A copyright of a few years would better reflect what has been going on in the daily life since 70's-80's. If you grew up then you would see films of only few years back on TV at which point you could tape them for yourself and your friends. Anything that was broadcast immediately became effectively free: there was always someone who had a copy you could borrow or copy yourself. This gave the industry a lot of time to milk revenues from the cinema and then home video until everyone had it from broadcasts.
With a few notable exceptions, I don't see content from five years back making a huge cashflow, not to mention ten years. Thus copyright could be a paid privilege.
You would get the copyright for the first year for free. Then it would cost more each year to maintain the copyright for one more year. Let's take a small percentage of the first year's total sales for a given piece, make it the cost of copyright for the next year and for the following year, add the same percentage to the previous cost of copyright.
We would therefore effectively be taxing the practise of hoarding content under copyright.
At the same time income from the content would fall so the markets would reach a point where it would cost too much to keep the copyright in effect. The content business could make their own decisions per each piece of content. They would extend copyright on the most popular films and music while let go of the ones that don't sell too well.
All this would benefit everyone and make the copyright monopoly vs people's rights closer to a balance.
I have a major problem with this. The problem is that if I purchase an item and it says 'Copyright (c) 1990' for instance, I would have no way of knowing when or if the copyright had expired. A fixed term would mean that I would know the date I could reproduce that work based on the work itself, which I held in my hand.
A fixed term seems to me the best of worlds. Probably something like 10 years would be enough.
My reasoning is that the vast majority of works would have exhausted their cashflow potential at that point. That a vanishing minority which had made lots of money would lose the opportunity to make vastly more is uninteresting to me. The work would still be fresh enough in the mind of society that a derivative work would be useful. If the work was successful then the creators name would still be fresh in the mind of society that they would have an inherent advantage when they created more. I personally don't see any reason why we should care that the grandchildren of a successful artist would not have a guaranteed income stream. My father is a civil engineer and has worked on infrastructure projects all over the world that will be used by millions for a hundred years or more and I will inherit what he leaves me in his will (yeah, he was paid for his time). I don't see any reason that the users of his bridge would be beholden to my descendants in 50 years time. My mother was a teacher and the thousands of children who passed through her classroom will grow up and live their lives and some will be successful and some will die in poverty and I don't have a single claim on any of their future income streams and thats the way it should be. I myself have created many works and I don't see that my claim on the future is in any way greater than my parents.
We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
Transitioning a book to film or TV can easily take 10 years or more and I think is a reasonable source of income for an author. It would seem obscene to me that an author could write a book and then 10 years later see major motion pictures released for the same material earning studios hundreds of millions and they get nothing.
Most authors earn a small stipend from their work and rely on that income through retirement, so I think a term until death, or commensurate with a single lifetime to support immediate family such as a spouse is reasonable, but that's it.
I think 30 years would be a reasonable medium. A writer who publishes a novel at age 20 could profit until she's 50. And most writers are active at older ages anyway, so this should be plenty of time. And certainly no movie or TV studio executive is actually thinking of profits 30 years down the road when they begin a project today.
Instead of writing about Jon Snow, you're writing about Dan Sleet, a suspiciously similar character.
In reality, this only matters for fan-fiction, multi-author universes like Star Wars or D&D Dragonlance, and cross-media adaptations. Most print-published authors have zero problems creating original characters. The problem is making them follow the plan for the plot.
That a book takes a number years to write is irrelevant. The copyright will be dated the year it is published, not when you thought of the idea. Guess what, if you publish a new edition? You can put a new date on that.. the fixed term copyright applies to the copy that you are reproducing, not anything else.
Anyway, GoT books started getting popular well before 10 years was up. George R R Martin got rich from the first few. If copyright on them had expired, well guess what.. he is still George R R Martin and he is still creating books which would be wildly popular and make him plenty of money he could invest for his retirement. That also means that he could have trademarked the characters and situations and retain exclusivity for the stories he created. He could licence those trademarks for huge amounts of money to film studios and get films made. George R R Martin would still be incredibly wealthy with a fixed-term copyright of 10 years.
J K Rowling would be incredibly wealthy as Harry Potter and all the sequels were incredibly popular pretty much as soon as they were written.
As you say though, most authors earn a small stipend from their work. I don't believe that they actually rely on that income through their retirement though. The vast majority of their small stipends dry up in short order. I used to work in the UK book publishing industry, 25 years ago. There were approx 30,000 publishers in the UK at that time, the vast majority of which had one or two titles to their name. That suggests to me that most of the books published were effectively self-published. The authors will have had to pay for the print run, and work another job anyway.
Coincidentally (or not) this term is very close to the estimated economically optimal copyright term.
Society has an interest in appropriately rewarding and incentivising creators of content. It's fair that creators should have ownership rights over their creations, within socially acceptable limits. Society has little interest in enabling freeloaders to profit off the creativity of others, whether those freeloaders are distant descendants and relatives, or contemporaries eager to appropriate other people's work.
Still I have little sympathy - it's hard to argue that endless Twilight fan-fiction did the franchise any harm. And there's plenty of non-canon James Bond films that have no impact on the main franchise.
I definitely support a short copyright period (say 10-20 years). Beyond that, as the original creators of the characters, any further 'official' content/stories created by them are likely to be popular if they are any good (and would be subject to their own copyright period). But if someone else takes on those characters and manages to produce great stories with them. Well fantastic, let's allow them to, and reward them for it.
I am bitter that Zelazny's heirs killed Amber RPG, one of the best of the time.
A lot has to be said on Dune and LOTR heirs as well. And don't get me started on Tintin, currently managed by the surviving second husband of Hergé's wife...
They could end up making a ton of money with it and not benefitting the artist at all.
It is supposed to benefit society as a whole. If protection is too long, limited access to (and reuse of) existing work reduces the benefits of having a law. If protection is too short, some works may not get created due to the lack of incentives.
Someone attempted to calculate an optimal duration, and concluded it was about 15 years: https://rufuspollock.com/papers/optimal_copyright_term.pdf (Related article: https://medium.com/basic-income/the-zombification-of-intelle...)
I guess I was talking about just a couple.
Reduce copyrights to just a few years and Hollywood, with all the parasites in it, would just lift songs like there's no tomorrow and further dodge paying a cent to the artists involved.
Many countries used to have strong explicit exemptions for personal use, but even just making it shorter in time for personal use would make a huge difference.
More than that, we’ve seen cases such as the Louis CK video release where he asked politely for people to pay and they did.
> Join creative, legal, library, advocacy communities to celebrate the public domain growing again for the first time in decades, and come network with an amazing lineup of people and organizations who will help us welcome this new class of public domain works. Presenters include Larry Lessig, academic, political activist, and founder of Creative Commons, Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cory Doctorow, science fiction author and co-editor of Boing Boing, Pam Samuelson, copyright scholar, Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, Jamie Boyle, the man who literally wrote the book on the public domain, and many others.
We've extended copyright so long that there isn't even a reason to extend it further. And now, the mechanisms to enforce copyright are so biased towards large corporations that, even without infringing, they can make your life a living hell if you cross them.
Don't believe me? Look at just about any youtube content producer. Basically all of them have stories about their content being pulled because some mega corp hears them mention something that might be theirs.
I think this is only temporary. The ongoing balkanization of streaming space makes piracy attractive once more. Sure, torrenting or even enduring a bootleg free streaming service isn't as convenient as Netflix or Hulu now in terms of watching (though I haven't used PopcornTime, maybe the experience is similar). But it also doesn't require you to juggle 12 paid subscriptions just to keep up with the movies you like.
Personally, I expect a resurgence of piracy in the coming years.
There is hard evidence to counter those notices, but ultimately nobody ends up taking it to court because it is too expensive.
"Last week, YouTube removed the claim from the flagger who said TheFatRat was using copyrighted material, and less than a day after Johnson filed a dispute on his video, the flagger released that claim. That means both YouTubers shouldn’t have to worry anymore about those specific videos.
Neither TheFatRat nor Johnson returned emails from the Daily Dot to see if they were satisfied with the outcome."
This implies that the content creators resolved their problems before getting traction on the published article. However, I will grant you the obvious point here that these content creators that were able to resolve their problems have a huge following, compared to the majority of content creators that don't have the same voice, so maybe this isn't the same for everyone. derefr who also commented below says that it should be the same for anyone who receives a DMCA takedown notice.
In that sense just claiming ownership of a track will deter most other creators to make money from it, even if they can use it. Actualy I think during the time the copyright claim is upheld any ad money done at that point goes to the alegde owner and is not reversed even if the claim is debunked, but I might be wrong.
But I understand the USA legal system doesn't automatically award costs to an injured party, so in practice noone cab afford to challenge any large media corp.
Which the complainant will never do, in these cases where it’s obvious that it was just an overzealous algorithm flagging things it shouldn’t have—because actually pursuing damages for those situations are exactly the type of thing that make a judge issue contempt-of-court charges.
It looks trivial to wipe out everything via a DMCA complaint. All you have to do is wait until the uploader is unable to respond. Given enough time, this happens to all human uploaders. Nothing is safe. This part of our cultural history can be wiped from existence.
The other problem is that the DMCA safe harbor provision does not (AIUI) prevent companies from being stricter than necessary, and things like Content ID filter posts even before the level of a DMCA action. If YouTube "forgets" to update Content ID to change < 1923 to < 1924, I believe there's no legal recourse for an uploader to force them to do so.
(IANAL and I haven't closely kept up with this so pleaee correct me if I'm wrong!)
This will not affect ContentID as even public domain content is identified.
But I will agree that the time limit on such copyrights has gotten out of control and should be rained in. Disney had and exploited the benifits of copyrighted works entering the public domain. It’s only fair (IMO) they allow others to have such benefits available to themselves too.
It's completely laughable to assume human culture would cease to develop in the absence of copyright; which is essentially it's stated aim. Evidence: the entirety of human history. The idea wasn't the brightest from the get go: this was lawmakers simply trying to be too clever.
But what bothers me most is the framing of "authors of a creative piece of work should have the right to protect their work"; when in fact it means "anybody or any organisation who made even rudimentary changes to almost any kind information can limit the rights of every other human on the planet". It's an absurdly blunt regulatory tool that's eminently vulnerable to regulatory capture, and oh hey; that actually happened many times over the centuries - and not just in terms of durations; it was expanded to corporations; penalties became more severe; exclusions were reduced; scope crept in the form of anti-circumvention measures; reach expanded by population growth and international cooperation.
Copyright and derivative laws in its modern form has to be up there as one of the worst forms of regulation, with huge economic and social costs, yet no good way out and no practical sunset clauses because of extremely entrenched habits and vested interests.
That said, that's also its only justification, and current terms have long reached beyond that. There isn't a book that wasn't written in 1923 because it would be freely available in 2004, and if we shortened terms to 50 years it would have zero effect on the production of new works. Not a movie less will be made because its copyright expires in 2068 instead of 21xx.
So if an IP horizon of (say) 30 years started to make a tiny but measurable impact on the kind of IP produced - then that's a sign that 30 years is likely waaaay too long! because the benefits are virtually nil, yet the costs are huge - not just culturally, but even economically, due to lack of competition (being an exclusionary right and all).
Not to mention there's this straw-man that the alternative to copyright is assumed to implicitly be a complete free-for all. I mean you could think up at least a dozen alternatives - like region limited copyrights; mandatory limited-price licensing; copyrights only for human beings, not legal entities; continually rising registration costs; production subsidies; citation and consumption based subsidies; retrospective rewards based on popular vote or a council of experts, etc etc etc - and you could easily use many of those ideas simultaneously - potentially including a very short old-style copyright term.
Also, technology has advanced somewhat since copyright came to be. Numerical models that would have been heinously impractical hundreds of years ago may now be trivially practical; i.e. accounting for each and every consumer of a piece of art may now actually be practical.
TL;DR: If society wants to support creators even at the cost to others - an entirely reasonable aim - it's a fallacy to compare copyright-as-is-today to anarchy.
I agree they should decrease and even said so in my post.
> It's completely laughable to assume human culture would cease to develop in the absence of copyright.
I didn't say it would and I don't believe it would either, but personally I believe if we got rid of all copyright laws tomorrow it would do more harm to smaller creatives than it would to the large corporate media outlets.
> anybody or any organisation who made even rudimentary changes to almost any kind information can limit the rights of every other human on the planet
If that is the case then you can take the source material they made changes to and base your work off that. Lets take Snow White as an example. I believe Disney currently still have copyright on their adaptation of the 19th century fairly tale (as the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" film came out in 1937). But as the original source material is in the public domain so you can take that original source material and adapt it for your own creation.
> it was expanded to corporations; penalties became more severe; exclusions were reduced; scope crept in the form of anti-circumvention measures; reach expanded by population growth and international cooperation.
These can be lowered (or expanded in the cause of exclusions) without having to remove the protection completely. I do believe the current system has flaws (I'm against the rules that prohibit users breaking DRM esp when it is for their own use, for being able to transcode media from one format to another for example). But as I said I am against removing all the protections outright.
This is technically true, but in practice the effort necessary to avoid infringing on Disney's parts of things has a really clear chilling effect on derivative use of the original public domain work.
Really only other large corporations with deep pockets for ip lawyers can afford to even risk it.
Imagine Einstein or the organization he worked for copywriting and then charging money for every single use.
Money is only one aspect of copyright. Not able to work freely is the real problem which actually kills the culture. Nothing flourished under fear of getting sued.
Only if it's completely original. In other words, in no case at all.
I like reading old pulpy science fiction. They are typically out of print, and will never have a reprint. I'll find a reference online, but won't be able to find a copy. There might be a plot summary, or a listing of which out-of-print magazines initially carried the story, but no copies.
As another example (and please somebody prove me wrong), I cannot find the 1954 movie "So This is Paris", starring Tony Curtis. No copies available anywhere on amazon, ebay, or searching through internet sites. There was a short clip of one of the songs on Youtube a few years ago, but it was taken down for copyright infringement. I simply cannot find it anywhere.
Copyright is a valuable tool to protect creators, but it does need to be measured properly because in its current form it becomes more about protecting giant international beasts like Disney (who hardly need it with all the new stuff they're producing, surely). The term lengths are ridiculous. I don't really know what they should be, but I'm pretty sure you could make a reasonable stab at it by looking at some statistics about how revenue drops off from works as they age.
So this change would only help someone pay for rent if you, in this example, had written a book in 1968, had a child at the same time and then promptly died.
That child would now be 50 and somehow hadn't managed to do anything worthwhile with their life to pay their own rent, but had been living on the proceeds of your book published in 1968. Now they'll be able to extend that into their 70s.
And that's in the very best case. This could also be a written in 1918 by someone that was 20, died in 1968, and whose copyright would only now just be expiring.
You write the book to build the fan-base, and draw your living expenses from signings, convention panels, t-shirts, collector's edition packages, etc. It sounds like a perfectly awful model for promoting the arts, of course.
Perhaps a gallery model? Write just one copy of a book, sell it for thousands of dollars, and let the one that buys it decide whether to unleash it on the world or not. It'd be like that Wu Tang Clan record that Shkreli bought.
Acquire a patron? Allow a rich fan to pay all your living expenses, and in return you put their name in the acknowledgements. Or crowdfund it, and expand the acknowledgements to more pages than the story.
There are a lot of possible models. The underlying problem is that most people just don't value art enough to pay for it in 2018. There are barely even enough people that value skilled labor enough to pay for it. If art were valued more highly, artists wouldn't even need to figure out how to be paid, because middlemen would be scrambling over each other to skim off some of the cash flowing from audience to artist.
In other words, the problem is that "art" is vastly overproduced. Which is only natural when it's being subsidized so heavily via copyright: everyone wants their chance at that rare bestseller which will see them set for life.
Honestly, we need to question not only whether copyright is a reasonable way to promote the production of art, but also whether there is even a need for such promotion in the first place. There is already more artwork in existence than any one person could properly appreciate in their lifetime, and no technical reason why it can't be perfectly preserved and made available to everyone at minimal cost.
Is the solution too obvious? Cut the term of copyright protection by 5 years every year, then start halving the remaining term after hitting five, until the shovelware "art" becomes trivially manageable. If it still comes in heaping, steaming piles all the way down to one week, then clearly copyright was unnecessary.
In theory, there’s still time to stop it from happening. Although USMCA was signed, it hasn’t been ratified by the US and, due to objections from newly elected Democratic House majority, probably won’t be ratified in its current form. Unfortunately, I don’t think those objections include anything about copyright, so in lieu of some massive public lobbying campaign, any revised version they agree to probably won’t change that part.
On the other hand, there’s a substantial chance that Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a deal on revisions, nothing gets signed, and Trump’s threat to unilaterally terminate NAFTA gets put to the test (both politically and, potentially, in court). I guess we’ll see.
There's zero chance the Democrats and Republicans fail to ratify the new USMCA. Neither party particularly wanted to dump NAFTA in the first place, it was almost entirely a Trump push to renegotiate it. USMCA is very slightly better for the US and North America, so it's better than the deal they all supported before that. It's a small group of Democrats posturing with their new control of the house. They understand the cost of letting the trade pact drop and they have no interest in owning that mistake.
The House party structure doesn't apply.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the President has the “Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” Ratification is thereby approved or rejected by the Senate.
> As of 2013, the majority of United States free trade agreements were implemented as congressional-executive agreements. Unlike treaties, such agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass. Under trade promotion authority (TPA), established by the Trade Act of 1974 and renewed by the Trade Act of 2002, Congress authorizes the President to negotiate "free trade agreements ... if they are approved by both houses in a bill enacted into public law and other statutory conditions are met.
In the case of the USMCA, the Trump administration is seeking approval under "fast-track authority", which he has under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. (This authority was originally set to expire in 2018 but was successfully extended to 2021.) 
The effect of fast-track authority is that when "implementing legislation" for a trade agreement is considered by Congress, no amendments can be proposed, debate time is limited, and (as a result of time being limited) the bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate. This makes it much easier to pass.
However, the process only applies to legislation, i.e. to the congressional part of congressional-executive agreements. Passing an agreement as a true treaty would still have to follow the normal Constitutional procedure requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which is generally considered more difficult than getting a bare majority of both houses. I'd say that applies even in the current political situation, because the Republicans will only have 53 seats in the Senate; a two-thirds majority is 67 votes, so they would need 14 out of 47 Democrats (30%) to vote yes, assuming all Republicans voted yes. In contrast, in the House the Republicans will have 200 seats, and would require 18 out of 235 Democrats (8%). On the other hand, the House rate would face an opposing majority leader, and the House can also vote to withdraw fast track authority. 
In any case, regardless of what the administration could theoretically do, it's currently trying to pass the USMCA as a congressional-executive agreement, which means the change in House party structure certainly is significant.
By the way, even if a true treaty is passed, in theory the House can refuse to provide funds to implement it, which is arguably allowed under the Constitution. But admittedly that's very unlikely to happen unless they really hate the treaty, which wouldn't be the case with the USMCA.
 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43491.pdf (page 27)
Good thing I filled my 1TB hard drive with thousands of identical copies of this work that used to be in the public domain...
This stuff is almost 100 years old. It was written for a society very different from our own.
Look at King Arthur. A thousand year old legend that’s getting another variant next month - The Kid Who Would Be King.
Different, yet still the same in many important ways. If this means great things like Harold Lloyd's seminal comedy Safety Last! will now be freely available, we've all won something...
The idea that the only reason the US extended the copyright term was because of Disney and Mickey Mouse is one of those clever, edutainment, Ted Talks kind of factoids. It is fun to write about and bring up in threads like this, but in reality, IP(including copyright) had become the predominate strategy of US economic policy in regards to globalization. That isn't to say Disney was not one of many companies fighting hard to extend copyright. Especially due to Micheal Eisner's Disney strategy which, at the time, utilized much of Disney's historical catalog. Most media companies(and US policy makers) are likely more focused on extending IP protections globally at this point. Which is probably one of the reasons we are not seeing a fight about this now.
It is actually interesting now that I think about things like this. I wonder if this is a product of the "Google Knowledge" era. Where quick and clever explanations spread do to their ability to rank higher in a search engine query or social media share.
Excerpts from the cited article:
"In this case, however, some external forces helped expedite the decision, as in Italy, the film was soon to move into the public domain, which meant it would be fair game for pirates and widespread copying. Snow White was released on VHS in 1994, and would break all records for Disney’s animated classics, selling nearly 50 million copies worldwide. It was the last of the early Disney animated films released for home video. Disney was also able to extend the copyright for Snow White."
"The enormous market Disney discovered in selling older films, underscored the “huge potential upside” in stepping up production of new ones. – Michael Eisner"
It was more about laying the groundwork for an intellectual property driven global economy, in which the U.S.'s major export would be IP. Keep in mind in the 90s, that's where people thought the world was going; we were deindustrializing and there was a (false) sense that everyone in the first world was going to become a "knowledge worker" while all the unpleasant jobs could be offshored. (But, somehow, the countries we were offshoring to were never going to develop IP industries of their own; it always seemed to be a one-way circuit.)
If you're a big company, and you find that someone is infringing on your copyright, you've always just been able to throw lawyers at the problem until it goes away, DMCA or no. Individuals, especially those who aren't rich, don't have that option. Until the DMCA, individuals had basically no recourse for copyright infringement that didn't involve paying for a lawyer they couldn't afford.
Here's something that came up recently that involved a group I'm part of. On Facebook, I'm part of a private women-only group for a particular fandom. Some members of the group are also mods and admins of one of the largest (mixed-gender) Facebook groups for that fandom, and there are a handful of toxic banned people who really have it out for them. One of them runs a meme page. So, one day, one of the members of the women's group, who's also the lead admin of the larger group, posts pictures of a cosplay photoshoot she had done at a con to the group. The photographer, by the way, was the admin of the women's group. Turns out that one of these toxic banned assholes had a mole in the women's group, and he posted her pictures all over the meme page along with a bunch of sexually harassing comments and insults about her weight.
Thanks to the DMCA, that problem went away fast. The photographer, who was livid that people would use her photos to harass her friend like this, filed DMCA complaints on every photo the meme page posted. Facebook took them down in about an hour. Toxic asshole posts them again, another DMCA complaint, another swift takedown. I'm assuming, by the way, that this got the meme page guy a 24-hour ban from Facebook, because that's usually what happens on a second offense. 24 hours later, the whole meme page went down... I'm guessing the owner took it down right after he got back from his ban.
I always thought it's more like: Disney are just greedy assholes with the Mickey Mouse thing; MAFIAA is the reason we have (and have to have) DMCA.
There's definitely a market for books, cartoons and merchandise directly adapted from Milne's original book, especially if they're cheaper than Disney's material.
Another studio could easily do a Pooh reboot with a new animation style and compete with Disney. I'd argue Mickey is more valuable as an icon than a character. And he's so associated with Walt Disney I'm not sure another company would ever be taken seriously making new Mickey material.
People know Pooh,Piglet,Eeyore, etc. as personality types. Not sure that's true for Mickey, Minney and friends.
Winnie the Pooh... I didn't know until now that it's even associated with Disney in any way. I grew up reading & watching it as a kid, and even this year I saw Christopher Robin in the cinema (I must have mentally tuned out Disney logo at the beginning). Point being, it's a franchise now, and it still sells like hot cakes, to adults. All the adult friends I know have a sentiment to Winnie the Pooh, and are - or are going to - show it to their kids.
Not surprised Disney would want to protect that.
But it's true most of modern Marvel IP is from 60s, and also it's hard to make an interpretations of the characters not based on the modern interpretations, and Marvel has trademarked everything from head to toes, including all the character designs and names (and even the term "super hero"), so... yeah who knows
They recently produced a number of shorts (like 3 seasons worth) starring Mickey, there are a few shows out starring him on the toddler focused market, they're building a keystone attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios around Mickey, they use him extensively in the parks still in new ways, etc.
He is still in very heavy use throughout the company, but I don't think Steamboat Willie entering the public domain will damage that. :)
Check out Disney Junior.
There's like 3 or 4 different unique TV shows on-air daily that all feature Mickey Mouse in one form or another. (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Micky and the Roadster Racers, Minnie's Bow-Toons, Tsum Tsum, Mouskersize, probably a few more.).
And that's just the shows -- there's brand new Mickey merch in toy stores all across America today. (There's even a Steamboat Willie plush toy in Target stores nationwide right now, if it hasn't already sold out - https://www.target.com/p/disney-mickey-mouse-90th-special-ed... )
We aren't in the target demographic for this stuff, so it's easy to forget about it. But Disney heavily promotes Mickey to the very young kids.
There’s still plenty of room to ratchet. Mexico, the other USMCA signatory, has life + 100 years.
(Disclosure: I work on this at EFF)
> Will Congress do the same thing again this year? To find out, we talked to groups on both sides of the nation's copyright debate—to digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge and to industry groups like the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. To our surprise, there seemed to be universal agreement that another copyright extension was unlikely to be on the agenda this year. "We are not aware of any such efforts, and it's not something we are pursuing," an RIAA spokesman told us when we asked about legislation to retroactively extend copyright terms. "While copyright term has been a longstanding topic of conversation in policy circles, we are not aware of any legislative proposals to address the issue," the MPAA told us.
> we expect that Disney will try to use another body of law to suppress creativity and commerce involving Mickey Mouse, whether or not "Steamboat Willie" and "Plane Crazy" are in the public domain: trademark law. If you sell something Mickeyish—including its public domain cartoons—Disney might ask a court to stop you because people who buy the
cartoons from you may think they're buying from Disney.
I dunno when I was in highschool we read things from lots of different time periods, including things after 1923, and there was no mention of copyright worries in the slightest.
At year 36 you pay $100 to extend. By year 70 you're paying several million to extend. By year 90 you better hope that The Mouse is worth the twenty two billion dollars you owe.
I recommend reading Lawrence Lessig's book "Free Culture" which came out at the height of the file sharing craze in the 2000s. It explains perfectly how we ended up here and why it doesn't have to be this way.
I see that I didn't write clearly what I meant to write, which was 35 years after the original copyright-holder's death.
> After all, it wouldn't be fair to tell a company they have to find an extra $22b per year from next January.
Copyright laws have already been changed with retroactive effect, so it's not as though any troublesome precedent would be set in that area.
Practically it's an unenforceable nightmare that is so prone to "Hollywood accounting" type gimmicks that doesn't work at all.
You see how stupid this is?
Function of hardware/software isn't covered by copyright anyway, unless you have a patent then people can recreate your hardware as long as they don't copy artistic features (non-functional box design, artwork, etc.).
Trademark serves a very important function for buyers/users in providing attribution of origin. Indeed IMO it should be strengthened to protect buyers -- anything with registered trademarks should have origin details publicly accessible so that the specific factory and third-parties involved are also flagged for buyers and not just the company that put a badge on it.
That said, I support copyright strongly, but the period should be more like 10 years unregistered + 10 more with registration.
Copyright is not a natural right but it's granted by the public; long terms don't give a fair deal.
Slightly aside of this: DRM is antithetical to copyright, works that can't enter the public domain should be denied protection; they break the contract with the public.
I've never worked for a company that did.
Trade secrets are a different matter.
Any consequence for me would have to be indirect.
The argument is only ever between better or worse, not perfection and nothingness.
One benefit you haven't mentioned. All in copyright works are centralised into one register so you can actually tell if something is copyrighted or not.
I'd go for an initially shorter period though. 10 years freely extendable for another 10 years? I suspect the majority of copyrighted works wouldn't even take up the extension. And allows people to do interesting things with that book that no one read that much sooner, for example.
So this sounds like a really uncompelling idea.
Few works produce revenue 50 or 100 years after publication. But even assuming a work dies, once you discount for time, revenue in 100 years is basically worth nothing now. Reducing or increasing copyright length by a decade would have almost no effect on working authors and can't financially incentivize their work.
I would suggest just plain control freakery. Even in USA, control over employees and resources, even to the detriment of the corporation, seems to be prized.
One is the right to exclusive distribution of the original work. The other is the right to make derivative works from that work. In both cases the commercial/non-commercial distinction may also make sense, but I think these are the gross categories. Let's call these two new rights "cloneright" and "adaptright"
Since we lump them together, these two things get mixed up.
Cloneright addresses concerns about the ongoing availability of a work (or translating the work to a different format) causing problems -- old video games, old films, old music, out-of-print books, things like that being lost or hard to obtain because making electronic versions of them is not possible without the approval of the copyright holder. It seems reasonable that this should lapse on a relatively short time horizon.
Adaptright is a different matter, and is harder to quantify. I don't think it would be acceptable for other authors to write sequels to an author's books, or studios to adapt them without the original author's permission, for a longer timeframe than cloneright makes sense for. Saying that the lifetime of the adaptright is tied to the author's lifetime makes sense here. It can take a long time for a book to be adapted into a movie, and it makes sense to have the original author to have some say in that (unless they choose to forfeit that right).
It might make sense to break this further down by commercial/non-commercial usage, or even by type of copyrighted work (relatively few songs, for example, are successfully adapted to movies or books, so adaptright might have to mean something else there) but I think this is a better framing of the copyright discussion than lumping the two gross categories together.
For figures like Mickey, which are actively used, rather trademark law applies. While the early cartoons might expire in copyright, that only gives the public the right to use those cartoons, not to create random "Mickey Mouse" products. That is a reasonable differentiation in my eyes.
To my way of thinking, copyright should be set to the minimum required to induce/allow creators to create.
I can't think of any creative medium/industry that would look more than 10 years out (except maybe Disney with their Marvel and Star wars factories, but I think that supports my point).
Copyright is a government granted monopoly. We have pretty beefy laws regarding virtually every other kind of monopoly because its generally against the public interest. The only reason to offer the monopoly in this case is to encourage content creation. So the period of monopoly should be no longer than necessary.
I know of one case where a guy wrote a book -- a gardening book -- which was quite popular for its territory and niche. Then the author died. Fortunately for his widow the copyright protects her now primary source of income. But for copyright existing beyond the author's life she'd be destitute. Books are a writer's pension plan.
Replace the Author with someone with a normal job. Do their widows have some right to ongoing payment based on their partners work?
It just seems bizarre reasoning to me, that doesn't seem to be applied elsewhere. And it doesn't even work that well. The Paul McCartneys of the world are rolling in more money than they and their relatives will ever need. Mean while there are actual creators that need paying jobs to continue doing their creating.
Why does one creators widow/child/grand/great grand child have more of a right to a living than another actual creator?
If we want a paternalistic system where we look after creators, then fine, do it fairly. If you want a somewhat free market where we attempt to maximise value for all parties then fine do it fairly.
Edit to add:
Copyright should allow/encourage creators to create. I'm not saying writers should have to churn out pulp fiction to make ends meet. I also don't think there should be an expectation that you can retire after one gardening book. The writer that retires after one book is a loss to society.
Individuals tend to produce smaller works because theres only one of them, concentrate on less capital intensive forms of creation, and I would contend tend to create regardless of copyright. Therefore the focus should be on allowing them enough money to create. Does 50 years allow them to do that? The majority of a works financial success in general comes in the first few years. I don't think the long tail of income dripping in is going to meaningfully allow them to carry on creating, and the cost to society isn't worth it either.
Companies are more likely to work on larger, more capital intensive works. And are less likely to be intrinsically motivated to create. Creation is about what money they can make. Therefore the focus should be on arranging it, so that it is worth their time to create new works.
Companies do not think long term in general. 10 years out is about the maximum. They aren't going to make investment decisions based on year 11. It will be based on years 1 - 10.
Will that film not get filmed because copyright is only 10 years? Will that book not get written?
I don't think those decisions will change, whether copyright is 10 years or 100 years. The only difference is society loses derivative works. What about that high successful fan fiction writer that never was? Or that director that (never) got their start remixing films?
The status quo isn't some Neutral where nobody loses out. Subsidies we give to current and past creators have to be paid by some one.
The only real difference I can think it would make is that set top box that you cant modify anyway no longer has a link to a 10 year out of date kernel.
In many other countries, it is not possible to voluntarily put works in the public domain. In those countries, you need to have a license. This is where something like CC0 is useful. CC0 has not been approved by the OSI as an open source license, but that's not really an issue. However, CC0 does not contain a patent grant and so it's probably not the best choice for software if you are looking for an open source license.
Patent license scares are greatly overblown and really only a realistic danger in case of corporate code. People tend to have the decency to point out that the algorithms contained in the code are patented. A license containing a patent grant might actually be dangerous because it creates a false sense of security for the receipient, thinking they have a valid title, only to find out later that corporation X actually had a patent on this algorithm.
Additionally, if you're sitting in a European jurisdiction, a patent license is completely pointless. Because software patents don't exist there. There's literally nothing that could possibly be licensed.
If I were in the US, I think I would place the code in the public domain and then also offer a CC0 license to anybody not in the US. In that case, personally, I would offer a separate patent grant just to ensure that people can use my code without worry.
For me, I would only do that if I'm trying to make a statement about copyright itself. There are lots of good permissive software licenses around and I think it's much easier to simply pick one of them. However, I can think of a few people who specifically want to unshackle themselves from copyright and this is the closest way I know how to do it. It's a definite shame that you can't do it fully on the international stage.
Well, it indeed isn't that easy. You'd have to provide some kind of fallback clause, which allows people to choose CC0 or some very liberal license (ISC, MIT) at their discretion – CC0 isn't OSI-approved and ISC/MIT has an attribution requirement, so there's once more a choice needed.
People could just believe you and use the software despite having no valid permission from the copyright holder if they're willing to take that risk and just act as if the code was in the public domain.
> I mean, pre-1976 you just didn't put a copyright notice on it. That was enough, it defaulted into public domain. Post-1976, it defaults to copyrighted, notice or not. What otherworldly ritual do I need to perform, or notice to put on my code, to ensure it's in the public domain?
You still need to perform an otherworldly ritual even if you have pre-1976 code. This is because even if you've failed to acquire copyright in the U.S., you still have completely valid copyright in states where copyright was already automatic at the time and where international private law refers to the law of the state for which IP protection is sought.
There is a good example of this that came up recently. Jason Rohrer wrote the game One Hour One Life and put it in the public domain. An unrelated group wanted to offer the game on mobile and in other markets (notably Japan). They specifically asked for his permission to do that. He agreed. As far as I know, that's enough. So it doesn't have to be complicated -- it's just a PITA for others to keep asking for permission if you don't give them a license up front.
Don't count your mouse ears before they hatch, there's still time for Disney to step in and demand we support the poor artists by extending copyright terms.
I wish that Congress would just say "Everything before Steamboat Willie is public domain, everything else has copyright in perpetuity". Just give us everything they can afford to lose while still getting paid.
I don't understand why life+20 years is a thing though, even life seems excessive.
Let an artist profit for twelve years off their work and then release it for free use. The vast majority of money will have already been made and the innovation of their work will have worn off.
Also, and here's the dark part: if it's just 20 years, rather than "life" or "life plus X", people WILL start getting assassinated just to get their copyright to expire faster.
Nah, the assasination would happen if it's `min(life, 20 years)` or `life + 20 years`; there's no reason to hire hitmen if it's simply `20 years`, regardless of whether or not the author is alive.
Yes, this is legalistic, but just giving some entity ownership over representations of anthropomorphized rodents doesn't really make a lot of sense either.
Your second paragraph seems to be saying the opposite of what you want it to?
So much of the American economy and brand is cultural exports, and this would absolutely destroy a huge chunk of that.
This will satisfy all the industry and academics, bar Disney.
... why exactly do they need copyright, again?
Can you imagine the chaos if, every time someone died, everything they did for every company they worked for immediately fell into the public domain?
And if that means you "leave a legacy" for 20 years, that your family can cash out on: no different from someone leaving their company or their land titles to their kids. Except that company or land will stick around a lot longer.
So...feudalism. How about we not perpetuate inequality.
I think is quite fair to say X years after death but only for family. Saying only while they're alive isn't quite fair.
Unfortunately the rightsholders tend to be publishing companies, not the kids, so the kids would still only get pennies on the dollar in royalties, if that. And technology is gradually making it easier for publishers to enforce their "rights" on even the stupidest, least popular works.
Trust me, this is work, I am an independent artist who has a thing that's out of print that she now regularly gets people asking her to reprint, and I am so damn burnt out from my last Kickstarter that I'm ignoring this ever-growing mass of people eager to give me money.
Estates are things. I'm sure a fair number of artists have been encouraged to publish towards the end of their life to support their children or causes they believe in.
That way, copyright will last for the life of the involved descendant as well.
So I'm doubtful if anyone would publish anything just for the same of supplying for their children. It's just not the best way to achieve the goal.
What if someone barely making a living dies tragically early? If it's too bad for their family, why does that artist's family get a free ride - how did they contribute to what the artist created.
USA copyright was ridiculous before joining the Berne convention in 1976 (or thereabouts), but at least if something didn't have a copyright notice on it, it wasn't copyrighted. If it did have a notice, you could figure out when it expired. Now you basically have to go to court to decide for sure.
to change the rules without the ear
of the full gamut of distracted proles
working through their seasonal roles
What is the point of the public domain?
Say the Capitalists with malicious disdain
And politics has become, post-Obama
Another TV show of scripted drama
So expect the announcement
with breath well-baited
For the Disney law
to be further weighted