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Electronic Frontier Foundation Businesses EU Government Media Music Piracy Television United States Entertainment

EFF Confronts World Copyright Committee (eff.org) 32

The EFF debated delegates on WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright this week, joking the whole week could be summarized as "proposals for a broadcasting treaty continue to edge forward, while rich countries remain at loggerheads with users and poorer countries about copyright exceptions for education and libraries."

An anonymous reader writes: The EFF continued to push for more rights for libraries, for example to preserve "orphaned" works and to lend works across national borders. But they also report that at an EFF-sponsored side-meeting, one independent recording artist made an interesting suggestion about Mycelia, an open and distributed "verified" database of music metadata that's blockchain-enabled. "Although it remains mostly a vision for now, the widespread adoption of Mycelia-enabled services could, in theory, provide better transparency to artists about how and where their works are being used, as well as enabling many new innovative uses of music, both free and paid." (One audience member even asked whether it could resurrect Napster's model of peer-to-peer music-sharing with a mechanism for artist micropayments.)
Meanwhile, the EFF characterized the music industry's stance as "Blaming online content platforms for the low returns that artists receive, and moves to target them with additional responsibilities or obligations." But they added, "As frustrating as the long-winded discussions at WIPO often are, our ability to participate in them is a key advantage that this multilateral forum has over the secretive, closed-door negotiations over copyright that take place in trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership."
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EFF Confronts World Copyright Committee

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  • Not Buying That (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2016 @09:44AM (#52115213)

    Definitely not going to be buying or even possessing any media which can potentially spy on me.

    CAPTCHA: anathema

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @10:08AM (#52115275) Homepage
    P. How about a reassessment of copyright law in line with patent laws. Works must demonstrate true worth and value to society prior to achieve copyright protection, which is actually copytheft protection, the ability to steal the work of others because it is a copy of a protected work. The US constitution puts it very well, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts", should any work fail that test, it should not have copyright protection and the taxpayers most certainly should not be expected to fund that protection. It is about time that test was used as it was reasonably and soundly intended to do.
    • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @10:31AM (#52115343) Journal

      Naive nonsense. And here is why.

      Suppose you write a program and nobody finds it useful. It doesn't pass your test so it doesn't have copyright. Now suppose I find two or more of these useless programs and group them together to work as a single unit and everybody finds it useful in promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts. You and the other people do not have a copyright and all the sudden, I do. You may even see how I applied the other programs and may have thought that others would have conceived that to which is why you didn't bother. But now I have a copyright on your work and you do not.

      But lets go further. Your house catches fire, I'm on the clean up crew that is meant to dispose of all the damaged items and prepare the area for the workers who come in and rebuild. In this mess, I find your diary or memoirs of your happy but boring life. I decipher it, put it in a novel called why flammable houses suck and use it to enrich myself while claiming to be promoting science in spreading the word about the necessity of inflammable building materials being used in building homes. It's your story, you wrote it, you do not have any copyright, you essentially threw it away, and now I have a copyright on it and am making money. Well, according to your "test" that is.

      That phrase is in the US constitution because the federal government was never intended to have unlimited powers. It is a justification for the power of copyright and patents resting within it. The laws should be crafted to that end and need to be changed when they do not. However, it should not be a specific requirement of copyright for the reasons I already laid out. Perhaps mandatory licensing and shorter terms of life (especially for short life span products like computer programs and such) would be appropriate. Definitely no Tax dollars should be spent on defending your copyrights outside of what is normally absorbed by a sitting judicial process.

      I do not disagree with your sentiment, just the parts of your purposed solution. If the work has value to me or you should be all that matters. Otherwise you could be in copyright violation when making copies of your own diary or memoirs under some conditions without any intentional actions of your own (I stand over your shoulder and read the diary as you write in it then publish it).

      • But lets go further. Your house catches fire, I'm on the clean up crew that is meant to dispose of all the damaged items and prepare the area for the workers who come in and rebuild. In this mess, I find your diary or memoirs of your happy but boring life. I decipher it, put it in a novel called why flammable houses suck and use it to enrich myself while claiming to be promoting science in spreading the word about the necessity of inflammable building materials being used in building homes. It's your story,

        • I set the scenario up a specific way for a reason. And we are talking about in the USA inherently due to the clause in the US constitution that is mentioned as reasoning. However, I'm not sure if that specific scenario would not apply in Britain to. You see, in the scenario outlined, the writings were specifically thrown away (because they were presumed to be destroyed by the fire but actually weren't). So does this supposed right (which you were vague on naming) extend to writings you discard and no longer

          • by james_gnz ( 663440 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @12:45PM (#52115991)

            The Wikipedia page on Donaldson v Beckett [wikipedia.org] suggests that this is a British common law right, which, by my understanding, means it would apply in the USA also, unless expressly overridden. "The United States and most Commonwealth countries are heirs to the common law legal tradition of English law" Law of the United States [wikipedia.org].

            With regard to the particular situation you've described, I see what you're saying, and I found the article The privacy in one's garbage [lawteacher.net], which may be relevant. From my reading, I think this would be covered under a right to privacy, as the writings were to be picked up for disposal from within the property. If the writings had been placed outside the property for collection, the situation might be different.

            In any case, if there is an issue with privacy here, I think it would be better dealt with by reforming privacy law. Using this as an argument against the original suggestion for reforming copyright law seems a bit convoluted. I think your other argument was better.

            • Perhaps you are correct. My understanding of the common law is to the extent that it existed before we became formally a country and the traditions of stare decisis where a decision creates precedence for lower courts. I'm not sure that a law or case that happened in 1980 Britain would have much impact in the US. However, the magna carta was specifically referenced in some of the eminent domain cases I remember being fought and losing so I know it does have weight.

              As for the trash being private, I'm not so

              • I'm not disagreeing with you. The example I was looking for was something along the lines of the Diary of Anne Frank. Perhaps it is a lot more cloudy that I initially thought. Especially since Anne Frank is dead and the copyright if applicable would be inherited by her legal heirs.

                That makes sense. I've found an article Do you lose the right to privacy when you die? [howstuffworks.com], which seems to conclude, more or less, yes. Apparently in the USA at least there is specific legislation covering medical records, death-sce

        • A right to privacy would only really let you have much of a chance to do something useful if you became aware of the book before it was published, and the law is likely not established yet on if it would be protected or of the same status as if you had left it yourself in a bin by the side of the road to be collected as garbage.

          The best solution would really be a short period of automatic copyright coverage for the originator(s) plus heirs no matter what, with anything more requiring an official registratio

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        How about a simpler solution something everyone can readily understand. A referendum to decide whether or not say 'pornography' should be protected by copyright laws at tax payer expense or not. Now everyone knows exactly what that result would be, would not even be a close challenge regardless of how much propaganda main stream media produced. Based upon that my claim is far more reasonable in a Democracy, I know the way the majority would vote, keep in mind you are not barring it's production, limiting f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Works must demonstrate true worth and value to society prior to achieve copyright protection,

      Then the question is who gets to define the value to society, and which value system should be used to asses such value. I heard the chanting of the thousands and the sky was illuminated by the fires from the souls of men, inscribed in paper.

      • Works must demonstrate true worth and value to society prior to achieve copyright protection,

        Then the question is who gets to define the value to society, and which value system should be used to asses such value. I heard the chanting of the thousands and the sky was illuminated by the fires from the souls of men, inscribed in paper.

        I'll second that. Eventually, only the asses will be doing the assessing.

    • by james_gnz ( 663440 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @11:02AM (#52115485)

      P. How about a reassessment of copyright law in line with patent laws. Works must demonstrate true worth and value to society prior to achieve copyright protection...

      Patents are supposed to be novel, non-obvious, and useful. However, as far as I know, to qualify as useful they don't actually have to be any better than, or even as good as, existing free alternatives. The Microsoft FAT patents [swpat.org] cover a way of storing long file names that is arguably novel and non-obvious precisely because it is a needlessly convoluted way of doing something that had already been done. In any case, I don't want to see the copyright system based on the patent system, because I think the patent system is even more broken than the copyright system is.

      If not for the rise of cloud computing, I would say scrap them both. The patent system only provides a net benefit in the areas of chemicals and pharmaceuticals (Bessen and Meurer, 2008), and I expect government research grants could do just as well. I'm not convinced copyright provides a net benefit at all, since for entertainment it seems to deliver form over substance, which I think we could do without, and for practical works, it takes mind share from free works. However, scrapping copyright would accelerate the shift to cloud computing, which is even worse than copyright.

      Bessen, James & Meurer, Michael J. (2008) Patent failure [princeton.edu]. Princeton University Press. <http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8634.pdf>

      • In any case, I don't want to see the copyright system based on the patent system, because I think the patent system is even more broken than the copyright system is.

        While I could pick nits, there is only one thing that is truly broken in copyright law right now and that is the term of the copyright. Congress has twisted the definition of "temporary" into something absurd. Copyright should 30-50 years at most and quite possibly less. There is no socially beneficial reason I can come up with for it to be longer than that. Extending a copyright beyond the death of the author is unnecessary and ridiculous. It should be 20-40 years from creation of the work, regardless

  • Mycelia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas&dsminc-corp,com> on Sunday May 15, 2016 @10:15AM (#52115291) Homepage

    First things thats getting stripped. Why do I want my music sending back info to the artist. It's a one time transaction I give you money you give me goods period end of story. The whole well I'll sell you another copy every time a format changes or we made a better copy from the masters is BS rent seeking. Plenty of artists have allready shown you can sell music without DRM and make money doing so. We lost sight of to promote arts and moved to how much money can we possibly leach out of the system.

  • Abandonware Law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by martiniturbide ( 1203660 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @10:23AM (#52115321) Homepage Journal
    I need that Abandonware subject get finally into the law and that abandonware binaries and source code turn public domain. It is required to set a shorter timeframe for abandonware and unsupported software to be turned to public domain.
    • There should be renewal fee for copyright.

      Say for years 1-5 keep it low and then slowly up it for years 5-20 but after 20 then start really jacking it up so the mouse can keep theirs but some abandonware / movies that bomb does not.

      • Say for years 1-5 keep it low and then slowly up it for years 5-20 but after 20 then start really jacking it up so the mouse can keep theirs but some abandonware / movies that bomb does not.

        Easy to do. You start at $0.01 (indexed for inflation). You then double the fee each year thereafter. It wouldn't cost much to keep a work out of the public domain for about $20 years but few works would make it past 25-30 years. Virtually none would make it past 40. Give unregistered copyrights a flat 20 years with no fees but no extension either. I would be fine with giving a 10 year free period with registration occurring any time in that 10 years. This would effectively cap copyright at somewhere

        • by Ulric ( 531205 )

          Say for years 1-5 keep it low and then slowly up it for years 5-20 but after 20 then start really jacking it up so the mouse can keep theirs but some abandonware / movies that bomb does not.

          Easy to do. You start at $0.01 (indexed for inflation). You then double the fee each year thereafter. It wouldn't cost much to keep a work out of the public domain for about $20 years but few works would make it past 25-30 years. Virtually none would make it past 40. Give unregistered copyrights a flat 20 years with no fees but no extension either. I would be fine with giving a 10 year free period with registration occurring any time in that 10 years. This would effectively cap copyright at somewhere close to 40-50 years, it would establish a way to allow authors to profit from genuinely valuable works for an actual limited time proportional to its value, and it would ensure works actually do get into the public domain without congress extending copyright indefinitely.

          Yes, this is the same idea I have. It would make most works slide into the public domain quickly but let profitability decide how long to delay the process for others.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @10:35AM (#52115357)

    You could simply call it "greed vs science".

  • It is nice to see EFF fighting insane rules upstream. A 1996 WIPO treaty gave us DMCA and EUCD

    .

    But the fact that EFF can atttend talks suggests WIPO is not the relevant place anymore for our adversaries to push such things. As summary says, it will probably come from multilateral treaties like TTP.

    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday May 16, 2016 @03:51AM (#52118993)

      WIPO has always been a mixed bag, it's not an inherently bad organisation, it's just forced to be bad by major players like the US.

      To understand why WIPO isn't bad you have to look back at it's history and the creation of the WTO. WIPO was always effectively an entirely democratic organisation where each country equally gets a vote on measures. Back in about the 50s WIPO was trying to determine global laws regulating patent terms, and the US lobbied by large pharma was out-voted by the numerous poorer African and Asian countries on this - the US wanted long and crippling patent terms allowing it a monopoly on medicine, but the poorer countries wanted shorter more sensible terms with the goal of making sure that their people could still access patented medicine in a reasonable time frame without being priced out the market due to lack of competition caused by the over the top patent terms the US wanted.

      In response to this, the US, not happy with WIPO being democratic, created the WTO as an alternative to it, but where it held all the real power without that pesky democracy that trounced it at WIPO. It's used the WTO to try and force countries into it with a carrot and stick approach - on one hand using the WTO to create rules that open up trade meaning if you're a member you're part of a trade agreement that makes it easier and cheaper to buy and sell with WTO members, but on the other using it to enforce increasingly strong rules on things like patent protection to people joining up.

      WIPO has had to adapt to avoid becoming irrelevant, and yes, that meant passing things that are far from ideal, but it's still the better of all the organisations pushing IP laws, precisely because power isn't centred in the hands of the US and it's allies.

      As an aside though, no, WIPO didn't give you the DMCA. The DMCA is a US only law, and yes it was introduced under the guise of implementing a WIPO treaty, but it goes way beyond what that WIPO treaty required. Were the WIPO treaty responsible for the DMCA then all countries would have the DMCA or an equivalent but they don't, only the US does.

      • Thank you for your insightful comment. It made me realize the trick that made WTO effective: it is open to everyone but started with only US and its friends. Now more countries joined, it is at odd that nothing harmful can be expected anymore (apart from WTO rulings). Hence TTP again.

        On the DMCA being the consequence of a 1996 WIPO treaty: European Union has the EUCD directive, that was transposed in national laws. The same 1996 WIPO treaty was used to tell EU politicians that they had no alternative but to

        • by Xest ( 935314 )

          The EUCD is a sligthly different beast though, it's not in itself even remotely as restrictive or problematic as the DMCA, and it actually infers a lot of positive rights to that the DMCA does not.

          But stepping back, it's important to understand that the EUCD is exactly that, a directive. Directives are basically outlines that define the minimum things a member state of the EU must do to be compliant with them to fulfil their obligations under their agreement as an EU member. As a result, the actual national

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