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China Music The Media Your Rights Online

Proposed Chinese Copyright Changes Would Encourage Re-Use 169

Posted by timothy
from the thousand-flowers-all-bloom-differently dept.
New submitter BBCS writes "The National Copyright Administration of the People's Republic of China ('NCAC') is seeking public comments on a controversial draft amendment to China's copyright law. A number of recording artists and musicians have reacted strongly against this proposed amendment because it appears to encourage using others works without compensation. The amendments that have drawn particular ire are article 46 & 48. Per Article 46, one does not need consent to make recordings of another person's musical work if 3 months have passed since such work was published. Per Article 48, to use such person's musical work, one must contact the NCAC, identify the published material and its author, and within 1 month of use, submit a usage fee as per the NCAC, to facilitate the distribution of payment to applicable parties. I wonder what happens when someone applies to make use of Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses." What would you do, if copyright were so strongly time-limited?
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Proposed Chinese Copyright Changes Would Encourage Re-Use

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  • by Chris Dodd (1868704) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:34PM (#39607855)
    There's nothing here about using others works without compensation -- this is about manadatory licensing of works, with rates set by the state licensing board. Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on who you are.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maroberts (15852)

      Yes but it looks like its a one time fee. i.e. 3 months after Lady Gaga has released her single you can copy it, pay a 1-time fee of say $10, and then make as many copies as you like for your own ends. Unless the summary misses out that the fee scale is more complex than this, I'm not sure that the balance is right and normally I'm in favour of drastic cutback of Intellectual Property time periods.

      • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @03:23PM (#39608515) Journal

        Well, I think it's also a bit ironic also because in the US there's rather similar laws involving doing a cover version of a song. Yes, there is the issue of whether it's a one time fee or a continuous fee based upon units sold, but in either case it's a mechanical, compulsory process where the copyright holder has little to no say over it. The most interesting part to me of it is that such a law only covers music, AFAIK.

        It could be argued this is because music is special, either in that each performance is unique and hence it is that which should be treated as copyrightable, but that leaves the question of why plays and other similar performance works aren't treated the same. After all, it's rather different in whether a group of children or a group of trained actors do Hamlet and whether the play's creator has the right to avoid some sort of "blasphemy" against his artistic vision.

        It could also be argued that music is not unique enough in its production--given the seem argument of how few chords are available and how even a few notes might be enough to violate someone else's copyright--but then works like books are based upon a generally unique selection of phonetics and words, although of a grander scale, and based upon plot lines and characters of a generally limited flavor as well. At the same time, authors don't have to pay a "genre" fee and it's usually quite trivial to copy a work or character, so long as one makes a few alterations along the way; still, that would presumably be the same with music since clearly there are many sound-alike songs.

        So, overall, I'm just curious about why compulsory licensing of the sort is accepted and whether it's more a means to expand the artistic availability of some authors or more of a money grab by authors (or likely their producers, given how it works in the US) to try to take in more money on copying that is presumed would happen regardless. To that end, it's more of a tax system meant for a subclass of people, and that seems rather dubious.

      • Aside of the 3 months period, which I consider a wee bit too short (make it a year or two), what's your problem?

    • by ebusinessmedia1 (561777) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:43PM (#39607909)

      China has no history of embedded civil code; it has always been run from the *center*, by powerful interests that made the law punitive only when one upset "the natural order of things" - e.g. poisoning a rice paddy, or carrying a sign in 1967 that claimed "capitalism is good" - those things would get you killed. However, if you stole someone intellectual property, the dispute was settled strictly between the parties, without the intervention by a civil authority; essentially, it was between you and the thief. In those situations, the person who had the most political power, or local connections, would win. This is simply the way things have been, until very recently, in China.

      In other words, no LEGAL sense of protected IP. That is starting to change, slowly, as the world gets wired up, but it will take a while. Another way to say this is that many, many people in China have no problem with lifting someone else IP, because that's the way things have always been. btw, this doesn't make China a thieving culture, but rather a culture where there have been no strictures embedded in civil code to prevent this sort of thing. This is one more reason why international companies need to be cautious with IP in China, and understand how to play hard ball when they have IP stolen.

      • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:06PM (#39608067) Journal

        Okay, we've seen the real problems of locking up IP for a century in US copyright law.
        Here come the Chinese to say "Hai. You have 3 months to sell it, then it's fair game."

        That creates a rapid promulgation of culture. (I didn't read the article) but it doesn't prevent the original artist from using it. Same thing, you can grab someone else's stuff for your own project 3 months later.

        It's a hyper-accelerated sharing cycle.

        The final end is unknown. They "claim to want to educate children" (in the US) but after the stock basics of who was who in the civil war, "education" gets all tied up in Journal fees.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by davester666 (731373)

          Sure it's three months now. But it'll be up to "life of the author + 75 years" soon enough.

        • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @03:09PM (#39608447)

          To mod your first responder funny, or respond to you?

          While 100+ years is extremely absurd, I think 3 months is on the other end of extreme absurdity. I do believe the US founders had a pretty good concept of copyright limitations, and that should be something we return to. A maximum of 28 years, renewed at 14, seems like a fine separation of of concerns to allow an artist to recoup what they ca before it goes into the public domain.

          • But if you start the discussion being 'reasonable', the copyright lobby will cry about how you're unwilling to compromise if you try to stick anywhere near it.
            So start at no copyright or 3 months. Then compromise to a few years. Don't do half their work for them.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @01:15AM (#39610889)

            I agree that 3 months is absurd as well, however even 28 with a half-way renewal is absurd. Those timeframes were originally determined necessary because it took time to distribute the content. With our ability to transmit to THE ENTIRE WORLD (and beyond if necessary!) becoming near instantaneous, copyright duration should be decreasing instead of increasing. 10 years, one decade, should be PLENTY for pretty much any medium you can think of. And in the case of software, which changes much faster, even 10 years is a bit of a stretch.

          • by swilver (617741)

            No, to me three months sounds just about right.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        They have a more natural culture of sharing... They don't have mass thefts of property that deprives the original owner, they only copy ideas and information... This is how people have learned for thousands of years.

      • In other words, no LEGAL sense of protected IP. That is starting to change, slowly, as the world gets wired up, but it will take a while. Another way to say this is that many, many people in China have no problem with lifting someone else IP, because that's the way things have always been. btw, this doesn't make China a thieving culture, but rather a culture where there have been no strictures embedded in civil code to prevent this sort of thing. This is one more reason why international companies need to be cautious with IP in China, and understand how to play hard ball when they have IP stolen.

        That's like saying the Somali pirates aren't pirates because there's nothing in their culture that makes it wrong. There shouldn't have to be laws for people not to steal, and people who steal are thieves whether there's a law saying so or not.

        • by silanea (1241518)

          That's like saying the Somali pirates aren't pirates because there's nothing in their culture that makes it wrong. There shouldn't have to be laws for people not to steal, and people who steal are thieves whether there's a law saying so or not.

          Laws are dependent on culture. Here in Germany we have a law that explicitly makes it a felony to deny the Holocaust. We also have laws (and would be willing to put up more if loopholes arose) that require services like Google StreetView to erase or blur out individually identifiable information - faces, number plates and, upon request from the owner, even whole buildings - from photographs. Both examples are rooted in our nation's history. Our neighbours may very well shake their heads over our "silly" law

          • In Africa where slavery was rampant long before whites came, there were no laws against slavery...and yet there was slavery. In ancient Greece, Egypt and elsewhere slavery was legal, and yet still it remained slavery.

            Lack of a law against something does not change that it still objectively exists. Where a culture does not deny or even promotes something, be it slavery or the theft of intellectual property, that culture defines itself. Ancient Greece was a culture, in part, of slavery. China is a culture

            • by silanea (1241518)

              [...] Where a culture does not deny or even promotes something, be it slavery or the theft of intellectual property, that culture defines itself. Ancient Greece was a culture, in part, of slavery. China is a culture, in part, of theft.

              Where a culture does not deny or even promotes something that it does not know or that it does not deem wrong, that culture is defined by other cultures who have those concepts and deem them wrong. Ancient Greece was in retrospect from our enlightened point of view a culture of slavery, because we have a concept of slavery, and this is seen as a bad thing because we, in our society, deem slavery bad. China is a culture of theft when it comes to "intellectual property" because we see it that way.

              • Slavery is slavery whether it is recognized or not. It is or it is not. Either someone is owned by someone else or they are not. This is not subjective and not subject to the view of a person or a culture and has nothing to do with being enlightened, or not. People had stone tools because they had stone tools. Had nothing to do with us having electricity and being enlightened about tools.

                China is a culture of theft when it comes to intellectual property because they are a culture of theft of intellectu

        • by dryeo (100693)

          The Somali pirates quite likely consider themselves to be freedom fighters. Due to the lack of an effective government Somalia is abused by foreign powers, their fishery is being stolen and their coast is used for dumping toxic crap so they fight back the only way they can.

          • Fight back?

            It's business, nothing more nothing less. They're hungry and there are soft targets ripe for the taking. Sorry I don't share your viewpoint on this one -

    • by Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:48PM (#39608313) Journal
      Yes, exactly. Sounds fair enough to me. If you don't want your music "covered" then don't publish it. I don't see why anyone would need the copmoser's (or rather "rightholder's", nowadays) consent to play, record or remix any original works. As long as they pay royalties, if required.
      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        If you don't want your music "covered" then don't publish it.

        Happy birthday to you,
        Happy birthday to you,
        Happy birthday dear citizen,
        Happy birthday to you!

        Or Mike Jittlov's version: [youtube.com]

        Merry birthday to you,
        Merry birthday to you,
        May all your good dreams and fine wishes come true
        May every day bring you its own special cheer,
        The gift of our friendship, and fortune this year!

        Imagine this: I have copyrighted the letter "e". Muahaha!!! (That is how I envision the RIAA/MPAA goons defending their decisions: with inappropriate laughter.)

  • What would you do, if copyright were so strongly time-limited?

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    Oracle.... ONLY $19.99!
    Z/OS.... ONLY $24.99!
    SAP.... ONLY $49.99!

    Get yours TODAY!

  • Anyone noticed... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cazekiel (1417893) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:39PM (#39607873)

    ...that we're talking about China a LOT lately?

    • by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:57PM (#39607995)
      Yeah! And I also noticed that USA is building-up troops in Japan, Australia, and the south of China sea (and knowing that freaks me out...).
    • by jhoegl (638955)
      This is how it starts good sir.
      If you remember the "cold war" with USSR (Russia), there were many stores about our adversaries and why we should fear them.
      When in reality, they matter little because the policies enacted are local to that country.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:39PM (#39607875) Homepage

    The lifetime of entertainment media is surprisingly short. Most movies make at least 1/3 of their ultimate revenue in the first weekend. Perhaps the way to define "orphan works" is to expire copyright when 95% of the ultimate revenue has been extracted. The movie industry already makes that calculation to decide when to end theatrical release.

    • The lifetime of entertainment media is surprisingly short. Most movies make at least 1/3 of their ultimate revenue in the first weekend. Perhaps the way to define "orphan works" is to expire copyright when 95% of the ultimate revenue has been extracted. The movie industry already makes that calculation to decide when to end theatrical release.

      Where did you get this "fact"? This may be true of an initial box office run, but fails entirely to account for DVD sales, streaming, download, etc. And what about stuff that rears its ugly head over and over again like Star Wars?

      And what if you don't want to license your music to someone -- e.g., I don't want to license my band's music to Rick Santorum's campaign because I think he's a cocksucker? Or suppose Radiohead doesn't want their song used in a MacDonald's commercial? And what about derivative wo

      • It seems pretty clear to me that this defines a vision of copyright law that is distinctly communist in nature and represents a business model where artists have no rights to their own creations.

        Other than being "capitalist in nature," how, exactly, does that differ from our own RIAA-ruled vision of copyright law?

        • Perhaps I fired that comment off half-cocked. I'm not going to pretend I know all about it. The short answer is "I don't know". However, I believe that in Western countries, artists may assert rights to their works in civil court. For example, if I release a song in May and you copied my song and released an exact sound-alike in August, then I could sue you for cramping my style and expect a judge or jury to settle it for us. It is legal in Western countries to record a cover of somebody else's song unde

      • by lytles (24756)

        in semi-communist china the music copyrights you

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        And what if you don't want to license your music to someone

        You're apparently operating under the delusion that you have a choice in the matter here in the U.S. For as long as I can remember, we've had compulsory licensing such that anyone can record your song once you publish it by paying a small per-unit licensing fee.

        As far as I can tell, the only differences here are that it is a flat fee instead of a per-unit fee, that there isn't a cap on the number of units, and that in China, you have to wait three

        • See my other comment. I'm not going to pretend that I know all about it, but I believe that the Chinese law's intent is to prevent civil action after a period of 3 months.

    • by Lazarian (906722)

      As I generally understand, only large media distributors are able to distribute and generate revenue in a timeframe as short as that. Small independent artists and creative groups would probably be unable to generate any meaningful return in three months. Sure, they can get exposure in three months, but by the time that happens, they already lose copyright.

      Add to that the fact the only way say, a band, could keep a copyright going is to come out with an album every three months. Impossible to make anything

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Who's to say they can't continue to sell the work after copyright has expired? If it's a small band, then the volume won't be high enough to make it worthwhile for a third party distributor to release their own version.

        Sure there may well be distribution online, but again for a small band this will mean wider distribution and promotion, something they might not get otherwise, and so their next album may see higher returns as a result.
        Similarly, greater distribution will increase interest in live performance

    • Copyright is not only about revenue and money people, it is also about control of the actual use of your work, you do not want your music to appear in some gay porn video nor would you want your painstakingly created designs be copied and mass produced by some Chinese corporation without your consent. Copyright encourages creation of original works, you really do not want to reuse old or 3rd party stuff trust me, it's bad for your karma.
      • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @03:47PM (#39608639)

        But why should the creator have such control of all instances of his work? Let's say the porn producers bought 1000 copies of his song from iTunes, then sold 1000 copies of their film. So they paid for all music used.
        Why should the musician be able to prevent this? Just because he's uncomfortable being associated with it?
        Can the person that made the bed the film was filmed on demand it be blurred out? The condom makers?
        What about a news report. Can weapons manufacturers demand that their weapons be removed from the photos of terrorists?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          To answer your first comment, if you buy 1000 copies of my song off iTunes, you can't use it in 1000 copies of your media with the intention of further redistribution (a film). iTunes copies are for personal use only. Any kind of distribution of my song or broadcast has to be approved by me or my publisher. Just for a second, for God's sake, try to imagine you are the creator.
          • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @05:17PM (#39609175)

            Like I said, that makes 'creators' any different then makers of physical objects? You sold a copy of your work. If I choose to use it as toilet paper, that's my choice. If I then choose to nail it to wall and display it, that's my choice too.Or do you call the maker of your instrument whenever you're about to record a song and ask for permission to distribute the sound of their creation?

      • Copyright is not only about revenue and money people, it is also about control of the actual use of your work, you do not want your music to appear in some gay porn video

        Actually, no it isn't. In fact, in many jurisdictions, there are separate laws to cover various moral issues such as recognising the original artist and not using the work in some inappropriate way that reflects badly on the artist as a result. That allows the freedom to determine copyright rules purely on economic merit, though of course whether the relevant legislature are willing and/or able to do so is a different question.

      • by qwak23 (1862090)

        I think it would be awesome for music I wrote to appear in a gay porn video (actually just porn video in general). I would even be willing to allow them free use (no royalties) of that music so long as I got to name the video. ;)

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I imagine Disney's Snow White has its opening weekend revenues many times over the last few decades. By your system copyright could be extrapolated to be virtually infinite with just a bit of hand-waving and dodgy math.

      A solid, unbreakable term like 1 year would be enough.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Copyright terms should be limited to no more than 5 years...

      And as a copyright holder, you should have to make your media available to anyone on equal terms and in (applicable to the type of media) standard forms at a price that can stay the same (adjusted for inflation) or go down, but not go up.

      If you stop making your work available, copyright should automatically expire.

      There are far too many works out there which will be completely forgotten by the time the copyright on them expires, there may not even

      • And as a copyright holder, you should have to make your media available to anyone on equal terms and in (applicable to the type of media) standard forms at a price that can stay the same (adjusted for inflation) or go down, but not go up.

        Sure, just as soon as you arrange consistent taxation rules across the entire world so it costs me the same to sell each copy wherever my customer is. Oh, and you have to enforce copyright reliably so that I can pitch my work at a price that maximizes my profits within your permitted five-year period based on wealthy markets who can afford to pay, without everyone else just ripping me off. Also, every student in the world who might have enjoyed the work at a discount because I was a student once myself now

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Sure, just as soon as you arrange consistent taxation rules across the entire world so it costs me the same to sell each copy wherever my customer is.

          Don't forget you also need to provide a guaranteed, cost-free, universal sales channel throughout the world so that I can sell my work to anyone on the planet from day one and keep it available for the full five years to avoid inadvertently giving up my copyright.

          You simply make the work available online, either for download or charge transparently for shipping to wherever it may be going. All you need is a website and a payment processor.

          You operate from a central location so you only need to worry about your local taxation rules, taxation rules in other locations are down to the buyer.

          Oh, and you have to enforce copyright reliably so that I can pitch my work at a price that maximizes my profits within your permitted five-year period based on wealthy markets who can afford to pay, without everyone else just ripping me off.

          Pure greed.. Why should supposedly wealthy markets be forced to pay more for the exact same product? And talk about sense of entitlement "maximizes my profits" ? what right do you ha

          • Well, it's clear that you don't know much about either basic economics or the reality of running a business that sells electronic goods. There is probably little point trying to debate the points with you in that case, but I'll repond to a couple of them all the same. Go start a couple of businesses that actually do this, see what really costs what and how you can make the business viable, and then maybe we can talk more seriously.

            I will say that on "fleecing the rich", rather like progressive taxation, the

  • by cffrost (885375) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:45PM (#39607923) Homepage

    What would you do, if copyright were so strongly time-limited?

    Celebrate.

  • by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @01:54PM (#39607961)

    What would you do, if copyright were so strongly time-limited?

    I'd do a big party and enjoy free music! Does the above implies that we should care about {RI,MP}AA? Hell, we don't and they should die. For once, USA should follow the Chinese example.

  • Say what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArcadeNut (85398) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:11PM (#39608097) Homepage

    China has Copyright laws?

    • by ignavus (213578)

      China has Copyright laws?

      Sure. For everything you write, the government has the right to get a copy.

      • by pipedwho (1174327)

        You're thinking about the USA. In fact, you don't even have to write it, just say it into a mobile phone, email it, or just text it.

  • Freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @02:52PM (#39608347)

    I never expected, in my lifetime, to wish I had some of the freedoms enjoyed by Chinese citizens.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      You can't pick and choose - if you want this freedom, you have to accept the restrictions that go along with it.

      Hope that helps relieve some of your envy. I think this does not make up for the numerous other disadvantages.

      • Agreed. However, this copyright issue can be decoupled from the other freedom issues. That is, I see no reason America couldn't drastically reduce copyright, while still retaining our other freedoms.

        I believe this is a terrible indictment against our Congress.

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        You can't pick and choose - if you want this freedom, you have to accept the restrictions that go along with it.

        Hope that helps relieve some of your envy. I think this does not make up for the numerous other disadvantages.

        I don't think that's a fair comparison. For example, I enjoy the right not to be mugged by random strangers, but then I agree not to beat up anyone myself. Copying knowledge and information is a different topic, and I'm happy to let everyone copy the works I release. (I'm not a full-time professional musician, but I occasionally get paid for gigs, which IMHO is fair compensation for work, as opposed to sitting on my ass after writing a song.)

        However, it is interesting to consider the free speech card tha

  • Part of the problem of the copyright laws, specially if last very long, is that you can't do anything even barely similar for very long, at least without paying potentially high fees if enabled at all. Low term copyright laws if well not ensures, at least opens the door for innovation and evolution of works. How can be improved something that someone else did? How far you could reach?
  • The only reason there are negative comments in this thread is because China proposed this, so it must be a nefarious ploy by the Evil Red Menace to destroy America. If this were proposed by the American government all of you would be fainting from excitement.
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      No, it's because 3 months is ridiculous. In many cases it's taken more than that to produce the song in the first place. 3 years? That's far more sensible. 'Course, it could be that old principle of asking for something insane so that any compromise is an improvement.

  • by Qybix (103935) <qybix@shaw.ca> on Saturday April 07, 2012 @06:51PM (#39609577) Homepage

    I so wish 3 months was the standard for all IP. Imagine all the good it would do!

    If obscure companies had no way of showing up years later and demanding payment for ideas they helped write the initial specs for but never put any effort into.
    http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/12/04/01/2011245/australian-wifi-inventors-win-us-legal-battle [slashdot.org]

    If you could sing "Happy Birthday" on tv without getting sued.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You [wikipedia.org]

    If movie compression algorithms could be implemented on hardware based on what works best, not who's gouging the least or who's pet project it is.

    The definition of IP is to intentionally HURT the end users of your own products as well as your competitors by maintaining a monopoly, retaining ownership even when sold, and requiring licensing long after the usefulness of such is insane.

    I think it's high time to get rid of IP permanently.

    Qybix

    • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:11AM (#39611159)

      Most of your points are reasonably valid. The one about CSIRO is pretty much crap, though.

      CSIRO is not an "obscure company"; it's Australia's premier government-funded research agency. While Australia is a lot smaller than the US, the quality of work done by CSIRO is definitely up there with America's premier Federal research institutions. Of course CSIRO didn't do much of the commercialisation of Wi-Fi tech - but that's because they're an R&D institution, not a company who sells product to end-users. Would you expect DARPA to start selling DARPA-branded internet routers to the general public just because DARPA was involved in the initial development of the internet? The tech that they developed, which the Wi-Fi standards bodies *chose to incorporate in the standard*, actually derived from Australian radio-astronomy research. And CSIRO didn't sit around waiting for the tech to become popular and then show up with a submarine patent at the last minute - they've actually been involved in negotiations and court cases over this very thing for a decade now.

      Just because something useful and innovative comes out of Australian research rather than Silicon Valley doesn't mean that US companies have a god-given right to take all the profit for themselves. I'm sure that when the American government funds research, you wouldn't expect UK or Chinese companies to have the right to exploit that research in their own products for free....

  • This appears to be a compulsory, non-discriminatory, universal licensing scheme. It doesn't destroy or limit copyright, as the copyright holders will (presumably) get paid for each usage. Compulsory licensing seems like a good idea, except that with 1.3 billion people, that's going to be a challenge to administer.
  • You do have to register and purchase the copy. It does facilitate shifting the material to different mediums and media and making copies on the spot. So theoretically one can have kiosks that one can go to purchase music on the spot and those kiosks don't need to be specifically licensed. It also opens up online stores/cloud storage purchases rather than limiting them to physical media.

    I remember years back; China was trying to make it's own media formats. Arguably I would say limiting physical purchases wo

  • What would you do, if copyright were so strongly time-limited?

    start cheering.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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