November 29, 2005

The End of Copyright
  • Nah.
  • Ideas for all! The downfall of the giant of greed. Screw the music industry, artists should write because it's their passion, not because they need a living. That aside, can anyone help a writer whos down on his luck?
  • Maybe but "File-sharing will continue to grow ever more popular, but now there will be no one to sue."? There's still the sharers to sue.
  • I think the article made some interesting points, particularly with the architect analogy. Still, if filesharing is death of copyright, then copyright has been sitting in the emergency room since not long after the floppy disk was invented; and yet, companies still manage to make a profit from royalties on copyrighted material.
  • Copyright law is fundamentally broke. It is a concept that is largely outmoded and generally serves to stiffle creativity rather than foster it. The length of copyright will keep being extended indefinitly because Disney will never let Mickey Mouse fall into public domain. Disney will keep greasing the wheels of the government and they will keep passing new laws extending the length of copyrights. I think that the only realisic solution is to make copyright renewable. That way Disney can keep renewing the copyright on Mickey and then other things that are sitting on a shelf somewhere gathering dust can be put into public domain and creators who wish to do so can easilly put their creative works into public domain with a minimum of hassle (something that is not possible under current American Copyright law according to Lawrence Lessig). A great discussion of copyright law with Lessig is an episode of the podcast This Week in Tech. I highly recommend downloading it and take a listen (or watch it since there is a video version and the vidoe version is a bit longer).
  • You're right to a point, randomaction, but it's bound to be so much easier (and cheaper) to sue one big company than tons of little fileswappers.
  • 1999 called. It wants its op-ed back.
  • 1999 called. It wants its joke back.
  • Um, isn't copyright renewable already? Copyright law is outdated. Information-distrobution-based industries are outdated. I've argued before that our cultural conception of intellectual property is outdated as well. This author argues simply that our current conception is simply "right" because it's what people do. Is it ok that a certain percentage of the population kills people, just because it happens? Over time, the music industry will evolve or die, and our leaders will figure out workable systems of property rights. What happens to a materialist culture when its materials become immaterial? Maybe we'll all find enlightenment?
  • Enlightening the find... Whoops, sorry, wrong thread.
  • At lesat in America, no copyright is not renewable. It is automatic and something is copyrighted untill 70 years after the death of the author and 95 years for corporate works. Trademark, however, is renewable.
  • At lesat in America, no copyright is not renewable While technically Disney did not "renew" copyright on the mouse, they got the law changed to extend it.
  • I'm curious about the "copyright stifles creativity" argument. In a sense, I agree with the assertion, but only in a limited way. I could see, for example, a musician's creativity being 'stifled' if he/she wanted to sample sounds or segments off another musician's CD. Similarly, a creative writer might feel 'stifled' by not being able to base commercial works on Terry Pratchett's Discworld creations (or insert other appropriate author(s)). But, in theory, I can sit at home and sample music to my heart's content, or write Discworld fanfic until the cows come home. My creativity isn't being stifled, but my opportunity to distribute it, particularly for commercial gain, is. And can't you counter-argue that copyright also serves to foster creativity, particularly commercially viable creativity, in that it protects the commercial return on an artist's creativity? Personally, I'd've thought speculative patenting was a much greater threat to creativity, at least in a software / technology development sense.
  • I bang on about this ad aeternum, but do you think your work is worth getting paid for, while someone else's is not?
  • but do you think your work is worth getting paid for, while someone else's is not? Nnnnnope. Not getting what you're saying here, Wolof. If it's in response to my comment, could you please elucidate?
  • I think that there are certain cases where copyright is not usefull. Musicians, for example, hand over the master tapes to the record company and don't retain the copyrights. Most musicians make more money off of two or three sold out concerts than they do on a million selling record. Staying with music, while there is a fair use doctrine for the written word, there is no fair use for music. Therefore you can quote from a book without having to pay a fee, but the minue you sample one second from a song, you have to pay. The reason this stifles creativity is that not only can we, as listeners, not legally listen to some great sampling, because it is illegal to do so without going through a lengthy legal process, there is the tendancy to say, "Why bother?" As for writing, in academic writing, it is incredibly rare to make any money off of peer reviewed works (not talking about textbooks) and yet the first thing they do is make you sign over your copyright. If you publish and article and then want to rework it as a book chapter, something very common, you have to go back to the publisher of the article and get permission to use your own work! 99.99% of the time that isn't a problem, but why should I have to ask someone to revise and republish my own work. especially when most of these academic journals are the official journal of some organization that pretends to exist to hlep foster creativity in that field? There is also an article I ran across that talked about a scholar who wrote a book in response to some other scholar's work. The publisher refused to publish it because they were afraid that it quoted the original book too often. How are you supposed to critique someone's work without quoting it? The guy had to hunt down the author of the original book and get his permission to publish this book critical of him. Now if he had been a jerk and refused, that would clearly have stiffled academic debate over the issue in question. Non-academic writing is really the only place where I can see the need for copyright. However, there are publishers like Baen books that are giving away ebooks online and don't seem to be going out of business. Similarly, people like Cory Doctorow are also letting people download their books for free or evenreleasing them under a creative commons licence. I'm not saying that copyright should be eliminated entirely (see my first post for what I think should happen), just that the current system doesn't make all that much sense. But, yes, the patent system is just as broken, too. Additionally, I don't get paid for my writing. I get paid for my teaching. (and barely paid at that. Oh the harsh life of grad school!)
  • Most musicians make more money off of two or three sold out concerts than they do on a million selling record. I don't know enough about the music industry to make an intelligent comment, aside from an observation that the millions of album sales probably lead directly to the sold out concerts. I sit somewhere in the middle on the "copyright is evil" issue. To me, copyright is about ownership (master of the blindingly obvious, me), and the right to commercially exploit creative endeavors. I think it would be a difficult proposition to accept as an author where you might be expected to compete for commercial return on work against other authors blatantly using your own material for commercial gain. The publisher refused to publish it because they were afraid that it quoted the original book too often. I guess this might have been an opportunity for the academic in question to rewrite the book using less directly quoted material, which might well have fostered his creativity. Yes, I'm being sardonic, and I take your point. I suspect you could have a whole debate as to whether the non-existence of copyright would do much for creativity as an alternative. How creative is it, ultimately, to write fanfic set in a world and using characters made popular by another author? I don't doubt that it involves creativity, but does it fall short of creative originality? Perhaps we owe a great deal of the existence of a wealth of divergent creative endeavors exactly because people are forced to strike out into uncharted waters, as opposed to endlessly reworking and refining material already in existence. If anything, I personally agree that copyright currently covers too broad a period. I don't know what the reasonable alternative would be (10 years? 15? 20?), but it would be great to see works go into the public domain after a period that allows the author / musician / artist to realize a significant commercial return, if that possibility exists, without effectively locking that material away for the lifetime of those who were there when it was originally released.