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The "Copyright Black Hole" Swallowing Our Culture 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the sanity-optional dept.
An anonymous reader writes "James Boyle, professor at Duke Law School, has a piece in the Financial Times in which he argues that a 'copyright black hole is swallowing our culture.' He explains some of the issues surrounding Google Books, and makes the point that these issues wouldn't exist if we had a sane copyright law. Relatedly, in recent statements to the still-skeptical European Commission, Google has defended their book database by saying that it helps to make the Internet democratic. Others have noted that the database could negatively affect some researchers for whom a book's subject matter isn't always why they read it."
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The "Copyright Black Hole" Swallowing Our Culture

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  • Democratic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:21PM (#29342547)

    helps to make the internet democratic.

    Lets ask ourselves how many governments around the world don't want the Internet to be more democratic.

    • Re:Democratic? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by linzeal (197905) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:35PM (#29342663) Homepage Journal
      All of them? Seriously, in this day and age it is embarrassing we have not leveraged the power of the Internet to empower people to not only vote, and proclaim viewpoints but to be part of the legislative process itself. I would wager most people on this site know more about copyright than the average congress critter.
      • Re:Democratic? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shikaku (1129753) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:37PM (#29342669)

        We're too lazy

      • Re:Democratic? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mascot (120795) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:39PM (#29342705)

        There are valid reasons to think twice before allowing online voting. The most common being that it's impossible to verify that the voter is not being influenced by someone at the time of voting.

      • Re:Democratic? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:42PM (#29342731)
        We have. Look at the Pirate Party in Europe. The difference is here in the USA we have a flawed system. A system that while it makes since with a small federal government and a small-ish state government, is fundamentally broken. A system that gives you two choices, either A or B, a system that is designed not to give you a third choice.

        When you are advocating a third choice in a system designed for only two choices, its very hard to get a third choice accepted.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ephemeriis (315124)

          When you are advocating a third choice in a system designed for only two choices, its very hard to get a third choice accepted.

          Actually, if you look at how the system was actually designed originally, there were no parties at all.

          The problem is that over the years our system has been corrupted and bastardized to the point where it really just doesn't work anymore.

          I suppose it's better than a straight-up dictatorship... But it's nearly impossible to affect any actual change at all in this system. As you said, it's impossible to get a viable third party going... And the existing two parties are just variations on a theme... And w

        • Re:Democratic? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851) on Monday September 07, 2009 @04:01PM (#29343435)
          You're missing the point, on a very shallow level you have a point, if you want to be elected, you're probably going to have to be either a Democrat or a Republican. But as a side effect of having only 2 parties, you get unintended consequences like the people within the party being less likely to go along with the party platform on any given issue.

          There's no reason to dump the current system rather than make a couple of minor adjustments to remedy the worst of it. Moving to a system like we have in WA or they have in IA where the winners don't get to do the districting is a substantial step towards genuine democracy. Taking another step by moving to a form of primary such as the top two where the candidates that best appeal to the voters get advanced rather than getting an automatic opportunity for all parties is another significant step.

          It's also worth pointing out that Canada and the various EU member states have their own problems. Sure they have a huge number of parties, but it doesn't magically improve the quality of the legislation or legislators. That takes a lot of work and for the population to be both informed and care.
          • There are a lot of problems with our current system being adapted for use now. For one it assumes that states are unified, and what works for one group in the state works for them all. When things were less diverse, it made sense. For example, pro-agriculture legislation worked well in the pre-civil war south because about every aspect of life in the south was tied into agriculture. Similarly, pro-industrial legislation worked well in the pre-civil war north. However today everything is diverse. There are h
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by VJ42 (860241) *

          We have. Look at the Pirate Party in Europe. The difference is here in the USA we have a flawed system... When you are advocating a third choice in a system designed for only two choices, its very hard to get a third choice accepted.

          The American system is FPTP [wikipedia.org] like the British one, we managed to get a Third Party [wikipedia.org], and a bunch of smaller ones [wikipedia.org]. Why the USA hasn't developed "The Texas independence party" or "The New York First Party" etc. is beyond me. You guys should have parties from all 50 states represented in congress, where are all your local parties?

          And just because you stand little chance of being elected isn't a reason not to create or join a smaller party. The Greens in the UK have all three main parties spouting their messag

          • by Ironsides (739422)
            We have third parties, they just don't appear as such. The Blue Dog Democrats at the federal level are one example. It's just that they are lumped in with the Democrats. If you looked at the individuals in the Democrat and Republican parties, you'd see a wider variety than it would appear by just looking at party affiliation. At the local level, we have several third parties, they just don't make the national news.
    • by mrjohnson (538567)

      Lets ask ourselves how many governments around the world don't want the Internet to be more democratic.

      Can't burn an ebook?

      • Lets ask ourselves how many governments around the world don't want the Internet to be more democratic.

        Can't burn an ebook?

        Sure you can [slashdot.org]

    • Then they added:
      "Think of the children!"
      and:
      "Look at the silly monkey! Look at the silly monkey!" *head explodes*

    • Frederic Mitterrand, the nephew of the former president, just appointed by our dumbass in chief Sarkzy, just stated that he wanted to fight "free [libre] internet fundamentalists."

      I sooo wanted to cockpunch the son of a bitch. And the god damn sarkock-sucking media who didn't point out the outrageous nature of that fascist statement.

  • By the people, for the people ?

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:39PM (#29342695) Homepage

    As a lawyer working in the area, I highly recommend Boyle's book, 'The Public Domain [thepublicdomain.org]' - available under a Creative Commons licence, as well as in dead-tree format.

    A fascinating (and easy to read) discussion about the concept of 'the public domain', which is well worth reading for anyone who cares about the future of technological development / societal impact of overbearing IP regulation etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sayfawa (1099071)
      Just wanted to mention that one should also check out Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture [free-culture.cc], which has an interesting history of copyright, and the erosion of the public domain.
  • ...so much so that places like /., which quite often provide original thinking upon a variety of subjects to anybody cunning enough to use a web crawler, should think about including "any derivative works originating from ideas or opinions expressed within the contents of this website constitute prior art and are covered by the GNU GPL" (or some such, while bearing in mind that IANAL).

    One of you geniuses may unknowingly and casually toss out a feasible idea. It would burn you, to see somebody turn that int

    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:53PM (#29342831)

      lollll....you'll know when you do it, though; a squad of lawyers will show up on your doorstep with a $1 bill, a quitclaim agreement, and a host of delightful comments upon the hazards of a lifetime spent in courtrooms - particularly when considered in light of your...unfortunate...financial circumstances and how the latter affects your ability to retain good legal representation...

      That would be the perfect opportunity for me to show up at the other side of the door with a shotgun and an attitude.

      Seriously, the more unreasonable the laws become, the greater the self-justification for breaking them, whether by shotgun, or P2P digital file sharing.

    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:44PM (#29343293) Journal
      • The more matter that is added to it the larger the gravitational/financial attraction.
      • The laws governing each of them are so complex that nobody quite understands how either works.
      • When an object falls into a Black Hole you never see it cross the event horizon because time slows down the closer it gets to it. When an object falls under copyright you never quite see it leave copyright because as it nears the exit horizon the term gets extended.
      • A Black Hole is the corpse of a star that once shone brightly and warmed any planets that it supported. Copyright Law is the corpse of an idea that once warmed the culture that it created it.

      Wow, copyright law really is a Black Hole!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pandare (975485)
      Technically, by publishing your comments here, you retain full copyright just like everything else you've ever written under the Berne Convention [wikipedia.org] by default. /. is even nicer, since in the SourceForge TOS [sourceforge.com] Sec. 13 says that they'll help you if you get your stuff copied without permission and it ends up on one of their websites. A lot of TOS don't even have explicit compliance with the DMCA, love it or hate it (or both).

      Your idea that the site should include some boilerplate that says all content is license
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:49PM (#29342801) Homepage

    I think we can almost take it for granted that current copyright policy is damaging to our cultural development. How could it not be to have all our creative expression tied up and limited based on whether or not someone created something similar? However, whenever the whole issue gets raised, questions get quashed by talking about "the economy" and economic benefits bestowed on certain groups by copyright.

    Those are certainly issues to think about. By what means would authors and songwriters make money if copyright ceased on exist, or even was much more limited? What happens to all the jobs created by the publishing industry, the music industry, and the movie industry? It's particularly a concern in the US because we don't manufacture very much anymore, and a lot of what we export are our ideas and creative works.

    On the other hand, what almost no one talks about is the economic waste generated by all this. The broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org] doesn't just apply to damage, but it applies to all money that need not be spent. How much money do businesses spend figuring out copyright issues, dealing with lawyers to protect copyrights or to defend against copyright lawsuits? How much more cheaply could Google do this indexing if the restrictions were eased? If movies and music and books were cheaper, then we would have the extra money in our pockets to spend on other things.

    We keep hearing about how much money is "generated" by creative industries, and how big a portion of our economy they represent. The information is always offered as evidence that these industries need to be protected, because of the economic damage caused by loss of jobs and loss of profit. However, there's a flip-side to that coin. All that money they're making is coming from somewhere. I'm not claiming it's a zero-sum game because it's not that simple, but for all the billions of dollars these industries make, there's a question of how that money would be spent and where it would go if the government weren't actively protecting fat profit margins for these business models.

    • by budgenator (254554) on Monday September 07, 2009 @05:35PM (#29344233) Journal

      I think we can almost take it for granted that current copyright policy is damaging to our cultural development
      That's because most right's holders have an intolerable sense of entitlement and really want protection in perpetuity. There is an implied contract with society and the right's holders, we provide you with a legal framework to protect your economic interest in creative works an in return the work passes into the public domain after a defined period of time. By extending the copyright period I feel my future compensation has been seized without being compensated for the loss, I paid my taxes what happened to just compensation?

    • by Reziac (43301) * on Monday September 07, 2009 @05:55PM (#29344349) Homepage Journal

      How much money is NOT being made by NOT publishing stuff that's still under copyright but that isn't profitable enough to pay royalties?? (And maybe isn't profitable enough to justify tracking down an absentee copyright holder.)

      Clearly there IS money in publishing old stuff, or most of the pre-1900 classics would be long since out of print, and such is not the case. They continue to be reprinted to this day.

      I would guess that over the long haul, long copyrights result in a net reduction of money to be made all along the chain -- remember it's NOT just the author and his agent and the first publishing rights, but also all the reprint houses, distributors, and bookstores. It occurs to me to wonder how much long copyright contributed to the demise of small local bookstores, and may now be contributing to libraries that are social hubs but no longer house vast numbers of books.

    • by jcnnghm (538570)

      I think we can almost take it for granted that current copyright policy is damaging to our cultural development.

      At what point in history was cultural development more pervasive, or faster? It seems to me that art has become so pervasive that thousands of channels of it our broadcast twenty-four hours a day. When has it been easier for an individual to create and publish art? It costs essentially nothing today, how about in the past?

      How could it not be to have all our creative expression tied up and limited based on whether or not someone created something similar?

      It's not, you just can't share what someone else has created. You can create something similar if you want, you just can't steal what someone else has created.

      However, whenever the whole issue gets raised, questions get quashed by talking about "the economy" and economic benefits bestowed on certain groups by copyright.

      There isn't a conversatio

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:50PM (#29342805) Homepage

    Here's what happens when I tried to read the article:

    To continue reading this article, please register - it's quick, free and without obligation...

    You have viewed your 30 days allowance of 2 free articles.

  • Bad news.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:52PM (#29342825) Homepage Journal

    It's not "swallowing" our culture as much as fencing it off from all sorts of people.

    I'm convinced, though, that the more corporations try to limit the availability of "culture" by trying to create a false scarcity, the level of productivity among local and online artists who refuse to participate will increase, and more people will turn to them for their art, music, literature, journalism, etc.

    The only way to save our culture is to change the dynamic that exists between corporations and individuals. You might be surprised to learn that corporations did not always exist just to enslave the population. And I believe it will not always remain so.
    My fear though is that they will try to close those "loopholes" by making it harder for individuals to distribute their own music without a "license". There could also be technical limitations placed, such as making the popular media players only play "licensed" media. I could definitely see a company like Apple or Sony making their players only play files that come from the big corporate copyright holders. Hell, that's been their plan for a long time, but the homebrew and hacker communities kept defeating them. I don't believe they're ready to give up on the "gated community" view of culture, though.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      There could also be technical limitations placed, such as making the popular media players only play "licensed" media. I could definitely see a company like Apple or Sony making their players only play files that come from the big corporate copyright holders. Hell, that's been their plan for a long time, but the homebrew and hacker communities kept defeating them. I don't believe they're ready to give up on the "gated community" view of culture, though.

      Go one step further, and they will even restrict what you read, its not just about music and video 'media'.

      • There could also be technical limitations placed, such as making the popular media players only play "licensed" media. I could definitely see a company like Apple or Sony making their players only play files that come from the big corporate copyright holders. Hell, that's been their plan for a long time, but the homebrew and hacker communities kept defeating them. I don't believe they're ready to give up on the "gated community" view of culture, though.

        Go one step further, and they will even restrict what you read, its not just about music and video 'media'.

        Go even one step further than that, and they will restrict who can read, listen or watch to a subset of those who are customers in good standing of specific campaign donors. Your congressman's eyes will glaze over when you talk about open standards or net neutrality. Request campaign donor-independent media formats or campaign donor-independent net access.

    • by schon (31600)

      the more corporations try to limit the availability of "culture" by trying to create a false scarcity, the level of productivity among local and online artists who refuse to participate will increase

      Because work produced by "local and online artists" aren't covered by copyright?

      Sorry, that work is just as "walled off" as everything else - which seems to me is the plan. The problem is that the current copyright regime is based on propaganda that copying is illegal unless you pay for it. If it's owned by someone, it's not part of our shared culture.

  • The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KwKSilver (857599) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:55PM (#29342847)
    Nothing short of eternal copyright and unlimited damages has any chance of satisfying the copyright cartel... and even that may not be enough as their desires are limited only by their imaginations. Like two year olds they want the moon, the stars and ... EVERYTHING. They think that they are divine.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday September 07, 2009 @02:59PM (#29342893) Homepage
    If a work of art does not make any money for the author in 10 years, it will never make real money. If in ten years you have a hit, then you will have made so much more money that the next ten years is not worth all that much. The TINY amount of cash that art makes past he 10 year mark supports the distributors, not the artists. Why because they make pennies from thousands of low level 'successes'.

    Simple solution is copyrights work for ten years, plus another 10 if you have a full sized derivative work, 5 years if you make a smaller work. (The derivatives get 10 years from their own creation).

    This pays the artists a fair amount of cash, keeps the publishers/distributors in business, yet allows people to do reasonable fair use.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Why not have different lengths of copyright, based on the type of work.
      Certainly art like a painting or sculpture would be entitled to a longer copyright term than a commercial work like a cartoon.
      The difficulty here would be to create a set of rules that determines what type of work something is, or indeed what types of would one should distinguish.
      One rule might be to look at how much value a copyrighted work has after a certain number of years. Cartoons obviously have less value a few years old than duri

  • Others have noted that the database could negatively affect some researchers for whom a book's subject matter isn't always why they read it."

    This is a little vague. The purpose of one of TFAs is to show how inaccurate the metadata on books in their database can be, and how Google is unwilling to do anything about it. Thus, when researchers use Google book search to look up information about books, rather than read the book (as the summary implies), they can be mislead.

    Two examples from TFA: a search for "Internet" in books published before 1950 produces 527 results, and a book entitled "Culture and Society 1780-1950" was supposedly publish

  • by nns6561 (559085) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:07PM (#29342953)
    Wait until fundamentalist religious groups realize how much culture they could remove simply by buying the copyrights to those works. Once a fundamentalist Christian, Jewish, or Muslim group realizes that by investing billions of dollars they could completely control all large media, the culture war will truly begin.
  • IP-based economy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldhack (1037484)
    The bizaro legal system is a natural consequence of our economic policy to promote IP-based economy.
  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:17PM (#29343037)

    I made a really long-winded comment [slashdot.org] about it previously.

    To store 720p AND 1080p copies of every movie and tv-show listed on IMDB would probably take something like 10 PB. That would likely cover dubbed soundtracks and subtitles as well.

    And at Sun's prices, that'd be about 10 million dollars for a single copy (not including data center costs) stored in 21 racks.

    Add in all the books ever written, music and news papers published, what are we looking at? 50 PB for a full copy? Obviously you'd need redundant storage placed on various continents, and you'd expect to replace the hardware every once in a while, but what is our entire cultural history worth to us as a civilization? A billion dollars a year? Two? Keep in mind, it shouldn't just be the US or the EU funding this, it should be everyone.

    Make it a requirement for companies that if they want copyrights on their works, they have to submit it unencumbered to the storage facility. That way there can be no excuses from the companies, that they don't have $work in production any more, as it'd be easy to sell access to a particular work. And if they can't submit it for whatever reason? Copyright expires on that particular work. That'd certainly get their asses in gear to get their entire back catalogue digitized.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fulldecent (598482)

      >> Add in all the books ever written, music and news papers published, what are we looking at? 50 PB for a full copy? Obviously you'd need redundant storage placed on various continents, and you'd expect to replace the hardware every once in a while, but what is our entire cultural history worth to us as a civilization? A billion dollars a year? Two? Keep in mind, it shouldn't just be the US or the EU funding this, it should be everyone.

      >> Make it a requirement for companies that if they want co

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:23PM (#29343093)

    Unless this professor is arrested and waterboarded immediately the terrorists will win!!

  • Corporations began as a means to limit risk exposure to investors in adventures in trade and, thus, encourage investment. Putting aside, for the purposes of my comment, their current morals & ethics, Corporations still function to turn a profit and limit liability for investors. The world has grown small and overcrowded and everyone wants a big piece of the pie. Urbanization can be viewed as our attempts to deal with relatively high populations and scare resources. The results are often bottlenecks that

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:29PM (#29343149)

    I wonder if it is the case that if the USA's IP regime gets so oppressive it starts violent demonstrations, I wonder what our violent dystopian wasteland could be?

    Will we have a future where the IP Exec's offices are stormed by mobs of angry young people wielding lethal force and murdering shareholders, board members and CEOs? What would such a future look like? Will we have the government executing citizens for IP related offenses? Will we go to war with countries over IP?

    Kinda a scary thought.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:41PM (#29343261) Homepage Journal

    Its the lawyers that are swallowing our culture.

  • by smoker2 (750216) on Monday September 07, 2009 @03:59PM (#29343407) Homepage Journal
    It's not just copyright swallowing our culture, which is why I find it ironic that this is being discussed by people on an American site, talking about an American company. It's about time the EU started actually standing up for the people it represents instead of wealthy American corporations.

    I mean bitching at MS about IE and WMP is all well and good, but when the basic standard for proving you can operate a computer - the European Computer Driving Licence [headru.sh] - is nothing more than a short training course in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, it makes you wonder whose side they're on. At least call it Office skills or something. Why are we entrenching a foreign corporation on one hand and complaining about it on the other ? It qualifies you to operate a computer in the same way operating a washing machine qualifies you as an electrical engineer. You even get points for putting your name in the right place FFS.

    (The tests in that zip are last years version - the new ones mean you have to use vista and Office 2007. They also dropped the Access section completely. Those files have not touched a Windows computer since I got them from the British Computer Societys web site.)

    Some jokers are charging £500 for that shit (training and test). I'd get into it myself, except I would never ever feel clean again.

  • by sadler121 (735320) <msadler@gmail.com> on Monday September 07, 2009 @04:13PM (#29343533) Homepage

    The Copyright and Patent laws of 1790 are, imo, is sufficient enough to "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;".

    14 year copyright, with a 14 year extension, and 17 years for a patent is enough. Authors and Inventors shouldn't be allowed to rest on their laurals for the rest of their lives, but actually contribute to society, which is what the original copyright and patent laws provided for.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Act_of_1790 [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_Act_of_1790 [wikipedia.org]

    • Not every author who would require longer protection is resting on their laurels though. Two of the big focal point of copyright protection, music and television, feature works which were created 20-30+ years earlier, but which are still commercially viable today. How do we protect the valid commercial interests of musicians like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, or The Who - artists with a legacy who still perform this music today? How do we protect the interests of the copyright holders to the soap opera General

      • But when we're dealing with something like rock music, which is owned by the artist and is very much their pension after 30 years of labor

        Maybe they should save money for a pension while they are earning it like everyone else has to. I mean I can see why I would want to be able to continue getting paid from my job after I've retired but I dont think that's going to happen. Many people would disagree that works require longer protection just because they continue to be profitable. They point of copyright law should be to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly for the creater in which to profit after which time the other half

      • by Draek (916851)

        Why shouldn't people be allowed to access the first episodes of General Hospital freely? why shouldn't a band be able to play one of Iron Maiden's debut songs without worrying whose lawyers they have to pay?

        If they're still creating content, let them live off those royalties and give the public access to their older works. I simply can't see the problem with that scenario.

  • Next WIPO [wipo.int] meeting in Geneva will treat this topic next november (after going to the activation ceremony of this [web.cern.ch]).
  • I run a Website for images (mostly) and text scanned from old books. When Google books started I thought at first I could just give up, but it turns out that the quality is so low for Google books that http://www.fromoldbooks.org/ [fromoldbooks.org] and other sites like it continue to perform a valuable service.

    I have had to spend a lot of time researching copyright law. I started out believing wikipedia, hah! And there are tons of Web sites with myths about copyright, e.g. that anything published before 1923 anywhere in t

  • Science vs Art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Samy Merchi (1297447) on Monday September 07, 2009 @05:33PM (#29344207) Homepage

    What most people are talking about when they talk about these copyright issues are the copyrighting and/or trademarking of artistic creations.

    What's rarely brought up is the fact that there's a very analogous system in the world, too. For scientific creations, there's such a thing as patents. Patents are basically copyright for scientific inventions, as opposed to artistic inventions.

    Now, if we compare patents to copyright, the vast disparity in protection length becomes obvious. In most countries, patents protect the exclusivity of scientific inventions for 15-25 years.

    Artistic inventions are protected for *95* years. That is to say, 4-5 times longer.

    Why? What makes them worth so much longer a protection than scientific inventions get?

    The purpose of exclusivity expiring eventually (that is, not being forever) is to release the invented concept into the public domain so that the general public can eventually benefit from making use of the invention in whatever way society feels fit.

    However, this right of the general public is by and large being denied at present when it comes to artistic inventions. Copyright terms are being extended and extended by Disney and other megacorporations because they don't want their big brands to become public property.

    Imagine if Alexander Bell would have retained exclusive rights to the telephone for 95 years. The patent was issued in 1876. That means the telephone would have become public domain in 1971! The steam turbine would have become available to the general public in 1979 and barbed wire in 1982. The roller coaster and the diesel engine would have expired in 1993.

    More importantly, what things would still be patented? We'd be waiting for the zipper to expire in 2012. Aerosol cans would become available in 2022, electric shavers in 2023. Radar wouldn't fall out of protection until 2030.

    Imagine how much slower technology would have advanced if things like *zippers* would have to be licensed in order to be used in clothes.

    Excessively long protection times directly harm the public, whether it be in the field of our scientific development or in the field of our artistic development.

  • As to the problem the article mentions re Google and other online book archives being a mess to find anything in, and hopeless for browsing -- what on earth would be wrong with cataloging them by the LOC system (which is *extremely* precise) or at least by Dewey Decimal (which is much fuzzier but at least you CAN find a category of interest without already knowing the titles/authors/keywords). That would bring their cataloging into alignment with libraries everywhere, and make it one helluva lot easier to f

  • Wanna know how much money/time/energy Google has put into ascertaining whether the rightsholders of the "orphan" works they have scanned or want to scan are actually unreachable?

    None. Nada. Zippo. They don't even claim to have made an effort. The settlement agreement makes such determination the duty of the "Books Rights Registry," an entity that does not yet, and may well never, exist.

    What Google _has_ done is push the idea of millions of "orphan works" pining for freedom (next to Google ads, of course

  • I think a bigger problem is that Americans don't have meaningful culture in the first place. The result is that their Copyright laws are pretty much futile whichever way you look at them.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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