorer people pay a higher percentage of their income in tax than the rich do (regressive taxation.)
            I suspect too that I will be disappointed again...but who else is going to provide a credible opposition to the free holiday scrounger and Berlusconi's mate who always has the door open for the likes of Ecclestone( - there's a monopolist if there ever was one)?

      • So, Brown's been doing popular things wherever possible. He was very big on the whole debt-cancellation move during the summer, for instance. He's trying to look as good as possible to voters. He's not likely to endorse law changes along the lines of 'hey, people I'd like to have vote for me at the next election: you're not allowed to copy CDs to your iPods!'

        And while we are all chatting about this subject, the European Parliament are about to pass draconian anti-privacy laws against all forms of electro

    • I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

      My question is, what viewpoint does Mr. Gowers hold regarding current copyright law? I couldn't glean that information from the article. If he thinks print publications are outdated and that publishers should start taking advantage of and learning to work with digital publication, that could mean either he is in favor of lengthening copyright terms and strengthening the law, or he could also be in fa

    • Close ... it will be CowboyNeal's descendants (after the hostile take-over) ... not yours.
    • by Haeleth (414428) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:51AM (#14184710) Journal
      I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

      No, no... that would grant legitimacy to the idea that you can give something away for free and still hold copyright on it.

      I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be to create perpetual copyright for commercial, proprietary products, while anything given away for no or negligible financial cost will be declared to enter the public domain automatically, to prevent unfair competition from F/OSS harming the software industry.

      Not that I'm at all cynical or anything.
    • This is the same government that did nothing when they caught British American Tobacco smuggling cigarettes to avoid paying taxes and increase profits. The head of the company whispered in Tony's ear and the whole investigation suddenly went away. Admittedly there were other members pushing to go ahead and investigate the full extent of the crime, and carry through a prosecution.
  • by kahei (466208) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:15AM (#14184446) Homepage

    Now, to be fair, there are many very interesting record companies that specialize in vinyl. In the same way, I'm sure there will be small but interesting paper book companies decades from now :)

    • Now, to be fair, there are many very interesting record companies that specialize in vinyl.

      Yeah, and isn't it a bit ironic that all the vinyl records I buy are pressed and shipped from the UK?
  • UK copyright law calls it "fair dealing".

    I'll take my pedant-points now, if that's ok.
    • Re:"fair use"? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nuskrad (740518)
      Fair dealing has a very limited scope in UK Copyright law though. It only covers copying and some distribution for research and journalism purposes. See Sections 29&30 of the CDPA [jenkins-ip.com]
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:01AM (#14184777)

      The two aren't really equivalent.

      Several uses that I think most of us would consider reasonable are actually illegal in the UK, or legal only on a technicality under some circumstances. Making back-ups, format shifting, and making music compilations are all somewhat dodgy, for example, even where only legitimately bought content is involved and it's strictly for personal use by the person who bought it.

      To give an example of how daft this is, a local dancing club I help to run would like to make compilation CDs of the music we have legitimately paid for, since we have a large library and carrying all the CDs everywhere is awkward. We also pay an additional fee for the right to play this music at public classes and events, so our use of the music itself is entirely legit. We have concluded that none of the standard licensing agencies can authorise the simple compilations we'd like to produce, so we have made efforts to contact the copyright holders directly.

      Interestingly enough, the specialist dancing music companies from which we buy most of our CDs (we're talking about things like ballroom, rock 'n' roll, salsa and swing here, rather than clubbing stuff) tend to be helpful, slightly surprised that we've even bothered to ask, and happy to grant permission for reasonable uses. The big names, which we actually don't buy as much from, have also been slightly surprised to hear from us, but we get strange things like permission for the mechanical copyright, but not for the actual recording because the publisher doesn't actually hold that copyright, and doesn't seem to know who does.

      In other words, we have a reasonable use, we're paying properly for the music itself and the right to play it at public events, when asked the publishers generally haven't objected to our request or asked for any extra consideration in exchange, but legal technicalities mean that strictly speaking we still can't make the compilations because some unknown copyright holder hasn't given permission and there's no way for us to seek it. That seems a bit daft to me.

      Personally, I'm not sure US-style fair use is the best way to go in a digital world; it's just too easy to argue that activities which could -- not necessarily are in practice today -- be seriously damaging to copyright holders are authorised. I'm thinking in particular of distribution to "friends", and thence to their "friends" and so on, until a new track/e-book/game/whatever has suddenly spread across the whole Internet.

      However, it seems about time that paying to buy content should guarantee certain inalienable consumer rights, such as the right to make a back-up copy, to shift to a different media format, and the right to make compilations composed only of legitimately purchased content. In particular, those should be rights rather than exemptions, so that the media industries can't simply add DRM that makes it technically difficult for an average consumer to do these things (or to criminalise the behaviour under alternative laws such as the EUCD or DMCA as a back door).

      Hopefully, the guy they've put in charge of this review has his head screwed on the right way, and a reasonable balance between the legitimate interests of the consumer and the legitimate interests of the copyright holder and content creators will be found. I'm a bit worried about some of the language, as no doubt mentioned by others in this discussion by the time I post this, but I'm far more interested in how the review actually goes than in any guesses based on government weasel words before they've even started.

      • >>Hopefully, the guy they've put in charge of this review has his head screwed on the right way

        You're talking about the same government that wants to suspend trial by jury, presumption of innocence and the right to face your accusers in court for persons suspected of terrorist offences, right?

        -Nano.
        • You're talking about the same government that wants to suspend trial by jury, presumption of innocence and the right to face your accusers in court for persons suspected of terrorist offences, right?

          Well, the government (as in Tony and his cronies) may want that, but the majority party (the Labour Party) has recently demonstrated that it is not entirely bereft of spine, so Tony and co may not get what they want for much longer, and I doubt some of the more draconian legislative steps that have been take

      • I'm thinking in particular of distribution to "friends", and thence to their "friends" and so on, until a new track/e-book/game/whatever has suddenly spread across the whole Internet.,

        I don't believe this has ever been an aspect of "fair use". I believe that people who do it want to believe that it's fair use, but it's not, and I don't believe it ever has been. I also don't see how anyone could rationally justify this as "fair use," because there's nothing really fair about it.
        • I agree entirely; as another respondent pointed out, it pretty clearly fails on one of the four tests for fairness under US law. That doesn't stop the widespread belief that the magical "fair use" is some sort of legal right (rather than an exemption) that means you can copy anything you like as long as you're not directly making money from it, though. Hence my concern is that with the US-style approach, you can too easily argue that something like this is fair use, not that it actually is fair use in the e

  • by Snamh Da Ean (916391) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:18AM (#14184464)
    Interesting that they have got someone who used to be involved in print media to review IP. The FT have been subscription only for quite a while now...

    As for whether it is legimitate to enforce copyright 70 years after an author's death, it seems clear that any reasonable economic analysis would conclude that the marginal incentive provided to authors by this absurd protection doesn't influence their output of creative work, and is only likely to cause detriment to those who cannot afford to pay full price for a novel or other creative work. This would include citizens of LDCs, and poor people, two groups in particular need of reasonably priced access to important literary or academic works.

    It could be argued that publishers are more likely to support struggling writers if they can collect money for 70 years after the death of the author, but where is the evidence that 10, 20, 30...years after the author's death wouldn't provide exactly the same incentives to publishers to hunt for the next JK Rowling?

    Here is a (pdf) link to some of the main economic issues involved here http://www.oiprc.ox.ac.uk/EJWP0502.pdf [ox.ac.uk]
    • 70 year copyright (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dunstan (97493)
      I ran into just this problem with a piece of Easter music I wanted to use, written by Vaughan Williams. He died in the 1950's, so he is in copyright for another 20 years.

      I approached the copyright administrator for permission to reprint something for our congregation, and they wanted more royalties than I was prepared to pay. The net result is that a piece of music which Vaughan Williams wrote for the greater glory of God was not sung because of the copyright laws, and the excessive copyright terms. He coul
      • "The net result is that a piece of music which Vaughan Williams wrote for the greater glory of God was not sung because of the copyright laws, and the excessive copyright terms. He couldn't have guarded against this - the term was life+20 at the time of his death."

        I don't think thats the real problem with over-long copyrights. I think the problem is that the copyright holder has no incentive to invest in new works because they can milk the old works. Which is a pisser if you're todays "Vaughan Williams" sin
    • I think the proper term of copyright can be determined through a back-of-the envelope accounting calculation.

      The expiration of a copyright involves the transfer of something that has value (the copyright) from the rights-holder to the public. This is a fair trade if the public has compensated the rights-holder with something of equal value, which they will have done through granting the copyright in the first place, if the term of copyright was long enough.

      Put another way, the "fair" term of copyright is t
  • by l2718 (514756) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:26AM (#14184514)

    To the people of the UK -- be afraid. In fact, be very afraid:

    • From the head of the comission: "I believe that Intellectual Property is at the heart of Britain's success in the knowledge economy. This review will ensure that we maintain a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation."

      In other words it is the legal scheme (IP) and not the ideas, creativity or innovation which what lies at the heart of Britain's success. an environment for innovation usually means an environment rewarding past innovation with infinite monopoly reducing the motivation for future innovation (consider US copyright law).

    • "The Gowers Review will be actively consulting stakeholders throughout its duration.".

      This sentence is usually a sign that the public, the largest stakeholder in the business, is about to be excluded.
  • "The world - and the media especially - is changing at internet speed and the pressures are immense. Those in leadership positions who do not adapt fast enough to change of whatever kind will end up being overtaken by it," he (Gowers) wrote.

    So everyone is moving to internet media? What is your point? FT.com has been around for years, so it will just overtake itself?
    Believe it or not, there will always be people who buy newspapers, especially while commuting. Internet access is not as ubiquitous t
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:29AM (#14184538) Homepage Journal
    Many slashdot readers are starting to realize what a scam Intellectual Property laws are, and I firmly believe that the only ownership one can have is physical ownership of a good. The power of IP is born from government's monopoly on force, and the majority of IP-owners are corporations, another figment of government's imagination. Isn't the intent of government to make all citizens safe, secure and let no one's freedom to produce be hampered by another?

    The U.K. isn't going to make any changes to their laws. In a country with increasing inflation, increasing unemployment and increasing debt, the powers-the-be will more likely collude with megacorps than shun them. There is a mistaken belief that employment is a creation of government fiat and that the market won't provide unless government sets up regulations and restrictions. IP is one of those restrictions. IP also creates unemployment, as companies that could otherwise compete with the IP holder are not allowed entry into the market.

    Kinsella wrote a decent [mises.org] article (PDF warning) about Intellectual Property and how anti-freedom/pro-force the idea is. I don't believe we can "fix" the laws, and I don't think we can even roll them back. The slippery slope has shown its ugly face, and the only hope we have is to completely toss the rules and find a better way, maybe a non-government way. Kinsella's 53 page article has more footnotes and links that I could ever place in a slashdot article, but he hits the nail on the head in reaching the same conclusion: don't offer protection for non-physical property.

    If you post it, expect it to get copied. If you create it, expect cheap knock-offs to appear. If you don't want either thing to happen, don't put your idea into the public eye. If you want to profit from your creation, you have to add in the cost of knock-offs and copying into the equation, and offer value added options in order to attract customers to your first-to-market creation.
    • What a load of crap. What you are saying here is: someone like JKR should spend 2 years writing a book, get it published and then sit back and watch the Chinese print off a gazzilion copies of her work a week later without her profiting one cent.

      There has to be reward for work.

      • There has to be reward for work.

        There is. It is called a salary. If you want to earn a living from writing, get a job with a writing house (newspaper, website, cartoon creator, etc). They'll pay you a salary in exchange for your creativity. They will take on the costs and risks of trying to make a profit.

        If you want to be independent, you are accepting a HUGE risk, just as an independent IT consultant is taking a huge risk versus working for "the man."

        Creating content is not enough to make a product. I
        • There is. It is called a salary. If you want to earn a living from writing, get a job with a writing house (newspaper, website, cartoon creator, etc).

          Where is it stated that a writer, poet, musician, etc must earn their main income from doing that? For one thing it would prevent older people who are in reciept of a pension doing such creative things...

          They'll pay you a salary in exchange for your creativity. They will take on the costs and risks of trying to make a profit.

          Though probably with some res
      • No there doesn't. People work without reward all the time. Look at Gigli. Very very few authors actually make enough from their works to even support themselves, much less to get anything of value.

        What you ought to have said was that people often hope to have a reward for their creative works; not just any reward, in fact, but a large enough one to outweigh their best alternative.

        That's fine, but remember that just as an author should weigh their best alternative against a hoped-for reward (e.g. author X ca
        • I for one would rather have my eyes removed with a belt sander than read the next Harry Potter book, if that's what it boiled down to.

          But to be fair, I think the rest of your comment is pretty insightful ;).

        • If the copyright laws necessary for an author to create a particular work are very onerous, the harm caused by these laws may outweigh any benefit we gain from the work itself being created.

          Where is the evidence of authors (especially unpublished) authors are demanding such onerous laws? Most of the demand appears to come from publishers or the descendents of sucessful authors.

          I for one would rather have sensible copyright laws than the next Harry Potter book,

          Where has J K Rowling stated that she woul
      • What you are saying here is: someone like JKR should spend 2 years writing a book, get it published

        The real problem for most aspiring authors is getting published in the first place.
        There as a huge amount of luck responsible for Harry Potter ever getting published at all. There are plenty of examples of highly sucessful creative works which almost vanished into oblivian.

        and then sit back and watch the Chinese print off a gazzilion copies of her work a week later without her profiting one cent.

        They wou
    • Heres the deal (Score:5, Interesting)

      by argoff (142580) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:08AM (#14184831)

      You see, the UK, and especially the US are starting to realise that they have way too much debt for all that stuff they bought on credit from overseas, in their housing markets, in their bond markets, and in their industries. In fact, in economic circles bankers talk about the fall of the dollar as if it was pre-destined (which it is).

      The deal is that they have this wet dream that they are going to be able to export their "intellectual property" abroad, to make up for all these economic imbalances - and bring them unlimited growth and profit.

      I think they are going to be in for a very very rude supprise.
      • This is very true. A service-oriented economy can be very profitable IF the market is free to set prices. Unfortunately, minimum wage laws combined with a union focus combined with an inflationary policy by the central bank all lead to higher costs which lead to a lower demand.

        I'm preparing for the market surprise by holding gold-as-money, downsizing my house significantly so I have no mortgage, and traveling more (which helps me gauge the realities of the market, not what the media and the government rep
        • I'm preparing for the market surprise by holding gold-as-money, downsizing my house significantly so I have no mortgage, and traveling more (which helps me gauge the realities of the market, not what the media and the government report).

          WOW! that's exactly what I'm doing. (well, I'm not traveling, but have been planning an exit strategy just in case ... probably Chile). It's almost sureal, people are doing their christmas shopping and whatnot like there is nothing wrong. Slashdotters routinely act lik

          • If you're serious and want some great insight, drop me an e-mail. I've found some really inexpensive ways to play for a market crash while still being profitable if the market moves forward. Trailer park ownership, home improvement co-ops, and even local bartering clubs are great ways to maximize your financial security while still making money if my doom-and-gloom fears don't come to bloom.
          • I don't think people have any idea what they're in for. Americans have never experienced 3rd world like conditions in over 150 years.

            And they won't either. it doesn't matter a whole lot if the US economy suffers a total meltdown, for two reasons.

            One, the US is the worlds largest consumer. If their economy suffers a meltdown, the whole earth will cascade down as a result. Moving to Cole won't help you out much, guess where most of their exposts go?

            Two, even if such a thing happens, a poor economy does not

        • A service based economy can not maintain itself. You need to produce a bit of everything (or something that you can trade) if you want to keep going.

          • Actually, this isn't completely true. The complexity of the market is due much to government control of currency, wages and wealth redistribution.

            In a completely free market, you DO have the ability to provide a solely service economy more now than ever in history. There are so many services that can be performed over the Internet, but we are not competitive because of our government's destruction of wealth and currency while continuing to push prices higher through counterfeiting the dollar (legally).

            I a
          • China and India produce cheap manufactured goods.

            The UK is safer because they don't have the idiotic religious zealots that burden the US (the UK is one of the most secular societies in the world, only behind, guess who?, South Korea, read below for why this is interesting).

            This is important because knowledge this century will be more profitable in the biological sciences. We are just starting to explore many of the fields in biology. The countries that ride that wave will become the pace setters in pretty
      • It's like intellectual mercantilism.
    • Many slashdot readers are starting to realize what a scam Intellectual Property laws are...

      And do "many people" who want to add artificial weight to their own views on a controversial subject start their statements by implying, without proof, that many other people agree with them?

    • So, exactly how are we supposed to create new pharmaceuticals in your brave new IP-less world? Do we eliminate the massive costs associated with testing and just let people fend for themselves (and companies too, since presumably you'd support suing any company that still puts out a risky product)? How can a company spend millions or billions of dollars on new research if the only saleable end product is a pill that can be copied in under a day by production houses that do no research at all? Should all fut
      • So, exactly how are we supposed to create new pharmaceuticals in your brave new IP-less world?

        In my experience, the IP debate ends when someone brings up pharmaceuticals. It is now called Dada's Law of IP Debate. The pharmaceutical industry has incredibly high costs because of government regulations, not because it really costs US$325million to make a new drug. We have 6.5 billion people in the world. If reducing government intrusion would save half, we're talking about 2.5 cents per person to make a n
        • The pharmaceutical industry has incredibly high costs because of government regulations

          Yes, and I alluded to that. You didn't answer the question.

          We have 6.5 billion people in the world. If reducing government intrusion would save half, we're talking about 2.5 cents per person to make a new drug.

          That's nice. What about the vast majority of drugs that don't target every human being on the planet? Not everyone is HIV positive. Not everyone has diabetes. Not everyone will get esophageal cancer. That doesn't me
      • Most of the research is already done by government salried researchers in government funded labs. Why *should* the pharmaceutical companies be getting a free ride for 1/10th of the work? (I'm not claiming that production isn't work...but that's not what your patents cover.)
      • Aside from the fact that if it was so damn easy to replicate a chemical compound from scratch we'd already have Coca-Cola(tm) knockoffs that taste the exact same but without the 1000%+ markup (I have yet to have a "Big K" or whatever generic brand cola taste anywhere close), life would still go on: researchers (probably in an academic setting) would look for stuff because that's what they like to do. Many of them would probably even go back to curing diseases rather than attempting to invent the next wonde
      • One has to question the value of a drug that can be copied in one day.

        What companies would do is to join al together and share the costs an reap the rewards jointly, since otherwise there would be no economic incentive.

        If they would not join forces, the would dissapear, leaving the ground free for companies willing to do so.

        And is not like they do all the research, very often a lot of their research is done with public money.
      • So, exactly how are we supposed to create new pharmaceuticals in your brave new IP-less world?

        It's something of a false dicotomy to assume that the only possibility is the status quo (ever increasing and abused IP laws) or the elimination of any IP.

        Do we eliminate the massive costs associated with testing and just let people fend for themselves (and companies too, since presumably you'd support suing any company that still puts out a risky product)?

        Is the current system of regulation entirely about av
    • by BlightThePower (663950) on Monday December 05, 2005 @06:37PM (#14189103)
      Huh? Increasing unemployment? The rate of unemployment is flat [hrmguide.co.uk] and has been for quite some time. The number of people classed as economically unactive has actually fallen. Inflation has been flat for a number of years now, remaing at 2%. Debt has risen slightly (as we learned today) but in real terms is so small as to be the envy of most of the world, we certainly aren't talking about a US-style hocking of the family silver. Current queasiness aside, Brown's Golden Rule has more of less been adhered to, something very few other economies in the UK's league can claim. Finally, the Chancellor of Exchequer has never suggested that the role of Government is to create jobs, indeed he has argued against that view publicly on many occasions and this remains a major part of the UK's ongoing and vitriolic arguments with EU members. The UK is for the market liberalization of the EU, but alas a voice in the wilderness at the present time.

      In short I think that was a troll comment and readers more locally focused in their knowledge of these things shouldn't fall for it. The UK is neither to be lazy conflated with "Europe" (read: France and Germany, completely different circumstances and economic philosophies) nor America.
  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:36AM (#14184586) Homepage
    Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate.

    As a UK citizen, this has got me worried. I don't think there has ever been a government that has *reduced* the copyright term. This move also probably ties in with the announcement earlier this year that they were going to extend the copyright term on recordings from 50 years to 100 years (after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?).
    • It's labour.. have they done a single thing that's good for "the people"? All I see is abuse of prisoners, higher taxs, more schooling fees and erm Jamie Oliver complaining about food..

      We all know labour will do the EXACT opposit of what the people want..
      • Umm, independance for the Bank of England? That seems fairly good.

        Here's a list of some other bits and bobs they're quite happy about.

        Labour's top 50 achievements [labour.org.uk]

        BTW, considered a job writing for the Daily Mail?
        • I'm sorry I don't follow news papers..

          But I suggest you look at the URL. It's labour's website.. oddly enough I don't trust the horse's mouth for news on the horse.

          Everything I've seen lately (and checked many places) basicly says "you're 20!? HAHAHA you're fucked!". I was hoping to goto university.. hey guess what, I probably won't be able to untill I'm nearly 30 because I'll never have the money being that I have to save my ass off, pay for other peoples pensions and get no support funding my education wh
          • True the claims are on a Labour web site but that doesn't mean that they are all wrong. You're correct to mention the claim about nurses. Adding nurses does not guarantee an improvement - what if the nurses are not as qualified as previous nurses or are simply not utilised effectively? However, what are these 'lower standards' and do they impact the quality of service that patients receive?

            The main reason I responded to your post was because of the sheer 'fuck the world' negativity in it. There is a lot of
            • I think it does..

              I'm a very negative person.. I'm quite sick of how the world is right now. your point on "fuck the world" would be totally accurate. I can look objectively but I still see the world as a hell hole..

              That's where my problem comes in. I don't feel like being in debt for years and years. So I want to make money so I can goto college (again, I went at 14 to do some courses while I also had home schooling) then uni. Slight problem with working at summer markets is I was born with screwed up legs.
              • Hope things work out anyway. Regarding debt, there's no reason to be in debt for the rest of your life but you probably would end up with some debt. See this as an investment in yourself that will pay-off when you find your first graduate level position. It would be nice to get a university education for free but I agree with the idea that the student should pay for some of it - even if this does involve having to take a loan.
          • Don't get too comitted to the belief in any particular political party. It's more the structure of the system. When enough people get unhappy with the one's currently making the rules, they shuffle the chairs and another face shows in front...but two or three levels down the same people are making the same decisions, and many of them believe that they are on the side of the good and the right, but because of the design of the system, the decisions made will weigh certain facts more and other facts less.
            • Seems the idea is to make as much money as possible, make your friends as rich as possible and then run like fuck to me..

              I have no faith in the system. The system is rather pathetic and gives me no real choice in to how I want the country run.. most people just don't care at all and never will. These are the people who don't vote but still complain.. This was the first year I could vote.. so I did.. I voted for the lib dems.. not because I liked them, purely because my vote ment next to nothing so I threw i
    • after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?

      Yes -- we wouldn't want more artists to expand [bannedmusic.org] on their work. This would take away, diminish, undermine and otherwise dammage the Beatles.

      Afterall, it couldn't possibly bring a whole new generation to listen to their work?

      • Afterall, it couldn't possibly bring a whole new generation to listen to their work?

        Once upon a time, a man and his wife were traveling by car and "Get Back" came on the radio. Wife says to man that the vocals sounded a lot like Paul McCartney; husband tells her that it is Paul, back in the days of the Beatles. Wife says she'd never heard it before.

        Man and wife? Sir and Mrs. Paul McCartney!

    • (after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?)

      Since much of the Beatles' catalogue now belongs to Michael Jackson, I wonder if McCartney might, if asked, now support the reduction in length of the copyright cover? He gets to spite Jackson, and simultaneously look really amazingly cool and froody...

      • by shippo (166521) on Monday December 05, 2005 @12:25PM (#14185450)
        There's two kinds of copyright in effect here.

        Firstly there's the mechanical copyright - the copyright on an actual recording. In the UK this currently expires 50 years after date that the recording was first released, independant as to where it was released. In all cases the expiration takes place at the end of the calendar year. There are a number of record companies who exploit this by issuing old recordings whose mechanical copyright has lapsed.

        Secondly there the publishing copyright - the copyright on the song. This expires 70 years after the authors death. Payments for these are usually managed via a publishing company who collects the rights and passing on a percentage to the authors. So even if the mechanical copyright has lapsed, the publishing copyright still remains in place.

        In the Beatles case, Northern Songs which owns the publishing rights to most of their compositions (excluding some of the earlier material, later George Harrison compositions, and Ringo two) is partly owned by Michael Jackson. The publishing company still passes the payments on, Jackson will just get some kind of financial benefit as the co-owner of the company.

        So under current UK copyright law anyone will be albe to press up a copy of 'Love Me Do' (their first single, dating from 1962) from January 1st 2013, but publishing will still have to be paid to Lennon's estate until the end of 2050, and to McCartney's estate up to at least 2075.
  • Gordon Brown (Score:3, Informative)

    by IainMH (176964) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:50AM (#14184698)
    For those not up on UK politics, this is significant because Gordo is second only to Tony Blair in the Government (no matter what Prescott thinks) and is seemingly the heir apparent as Prime Minister when Tony Blair resigns. (Which I will take bets on will be soon after he beat Thatcher's reign).
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:50AM (#14184705)
    I'd be a lot more accepting of the whole notion of IP rights if our fearless leaders would publically state the laws importance and need to their consitituents. Without some rational for why we should be doing this I'm left to conclude that its just to make rich people richer.
    And what about extending ideas? They're locking up our common culture - I still can't legally link to a copy of steamboat willy (Micky Mouse precursor) for the readers in the US can I? Could this mean that in some future dystopia everyone will have to pay simply to participate? Sorry Bob, I can't talk to you about last nights episode of Friends as you don't have a license....
    Damnit. [gnu.org]
  • by threaded (89367) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:04AM (#14184798) Homepage
    For those not up on UK politics this is just another scam to see how Gordon Brown can raise taxes. Any other outcome will be nothing but secondary.

    My suspicion is, because he is so desperate to raise more tax revenue, it that he will allow anyone and their dog to patent anything, "fire", "the wheel", for example, and then others will have to fight it down in court.

    Remember, you read it here first.
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:44AM (#14185120) Homepage Journal
      As an alternative, something like this might work to both Brown and our advantage:
      1. Copyright lasts for twenty years, by default
      2. Copyright can then be renewed for a further twenty years, on payment of, say, a 1,000GBP registration fee each year
      3. Copyright can then be renewed for a maximum of 150 years, on payment of, say, a 5,000GBP registration fee each year
      Simple. More money goes into the "public pocket", twenty years is about the most long term any business would consider a return to be worth holding out for so this doesn't stifle innovation, indeed by building a massive base of public domain works, it should encourage it. I would want to add a clause to such an arrangement protecting the moral rights of artists (the right to be credited, the right not to be credited) for the full artist's lifetime + 20 years, to be entirely happy with the system, and for software to require source disclosure to gain the protection of copyright, but in general it ought to make most people happy.

      Now, here's the bad news: none of this is compatable with any of the recent global inter-governmental copyright pacts and treaties. Indeed, so far as I can see, most copyright reform would have problems there.

    • Bah, that's old news. I can already patent (should I be so inclined) exciting new innovations such as:
      "Fire, on the Internet"
      "Fire, on a mobile communications device"
      "Wheels, on the Internet"
      "Wheels, on a mobile communications device"
  • by argoff (142580) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:12AM (#14184871)

    Well, this is actually a repost from a week or so back, but it seems like not so many have read it .....

    The theory that we've all been taught is that copyrights are "intellectual property" rights that protect creators, and give them an incentive to make creative works that provide personal and public benefit. The truth is that property rights exist to allocate finite resources, not to artificially choke supply for the sake of incentive. Rather than protection, or a free market property, copyrights are more like a regulation that micromanages how people can use information. In practice, they are dangerous to rely on and lock out more opportunity then they promote.

    History has shown that just protection of property rights leads to strong incentives, but coercion of incentive does not necessarily lead to just property rights. Simply because an institution calls something a property right, doesn't mean that it is. If, for example, an industry used the government to artificially restrict the natural supply of food and called shares of that monopoly a "property right", it would be very easy to see how the artificial distortion of markets would not only cause opportunity loss, but harm to society. Copyrights are a way for some industries to use government to artificially restrict the natural supply of information and force the market to center around information control rather than service value. That causes opportunity loss, harm to society, and a burden of enforcement that is too heavy to bear in the information age.

    Normally copyright concerns would not be so eminent as they have been effectively used for hundreds of years without failure. However, things are different this time and faith in the copyright system is rather dangerous. Just as the industrial revolution forced the commoditisation of the labor market and the ugly death of the plantation system. The information age is forcing the commoditisation of information and the ugly death of the copyright system. It is not a coincidence that the speculative stock market crash around 1857, regarding industrial technology is very similar to the speculative stock market crash in 2001 regarding information technology. It is not a coincidence that the slavery issue created a raging debate about artificial "property rights" as copyrights have today. It is not a coincidence the disproportional prosperity of the plantation system then and the disproportional prosperity of the copyright industries today (That is, unless one thinks hollywood is underpaid). Things like the harsh punishments for merely teaching a person of color to read, vs copyright crimes having punishments worse than rape today. These are all symptoms of drastically changing markets and entrenched dying industries trying to prevent change. As for those industries that thought that the entire purpose and meaning of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton-gin to expand their plantations for unlimited growth and profit - they were deadly wrong in spite of all the money and intellect behind them. Those industries today whom believe that the entire purpose and meaning of the information age is to leverage inventions like the Internet to expand the influence of copyright controls for vast growth and profit, well?

    Well, over the next several years, the copyright system will not only be changed, it will become effectively dead. All industries that center on them will change or die a protracted death, and all institutions that rely on a proprietary information infrastructure will be stuck in the mud as they suffer numerous opportunity costs. The information age is doing for information services what the industrial revolution did for production. However, the copyright system doesn't center around the supply and demand of service, but an artificial supply restrictions on information that services bring about. Over the coming years as information becomes commoditized and service value becomes more important than the content val

    • I agree with you "in theory". The problem is a lot of large countries with the power to rule the English speaking media (America and the UK), currently have very corrupt governments who refuse to listen to the people. They're clearly taking bribes left right and centre and with the new laws being imposed (terrorism laws), it's very possible it will go the complete and opposit way and a police state will kick in, where you may only listen to Government licenced media. I hope it's not true but if you look at
  • by jesterpilot (906386) on Monday December 05, 2005 @11:37AM (#14185070) Homepage
    This review is one in a very long range of policy reviews doomed to fail. It focuses on the fine-tuning of the existing policy, not looking at the conceptual level of the policy. Mr Gowers speaks of 'maintaining a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation'. He does not ask: How good is our environment for creativity? or: Do we have such an environment at all? or: What fundamental shifts are at stake?

    When he talks about balance between right-holders and consumers, he clearly misses the fact the distinction between the two is getting at least very vague. When he talks about enforcement of IP, he doesn't seem to see enforcement of IP will be futile in the very near future.

    What happens now with music and movies, will happen with physical products soon. Right now metal parts can be custom machined by sending a drawing over the internet to a metal shop. It's done almost fully automated, noone checks on patent infringement. A metal shop could be manufacturing patented machines on a large scale without being noticed by the owners of the shop. The drawings could be torrented all around the internet. (it's probably happening already). It will happen with chemicals in less than five years, and with DNA in probably less than ten years.

    Not to mention the 2.5 billion of people living in China and India alone, who will be very hard to convince they have to pay for using certain knowledge freely available on the internet.

    As attempts to enforce copyright on music never fail to fail, so will other forms of IP as we know it fail. A study which does not recognise the fact that the very concept of IP is under pressure and likely to collapse, is therefore doomed to fail too.

    On the other hand, if the review does recognise this, and studies IP at a conceptual level, it's also doomed, because it will be ignored.

  • We need to start lobbying against this now, with friends, family and our MPs; We need to set the agenda with news and media, we need to demonstrate that Gowers, the News and Media as copyright holder are obviously biased and demand a fair hearing. We need to point out that; Gowers as a copyright holder should disqualify himself, for his obvious bias. We need to get this meme into the public consciousness. We need to use organisations like the PPC to ensure that people opposing this gets a fair hearing.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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