As it stands, copyright serves little positive social purpose. The overwhelming majority of creators get paid little if anything for their work, and still there is a glut of content. So there should be no fear of the world losing lots of great content if there was no copyright.
Most of the benefit of copyright is reaped by the middle men, who profit off the work when the creatives that made it have long ceased to do so (if they ever did). Abolishing copyright will thus mostly affect these middle men, and have little effect on content creation itself.
Those creatives that still want to get paid in a copyright-free era can find business models that don't rely on copyright, like performances, donations, or kickstarter-like models when one is paid for future work.
I agree that America's current version of copyright is flawed, and that rights-holders hold the rights for too long. Maybe copyright should require a tax, as some have proposed. Make it a penny for the first year, doubling annually.
But you would also have the cultural shift into the rationalization that digital information isn't being artificially confined anymore. Anyone looking at something asking for money to see it will learn over time that no, they cannot stop you from finding that information as long as someone valued it enough to make it available.
The mindset of creators would have to change. Instead of making the thing (and risking everything on the ability to sell it) you don't have to go into it as a gamble, and you don't have to execute doublethink by assocating something that is worthless (copying) with profit while something valuable (creation) is done for free. You would have to make something to have credibility, but from that point forward you just need to offer your creativity to make things, say how much money you want to make / release some creative work, and once made create / publish it. And then its free, and all of humanity can enjoy it, and you defeat the predatory middle men much more so than today.
People and groups with axes to grind would edit and redistribute my work to serve their own ends.
This sounds like the fear is that people will maliciously butcher your work by carving it up, or altering it, or otherwise presenting a piece of your work (or quotes, or thoughts) without the full context. And there's no one that does this better than the news agencies.
It's having less effect now. It's still a real concern, but it's interesting that as people are becoming more aware of the fakes, we're also spotting cases similar to the above concern. And no legal protections were necessary to call them out.
If you repurpose someone's work, at no point in history has it been easier to make noise: twitter, reddit, HN, medium, anywhere. If your story is true, people are thirsty for drama. Which is rather upsetting and repugnant, but you can also take advantage of it when you need to.
It seems true to say that we could axe copyright without authors being negatively affected. People still pay for content, and for those who can generate it. But it would require testing it out to see how it plays out in practice, and that's not so easy.
I think folks are more familiar with the term, but not necessarily any more inclined towards 'detecting' it. Rhetoric still rules the US, at least.
For example, why would I pay to have a new Star Wars movie produced, when cable companies, NetFlix, and YouTube would all copy the film and have it available for free on the day of release? If I operate a cinema, I would need to charge $15 a ticket to recover the costs of producing the film, while John Doe can start a cinema, and show my film for $3 a ticket. So, why would I pay to have the movie produced? What would be my advantage over the competition, and how would I recover a few hundred million dollars?
Independently, no, I would not be able to single handedly fund the millions of dollars required to create such a film. The good news is there are a lot of people in the world who like Star Wars, and I imagine in the absence of artificial scarcity soaking up spending money those fans would put their money towards seeing the films they want made... made.
Information is not a scarce resource and while there are many business benefits to the current arrangement, IP on balance harms the average person.
For those that say small artists need IP to survive: how much cheaper would an artist’s health care and automobile be if both of those industries had essentially “open licenses” (in our speak) for that content. How much cheaper would a Toyota clone be if it used standard parts and didn’t change every year, where any manufacturer could produce the necessary parts?
Artists could live as well as they do now for cheaper if there were no IP laws in my opinion.
There would not be a Toyota to clone since no one would invest in researching original IP that will be exploited be everyone else right away.
The Toyota clone wouldn’t be as good as the real thing and so there would still be a market for first party goods. But that market would be smaller as many people would be satisfied with a clone. And isn’t that more “efficient”? People satisfied with the cheaper good get the cheaper good and people who want the quality go for the original.
In today’s market, when someone who would be satisfied with a clone ends up buying an original, we see that extra money is spent only because Toyota is holding a monopoly on the design information. Except only creating the value should be rewarded, not monopolizing it.
We can see today how Joseph Prusa with Prusa research designed the worlds most popular 3D printer, yet many of the users are using clones. There is a market sufficiently interested in quality to support his 30 person (I believe) business despite his product being totally open source and actively cloned by huge companies.
It is possible to deliver value as an innovator and creator by selling the best stuff. Even at 3x the price of clones Prusa continues to grow.
So I don’t believe that there wouldn’t be car makers - though perhaps there’d be no “Toyota”.
99% of "content" being churned out by amateurs is absolutely dire. Producing creative works of serious merit requires a major investment of time and resources. Many skilled and talented people really would be put off investing that effort if they knew that an advertising company could use their music for free, or a publisher could churn out paperbacks without paying a royalty.
The primary problem is clearly understood - endless copyright extensions that offer no benefit to artists, but concentrate power in the hands of a few media companies. The duration of a patent is 20 years; I think this would be a reasonable basis for copyright. Failing that, I think that "author's life + 10 years" with an orphan works clause is also reasonable. What certainly isn't reasonable is the current duration of copyright, which is effectively forever.
You act like that's a good thing... What do you believe these middles mens will do then? They will just steal instead of paying.
Theses copyrights at least force them to pay and try to create unique content instead of stealing the newest idea.
Open your TV and look at Star Wars ads. Notice anything? Where I'm from, in Quebec, but it looks like it's everywhere, Disney allowed many companies to use Star Wars to advertise their products. It's crazy. I don't care much, but do you see anything particular about these ads versus the others? No originality. They are stupid, boring and are essentially: "YOU LIKE STAR WARS, WE DO TOO, BUY OUR PRODUCT".
You know why they do this? Because it's cheap and it works. Original creation is expensive and hard. You just saved so much cash for these middle mens, it's crazy.
Okay, now what's the gain for everyone else? Now you can legally read old stuff without paying the old content creator (do it illegally then, except the moral dilemma, which you doesn't seem to have, I assure you, the legal world probably won't do much to you)? Now you can use Star Wars characters in your stuff? That's it?
The gain is minimal... for god sake, if you want to reuse, then recreate. Possibilities are endless, please, do something new instead! I read that some people aren't too happy that 2017 was essentially a year of remake/sequel in movies.
I agree that copyright has taken ridiculous and perverse forms today, but I think the old point still stands that you have to find a solid alternative for creative workers before you can abolish it.
There is a lot of fanticization of IP whenever discussions about getting rid of it come up - about how regular people can utilize courts and the legal system to enforce their copyrights. In practice, the only way to even realistically produce creative works and then try to use copyright as a means to profit is through the cooperation of a corporation promising to act as the middle man distributor and enforcer of said copyright. Even the largest of private creative endeavors don't have the resources to go pursuing violators of their copyright in court.
And the only real victim of copyright abolition becomes those large media corporations who suddenly lose their ability to artificially constrict distribution as a revenue source.
There is certainly an argument that people want Star Wars, but I'm not convinced a post-copyright Disney would die, either. They have a reputation now for quality production. If they came forth seeking investment to create things people want, there would still be billions of dollars flowing in to see things people want made by them, but the logistics would be completely different.
But in practice, you make money today as a creator by having something people want where you can get them to pay you for it - beforehand, after the fact, with tertiary merch sales, whatever the means. You survive off your popularity and the willingness of others to see you funded to keep creating. Without copyright, nothing about that fundamental changes, and its not like the trillions of dollars spent on entertainment today suddenly dries up. If anything, it would be a creative renaissance - the things people want to make being made by the people who want to make them, where everyone gets what they want (a good standing of living and new media) versus today where creativity is shackled by government and for most creative endeavors the individual has little to say about what is being made - because artists expect their livelihoods to come after the fact.
But... copyright is how the vast majority of those employers are making a profit, and how they're able to pay the creative professionals.
Why? Being a "creative worker" doesn't mean the market owes one a living. Abolishing copyright would make competition and innovation easier, as well as allow creative people more freedom without fear of legal repercussions. This would benefit consumers in the long run by driving costs down and forcing quality to win in the marketplace, rather than letting a few big companies assert control over valuable IPs.
Many of us believe the right to freely edit and redistribute software is fundamental, why would that right not naturally extend to all forms of media? Especially given that most creative output nowadays exists as software.
As for software: You can choose to put your code under an open source license, you're not obligated to it. Many have the financial means to do so but many who make a living from that software don't.
People could still prefer J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter even if it wasn't illegal for other people to write Harry Potter fiction, the books and movies could still make money on name recognition alone. But if someone did come along and write a better version of Harry Potter that became more popular, wouldn't they deserve to profit as well?
Why should Disney be able to do that with a thousand years' of fairy tale mythology, but no one else be able to with modern mythology like Star Wars? Having cultural expression so inextricably locked up by corporations is not healthy. And yes, it might devalue the individual in the marketplace, but everyone suffers that fate now, regardless of their field.
I agree that it might be beneficial for society if all media were available for free and I agree copyright is probably not the right tool, but that's why said more thoughts effort needs to be spent to find better alternatives.
Books, maybe. But without copyright, what keeps movie studios from just turning J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books into movies without paying her anything?
My argument here is that part of the intrinsic value of a creative work is in the author or team behind it, and that doesn't necessarily need the force of law to back it up.
Look at doujin culture in Japan. People create derivative (mostly pornographic) works using established properties and characters, but the originals still retain their value. It's technically illegal, but it's still permitted as authors consider doujins free advertising and a way for new talent to showcase their work.
Of course it doesn't. The starving artist trope is very much real.
Creative workers are mainly entrepreneurs, and they take massive risks for little reward. They work 15 hour days just like any startup owner.
>> Abolishing copyright would make competition and innovation easier, as well as allow creative people more freedom without fear of legal repercussions.
No it wouldn't. The flip side of copyright is that it prevents someone from going in a ripping up or destroying artwork without legal repercussions. This is why many street artists can become famous, which would be impossible if their work was simply painted over by the next artist. In many cities, the next building owner cannot even paint over it legally.
>> This would benefit consumers in the long run by driving costs down and forcing quality to win in the marketplace, rather than letting a few big companies assert control over valuable IPs.
You read the same internet as I do. Low quality work has won the content war through the shear force of quantity.
>> Many of us believe the right to freely edit and redistribute software is fundamental, why would that right not naturally extend to all forms of media?
Some creative workers believe the same, and there works of art of all forms that follow the open source philosophy.
However, there is a big difference between modifying (which is allowed under copyright laws) and outright theft. If someone clones your repo on github and takes full credit for your work, you wouldn't be happy about it. If they put ASCII dicks all through the source and said it was your work, this would probably offend you.
>>> Especially given that most creative output nowadays exists as software.
eyeroll -- most programmers aren't creative professionals or engineers.
It's not necessarily untenable, but it would have some very painful consequences.
Something more like: For the next 5 years, all copyrights before 1970 become subject to the "author's lifetime" standard, and nothing else changes. If the experiment fails, then those rights are automatically restored to any corporations/estates that owned them. (With some mechanism to shield copies made in that interim from future litigation.)
That sounds like a more balanced version of the experiment, and I still think it has very little chance of coming to pass. I'm not good with Bayesian formalism, but my priors are something like: status quo most likely, permanent (but small) concessions to get a little bit more old stuff into the public domain next most likely, all other options highly improbable.
Finally: maybe it's sensible to try to shift the Overton window by calling for the abolition of copyright. But I don't know how one does that kind of thing ethically if you don't really want to go that extreme.
There are changes that can be made to copyright without abolishing it; mainly restricting corporate ownership and reducing the periods to prevent rent seeking, other alterations can also be made to provide additional freedom for derivative works.
But abolishing copyright outright sorry won’t work and anyone who suggested it never has likely never worked in a creative field.
But I don’t see a problem with this anyone who’s employed exchanges the ownership of their production in exchange for a reliable stream of income.
Let’s forget artists for a second if you develop an app should I be allowed to copy it and sell it as my own?
I'd say yes and yes with one condition. You may not modify the app and sell it as unmodified. You may not claim that I authorized you to make changes when I have done no such thing. This is just my opinion and not how the law works today. I anal.
The problem with copyright is that it's often owned or assigned to companies, which are potentially immortal and are constantly lobbying politicians to extend its duration.
Why not distinguish between author-owned copyright, which could either be for a fixed duration or for life, and company-owned copyright, which would always be for a shorter period?
I realize this would create a huge accounting burden... but only in cases where it's worthwhile to continue charging for the property.
Now, on the other hand, if you phrase it as a renewal fee, that would go over much more smoothly. Patents, for instance, have maintenance fees required at 4, 8, and 12 years, and they double each time.
I'd love to see, as a step towards limited-duration copyrights again, an exponentially increasing scale of renewal fees. For instance, after the first 5 years, it could cost $1000 for the next 5, $10k for the next 5, $100k for the next 5, and so on. (Throw in a grace period where all existing works get 5 years from the date this is passed, so people can adapt, and have time to evaluate what to renew.)
On that scale, after 5 years, any work producing value would be worth renewing. Some works will be worth renewing for 20 years. Incredibly high-value works might be worth renewing for 30 or even 35. But there'd be a serious tradeoff there; is it worth spending that much to renew the copyright of an old work, or to create a new one that grabs people's interest?
And as a bonus, abandoned works that no longer have anyone around to care about renewing would move into the public domain.
At any time you have the option to quit paying and give your IP to public domain. Also, any IP not in the registry would automatically be in the public domain. This would solve the issue about orphan works and give some benefit from the IP to the society that enforces the IP.
Exclusive right to copy something (or make derived works) is not an intrinsic right. It's a right given to you by society. As above, it's great that once it is given to you, that you own it. It would suck if society could just arbitrarily take it away from you. What I think you are trying to argue is related more to the fact that copyright is not an intrinsic right. As a society, we do not have to grant a copyright at all if it is not beneficial to us. We need to do a better job of balancing the interests of all parties.
The proper way to solve the problem with excess copyright is by properly limiting the duration as written in the constitution.
And, it can be morally justified -- if someone is sitting on the rights for a work, and isn't using it, then it makes sense to levy a tax against it as they are utilizing the expensive resources of the world governments in order to defend the copyright.
There is no large concentration of wealth on the other side of the issue to support it, therefore it will never happen.
Sorry folks but that's how politics in the USA works.
Who will swiftly pass the additional cost on to their customers. Voters who see it that way won't vote voluntarily to pay more just so content creators can keep their copyright.
Is it somehow easier to lobby for longer copyrights than longer patents?
Is owning copyrighted works more profitable than patents, yielding more funding for lobbying?
Is the amount of turnover from copyrighted works so much greater than the turnover from patents that while both proponents are lobbying for longer durations the copyright guys beat the patent portfolio owners 10x (or 100x) in numbers and they cross a threshold for lobbying money where they get at least something done?
Financially looking, is the lack of lobbying an indication that patents aren't really worth anything because nobody is willing to put money into protecting theirs by lobbying for longer durations?
Is it somehow legally more difficult to lobby for longer patents as opposed to longer copyrights?
Patents are especially rotten when it comes to "software patents" but their founding ideas would be a fresh gust in the copyright land. Limited duration, requires active renewals, any secrets are put on the open table straight from the beginning which ensures that the fall to public domain will actually be possible.
For copyright, on the other hand, certain franchises are worth lots of money but there is a limit to how much you can build on past works. Disney could theoretically insert Mickey Mouse into every film they make, but that grows old fast. They have to create completely new stories, characters, etc to make money.
There is very little incentive to cross license most creative works. Even where it is done fairly liberally, for example American comic books, I think you could argue that it isn't necessarily a good idea. Apparently the most lucrative approach seems to be to exploit something while it is popular, then sit on it for 20-30 years before you "reboot" it for the next generation. What the copyright lobby is protecting against is that potential "reboot". They generally don't want it to be used in the meantime.
I think this is one of the areas where the FSF gets things right. It's really misleading (and potentially dangerous) to lump "intellectual property" into a single bin. All of the things commonly referred to as IP are really different in terms of motivations of actors and consequences to society. Would anybody seriously argue for time limits on trademarks, for instance? It would be an interesting world if anyone could sell "Kellog's Corn Flakes" just because the trademark was old ;-).
It's because there is no incentive for large corporations to stop the former while there is plenty for companies to stop the latter.
Large tech companies have been fighting against patent trolling and they have the money and power to enact change.
Excerpts from a detailed Priceonomics article (https://priceonomics.com/how-mickey-mouse-evades-the-public-...):
> Even if Mickey’s copyright does expire in 2023, Disney has no less than 19 trademarks on the words “Mickey Mouse” [...]
> According a precedent set in a 1979 court case, a trademark can protect a character in the public domain as long as that character has obtained what is called “secondary meaning.” This means that the character and the company are virtually inseparable: upon seeing it, one will immediately identify it with a brand. [...]
> In other words, Disney has ingrained Mickey Mouse so deeply in its corporate identity that the character is essentially afforded legal protection for eternity, so long as Disney protects him (trademarks last indefinitely, so long as they are renewed).
I mean, let's say the Steamboat Willie short was public domain. Disney doesn't make any significant money selling it, so no real direct loss. The character name is still trademarked, so that's not available for use.
What exactly is the possible harm to Disney?
It's much better if Disney uses the already perpetual nature of trademark rather than continuing to push for distorting copyright.
I don't know that they really would be satisfied with that though, since they have so much under copyright that wouldn't get this kind of trademark treatment.
It’d be nice if we could find a way to handle Mickey while also releasing Catch-22 etc into public domain.
Copyright does not meaningfully harm creativity. Sure, you can't publish your Harry Potter fanfiction. But you can borrow all the themes you want from it. Magic schools, mysterious back-stories, dark lords and flying brooms can't be copyrighted.
Moreover, Disney cannot prevent you from using Pinocchio, Little Mermaid and the rest of the public domain stuff they have used.
Effectively unlimited copyright leaves a hole in the availability of older books, making it impossible for there to be any growth on top of them.
There is an enormous amount of Harry Potter fanfiction. You're restricted from selling it though. But, as an author of twilight fanfiction proved, when you're ready to sell you can just find and replace some names and be good to go.
As a result, we can't view those shows in their original, and as I described, iconic, format -- or sometimes, at all -- except haphazardly on syndication or through piracy.
I mean, shows that e.g. everybody would sit down at home and watch on Monday evening.
Tell me that doesn't have a cultural impact. As just one example.
Copyright is in serious need of reform. You're granted a limited monopoly, not total, perpetual control -- nor the right to remove what were public, cultural objects from public discourse.
Something similar is at risk with regard to the news and other reporting. Watch copy vanish from the Web. At a minimum, there need to be modern libraries of such content where access is guaranteed. It represents the continuity of our history.
And so, nobody can do what Disney did to bootstrap themselves.
Part of the synopsis: "... that developed countries are attempting to 'kick away the ladder' with which they have climbed to the top, thereby preventing developing countries from adopting policies and institutions that they themselves have used."
Specially interesting those from works made in the 1800s: Most of those would have been copyrighted under the current law if it applied at the time they made the movies!
There should be an initial period of several years (somewhere in the 7-13 range) where copyright remains free.
This is where the problem begins, the text of a novel maybe in the public domain but the typesetting, binding and printing of most editions is not.
As such you'll be in breach of copyright if you try to OCR a copy and distribute it.
I'm sure someone will try to call me out on this, but my partner is a qualified librarian, with a specialism in copyright law.
It's far from settled that that's the case, though.
As for typesetting, I'm not sure if it's treatment in the US, but it's not out of the question that it could be protected. For works this recent though, someone finding an original edition (whose copyright would have also lapsed) would not be difficult in most cases even if necessary.
(I didn't downvote you, FWIW.)
You can't OCR from nothing, at some point you need a direct copy, be it in memory or on disk, of thing being copied.
There's even good solid precedent that copying computer software from disk to memory for the purpose of running it is a copy covered by copyright. A manufacturer sued a third-party computer maintenance company alleging copyright infringement by the technician in simply turning the machine on, and won.
There's even a specific carveout for software, section 117(a)(1), but the same decision held that since that section applies only to the "owner" of a copy, it doesn't apply to licensed software.
It's a pretty bonkers case. Congress explicitly overruled it by adding _another_ carveout in the same section, 117(c), which basically specifically says computer repair people don't infringe copyright in the OS by turning the computer on.
Regardless, mere copying with nothing else can be infringement.
But there are rarely black-and-white issues in copyright law. (Even with black-and-white scans...)
Or is there a reason the government would listen to one multinational corporation or billionaire while simultaneously ignoring another?
The critically important question: how many works would be created with a perpetual copyright (under whatever terms) that would not also have been created with a 14-year or 28-year copyright? The answer seems likely to be "not many", and certainly not enough to be worth trading away the the opportunities created by the public domain to get it. The public domain also tends to inspire the creation of many works.
In talking about copyright, we're talking about trading off between two things people want: a useful and vibrant public domain with plenty of works in it, and the authorship of more works (that will eventually end up in that public domain). Trading off the former completely to get an extremely marginal increase in the number of works does not seem like a trade we should make.
Now, that said, I would be in favor of the concept of having a shorter period of exclusivity, and a somewhat longer period of exclusive commercial use, such that non-commercial derived works become permitted after that shorter period. But even the latter shouldn't be perpetual, and both should be far shorter.
> Hollywood accounting (also known as Hollywood bookkeeping) refers to the opaque or creative accounting methods used by the film, video, and television industry to budget and record profits for film projects. Expenditures can be inflated to reduce or eliminate the reported profit of the project, thereby reducing the amount which the corporation must pay in taxes and royalties or other profit-sharing agreements, as these are based on the net profit.
But, are you telling me that the choice is between "no patent or copyright, everyone has the right to copy whatever you do and make all the money in the world from it" and "even if the creator is long dead, you will have to wait the better part of a century"? If that's my choice, then it's no copyright.