Friday, December 08, 2006

Where'd this guy come from? Why wasn't I notified?

Copyright is meant to provide an incentive to create. It is NOT meant to guarantee Sir Paul's great-grandkids' trust funds or ensure Disney a steady stream of revenue for the next hundred years.
From an absolutely bang-up post on the letter versus the spirit of copyright law by TD at The Unforgiving Minute. Go RTWT.

12 comments:

Oleg said...

I disagree. Why shouldn't intellectual property be treated same as real property?

MarkHB said...

Ah, great! Two original content providers, in series, with differing views!

I utterly agree. Copyright terms are in no real sense "Limited", and in terms of corporate copyright, this often prevents a freelancer like my own self using his own work as part of his demo reel. Utterly barking.

Standard Mischief said...

I disagree. Why shouldn't intellectual property be treated same as real property?

It was felt by the founders that by securing, for authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries for only a limited time would be the best thing to do to promote the progress of science and useful arts.

Would the Springfield be designed around the Mauser if royalty payments needed to be paid in perpetuity? Would anyone ever try to build on the work of who came before them if they could not legally reuse the discoveries? Would ultra-creative people rest on their laurels if they knew that their creations would be exclusively forever theirs?

One need never worry, however, because as long as congress-critters deserve the name congress-critters, Disney will forever have enough influence to make sure that everyone will forever have to pay for that copy of Steamboat Willy.

However, I'm wholly surprised that there isn't yet a double standard for intellectual property held by corporate personhood thingys verses real people.

Standard Mischief said...

However, I'm wholly surprised that there isn't yet a double standard for intellectual property held by corporate personhood thingys verses real people.

Whoops.

From the linked article:

What it means in practice is that something I copyright today won't be out of protection until 2076, and that's if I die this afternoon. If I go out and form an LLC, make a movie or an album, and release it tomorrow, it won't hit the public domain until the next century.

Tam said...

Oleg,

" I disagree. Why shouldn't intellectual property be treated same as real property?"

Short answer: Because you can't.

Longer answer: Because Ideas aren't the same thing as real-estate. There can be only one acre at 1122 Boogey-Woogey avenue, but do you really want to pay royalties to the descendants of the guy who developed the Phoenecian alphabet every time you want to write a LiveJournal post?

Oleg said...

"Would the Springfield be designed around the Mauser if royalty payments needed to be paid in perpetuity?"

Here we get into the difference between patents and copyrights. Patent office deals with broad principles which could be discovered independently. Copyrights deal with specific manifestations of creativity which aren't likely to be created independently.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please.

The LAW is meant to advantage some over others. That it should be some other way is silly.

More LAW is better. That's the ethos of DEMOCRACY. You can't have too many laws...

Universal Suffrage is inversely proportional to Universal Liberty.

Don't Vote, live Free!

Standard Mischief said...

Here we get into the difference between patents and copyrights. Patent office deals with broad principles which could be discovered independently.

I don't think that technology that could be discovered independently is solely the reason why patents are only granted for a limited time. I think there's the reuse factor, or a building upon other's work factor that ends up fueling the capitalistic engine and has a trickle down effect on everyone's quality of life.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." --Newton

All I have to do is to convince you of the benefit to society from only having a limited length of the rights granted by copyrights.

So how about montages of video clips or photographs? Being able to affordably read, own, convert to a more portable format, or grep the classic works of Mark Twain or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Being able to include a scene of a performance of a play by Shakespeare in a dramatic movie? A wider availability of news reels in the teaching of history? Andy Warhol's soup cans?

Here's a blog post about a picture becoming an icon for a moment of history, and the crushing effects if the corporation holds those rights too tightly. There's also a short mention about how “It’s a Wonderful Life” becoming such a popular Christmas movie, arguably because it fell into the public domain for a while.

http://tinotopia.com/wp/archive/2004/01/05/intellectual_property_control_and_profit/

It's tough to pin down the “sweet spot” but I would argue for an automatic 40 years of copyright protection and then a nominal fee, perhaps the inflation indexed amount of $20 to extend that protection one time for an additional 40 years. This would allow abandoned works and works that were barely profitable to slip into the public domain yet allow still profitable works to stay privately owned for a longer stretch of time. I doubt that such “draconian” measures would deny the world the chance to pay for a movie ticket of ”Rocky XXVIIX”.

Steamboat Willie would eventually slip into the public domain, yet Mickey Mouse would always remain a Disney Trademark

Standard Mischief said...

whoops, here's that URL again

Oleg said...

"All I have to do is to convince you of the benefit to society from only having a limited length of the rights granted by copyrights."

Individual property rights do not exist for the public benefit. The ability of everyone to enjoy art will remain through either paid options or through free licenses granted by the artists or their heirs. The control over the works should remain in perpetuity, IMO, as with all other property.

Standard Mischief said...

Individual property rights do not exist for the public benefit. The ability of everyone to enjoy art will remain through either paid options or through free licenses granted by the artists or their heirs. The control over the works should remain in perpetuity, IMO, as with all other property.

You make a good point, and I do feel a bit funny arguing for less property right, however,

If individual property rights do not exist for the public benefit, why should patents expire either? Is the fact that someone could independently invent something a good enough reason to limit the length of patents?

Do you have a problem with property tax on real estate? Wouldn't that also be an infringement on property rights?

Is Eminent Domain (barring abuse) an infringement of property rights?

What about the estate taxes that were favored by the Founders to prevent compound interest from making de facto royalty from wealthy heirs? Is that also an unforgivable property rights infringement?

Do you support an amendment to change Section 8 of the constitution, or is a law, established by congress that creates a finite, yet long lived copyright expiration acceptable?

MarkHB said...

The problem with copyright is that it's gone mad, and in it's current form really only benefits those with sufficient lawyerage to fight the case. If someone in a different country uses some of my animation work, I simply don't have the resources to take them to task about it.

On the flip side, a fairly interesting back-stage documentary had to be digitally altered to remove a couple of seconds of "The Simpsons" that was just about visible on a television which happenned to be in shot. Fox had the time, money and inclination to enforce it's copyright over a bit of incidental footage which in any sane universe would have been covered by "Fair Use" - but, given the wonky nature of copyright law, they were able to tie this back-bedroom film up until the producers re-edited and altered the film. The incident's covered in full in Lawrence Lessig's book "Free Culture", a treatise on copyright that every content creator of every stripe really should read.

That's broken and wrong. That's like Heckler and Koch making Oleg pay to have one of their guns in his pictures. But that's the way the current system is arranged.