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Copywrongs 2.0: Prevent EU copyright reform from breaking the internet [video] (ccc.de)
131 points by doener on Dec 28, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

Can we just make copyright infinite already? And then tax intellectual property the same way we tax real estate? Both are rentier economies, so it makes sense. If you don't pay your tax, you lose your copyright.

I really like this metaphor. I have extremely negative feelings (bordering on hatred) for the increasing duration of copyright protection, but this sounds really, really good to me.

I could actually see the average person who doesn't care a bit about oppressive copyright terms actually getting behind this.

Edit: I want to qualify here that I'm assuming such a renewal system would incorporate fee increases that would make it economically impossible for any copyright "owner" to practically extend their copyright infinitely. Increasing the fee exponentially would probably be too steep a slope, but it gives you an idea of what I'm thinking, at least. The original "founders copyright" in the United States-- 14 years w/ a single 14 year renewal-- is alright with me in a no-fee arrangement. Beyond that, though, renewals ought to get very pricey and should be short term.

Longer copyright terms definitely deprives the social good for copyright to exist in perpetuity, but if an "owner" is willing to pony-up very large sums for the public coffers to obtain short term renewals I'm alright with that.

One way of managing it could be to have the company that owns the IP assign a value to it, and tax based on that value.

Then require that the IP is effectively always for sale, so must be sold if anyone wants to buy it.

So-called "intellectual property" is already valued on balance sheets, too. I don't know what relationship to reality that balance sheet representation actually has, though.

I'm on the fence about the "value" of the copyrighted work factoring-in to the equation. On first blush I tend to think the "cost" to the public of withholding rights from the public domain is high regardless of the "value" of the copyrighted work to its "owner". A "valueless" copyrighted work should be equally (and oppressively) expensive to withhold (for a long duration) from the public domain as a "high value" work. The point isn't the "value" of the copyrighted work, it's the term of "protection".

It's a bad analogy. Because it encourages locking up knowledge forever and results in harming progress. Taxes are a poor compensation for this damage. The whole point of copyright is "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". Extending it does exactly the opposite.

That would depend on how you implement it. If the tax increases each year there will necessarily be a point in time where even the most profitable franchises become too costly to protect. Particularly if it increases at an accelerating pace.

I qualified my statement because I agree with you, however I think a balance could be struck. Make infinite renewal practically impossible and heavily tax the "owners" who opt for short renewals beyond the "default" term. That tax, at least, offsets some of the damage being done to the public domain.

In practice I think, introducing such tax won't be any easier than reducing the copyright term. So it's better to focus on the later.

I don't see the latter ever happening, at least in the US. Taxing the big bad corporations has a populous angle that decreasing copyright terms doesn't have.

> I don't see the latter ever happening, at least in the US.

Why not? With enough public support, insane copyright terms can be reduced.

>> With enough public support

Most people really don't care and then out of the people who do care not all of them will agree with your position.

>Can we just make copyright infinite already?

How about no?

I don't see anyone winning against Disney. Copyright will be infinite and I don't think anything from the last half century will ever enter the public domain. Better just give up on this battle and think of ways to work within the system.

There is no doubt that copyright is one of the least discussed but most significant factors in the American economy. Because people who depend on copyright control our political dialogue, they ensure that copyright almost never comes up, because they know the current state is repugnant to anyone who understands the extent of it.

In the U.S. copyright will never be "forever". The Constitution requires that the monopoly be granted only for a limited time in order to promote the progress of the Sciences and Useful Arts. Jack Valenti infamously suggested copyright terms of "forever minus one day" in light of this fact.

I wouldn't give up hope yet, though. Things change. Interpretation of the law by SCOTUS will eventually shift to more closely approximate the experience of people familiar with modern information technology.

Cornerstores of American law like the first-sale doctrine exist because judges in the pre-internet era could relate to and understand the inherent fairness in being able to resell an object that's in your possession. Law affecting the internet is horrible right now because many judges are technically illiterate, but that's gradually improving, and I'm sure as the internet continues to come of age and judges with experience and understanding of it take the bench, we'll start to see much more hopeful outcomes. We're already starting to see this a little bit, with cases like Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble and QVC v. Resultly.

Disney may seem like a invincible behemoth today, but they've been close to the brink before, and I'm sure they'll get there again. Nothing lasts forever.

Enforcing copyright more aggressively may be a good way to cause a sufficient ruckus to at least get the law revised. In the meantime, the internet affords the ability to deal semi-anonymously, and it may as well be used. This provides protection from suits under some of our insane copyright and network access laws (incorporation doesn't).

"While taxes are paid" is, technically, some sort of limited time.

This makes sense to me. One of the problems we have is abandonware; copyrighted stuff stuck in the limbo of "we know it belongs to someone, so no you can't use it, but we don't know who, so no you can't ask them if you can use it". Paying some kind of copyright tax would give a mechanism for abandoning things.

The biggest problem with taxing copyright is how to value it, which ranges from wildly arbitrary to completely impossible.

The most rational way would be to tax licensing revenue, but that makes it a non-solution to your problem because if nobody knows who to license the copyright from then nobody is licensing it and there is no revenue to tax.

It also seems rather unlikely that if you can't stop a completely irrational copyright term extension, you could nonetheless bring about a copyright tax on the same people. You're more likely to be able to prevent further copyright term extensions.

And there is a well known solution to the orphan works problem, which is to require copyright registration after some period (e.g. after every 14 years).

> taxing copyright is how to value it, which ranges from wildly arbitrary to completely impossible.

It doesn't have to be impossible, you just have to create a system where the copyright holder values it for you.

Imagine you decided to have a 1% copyright tax. To maintain your copyright you pay the government some amount of money. That amount will be extrapolated to determine the true value of the copyright. So if you pay 10 million then you get a 1 billion valuation.

Here's the catch. In order to incentivize copyright holders to value their IP accurately anyone is allowed to purchase full ownership of the copyright at the value of their valuation. The holder can of course counter a purchase by paying more tax and you prevent predatory buying by requiring the money up front.

Consider what you're doing to startups. You've created the next big thing but have little cash, someone shows up with a lowball offer and now you have to take it because you don't have the cashflow to pay the tax yet.

There is also the political problem that you would be forcing artists to sell the rights to their art to the highest bidder, even if the highest bidder is their enemy, or a censor who would erase their public image by locking their work in a vault and never showing it to anyone.

yeah, these are good points.

If you're taxing revenue then what do you do in the case of person A who licences the copyright (for nothing) to person B who then makes a living from it. All those loopholes...

But it does seem that attaching revenue to a law makes it more likely to get passed. "Screw Disney, we can alleviate budget problems with this..."

One problem with this would be that copyright holders would expect more from the state in terms of enforcement of their copyright when they pay for it. I don't see how that could reasonably be achieved, so it would be difficult to convince people to this system

What do you think the effect would be of copyright enforcement becoming practically infeasible?

I've been thinking about that, because I think that's where we're going: a fully opaque internet (by necessity) and widespread deployment of fully user-controlled computing resources (unlike now, with blobs and DRM coming out of everyone's asses).

We're already living in a world where copyright enforcement is nearly impossible and the effects seem minimal, if any. People do want to reward creators in general.

Is there a practical way for us to declare independence from the guys who run national states?

Custom-made spaceship and your own colony?

This has been tried too (and much hilarity ensued): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemen_on_the_land

Expect a Gundam/The Expanse type of conflict

Only in very limited ways. Online, for sure. But interfacing with meatspace is problematic. Moving too much data, or too much money, is risky.


„If you think that 2016 was a terrible year ask a copyright activist“

If you have problems watching this video, here you find it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2OyBuIPK4U

Don't link to the CCCen channel: It's not the official one but someone (legally due to the license) reposting all the content and monetizing it. Instead link to the official ad free media.ccc.de channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1HbJ4oZsck.

Should be fine to visit either if you have proper adblock, though.

I quite like the control ot gived me over what parties I support monetarily: none by default.

You still give that channel your watch time, making the YouTube algorithm recommend that channels videos more

Good point, I didn't think about that.

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