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If we could get rid of copyright there'd be much less resistance toward embedding information about who created the work.

I'd very much like that we could abolish fines for copying but keep fines for stripping author signature from work, or not propagating original author signature to works that are derived.

This way you could have a trail to reach actual author of the part of work that you find awesome to commission some new work from him.

This could be much more valuable for way more people than current copyright schemes that only seem to benefit fatcats.




I write books. I publish the contents for free online, too.

But I still want copyright. If there were none, someone else could take my work, attribute it, put it on some SEO'd site and outrank me.

What recourse would I have? Very few people are going to find the original source, search it, get past the SEO and find my site.

And zero readers have commissioned a work. I make money, but not that way.

Trust me, copyright isn't just for fatcats. Though I suspect it's mostly fatcats who propose unreasonable applications of copyright.


The problem is you're right, but you're not in good company.

I want copyright too, and for pretty much the same reasons as you. But right now supporting "copyright" means you're taking the same side as assholes who insists on a term of 70 years after the death of the author, or more. Some people even at HN think copyright ought to have infinite duration. It means you're on the same side as those who want to send people to prison or put them in the poorhouse for putting a video on Youtube. The same side as jerks who want to deploy bots all across the web to indiscriminately take down content whether it infringes or not, and who wheel and deal with distribution channels when the draconian laws they bribe governments to pass aren't enough. Seriously, fuck these people.

The political climate in much of the world eschews nuance on basically any issue you can name, and copyright is no exception. I want reasonable copyright terms of ten to twenty years from publication and to wipe my ass with the DMCA. If I can't have that, and if the choice is between copyright maximalists and those who would abolish copyright completely, I'll support shit-canning the idea altogether. It might not be the most fiscally or culturally sound solution, but it at least shows a basic understanding of how human culture even works, which I can't say for the maximalists.


You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This comment in another part of the thread put it well. Do you have a response to the argument below?

"If that happens, the web as we know it would cease to exist. Without a legal recourse to stop plagiarism and stolen content, people who are actually creating new content stop completely and move into other areas of work. Websites that produce original and unique content close up shop. Instead you're left with a bunch of low-quality rip off sites that have nothing original of their own. Then it the entire web stagnates over the years as very few new things get added to the net as a whole. And that's just the effect on the internet, that doesn't take into account real world publishing.

I wish people would consider all of the consequences of these things before making statements like that. I haven't even begun to consider the consequences of eliminating copyright completely and just from what I can come up with off the top of my head makes it a non-starter."

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10384178


IMO it's a very bad argument - it assumed most, or best, content is created in order to make money, whereas I believe that the best content is created by people who feel they have something to share, for the purpose of just it being out.

It's strange how as a culture we started to believe creating is just an instrument to make money. Adults are insane; they lose understanding they had as kids, that creating something and/or solving a problem can, and should be, a terminal value in itself.


It's a fantasy that there's any large amount of content that will be altruistically produced. Must content people enjoy are the popular, highly commercialised kind. You mightn't like it, but it's the reality. Taking money for content is a validation that the content is valuable.


Have you seen github?


Github (and indeed most open source) projects are not created out of a sense of altruism. How many people treat github as an online resume? These projects are meant primarily to show off people's coding capabilities in order to sell services, and are not the primary means of making money. These people get a full-time salary writing custom code for businesses.

This approach does not apply to most artists. Nobody is going to pay an author a full-time salary to write new books just for them, or a musician to make new music just for them. The better option for most artists is to invest in creating the best work they can and sell it for commodity prices to a lot of people.


> How many people treat github as an online resume? These projects are meant primarily to show off people's coding capabilities in order to sell service

That's what it is now, and the reason it happened was because Github was full of projects created out of a sense of altruism and fun, and it got respected this way. Yes, the respect and popularity Github has stems not from code-resume-builders, but from the altruists and people doing fun shit for fun that came before.

You see, this is a pattern that repeats all over software industry, the whole Internet included. First you start with people doing something to actually do it (i.e. as a terminal goal). Then whatever useful and/or fun they made gets recognized, popularized, and some people smell a money making opportunity (i.e. doing stuff as an instrumental goal, to get money). The business comes and the whole environment turns to shit.


> This approach does not apply to most artists. Nobody is going to pay an author a full-time salary to write new books just for them, or a musician to make new music just for them.

That's exactly how it worked before invention of phonograph.

> The better option for most artists is to invest in creating the best work they can and sell it for commodity prices to a lot of people.

That's absolutely absurd. For one person that strikes gold and makes comfy living, five will make some living and hundreds will have no money from their creative bets. Create something in hope someone will buy it is most of the time very inefficient way to attempt to make money. It's way easier to find people who will buy your stuff and make it for them.


"I like your music. Would you like to compose something for our movie/game?"

Is this too far fetched?


I think that really overstates what the effect of copyright elimination would be. A lot of traditional methods of monetization would be harder to make profitable, but stuff like Patreon or Kickstarter would probably still work pretty well. At worst, we'd be left with people making content in their spare time and not for profit or to make a living. That would suck, no doubt, but I don't think it sucks as much as a copyright term effectively limitless in duration.

It also ignores what we're missing out on now because of our copyright regime. Anyone should be able to make a Star Wars movie by now, or a Spiderman open-world RPG, or an epic poem detailing the later exploits of Meriadoc Brandybuck, or whatever the hell else. There is a shitload of derivative works we're missing out on because of onerous copyright restrictions, even on works where everyone involved with their creation has been dead for fifty years.

Anyway, the main point of my previous post was not to support eliminating copyright. Mainly, it was to point out that if you support dramatically reforming copyright - twenty years and no DMCA would get nearly as much opposition from special interests as would eliminating copyright altogether - you've got a real uphill battle and no clear allies, despite having more in common, probably, with people who what to eliminate copyright rather than the maximalists. So I'm sympathetic to the view of "fuck it, let's just get rid of it, then" even if there would be some negative consequences to that.

Finally, there is something to be said for taking an extreme opposite position even if it goes further than you would prefer. I think I'm more likely to see reasonable copyright happen in my lifetime if I support people who want to abolish copyright, than by trying to reason with people who want it to be limitless in scope and duration.


>Finally, there is something to be said for taking an extreme opposite position even if it goes further than you would prefer. I think I'm more likely to see reasonable copyright happen in my lifetime if I support people who want to abolish copyright, than by trying to reason with people who want it to be limitless in scope and duration.

That's a good point. As a practical matter opposing all copyright is probably the most realistic way to get it back to a reasonable level.


Fashion, dance, most of automobiles, and recipes don't have copyright protection.

Are you honestly saying that fashion, choreography, dance and cooking is void of original unique things? That they lack creativity? Are you saying that nobody produces automobiles because they don't have a greater incentive of protections?

I think you have a homo-economicus way of looking at the world. The reality actually seem to be something quite different.

The premise for what copyright is supposed to do is based upon a view of the world that really doesn't seem to actually exist. It's a theory based on an elaborate fiction. That's a terrible way to run a society.


>Are you honestly saying that fashion, choreography, dance and cooking is void of original unique things? That they lack creativity? Are you saying that nobody produces automobiles because they don't have a greater incentive of protections?

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying text is different. It's far simpler to replicate text than a dance.

I'm not saying no text works will get produced without copyright. Just that a lot of things we take for granted or even things that are free now actually depend on copyright as part of their creation.


The best content on the original web was written by people doing it for fun, hosted on university servers and/or free webhosts with a single banner ad to pay for the servers. The writers all did it for the love.


This argument flies in the face of plainly observable reality so much that it feels to be intended as sarcasm.

No good stuff is created for fun? And the stuff that's created for fun is crap? Like that thing that Andy Weir wrote and self published for free on his website and only made 99cents Kindle version because people were bothering him about it?


> could take my work, attribute it, put it on some SEO'd site and outrank me

Attribution should be made in the way you want it to be made. Your domain name or email or unique random string one could google, could be part of your signature that would be obligatory for others to include if they want to share or build upon your work.

> Very few people are going to find the original source, search it

If I like something that somebody made I usually look him up to find out if he has other cool stuff. I do it with musicians, I do it with authors, with actors, with directors ... less so with graphic designers because they are way harder to find because information about authorship is almost never carefully retained for images.

Same way as with code. If I find cool project I'm looking for original repo and most prominent forks.


For public domain content first search results are usually non-profit online libraries like Wikibooks and Project Gutenberg.

In Russia where illegal book sharing is widespread most popular piracy libraries now are non-profits like Flibusta and Library Genesis.


How does that help the original author monetize their work? I don't care whether the first result is non-profit or not. I care whether it's me.

If I can't monetize works, I won't make them, I'll do something else. Are their Russian authors making money with working business models under their system of non-enforced copyright?


I incorrectly thought that your problem was that somebody else could monetize your work.

Copyright is enforced here, sites are banned and people go to jail for installing unlicensed software. Piracy is widespread because of many cultural, historical and economical reasons. There are 3 main business models Russian authors use: crowdfunding (there are few platforms specialised on books), appealing to audience without internet access, and receiving support from the government.


Selling copies is insane way to monetize something. When I want to make money programming I'm looking for a person that needs a program and write it for him often requesting at least portion of money up front.

Writing programs in hopes of selling them in the future is like trying to strike gold. Even if you are not horribly wrong and someone will buy copy of your stuff and not immediately request a refund it will most likely be insanely cheap (from your point of view) and expensive for the people who can get that copy for free because it is almost as easy (often easier) than paying for it.


> If we could get rid of copyright

If that happens, the web as we know it would cease to exist. Without a legal recourse to stop plagiarism and stolen content, people who are actually creating new content stop completely and move into other areas of work. Websites that produce original and unique content close up shop. Instead you're left with a bunch of low-quality rip off sites that have nothing original of their own. Then it the entire web stagnates over the years as very few new things get added to the net as a whole. And that's just the effect on the internet, that doesn't take into account real world publishing.

I wish people would consider all of the consequences of these things before making statements like that. I haven't even begun to consider the consequences of eliminating copyright completely and just from what I can come up with off the top of my head makes it a non-starter.


That's bullshit. Probably the first thing that would die would be the crappier part of the web - the one made to earn lots of money. Bye bye ad-sponsored clickbait image bullshit sites. Hello again honest communities. Sure, there would be lot of plagiarism, but it wouldn't stop people from creating content. Best content is often created by people who want to create something so that it exists, not just to make a buck out of it. Open source code is not an exception, it's the rule.


> That's bullshit. Probably the first thing that would die would be the crappier part of the web - the one made to earn lots of money. Bye bye ad-sponsored clickbait image bullshit sites.

No, it wouldn't. Because if copyright vanished, I'd be one of the people trying to take advantage of it. It would be open season. A lot of my buddies would do the same.

I think you underestimate just how greedy people are.


> Best content is often created by people who want to create something so that it exists, not just to make a buck out of it.

While true to some extent, if we want these people to keep making more of this "best content", we should also enable them to "make a buck out of it". Else they will (and do) go do something else to make a buck and we'll be worse off for it.

> Open source code is not an exception, it's the rule.

How often do people get paid for open source projects? How often do people get paid for writing custom, proprietary code? If your answers to these questions don't make obvious the fallacy of your statement above, all I can say is you're living in a bubble.


> While true to some extent, if we want these people to keep making more of this "best content", we should also enable them to "make a buck out of it". Else they will (and do) go do something else to make a buck and we'll be worse off for it.

I agree, but there is a subtle difference in mindset here I think a lot of people miss - creating something to make money is a different thing from creating something and making money on it. Instrumental vs. terminal values. We want to have more people building things so that those things exist (i.e. making fun movies so that they're fun, or building tools to solve a problem), support them by e.g. making sure they aren't bothered by stuff like food and shelter - paying them. What we want to have less is people making things in order to make money off it, because their incentives are to create worst possible thing that still sells.

> How often do people get paid for open source projects? How often do people get paid for writing custom, proprietary code? If your answers to these questions don't make obvious the fallacy of your statement above, all I can say is you're living in a bubble.

Of course people are paid more for writing propertiary code, and I'm also aware of the trend to pay people for making open-source code which will be then monetized by e.g. charging for support. But this is irrelevant to the topic. Even most of the tools you use for your daily work as a programmer would still exist if suddenly no one got paid for code anymore.

My point is - code and art is something better if done by someone who cares primarily about them than by someone who cares primarily about the paycheck for them.


> Instead you're left with a bunch of low-quality rip off sites that have nothing original of their own.

Isn't that what we mostly have now? Before the net was commercialized, it was mostly people sharing things they had created or discovered and talking about things that interested them - original content. People would also post interesting scientific papers, books, etc. and discuss them.

Once people decided to monetize the net it filled with spam and duplicated content alongside payperclick ads. People started cranking out 'original content' that isn't very original and doesn't have much content either just to make a few bucks on the ads. Those papers and books that used to be shared became imprisoned behind paywalls. The volume increased a lot, but signal-to-noise ratio dropped significantly.

That's not really an argument to eliminate copyright, but vigilant legions of lawyers were never been needed to produce content, suing people doesn't increase its quality, and the net wouldn't necessarily be a worse place if a lot of that was gone. At least some places are opening up and starting to share educational content.


> Once people decided to monetize

You have it backwards friend. Once people decided you could make money off the internet, innovations came at a breakneck pace. It was the money that fueled web growth. See: the previous internet bubble. As long as you can make money from the internet, there will always be innovation & content. Once that money disappears, so does the innovation since there's no need to innovate since there's nothing in it for people.


> Without a legal recourse to stop plagiarism and stolen content, people who are actually creating new content stop completely and move into other areas of work.

Copyright doesn't prevent plagiarism; plagiarism can exist without copyright violation and vice versa.


Copyright prevents creative impersonation. If I take your creative work and try to pass it off as my own--whether for profit, reputation, etc.--copyright gives you a legal tool to stop me.

Without it, anyone could get away with pretending to have done anyone else's creative work.

To illustrate with a recent example, Andy Weir wrote "The Martian," and distributed it online for free, originally. Without copyright, Crown books could have copied the text, put a different author name on it, sold thousands of copies and kept every dime. Same with the movie--they could have just copied the story and made a movie without paying Andy anything.


That's the aspect of copyright I'm willing to support, but it doesn't require DRMs, just a working justice system.

Also, sadly, publishers have many different tricks to rob authors out of the money from book sales. Bigger ones probably don't care, but there are a lot of smaller "entrepreneurs" willing to lie and cheat, so one has to be careful (as my physics professor learned in a painful way).


Sounds like applying a license similar to the GPL instead of copyright would solve this problem?


GPL only works because of copyright. Without copyright there is nothing to license (since there is no right).


It would be possible to create laws respecting a right of correct attribution without actually having copyright as it is known today.


> Copyright doesn't prevent plagiarism; plagiarism can exist without copyright violation and vice versa.

Well yeah. Murder laws don't stop people from murdering but that doesn't mean we should do away with the laws since people still get murdered. It's a punishment & massive deterrent. Especially when used in conjunction with the DMCA.


Hmm? The stripping of metadata is done for privacy reasons. People accidentally expose too much info when they take a photo if the metadata is left intact. When sharing a picture online, user's don't expect that they are also sharing the datetime, location, camera model and settings, and possibly their name (or the camera owner's name).

The number of people that intentionally add their info to EXIF and want it to stay there is dwarfed by the people that would view that as a privacy violation.


It'd be straightforward enough to define metadata tags that are specifically not to be automatically added at source, intended to use specifically to survive privacy stripping. Of course that'd depend on tools actually respecting the intent and not adding them other than when explicitly requested to.


But your proposal doesn't help the archaic business models stay afloat. They're fighting us and the progression of technology to stay relevant :(. Great idea though.


Copyright is important. A limited monopoly on the distribution of your work means you can recoup development costs and actually make money.

What needs changing isn't abolishing copyright, but making it less draconian and returning to the original principle: a monopoly for a limited time (not an infinite one), perhaps ten or twenty years, or varying by field.


I don't see how that would work — not all copyrightable acts can convey the author information in the body of the work, and more importantly, you wouldn't be able to recover damages if someone used your work for profit.

Sure, an image might be watermarked, but if someone plays a song without a license do you expect each recording to include a copyright statement before the music?

If you remove penalties for copying then what would stop a private gallery from showing your photography and charging admission? All you get is attribution note, not a cut. Likewise, anyone could use your music on any commercial, radio station, movie without royalties.


> recover damages if someone used your work for profit

What's the damage?

> if someone plays a song without a license do you expect each recording to include a copyright statement before the music

Even if you play live on the street you can have flyers that state who composed music, who wrote text, who are you trying to imitate.

> If you remove penalties for copying then what would stop a private gallery from showing your photography and charging admission?

Nothing. And that's bad because...?

> All you get is attribution note, not a cut.

Great. That means if somebody likes my work he comes to me for more.

> Likewise, anyone could use your music on any commercial, radio station, movie without royalties.

Sure. Again. I'd very much liked my music or whatever used in Hollywood movie or commercial or whatever without even if I can't get a penny for that if they will display or say my name and website address each time it's seen or heard by people.




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