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GOP Brief Attacks Current Copyright Law 296

Posted by timothy
from the political-parties-work-like-stopped-clocks dept.
cervesaebraciator writes "Regardless of how one feels about the GOP generally, it is always heartening to see current copyright and IP law questioned on a national stage. A Republican study committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a brief today titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. Among other things, the brief attacks current copyright law as hampering scientific inquiry, penalizing journalism, and retarding the potential of the internet to allow the dispersion of knowledge through e-readers. In the briefs words, 'Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets.' Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms. There may yet be hope for a national debate on the current oppressive copyright system, if just a fool's hope."
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GOP Brief Attacks Current Copyright Law

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  • by DavidClarkeHR (2769805) <david...clarke@@@hrgeneralist...ca> on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:18PM (#42008287)
    Unfortunately, a Republican study committee != Republican policies and platforms.
    • Unfortunately, a Republican study committee != Republican policies and platforms.

      Granted, a Republican study committee is not necessary equal to policies and platforms adopted by the Republican central committee.

      But then, - and I am saying this as an independent, I ain't a Republican - where were the Democrats?

      How come the "study committee" ain't the "Democrat study committee" instead?

  • Read the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Drishmung (458368) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:24PM (#42008329)
    Yeah, I know this is slashdot, but really, read the article. Try to see past "this is GOP so it must be either wonderful or the work of the devil depending on your bigotry". It's a good paper, worthy of debate.

    I've got mod points at the moment, but rather than oblivionate the current pathetic trolls, flamebait and fr1st p0st crap, I'd rather encourage some thought.

    • Re:Read the article (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cdogg4ya (198266) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:59PM (#42008691) Homepage

      Agreed. I read GOP and immediately thought the worst but what I found was a well thought out article that actually acknowledges the problems and lays out some very interesting reforms that could actually make the system better.

      • by acid brother (2775575) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:26PM (#42008901)
        Perhaps it helps that the republicans don't have so many ties to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. That's just an assumption though.
        • Perhaps it helps that the republicans don't have so many ties to Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

          Probably not as much as you might think. First off, the docket is already jam packed with more pressing matters, such as the fiscal cliff and credible long term budget and tax reforms; not to mention the fact that the economy is still lousy for many Americans. Second, Hollywood really pulled out all the stops for Obama this time around, raising money and entertaining the President and their lefty friends in swanky mansions nestled in the Hollywood hills. They raised millions for Obama and it would be very e

          • First off, the docket is already jam packed with more pressing matters, such as the fiscal cliff and credible long term budget and tax reforms; not to mention the fact that the economy is still lousy for many Americans

            That's now. The legislative split after the election is nearly the same as before and there's two more years until the next round. Plenty of time to get to it before then.

            Hollywood really pulled out all the stops for Obama this time around, raising money and entertaining the President and th

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I live in the US but I am not a citizen so I tend to somewhat follow US politics but not very closely. This is one of the first times where it seems a republican actually thought about his claim. I haven't finished reading it yet. But what he says seems reasonnable!

      Though, at the back of my mind a voice says: "there must be an evil agenda somewhere!"

  • Holy Cow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:28PM (#42008359)

    I haven't even read the whole thing yet, but I was sort of astounded to read this from paper:

    [Myth]1. The purpose of copyright is to compensate the creator of the content:
    It's a common misperception that the Constitution enables our current legal regime of copyright protection - in fact, it does not. The Constitution's clause on Copyright and patents states:
    "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;" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) . Thus, according to the Constitution, the overriding purpose of the copyright system is to "promote the progress of science and useful arts." In today's terminology we may say that the purpose is to lead to maximum productivity and innovation. This is a major distinction, because most legislative discussions on this topic, particularly during the extension of the copyright term, are not premised upon what is in the public good or what will promote the most productivity and innovation, but rather what the content creators "deserve" or are "entitled to" by virtue of their creation. This lexicon is appropriate in the realm of taxation and sometimes in the realm of trade protection, but it is inappropriate in the realm of patents and copyrights. Strictly speaking, because of the constitutional basis of copyright and patent, legislative discussions on copyright/patent reform should be based upon what promotes the maximum "progress of sciences and useful arts" instead of "deserving" financial compensation.

    By Jove! I think he's on to something here.

    • Re:Holy Cow! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bunratty (545641) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:33PM (#42008407)
      That's a bit of a fine line, because what will often promote the progress of science and useful arts is compensating the people who produce useful work so they can produce more of it by devoting themselves full time to it. And if they are compensated more for producing more and better work, they are more likely to produce more and better work.
      • Re:Holy Cow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mooingyak (720677) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:46PM (#42008541)

        That's a bit of a fine line, because what will often promote the progress of science and useful arts is compensating the people who produce useful work so they can produce more of it by devoting themselves full time to it. And if they are compensated more for producing more and better work, they are more likely to produce more and better work.

        While I certainly accept that concept, what I think is being said is that copyright law is first and foremost intended to foster innovation. If that means compensating authors and/or copyright holders, so be it, but remember that the compensation is the means to an end and not the desired end itself.

        • Copyright law is, and always has been, about protecting the interests of the publisher/distributor/writers guild(transcribers), rarely, if ever about about the creator/author of works.

      • by keytoe (91531) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:47PM (#42008547) Homepage

        That's a bit of a fine line, because what will often promote the progress of science and useful arts is compensating the people who produce useful work so they can produce more of it by devoting themselves full time to it. And if they are compensated more for producing more and better work, they are more likely to produce more and better work.

        It's almost as if there should be some carefully balanced compromise that strikes a balance between rewarding content creators while remaining beneficial to society at large. Perhaps a limited monopoly could be granted to the creator for the work before it passes into the public domain for all to benefit.

        • by godrik (1287354)

          Seems reasonnable. 640K years seems enough for everybody.

          • 640K years seems enough for everybody.

            I like that idea! Hand out 640K years of copyright, total. As time goes by and years expire and are returned to the 640K year pool, auction them off to the highest bidder.

            By George, I LIKE this idea!

        • by zentigger (203922)

          If you RTFA, that is exactly the conclusion it draws. There is a fine balance between rewarding the creators and benefiting society. I think one of the great solutions proposed (funny, because I was just discussing this exact idea with someone a couple of nights ago) is to offer the opportunity for incremental increases in copyright term FOR A FEE.

          This really is a win-win situation, because the public benefit either way. If a rights holder believes that there is still enough value to hold a copyright, th

          • I think one of the great solutions proposed (funny, because I was just discussing this exact idea with someone a couple of nights ago) is to offer the opportunity for incremental increases in copyright term FOR A FEE.

            The one problem here is that the WTO includes TRIPS, which includes the Berne Convention, which prohibits member countries from requiring a formality to maintain copyright.

      • Yes, but most works simply end up hoarded after the the money dries up, and you're left with abandonware.
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        That's a bit of a fine line, because what will often promote the progress of science and useful arts is compensating the people who produce useful work so they can produce more of it by devoting themselves full time to it.

        Yeah, like Van Gogh was motivated by the fortune he made from his works to make more.

        • Van Gogh (Score:4, Funny)

          by fyngyrz (762201) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:04PM (#42009471) Homepage Journal

          Let me enlighten you about Van Gogh's art and motivation using the traditional slashdot car analogy.

          Van Gogh's finest art is functionally equivalent to NASCAR: 24 hours of continuously turning left, if done well, he hoped would result in a snuggle from a ring girl, specifically, Rachel. In order to enhance his left turns, he removed his left ear, thus creating a ground-hugging vacuum on the left and so enhancing his turning ability.

          This made him quite dizzy; the result was "Starry Starry Night" [wikimedia.org], a veritable opus of left turns, which of course we now treat as a cultural treasure.

          Alas, Rachel, who was left holding the ear, was not so easily impressed.

          * There's gonna be a quiz tomorrow

      • by mellon (7048)

        RIght. So you'll produce a copyrighted work for $K. There is some value N such that you will not bother to produce the work for $NK. There is some value X such that, if you are paid $XK, you will postpone working on your next work, because you don't need the money. So in fact the original poster is right—the basis for the debate has to be whether the copyright law promotes science and the useful arts. If it is too weak, it won't. If it is too strong, it likewise won't. It has to be Just

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        That's a bit of a fine line, because what will often promote the progress of science and useful arts is compensating the people who produce useful work so they can produce more of it by devoting themselves full time to it. And if they are compensated more for producing more and better work, they are more likely to produce more and better work.

        But the trick is not to pay them too much for sitting on their asses doing nothing. Otherwise they may choose to retire and just live on their royalties instead of making more creative works. Not everyone is infinitely greedy.

      • by sjames (1099)

        True enough, but only if they don't give up in despair due to the harmful effects of the same laws.

      • It might be a fine line, but a lot of the legislation around copyright isn't anywhere near the line, so it doesn't matter how fine it is. Stuff like extending copyrights to death of author plus 100 years - how much incentive is that providing for content creation? How much incentive is it when somebody's copyrights never expire, and this they can live of a single popular piece of work without ever creating another one?

      • And if they are compensated more for producing more and better work, they are more likely to produce more and better work.

        Actually that's completely wrong. People who are compensated more for more work end up at some point being content with what they were able to get. The result is they don't perform to their full potential. And people who are compensated *too much* for their work just rest on their laurels.

        What's needed is to compensate people just enough to make them feel that they could achieve

    • Um, if it contains language that strongly worded against profit and entitlement, then you'd better believe Disney has made some phone calls today to mobilize some serious lobbying power and see what strings can be pulled by other lawmakers that they have influence over. Without a doubt.

  • It seems the mitt-romney about-face attitude is changing the party from the inside - the GOP worrying about hampering scientific inquiry, [and] penalizing journalism. Next, you'll be telling me that they're also promoting women's rights and education.

    Also, I would love for my sarcastic comments to be proven wrong.
  • Read through the entire thing, but am very unimpressed with the quality of the writing. If re-written at a higher skill level and otherwise massaged, I think it would make an ideal document (stamped by the GOP of all groups) to send around to our local congresscritters as a talking point. Wonder if the sponsor could be convinced to let it be "fixed" without changing the content or message, and updated?
  • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:50PM (#42008583)

    I think the most useful reform would be to stop granting copyright owners any control over their work except for the purpose of getting paid. The owner should not have the right to restrict distribution or use of his work in any way as long as it was legally purchased. Likewise, he should not have any control over derived works except for getting a cut of their sale equal to the current market value of the work multiplied by the fraction of the original work used in the derivation. So anybody should have the right to write a Harry Potter novel as long as Rowling gets a cut for whatever fraction of the book's value is assigned to characters.

    • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:17PM (#42008831)

      Unenforceable. Who sets how much it worth? it also has huge implications for undermining long-term financial health of projects and properties.

      A better solution would be shorter copyright terms attached to renewal-with-conditions. Say, everything gets an automatic ten years when it is created. After that it can be renewed in ten year increments for a moderate fee, up to a maximum or 50 years or something. As part of the renewal process a high quality copy or representation must be provided to the copyright office, to be made available (probably for a moderate fee again) after the copyright has expired.

      So, as long as the creators are actively profiting off their creation they can keep on controlling it. Once it is no longer in active use it falls into public domain, with a high quality copy available.

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:27PM (#42008905) Journal

        Do you see the world of music collapsing due to statutory mechanical licensing rights? Of course not. And you're always free to negotiate a lower rate if you have a big project. A basic set of statutory amounts for previously published works is a good idea. It prevents artificial scarcity, such as the Disney Vault, and plain scarcity where it's impossible to get a copy of what would otherwise be an unremarkable product due to limited publishing runs.

        • "artificial scarcity, such as the Disney Vault, and plain scarcity where it's impossible to get a copy of what would otherwise be an unremarkable product due to limited publishing runs."

          As a parent, it seems to me that the Disney Vault is almost designed to create piracy. Think about it—most Disney "classics" are only released once every seven years, IF that. When you have a kid, and you figure that Disney movies are what you want to have on while the kid is sick, what are you going to do once you've

      • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:43PM (#42009035)

        I've seen this argument before - making the copyright terms shorter - and I agree with it.

        Yet that aspect of copyright is rarely actually railed against by the masses. If anything it tends to only be cited - usually with a sneer at Disney and its copyright on Mickey Mouse - as a general attack on copyright without actually being related to their concerns.

        I.e. it is not that the author of a comment has had this long-lived dream of making a Mickey Mouse work and is only prevented from carrying out this task due to the life+dozens of years+etc. of copyright resting on the character. They have no direct interest in this.

        They may argue that because of that copyright term, however, others are unable to produce such works, which deprives society-aka-them of such works, which they would want to have made.

        Unfortunately, however, if such a work were eventually made, the main reason for railing against copyright tends to be encountered. The work - let's say it's a new Mickey Mouse movie - is released into theaters, gets out on DVD a few months later, immediately gets ripped by 'pirates' to a nice MK4 and released to the rest of the world.

        It is this latter activity - the file sharing of a work, regardless of age - that most comment authors feel should not draw the (legal) ire of copyright holders, citing a multitude of arguments.

        So in essence, to most of these comment authors, a reduction in the copyright term is really just symbolic - a way to let others, producers, editors, publishers, etc. who would be easy copyright infringement targets to no longer be a valid target - as to their own purposes the copyright term is essentially deemed moot.

        Note that it is rarely 5+ year old material that is 'pirated', and rarely such older material for which 'pirates' are targeted for legal action; it tends to be more recent material, from 'only released on DVD a few months ago' to 'not even playing in theaters yet - leaked workprints'.

        Making the copyright term shorter would do nothing for this group, except reduce the number of times it would be brought up as an argument that does not actually speak against or in favor of their actual sentiment.

        • by swillden (191260)

          You're technically right, but wrong in a broader and more important sense.

          The excessive scope and duration of copyright, along with the theory of copyright that is pushed by the content industry, give individuals very little moral reason not to infringe.

          As the brief points out, the true purpose of copyright is to advance the progress of science and the useful arts, by providing some temporary incentives. In other words, it's a dynamic balance: society voluntarily agrees to restrict its own freedom wit

        • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @01:31AM (#42010123) Homepage

          Note that it is rarely 5+ year old material that is 'pirated'

          Perhaps people don't want to fund a system they don't think is fair? I buy both BluRays and DVDs sometimes, not because I needed to but because it's good stuff that I like and that I want them to produce more of but I hate that I'm funding DRM. I hate that I'm funding the lobbying groups who want copyright to be infinity minus a day. I hate that I'm funding the people strong-arming ISPs to become their private enforcement branch. I hate that I'm funding the people pushing for copyright enforcement outside the justice system, with no real oversight or due process. I'm a pirate if I download it today, in 5 years or in 50 years. Might as well get it over with...

        • "Making the copyright term shorter would do nothing for this group, except reduce the number of times it would be brought up as an argument that does not actually speak against or in favor of their actual sentiment."

          Not correct, many industries live of remakes of older works and the copyright allows them to lock up and send lawyers after fan made works. You see this especially in videogames where a videogame company has practically abandoned a property for decades and fans attempt to remake it and then get

  • Now that she's out, maybe something can get done.

  • So this is how the Republican Party is going to try to move now that super-conservative has failed. How interesting!

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Useful protip: That wasn't super-conservative. That was RINO lite.

    • The Republicans need to do something. They have won the popular vote only once in the last 6 presidential elections.

      The current platforms aren't helping either - the demographics of the voters they are attracting is unfavorable.

  • You Hollywood folks backed the wrong guy. So now we're going to pull the rug out from under you.

    • by ThinkWeak (958195)
      They have to start somewhere. This does sort of support small business, which is one of the GOP's mainstays. It definitely leaves me confused.
  • by maugle (1369813) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:33PM (#42008961)
    "Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms."

    YES. That one alone would go a long ways towards leveling the playing field between individuals and huge corporations.
  • Controlling the US House of Representatives, they're in a great position to do something about it. In fact, they have been for two years. So let's see if they put their money where their mouth is.
  • by tbird81 (946205) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:40PM (#42009017)

    Sad that most of Slashdot is against it because of the colour of their ties.

    Getting rid of crony capitalism corporatism is more important that rep or dem.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @12:06AM (#42009829)

    Two articles about republicans talking copyright reform and anti-SOPA in a single day...

    Normally when politicans talk freedom it is in the form of maximizing "freedom" for their donating constituents with big pockets...I must say on the surface I'm impressed.

    This country is in dire need of sane copyright and patent laws...and there is plenty of low hanging fruit like repeal of mickey mouse protection act.

  • Perhaps.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:04AM (#42010251) Homepage Journal

    They should have proposed this prior to the last presidential election? Or made a point to mention it during the debates? It's quite possible they might have swayed a few votes their way. Guess that was too risky?

  • by wrp103 (583277) <Bill@BillPringle.com> on Saturday November 17, 2012 @11:10PM (#42016673) Homepage
    The RNC has disowned and pulled the brief. The main article (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/an-anti-ip-turn-for-the-gop/ [theamerica...vative.com] contains a link to the pulled document. http://www.scribd.com/doc/113633834/Republican-Study-Committee-Intellectual-Property-Brief [scribd.com].

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