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Judge Posner Muses on Excessively Strong Patent and Copyright Laws 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the which-one-of-you-hit-him-with-the-cluebat? dept.
Ars Technica reports on Judge Posner's weblog, and in particular a recent post on the excessive strength of U.S. copyright and patent law: "The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent. Nowadays most software innovation is incremental, created by teams of software engineers at modest cost, and also ephemeral—most software inventions are quickly superseded. ... The most serious problem with copyright law is the length of copyright protection, which for most works is now from the creation of the work to 70 years after the author’s death. Apart from the fact that the present value of income received so far in the future is negligible, obtaining copyright licenses on very old works is difficult because not only is the author in all likelihood dead, but his heirs or other owners of the copyright may be difficult or even impossible to identify or find. The copyright term should be shorter." Reader jedirock pointed to a related article on how the patent situation got so out of hand in the first place.
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Judge Posner Muses on Excessively Strong Patent and Copyright Laws

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  • About time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChristW (18232) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:10AM (#41523899) Homepage

    Finally, a judge with any common sense?

    • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:22AM (#41523977)

      Of course this isn't news to us. The news is that someone in the legal community got the memo.

      And not just anyone. RIchard Posner is the most-cited appellate judge in the USA. He's incredibly influential, and most of all on topics relating to law and the economy. To give you an idea, he has almost single-handedly convinced the antitrust bar that there is no such thing as monopoly power, statutes to the contrary, and is spearheading a movement within the legal community to "revise" antitrust law to something closer to what the railroad barons would have recognized.

      So, yeah, we can feel smug. But we should also be very glad that this particular pebble is starting to move.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#41524097)

        I do agree that copyright terms are ludicrous at the moment, and really only a cash grap by the likes of Disney, but the power to create and spread that creation is rapidly moving away from large companies and into the hands of individuals. A decent DSLR can create very acceptable HD movies with good lighting, sound gear is dirt cheap, home studios are springing up everywhere, graphic design programs are becoming simpler to use and master with every passing decade, it all adds up. I can see things reaching a stage where nobody really cares about copyright lengths because they'll be too busy making their own stuff.

        Doesn't mean they should be changed of course, the big fish will still try to trip people up, but we're moving from "consumers" to "competition". The only question is how long they'll take to realise it and try to patent "sci-fi".

        • *shouldn't

        • I do agree that copyright terms are ludicrous at the moment, and really only a cash grap by the likes of Disney, but the power to create and spread that creation is rapidly moving away from large companies and into the hands of individuals.

          Just as the power to create software moved from large companies into the hands of individuals.

          • Just as the power to create software moved from large companies into the hands of individuals.

            This is true of functional applications for PCs. It isn't yet true of video games in certain genres, as platforms that encourage the use of gamepads with physical buttons have fairly strict criteria for who may buy the developer tools. (Bob's Game anyone?) This will change, but only if Ouya is released.

            • I don't own one, but isn't XNA an access for small developers to one such platform?

            • by dubbreak (623656)

              This will change, but only if Ouya is released.

              It's already changing. I can target Wii, PS3 and 360 with Unity. With the new release one will be able to target WiiU. Not only that, but Nintendo is licensing Unity so they can distribute it to developers (presumably as a defacto SDK for WiiU). It looks as though Nintendo has seen the light (plenty of indie developers out there creating great games that should be on the WiiU, if they want the WiiU to be relevant).

              The Ouya looks cool (almost kickstarted it, but dragged my feet for various reasons and time

              • by tepples (727027)

                I can target Wii, PS3 and 360 with Unity.

                Provided that you're a large enough organization to qualify for the devkit. Otherwise, the only console you can dream of targeting is the 360's Xbox Live Indie Games environment.

                • by dubbreak (623656)

                  I can target Wii, PS3 and 360 with Unity.

                  Provided that you're a large enough organization to qualify for the devkit. Otherwise, the only console you can dream of targeting is the 360's Xbox Live Indie Games environment.

                  Like 2D Boy [2dboy.com] a team of 2 guys?

                  Make something compelling and company size doesn't matter. The previous history of consoles there was nearly 0 interest in having indie titles, now indie gaming is really coming into its own and the big console companies are coming around to that.

                  I think Ouya would have been more successful in the era of PS2, Gamecube and XBox. Of course producing a console on the cheap didn't really become possible until the proliferation of SoC.

                  • by tepples (727027)
                    On what basis, exactly, did Nintendo decide to accept 2D Boy yet decline Robert Pelloni?
              • Most gamers (especially the geeky ones kickstarting the Ouya) have other platforms I can target (definitely mobile, but most likely console(s)).

                One problem with mobile is that few smartphone and tablet owners have an iControlPad or other Bluetooth gamepad. Some game genres don't work well with a completely flat touch screen; they need some sort of texture to let the player find the buttons.

        • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:00AM (#41525071)

          I don't follow the logic. New technology making it easier to create content isn't really related to patent and copyright law directly unless studios start copyrighting movie 'themes'. Content creation isn't the issue (yet). Content creation technology, however, is. Right now it's still owned by huge companies. I found the main premise of the article kind of 'duh' moment, while the last link about how it got there in the first place to be excellent reading.

          We've all seen opinions about how Patent and Copyright Law has gotten out of control and this one isn't much different. The last link, however, was a very nice breakdown as to the 'breakdown' in the process.

          GOOD stuff...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            I don't follow the logic. New technology making it easier to create content isn't really related to patent and copyright law directly

            technology, science and art have things in common, including the "shoulders of giants". Everything new comes from the old. Had today's copyrights existes when Disney made Pinnochio, they would have had to buy the rights from Grimm's heirs.

            The guy who wrote "catcher in the rye" successfully sued another author for writing a sequel. You have a great idea for making TV shows and

            • by DJRumpy (1345787)

              You misunderstand. I definitely agree that patents and copyright are out of control, but the parent seems to make a point that because someone can pick up a smartphone and make a movie, that the problem will somehow lessen and go away. I disagree. It will take the force of law to fix this. Someone making a movie with a phone may be easy, but it's also unlikely to threaten the status quo or major studio profits.

            • by marsu_k (701360)

              You have a great idea for making TV shows and movies about Asimov's Foundation series? Sorry, you can't, his widow won't let you.

              While I agree on principle, sometimes it's a good thing [mtv.com].

              • by dubbreak (623656) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:36PM (#41527247)

                You have a great idea for making TV shows and movies about Asimov's Foundation series? Sorry, you can't, his widow won't let you.

                While I agree on principle, sometimes it's a good thing [mtv.com].

                First, I whole heartedly agree is a horrible candidate to do the Foundation series justice. But the only reason Emmerich can do Foundation and some indie group can't is because of copyright. The people with big bucks can do pretty much whatever they want whereas indies can't afford to even think about getting rights to do so. I'm sure there are studios sitting on books/stories they've purchase just so other studios can't do them (with no plans to ever produce movies out of them).

                That's the reality we live in right now with our mega corps. Not sure what to do with that singer you have in your rosters, but afraid she'll become a superstar elsewhere? Just make sure to have her tied down with a contract and run her in circles. Don't have time, interest or appropriate talent to produce a film? Buy the rights so someone else can't make it into the next blockbuster that over shadows your next formulaic super-action-rom-com-3D.

                Copyright wasn't created to be used that way, just as patents weren't made to prevent innovation, but that's how they are being used by our "do anything to make bigger profits" corporations.

              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                You can make a crap movie out of thin air as easily as you can make a crap movie from an existing story. And you can make a crap movie from an existing story with the rightsholders' permission, ever see the awful SyFy channel's adaptation of "Nightfall"? Boring as hell, while the short story was as interesting as the movie was boring.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Stormwatch (703920)

              Had today's copyrights existes when Disney made Pinnochio, they would have had to buy the rights from Grimm's heirs.

              No, because Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi, not the Grimms (whose works were compilations of folk tales).

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by cpt kangarooski (3773)

              Had today's copyrights existes when Disney made Pinnochio, they would have had to buy the rights from Grimm's heirs.

              Minor nit: Pinnochio was written by Carlo Collodi; it's not one of the Grimms' (and given that the Grimms merely collected stories, rather than writing their own, I'm not sure how successful they'd've been in getting a copyright. Plus there likely would've been nationality issues.

              • by sjames (1099)

                There probably wouldn't BE a Grimms Fairy Tales at all. They'd have been forced to burn the draft if they ever hoped to afford food again.

            • Had today's copyrights existes when Disney made [Pinocchio], they would have had to buy the rights from [Collodi's] heirs.

              That's exactly what Disney did when making Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks: bought the rights from PL Travers and Mary Norton. But by then, Disney had the clout to afford such a license.

              You have a great idea for making TV shows and movies about Asimov's Foundation series? Sorry, you can't, his widow won't let you.

              Then write a story about a widow.

        • Nonliteral copying (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:05AM (#41525125) Homepage Journal

          I can see things reaching a stage where nobody really cares about copyright lengths because they'll be too busy making their own stuff.

          Not if the likes of Disney manage to convince a judge that people making their own movies with DSLR have infringed copyright in the nonliteral elements of works owned by the likes of Disney, or if people making their own movies with DSLR simply lack the millions of dollars to litigate a competent legal defense.

          The only question is how long they'll take to realise it and try to patent "sci-fi".

          And that's where nonliteral copying comes into play: attempts to use copyright to claim exclusive rights in the use of a specific set of tropes together, or to use copyright or trademark to claim exclusive rights in adaptations of a given pre-1923 story to film that one of the major studios has already adapted.

      • by doom (14564)

        And not just anyone. RIchard Posner is the most-cited appellate judge in the USA.

        He's also a really problematic "public intellectual" who, for example, was strongly in favor of the Iraq war, and has launched a number of what look like politically motivated attacks, often rather empty ones with just enough complex detail to confuse the unwary.

        He's incredibly influential, and most of all on topics relating to law and the economy. To give you an idea, he has almost single-handedly convinced the antitrust bar

    • Re:About time... (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:24AM (#41524003) Journal

      I'd say that the jury is still out on Posner:

      A couple of his equally straightforward comments(this one from the bench), during a case appealing an Illinois wiretapping law [arstechnica.com]: "But I'm not interested, really, in what you want to do with these recordings of peoples' encounters with the police." and "Once all this stuff can be recorded, there's going to be a lot more of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers,"

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Don't worry, he won't be allowed anywhere he can damage the copyright/patent lobby. He filled in for a missing judge in one of intermediate appeal rungs, but 1. he's there no more, and 2. non-final appeals don't matter if both sides care enough.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Don't worry, he won't be allowed anywhere he can damage the copyright/patent lobby. He filled in for a missing judge in one of intermediate appeal rungs, but 1. he's there no more, and 2. non-final appeals don't matter if both sides care enough.

        His rulings in the Apple/Motorola trial did more harm than good, guaranteeing about 2 years of appeals that will earn the law firms on both sides many millions of dollars with the highly likely result being a complete reset of the trial. In some of his rulings on the case, he actually, literally (not making this up) said that previous rulings by the circuit court were stupid so he ignored them and made up his own rationale. The court that will hear the appeal; he called them stupid.

        • And stopping to RTFM (from arstechnica):

          The copyright scholar (and sometime Ars contributor) James Grimmelmann called one of Posner's recent opinions in a copyright case "astonishingly slipshod, even by Judge Posnerâ(TM)s relaxed standards."

    • Unfortunately, a judge has absolutely no power to change the system.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Finally, a judge with any common sense?

      Not really. If he thinks the most serious problem with copyright law is the length of copyright protection then he's way off the mark. The most serious problem with copyright protection is that it's being used to subvert democracy and basic human rights.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Actually I'd say his remarks on big pharma show his common sense? Really not that great. Do you know who pays for the research for most new drugs? YOU DO, as the majority are being found by universities who then sell the patents to big pharma. The biggest cost to big pharma? ADVERTISING, we are talking 8 to 1 last figures i saw.

      So no having crazy patents laws isn't required for ANY industry, it just lets a handful rake in insane profits (such as the often noted 8000% profit drugs that are causing our medi

      • Though it's sometimes true that drug patents come from universities (though certainly not the only source of drug patents), you have to be completely clueless about clinical trials to say that marketing costs are the only considerable expense. Let's say you get a 100 drug patents from university, you will refine purification and production methods for at least a few months and you might select 10 based on multiple criteria including in vitro toxicity for clinical studies. From those 10 drugs, maybe 2 or 3
        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          And I have NO problem with that, in fact I'd say that they deserve to make every cent of that back and then some. but drugs that end up with 8000% profits? Give me a fucking break. I have a relative on a drug that is costing medicare $117,000 a year, if he went across EITHER border the cost? $12,700. And you KNOW they ain't selling that shit at a loss in those countries, they are literally making 10 times more profits here than there, its bullshit and why our medical system is so fucked. Know how much it co
          • I agree with you about prices, as I said, not defending them at all, just saying it's not just marketing costs. Oh and I'm Canadian, so, those prices you cite for drugs seem as alien to me as little green men. It's just completely ridiculous.
    • Finally, a judge with any common sense?

      He's out in no time. Common sense can't last.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Judges are actually quite often people with "common sense" because that's essentially half of their job. They must combine legislation and reality to produce verdicts.

      Problem lies in legislative branch which has been empowered by our political system inherited from French revolution and corrupted over the course of last hundred years or so. Essentially the problem is that it hasn't withstood the test of time all that well, as various corrupting influences discovered more and more holes through which they co

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:17AM (#41523947)
    Just as must of the nobility live of the income of lands that were granted to them in distant times, corporations like Disney want a perpetual and eternal income Mickey Mouse and other ideas that would have previously gone into the public domain. You can see that 70 years after death has been extended to 120 years after creation [wikipedia.org], and looking at the trends [wikipedia.org] it is clear that the aim is to keep this moving so nothing enters the public domain again. Should something written by your great great grandfather still give you income?
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:26AM (#41524023) Journal

      Should something written by your great great grandfather still give you income?

      Obviously not. However, the stuff my great great grandfather wrote under contract for Viacom should definitely still give them income. Anything less would be an attack on America, Job Creators, and our God-given property rights!

      • Tun, tun, ta! Hello Viacom, I am Robin Hood, and I am here to steal fuzzyfuzzyfungus' grandfather's copyrighted works from you to give them back to the People!

        Disney: Someone catch him! He escaped from one of our patented vaults!

    • by cyn1c77 (928549)

      Should something written by your great great grandfather still give you income?

      Yes, but only if it was written by my great grandfather. If it was written by anyone else's relative then I should be able to download it for free over the internet.

    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:43AM (#41524861)
      I have long ago given up the hope that any sanity could be restored to copyright in the USA. The Capitol Records vs. Naxos case was unbelievably far reaching, with the court that heard the case ruling basically that every recording ever made in the USA, yes even back to Thomas Edison, was still under copyright. They essentially made up the law in their ruling, but as Naxos was clearly in the wrong (they knowingly violated a valid copyright on an old recording from the 1930s) Naxos didn't want to appeal and spend more money on a case they couldn't win, even though an appeal might have knocked down some of the more insane parts of the original court ruling.

      What really gets me is that in this current age of declining government budgets that nobody sees the biggest flaw of the Bono Copyright law - namely that it allows automatic renewal of copyrights for free . I'm not in favor of perpetual copyrights, but as others have argued, at least make the people that want them have to pay for them. If they are so valuable then charge for them. I cannot believe the US government is willingly passing by possible copyright fees by allowing automatic free renewals. At least if renewals cost money, some people would refuse to pay it and some things would fall back into the public domain and those who really consider renewals to be valuable would at least have to pay for it. A sliding scale where the renewal costs began to get more costly over time could also finally cause things to go back into the public domain.
      • by tepples (727027)

        I cannot believe the US government is willingly passing by possible copyright fees by allowing automatic free renewals.

        I think the problem is the Berne Convention, which appears to prohibit countries from requiring a formality to maintain a copyright.

        • The Berne convention is a problem, but the answer is that the US should withdraw from it; it's garbage, and given that our publishing industries did fine before we signed on in 1989, we clearly don't need it and don't derive any benefit from it.

          • by tepples (727027)

            The Berne convention is a problem, but the answer is that the US should withdraw from it

            To withdraw from Berne, a country must first withdraw from the World Trade Organization, and I don't think other U.S. industries are going to take a liking to that option.

            • The executive branch and industry and compliant members of congress pushed for Berne and other recent copyright treaties so as to generally remove Congress from the loop on copyright matters and to prevent meaningful debate and opportunities to modify proposed legislation. But it's mainly a matter of throwing our weight around. If we wanted to get out of Berne, TRIPS, et al whilst otherwise keeping the WTO, we could, fairly easily.

              The issue is the lack of will to do so by the people who could do it (in fact

            • by sjames (1099)

              I'll bet a way to avoid that would be found if the U.S. threatened to withdraw from WTO if necessary.

  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zblack_eagle (971870) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:20AM (#41523965)

    ...your bought representatives don't give a shit

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      You mod him troll but he is right. The legislature writes laws and they are bought and paid foe. The judjiciary enforces those laws and is often appointe by paid legislators. Barring umcostitutionality, he can say what he likes but the law still stands
    • ...your bought representatives don't give a shit

      This is a direct result of 95% of their constituency not giving a shit. Most people don't care about this topic. Really.

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        Yea I know. I hope the SOPA protests have improved this a bit.

        • Doubtful. People thought that was going to destroy the internet. Most of the people who opposed it didn't even know why. This caused me to be very cynical, more than I already am.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:28AM (#41524047) Homepage
    Posner is one of the people who has gotten us into this situation. He wrote the opinion In re Aimster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_re_Aimster_Copyright_Litigation [wikipedia.org] which provided a precedent for a fair bit of modern copyright issues on the internet. He's also advocated in the past that linking to copyright violating material should be considered a violation http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2009/06/the-future-of-newspapers--posner.html [becker-posner-blog.com]. Yes, he's right that the problems he identifies in TFA are there, but this is someone who has contributed to associated problems. It almost seems like Posner isn't quite able to say "I was wrong" but I guess we should take what we can get.
  • by andydread (758754) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#41524093)
    of software-patent abuse in the IT world with a goal of driving Linux, Android, and FOSS out of the marketplace. They are driving up the cost of writing software. Who would have thought 20 years ago that in the future when you write software that gains any traction in the marketplace (especially system software and operating system related) you would need an army of laywers because Microsoft and Apple will find a way to take ownership of your code though the use of software-patents. All your code are belong to us.
  • The copyright on this is far far from the clear cut case, the current copyright holders would have you believe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You

    See, the copyright was applied before far later than the words were written, and likely the people who *really* wrote the lyrics were dead by then. Since it's such a generic lyric. The person claiming copyright on the lyrics is simply a troll that wrote it down.

    However he can't be examined in court because he's dead, and whoever knew it existed befo

  • But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent.

    This is a bullshit strawman argument which - even if most people haven't has been listening - has been demonstrated over and over again.

  • So yet another story identifying the harm to the public and to the industry which software patents bring. We need more and more of this. It's the new global warming -- there will always be deniers but as time and opinions increase, the deniers are becoming more silent.

    "But [I/we/they] worked hard to create this [thing]. [I/We/They] deserve to collect money from everyone based on that."

  • It's easy to find people to re-design existing software to create alternatives.

    However, the problem is getting together the resources to invent new software.

    Without a copyright, this software will (a) soon be emulated and given away free on the FOSS level; and (b) quickly be cloned and taken out of the hands of its creators on the commercial level.

    This dis-incentivizes companies and creators to invent new software types.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SoulNibbler (2194576)
      That's not quite true, very often people with money are smart enough to not re-invent the wheel if they don't need to and would much rather pay you a consulting fee or a service contract to tailor the new software to the job they need done. That produces a positive incentive innovate as you now receive feedback as to the parts of your innovations that have marketable value. The trend of clean room reimplementations came about BECAUSE of overly strong copyright, if you can purchase the time of the creator f
  • by devent (1627873) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:16AM (#41524553) Homepage

    ... the author in all likelihood dead, but his heirs or other owners of the copyright may be difficult or even impossible to identify or find. The copyright term should be shorter."

    Oh please we all know why copyright terms are continuously increased. Because of companies like Disney do not want to lose one of their most profitable franchise (The Mickey Mouse Protection Act [wikipedia.org]). Also the MPAA, RIAA and the like do not want to compete with public domain work that are just 14 or 24 years old (which was the original copyright terms, and that in a time where the most advanced copy-machine was the printing press).

    I just wait until 2019, in which year we get the Protect Mickey Mouse to the End Of the Universe Act of 2018, in which the copyright terms are increased to the life time of the sun, which is per definition limited to just a few billion years and as such in bounds of the constitution*. Of course it will not end in the USA, because of some "free trade" treaty the copyright terms will be all "aligned" across the EU, Japan, Australia, Canada.

    Also just forget about your rights to privacy and due-process. Because Mickey Mouse is one of the most important national treasures, there is no freedom that can be sacrificed to ensure future profits. Personal computing is also overrated, to protect our artists we need to put everything in a walled garden with Trusted Computing [lafkon.net] Chips and open source operating systems will just be made impossible [wikipedia.org] to install. We already put teenagers in jail [theverge.com] for copyright infringement. Due-process [wikipedia.org] is already gone [wikipedia.org] for good, and who cares about privacy and guaranteed rights, like private copy and format shift? We just declare everyone a pirate [wikipedia.org], that's easier anyway.

    [*] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Clause [wikipedia.org]

    ... by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:18AM (#41524583) Homepage

    He also wrote a good piece back in July:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/why-there-are-too-many-patents-in-america/259725/ [theatlantic.com] ...where he repeats most of the arguments that people use to ask for abolishing software patents, but he stops short and instead muses on a few reforms (that probably wouldn't have much of an effect).

    Here's my views on his July piece:

    http://news.swpat.org/2012/07/posners-problem/ [swpat.org]

    And there're a few more links about his positions here:

    http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Richard_Posner_on_software_patents [swpat.org]

    Abolition seems like the logical conclusion of his musings. I can't see why he doesn't discuss it.

    • by neghvar1 (1705616)
      If patents and copyrights were abolished, there would be little motivation to create anything. No more music, movies, TV, books...need I go on? Same with new technologies. Progress would cease.
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:00PM (#41526733) Homepage

        This is demonstrably untrue.

        Prior to 1710 in England for copyrights, copyrights didn't exist anywhere. Yet plenty of works were created. And even today, most creative works are created due to motives other than seeking to profit from a copyright on those works.

        That said, I don't think copyright abolition is needed presently, just massive reform.

        Patents are somewhat better, but we'd be better off treating different domains of the useful arts differently. Software and business methods seem to not only not need the incentivizing effect of patents, but are actively being harmed by patents. For those fields, abolition would be appropriate for the time being. Maybe later things will change and we could revisit the issue. In other fields, patents still seem to have some use.

        • by neghvar1 (1705616)
          Things are very different now than they were pre-1710. Today, money and greed run the world. There are the few who care more about the message than the money.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I'm pretty sure money and greed ran the pre-1710 world as well. There were no good ole' days I'm afraid.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Same with new technologies.

        You mean like how nobody made software until 1990 when software became patentable?

  • Damn, coldn't read the original

  • 1. Source code is invention, not artistic work of art. Patents only.

    2. A simulation of an already-existing thing is not inherently patentable. This is not to say a particularly clever implementation may be patentable.

    3. The dancing bear is in the software. Attaching robot arms and legs to it adds no invention patentability. The patent is the software driving the car, not the sensors or wheels or GPS integration in conjunction with a processor and a single, magical line item that "software" magically doe

    • First, one must take exception to the idea that source code is not creative. As examples, look at any IOCCC entries -- I like the flight simulator in the shape of an airplane. Secondly, you may examine the DeCSS Gallery [cmu.edu] and judge whether any of that may be considered a creative expression.

      What you are perceiving as lack of creative expression, though, is the flaw in your arguments: software is not eligible for patent protection because it consists of mathematical operations.

      Software is Math
      To most students

  • FYI, US Copyright is notoriously weak.
    Most EU countries just have a strong Copyright law, which is how they handle Intellectual Property. Your schematic design is not patented, it is covered by Copyright.

  • The true purpose of copyright is to motivate the creators to continue creating in this sense. Creator creates song which is copyrighted and they profit from their creativity. Copyright expires. If Creator wants more income, use their creative mind to create more great works and copyright them. A creator’s great great grand children should not be profiting off their ancestor’s work. Because of how quickly technology changes, software copyrights should be greatly decreased. Windows XP’
    • by sjames (1099)

      Even 20 years might be excessive. XP will be 14 years old when it is EOL. It's already been declared obsolete. It would already be EOL if corporate pressure hadn't convinced MS to grant a reprieve. That's the actual creator of the work declaring it dead.

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:00PM (#41528429)

    Big Pharma pushes the myth that their investment is Big and is Important, so they really need patents. All the while, they are pulling in huge margins on drugs that are not provably better in many cases than placebos.

    You want to do the one thing today that would have the biggest impact on reducing Healthcare costs?

    End Patents on Drugs, Genes, Medical devices, and Medical procedures.

    All of them.

    You still have the FDA to approve quality and safety. Anyone wanting to produce the latest anti-depression drug, or blood pressure medication still must jump through those hoops in insure quality and safety. That is barrier enough for drug companies to recoup R&D costs and gain position in the market place.

    But wait! What about the profits?!? Think of the money that drug companies won't be able to make! Think of all the little competitors that will be able to leverage existing technology and undercut our costs! Think of all the little stinking improvements little companies could make to drugs and devices to displace the big companies on which we all depend!

    Exactly.

    • You want to do the one thing today that would have the biggest impact on reducing Healthcare costs?

      End Patents on Drugs, Genes, Medical devices, and Medical procedures.

      Not even close.

      The total US expenditure for pharmaceuticals is only 10% of the aggregate medical bill. Medical devices are far smaller piece of the pie. You might realize a one time 4% or 5% downward notching of the costs by radical legislature means, but that is all.

      In the long run, pharma research and medical device research brings downs costs; in context, the savings to be gained by gutting that system are small potatoes. The real problem is more fundamental: we need to get away from pay for service -

  • by Anonymous Coward

    20 years. Copyright should run for one generation after date of creation. After that, the next generation inherits the work and builds on it. You had 20 years of joy from the thing, whatever it was. If you were any good, you created another thing later on, and lived off that for another 20 years. Create 2 things and live off of them for all of your working life, done. But that's not what we have now. Your great great great gets to benefit from something that you did, even if you never met, and they c

  • by hhawk (26580) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @04:38PM (#41530473) Homepage Journal

    Only Greg Aharonian has a working solution to the patent "wars" and it doesn't rely on using divination to determine what and what can't be patented.

    Greg basically says a) anything invented can be patented (hardware, software, whatever) BUT (big BUT) it has to be done with proper science something he often feels that both the PTO and the US courts don't understand. Paraphrasing Mr. Aharonian, if after a solid review of patented and non patented prior art, something can be proven with logic and science to be a new invention it's worthy of a patent and if it isn't then no patent should be issued.

    It's taken me years and years of reading Greg's musing on patent's to really understand his prospective (I hope I really do...); Why worry about false issues about what type of technology is used; tech is tech, what matters is if you have done something truly novel.

    http://ns1.patenting-art.com/ [patenting-art.com]

    http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa071297.htm [about.com]
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.06/patents_pr.html [wired.com]

  • i.e. at least spared other continents from the worst (e.g. when certain courts and Commission were attempting similar "power grabs"), as shown in several articles at http://ijlit.oxfordjournals.org/reports/most-read [oxfordjournals.org] (cf. also various developing nations restricting patenting of "traditionally known" biotech).

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