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Copyright Alliance Presses Presidential Candidates 291

Posted by kdawson
from the we-don't-need-no-stinkin'-balance dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Not satisfied with the current copyright terms of life plus seventy years and huge financial liabilities for infringement, the Copyright Alliance is pressuring presidential candidates for stronger copyright laws. In particular, they want the candidates to promise to divert police resources to punish even non-commercial copyright infringement. After all, without copyright, what would become of the next Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci?"
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Copyright Alliance Presses Presidential Candidates

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  • Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dintech (998802) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:07PM (#21446915)
    I refuse to believe Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci's works would be any less great despite their copyright status. Don't those works predate copyright? Aren't they just proving the point that great works are most useful when they are free in the public domain?
    • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dintech (998802) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:14PM (#21446967)
      I'd also like to add that those artists were successful in their own times. Maybe not mega rich, and maybe there were fewer people hanging off them getting rich from their talents. However their lives perhaps demonstrate a successful model for artist in the post copyright era. In the case of Shakespeare by having his work played in the public domain perhaps the future for bands? Also Michaelangelo being commissioned (and paid) for his art. I'm sure their are a few rich fans out there who would love to commission their very own Red Hot Chilli Peppers track for instance.

      Oh I'm sorry, I'm forgetting about the poor media execs...
      • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:25PM (#21447045) Homepage
        This is such an unattractive debate. I have less than zero sympathy for either pole.

        On the one hand we have media execs that demand tougher copyright laws "to protect artists" while having clauses inserted in the same bill to cheat them of their returned rights.

        On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists.

        Copyright is a legislative issue. The chance of a Presidential veto of copyright legislation is quite small. The opinions of the candidates are pretty well irrelevant.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists.

          Man, I'm sick of this strawman argument. The only people who want everything free, forevah, are retarded 12-year olds. The rest of us just want to pay a fair price, which basically means premium price for new/popular stuff, and a lot less for everything else. You know, how the market works.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld (263942)
            Man, I'm sick of this strawman argument. The only people who want everything free, forevah, are retarded 12-year olds. The rest of us just want to pay a fair price, which basically means premium price for new/popular stuff, and a lot less for everything else. You know, how the market works.

            It is the argument repeated time and again on Slashdot. Evul medja execs, blah, cheat artists, blah, get my movies from bit torrent via the Pirate Bay.

            The objective of the Priate Bay is not to make content available a

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DesScorp (410532)
            "Man, I'm sick of this strawman argument. The only people who want everything free, forevah, are retarded 12-year olds."

            Well, then Slashdot is dominated by retarded 12 year olds. Because the dominant ethos here is "I want it free, and if you don't give it to me, I'll steal it, and there's nothing you can do about it".
        • by Z00L00K (682162)
          The problem is that it's not the creator of the works that benefit from the copyright as it is defined today but the deadweight like RIAA and MPAA members that take the bulk of the cash. I don't have a problem paying if I'm certain that the cash ends up in the pockets of the creators, but as soon as the creator is deceased and all ties wrapped there is no benefit for the afterworld to have any copyright on the work created.

          Of course - there is a gray zone where the creator may have died with debts, leavin

          • by mpe (36238)
            Of course - there is a gray zone where the creator may have died with debts, leaving a spouse behind etc.

            This can apply to all sorts of people.

            but in general the value of copyright after death of the creator(s) is rather low.

            Especially if encouraging them to create new works is a primary idea behind having copyright.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld (263942)
            One important option is that the copyright should never be transferable - the creator shall always be in control. There may be multiple creators involved in a work, but that's still possible to handle.

            OK I have just finished writing a book. If copyright was not transferable I would have had no choice other than to self publish.

            OK so you didn't quite mean that I guess, you meant that the author's share is not transferable. But that means that I have no option other than to rely on income from royalties.

        • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Quantam (870027) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @02:38PM (#21447581) Homepage
          "On the one hand we have media execs that demand tougher copyright laws "to protect artists" while having clauses inserted in the same bill to cheat them of their returned rights.

          On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists. "

          I'm increasingly of the belief that the morality of file sharing is irrelevant. Right or wrong, I doubt even the government can stop it, as easy as it's become. And we're already at the point where companies' pursuit of profits are inhibiting the good of society, and stopping file sharing (if we are to assume that is even possible) would go much further than that, with a result a lot worse than starving artists and media executives.
          • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:40PM (#21447987) Homepage
            I'm increasingly of the belief that the morality of file sharing is irrelevant. Right or wrong, I doubt even the government can stop it, as easy as it's become. And we're already at the point where companies' pursuit of profits are inhibiting the good of society, and stopping file sharing (if we are to assume that is even possible) would go much further than that, with a result a lot worse than starving artists and media executives.

            Society is not held together with technical security measures. It is held together by accountability and honesty.

            The critical mistake of the RIAA is that they engaged in a whole heap of unethical practices such as the returned rights grab at the same time that they were demanding ethical behavior from others.

            The RIAA made it socially acceptable to commit file sharing. People don't see the behavior as criminal, they don't see it as wrong.

            This should not suprise people, after all President Thumscrews is doing the same in Iraq, preaching to the world about the benefits of democracy while actively encouraging the use of torture.

            Hypocrisy has a corrosive effect on society.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              The RIAA made it socially acceptable to commit file sharing. People don't see the behavior as criminal, they don't see it as wrong.

              No, that's not quite true. Naturally, it's easy to get that impression from sites like Slashdot, but in the wider community AFAICT, people do feel guilty about piracy. One person, I kid you not, was actually relieved that a CD was copy protected, so that he wouldn't have to face the decision of a new CD + guilt, or nothing. What the RIAA has done is polarised the debate somewhat

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by CRCulver (715279)

                No, that's not quite true. Naturally, it's easy to get that impression from sites like Slashdot, but in the wider community AFAICT, people do feel guilty about piracy.

                I spent a lot of time in countries where piracy is the norm (since legitimate media is not sold in stores). There is no guilt.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Tim C (15259)
              The RIAA made it socially acceptable to commit file sharing. People don't see the behavior as criminal, they don't see it as wrong.

              I disagree. I think most people found it socially acceptable to copy stuff long before this whole debate got started. Ever since it was easy to copy stuff at home people have been doing it. Why do you think so many games back in the 80s used copy prevention measures? Back then there were no anti-file sharing crusades, no headline-making law suits, no fat-cat executives making ea
        • On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists.

          It's not great for the artists. It's just too bad for the artists. It's pretty damn good for everybody else.

          • by Morosoph (693565)

            It's not great for the artists. It's just too bad for the artists. It's pretty damn good for everybody else.

            Because it seems so counterintuitive given some popular (well fed) preconceptions, but the evidence appears to be that it is about neutral for the artists. They lose a little to students, and gain a little from older fans who get to sample their work.

            There's an old post of mine [slashdot.org] with some relevant links.

        • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:38PM (#21447979) Homepage Journal

          On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists.
          Zeinfeld, you're not paying close enough attention. I am anything but exceptional, yet I make great effort to support artists and innovators directly, completely circumventing the copyright system. As someone who makes my living with my intellectual property, I am qualified to give an opinion on the issue: Supporting the record labels, movie studios, Sony, Fox, etc., has absolutely zero to do with supporting artists. If they could get away with it, every one of those corporate vendors of art and media would do away with creative people completely. To them, we are nothing but superfluous content-providers. That's one reason you see all of the above throwing resources at "user-generated" content. They would love to turn every creative venture into nothing more than a delivery system for wealth from consumers to them.

          I am well-acquainted with the anti-copyright and anti-IP community. These are not people who "want to have everything for free", but generally people who put great value on innovation and creativity. We just believe that innovation and creativity are not being served by the current system, which is designed only to enrich people who have neither innovation or creativity. Most of us actually pay more, and put more energy into supporting artists and innovators directly.

          In particular, they want the candidates to promise to divert police resources to punish even non-commercial copyright infringement.
          This is evidence that the corporations who control content see themselves as above the law, and will go to extreme lengths to protect their immoral and tenuous hold on the flow of ideas. They are fighting on several fronts to keep themselves rich and powerful. They want to destroy the currently relatively neutral manner in which information moves on the internet. They are using every technical tool to try to lock-down content so that they keep complete control over it's movement and use. They want to destroy any publicly-funded spread of content such as libraries. They want to destroy and lock-down any uncontrolled use of content such as Internet Radio, Slingox and similar products, or P2P content sharing. And they will go so far as to destroy the Internet as we currently know it in order to achieve their goals. They will not stop until the Internet is nothing more than a metered, monitored and mediocre method of moving money from our pockets to theirs. They will go to any lengths, including subverting the constitution, bribing lawmakers, and using the police powers hitherto meant for public protection in order to save their wealth and power. Because without their pimping of the creativity of others, they have nothing to sell, no assets, and will disappear.

          I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the RIAA, their sponsors and others like them are the enemy of anyone that believes in liberty, creativity, and the free flow of information and ideas. If you support artists, creators of media, writers, inventors, innovators, or if you yourself are one of these, they are your enemy too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nEoN nOoDlE (27594)
          On the other we have a bunch of folk who want to have everything for free and construct elaborate explanations as to how this is great for the artists.

          Not everyone just wants stuff for free (although that would be nice). Innovation and art is being stifled in the name of copyright and giving artists and execs more money for no work. It's a broken system when a person can make 1 song and live the rest of their lives without working a single day. I'm sorry, but no song is worth that much wealth, and receiving
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SonicSpike (242293)
          Actually the chance of a presidential veto with Ron Paul as president is quite high!
    • by clubby (1144121) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:14PM (#21446971)

      I'm no fan of copyright as it exists today, but just because I don't believe entertainers should necessarily be fabulously wealthy doesn't mean I want them to die broke and penniless, and that did happen a lot more prior to copyright.

      That said, the idea of diverting further police resources to prosecute people who listen to music they're not supposed to listen to is terrifying. Yikes! If I didn't already live in Canada, I'd move to Canada.

      • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tony (765) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:37PM (#21447139) Journal
        . . . doesn't mean I want them to die broke and penniless, and that did happen a lot more prior to copyright.

        Many people died paupers, not just artisans and inventors. Even today, most musicians, authors, poets and inventors die without making much money from their art, while most other folks have a bit more income.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rolfwind (528248)
          Indeed, the great copyright myth as it is sold today covers the fact that the corporations benefit from it in the current state and they are only lobbying for more. Many famous artists don't even own their own songs in their entirety.

          We shouldn't be duped into thinking this corporativism is helpful at all for the artists. Frankly, I don't think any legislation - even well intentioned legislation - will ever help artist. What will help them is open distribution channels where they can retain control inste
    • Re:Great Works (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arivanov (12034) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:18PM (#21446995) Homepage
      They would not be less great. They will be in jail.

      Sir Isaac Newton wrote, "If I have seen farther than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants".

      So did Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, da Vinchi, Bocaccio, Chocer and everyone else.

      If copyright was enforced at that time they would have been in jail.
    • by pipatron (966506)
      You forgot to enable your sarcasm detector.
    • by s20451 (410424)
      The question is not whether innovation is possible without copyright. The question is whether copyright enables more innovation than is possible without it. The data points we have indicate that strong IP laws are correlated with highly innovative societies. Since that is the intent of these laws, then the simplest explanation is that the laws work, and this correlation is caused by those laws.
    • by MrNemesis (587188)
      "Don't those works predate copyright?"

      Technically, yes, but since the various AA's decided that Shakespeare et al live on through their work, they granted a de facto copyright for 75 years since one of his plays was last read or performed (effectively a derivative work). They're also campaigning to get RIAA maths adopted across the scientific community, to the extent that one copyright year is equivalent to 830 terran years.
    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:38PM (#21447147) Homepage Journal

      I refuse to believe Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci's works would be any less great despite their copyright status. Don't those works predate copyright?
      Yes they do, by hundreds of years, and that sarcastic point soared majestically high above your head, like a mighty eagle.
  • Damn! too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:09PM (#21446941)
    I was going to comment making a prediction that someone would completely fail to spot the "what would become of the next Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci?" comment was meant to be ironic. Seems I was too slow.

    Slashdot can be depressingly predictable at times.
  • by christurkel (520220) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:11PM (#21446949) Homepage Journal
    After all, without copyright, what would become of the next Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci?"

    Widely imitated styles that will help usher in a new Renaissance of learning, arts and science?
  • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:12PM (#21446961)
    We need a much much much weaker copyright system. Already, due to "copyright infringement" the *IAA has managed to fine single mothers and college students outrageous amounts of money for supposedly "stealing songs" this has already harmed the emergence of P2P software as a way of distributing bandwidth better as simply a way of "illegally" distributing material. In technology, there is little innovation compared to what there should be due to software patents, outrageous licenses and copyright. We need to protect fair use and give the right to make backups and to share files and songs, without it, despite what the *IAA thinks, our economy of software, music and movies will collapse leaving the *IAA and artists without a penny. Our copyright system is broken, if it becomes hardly any stronger the USA will be right up there with China and other nations that are hostile to information sharing and become even more digitally shackled then we already are.
    • by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#21447103) Journal
      The most I'll grant anyone respect for is 5-10 years for software and audiovisual media, 20-40 years for books.

      And I'm blatantly violating copyright laws all the time with my BT tracker, but am I bothered? Do I look bothered? I don't see anything wrong with "blatantly ignoring" a law I don't believe is right. We need so many people to "blatantly ignore" it that they have no choice but to concede (like that'll ever happen).

      -uso.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:19PM (#21447005)

    Copyright Alliance Presses Presidential Candidates

    OMG! Special interest groups are pushing their agenda by pressuring politicians! We've never seen that before! But what will become of us!?!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by deniable (76198)
      Special interests in media. Modern politics is all about money and media. The two go together. Telling media special interests where to go would be a real smart move for a politician. He'd end up with fair and balanced reporting.
    • I know that my vote will be greatly affected by how candidates come down on this issue.
      • Same here. I'm already not too happy with the front-runners, so if one of the candidates (Ron Paul?) comes out and stands up to this lobbying without caving they'll be more likely to get my vote.
        • by 4D6963 (933028)

          In case you're not aware Obama is the one candidate who's the most anti-special interest groups of all, by far.

      • by rlp (11898)
        I know that my vote will be greatly affected by how candidates come down on this issue.

        Problem is that you'll never get a straight answer from most of the candidates on this issue. And if you do can you trust them once they're elected?

        Best bet is look at their records and see who's already been bought.
    • by multisync (218450)

      OMG! Special interest groups are pushing their agenda by pressuring politicians! We've never seen that before!

      So you point is ... we should all just stick our heads in the sand because it happens all the time and we should just blissfully ignore it?

      Maybe, if people are made aware of specific instances of "special interest groups" lobbying for laws that benefit them to the detriment of everybody else, some of them will pick up a pen and write to their representatives to express their opposition?

      But what wil

  • by Slashidiot (1179447) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:19PM (#21447011) Journal
    Copyright is already far too long, as it lets you make more money while being dead. You are dead! You cannot be productive! No reason to pay you anymore! Because, no matter how well I did at my job, once I die I stop getting money.

    Copyright is supposed to exist to promote creating stuff, so you can profit of what you created. "As long as you live" should be long enough for anybody.

    I certainly will not be creating anything and thinking: "And when I die, my grandson will still be getting money for this!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vux984 (928602)
      Ah, but that's the beauty of assigning copyright to a corporation. They don't have to die. They don't have to ever stop earning money.
    • "As long as you live" should be long enough for anybody.

      Alas, you'd likely have a lot of content producers dying young if the law worked this way -- this is why they adopted "life plus" -- so that nobody could immediately benefit from the copyright owner's death.

      Personally, I think that a fixed term (35 years tops?) makes much more sense.
    • The two problems with that are, one, corporations, and two, it's reasonable for an artist's dependents to be fed by his work for a little while even if he's hit by a bus one day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Plunky (929104)
        The two problems with that are, one, corporations, and two, it's reasonable for an artist's dependents to be fed by his work for a little while even if he's hit by a bus one day.

        My employers will not continue paying my dependents for any significant amount of time after I die.

        Whats different for an 'artist' then??

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuelNO@SPAMbcgreen.com> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:20PM (#21447015) Homepage Journal
    This is the time to start lobbying your presidental and congressional candidates and worker groups. If you get a handful of IT specialists and shop them around to the candidate who's attitude is most friendly to consumer issues in copyright, you'll really get their attention.

    Candidates don't just need money (that's good too). They also need volunteers, and -- if they see people lobbying for volunteers to support pro-consumer candidates, they'll react to that.

    This is where "Vote Early, Vote Often" actually applies.

  • by Phantom of the Opera (1867) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:21PM (#21447023) Homepage
    Some of the Bard's work was based on the work of other artists. Romeo and Juliet come to mind. From Wikipedia :

    Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to Ancient Greece. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1582. Brooke and Painter were Shakespeare's chief sources of inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. He borrowed heavily from both, but developed minor characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris, in order to expand the plot. The play was probably written around 1595-6, and first published as a quarto in 1597. The text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original text.
    In such an idea ownership culture, those works would never have propagated and come to maturation.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:23PM (#21447035) Homepage

    How would you promote the progress of science and creativity, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, by upholding and strengthening copyright law and preventing its diminishment?

    United States Constitution, Article 1: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

    So I guess the correct response would be to enact legislation:

    1. Prohibiting "work for hire" contracts, to ensure that the exclusive rights are secured for the author. According to the Holy Constitution, all authors should be freelance, not toiling on Massa Mickey's content plantation.
    2. Setting up a body to make subjective value judgements about whether an artwork is "useful" or not, as the Constitution mandates, with an assumption that it is not (otherwise why would the Unquestionable Constitution specify "useful" at all?).
    3. Repeal the Mickey Mouse Protection Act and "limit" the duration of copyright in order to promote "progress", rather than eternal milking of the same work.

    I think that about covers it. Any more that I missed?

    • by zotz (3951)
      "I think that about covers it. Any more that I missed?"

      They are good ones, especially the first, but you might want to look at these:

      http://zotzbro.blogspot.com/2007/04/some-thoughts-on-copyright-offensive.html [blogspot.com]

      all the best,

      drew
      • by IvyKing (732111)
        I'd prefer a slightly different tack on a couple of your suggestions.

        For original works, copyright should be automatic and free of charge for the first 14 to 28 years. After that period, a tax of 5 to 10% of the gross recepits will be imposed.

        For works derived from the public domain, the works would be considered public domain unless the creator can show the same amount of original work that would qualify for a copyright on a work derived from copyrighted material and copyright tax would apply immedia

        • by zotz (3951)
          "For original works, copyright should be automatic and free of charge for the first 14 to 28 years. After that period, a tax of 5 to 10% of the gross recepits will be imposed."

          This is a major problem from a subtle angle...

          It means that everything you come across is suspect. It may be in the public domain and available for your use, but you have no way of knowing this.

          So. Automatic copyleft unless you put on a copyright notice at a minimum. Then at least anything you find with no copyright notice is safe to
    • by Elemenope (905108)

      I like what you said, except your point #2 is based on a misreading. The "useful Arts" back in those days referred explicitly to craftsmanship and engineering--what we would expect patent law to cover today. It's the "writings" and "authors" wording that leads to our conception of art (in the modern sense) copyright.

    • by superwiz (655733)

      Prohibiting "work for hire" contracts, to ensure that the exclusive rights are secured for the author. According to the Holy Constitution, all authors should be freelance, not toiling on Massa Mickey's content plantation.

      Well, why shouldn't property rights be transferable? And anything which allows one to charge others for its use is (at least partially) a property right. "Partially" because it may have other aspects (such as zero reproduction cost).

      Setting up a body to make subjective value judgements about whether an artwork is "useful" or not, as the Constitution mandates, with an assumption that it is not (otherwise why would the Unquestionable Constitution specify "useful" at all?).

      That's not necessary. It is "useful" if it is used. And if it's never used, the issue of ownership will never come up.

      Repeal the Mickey Mouse Protection Act and "limit" the duration of copyright in order to promote "progress", rather than eternal milking of the same work.

      This is very much true. The market place establishes fair price for the value provided by the asset. But the actual value, in the case of copyrighted w

      • by ppanon (16583)
        Not a bad idea, but it should be a doubling in constant dollars, i.e. after adjustment for inflation. Otherwise, inflation would significantly reduce the real effect of that doubling.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:27PM (#21447063)
    From TFA:

    The introduction to the questionnaire states that "the livelihood of the next generation, and America's global competitiveness, will increasingly depend on the strong copyright protection that allows creativity to be rewarded."
    Quite the opposite. I don't quite see how the author's life + X amount of years rewards productivity.

    I know someone who is older, around 60, whose father wrote music for movies and TV shows between the 1930s-1950s. He still gets a very handsome check each month for every time one of those shows or movies are broadcasted. The son lived his entire without working, just resting on the fruits of his father's labor. No new music is being produced nor does it encourage anyone to make any.

    So I am left asking, what is this BS? This would encourage less productivity, not more.
    • by lgw (121541)
      Some people work very hard to provide a good life for their families, instead of themselves. Odd thought, I know. But these weirdos can make useful contributions to society, and will be motivated during their lives by payments to their family after their deaths.
      • by rolfwind (528248)
        That would be fine and dandy if:

        1. Copyright wasn't a social contract that benefited both sides by participating in it - society whereby content eventually enters public domain and producers of product. By enforcing Copyright, there is a cost to society that was deemed outweighed by the benefits of offering temporary monopoly to content producers (thinking that the temporary monopoly would lead to more time/money investments in these offerings).

        Normal Common Law Contract law usually stipulates that there
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adam1101 (805240)
      Quoth the Oracle of Omaha [cnn.com]:

      "[The perfect amount of money to leave children is] enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing."
  • Write some letters "on behalf of the 300million Americans affected by over-broad copyright laws", and ask their attitudes on criminalizing fair and reasonable uses for copyright materials (as well as problems like orphan works, and the loss of historic works).

    Then, of course, blog about the results you get.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zotz (3951)
      Ask them if they think any crime of rape should carry a lesser punishment than any copyright infringement. And if so, which ones and why...

      all the best,

      drew

  • by dananderson (1880) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#21447099) Homepage
    Instead of copyright law biased to the media companies, how about FAIR copyright? Current copyright has outrageously long terms lasting several decades (sometimes over a century). Copyright law has no provision for punishment for Copyright FRAUD where media companies claim copyright on public domain works. Fair use is intentionally vague. Let's level the playing field--both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are in the racket, passing ever-more biased copyright law.
  • I find it ironic that I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [copyrightalliance.org] writes about copyright abuses and yet points to a Web site whose coalition includes the MPAA, among others. Ironic and self-defeating it seems, you silly copyright zealots!
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:43PM (#21447191) Homepage Journal
    "My fellow Americans, today we face many pressing issues: the war in Iraq, assaults on traditional liberties at home and abroad, a difficult economy, climate change, and the list goes on. There's another issue I'd like to address today, and it may seem like it's not quite on the scale of those others. But it's an important one, and it has implications for everything I just mentioned, because the way we're going to solve those problems isn't just to ignore them and hope they'll go away; it's to use our heads and figure out solutions. More than two hundred years ago, the Founders of this great nation decided that one of the best ways to do that was to make sure that smart people who came up with important ideas were rewarded for their work, and I'd like to thank the Copyright Alliance for bringing this issue up.

    "Today, I am calling on Congress to fulfill their Constitutional duty to 'secure for a limited time' copyrights and patents. And limited time means limited time. It doesn't mean extending copyright every time Mickey Mouse might be due to enter the public domain. It doesn't mean sitting on patents for things that you didn't invent until someone else figures out how to make money off it, and then suing them out of the blue. When the Constitution was signed, it meant twenty years. If twenty years was good enough for James Madison, it's good enough for me. So I urge Congress to send me a bill restoring the terms of intellectual property law to their original forms, and making it clear that it's a civil matter, not a job for the FBI, because you know, Osama bin Laden is still out there and frankly I think the FBI has more important things to do."

    "Thank you, good night, and God bless America."

    But that's probably not the answer CA is looking for. ;)
    • Don't forget, these days "an honest politician" means one that stays bought. :p
    • Copyright law means nothing as long as the big content digital restrictions conspiracy is allowed and protected by law. Technical restrictions prevent works from ever entering the public domain. The DMCA keeps people from distributing software that undoes these restrictions and so protects big content's illegal extension of copyright law. Big content's agreement itself is a form of racketeering that restricts competition by deciding who's content can be played. Restrictions should be outlawed and law en

  • Writer's strike (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @01:44PM (#21447193) Homepage Journal

    Copyright Alliance executive director Patrick Ross says he speaks "on behalf of the 11 million Americans employed in the creative industries," and asserts that piracy reduction is essential.
    "The future of our creative output in the United States is at stake in the 2008 presidential election," the letter to the candidates says. "It is critical not only for members of the creative community but also for the US economy to ensure that copyrights are respected and piracy is reduced. We are asking you to let us know what you would do to help preserve one of America's greatest strengths, its creative community."
    Would those lobbyist happen to represent the same corporations that are now denying the authors their right to be paid their share for the money that is made in new media?
    My, how 'uncharacteristically' hypocritical of them.
  • It can be shown by doing a present value of future cash flow analysis that extending copyrights terms provide no additional compensation to the creators of original works. Since copyright extends beyond death, the only way for an author to receive compensation is to sell the rights a for lump sum payment. No investor is going to increase a lump sum payment in return for the discounted cash flow 50 or 70 years in the future.

    The only people who would benefit by such an extension are investors holding portfoli

  • "Sorry ma'am, we can't investigate the gang violence down your street, those officers were re-allocated to chase down the vicious ring of copyright violators."
  • Open source has shown the "proper" way to fight these practices. If we don't like how people use copyright to restrict their works, ignore them and create Free content instead.

    This hasn't caught on in the artistic world yet, I guess primarily because art doesn't scale in the same way when the community works on it as a whole (in fact, that may tend to make it much worse...)

    Some other possible factors:

    1. The only people who are capable of producing high quality art may be primarily interested in using it a
  • The more you tighten your grip, mafiaa, the more potential customers will slip through your fingers.
  • The issue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @02:32PM (#21447535)
    The real point that should answer the questions is who owns the copyright the creator or the community at large? That really seems the debate. As a copyright holder I've already radically changed what work will be released to the public and how it will be released due to the weakness of the current copyright system. Electronic distibution and foreign markets that ignore copyright has seriously threatened the market and the ability of creators to make a living. Yes there's still money to be made but for how much longer? I have films based on my work in stores in Malaysia shortly after their release for a $1 a copy. South East Asia is already spoiled as a market with the largest potential market China being almost exclusively pirate. If the creator doesn't benefit from his/her work then why do it in the first place? Yes we'll still create but why release it to the public? I can make money off my lesser work so I decided to not release any of my favorite work to the public because of the current system. It's like a genie in the bottle and once it's released it will be copied endlessly. I'm a writer by preference and even if I strictly limit my work to printed text even then some one will likely scan it and post it. The point I'm trying to make is if I can make a living off what I consider lesser work and I want to avoid others exploiting work that is important to me then the world at large will never benefit from the better work. You can say who cares and I agree one artist may not be important but I do know of others quietly doing the same. As free distribution of material gets worse so will the restricting of material so in the end the community suffers. Many artists were mentioned like Shakespear. He's a perfect example. Let's say his work was strictly performed live and never published in any form. He would be completely unknown today. All artists especially writers have work that they never publish. What if they as a group decide to restrict their best work? Already there's been a noticable drop in the quality of the work available. It may not be the primary cause but I will say I know for a fact that some writers are no longer releasing their best work. An artists creation is very much like a child to them and it's at times like throwing your children to the wolves. In the past it was publishers and film studios that molested writers but now the community seems to feel they own our children so it might be time to start keeping our children in a closet. There are two sides to any situation. If the community at large feels they should be able to freely exploit an artists work then they may find one day they control smoke because there might not be much out there to exploit. We need to encourage the best people not punish them. Been to a movie lately? One of my passions is film and in the past I've been known to see three films in a single day in a theater. Now I rarely go and going to Blockbuster is a depressing experience. Dozens of films were released this week for the holiday rush and yet I found myself renting several older films. I'm hesitant to sell film rights anymore due to how poorly they are treated by most film makers these days. Anyone see The Mist? They turned one of Stephen's best stories into a tedious yawn fest. If our best work is going to be stolen and butchered whats the point? I'd rather restrict my favorite work to family and friends and my safe deposit boxes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)

      As I see it, much of the best work in history has been ripped off from someone else. I can see the argument for copyright, but keep in mind that many of the best artists in history predate copyright. So we have a old counterexample to the claim that ending copyright will destroy artistic creation.

      Second, you seem to be complaining that copyright is weak and then only cite examples where copyright isn't supported? There's always going to be some place where they will copy your stuff for cheap. Is the point

  • After all, without copyright, what would become of the next Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci?"

    This argument tires me deeply.

    You are talking about artists who had immensely powerful patrons.

    No one sane crosses an Elizabeth or a Medici Pope.

    You are talking about artists that could put others in total eclipse with a single line or a stroke of the brush. Shakespeare doesn't need to go to law.

    What you do not see before copyright is the professional artist of lower or middle class origins who is will

  • Fixed that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:15PM (#21447855)
    "After all, without copyright, what would become of the Copyright Alliance?"

    There, fixed that for ya. What is that, like the new RIAA & MPAA? All I know is if I were an artist that distributed copyrighted works, and I am, I wouldn't really see it necessary to make money off my works after I'm dead. I wouldn't really want to profit off my work more than it's worth either, that's for consumers to decide. I'm a productive member of society and I don't need to leech off of everyone to stay alive, I'm perfectly capable.

    Oh, ok, I see that [wikipedia.org] The Copyright Alliance is a lobbying organization formed on May 17, 2007 by 29 companies and organizations including groups that represent songwriters, recording artists, film makers, authors, photographers and sports leagues (see members below). The group is led by Patrick Ross, who recently left the Progress and Freedom Foundation [The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a U.S. market-oriented think tank based in Washington, D.C. that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy.]

    With such members such as RIAA, MPAA, NBC [slashdot.org], Major League Baseball [slashdot.org], Disney [slashdot.org], Viacom, Time Warner, NFL, so basically everyone who is a conduit for someone else's talent.
  • Considering the talk about increasing enforcement of criminal penalties,
    here is a partial excerpt from:
    "Microslaw satire"
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=33107&cid=3582999 [slashdot.org]

    My fellow Americans. There has been some recent talk of free law by
    the General Public Lawyers (the GPL) who we all know hold un-American
    views. I speak to you today from the Oval Office in the White House to
    assure you how much better off you are now that all law is proprietary.
    The value of proprietary la
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:54PM (#21448085) Homepage Journal
    The reality that the members of the copyright alliance fail to recognise is that if you make fair use so difficult to achieve, then people will default to piracy. The reasoning behind this is that if laws are so absurdly stringent that no mortal being can follow, then they won't even bother.

    The other problem is that culture loses out when copryright still applies to works that the owner refuse to distribute due to 'economic reasons', but fail to allow the public domain to take over.

    With the strength of these fascist copyright holders, we need a fair use lobby with equally strong support. The sad thing is that when so many people fail to realise what they are losing, such counter-lobbies are unlikely to get much support or funding.
  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @04:37PM (#21448347) Homepage Journal
    If you have not researched Ron Paul, then you should.

    He doesn't take money from lobbyists or large corporations. Over 99.999% of Dr. Ron Paul's donations are from individuals, not PACs or corporations. Lobbyists don't even bother to talk to him in Congress because he is known as "Dr. No".

    Contrast this to Fred Thompson who was a lobbyist for years.

    If you vote, consider voting for someone who is principled and honest.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday November 23, 2007 @12:40AM (#21451169)
    Although I have made the case before it bears repeating here that copyright laws have already seen too many expansions and extensions during the last decades of the twentieth century with the the Copyright Act of 1976 [wikipedia.org] and the even more notorious Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] (aka the Mickey Mouse Protection Act). Prior to the copyright act of 1976 the terms were 20 years plus another 20 year extension if the author filed for one. The term was extended in 1976 to life of the author plus 50 years or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The extension act (lobbied and pushed heavily by Disney among others) extended the terms again to life of the author plus 70 years and 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is earlier, for works of corporate authorship.

    Now, the Consitution states that Congress may grant exclusive rights for a limited amount of time to their creators...they key word here is LIMITED. You don't have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to realize that most music, including the music of your youth, will not enter the public domain in your lifetime , so how does that give people an incentive to participate in the "bargain" of copyright? It is a bargain in the same way that the mob shakes down people for protection money, using their position of strength to muscle the average citizen or the honest business owner into paying them.

    The last thing we need is another extension of copyright. The founders did not mean "infinity minus one day" (as suggested by former MAFIAA chairperson Jack Valenti) when they said limited. Enough is enough or would be if the MAFIAA wasn't so damn greedy.
  • by Garwulf (708651) on Friday November 23, 2007 @12:49AM (#21451217) Homepage
    This piece of garbage actually made my head hurt. One of the things I do to help keep a roof over my head is edit the news stories for the Faculty of Law of the local university, and if one of my writers ever tried to pass me something like this, I would have their head on a plate.

    The first four paragraphs are fine. They state the facts, raise questions (which is always healthy), and everything is backed up. And then it descends into ranting and fear mongering.

    "It is ironic that the content industry invokes the Constitution to support their position."

    No, it isn't. In the face of acts by the FBI and the government that plainly are unconstitutional, this is a laughable statement. The intention of the American founding fathers, as has been mentioned many, MANY times, was to promote science, research, and art by providing some protection for the creators. The American Constitution, however, was built so that it could be amended, as the founding fathers were also smart enough to realize that things change over time. To call upon their intentions is hardly ironic, particularly since those same founding fathers passed the first legal extension to copyright law before the 18th century ended - so the history says that the founding fathers were flexible.

    "Recent changes to copyright law influenced by the content industry--most notably the egregious Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act--have undermined the balance by restricting fair use and expanding the length of copyright protection to preposterous durations."

    This is where the editorializing starts to get even less subtle, and the factual content pretty much disappears. The word "egregious" is a value judgment completely out of place in a news story, as is the statement that copyright protection has been extended to "preposterous durations." Lifetime plus seventy years is the author's lifetime, plus that of his/her children and grandchildren - in short, the people who knew him/her in life. It is far from unlimited. And just because some corporations have tried to abuse copyright law, that doesn't mean that fair use has disappeared - it hasn't. There is a great distinction between the content of a law and the abuse of that law.

    "The steady expansion of copyright law poses a grave risk to creativity and innovation because it threatens to further erode the public domain. Artistic creation will suffer gravely when the cultural heritage of America can be chained down and held ransom."

    This is a statement better suited for an op-ed, not the news section. Aside from which, history has already proven it wrong. The writer has conveniently forgotten that the United States has tended to lag decades, and sometimes generations, behind the rest of the world on copyright law. If expansion of copyright law to meet the European standard of length is so terrible, how is it that Europe and Canada, which have been functioning under those terms now for decades, have remained vibrant in their cultures, rather than becoming a literary and artistic wasteland?

    "When the public domain shrinks, the potential for modern adaptation of classic works is severely constrained. In the future, innovative companies that want to bring older content into new mediums will be deterred by excessive and unjustifiable licensing costs as a result of copyright expansion."

    Another unfounded statement. The public domain is NOT shrinking. In fact, the Sonny Bono act specifically stated that work that had already entered the public domain could not be brought out of it from the copyright extension. The Sonny Bono act also mandated that private letters and correspondences from public figures that had been kept out of the public domain due to lack of publication ("common copyright") would now enter the public domain, vastly INCREASING it.

    Aside from which, a cursory knowledge of copyright law leads you to understand that you CANNOT copyright an idea. You can only copyright the exact implementat
  • by DavidTC (10147) * <[slas45dxsvadiv. ... ] [neverbox.com]> on Friday November 23, 2007 @01:18AM (#21451345) Homepage

    Arguing about the morality of copyright violations on the internet is a bit like arguing about the morality of gravity after you fall out of an airplane.

    You can't sit there and arguable about inevitable thing being 'good' or 'bad'. They just are. Digital data is instantly and infinitely copyable. It's not an argument, it's not a debate, there are no pros and cons to list and weighty questions to decide on, carefully balancing the rights of each side. Copyright with no barrier except legal to copying is meaningless. Poof, copyright just vanishes into thin air.

    So we have fallen out of the plane. We could, perhaps, use some sort of parachute to land slowly, or we could plummet to our death, but the plane ride is over and we are, indeed, going to end up on the ground.

    Notice I am, in no way, arguing this is a good thing, so don't respond with 'You're an amoral bastard who wants to steal everything from people'. We Are Outside the Plane and Falling. That is just how it is. It is not a choice. It was an unforeseen, inevitable result of the internet.

    And this may, indeed, be something entirely horrible that will destroy all artistic creativity forever, leaving us with nothing, or, worse, reality TV. I hope not. But the result of being outside the airplane and falling is not my fault, and I did not say I approved of what will happen, but, nevertheless, we are still there and still falling.

    Almost all discussion that goes on here about copyright is missing this one vital fact, and is instead arguing about the in-flight meal and how we're going to build our own meals instead of eating that crap. Come on, people, pay attention, we're supposed to be smart. Did you not feel the cabin depressurized when we collided with Napster?

    This is why I didn't really mind DRM. It was attempting to grab hold of the plane after we fell out, with a makeshift grappling hook build out of shoes. Not a really viable option, and obviously didn't work, but you have to give props that someone in the corporate world realized: We just fell out of the fucking airplane. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Do something!

    This article, OTOH, is talking about an attempt to legislate us back into the airplane. It's somewhat sad.

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