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German Publishers Want Monopoly On Sentences 158

Glyn Moody writes "You think copyright can't get any more draconian? Think again. In Germany, newspaper publishers are lobbying for 'a new exclusive right conferring the power to monopolize speech e.g. by assigning a right to re-use a particular wording in the headline of a news article anywhere else without the permission of the rights holder. According to the drafts circulating on the Internet, permission shall be obtainable exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law. Depending on the particulars, new levies might come up for each and every user of a PC, at least if the computer is used in a company for commercial purposes.' Think that will never work because someone will always break the news cartel? Don't worry, they've got that covered too. They want to 'amend cartel law in order to enable a global "pooling" of all exclusive rights of all newspaper publishers in Germany in order to block any attempt to defect from the paywall cartel by a single competitor.' And rest assured, if anything like this passes in Germany, publishers everywhere will be using the copyright ratchet to obtain 'parity.'"
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German Publishers Want Monopoly On Sentences

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  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:17AM (#32624620) Homepage

    I really, really hope they do this.

    Of course the consequences will be awful but at least the anti-software patent people will have a perfect analogy for their arguments and one that the public (and politicians) can understand.

  • by walmass ( 67905 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:21AM (#32624642)
    I wonder what the definition of "newspaper" will be for the purpose of this law--will it be dead-tree only? Otherwise someone should generate all possible combination of words resulting in (perhaps nonsense) sentences of lets say 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 words, and then of course protect them with this law.

    Once the list is generated, the now idle servers can be stuffed up the ass of the greedy bastards who want this law.
  • Re:Sentences? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2010 @10:00AM (#32624820)

    There is indeed such a class in Dutch journalism schools. It was optional when I went there though.

  • Word Permutations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alphahydroxy ( 1837246 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @10:30AM (#32625004)
    These publishers need to learn a little about combinometrics. The Associated Press said they wanted to be able to copyright phrases as short as five words. Consider a 500 words story which would have 495 five word phrases which could then match up to anything that was ever written -- or just try googling for the exact string. I just googled the string containing the 2nd-6th words of this comment, "said they wanted to be", and got 3.2 million hits. If AP had gotten their way with the copyrights bit, AP would have had to have determined who had the rights to this phrase and negotiate use with the owner. Then AP would have to search for the owner of the string containing the 3rd to 7th words, "they wanted to be able" which had 7.8 million hits. And so on. Further this would have to be repeated for six, seven, ... word strings. Someone must have pointed out to AP how they would be not just hoisted, by destroyed by their own petard. This inane copyright that the German publishers are proposing would end up preventing them from writing headlines.
  • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @11:00AM (#32625174)

    ...ultimately comes from the barrel of a gun) to steal from society

    few people realize that was [Ayn Rand's] principle point

    This view seems at least as old as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Qu'est-ce que la propriété?, 1840 (quite a different school of thought than Objectivism for sure).

    With respect to Ayn Rand's contributions to be revisited for the present debate, one might rather point at the bureaucrats' stance in Atlas Shrugged:
    Not wanting their laws observed but broken to cash in on guilt as it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

    One thing's for sure if you could get the followers of both authors to agree:
    The proposed bill would be, to rehash Lawrence Lessig's take on the dreaded DMCA, "bad law and bad policy."

  • Re:Word Permutations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @11:18AM (#32625280) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps news stories will then have to appear with NO headlines. People will be forced to delve into each story to figure out what it is about. I see an underground internet movement springing up that provides access to mapping stories up with "illegal" headlines, hosted on servers located on boats with satellite connections and guarded by some guys with wooden legs. Bumper stickers will start appearing. "Free the Headlines!" Most people, however, will avoid illegal headline servers and continue to wander aimlessly through their newspapers trying to figure out what they might like to read. Eventually they will get tired of this and stop reading newspapers altogether.

  • Re:Sentences? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @11:19AM (#32625292)

    Indeed, headlines are purported to be facts, and they certainly look like facts (man drowns in river, oil spill to break record, etc). Under pretty much all copyright law in the world facts are not copyrightable. The very idea of it is insane. It's the composition that's copyrightable, not the content. You can't copy someone's article word for word, but you can use that article as a source and say the exact same facts.

    I can't believe newspapers of all people are dumb enough not to see what this could do to them. It's not going to make any kind of effecitve "headline exchange", people will just use different headlines. They'll start adding things like "New York Times says 'Headless Man Runs Nude Through Central Park'" instead of "Headless Man Runs Nude Through Central Park". That would pass muster, because it is a quote: The NYT did indeed say that (if they said it of course).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2010 @03:34PM (#32627118)

    Scientific publishers want to be able to license works at the paragraph level - ostensibly to allow them to create mashups from current works. But once they can do this how small a chunk will become fair use?

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.