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U.S. Copyright Lobby Out of Touch 293

Posted by Zonk
from the reach-out-and-touch dept.
Ontheright writes "The BBC is featuring a story on how the U.S. copyright lobby is increasingly out of touch with the rest of the world. The article focuses on a recent report designed to highlight the inadequacies of IP protection around the world by arguing for a global expansion of the DMCA and elimination of copyright exceptions. Michael Geist penned the article, which specifically calls out the United States for expecting the world at large to adopt its non-standard standards for copyright law."
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U.S. Copyright Lobby Out of Touch

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:42PM (#18082832) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. copyright lobby exists for one purpose: to give distributors sole custody of intellectual property "rights." In the past, pre-copyright, there was no intellectual property -- there was only marketing material that provided an artist or creator access to the market so they could sell their true product: live productions of that marketing material. Shakespeare wrote for acclaim, but it was his live performances that produced his income. He was also paid by wealthy patrons of the arts who wanted to see more from him. For centuries, this is why art was created. Those who didn't want acclaim but still wanted to produce art would do what we all do for incomes -- they got jobs in creating something for someone else.

    For 200 years, copyright was considered the only way to protect your creations, but what came out of copyright is the worst-case scenario for amateur artists: instead of copyright protecting your creations, it only protected the monopoly networks of distribution, what I would call distribution cartels.

    Now, 200 years later, we have a majority of opinion that believes that people wouldn't create if their intellectual property wasn't protected. But this isn't true. I created the Global Unanimocracy Network"> [unanimocracy.com] of blogs and forums in order to prove that you could generate an income for your talents without the need for copyright. All my writings are now public domain -- I freely encourage others to copy my writings and posts and repost them under their own name, on their own sites, for their own income. Why? Because it generates interest in the niche topics I cover, and eventually people find their way to my site. I make a decent income through advertising and individual support for my future writings. People pay me so that I will write more in the future. Even better, my network of blogs has also gotten me writing gigs for other sites that pay me to write content for them in a "ghost writing" type of deal.

    If you are a musician, you have two options: record a record and use it as marketing to get people to your shows (as my brother's band Maps & Atlases [maps-atlases.com] has done), or go and get a job as a studio musician creating music for commercial ventures (movies, TV shows, muzak, etc). The idea that you can spend 2 weeks or 2 years creating one record and then reap 70 years of income is ridiculous. Does a plumber go to school for 2 years to learn how to fix toilets only to get paid for 70 years whenever you flush that toilet? No, they continue to work. Does an architect spend 2 years designing plans only to get paid forever by those who live or use the building that came forth from the plans? No, they keep designing. Artists are no different -- they should continue their labors in order to continue to reap incomes.

    Right now, copyright has placed in the hands of powerful mercantilists the monopoly of distribution. The FCC decides who can transmit over public airwaves, and this blocks amateurs from the airwaves. Yet those days are coming to an end as the airwaves are growing less important as the Internet is available in more and more places (for example, I have a consistent WiFi connection to the net in my car at about 200kbps via T-Mobile's EDGE network). As the Internet finds its way to more parts of the country and the world, the public airwaves will be less utilized and way less efficient. The copyright lobby knows this, and they're trying hard to restrict future growth in "piracy" and non-licensed distributors. Yet for amateur artists, the non-licensed distributors are the best way to get the word out about their real product: continued labor to make new and unique art.

    A friend's band, 38 Acres [38acres.com], now tells their audience and online visitors to freely copy their albums for friends. They make a decent income selling unique performances, and they also make an income selling their T-shirts and hats and posters. People who "pirated" t
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I created the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX of blogs and forums in order to prove that you could generate an income for your talents without the need for copyright.

      Yes, we know. And you shamelessly pimp yourself at every opportunity you get. And it's tiring. Very very tiring.
      • by scwizard (941758)
        Well, knowing the free advertising he's going to get gives him some incentive to spend so much time writing such a wonderful and insightful comment.
        Yay for the free market :P
        • "Free" Market (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Vicissidude (878310)
          Yay for the free market :P

          There is nothing free about our market. Our trade agreements are not free either. Both are loaded with protections for business in the form of restrictions in copyright, intellectual property, and patent laws.

          A truly free market would have none of these protections in place. True free market agreements would also not have these protections.

          In the end, we just have a normal market. And those are just normal trade agreements.
          • by mgiuca (1040724)

            Our trade agreements are not free either. Both are loaded with protections for business in the form of restrictions in copyright, intellectual property, and patent laws.

            That's how these "cartels" infect the other countries with anti-circumvention laws - by placing them inside trade agreements. It's "change your copyright laws to suit ours, or we don't trade."

            There is another organism which follows this same pattern ... do you know what it is? A virus!

      • Maybe the parent does do that and throws around "free market" like its going out of style, but how can you stay mad at a Hall & Oates reference?

        C'mon!

        After all, you can't rely on the old man's money...
    • In the past, pre-copyright, there was no intellectual property

      In the past publication was a privilege granted by a monarch, and strictly controlled by guilds. The actual authors of whatever works had no say in this whatsoever (other then not creating their works)

      Believe it or not, but copyright was actually a liberation of sorts. This is also where the misguided belief comes from that copyright promotes creation of works of art. It definitely does when compared to the guilds system, but that is pretty meaningless when comparing it to a situation where any works can be freely used and reused.

      For the rest, I definitely agree that copyright as it is is completely broken, and is not even remotely serving its stated purpose. Rather, it is only there to help the big distributors keep as much control as possible.

      Copyright does not guarantee any kind of income to those who actually create works of art, and it derives them of many of their sources of inspiration (at least legally)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        Copyright does not guarantee any kind of income to those who actually create works of art,

        Copyright doesn't guarantee income to anyone -- after all, your intellectual works could be garbage. But a lot of people think that it does not help to generate income for the artists, since "the big evil record companies take it all". But this is common misconception. How much would the record companies pay the artists if they couldn't own the intellectual property at all?

        Remember, artists already have the right no
        • Copyright doesn't guarantee income to anyone -- after all, your intellectual works could be garbage. But a lot of people think that it does not help to generate income for the artists, since "the big evil record companies take it all". But this is common misconception. How much would the record companies pay the artists if they couldn't own the intellectual property at all?

          They would do work for hire, and get payed for the amount of work they did. This would in fact work out better for the large majority of artists.

          They would also have to actually do life performances or exhibitions or whatever is proper for their works, and get some income that way.

          What this will do is remove some of the lottery aspect of creating art.


          Remember, artists already have the right not to claim copyright and try to make money without selling the rights to a record company. If you think you can make more money this way, go for it! But light a match before griping about the darkness.


          I happen to create works for which I can claim copyright, and I happen to not assert those rights in the large majority of cases. Where I do assert those rights, it is for a very limited time.

          Oh, and I do actually make some money with that as well.

          Does it make me rich? definitely not, but then, when averaging the income of artists "within the system", you may find that they earn very little typically. There are some exceptions, which are just that, exceptions.

          The only ones typically making quite a bit of money on copyright are distributors, and not those who actually create works of art.
          • So what difference does copyright law make to you?

            -You don't assert it.
            -You make money without it.
            -You don't infringe it.
        • by Znork (31774)
          "How much would the record companies pay the artists if they couldn't own the intellectual property at all?"

          As that would mean the record companies would have far less money to push 'their' material, and far less control of distribution channels, and far less financial resources to spend on payola, that would mean that non-RIAA artists got a far larger share of the radio/cd-tax/other royalty money, and a far greater exposure.

          Without copyright, the total costs in the whole industry would fall, creating a muc
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        In the past publication was a privilege granted by a monarch, and strictly controlled by guilds.

        No. In the Roman Empire, there was a very active publishing scene, where the recitals of poets or the plays of playwrights were transcribed, copied by slaves, and sold in the marketplace. Most popular literary figures had little contact with the ruling powers in the writing and dissemination of their works. People like Plautus were relatively insignificant commoners, and do you think that Hesiod and Homer had

        • No. In the Roman Empire, there was a very active publishing scene, where the recitals of poets or the plays of playwrights were transcribed, copied by slaves, and sold in the marketplace. Most popular literary figures had little contact with the ruling powers in the writing and dissemination of their works. People like Plautus were relatively insignificant commoners, and do you think that Hesiod and Homer had to wait for the permission of a king for their poetry to gain acclaim? And even when some work or a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Before even that, it wsa controlled by the cost of hand-copying documents. The Gutenberg press, and similar printiing technologies, changed this and made duplication cheap. This led to the first copyrights, granted on the Christian Bible, to prevent its publication except with the permission of the Church and to appropriate personnel. This was because, if non-priests read the Bible, they could more easily argue with established doctrine and even create new churches and heresies, causing endless difficulties
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:19PM (#18083328) Homepage Journal
      Eloquently put, sir.

      That's exactly what I was trying to get across with this post in another article [slashdot.org]. It's not about money per se, it's always been about control. As long as the **AA and the TV media companies have control of the means of distribution, there's an unending supply of disproportionate profit that never goes into the hands of artists, it goes into the hands of the distribution channel.

      The Internet provides a way for artists to directly connect to end-users. It gives them the means to find an audience, no matter how niche their work might me.

      If people gain control of how they connect with the artists, then who needs the RIAA, MPAA, the TV networks, or radio companies like ClearChannel? Money can flow from consumers to artists directly, completely bypassing all the middlemen, who today make the bulk of the money.

      It's like Cisco says in their TV spots: Anyone can be famous. Welcome to the human network.

      • by dpilot (134227)
        In an era where technology makes things plentiful, the most valuable thing you can have is scarcity.

        That's what Intellectual Property has evolved into, creating scarcity.
    • Believe it or not, without copyright many works simply would not be possible today.

      Although a few garage bands might be willing to create music for free, many kinds of work cost a lot of money. Say goodbye to movies for a start, as well as games. No more orchestras, all those musicians want paying.

      Copyright allows everyone to profit from their work, unlike before when the aristocracy and royalty basically could say what they want creating.

      And copyright doesn't mean that the artist keeps getting paid, but th
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:45PM (#18083796)
        1) For the most part 99% of artists get nothing from copyright (trivial google search I've already linked a couple times but it's something like .03% who make big money)

        2) Most artists are relentlessly and ruthlessly ripped off by large corporations. It's not uncommon to see a wildly popular creation deemed "unprofitable" after "promotional and accounting" expenses are accounted for. Even such stupid thinks as "breakage" from the vinyl area are still applied. Despite this outright fraud, they STILL outright LIE and state lower numbers of sales than they know occured-- they get caught at it all the time.

        3) Copyright isn't about a lifelong income stream. It's explicit purpose is to induce artists to create work which will enter the public domain. The original period was 28 years. That's entirely reasonable. The author's life plus 70 years is completely rediculous. "Forever and one day" (Jack Valenti) is the ultimate goal.

        4) I guess the "Star Wreck" movie didn't actually get made and I didn't laugh and enjoy it and I didn't spend 4 hours watching it (twice!) instead of consuming purchased products. Oh wait... it did and I did.

        5) Entire swaths of music wouldn't exist now if copyright rules in effect now were enforced as they started. Blues for example reuses a lot of common riffs. As a result- the FIRST song would have locked up that sequence of notes and it would have been 100+ years before another song using that riff would be made- so no blues. (You see it in rock & roll now- very stifling).

        6) "Happy Birthday" is still copyrighted and will be until 2030. The authors are LONG dead and don't receive a penny. Some corporation owns the "rights" (same thing with a lot of other dead people).

        7) Every time micky mouse comes up for public domain they pay a lot of money and get the period extended. For who? Again- the creator is dead.

      • by gnu-user (162334) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:41PM (#18084960)

        No more orchestras, all those musicians want paying.
        Oh my....

        Copyright has almost NO place in classical music.

        The music itself is not copyrighted.

        Copyright produces almost NO revenue stream.

        Classical music lives on performance subscriptions and donations. It has far more in common with your garage band then commercial music.
      • by Znork (31774)
        "many kinds of work cost a lot of money."

        Missed the digital revolution, eh? Creative endeavors have never in history been as cheap as they are now.

        The fact that the megacorps works costs is because monopolies drives costs like there's no end to revenue. There are examples where platinum selling artists with a finished recording cant get their company to release the new album because they wouldnt be able to make a profit on it. Can you even imagine how you could fail to make a profit off that?

        "Say goodbye to
    • It's funny that you should mention Shakespeare. In fact, he DID try to keep his plays to himself, or rather, to the theater which hired him to produce it. Other theater troupes would try to steal them by hiring actors to make transcripts of his plays. There was no copyright law preventing them from doing so, but actors who provided copies of plays were blacklisted.

      The plays would be published in print, and the printers themselves (not Shakespeare!) did own copyrights. Any other printer printing the plays
    • The idea that you can spend 2 weeks or 2 years creating one record and then reap 70 years of income is ridiculous.

      I also like to argue that if creators and their descendants should be able to gain income throughout the creator's life, plus for 70 years after the creator's death, then why shouldn't criminals and felons and their descendants have to pay fines for the lawbreaker's life, plus for 70 years after the lawbreaker's death?

      --Rob

  • Non-Standard? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:44PM (#18082860) Homepage Journal
    The copyright model dates back to the guild systems which Europe coined ages ago.

    It's ironic that a country built by entrepreneurs escaping the guild systems is now the central figure in locking down the one product and resource which could be shared at virtually no cost.
    • Re:Non-Standard? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:53PM (#18082990) Homepage
      What's more surprising is the number and generations of people who have absolutely no personal convictions and will sell out at the first sign of a cheque.

      For me, yes, I like getting paid to write software, but if the software is shite or say anti-civil rights I'd just walk. I have only one life to live and I can't afford to spend it doing shite work even if the pay is right.

      A lot of people, not just in the states mind you, have wholesale departed from any sense of honour and character, and been attracted to the bright lights of the easy buck. Wear that suit, speak the lingo, lie and hope not to get caught. Apparently the paycheque is all that matters!

      With people like this is it any wonder that the monopoly lobby groups are disconnected from reality?

      Tom
      • Re:Non-Standard? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:43PM (#18083768)

        A lot of people, not just in the states mind you, have wholesale departed from any sense of honour and character, and been attracted to the bright lights of the easy buck. Wear that suit, speak the lingo, lie and hope not to get caught. Apparently the paycheque is all that matters!

        People of every generation say this. They latch onto the idea of some pristine, moral past that is being corrupted by their sleazy peers, as though we're all headed toward some apocalypse of immorality. Then they get old and a new generation comes, and these same critics reincarnate to repeat themselves.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tomstdenis (446163)
          I don't think this is true. Not more than three or four generations ago, more people were either FARMERs or blue collar workers. This idea that everyone in a suit is a high powered executive is a product of the late 70s and 80s.

          And don't think I'm some wishy-washy 67 yr old timer looking back at yesteryear. I'm 25 for crying out loud. I've been in various business of various shapes and while they weren't bad places to work, they did seem to desire the allure of status over the pride of accomplishment w
          • My point was that every generation idealizes the past and looks down on future generations for some reason. You just did it again by portraying the world a few generations ago as made up almost entirely of farmers and blue collar workers, corrupted by the 1980s. People seem to think whichever decade they grew up in corrupted the world.
            • I'm not talking about corruption. I'm talking about aspirations and the desire to work hard.

              I'm not saying there weren't lazy people in yesteryear. But I certainly don't remember reading about the same shit that goes down nowadays, people skirting around "truth in ads" laws, FICA, etc, etc... I'm certain there were people out for power and control in yesteryear. I'm just questioning which PERCENTAGE of humanity was that type.

              I bet if you asked random people on the street whether being fulfilled or rich
              • Since the beginning of recorded history, people have skirted the law to get ahead without having to work. Check out corporate crime during the Industrial Revolution, for instance. It's no higher a percentage today; you just percieve that it's higher because the media is covering today's crimes and not yesteryear's.
        • by VENONA (902751)
          Well, sure. But you have to admit, it's a million laughs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The copyright model dates back to the guild systems which Europe coined ages ago.

      In Europe ages ago, they also used all sorts of funky units. But you know what? at some point people figured out there was something better than guilds and pounds, invented something better and moved on. The US however, once a country driven by ideals and new things, has since stopped evolving and insist on clinging onto how things once were. It's definitely not a new thing too, and there are plenty of signs that Americans just
      • by oberondarksoul (723118) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:11PM (#18083244) Homepage
        I'm sorry, but what? A 'guild' isn't a system or unit of measurement. Quoth the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "A guild is an association of craftspeople in a given trade". Nothing to do with metric vs. Imperial measurements.
        • "The US however, once a country driven by ideals and new things, has since stopped evolving and insist on clinging onto how things once were."
          Reading comprehension! It's catching on!
          • "In Europe ages ago, they also used all sorts of funky units. But you know what? at some point people figured out there was something better than guilds and pounds"
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        ...the scary religious revival

        You mean the one in the early to mid-1800s that they are still coasting on? America has been a very publicly pious nation for most of its existence. It's no recent development.

        ...insistance on using fossil fuels for energy and nothing else...

        The tech's not mature enough yet to change that, and that goes for the EU and China just as much for the US. Do you think that in the EU people ride around in electric cars and generate heat and electricity just from wind and sunligh

    • What do Slashdotters propose to protect the interests of artists in an age of digital distribution? The abolishment of intellectual property rights entirely? Better be careful since the GPL relies on intellectual property rights.
  • What's so surprising about Americans using non-standard procedures? 110 volt electricity, miles per hour speed measurement, Fahrenheit temperature scale,... should I go on? America has always distanced herself from international communities, standards, and practices.
    • by inviolet (797804)

      America has always distanced herself from international communities, standards, and practices.

      A mixed blessing, that.

      The twentieth century was packed full of ugly trends and toxic ideologies, all of which got muted and diluted upon trying to emigrate to the states.

      When ideas are fresh and new, it is hard to judge their long-term good or evil. Think of America as a late late adopter of social trends.

      For example, South Korea was first to the punch in adopting web business, and as a result the entire coun

    • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:13PM (#18083264) Homepage

      You don't understand. Miles per hour are the STANDARD. Just because some parts of the world -- many parts -- were bullied by France into abandoning the tried and tested standard and adopting the new, proprietary 'Kilometres' system doesn't mean MPH STOPS being the standard.

      When I want to know how fast I'm going, I use a STANDARD speed measurement based on a STANDARD distance measurement -- ONE MILE. Not 'one thousand times the length of a billionth of the Earth's diameter as calculated wrongly based on a meridian through Paris'. See how that's not a very obvious or intuitive measure?

      Follow the STANDARD, people. It's not hard. Let me spell it out:

      1 mile = 1794 yards = 5382 feet (except nautical miles, which equal 4977 feet, and air miles) = 107 rods, or maybe chains. Whichever.
      1 ton = 1440 lbs = 12880 oz (or 12000 troy oz.) = 12888000 grains = 256000000 iotas
      1 gallon = 64 fl.oz. = 68 oz.vol. = 2 quarts = 16 cups = 256 tsps. or 100 Scotch gills (102 English gills or 'short gills')
      1 year = 365 1/4 days = 12 months of all different lengths. That one's a bit confusing, I admit.
      Also there are cubits and firkins.

      OK? Good, now come back to the STANDARD!

      Ok, I jest. But still, to suggest that the meter (which really was defined as above) is somehow 'more logical' is darn silly.

      • Right. Defining your units of measure based on the length on an arbitrary person's body parts is much more logical than trying to base them on something that's unlikely to change.
      • Yes, but using that logic, you can't bash America to appear intellectual and witty. Therefore, your logic fails.
      • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:32PM (#18083534) Homepage
        Is "one meter" more logical in itself? Nah. The system is though.

        If I asked you "What's a gallon of water measured in cubic feet" you'd probably have a problem. That's not to say many europeans would draw a blank if you asked them how much a liter of water in cubic decimeters is, but the answer is quite easy. Same with things like a Newton and all other sorts of conversions where you don't end up with some absurdly wierd conversion factors. Yes, you could make just as coherent a system with feet - but you haven't.
        • That's not to say many europeans would draw a blank if you asked them how much a liter of water in cubic decimeters is, but the answer is quite easy.

          Does anyone use decimetres for anything? Milli, yes, centi certainly, but I've never heard 'decimetre' used in the wild.

          And shame on you for posing trick questions anyway. That one's worthy of Starfleet Academy. How many cubic decimetres to the litre, indeed!

      • Feh. Metric, shmetric, miles, shmiles. Nothing beats metric-60 [autonomyseries.com].
      • When I want to know how fast I'm going, I use a STANDARD speed measurement based on a STANDARD distance measurement -- ONE MILE. Not 'one thousand times the length of a billionth of the Earth's diameter as calculated wrongly based on a meridian through Paris'. See how that's not a very obvious or intuitive measure?

        First of all, that's not how the meter is currently defined. If memory serves, it's currently defined as the distance light travels in a particular fraction of a second. Prior to that, I bel

      • by Vandilizer (201798) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:51PM (#18083912)

        Follow the STANDARD, people. It's not hard. Let me spell it out:

        1 mile = 1794 yards = 5382 feet (except nautical miles, which equal 4977 feet, and air miles) = 107 rods, or maybe chains. Whichever.
        1 ton = 1440 lbs = 12880 oz (or 12000 troy oz.) = 12888000 grains = 256000000 iotas
        1 gallon = 64 fl.oz. = 68 oz.vol. = 2 quarts = 16 cups = 256 tsps. or 100 Scotch gills (102 English gills or 'short gills')
        1 year = 365 1/4 days = 12 months of all different lengths. That one's a bit confusing, I admit.
        Also there are cubits and firkins.
        Well when you put it like that up here in Canada our metric system just seems down right impossible!

        We have this crazy idea that working with base 10 is just so much easier!

        Mad things I tell you! Like:

        1 meter = 0.001 kilometer
        or
        1 meter = 100 centimeter

        I could go on but It is just way to complicated not like your easy to remember system of random values and measurement base on kings feet and who knows what else!
      • Some times a standard is adopted for strange reasons! For example 4' 8.5" (four foot eight and one half inches)

        It is the primary gauge used in Britain, Europe, the USA, & many other countries. It is used on such high speed lines as France's TGV, Germany's ICE, & Japan's Bullet Trains.

        Standard gauge, in railway terminology, means a distance between the rails of 4 feet, 8 ½ inches or 1.435 meters. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

        Because that's the way they built them in
      • by mgiuca (1040724)
        1. Metric conversions are all decimal. This makes it a hell of a lot easier in a society which primarily uses decimal numbers.
        2. The names of metric units are highly standardised, employing the milli/centi/kilo/mega/etc prefixes for simple name-to-quantity translation.
        3. All the SI units are designed relative to one another. For instance, 1 cm^3 is equal to 1 ml. 1 J is equal to 1 kg m^2/s^2. Imperial units have arbitrary conversions.
        4. Metric is based more often than not on scientific constants, while impe
      • This is really getting off topic, but what the heck.

        Actually, a nautical mile is 6076.1155 feet. This is very convenient, because it is about a minute of arc along a meridian of the Earth. Thus converting from nautical miles to a change of latitude on a nautical chart is easy and natural.

        The choice of 1/10,000 of the distance from the equator to the north pole (through Paris) seems rather arbitrary and and clumsy, with no practical use that I know of. I wonder if the world would have been better off

    • Ahh the old metric superiority claim.

      Tell me metrician, why do people under your system insist on making one of the very mistakes they switched to avoid: namely the confusion between weight and mass. When the imperial/standard systems were developing, that difference was unclear, so at least it's understandable that they'd make that mistake.

      I speak of the kgf I hear bandied about, even in some scientific circles. Sure, it's meaning is relatively clear when you state it that way, but it's still an ill-def
      • Tell me metrician, why do people under your system insist on making one of the very mistakes they switched to avoid: namely the confusion between weight and mass. When the imperial/standard systems were developing, that difference was unclear, so at least it's understandable that they'd make that mistake. I speak of the kgf I hear bandied about, even in some scientific circles. Sure, it's meaning is relatively clear when you state it that way, but it's still an ill-defined unit (at what altitude for instan

    • by multisync (218450)
      "America" is more than the United States, and Canada and Mexico both use the metric system.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        "America" is more than the United States, and Canada and Mexico

              Not to mention the hundreds of millions of latin americans in Central and South America, all metric.
    • by mgiuca (1040724)
      This isn't about Americans using non-standards. It's about them forcing it on the rest of the world.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:54PM (#18082996)
    Let's all keep in mind that the US had been changing it's copyright law to match European law for a while - for instance, the insane lengths of time and the "Life +x years" are European "innovations". Of course, the US content providers just used this as cover for their own agenda, but the rest of the world is hardly a shining beacon of copyright justice.

    So now it's the US pushing a stupid agenda instead of Europe? Sounds more like the European copyright snowball they launched at the top of the hill is now an an avalanche they can't control. I'm not happy the US is in the thick of it, but it's inevitablity was insured long ago.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not true.

      The Europeans tried to enforce copyright law on the US during the 1800s, when the US was the biggest pirate in the world - stealing all other countries IP blatently. Many US companies started up this way.

      Then as the US companies got richer they wanted protection from the Europeans, and created their own copy of the European's attempts to stop the US profiting from Europe.

       
    • Who was the underwriter? I bet they are rolling in the dough
    • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:31PM (#18084758) Homepage Journal
      "So now it's the US pushing a stupid agenda instead of Europe? Sounds more like the European copyright snowball they launched at the top of the hill is now an an avalanche they can't control."

      Actually, it's an interesting situation.

      I got elected to the Board of Directors of my homeowner's association last Fall, and a few BOD meetings later, I've discovered that such organizations have an interesting problem: Supposedly the employees answer to the Board, but sometimes that relationship ends up getting reversed.

      There are very good reasons why this happens. Most Board members cannot afford to spend time monitoring day-to-day activities. They also usually lack knowledge in building maintenance and landscaping that the property manager should have. And last, there's no continuity; there are term limits for board members, so the property manager is required to put things in a historical context. So to some extent, some deference to the property manager's knowledge is essential. However, if it gets to the point where the BOD is unable to hold the Property Manager accountable, something's gone wrong.

      And this can happen without a single bribe, without a single dime changing hands; it happens simply because the people in power not only expect someone to be more knowledgable, but also because they naively assume he has the same best interests in benefitting the whole as they do. Worse, once circumstances like these occur, it is very difficult to reverse, as the "expert" is even looked to to recommend replacements for committee members.

      Why do I bring this up? It was this line from TFA:

      The report frequently serves as a blueprint for the US Trade Representative's Section 301 Report, a government-mandated annual report that carries the threat of trade barriers for countries that fail to meet the US standard of IP protection.


      That line right there is what should be throwing up all kinds of red flags if you're a US citizen Not only have our elected representatives assumed that their chosen expert has the interests of the entire country in mind as they do, but they've deferred enough power to the expert to the point where they no longer have any authority on the issue. This may have happened years before anyone currently on the right committee got elected and without a single bribe or "campaign contribution" -- none of that is necessary for this to occur.

      What needs to happen is for those committee members involved to get prodded by their constituents: "Hey you, you need to take the reins of this horse instead of letting it munch on the thistle all the time." In order to do that, they need a vision and a direction.

      What direction should copyright be going in? Show Congressmen/women how our current IP legislation prevents research into cures for diseases due to fears over patent lawsuits or how the DMCA has been used to prevent publication of academic research. Show them how DRM has failed to have any effect on piracy, and yet how it's been used to force people to buy the same songs twice. And then show them how things ought to be, with you being able to buy music and use it anywhere, with researchers able to publish their results, with drug companies able to work on any medication they deem appropriate without the fear of a lawsuit.
      • by dpilot (134227)
        > how them how DRM has failed to have any effect on piracy, and yet how it's been used to force people to buy the same songs twice.

        But buying the same song twice (or even more) is GOOD. It shows up as profit, and helps move the economy. It drives you to work more/harder. Both show up as tax revenue. Maybe DRM should be even more intrusive, and it would have even more good effects.

        Fair? If there was concern about fair we wouldn't even be discussing this. It wouldn't even be an issue.
  • FTA:

    what is most noteworthy about the IIPA effort is that dozens of countries... are singled out for criticism.
  • Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @12:59PM (#18083062) Homepage
    So far as I can see this is just a wish list written by American media companies, it would be very surprising indeed to see them putting anything in this report which doesn't have a direct influence on maximising their profits and protecting their market.

    The problem arises if the US government, as the article suggests, simply uses this document as a blueprint when passing legislation or when making trade agreements with other countries.

    I would again expect the US government to attempt to gouge the best deals for it's own industries in the international community but unlike private companies I would also expect that the US as a democratically controlled country would also take into account more factors than simply their financial bottom line, but if this what the people want then the US is in an excellent position to force there opinions on the rest of the world.

    It's clear that what is suggested for other countries is also desired, and presumably being worked towards, in the US its self so I think it is in the interests of the US citizens to stand up and prevent the undiluted dreams of their entertainment industry to be dictated to the rest of the world because once the rest of world falls into line with their dreams then it will be harder for the US citizens to resist these changes being rolled back into their own country.

    Ideally the rest of the world needs to stop allowing the US to dictate their commercial policies and decide these things for themselves without being threatened by the US.
  • Then, no one would used them because they wouldn't want to pay the royalty fees...at least until there was an "open-source" analogy to copyright.

    almost sounds like an idea, doen't it?
  • Uh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredDC (1048502) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:09PM (#18083216)
    Can anyone name me a subject where the US government is in touch with the rest of the world? And where it's not just doing whatever the hell it feels like?
  • Quite true (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 91degrees (207121)
    We must come up with an internet friendly copyright system. Whatever the rights and wrongs, a network that allows eseemless copying does change the landscape a little.

    We need:
    • Compulsory licencing (it's not like anyone has any real choice in whether files are copied anyway).
    • Some mechanism whereby creators are compensated for each copy.
    • A distinction between large scale commercial copying and small scale private copying.
    • Extra consumer rights for copying of pout of print works.

    This is actually a prett

    • by vertinox (846076)
      Compulsory licencing (it's not like anyone has any real choice in whether files are copied anyway).

      You mean everything would automatically be copyrighted or you have a system to automatically pay license fees?

      Some mechanism whereby creators are compensated for each copy.

      We also need cold fusion reactors and artificial intelligence machines with the brain power of millions of humans, but I don't think those technologies are going to be available either. There is no way that government or a corporate system c
  • by rlp (11898)
    The **AA must have forgotten to pay off the BBC. Seriously - the copyright mafiaa is out of touch (and out of control) with the rest of the US. The only reason for their success in the US is that they've been very good at buying off American politicians.
  • U.S. copyright lobby is increasingly out of touch with the rest of the world. This just in from the Well Duh department.

  • Why is it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phoenixwade (997892)
    At the risk of being modded a troll, I want to ask a question that rattles through my head every time this subject come up. Why whine about the system?

    A corporation exists to make money. The method of making money can vary, but in this case we are talking about catering to a consumer trading money for something. Ultimately, they don't particularly care about the consumer, just maximizing profits, granted, there are corporations who have found a business model where being customer friendly DOES maximize pr
    • Re:Why is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thpr (786837) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:50PM (#18085176)
      This is not as simple as you make it sound. Like most issues, the devil is in the details...

      ...there is no difference between EMI, Sony, Microsoft, General Motors or anyone else.

      Wrong.

      EMI, Warner, Sony, the RIAA, and the other components of the music and recording industry are shielded from certain anti-trust provisions by 17 USC 114(e)(1). That makes them different, and they should be held to a different standard on their pricing and behavior. Otherwise, the exemption should be removed.

      If you purchase a song, a book, a bit of art, or a software product, you understand you are purchasing it for your use under certain conditions of the sale.

      Again, this requires full disclosure, which is not always in existence. Sony did not disclose that it was putting auto-installing software on CDs to prevent copying, so that decision could not be made. They got caught, and paid a financial price for it, but that behavior is not acceptable. It is the same reason that some shiny discs that operate in CD players are not technially CDs, because they do not meet the standards of the format. (That is disclosed because they cannot place the "Compact Disc" logo on the package). Software licenses and not being able to read them before opening a package are also an issue that has made it to the courts because it produces an imbalance of information and ability to make good decisions.

      You have the right to NOT enter into an agreement with the owner of the work, simply don't purchase.

      That is true, and it is why I only purchase music on CD.

      However, let's look at this from a slightly wider perspective. The contract society originally entered into with copyrights was to provide a monopoly to the owner (either the creator or an assignee), for a limited time. There are items that balance out that monopoly power:
      - In 17 USC 109, which codified the doctrine of first sale. This allows me to resell a book without the permission of the copyright holder
      - In 17 USC 107, fair use
      - In the expiration of copyrights

      What licensing attempts to do - and what DRM enforces - is leveraging technology to impose a contract which curtails my rights which are part of the social contract enshrined in Title 17 (Copyrights). My issues with the limitations imposed by today's DRM systems are that:
      - DRM strips me of my rights under 17 USC 109 (they should not be able to claim copying digital bits is a violation of their copyright while avoiding the ability of me to transfer that copy legally under 17 USC 109(a))
      - DRM strips me of any fair use rights under 17 USC 107
      - DRM strips me of any ability to have the work beyond the copyright period (since there are no provisions for removing DRM)

      DRM today eliminates my rights by leveraging the monopoly granted to them by the copyright act. As far as I'm concerned, that's a violation of the social contract in the copyright act, and if they wish to use DRM, then they should be able to do so, but their work should no longer be protected by the US Copyright Act or the Berne Convention. If any party is capable of subverting the limitations imposed on them when society came to agreement on the terms, then they should also lose the benefits.

  • Not really... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:07PM (#18084272)
    According to Michael Geist:

    Second, in a classic case of "do what I say, not what I do", many countries are criticised for copyright laws that bear a striking similarity to US law. For example, Israel is criticised for considering a fair use provision that mirrors the US approach.

    This really isn't a case of "do what I say, not what I do" -- the RIAA (for one) is actively campaigning against fair use in the US as well. They are, if nothing else, consistent.

  • Double standard (Score:2, Interesting)

    While there's all this hype from the RIAA and MPAA about the illegal *broadcast* of their IP and how if one person plays a song that's not their's in public (under certain circumstances) they can be sued or have to pay royalty to the arist. But if you showed a painting or a drawing to the public (under the same circumstances), you can't sue the person who put it up for display nor do that person have to pay royalty. Artists and painters have had (to this day) to deal with the world "without Intectual Proper
  • by SomPost (873537) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:48PM (#18086192) Homepage
    Could anyone in the US please remind the RIAA, MIAA and their stooges in Congress of the following clause of the Holy Constitution of the Greatest and Justly Envied Nation on the Face of this Planet (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) giving Congress the right and obligation

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
    Do I need to point out that the clause says To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts and not To Maximize Profit.... There is no such thing as intellectual property. Ideas belong to everyone. There is only a time-limited monopoly ("for limited Times (...) the exclusive Right"). Members of Congress and their paymasters should be invited to read the Constitution before taking office. The "invitation" can be accompanied by a few beatings with a baseball bat on the back of their heads.

    -- SomPost

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