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Uncle Sam Finally Wants To Hear From Us On Digital Copyright Law? 183

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Can it be true? The US government claims it really wants to hear from us on the subject of how copyright law needs to be modified to accommodate the developing technology of the digital age? I don't know, but the US Patent & Trademark Office (which btw has nothing to do with administering copyright) says 'we really want to hear from you' and the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force wrote a 122-page paper (PDF) on the subject, so they must really mean it, right? But I couldn't find the address to which to send my comments, so maybe that was an oversight on their part."
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Uncle Sam Finally Wants To Hear From Us On Digital Copyright Law?

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  • Don't do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @05:15AM (#44615877)
    It's a trap!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @05:26AM (#44615903)

    Just like in the recent Obama said in his speech about NSA operations, the government is really concerned about public opinion and very much wants to know the best way to make you comfortable getting screwed. After all, people being uncomfortable with getting screwed is the biggest impediment in a democracy for advancing to the next level of screwing them over. So your feedback is important to them.

  • Suggestion List (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:06AM (#44616035) Homepage Journal

    Yes we recognize artists have the right to be paid for their work, but....

    1) Please reduce the absurd duration of copyright. We can argue about exactly how long, but anything above 30 years is definitely absurd. Also copyright would be better if anything above 20 years required a substantial payment.

    2) Copyright should be non-transferable and belong to the artist producing the work.

    3) Please ensure that all private copying from media to media for personal use only is regarded as Fair Use.

    4) Commercial Piracy should attract large fines, however small personal acts of piracy should be penalized in the region of a few thousand dollars TOTAL, not several tens of thousands for each work. As an example, Jammie Thomas was definitely guilty, but a maximum fine of about $5,000 would be seen as far more reasonable especially as she made no significant financial gain from the act.

    Anything else?

  • We need to start hacking the political system. Politicians already do it with their spin doctors, but we can do the same to fight back.

    It's about controlling the narrative. We need to find ways of making it almost impossible to argue against our point of view. Making a convincing case is not enough, we need to make it impossible for anyone else to oppose it.

    Think about the way terrorism and children are exploited to this end. No-one can be against safety from evil terrorists. You are either with us or against us, nonsense like that. No-one can be against child safety either, or for greater sexualization of children, or on the side of child molesters.

    We need something along those lines, and we need to make it the narrative, the frame for every debate.

  • Re:Suggestion List (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yaotzin ( 827566 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:27AM (#44616091)

    I agree on all points and this is really all that is necessary to fix copyright. The original intent was to protect the creators of artistic works and at the same time give them incentive to keep creating. It was never this monstrosity that we call copyright today. Instead, the ridiculous time periods granted is hardly an incentive to continue creating but rather to create one or two smash-hits and then retire. I won't even go into the corporate mess that has arisen.

    A comparison I've been thinking about is comparing with pharmaceutical patents. The pharmaceutical industry is super-high risk as the average pharmaceutical costs around $1b to bring to the market and yet 9/10 candidate drugs fails to get there. Even getting a drug out on the market is no guarantee for success. The patent right is only twenty years because pharmaceuticals are seen as essential to the general well-being of society, but it works. So why the hell should an artist (and then a corporation after the death of the artist) should have 70 years to collect profit when the risk is nowhere near as high? Not to mention that the artist is unlikely to be alive for that entire period of time, or as in the States be dead for 70 years.

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:43AM (#44616135) Journal
    This is about copyright, i.e. ownership of a work, not the licensing models. The main issues seem to be the duration of that ownership (which is pretty much defined as being as long as necessary for keeping Mickey Mouse out of the public domain), and the penalties for violating copyright law. Changing copyright law would affect those Open licenses as well: if we reduce the duration of intellectual ownership to a term of 20 years, then works released under BSD, GPL, CC etc would revert to the public domain after 20 years as well (free them up for commercial use and removing the requirement of attribution, for instance)
  • The best way? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wertigon ( 1204486 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:48AM (#44616155)

    1. Stop trying to control the non-commercial filesharing. The damages to creators are, at worst, about as big as trespassing on private property that isn't near a house or is actively exploited - like say, a forest. The positive effects, meanwhile, are huge and not to be neglected. Instead focus on the commercial filesharing efforts and the people making money on protected works without sharing those profits.

    2. Lots of works can no longer be used because their right holders cannot be found (orphan works). In order to solve this problem, copyrighted works should be registered or face a very short copyright term on e.g. five years after publication. An extension of this idea is that economic copyright should only be allowed as long as the copyrighted works do have a substantial value, therefore we have a yearly fee of 2^x where x is the number of years a copyrighted work has been published. This ensures orphaned works become public domain, but it also ensures that copyrighted works that no longer have any commercial value also falls into public domain.

    3. Copyright terms either need to be severely reduced, or there needs to be an exception clause for archivists, museums, libraries and the like to let them complete and create as complete collections of works as possible, lest our entire culture from the fifties and onward disappear.

    Just a couple of ideas to get started...

  • Absolutely! I trust the government to put my best interests first. They genuinely want to hear from people on this issue.

    In completely unrelated, totally not relevant news, the NSA just found out about the hundred flowers campaign [], which I support. I mean, hundreds of flowers? That can't be bad in ANY way.

    The government believes, and I quote, that "The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:58AM (#44616177)

    You'd think the millions we blow on this crap while not even providing proper universal healthcare would be enough, we fight boogymen while people die right now due to lack of medical treatment.

  • by ibwolf ( 126465 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @07:39AM (#44616331)

    if we reduce the duration of intellectual ownership to a term of 20 years, then works released under BSD, GPL, CC etc would revert to the public domain after 20 years as well (free them up for commercial use and removing the requirement of attribution, for instance)

    And this would be bad how exactly?

    If some company wants to take 20 year old FOSS code and build something on top of it that they can sell, more power to them. Note that they wont be able to incorporate ANY updates made to that code base in the last 20 years, so it is not as if any software project that began more than 20 years will become public domain, just he oldest versions.

    After all, the 20 year old code will still be public domain, so others can use the same codebase to build a (possibly free) alternative. And if there really is a market for something built on top of the old code, someone was dropping the ball during the 20 year copyright period.

  • Re:Suggestion List (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:11AM (#44617097) Homepage

    I agree. My only compromise would be that companies would be against decades' worth of content suddenly reverting to public domain (and we would be against allowing items from the 1970's remain copyrighted for nearly 100 years while items produced today went public domain in 30 years). Therefore, there should be a phase in period to allow companies to adjust. Let's start at the earliest decade affected (the 1930's if memory serves) and move forward freeing up a decade's worth of material every 5 years. In 45 years we would have caught up to present day which should be plenty of time for companies to adjust. About the oldest popularly licensed work I can think of is Star Wars - toys, etc produced - and that would remain copyrighted for 25 years. If you can't adjust to a new copyright schema in 25 years, you deserve to go out of business.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"