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Wikimedia removes the Diary of Anne Frank due to copyright law (wikimedia.org)
451 points by rosser on Feb 13, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 192 comments

Please read this: https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2016/pre-1976

And also look at the graphic on this page: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/the-mi...

Copyright serves a legitimate purpose. I doubt there would be many big budget games or movies produced without some degree of protection. The purpose of copyright is to provide an incentive to produce creative works. But it also needs to balance the benefits of that with the costs of restricting works from the public.

I believe that copyright should last 10 years. That sounds really short, but hear me out. The vast majority of works are not economically relevant after 10 years. And the ones that are, have usually earned 99% of their money within ten years. It's a power law, the first year gets vastly more money than the second year, than the third year, and so on. This is especially true for games and movies which are fast paced industries. It's also true for books and music, but the power law curve is a bit less steep.

There are exceptions to this, but they are just that - exceptions. The point is to provide an incentive for creators, not to give giant benefits to the outliers at the expense of the public.

Also originally copyright law had some additional measures to keep it from being restrictive. You had to actually register the copyright, not just grant it automatically, and you had to renew it halfway through. Which cost a few thousand dollars.

I also am very much in favor of derivative works. Fanfiction shouldn't be illegal, making a t shirt with your favorite character on it shouldn't be illegal, etc.

With this system you would be able to use old music, photos, software, books, movies, etc. As long as they were made before 2006.

Also trademark could handle some of the remaining issues. E.g. "Star Wars" could be a trademark of george lucas. You could make star wars derivatives, but you couldn't brand them with star wars. Consumers would be able to tell apart ripoffs from works by the original creator. Mickey mouse would still be a trademark of disney, but you could watch steamboat willy cartoons on youtube.

It doesn't even have to be a strict cutoff. The first 10 years might be free and automatic, but the Copyright Office could charge exponentially increasing fees for renewals afterward.

For example, $1K for the next 10 years, then $10K, then $100K... This means that only works that remain truly profitable in the long term will stay copyrighted. If Disney wants to pay $10B to keep Mickey Mouse copyrighted, they are welcome to do so. The extension fees could be put to good use improving the nation's public schools and libraries.

I think this is a generally sensible proposal that would garner much public support.

However, I would like to see moral rights retained for longer than 10 years - the right to prevent modification of the work, the right to be named as author, for example. Extending these to life+X years (but requiring free-gratis registration) seems fair to me as well.

The ability to create derivative works is one of the primary benefits of works entering the public domain, so no.

I think you misunderstood - you can make derivatives, you can't sell the work with your own modifications as if it were the original (you can sell your derivative though). Neither could you plagiarise works under such a system.

Another option is to tax intellectual property at the rate of real property in the countries that they want to claim copyright in. The holder of the copyrighted material will have to declare how much the intellectual property is worth, and be forced to put it in the public domain (or maybe transfer ownership) if some entity pays the declared worth of that asset.

I think you are onto something, and the nice thing about this is that it provides a runway to move us to a basic income economy. Eventually (30, 50, 100 years from now) all property will be intellectual because anything will be 3D printable, biological agents will be synthesizable etc etc so this would allow everyone to benefit and still reward innovation.

Also, a flat tax favors the wealthy on a linear scale but is fairer on a logarithmic scale. So for example when income increases by 10 times, the corresponding tax rate could go up by 10% or something to that effect.

> I doubt there would be many big budget games or movies produced without some degree of protection.

I get where you're coming from, but I worry there's a ton of status quo bias in that doubt. Of all the bajillion ways to incentivize creativity, either with or without laws, how sure can we be that this is the best one?

It also presumes big budget movies and games are a net positive culturally, entertainingly or otherwise.

We should have a status quo bias when considering tearing down a certain fence, lest we be gored by Chesterton's bull.

I think we have a pretty good understanding of why this particular fence keeps growing taller and taller.

If you're looking to strike a balance, there also needs to be a good-faith effort to make the work available to the public domain after the copyright term expires.

For software, the original creative work (source code) should need to be escrowed. And the same for any work obfuscated with DRM.

I disagree. I do not think there should be an obligation for a creator to give away their work after the copyright expires. They just no longer get the benefit of having a legal mechanism to prevent others from copying/using it.

And what does the public get from granting you this temporary monopoly?

Let's look at music for an example. Copyright provides a period in which they original artist had control over how the work is handled commercially. After the copyright expires the original artist can no longer use the law to prevent other people from redistributing or reproducing the work. However, the artist has no obligation to release the studio masters.

Copyright makes it more viable for the creator to actually make a moving from their work. So to answer your question, the public is encouraging creative work.

In the case of software, the work itself would no longer be protected from reproduction or duplication by others, but there is no obligation for the original creator to facilitate the reproduction by others.

> So to answer your question, the public is encouraging creative work

Creative work which the public has no access to even after the limited monopoly period is up.

That's not at all true. People have access to the work by virtue of owning copies of it. Music can be played. Software can be reverse-engineered or just copied. Artwork can be copied. The ideas which are the core unique value of creative work are already out in the world by virtue of the work being seen and handled by the public. Copyright exists to provide the creator protection so that they can release their creation to the world without fear of it being immediately devalued by duplication. Without copyright I don't want to release my new idea, I want to keep it secret and charge people ridiculous amounts to have access.

Society has never demanded people hand over their work without compensation. Copyright is not at all about handing over the source of your works. Copyright is about artificially preventing other people from duplicating your work for a period of time. When that time expires, others are allowed to reproduce your work, but you are not required to hand over your sources.

When a carpenter makes a chair he can claim copyright on the design of the chair. During the time that his design is under copyright nobody else is allowed to make chairs that are obviously copied or derived from his design. When the copyright expires the design is no longer protected, but nobody goes to the original carpenter to confiscate his inventory and release it to the public, nor to appropriate his designs. Those are his. He still owns the designs. They are just no longer protected by law from duplication.

DRM directly destroys this "ownership" you speak of. There is no long-term access to a work that expects to phone home on every use.

You seem to be coming from the baseless framework of imaginary property wherein creation of property rights is a bona fide good thing, regardless of whether they're congruent with the underlying physics. However, the base law of this jungle is that copying is easy, creators have DRM, and the public has VHS and P2P.

Copyright is justified by the framework of a tradeoff whereby the naturally-existing public domain is retarded in order to encourage the creation of more works that will enter it at a later time. You still haven't directly addressed why the public should agree to restrict itself from copying media, only for the copyright owner to renege on their contribution when the monopoly period is up.

First: I entirely agree with you regarding DRM. Second: the "baseless framework" of property rights is how it has worked for centuries. Hardly baseless. The new world is the exception and I don't see how it has materially changed the rights of a creator to their own works.

I will say that our current system is extremely broken with regard to the public domain, primarily because of things like DRM and intellectual property, both of which I believe are harmful to society as a whole. I also believe copyright had been extended for way too long. These are things we should push hard to change because I agree, they break the implicit agreement that justifies copyright.

But in the world you are imagining, every new work of any kind would have to be registered with someone to make sure the sources are made public when the copyright expires. Then of course, you would have the massive enforcement effort to ensure the sources actually get released. Little Jimmy starts working a little game on his parents' computer? Better register that with the copyright office so the sources don't get lost in ten years when the copyright expires. It's ridiculous. That's not the way it works and its not the way it should work.

The framework of explicit "imaginary property" is new, within the past few decades. Thinking of copyright (et al) as general property rights leads to errant conclusions. Such as that at copyright expiration, the owner is forfeiting their "property" to the government. I refer to it as baseless because it's not modeling physical reality (information isn't exclusive-use), but backfitted based on wishful thinking of how some would -like- the world to operate.

Registering a work would be quite easy in this day and age - a hash for confidential priority, and then an easy upload to cement the registration. "Little Jimmy" wouldn't need to register anything until he decided to start distributing his game, and only then if he wished to take advantage of copyright.

Works being implicitly granted copyright is at the root of the problem with DRM. A DRMed track is not a creative work, but a mechanically-created derivative of a creative work. Allowing the original creative work to remain secret while still allowing copyright on mechanical derivations of it creates the situation where the content creator can have their cake and eat it too, by releasing a crippled limited-purpose derivative with no intent to add the work to the public domain.

The crux of the matter is this - if creators use the law of the computational jungle to prevent full access to the work (to remix/port/etc) after copyright expiry, then why should members of the public not similarly revert to the law of the computational jungle wherein copying is Free?

> The crux of the matter is this - if creators use the law of the computational jungle to prevent full access to the work (to remix/port/etc) after copyright expiry, then why should members of the public not similarly revert to the law of the computational jungle wherein copying is Free?

In this I believe we agree. I completely agree that any technical protections applied to the distributed work should be removed, or at the very least allowed to be removed by others after the period of copyright expires.

I agree that copyright should be shorter in duration, but I think some of your suggestions would be disproportionately harmful to independent artists.

Many songwriters rely on their back catalogue - a hit song serves as a pension, earning a steady trickle of royalties from radio play and sync usage. I don't see it as morally reasonable that, for example, a decade-old song could be used in a commercial without royalties being paid.

Requirements to register and renew would be trivial for large corporate rightsholders, but could be a substantial burden for independent artists, particularly at the beginning of their career.

The current situation of indefinite renewal serves nobody but the big publishers, but I think that a copyright term of approximately the life of the creator makes a great deal of sense. I'd be open to the idea of a shorter duration for works that have been assigned to a corporation. I'd also be open to the idea of a clearinghouse for orphan works, to ensure that orphan works can be used without unfairly disadvantaging artists.

Losing 1% of their income from that tiny trickle of royalties is not a big deal. 99% of the income a work will bring is made in the first 10 years or so, after that the royalties are tiny compared to the initial value. Nothing is preventing the artists from investing the income they make so they have something to retire on, as people in all other careers have to do.

I agree the registration/renewal process could be burdensome on small creators. However the process does not need to be difficult, it could be a simple online form. And the renewal fee could be really low, perhaps $100.

The point is just to keep every single photo ever taken from ending up copyrighted. Which usually means unusable, since no one can track down every copyright owner and negotiate licensing fees when they just want to use a photo in their power point demonstration. Instead of being automatic, only things people explicitly want to copyright are protected.

Why doesn't a pension serve as their pension?

I'd like to point out, in support of your arguments, that all artistic works are derivative. Creative works are not created in a vacuum. They copy and derive build upon the cumulative works of the rest of society. Nobody should ever have been entitled to a lifetime copyright.

>> The purpose of copyright is to provide an incentive to produce creative works

False, the purpose, and only reason for copy right is to promote the useful sciences, all other reasons are UnConstitutional (from a US Stand point anyway)

The Surprising History of Copyright: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhBpI13dxkI


The full text of the clause is "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

"Creative works" is as reasonable shorthand for "useful arts and sciences" as "privacy" is for "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects"

I am more distressed that a work by a German, at the time stateless in the Netherlands, that long ago, and given the global importance of such a work, that the U.S. even has the copyright. The explanation in Wikimedia I understand clearly, but I do not acept it.

It's interesting that there's even debate over whether it's public domain in Europe:


Because money.

The US doesn't "have the copyright", the author or her heirs etc owns the copyright under US law

Why should foreign stuff not be protected by copyright? Think about american movies or software written in america not being protected abroad.

It's also not the US that owns the copyright but the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel, which got the copyright from her father.

If I live in a country where copyright term is 1 day, and I publish online every Disney movie ever created, the US will enforce US copyright terms on me.

Why does the copyright of where the reader lives, not where the publishing person lives, matter?

Not if you only make it available to people in your country.

If you don't plan to travel to the US or to a country with an extradition agreement with the US concerning this you won't even need to care about that.

States want to be autonomous and set the rules that are in force in their country on their own. When you download stuff while sitting in the US, it's happening in the US. When the servers you're downloading it from are also standing in the US, like in this case, then it's even more clear that this is happening in the US.

Just like that silly explanation of the width of railroad tracks starting with the width of a roman horse's ass, the question of "why can't I read the Diary of Anne Frank" starts with "so there was this cartoon for little kids in the '20's called Mickey Mouse..."

We reach this ridiculous situation by serious people taking a series of thoughtful actions a tiny bit at a time. But serious and thoughtful actions only add upon themselves with each step. Ridiculousness multiplies.

Was it really bit by bit? In most of the world, the Berne convention - signed in 1886 - implemented a copyright length of author's life + 50 years. This was a massive leap for most countries.

Even in the US, the people behind the Sonny Bono Act (aka Mickey Mouse Protection Act) proposed indefinite copyright - MPAA's Jack Valenti actually suggested "forever less one day" to avoid the Constitutional restriction! The life + 50 years was the compromise they could reach.

The contract of copyright is that you'll make works freely available in return for a time-limited monopoly enforced by the people, the demos, through the state.

A perpetual copyright would not be a copyright, there's no reason for the people to support it. If you could pass such an act I think it would show your regime to be something other than a democracy.

They should have done that then made it retroactive. Then the heirs of Shakespeare, Mozart, and Grimm bros. can sue them into the dirt for copyright infringement.

The license info there is almost certainly wrong. On whose authority is it Creative Commons?

If it's in the "open source" collection, I think that's just because it hasn't been moved to a different one yet by administrators.

The Internet Archive is absolutely fearless when it comes to risk of litigation for copyright infringement. One could fear that it will be their dead.

They are indeed fearless. They have put up thousands of copyrighted video games, for example.

Apparently they have some sort of exemption (as an extension of the LoC?) but that's never been legally tested.

Lots of rage here against the US government, little rage against the Anne Frank Fonds that actually asserts the copyright.

If you really feel so strongly then go and rail against the foundation who could transfer the book into the public domain with least a million times (literally) less difficulty than it would take to get US copyright law changed to have the same effect.


But that would not fix the problem in general. Consider orphan works for example.

So today rally against the Anne Frank Fonds. Tomorrow against Disney. Then what? If the law creates an artificial incentive that damages the public good, are you going to separately criticize each one of those who take advantage of that, or to ask to change the law?

there can be no public good if you deprive people of their property rights because you somehow take offense at their exercise of those rights.

While there should be some limit on how long you can retain copyright I seriously would not want it to be less than the current and following generation, if not the third.

Well you know what they say when it comes to patents, too? "Hate the game, not the player".

But I'm fair, and I think we should hate both.

Attacking Fonds is striking at branches. Attacking the law is striking at roots.

Rootstriking is vastly more efficient.

That's barbaric. That's why civil disobedience is the only adequate answer to the current overreach of copyright in the united states. It's up to us, technologists, to create and disseminate tools to help out in the dismantlement of an absurd system that is obsolete in the digital age.

This logic is the reason why we have so many archaic laws surrounding the technology. Too often our community simply decides it is easier to ignore the law in question than trying to fight it and so we withdraw ourselves from the debate.

It isn't our job as technologist to build tools to circumvent the law. It is our job as technologist to educate politicians and the greater population as a whole why these issues are important. Sure, civil disobedience can be a tool in that fight, but that alone isn't going to change anything.

Politicians don't get educated. They get bought. Do you have as much money as copyright industry? No? Then, no, you can't have your sensible laws. You'll have theirs. The only action you can take is to ignore those unenforcible.

Or, they get threatened with loss of their seats. Which is accomplished by educating the population.

It's a lot more gratifying to live in this conspiratorial world where a romanticized resistance against our corporate overlords is the only way, but it's not a useful mental model for actually succeeding at anything.

> Or, they get threatened with loss of their seats.

They get seats by spending money on campaigns. Public is easily manipulated by political marketing. The only thing that could put them out of there seats would be more money spent for a smear campaign against them.

> It's a lot more gratifying to live in this conspiratorial world where a romanticized resistance against our corporate overlords is the only way, but it's not a useful mental model for actually succeeding at anything.

As opposed to romanticized world where money (got from industry) put into political marketing has no effect on votes and you achieve political goals by educating voters (at no cost other than your sincere effort)?

Let's play a game. It's called "NAME! YOUR! REPRESENTATIVES!!!!".

We'll start with the easiest and work our way up (subjectively):

1) Who's the President?

2) Who's your Governor?

3) Who's your Mayor?

4) Who are your Senators?

5) Who's your Representative?

6) Who's your State Senator?

7) Who's your State Representative/Assembly member?*

I ask these questions every time someone brings up their "The system is rigged, maaaaan". I've only found a handful of people that could name their Representative. Most people can't even name their senators. I always find it fascinating how people are able to trash talk their representatives when they don't even know who they are.

* Excluding you communist unicameral Nebraskans

The way system is setup, there is no way someone who cares for me is in any of those positions, because I did nothing to put them there, and nor did anyone who voted for them. They did it themselves and got help from people who they can help back.

You can waste your time knowing about these people and trying to get them to do something which you think is good for everyone even though there are powerful people who pay him to not do it, or spend the time to be one day in a position to get them to do something good for you by paying them.

I think the latter will be much more effective and long term that you don't need to know anything or anyone. You just need to find the person who has that power. When that person is no longer in power, just find the next one who is. If you never need those people, even better that you didn't spend time on any of those shitheads.

> because I did nothing to put them there

But you have the power to vote and that is the power which puts them there eventually, directly or indirectly. Even if you did nothing, your power to vote DOES influence that entire chain of people. So, next time you decide to vote for your local politician, do a thorough research about him/her and make sure you are choosing the right candidate, for your decision affects others too. Imagine how many reviews, ratings, articles, research papers you read on the internet before buying a laptop or an iphone or android phone! Even if you spend a tenth of that effort in researching the politician, the whole country will benefit from that!

> do a thorough research about him/her

Take it a step further and publish that research.

There are already people to do this - League of Women Voters and their voter guide, for example. But another voter guide specifically aimed at illuminating issues not covered by other guides is always a worthy endeavor.

Yep. It doesn't even need to be in depth. "Here's who I voted for and why" in a blog post is enough to give even the most basic of information about a candidate, as well as just remind people it's voting season.

Sounds like a useful website to have.

Only three of those people have influence over copyright law. And what does it matter if I know their names? Despite the propaganda, one vote doesn't make a difference.

I still vote, but I'm also pretty sure it's a waste of my time. It's one of those game theory things. If everyone got out to vote it would be good, but my individual contribution is unimportant.

The point was that if you can't answer, many others can't either. And all of their votes can make a difference.

Even the people who turn out for Presidential elections (when their votes arguably make the least difference) usually don't know enough and their legislative representatives to make an informed decision, and tend not to show up for the off-year elections when it's only those offices up.

> and tend not to show up for the off-year elections when it's only those offices up

In 2014, Senator Jeff Sessions R-Ala. was "elected" without an opponent. In that same year, 32 other Representatives were "elected" without any opposition, my own Representative included. 28 more didn't have a "major party" opponent. That means ~14% of all Representatives had little or no competition.

I thought the point was that we're supposed to know the names of all these people and that this somehow helps.

>They get seats by spending money on campaigns. Public is easily manipulated by political marketing. The only thing that could put them out of there seats would be more money spent for a smear campaign against them.

This is overly simplistic. If it were exclusively about cash resources, the most cash-rich candidates would win every time. We know that doesn't happen. Yes, money does play an important role (because it costs money to run ads, print signage, get people to hang said signage, staff phone banks, etc. -- not because there's some reptilian overlord that has to be paid before he lets you become POTUS), but it's not the only role.

More important than money is to control a media outlet that the general public trusts. Pundits have more power than politicians because it's so easy for them to generate outrage. ABC, CBS, NBC, and the cable channels really hold the bulk of political sway in this country. They can frame not only the political discourse, but all significant social discourse, in the terms that they prefer. The internet is dampening and decentralizing their power a bit, which is why non-establishment candidates like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders were able to gain any traction at all, but their influence is still massive.

>If it were exclusively about cash resources, the most cash-rich candidates would win every time.

Correct me if I'm wrong but haven't the past 3 presidential elections been won by the candidate with the biggest cash flow?

And yes, of course it is not the only factor as you noted, media coverage is crucial and information via the internet is rapidly becoming a more important factor. But the problem is: the same people who own and operate these massive media corporations also own the internet infrastructure and are also the ones who are pouring massive amounts of bribes/funding into the elections.

>Correct me if I'm wrong but haven't the past 3 presidential elections been won by the candidate with the biggest cash flow?

First, correlation is not causation. Second, this chart [0] shows Romney and Obama were neck-and-neck as far as dollars raised, and that Romney actually had spent slightly more than Obama. This chart says it covers through September 2012, so maybe Obama did end up spending a bit more (or maybe he didn't), but the difference in spending is very small.

When you ask why Romney lost in 2012, there are a couple answers that get cited. First, Romney's leaked "47% comment" was disastrous for him. Second, Obama's team used technology much more effectively to get out the vote. Apparently there was a group working on software on Romney's side, but it wasn't managed correctly and the software was not usable by election day.

[0] http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance

> This is overly simplistic.

Only in the same way law of conservation of energy is overly simplistic.

All the people that say "It's not only about money!" then give examples which boil down to "Tt's also how you spend it!" to which I can only reply "Duh!"

You might want to look into how much money Jeb Bush's Super PAC has spent in the primary season so far, to very little effect.

At the National level, it does appear lots of money won't necessarily translate into a win.

However, those who do win, unless they are named Sanders, will be bound by said money.

On a local level, money does matter more, and it's effects are meaningful.

On a local level a huge number of candidates run unopposed. Even for Congress there were 31 unopposed candidates in 2014.

Money isn't everything. Giving a damn matters too.

How many of those congressional races were unopposed because the potential opposition didn't have enough money to make a credible effort?

I bet it took a lot of hard work not to name Trump there.

How so?

The fact of the matter is we've always lived in a 50/50 conspiracy world. Sure, its never as bad as the worst extreme we can think of, but its always half as bad. Not even Stalin's dictatorship, which is what 1984 is based on, was as bad as 1984.

1984 was not based on Stalin's dictatorship. There seems to be a common misconception among too many people who've heard this parroted, erroneously assuming that because Orwell was strongly wary of, and frequently wrote about, totalitarianism, this must mean he was writing about Stalin specifically. He was not. In fact, 1984 was written just as much about the UK and USA as it was totalitarian fascism and Stalinism. This is borne out in his letters. 1984 was focused on what Orwell believed might happen to the world if the atomic showdown was inconclusive (a rough paraphrase of one of his remarks in a letter). It was written as a tale of what would happen when the West—specifically the UK and USA—would find themselves challenged and take the attractive slide away from democratically operated [socialist] society toward strengthening and worshipping millionaires and "petty fuhrers", leading to outright totalitarianism that offered stability, predictability, and controlled externalities, all of which would provide simpler, thoughtless, controlled selves.

For more directly from Orwell in one of his letters considered to foreshadow 1984's thesis, see here:


1984 is definitely influenced from the state propaganda Orwell saw coming out the Soviet Union such as the book character Emmanuel Goldstein who is quite obviously Trotsky, and the state rewriting history by editing Goldstein out of party photographs is Trotsky again, the idea of loving a leader and hating the party, many more parallels.

It's written as a warning of how futile it will be to resist totalitarianism in a future advanced technological state

To your first paragraph, we are not in disagreement. Parallels and influences found in particular plot points is not the same thing as the GP's statement that 1984 was based on Stalin. It was not. Read Orwell's letters.

> It's written as a warning of how futile it will be to resist totalitarianism in a future advanced technological state.

You fundamentally misunderstand 1984 and Orwell himself. The notion of the futility of resisting totalitarianism never would have been uttered or thought by Orwell. He absolutely and tirelessly championed resisting totalitarianism. He wrote a great many words on the subject. He never warned anyone of the futility of resistance in his prior works, and he certainly didn't push himself to death to deliver 1984 as such a warning. There is a vast difference between you, the reader, determining that Winston's resistance is futile—particularly in the hindsight of O'Brien's exposé at the end—and suggesting that Orwell was warning the reader that resistance is futile.

I've read the letters, Hitchens books on Orwell, listened to his lectures on Orwell, read Orwell's essays, and his books. The message is to me, that resistance is hopelessly futile once totalitarianism is firmly entrenched and the state has absolute power over humanity itself. That's why Winston is broken and loves Big Brother at the end of the book, because there was no other possible outcome.

It's a warning that if you don't stop it by recognizing it's rise through dictatorship over language, over emotions, and finally over thought it will be impossible to resist. Well, that is what I (and apparently Hitchens) see in his writing. I also see plenty of parody, especially towards Emmanual Goldstein and his book (Trotsky), purges blaming foreign conspiracy, and the illogical party slogans.

Well, now you've actually elaborated with enough description to qualify your statement that, again, we are not in disagreement. It's quite odd to me that your first statement carried the tone of disagreement, while this reply offers enough substantive explanation to indicate we agree. Substance is key. The appeals to Hitchens, however, do read as an unnecessary argument to authority. There's a clear distinction between stating resistance is futile generally, and arguing it is futile against a thorough totalitarianism that has gained control over humanity itself.

Stalin's dictatorship was much much bloodier than what is described in 1984. Some years of it, anyway.

Both in peace time and during the war.

1984 to Stalin is what burning is to explosion.

What is a useful mental model for succeeding?

Here's a plausible one.

Money doesn't override voters, but it can make decisions that the voters don't care about. How many voters care enough to check up on their Congressional representatives' views on copyright? And how many lobbyists do?

And this cynicism about the system only makes the problem worse. Why check up on votes on banking regulations if you think the donors are going to decide it anyway?

If you take the low road every time, then the best you can hope for is a world in which everyone takes the low road all the time. I don't want to live in that world. In this case, the low road probably won't even get you where you want to go, so you're not even reaping a tangible benefit from it.

The low road is abiding by a ridiculous, regressive, industrial-age law because somebody with a gun told you to.

The high road is the one where your conscience gets to weigh-in, and you do right in spite of your fear.

Seems like this is the real problem we should use technology to solve. How can we make it more expensive to buy politicians?

It is fairly self-evident that we can't get purely self-interested and sufficiently coordinated with anyone who could displace them from their positions (in the sense that they value keeping their own bribes over denying their opponents bribes) politicians to support any measure that would actually make them no longer receive bribes.

If one of the two assumptions above fails: assuming we can legally define what exactly constitutes a bribe (and I imagine this is not a solved problem), it probably would be possible to pass a law that says that if you can prove as a politican that you were offered or given a bribe (for a sum n), the bribe-offering party gets fined (say) 100n (aiming for their economic destruction), of which 5n is given to you (thus incentivising you to report bribes) and some token amount is given to everyone else serving in the same elected body as you (to incentivise everyone to vote for the law).

The potential problem is that now you've created one of those loophole things. Now publically bribe the official n/105 of what you actually want, and it's totally legal!

> The potential problem is that now you've created one of those loophole things. Now publically bribe the official n/105 of what you actually want, and it's totally legal!

That would still reduce the influence by >95% because you have to pay 105x and the politician only gets 5x.

The actual problem is that if a politician is known for reporting bribes then they won't be offered any, so taking 1x every time is still more profitable than taking 5x once.

Well, if the law is set up in such a fashion that you can "keep receipts" and report retroactively to enjoy the full benefits, you would still have an incentive to dredge everything up the moment you retire (and put the extra 4x lifetime bribe earnings into your retirement fund or bequeath them to your kids), and while the crackdown would be delayed, the bribing parties would still eventually come under the hammer (so unless there is some way for them to take and run with their short-term earnings leaving a shell company to be punished, there would not be an incentive for them to bribe in the first place).

> How can we make it more expensive to buy politicians?

You're thinking about it the wrong way. You make it more expensive and fewer people can afford to do it.

How do we make it cheaper to buy politicians, so that we can do it too?

There are two questions I would be asking:

1) How can we build more resilient technologies so that copyright law becomes irrelevant? (And note that we already have some candidates - like IPFS)

2) What technologies do we need so that we do not need politicians? For example, is it possible to create nation-states that are small (think hundreds of thousands of people) and allow people to create their own easily?

You could make politicians ban lobbying and private funding of political campaigns!

Oh, wait...

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

If we could reliably track politicians' money flows, their opinions, their comments and their actual actions in a system that's easily queriable, it might just be easy enough for the common people to be more aware of their rulers.


1 - If you make them more expensive then only the truly wealthy will be able to buy them. Yes, they exist

2 - Corruption is a matter mainly of personal ethics and perception of things around you. Of course it's hard to turn down heavily compensated engagements or other types of 'incentives' given by big players. Especially when everybody does it. It's really an issue of Game Theory

Android politicians with a high buyoff feature.

Maybe. :)

But seriously. Starting idea: Build a website that does some well analytics and makes it clear when politicians chose profit and special interests over the good of the people. I know some sites do this, but I haven't seen any executed well enough to reach the right people.

Really 'good of the people' is a very dangerous concept. And what exactly is a special interest? People interested in copyright reform is a special interest just as people interested in copyright preservation is a special interest.

Lenin was obstesibly starting a revolution for the 'good of the people.' Cuba did as well.. The good of the people there has resulted in an average monthly income of $20.

Don't knock the special interests.. EFF and Wiki are both examples of special interests just as much as the special interests of the publishing industry.

The book Economics in One Lesson is certainly worth reading..

Special interests are definitely the problem, specifically when they're asymmetrical.

Disney owns more television stations and has more money than the EFF.

>> "Politicians don't get educated. They get bought. Do you have as much money as copyright industry? No? Then, no, you can't have your sensible laws. You'll have theirs. The only action you can take is to ignore those unenforcible."

Then you need to fix your political system before you can fix the law. As an outsider looking in it seems like sorting out how campaigns are financed would be a good first step and that seems like something Bernie Sanders wants to and probably can fix. So the opportunity is there for you to take if the issue is important enough to you.

If you think that education, or the lack thereof, of politicians anywhere is the reason for absurd copyright law across the entire globe, you really aren't paying attention.

There is no argument clever enough or convincing enough to overpower the flood of money and bullshit that keeps copyright law the way it is. You may as well argue against the law of gravity. The only solution is to deprive the bad actors of the funds they need to keep the system corrupt, and since most people (rightly, in my opinion) can't accept simply abandoning large parts of their culture to that fight, the only option left is to make piracy widespread, easy, and safe.

The only hope is China: they disregard copyright laws, and this will help them to surpass the GDP per capita of the United States eventually, since they have realized that the copyright laws actually hamper industrial innovation. At some point, the remaining large public companies here will realize that seriously weaking copyright laws is a matter of survival in the Chinese dominated international markets. Then the copyright regime in the US may change.

The average person cannot comprehend the effects of what they do unless it is directly fed back and even then. Thinking macro is hard for the smartest 0.01%: the average Pam and Jim will not understand what happens when the game plays out. Some politicians are above that, most are not. Sounds elitist and maybe it is however I am not saying I am better than that I am saying politicians should be. If they are not and they are not, this battle is indeed lost and not only because of money but simply because someone didn't think long enough and their candy crush was not getting enough attention to keep them focused.

In fact, if piracy really had the deleterious effects on culture and artistic expression that copyright advocates always claim it does, I suspect you'd see much more of a social taboo against piracy than exists now. I'm not one to usually rush to the defense of people reasoning with "their gut" but, in this case, I think most people know that the copyright regime is bullshit, and they act accordingly, even if they haven't given it as much thought as the average HN reader.

Creating new things that people like to spend their time on will help stop a bit of those funds getting to the bad actors. Until the bad actors figure out how to 'own' the new activity in some way.

> The only solution is to deprive the bad actors of the funds they need to keep the system corrupt, and since most people (rightly, in my opinion) can't accept simply abandoning large parts of their culture to that fight, the only option left is to make piracy widespread, easy, and safe.

Which has done more to erode Microsoft's server profits, people pirating Windows or people creating GNU/Linux?

What we need is to build alternative platforms that compete with Hollywood and destroy them (and their margins) through legitimate competition.

>I'm going to give you an important kind of a picture. I hear a lot of people say "I don't like machinery and technology, it's making a lot of trouble." So we're going to take all the machinery away from all the countries of the world, all machinery, all the tracks and the wires, and the works and we're going to dump it all in the ocean. And you will discover that within 6 months, 2 billion people will die of starvation having gone through great pain. So we say "That's not a very good idea lets put all the machinery back where it was." Then, we're going to take all the politicians from all the countries around the world and we're going to send them on a trip around the sun, and you'll find we keep right on eating. And the political barriers now... scientists say very clear you could make the world work and take care of 100% of the people at a higher standard of living that anyone has ever known despite the increasing population, but you can't do it with the barriers, any more than you can try run a human organism with a wall between the ear, the eye, and the stomach. It is an organic whole, it is total industrialization.

-Buckminster Fuller

Fuller claimed that the reason why we cannot take care of the greater population as a whole is not because we don't have the technical feasibility to do so but because we are trying to solve our problems with politics. Trying to solve the problems of the electric age by using the paper-based political framework is futile and self-defeating.

>"Educate politicians"

Nonsense. Politicians already settled their mind a long time ago, it was when they were in college or before that, now its way too late. You don't believe me? Try to convince creationist politicians about evolution, and it doesn't matter how many proofs you show them, the complete fossil record, they are not going to get educated, you can prove them evolution is not against their beliefs but it will not matter at all.

They hate getting educated as much as they hate reductions in their salaries.

The evidence behind evolution is orders of magnitude more convincing than anything anyone could ever come up with for copyright law. Clearly we need something other than evidence, because if science doesn't work on politics, technology doesn't stand a chance.

Well said. Democracy in America is battle of egos, not of ideas.

I'm leaning towards an army of battle droids. I wonder if I can kickstart that...

I think the idea is to stop voting for those dumb politicians.

Speaking as a US citizen with 12 years of voting experience, I can tell you that strategy doesn't work in practice :(

There are no non-dumb politicians; dumbness is a feature of this occupation much more than of particular people involved.

Only a power hungry moron would actively seek the responsibility they hold.

I fight off being a manager, I can't imagine being in any kind of leadership position over an entire county/state or country.

It's not leadership and responsibilities per se that are the problem, it's the structure that grew around it. People who get to the top are not random, they're preselected to be malleable, to be puppets of various established interests. You don't get anywhere near real power if your peers think you can't be controlled by them.

Politicians in a representative democracy are supposed primarily to be servants of their electoral region aren't they ...

Just like a proper manager of people isn't over those people. A manager should - IMO - be just another part of a team, a person/people who coordinates and facilitates the work of others.

>It isn't our job as technologist to build tools to circumvent the law.

Would you say the same thing to those building tools to circumvent the great firewall of China?

"It isn't our job as technologist to build tools to circumvent the law."

That job is done CC-BY-SA. Your work (and derivatives) under this licence is guaranteed by copyright laws to be free to use, remix and resell (provided those rights are passed on) for your life plus 70 years.

You seem to be presenting a false dichotomy. Why not do both?

I agree. Copyright is irreversibly wedged. The only workable course is to ignore it. As most people do, in practice, when they can get away with it. So the job for technologists is to make that easier.

There's a lot of danger in leaving a generally-ignored law on the books. If you make enemies in law enforcement, it makes it easy for them to imprison you. The fact that copyright law is so widely ignored today is proof that it's not socially tenable in the face of new technologies.

Ideally, our law would be updated to match new technical innovations, but instead the scope is only getting extended so that it's easier to prosecute people who are using digital capabilities to do natural things.

We need to seriously analyze the role of intellectual property in our culture. Why are so many of the world's most massive companies people who are exploiting IP/copyright? The margins are pretty high when all you have to do is order new prints of a DVD, for example. Is this really a fair trade, or might we be giving too much away?

The clearest call for copyright civil disobedience:


I'm very much against modern IP/Copyright.

But calling that barbaric is absurd hyperbole. It casts people wanting copyright reform as fringe extremists. When when I explain how much copyrights actually cover, for how long, and the extreme penalties for violations most people can't believe it (many don't, it's too absurd and conflicts with their property and profits world view. similar to how you can't convince a climate denier with facts). But, if they do, they realize that MPAA, RIAA, et al are the fringe extremists.

They're fringe extremists who are nevertheless the appointed representatives of vast numbers of artists, producers, and heavily-monied interests.

We're a bunch of angry people.

I have no problem with people expressing the outrage of the situation in strong language.

(That being said, I too am an artist and sympathize with their plight. I wouldn't like some of you do away with copyright outright. But these laws as written are shackles and chains on our artists and culture as well.)

I agree. Civil disobedience is the only solution to such anti-intellectual crusades of greed. The only problem is that people that work on such tools will be persecuted (and prosecuted) even if those tools are completely legal (see the pirate bay, popcorn time, and anything related to bittorent). Still, better to risk trying than to bow down to greed.

That's kind of the point of civil disobedience. You acknowledge that the penalty is worth standing up for your cause.

No, I'm building legal software, not practicing civil disobedience. What others do with it shouldn't affect my freedom or life negatively. But it will.

Civil disobedience was a lot harder to do in 1776 then 2016. Marching in the street will probably have you bio-scanned, in a database, linked to your Metro Card.

So Plan B?

That is the cost of freedom.

It's on library genesis :)

How about a server in a satellite, with a Tor feed of anything anybody wants to put up there? Out of reach of oversight etc.

Hope you like federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. And the loathing and contempt of virtually all creative people everywhere.

See the thing about life+70 is that it has made a few people very rich, so cultural creatives are going to oppose not only attempts to roll back life+70, but also any attempt to roll back anticircumvention laws. They're hoping that they'll be the next to win the superstar lottery, and on the off chance that they do, they don't want their jackpot cut down from what previous superstars have netted. Never mind that vanishingly few people ever win this lottery, or that life+70 benefits publishers far more than it does performers.

In order for civil disobedience to actually work, there has to be popular support for the disobedience, so the cops and prosecutors don't feel like asshats for enforcing what looks to be an unjust and detested law. There just won't be that level of support for opposing copyright laws, not for at least your life + 70 years. So yeah, being sued or imprisoned is about the best you can hope for.

Sometimes a demonstrative, grotesque civil obedience is even better.

Let's get together with Wikipedia to mount a DMCA story to take down Wikipedia until the law is removed ;) ?

Are you really upset about access to a book that you can find in any library? There are reasons to be upset about copyright, but this is just nonsense to me. If you really want to read this book so much, and for free, patronize your local library.


I respectfully disagree. Civil disobedience has been paramount in almost every civil rights matter since the US became a country. It's prohibition. It's Suffrage. It's Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. It's Snowden and Binney. It's every time the establishment overreach has extended to the breaking point, it's every time even the Supreme Court has needed checking.

Not every justice is won by playing by the rules.

Didn't Swartz himself protest copyright by breaking the law?

Just to make sure, do you always vote for parties that are opposed to long copyright terms? If you were eligible to vote and didn't do this, then you have yourself to blame. Politicians are ultimately accountable to their voters and whatever laws you don't like are probably in place because most people either do like them or don't bother to check what they're voting for.

It's silly to claim you're not allowed to disagree with something unless you consider it the decisive factor when determining who to vote for.

Then, the only sensible conclusion would be that for s true democracy to exist we need to be able to vote for points-of-view rather than some persons.

Voting for parties that are nominally opposed to long copyright terms is insufficient to counteract copyright extension lobbying. There's only a couple parties out there that are meaningfully opposed to long copyright terms. Do you suggest we all vote for the Pirate Party?

Unfortunately the average voter around here would rather scream at each other about taxes, and simply commit copyright infringement...

Voting against copyright is likely to be a waste of time.

It would be much more effective to help write software that assists in the violation of copyright law.

In the US, the jurisdiction in the article, which party is that?

If you can't find one with a specific policy on that issue, then aren't there any parties aiming to reform the 2-party bias of the electoral system so that minority voices can be heard at all?

Well, in real terms, voting for a party that isn't democrat or republican in the US is a waste of time. The idea that eventually there'd be enough of a groundswell of support that another party would even become competitive? It just isn't going to happen with the way the US electoral system works. The Lib Dems in the UK have been fighting a similar fight for decades and still have little-to-no representation despite consistently getting 20%ish of the vote.

And in any case of all the reasons to vote for a party that is going to govern everything, intellectual property law is not at the top of the list. It's certainly not going to be the issue to bring voters out in enough numbers to make the major parties sweat.

> The Lib Dems in the UK have been fighting a similar fight for decades and still have little-to-no representation despite consistently getting 20%ish of the vote.

FWIW: They were in the previous coalition government, so they got very good representation for their votes. Unfortunately their voters hated what they did, so their vote collapsed at the next election (and the party they were in government with grew in votes).

"What they did" was strike a bargain to try and fix the voting system to make it more representative in future. The two major parties combined forces to campaign against more representative voting, because they were happy when it was just the two of them. The flip side of the bargain was that they'd vote alongside whichever party took them up. Because of that bargain, they didn't really get to vote in a representative manner. Who knows when would be the next time they'd hold the balance of power to try and effect voting reform?

And no, they didn't get 'good representation' anyway. They got 9% of the seats on 23% of the vote when they went into coalition, and in the last election, got 1% of the seats on 8% of the vote. Even as a junior party holding the balance of power in a coalition, they didn't have the clout they should have, from a percentage-of-votes-cast perspective.

But regardless of how you slice it, it's still a clear example of how a FPTP voting system ends up in a two-party political system.

> they didn't get 'good representation' anyway

They formed the government. Your original comment said they had 'little to no representation' - for a party with cabinet seets and the deputy prime minister, that's a bizarre claim.

Feel free to nuance it and segue into a discussion of FPTP, sure. I'm a Green Party member, so I need no persuasion there. But if you're a LibDem, then telling yourself you imploded because of 'striking a bargain to try and fix the voting system' is pretty self-delusional. The LibDems imploded because of their government record. They voted against the policy interests of the people who voted for them. If that's because of a bargain and sense of duty, then more fool them for getting played like a tool. No proportional representation will help with that. If they can't be trusted to stand for what they offered the electorate.

Which is all a side show from your original comment that I was responding to.

I'm Australian, so not a Lib Dem. But our last government was a minority government that was a major party in coalition with both a minor party and a couple of independents. Those independents got to have a slightly louder voice than their one seat would usually allow, but it's not like they were dictating general government policy simply because they held the balance of power.

> If they can't be trusted to stand for what they offered the electorate.

They were playing the long game. My guess is that they knew very well they'd be taking a body blow (since everyone was shocked by the coalition in the first place) but that in years to come, the system would be more representative.

And if it were, one of the two political parties would appropriate the cause as its own anyway, absorbing the minority party into itself.

I find it startling that, with the current terms of copyright, no music I'm listening to today or even in the last decade will be in the public domain before I die.

It's life of the author + 70 years so even if Disney no longer extends the copyright it won't be available in the public domain before your children die.

Available on archive.org (and going nowhere):


Then just read "Mein Kampf" instead, its already free.

I could laugh if this wasn't for real.

That's depressing. As I'm becoming older, I'm beginning to suspect that the bright sci-fi future isn't really going to come true after all, and we'll have to live in a sad bleak dystopia.

Why, considering that US copyright laws are ones of the worst, Wikimedia Foundation is still based here? They should move to other jurisdiction.

Lawrence Lessig: Re-examining the remix


But who holds the copyright?

I think it's the "Anne Frank Fonds".


Established by Anne's father and editor. Ok. I wonder if the Wikimedia foundation reached out to the Fond. and tried to get permission for posting of the content, or does Wikimedia only do certain licenses?

Yes, the only do "free content licenses," with limited exceptions.


Is there other story like the Anne Franck one? Why not boycot the museum in Amsterdam, the books and speak of others stories? That's cynical? Not more than the Anne Franck copyright's holders...

You are mistaking the Anne Frank Foundation (Dutch: Anne Frank Stichting), which maintains the Anne Frank House and monitors racism (specifically anti-semitism) in the Netherlands, with the Swiss Anne Frank Fonds, which holds the copyright to her diary. It is currently under discussion whether or not the Anne Frank Fonds actually holds the copyright, as it has been more than 70 years since the death of Anne Frank copyright should have expired, but the Anne Frank Fonds claims that Otto Frank (Anne's father) was a co-author of the book.

No need to boycot the museum, that's not the organisation that has the copyrights.

This foundation - http://www.annefrank.ch/ owns the copyright. It's meant for charity, but I don't think they realizes they are doing more damage by holding the copyright than whatever good the foundation is doing.

Ok, I know, first reaction, utter STUPIDITY of the human race. But don't let it down OK? There are some good, smart, people out there that care about it all. They're out there, they really are. Just keep looking. :-)

Like the people in the Wikimedia Foundation.

immediately downloads a digital copy as a matter of principle

This relates to Disney and Mickey mouse as follows, everytime the copyright of mickey mouse was about to expire the copyright law has been extended.

"This law, also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or (derisively) the Mickey Mouse Protection Act"


Mickey mouse copyright vs works of Jewish girl killed by the Nazis.

What a shame.. such stories should be spread widely and rapidly!

Wow, that's appalling!

but if it entered public domain in NL who can uphold Copyright in US? How can US law overrule dutch if it is of dutch origin?

It doesn't "overrule" it. NL copyright law applies to NL, not to the US.

I think the origin of the book doesn't really matter. The copyright was owned by her father Otto Frank, who then transferred it to the Ann Frank foundation, which still owns the copyright and can enforce it worldwide.

The idea is that the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author. It's really sad that the Anne Frank Fonds, which now hold the rights, claims that the diary was (partially) written by her father, Otto Frank.

So, who actually owns it?

Does anyone have a copy of it that we could seed on torrent?


Nice one a holocaust joke.

I'm not sure it's a holocaust joke.

Heirs and descendants are not synonymous.

EDIT: read the ownership dispute & history[1] at wikipedia - it certainly reads like various inheritors (heirs?) have gone to some lengths to extend the copyright of the original material by making periodic changes. I am not a lawyer, consequently I don't understand how such changes can affect status of original work (as in - how they can apply retrospectively to the original work - and not just affect copyright of those changes).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl#Copy...

Actually, her heirs are the ones milking the system. They own the copyright and could put it in the public domain if they wanted. They've formed a foundation who's job is to monetize her works.

I'm as appalled as the next man by this ridiculous copyright situation, but they could also be trying to ensure that nobody can modify the work in a way that would be disrespectful to the memory of Anne Frank.

That's a real concern, given that there are a lot of Neo-Nazis in the world.

But satire is covered by fair use, right? So I think the neo-Nazis aren't hampered by the copyright.

Yeah, fair point.

I doubt neo-nazis care about the copyright of a book written by "a dirty Jew."

Yeah, but the copyright holder wouldn't necessarily be happy with a commercial enterprise that adapted the work as Neo-Nazi propaganda.

I'm just saying that the motivation around holding copyright might not only be monetary.

Good to see the activism regarding copyright. On the other hand, when there is a real human who suffers like, say, Anne Frank, half of HN blames the victim.

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