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Alternative 2009 Copyright Expirations 427

Posted by kdawson
from the world-of-what-if dept.
jrincayc writes "It's nearly the end of 2009. If the 1790 copyright maximum term of 28 years was still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be now be in the public domain — like the original Ultima and God Emperor of Dune — and would be available for remixing and mashing up. If the 1909 copyright maximum term of 56 years (if renewed) were still in force, everything published by 1953 would now be in the public domain, freeing The City and the Stars and Forbidden Planet. If the 1976 copyright act term of 75* years (* it's complicated) still applied, everything published by 1934 would now be in the public domain, including Murder on the Orient Express. But thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, nothing in the US will go free until 2018, when 1923 works expire." Assuming Congress doesn't step in with a Copyright Extension Act of 2017. What are the odds?
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Alternative 2009 Copyright Expirations

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  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:06AM (#30521430)

    I give you a prediction:

    New law - Copyright doesn't expire.
    Consequences - Not enough people care and life goes on.

    • No, courts would probably strike down a law making copyrights not expiring, hence adding more years to existing copyright law. I think there was a court argument regarding this but I can't seem to find it.

      • by praksys (246544) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:45AM (#30521600) Homepage

        The case was ELDRED V. ASHCROFT. Lawrence Lessig (and others) pointed out that the constitution only allows copyrights to be granted "for a limited time". SCOTUS responded that they couldn't give a shit what the constitution says. The decision was 7-2 so it's highly unlikely that the court will change it's mind anytime soon.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:18AM (#30521758)

          SCOTUS responded "On paper, it is limited - we don't care if Congress keeps changing the limit."

          While I disagree with the decision, it's not QUITE the same thing as "[we] couldn't give a shit what the constitution says."

          • by darthflo (1095225) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:26AM (#30521802)

            So what they meant was "we couldn't give a shit what the constitution intends[, we're happy to have it's purpose undermined to the point it's hollower than a slice of swiss cheese]".

            Yay for living in Europe, where the spirit of the law still counts for something.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by JAlexoi (1085785)
              Yeah.. I just hope that the spirit of the law will not be abused, as it always has been.
              Yet, I love the fact that a contract cannot be void based on simple technicality.
            • by langarto (718855) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:46AM (#30522144)

              Yay for living in Europe, where the spirit of the law still counts for something.

              I am European, but I am sick of reading claims like this one in Slashdot and elsewere. It makes no sense to pretend that we are better than the Americans, or that our laws are more fair or that our politicians are better. In most areas we are almost as bad as the states (and copyright is one of them), while in other areas we are even worse.

              And we both (Americans and Europeans) are seeing our laws changing continuously for the worse, and we will end up with a very similar set of laws in the end: those that are good for the people in power (i.e.: the corporations).

              You think "the spirit of the law" counts for something in Europe? Do you trust those currently in power in your country to uphold it? Do you think the European Comission cares about "the spirit" of anything?

              • by darthflo (1095225) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:08AM (#30522216)

                You think "the spirit of the law" counts for something in Europe? Do you trust those currently in power in your country to uphold it? Do you think the European Comission cares about "the spirit" of anything?

                To be honest, no.
                The only way to make the current situation in Europe look any good is to contrast it with the one in the U.S. (and, well, forgetting about the UK helps too). Also, the uptake of several pirate parties throughout Europe (and the occasional sensible court decision) inspire some hope. It'll be interesting to see if they manage to shed the one-issue party image, but if they do, a large percentage of the 18-29 crowd's votes are up for grabs.
                Let's hope for the best.

              • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @08:20AM (#30522470)

                Do you think the European Comission cares about "the spirit" of anything?

                Only if it's of high enough proof.

              • by lorenlal (164133) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @08:58AM (#30522700)

                Do you trust those currently in power in your country to uphold it? Do you think the European Comission cares about "the spirit" of anything?

                I trust those in power to do whatever they are told to by their biggest donors. I think the EC and the US government will do whatever they can, and enact any law they can to further the "spirit" of those donations.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

                There's no way you can get enough mod points for that post. It just doesn't matter: Euro, US, UK, Canada, or Australia - every dick in office is on someone's payroll. The "rights holders" have money to throw around, so they can buy a LOT of those dicks. And, it goes beyond our little Euro & English Empire club - little third world nations are being bullied to fall into line.

                What was it Forrest Gump said? "Crooked is as crooked does"? Alright, maybe I'm off a little bit - but it all works out the sa

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by spyfrog (552673)

              This is simply untrue.
              Where I live the supreme court can't declare laws that goes against the constitution illegal, so we have some laws that more or less violates the constitution and that the supreme court (they are allowed to make an opinion about the laws) has told the parliament that the law is unconstitutional but the parliament has passed them anyway.

          • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:49AM (#30521920) Homepage

            SCOTUS responded "On paper, it is limited - we don't care if Congress keeps changing the limit."

            While I disagree with the decision, it's not QUITE the same thing as "[we] couldn't give a shit what the constitution says."

            If limited can mean "until the sun burns out", you have effectively stricken "for limited times" from the constitution. If you can play with words like that, it's worth less than toilet paper.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eivind (15695)

          Indeed. One of the most disapointing recent decisions. In essence, the court said that the term "for limited times" in practice means nothing whatsoever. Because it means that there must BE some limit, but it doesn't need to be a practical limit. a 100 year copyright on computer-software is in practice aproximately infinite. And the court sees no principal problem with a 999999999 year copyright. That's "limited", right ?

          Way to make a mockery of the constitution !!!

    • by bl968 (190792) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:18AM (#30521490) Journal

      It can't happen without amending the U.S. Constitution.

      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; -
      Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8

      The key word there is limited time. The problem has arisen is that the courts have defined limited as anything short of forever, and I think it stretches the Constitution beyond all meaning. Originally you could register a copyright for 7 years, and renew it one time for another 7. This was when shipping between cities could take weeks, and to cross continents could take years. With modern distribution copyright durations should be decreasing not increasing. Copyright was never intended to be a life time income source, and it definitely was not intended to cover heirs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        presumably, then, one could simply pass a law stating that copyright shall not expire until the heat death of the universe.
      • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:47AM (#30521612)

        Lawrence Lessig argued that before the SCOTUS [cnet.com], and they wouldn't buy even that basic point, IIRC.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        I fail to see any reason the shipping time decreasing from weeks to days should have any effect on copyright. Please explain your logic.

        • by uglyduckling (103926) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:15AM (#30521742) Homepage

          It's pretty obvious really. The whole point of copyright was to enable the creator to benefit commercially from their artwork for a limited period so that they would have an income and be able to continue producing works that enrich/entertain society. As distribution has become quicker and quicker, the time needed for an artist to commercially exploit their work has decreased and therefore the time period for which copyright applies ought to be shorter, not longer, than in the past.

          What has happened instead is that time periods have been extended, more and more money has been made, which has concentrated the means of distribution into fewer hands, with the net effect of decreasing the amount of art (music, literature etc.) that is widely available. This is now starting to change with digital distribution, although it's quite clear that DRM is not about preventing the pirating of works (because it doesn't stop commercial pirates) but is about maintaining a barrier to entry into the market.

          • by cboslin (1532787) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:27AM (#30521810) Homepage

            It's pretty obvious really. The whole point of copyright was to enable the creator to benefit commercially from their artwork for a limited period so that they would have an income and be able to continue producing works that enrich/entertain society. As distribution has become quicker and quicker, the time needed for an artist to commercially exploit their work has decreased and therefore the time period for which copyright applies ought to be shorter, not longer, than in the past.

            What has happened instead is that time periods have been extended, more and more money has been made, which has concentrated the means of distribution into fewer hands, with the net effect of decreasing the amount of art (music, literature etc.) that is widely available. This is now starting to change with digital distribution, although it's quite clear that DRM is not about preventing the pirating of works (because it doesn't stop commercial pirates) but is about maintaining a barrier to entry into the market.

            Great post, simple to the point.

            Another reason to DENY companies person-hood

            What in the constitution allows a company to buy the rights from a person and continue them in force as if they are a person?

            Everything we need to fix problems with corporations are in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. If we really are a nation of laws, its time to start enforcing them.

            Even Presidents must NOT be above the law!

            To not enforce laws ensures their continued abuse. I do not think that this is what our founding fathers had in mind!

            • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:45AM (#30521886)

              Another reason to DENY companies person-hood

              You're focusing on the wrong problem. The issue isn't corporate personhood, but rather with certain legal persons (natural or corporate) having too much power. It really isn't any better for the person "J.P. Morgan" to be able to buy a congressman than it is for company "J.P. Morgan Chase" to be able to do the same thing.

              Changing some arcane corporate classification don't help a damned thing.

              What will help is limiting how influential a single person can be. Limit the maximum size of corporations. Institute a super-progressive income tax that asymptotically approaches 100% as you reach, say, the 99th percentile of the population.

              No man on earth is worth FOUR BILLION [wikipedia.org] times that of another human being, no matter who is he or what he's done.

              • by Kiaser Zohsay (20134) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:06AM (#30523130)

                Limit the maximum size of corporations.

                Hear that, AIG? Too big to fail is too big to exist.

          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:00AM (#30523694) Homepage

            It's pretty obvious really. The whole point of copyright was to enable the creator to benefit commercially from their artwork for a limited period so that they would have an income and be able to continue producing works that enrich/entertain society.

            No, the whole point of copyright is to benefit society by encouraging the creation and publication of works which otherwise would not be created or published, while restricting the public's use of those works to the least extent possible, in both duration and scope.

            It isn't meant to support an author no matter what (a flop is a flop, regardless of copyright), and frankly, who cares? It isn't the authors we care about; it is their output. And even then, we still want to be frugal, and provide authors with the bare minimum incentive that gets them to actually keep creating and publishing more of the works that we want.

      • So then make it 1000 years and just call it good. No one will care about the copyrighted works of someone over a thousand years in the past, and it will take care of these questions until this time ~2950

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @09:24AM (#30522832)

          It doesn't even matter anymore, does it?

          DRM will take care of copyright not playing a role anymore quite soon. And more movies will be added to the lost movies [wikipedia.org] list. Not because we can't find a copy anywhere. Simply because duplicating it to new media is made impossible and any medium deteriorates over time. It's in the hand of the rights holder whether a movie, a computer game, a song gets "lost". At least until accidents happen and the single existing DRM-free master gets destroyed.

          If you look at the "lost films" list, you will notice that many movies are "almost" lost, because only a fractioned copy of the movie exists, with missing scenes, torn and worn by years of showing. In other cases, films are rediscovered [wikipedia.org] in a cache somewhere, even if the master has been lost in something like the fire in the Paramount storage.

          Take a look at the rediscovered list. It includes such historic material as the first Frankenstein film, W.C. Fields first movie, the first Titanic movie (made 1912), and also important documents of early FX mastery as Metropolis (which was only existing in fragments until an almost complete copy was discovered last year). Now imagine these movies gone.

          This means losing history. Art history. And we will see a lot of it happen in the future. And while I tend to agree that with many movies made today it would probably not be a loss to art, for many more it would certainly be. What I personally find especially scary is that it will become trivial for rights holders and even governments to make movies disappear should they become politically or otherwise "unfavorable".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dangitman (862676)

            DRM will take care of copyright not playing a role anymore quite soon.

            But DRM doesn't work, so how is it going to cause media to be lost?

      • by Genda (560240) <mariet@ g o t . n et> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:04AM (#30521976) Journal

        Copyright was never intended to be a life time income source, and it definitely was not intended to cover heirs.

        No, it's intended to be an indefinite source of income for the RIAA, MPAA, and a growing list of IP holders who effectively want to own all meaningful human endeavor.

      • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:38AM (#30522120)
        it's crazy when in the same sentence they talk about "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" and then extend copyright out to 75 years, completely eliminating a persons need to continue progress, and just let them milk one piece of content for ever...
        • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:17AM (#30523222)

          Can someone hand this person an insightful mod? It's precisely what's wrong with copyright today.

          Copyright should give you an incentive to create. That's its sole purpose. It is supposed to make you want to create instead of sit and wait 'til someone else does. It's the art equivalent of what patents are supposed to be in science: A reason to produce instead of consume.

          It's no incentive to create again if I can milk what I created once.

  • Sickening (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:10AM (#30521450)
    I vomit a little bit when I think about the state of copyright. Surely this is advancing the collective cultural repository?
    • by iamapizza (1312801) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:16AM (#30521482)
      It depends on the contents of your vomit, but yes, I'd imagine it'd be an advancing collection of cultures, from your repository.
    • I vomit a little bit when I think about the state of copyright.

      By that do you mean...
      A. the fact that things that should have fallen into the public domain long ago, aren't due to copyright term extensions
      B. the fact that most people really don't care and will copy it anyway ...?

      It's funny, really... laws regarding copyrights are getting ever more restricting.. while the public mindset thinks ever more loosely about copyrights, and ignores those laws.

      Surely this is advancing the collective cultural reposito

  • Ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tylerni7 (944579) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:10AM (#30521452) Homepage
    I think this graph [wikipedia.org] in the wiki links sums the problem up nicely.

    These copyright extensions are simply ridiculous. It's pretty obvious that the copyrights are going to continue being extended indefinitely, even though this clearly wasn't the original purpose of our IP laws. What gives?
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mpe (36238) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:43AM (#30521592)
      I think this graph in the wiki links sums the problem up nicely.
      These copyright extensions are simply ridiculous.


      The problem actually appears to have started in 1831. Why was nothing done then, since the US Congress dosn't (in theory) have the power to create ipso post facto laws?
      • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:00AM (#30521964)

        The problem actually appears to have started in 1831. Why was nothing done then, since the US Congress dosn't (in theory) have the power to create ipso post facto laws?

        I believe the term you're looking for is "ex post facto" ("after the fact") laws, not "ipso facto" ("by the fact itself").

        I believe the courts *have* limited Congress, in that they aren't allowed to pass a law that would put works that have fallen into the public domain back under copyright.

  • Fair Copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bl968 (190792) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:12AM (#30521460) Journal

    Give them 7 years, after 7 years, they have to renew the copyright every year for $50-100. If they fail to renew it it becomes public domain. Prohibit the outsourcing of this process, require the actual copyright holder to submit a signed statement each year with the renewal, change the forms yearly to prevent them from stockpiling 100 years of renewals. This process should have a search-able registry of all active copyrights and who to contact about licensing rights. This would allow economically supported works to continue in copyright as long as it is economically supported, but it would also allow orphan works to enter the public domain much faster. It's called balance, and would be a revenue generator for the Government.

    Also they could require the work to actually be available for purchase during the previous year, or else you can not renew it. This would stop the Disney-ish practice of copyright holders removing their their copyrighted works from the market to generate a artificial demand later on for their product.

    • Re:Fair Copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:36AM (#30521574) Homepage Journal

      Instead of $50-$100, make the copyright holder choose and pay a fee of 1000x the cost of license.
      If you paid $1000, I can have a copy of your work for $1. If you paid $10k, I can have it for $10. If you paid $10, I can get a copy for $0.01. And you're not permitted not to license the work to me for that amount.

      • Re:Fair Copyright (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ost99 (101831) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:19AM (#30523242)

        Interesting idea, but it will only work for mass market works.
        Software if often produced with less than 1000 customers in the target market.
        How will you ever make money if you have to pay 1000 times your license fee, and only sell a handful licenses?
        I've been involved in software production in one form or other for 12 years, and I've yet not seen one project were we could sell more than 1000 licenses.

        Instead of having a system that scales with the license cost, the system should scale with time.
        First 7 years: $0
        Next 7 years: $100
        Next 7 years: $2000
        Next 7 years: $40000
        Next 7 years: $800000
        etc.

        But it's important to remember: The people pushing for extended copyrights are not very concerned with the income from works about to expire; they are more concerned about the effect competition from works with expired copyrights would have on new stuff.

    • Re:Fair Copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:41AM (#30521586)
      How would this work with legal persons though? They have more resources to renew and such than a single natural person. I suppose only allowing natural persons to have copyright would be a nice start.
      • by bl968 (190792)

        It would work exactly the same. The price is low enough so as long as you realistically believe that you have a chance to generate some income from the intellectual property in question, you would have the incentive to continue the registration. Corporations would likely possess many more registrations is all, they would pay the exact same fee. You have to do it that way due to the Equal Protection clause. All IP owners weigh the prospects for each one when deciding if it worth renewing the copyright for th

        • by QuoteMstr (55051)

          You have to do it that way due to the Equal Protection clause

          IANAL, but I don't see how that clause applies here. We're not talking about discriminating based on a protected category like race or gender, but rather on size, and we've been doing that for 100 years [wikipedia.org].

    • I think that's very interesting. The think that bothers me is the amount of music sitting in the back-catalogues of record companies, that could be out there for the general public to enjoy. I'm not talking about recordings here, I'm talking about compositions/songs/lyrics that never see the light of day. Putting a small piece-price on each copyright work would encourage corps to do clear-outs and release or sell on works, and I think that would stimulate creativity and 'enrich society' far more than the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      With your idea open source dies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Prohibit the outsourcing of this process

      Why? Why can't someone act on someone else's behalf? I mean, if we can sign away power of attorney, why can't we sign away renewal privileges to other people?

      And how does it apply to artists who sell their copyrights? What if they sell to a company? Who is burdened with the responsibility of personally renewing copyrights?

      Also they could require the work to actually be available for purchase during the previous year, or else you can not renew it. This would stop the D

  • Mandatory reply (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mdenham (747985) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:19AM (#30521498)

    Melancholy Elephants [spiderrobinson.com] by Spider Robinson. This is the best-written argument I've seen against non-expiring copyrights (and, by extension, copyrights of inanely long duration).

  • by Afforess (1310263) <afforess@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:20AM (#30521500) Journal
    The next copyright extension will be by 2023. Why? Because that's when the Walt Disney Corp will lose it's copyright on Mickey Mouse [wikipedia.org]. And there is no way they would ever willingly lose their symbol. Walt Disney is the largest lobbying force in the Copyright Term Extensions, primarily because of all their older, but well recognized artistic works.

    Politicians, from both parties, are easily purchased to vote for Copyright laws. Copyright laws appeal to both Democrats and Republican lawmakers. Democrats, because by keeping copyright laws in effect makes them seem like they are protecting the (copy) "rights" of the people, making their constituents happy. Republicans, because by keeping copyright laws in effect makes them seem like they are protecting the rights of business, making their constituents happy. And when both parties agree... everyone loses.

    The biggest problem with copyrights though isn't that it is becoming such a big political issue, at least with some groups of people, or that it is easy to "presuade" lawmakers to side with the copyright holders; it's that Copyright laws are merely a symptom of the disease. Simply rolling copyright laws back to 1790 levels would only be a temporary solution. That fix would be repealed within the decade. The voters need to completely re-shape the political atmosphere of America, perhaps removing the 2 party system entirely (5 political parties, anyone?), or at least reforming the political parties so that Special Interests have much less of a say on future laws and bills. But if we only see more of the same, I expect to eventually see copyrights last an "indetermined" amount of time. Your great-grand-children may live to see the Mickey Mouse copyright expire...maybe.
    • by bl968 (190792) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:25AM (#30521520) Journal

      A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons. This would be similar to copyright but would not expire. These would require a specific act of Congress for a copyrightable work to be awarded this status but would not expire as long as the company in question is still actively using and marketing the iconic item in question.

      • by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:29AM (#30521542)
        I too, would enjoy a license to print money. Can I get the exemption?
      • by XanC (644172)

        That would require a Constitutional amendment.

        Of course, an awful lot of stuff that should, doesn't, so maybe it wouldn't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bl968 (190792)

          Not really, it would fall under the commerce clause.

          To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; - Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3

          While copyright was limited, a new intellectual property status called "National Icon" would not be directly limited by the Constitution. The idea is if Disney is going to continue to use their money and political influence to craft legislation to suppress the progress of all the Arts and Sciences (extend all copyrights) in o

          • by XanC (644172)

            If that kind of thing were covered by the commerce clause, then why is it described elsewhere, in such detail that it specifically excludes what you're talking about?

            • by bl968 (190792)

              Copyright is indeed described. However, there is no description, restrictions, or limitations in the Constitution for the proposal I suggested which is creating a new class of intellectual property, a "National Icon" status. Therefore Congress is free to create it without requiring a Constitutional amendment. Again this is not a Copyright, but would grant a similar protection against commercial use as do copyrights, but would not expire as long as the icon is in active use by the creator. I have little doub

              • by XanC (644172)

                No, the Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to secure for limited times exclusive rights.

                That doesn't mean they can go make something else up that's unlimited!

                • by bl968 (190792)

                  The key here is that these would not be exclusive rights. The Nation Icon would only secure Commercial rights, which is a power explicitly granted in the Commerce clause of the Constitution. Copyrights protect against both commercial, and non-commercial uses.

      • by mpe (36238) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:38AM (#30521578)
        A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons.

        Or Disney (TM) could trademark everything to do with Mickey Mouse(TM) in the same way that Paramount (TM) treats everything to do with Star Trek (TM).
      • Using almost the same terminology: "cultural icon"

        The difference was, I thought it made sense that if one could reasonably prove in court that a copyrighted or trademarked property had become a "cultural icon", all rights to it (but not derivatives) would instantly expire and the whole thing would be free for the public to use.

        Imagine if Coca-Cola tried to enforce trademark on "Santa Clause wearing red and white"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lloyd_Bryant (73136)

        A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons. This would be similar to copyright but would not expire. These would require a specific act of Congress for a copyrightable work to be awarded this status but would not expire as long as the company in question is still actively using and marketing the iconic item in question

        Or simply link the copyright to a trademark. Trademarks, unlike copyrights, have to be maintained (costing money), and as such are dropped by corporations when they are no longer cost-effective. They have all of the attributes of your "National Icons".

        So Disney could potentially keep "Steam Boat Willie" under copyright for as long as they wish, by tying it to the Mickey trademark(s). But the majority of copyrighted works would never be linked in this fashion (because there's no economic incentive to do s

    • by dryo (989455) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:46AM (#30521606)
      It's a well-known fact that the limit of US copyright is always at least the age of Mickey Mouse plus one year. It's kind like Moore's Law for copyright attorneys.
    • We're not going to have more than two parties until we change the way we vote. Our simple plurality voting [wikipedia.org] system naturally leads to [wikipedia.org] a two-party steady state system as surely an electron orbiting a proton leads to a hydrogen atom in the ground state. No amount of imploring, scolding, pleading or whining will change that reality.

      If you really want more diverse representation, change the way we vote. Granted, a perfect voting system is impossible [wikipedia.org], but we can far better [wikipedia.org] than the system we have today.

      That said,

    • by JumperCable (673155) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:41AM (#30521870)

      Then the answer is simple. We must culturally kill Mikey.

  • Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kjart (941720) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:25AM (#30521522)
    I have a hard time getting excited about this. Whether copyright expired in 1, 10 or 100 years, people would still violate it, whether it be by torrent or some other means of sharing. Copyright infringement has taken the same character as speeding to many people: while people get caught and fined, almost everyone does it to some degree or another, and almost nobody feels guilty about doing so.
  • For fuck's sake! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676)

    so the original Ultima and God Emperor of Dune and would be available for remixing and mashing up.

    Remixing and mashing up? I like a good remix as much as anybody, but the faddish use of these terms needs to die. Mashup, really? You think you're being edgy, but you're actually being a giant cuntnozzle. Get off my lawn!

    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:07AM (#30521716) Homepage
      Well, what do you expect? That is the state of creatives in the year 2010. They honestly can not think of anything new, and only plunder the past for its riches. Can you imagine a cultural and artistic flowering like the 60s in our current age? Hell, even establishment stooges like Perry Como or Frank Sinatra seem like cutting-edge innovators compared to Lady Gaga or Alicia Keys.
      • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:34AM (#30521846) Homepage

        Ahh yes, in the good old days people weren't influenced by others in their activities. While you're at it, also point out that in the past youth wasn't on the road of moral and intellectual demise that will doom our civilization.

      • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:41AM (#30522330)
        That is the state of creatives in the year 2010. They honestly can not think of anything new, and only plunder the past for its riches.

        This is why Disney are doing the world a favour by repeatedly buying copyright extensions. It forces people to come up with their own creative original stories - you know, like Disney did - rather than ripping off other people's stories that just happen to be old enough to no longer be protected. Thanks to Disney, creative artists now have the kind of long-term protection that Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kipling and Lewis Carroll never enjoyed, whereas cheap rip-off merchants who only plunder other people's ideas can no longer ply their grimy trade.

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:52AM (#30521624) Journal

    But thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act

    They say we're young and we don't know.
    Won't be out of copyright till we grow.
    Well I don't know Babe if you think that's true
    But I've got a bill that'll F*** you!

    Babe.
    I own you babe.
    I own you babe.

    They say this music won't pay the rent
    But I'll increase copyright and they'll get bent
    I guess that's so, this song is dross
    But at least I'm sure that I won't make a loss

    Babe.
    I own you babe.
    I own you babe.

    I got money coming in
    And I don't have to do a thing
    And when I'm sad, I'll copyright a clown
    Then laud it over parents all over the town

    Don't let them say your copyright's too long
    Why would I care? I can buy a thousand bongs
    Then put your awful song with mine
    Sit on our backside while our profits climb

    Babe.
    I own you babe.
    I own you babe.

    I got though this song's bland
    I got you, you understand?
    I got you if you walk like that
    I've got you if you talk like that
    I've got you kiss your music goodnight
    I've got you and you know what you can bite
    I got you, I won't let go
    I got you to pay me so

    I own you babe.

  • 1.3 billion Chinese are laughing at your legal shenanigans.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      No they aren't, their firewalled from accessing our news sites cause they talk bad about the Chinese government.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't know of any big news sites that are blocked in China. I regularly read articles from the NY Times and the LA Times websites, along with a variety of others (including Slashdot). The big blogging sites are blocked, though, as are YouTube, Facebook, etc. The government here really isn't concerned with the established western media, though. Also, it certainly is nice to use BitTorrent without any worries about the MAFIAA sending me scary letters.

        In some ways China is a freer country than the U.S. For
  • by neghvar1 (1705616) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:59AM (#30521664)
    The EFF and other consumer rights and public domain supports are pushing to ban perpetual copyright extensions which is what will happen as each extension approaches its lifespan. The judges read limited as infinity minus 1 second. They think like a computer or robot. Total lack of commonsense. But as we know, our government does not give a shit about what we, want, believe or think. Their ears are listening to the lobbyists and corporations with deep pockets that hand them a bill with a check attached to it under the table. It's bribery. Pure and simple The purpose of copyright was to promote creativity meaning that when a singer writes a song and copyrights it, they will profit from it, but when it expires, if that singer want to continue getting profits, he must continue to use his creativity. Personally, I believe copyright of movies, music and literature should be 30 years or when the original copyright holder dies. Software should be 10 years. i.e. Micheal Jackson did not create the Beetles music, yet he owned the rights to them. They were never his and never should have been. "Elvis sure makes a lot of money for a dead guy" And nor should the creators heirs and their heirs and there heirs live off the works of someone over a century ago. Along with that, of all copyrights ever filed, these extension acts are only working for the less than 10% which are still commercially exploitable. Thus all those other fall into the abyss of time. In order to preserve great works of the past, the laws must be broken
  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:20AM (#30521770) Journal

    Poor Leto. Killed by *all* those inner voices demanding royalties for the copyright of their memories. Eternal royalties. The Golden Path ends before it could begin.

  • by ommerson (1485487) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:20AM (#30521772)

    Sonny Bono's main argument in favour of the Copyright Extension Act hinged on providing a retirement fund for composers. So, it's somewhat ironic that killed himself by wrapping himself around a tree whilst skiing only a few years later.

    Cliff Richards acted as a figurehead for a campaign in the UK to lengthen the copyright term on sound recordings [1] using similar arguments. If only...

    [1] Very unsuccessfully - not least because some of his recordings were about to go out of copyright and the perception that he already had quite enough money.

  • The most shameful... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:23AM (#30521784) Journal
    ... is not to keep commercial rights on these known books that we will still be able to buy by 2020. It is the millions of books that did not achieve enough popularity to still be easy to find. Not edited anymore but forbidden to save for posterity. Really, copyright is nothing to respect anymore.
  • by knarf (34928) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:06AM (#30521984) Homepage

    SONNY BONO COPYRIGHT TERM EXTENSION ACT (House of Representatives - October 07, 1998) [loc.gov]

    (should this search expire go to SONNY BONO COPYRIGHT TERM EXTENSION ACT (House of Representatives - October 07, 1998) [loc.gov] and look for page 9951)

    "...Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti's proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress..."

    Forever minus one day. Look for it around 2022-2023...r

  • It is not 28 years (Score:3, Informative)

    by lordmetroid (708723) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:16AM (#30522244)
    Actually it is only 14 years according to the original law. Works created before the law was created had the opportunity to get double the time protection. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_copyright_law#History [wikipedia.org]
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @09:08AM (#30522752)

    It seems to me that copyright is mostly ignored when it gets in the way - especially by the younger generations. The cries that 'copyright is stealing' do not stick to society as a whole in the US.. and the US is behind the rest of the world with copyright piracy.

    The more ridiculous the laws, the more they get ignored.. The government and corporations can do nothing against the majority of the people if they decide to ignore the laws or copyright terms. Corporate lobbying has stacked the cards so far against the consumer that the average consumer can merely ignore them and still feel good about it.

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