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Former GOP Staffer Derek Khanna Speaks On Intellectual Property 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the toe-the-line dept.
cervesaebraciator writes "Tim Lee over at Ars Technica recently interviewed Derek Khanna, a former staffer for the Republican Study Committee. As reported on Slashdot, Khanna wrote a brief suggesting the current copyright law might not constitute free market thinking. He was rewarded for his efforts with permanent time off of work. Khanna continues to speak out about the need for copyright reform as well as its potential as a winning electoral issue and, according to Lee, he's actually beginning to receive some positive attention for his efforts. 'I encourage Hill staffers to bring forth new ideas. Don't be discouraged by the potential consequences,' Khanna told Ars. 'You work for the American people. It's your job, your obligation to be challenging existing paradigms and put forward novel solutions to existing problems.' Would that more in both major parties thought like this."
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Former GOP Staffer Derek Khanna Speaks On Intellectual Property

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  • by bythescruff (522831) <tim,beattie&ntlworld,com> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:04AM (#42543471) Homepage
    Did anyone else read that as "Former GOP sufferer"?
    • by boundary (1226600)
      No but now you mention it...
  • The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:09AM (#42543489)

    Would that more in both major parties thought like this.

    Isn't that sort of problem? People who do think like that get kicked out of their parties. Serving their constituents isn't the purpose of the modern political machine, that's just something they need to do enough of to retain power.

    • That's part of the problem. The other part is that the members of the parties that do the firing don't see any censure from their employers (i.e. constituents). How many of Sen. Scott Brown's constituents wrote to him to say that he'd lost their vote over this? How many will actually vote against him next time because of this?
      • Re:The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:33AM (#42543575)

        The problem is, you can't vote against someone. You have to vote for someone. For your vote to be meaningful, there has to be someone worth voting for. Those people are culled before they get in a position to be included on a ballot.

        • Re:The Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

          by WrecklessSandwich (1000139) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:20AM (#42543733)

          That would be an interesting way to increase voter turnout. Let me cast -1 votes for a candidate instead of voting for the other guy that I don't really care for. Treat them as -1 votes for the actual result, but publish them separately to show the difference between a broad mandate for the winning candidate and "we're only supporting you because your opponent is a total fucking nutbag".

          Might even make a nice dent in the two-party system. Making up numbers for a moment, suppose a quarter of Democratic voters in 2012 were really sending a message of "holy fuck Republicans are crazy" and voted Democrat because they were afraid of whatever Republican candidate winning. That's a quarter of the votes for the Democratic candidate gone. Almost gives the Greens a fighting chance without necessarily gaining a lot of supporters on their own. Same goes for the various Libertarian-leaning parties on the right.

          • Re:The Problem (Score:5, Informative)

            by sjwt (161428) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @06:30AM (#42543979)

            The other way to make a dent in the two party system, offer one of number of alternative voting systems..

            Try Preferential voting [wikipedia.org] and Cardinal voting [wikipedia.org] as examples

            • Maybe, but no as funny as seeing candidates compete for the "least negative tally" ;-)
              • "And with -50,000 votes, Candidate WillTaxYouMore has beaten his opponent Candidate DrownsKittensAndBabies."

                Of course, this then leads to an interesting quandary.

                "Candidate WillTaxYouMore has -50,000 votes and Candidate DrownsKittensAndBabies has -75,000. So the winner, who didn't run any campaign at all, is Candidate Whatever. Nobody voted for or against him so he wins with zero votes."

                • I would be worried about some kind of convoluted power grab conspiracy scheme where one person intentionally runs a non-publicized campaign and wins with a handful of positive votes. I suppose you could add in an additional requirement without needing a positive total to win: the winning candidate must receive over x% (x being quite small) of the total votes cast, regardless of if they were positive votes or not. That is, if the cutoff is 100 votes, you could beat WillTaxYouMore and DrownsKittensAndBabies w
            • by cbhacking (979169)

              Arguably, this *is* an alternative voting system. There's a few ways it could be implemented, too.

              1) In each race, you may cast one positive vote for a candidate, or one negative vote.
              2) In each race, you may cast one each positive and negative vote.
              3) In each race, you may cast two votes, in any combination of positive or negative, but they must be for different candidates.
              4) As #3, but without the restriction against voting for (or against) a candidate twice.
              5) In each race, you may cast a positive vote,

              • by mjr167 (2477430)

                I like your plan! In order to win an election you have to not only attract voters, but scare them enough to spend their negative votes elsewhere! There is something to be said for the party who pissed off the least number of people winning.

                In all honesty though, a system where you rank the candidates or everyone has say 3 votes to cast however they want would probably be better. Game theory has a lot to say about voting methods and almost any other system is better than the one we use as Americans.

                • by DarkOx (621550)

                  I would like to make this proposal.

                  Every citizen gets 10 votes pieces in a race...

                  Those 10 vote pieces in each race are divided into tokens:

                  1x 5 vote piece
                  2x 2 vote pieces
                  1x 1 vote pieces

                  You may abstain from casting any part of your "vote" but you cannot use more than one part on a single candidate. If there are fewer than 4 candidates in a race you will be forced to abstain from casting one or more of the four tokens. The candidate with the most votes wins.

              • Elections are meant to indicate a preference, not a rejection.

                I think this is part of the problem. Selecting the one candidate with the largest constituency is inherently divisive, and tends to encourage extremes. I would prefer that the winner was the least rejected candidate, the one which is acceptable (if not actually preferred) to the most voters.

                My voting scheme would focus exclusively on negative votes. Given N candidates, each voter get N-1 negative votes which they can allocate as they wish (no fractional votes). They can vote once against all but one candida

              • by qwak23 (1862090)

                I like #2 and #5, especially when we start talking third parties and the usual rhetoric that "a vote for third party candidate x is a vote for major party candidate I don't like". With this kind of system you can vote for a third party while at the same time voting against a major party and would (hopefully) shut those people up and even get some of them to vote third party.

                I've even been reconsidering the merits of having a popular vote for certain offices, not sure if returning to our old system would be

                • by qwak23 (1862090)

                  Almost forgot, long drawn out campaigns would probably have to end, for that system to work at all.

                  Additional consideration: remove any names/party affiliation from the documents presented to the voters. Let them vote for a pseudonym or number based on a matter of public record alone.

            • by Teancum (67324) <{ten.orezten} {ta} {gninroh_trebor}> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:05PM (#42546639) Homepage Journal

              I am beginning to think that a lottery election would likely work out better. Quite literally, your name is thrown into a giant lottery and through random chance your name may come up to become a member of Congress.

              Frankly I don't think it could get any worse than the group currently in there and at least there would be some fresh faces in the place with some new ideas.

          • by ynp7 (1786468)

            Only problem with a -1 system is that it would require two, and only two, candidates in each race. What we really need is instant runoff voting. Let's you vote for the person you want without forcing you to sacrifice that vote just because your candidate of choice doesn't have a shot in hell of winning.

            • IRV is a step in the right direction, but there is math which shows that it tends towards the same two party system we have now. There is also empirical evidence to back this up. I am for voting reform, but I think IRV would essentially be shooting ourselves in the foot. If it were successful, we wouldn't see the kind of change we want (i.e. better representation) and the two party system would be strengthened. After all, we would have IRV and they would still be winning (to the chagrin of many of their "co

            • by cbhacking (979169)

              Eh? Not at all. Negative votes impact a candidate's total, and the candidate with the highest total still wins. Of course, that could be the only candidate left positive, or even the candidate who is least negative... but it's all still a valid approach.

            • Not really. What if there was ONLY -1 votes ? And the winner is whoever got the least of them.

              The psychological impact of "point out who is the worst candidate on the list and well keep whoever is the least insane/hated" would seriously put politicians back in their proper place.

              Instead of a popularity contest, make it a "not hated" contest.
              A knock-on effect would be this: right now name recognition is a politician's best ally, being remembered gets you elected. So elections are all about having the biggest

              • That would only really work if you were allowed multiple votes. For example, in the last election here in the UK, I think most people in my constituency would agree that the BNP candidate was the worst choice (and only a handful of people thought him the best - he lost his deposit), but then what? If everyone who thinks that votes against him, then that leaves the 200 or so people who think he's the best candidate to spread their vote among the other candidates, so one of them will get the fewest. So you
          • by DarkOx (621550)

            Interesting but what would mean for society if say the winning candidate did so with a negative vote total? We will never know what percentage of votes Obama got because many folks in the middle found the prospect of Romney frightening, due to a handful of more extreme positions the GOP has taken which are deal breakers for them. I know LOTS of people that don't like Obama, enough to refuse a drink with the man, but they still voted for him because they did not want to see Romney in office.

            I doubt the winn

            • Well theoretically that's already happening and we just don't have the data to make us face the facts, so that's an existential crisis I would welcome with open arms. Ideally it would be somewhat self-correcting in that a negative "winner" would encourage others to get into politics, maybe even before hitting the actual negative point. Or we can start down the road to a bloody revolution, I'm OK with either.
        • by sjwt (161428)

          Sure you can, they are called protest votes, and unfortunately it can lead to ppl who shouldn't be voted in [wikipedia.org], getting in..

          • Actually, I'd consider One Nation to be a success story. They drew attention to a relatively large portion of the voting public that was not being heard. They forced the major parties to react to them. Then, when the issues that required attention had been resolved, they burnt out and died. They never really got that close to having any effective power, but their rapid rise caused a re-evaluation in the incumbents.

        • by chrismcb (983081)
          You do know you can vote for ANYONE. In 12 years vote Khanna for President. For those in MA write him in has a Rep or Senator next time you vote.
          And people need to stop voting for one party or the other, vote for one of the other dozen parties.
        • Voting Systems (Score:5, Interesting)

          by postermmxvicom (1130737) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @08:02AM (#42544273)
          Read the Wikipedia article on voting systems. It is very fascinating. There are a variety of better systems out there than what we have. My personal favorite is Range Voting. Range Voting allows you to score each candidate (e.g. from 0 to 10). The candidate with the highest average wins. There is a caveat to keep someone with one vote of a perfect score from winning (or similar). It is a great system. It allows you to vote your conscience without giving the advantage to the "other team" by "throwing away" your vote. I believe this system would incubate viable "third" parties and shift our political discourse away from the "them vs us" nonsense we have now (e.g. voting against a candidate).
          • My personal favorite is Instant Runoff. You select your first choice, second choice, and so on. All the first choices are tallied. If nobody gets above 50%, then the bottom candidate is eliminated and all of his votes revert to the next choice on their list. Repeat until a candidate gets over 50% and wins.

            Using this system, you could vote for a Third Party Candidate (e.g. Green Party) as your first choice, a Major Party Candidate (e.g. Democrat) as your second choice, and even put in a few more Third Pa

            • Is there a reason you prefer it over Range Voting? What I have read leads me to conlude Range Voting is better. See http://rangevoting.org/rangeVirv.html [rangevoting.org]. But, I am definitely interested in opposing views.
              • by Teancum (67324)

                What is interesting is how Instant Run-Off voting is maligned... mostly by others who push for still different voting systems. I think it is reasonable to presume that "plurality voting" or "first past the post" is the worst of all possible systems, yet that is what we will continue to get until the bickering and in-fighting between alternate voting systems ends.

                I also don't agree with the conclusions for why IRV is so awful as specified on the website you are linking to. Range voting may have some benefi

        • The problem is, you can't vote against someone. You have to vote for someone. For your vote to be meaningful, there has to be someone worth voting for. Those people are culled before they get in a position to be included on a ballot.

          This is a huge problem in my view. A big part of it is because so few people vote in the primaries. To few American's realize that we have a two vote system in this country. First there is the primary which is where the parties really decide who will run and what their platforms will be and then there is the general election. If we really want to change politics in the US we should seriously think about getting organized for primary elections. One thing both Moveon.org and the Teaparty have shown is that a

      • It's a big problem with parties. I can't vote against a party. I can't even vote against a particular issue. Even worse, if I do vote for one issue, it is implied that I support the other issues that candidate/party supports as well.

        And let me tell you, being conservative, liberal, pro-ACLU, pro-NRA, pro-EFF, anti-drugwar...

        Well let's just say I don't get to vote on any of my issues without voting against my issues at the same time, and it sucks.

    • by coma_bug (830669)

      Isn't that sort of problem?

      No, the problem is that you don't have proportional representation [wikipedia.org].

      • Re:The Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:19AM (#42543731)

        Actually, I do, because I'm not American. Even proportional representation does't solve the problem created by a few, large parties dominating the political landscape. Parties with few seats are generally irrelevant unless the difference between the major parties is small enough for their votes to become decisive, and then they get power out of all proportion to their position.

        That's not to say PR isn't better than first-past-the-post - it is - but a governmental duopoly is problematic regardless.

      • The trade off with PR, as I understand it, is that since you vote for a party instead of a candidate there is less accountability for the individual politician. So we either choose more accountability (better individual candidates) or better overall representation (more proportional). Is there a PR system where people still vote for candidates instead of parties? I don't want a party choosing my representative (that is what we have now anyways with two party....) Also, since the party chooses the candidate
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:22AM (#42543527) Homepage Journal

    I've thought long and hard about copyright law, what the problems are, and I've come up with some solutions.

    The problems with copyright are obvious. We now have a system where copyrights almost never expire anymore. There are two extremes, the protect copyright until the end of time crowd and the lose it right after you publish crowd. I think there's a reasonable medium.

    First of all lets deal with copyright terms.

    I think ten years of protection after the initial publishing is a great start. Many people think this is good enough, however I don't begrudge an author profit because something was written too long ago. Stephen King is making all kinds of money off of 30 year old books and I think he deserves it. There's a difference between his 30 year old books and say the 30 year old books by many other authors. He's actually still selling his.

    Use it or lose it.

    To protect people who actually still are selling their works I propose production based protection. For physical media at least 5,000 copies must be produced during the two years preceding the expiration of the 10 year term. This prevents the company from making five copies in a "production run" and giving them away to contest winners or putting them on eBay. It makes them actually produce a volume they will want to sell. If they don't then it's public domain. I really hate "hard" numbers like 5,000. That's nothing to a big guy but huge to a small publisher, I just can't think of a reasonable alternative. Every time a production run of at least 5,000 units is made the copyright is automatically extended for five years, assuming of course that run was made before the copyright expired.

    Upon the death of the author the estate has 1 year from the time of the authors death to make a last production run to secure five more years of copyright protection. This allows widows and children to receive some going away royalties. If the author dies 10 years to the day after the only production run of his work this give the family a free 11th year to do something about it. Barring a new production run the copyrights expire naturally or 1 year to the day after the authors death should they expire within that year.

    As for electronic distribution not only must it remain for sale it must remain for sale in formats supported by technology that can still be purchase. It had better work a Kindle, PC, Nook, iProduct or something being produced. Selling a game on Nintendo's virtual console can protect the original. This may even motivate Nintendo to make or officially license other companies to make classic hardware like Sega and Atari do just to cover all the bases as selling cartridges for an Atari 7800 today benefits next to no one. Selling a "digital copy" of Pong for $25,000 is out of the question as well. Digital copies cannot exceed the original MSRP adjusted for inflation by more than 10%.

    This would do away with lost works, like Marble Madness 2 where only two copies were ever actually known to exist. Under my rules the game would be public domain now (it would just be up to the rest of us to persuade one of the two people who own copies to upload them). It would also allow fans to scan in copies of Omni Magazine and the like to be shared with the rest of the world. Heck, you could look forward to a monthly release cycle of expired magazines.

    Corporations have a maximum of 50 years copyright on any production since they are theoretically immortal entities. If a corporation chooses they may designate a director, actor, writer or someone as the possessor of the copyright and they can maintain exclusive publishing rights from the individual. This may pay off in the case of a child actor, but it's a gamble for the company itself and it leaves room for a disgruntled copyright holder to take his movie elsewhere. Copyrights transferred from a corporation to an individual (except by lawsuit which involves infringement) shall still be subject to the 50 year limitation to prevent a company from transferring a 49 year old movie to

    • by ltrand (933535)
      I couldn't agree more. A "use-it-or-loose-it" model is desperately needed for copyright. I also agree with the sentiment about arbitrary number requirements. I've seen proposals that get around this by making is a variable factor of the original run to help cover indie releases. I would also like to see public performances addressed as well. I think the death of single screen theaters has a lot to do with the fact that they can't compete on price for blockbusters and have little other choices to bring
      • by Tim99 (984437)

        A "use-it-or-loose-it" model is desperately needed for copyright.

        It's "lose", not loose. The OP got it right - You only needed to copy it. Unless, of course, you meant "Use it, or set it free"...

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:08AM (#42543693)

      "There are two extremes, the protect copyright until the end of time crowd and the lose it right after you publish crowd. I think there's a reasonable medium."

      The opposite is true, moderates like yourself in the past said the same thing every time copyright legislation came up for debate over history. See below:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org]

      The moderates have been defeated and absolutely ROUTED repeatedly. With such defeats the moderates at this point have no credibility.

      The beginning of copyright began as a moderate thing and as always when you give an inch of power to ANYONE they will never give it back and will seek to increase their privileges as we've seen. If you give ANY privilege at all it will be expanded on, this is the historical norm. The moderates have no historical evidence that moderation is even possible because corporations have the money, time and lobbyists on their side to undo any moderation if it ever was enacted as the evidence of history attests.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        I say we let the market deal with. You get 14 years on Copyrights and Patents. After which you have a choice you can release the IP into the public domain your start being assessed taxes on the value of the asset. The rate would start a %2 and be increased by %2 each year, that is year 15 the rate is %2, year 16 the rate is %4. Until the rate reaches 100% or the owner releases the work to the public domain.

        How does the assets get valued? The owner must set a buyout price each year and this would be a

        • I like this suggestion. I pay property taxes on my property (and in VA, that includes my cars).

          Why shouldn't IP be taxed? It certainly requires a lot of government to maintain.

    • Use it or lose it is already a farce. Authors make deals with publishers requiring publishing runs or the author regains control of the work. As you've alluded to the publisher will produce 5 copies in a run and claim they're still being published so they can retain the rights. If you require 50 trillion copies per run minimum then they'll simply spin off a shell company who buys the books with the money the parent company gifted them. Require physical copies and they'll just make 10 copies and run the fake customer gambit 10 trillion times.

      Look, copyright laws were enacted for the benefit of society as a whole. We have no proof that they're needed. How will authors and artists get paid? The same way a car mechanic does. They simply don't do the work unless they have a contract to get paid for the work. Instead of selling a piece of software I can simply say: Look, here's my idea, I'll make this for $X, that'll cover dev costs and a bit of profit. People like the idea, they agree to pay, I make the software, I get paid, everyone gets the software for free afterwards (since the work has been done and paid for). No more piracy at all; That's because there's no more artificial scarcity.

      The only difference between that and the current system is Publishers. If I make software working under a Publisher, I still get the same $X to do so. The only difference is that after I'm done a Publisher uses legally enforced artificial scarcity to try and get lots more money without actually adding anything of value to the product. They're leaches, they don't need to exist.

      This is the Information age, everyone is a publisher and distributor now. That's why the original strict copyright laws are obsolete. These laws were created to protect authors from greedy Publishers, and in a time when copy machines were few and expensive. The founders thought that 14 years would be plenty of time back then, when making duplicates was tough. Now there are digital copy machines in nearly every household item -- Even some magazines themselves! Thus making EVERYONE subject to the strict laws that were meant to apply only to the professional Publishing houses. Now that copying is easy copyright terms span 3 to 4 generations of humans?! You & your life, then 70 years: Have kids @ 30, they die 30 years after you die, and your grand kids 30 years after that... Ten years after your grand kids are dead THEN the work MIGHT enter the public domain -- providing there is a readable copy somewhere... No, this isn't what the founders meant by "a limited time".

      You give the publishing creeps an inch and they'll take that inch an infinity number of times, then claim they're only taking an inch! They have teams of lawyers just to find loop holes. Meanwhile they've managed to turn copyright laws on its ear, they figured out ways to ensure the Authors never reclaim their rights after publishing, and they've applied the laws meant to restrict them to everyone, even teenagers!

      I'm sorry pal. There is no proof that Copyright is doing it's job, providing benefit for society as a whole and promoting the arts an sciences. We need a new approach to laws: Stop operating under unproven hypotheses. It's unscientific. ASININE. No engineer or scientist would allow themselves to be ruled in such a way. Until you come back with PROOF that in this day and age copyright law is beneficial to society, I'm sorry, get bent. Laws based purely on speculation with no proof they're beneficial should be abandoned as unfit theories until they're tested.

      Don't you believe in the scientific method? We must abolish them to even see if they're beneficial. WE HAVE TO DO THE EXPERIMENT.

      Note: If you come to the bargaining table with your best offer out of the gate, then you'll get talked into a deal you didn't want. Aim for the price better than you want, and you'll strike a deal much closer to what you wanted. The way to get reform is to point out how ridiculous it is and insist on scientific proof of merit before re-enacting the laws. THEN we might see some loosening of the laws. I'm not a fool for overshooting my aims, you're the fool for asking for what you actually want to happen!

      • I have one issue with this argument. Replication - a mechanic or a doctor can keep repeating their act all their lives (on different people/machines) and get paid every time. And each act of theirs takes a few hours, or a few days at most. A programmer, an author, a research scientist have to do something new every time to get paid and each act of theirs takes weeks, months or in some cases years, to complete. And paying once irrespective how useful it is and how many people use it seems illogical.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          I have one issue with your counter argument: Its not true.

          Just look any major bridge. It takes the people working on it months. And each project entails creativity and unique challenges. It takes months or even years to build it, and even the architects and engineers who designed it... they all get paid exactly once. Regardless how useful it is, or how many people use it.

          Tell me again what makes a programmer or author different?

          • Those engineers and architects are employers or contractors of the bridge's developer. Yes they only get paid once.

            Just like computer programmers who are employees or contractors of software developers only get paid once.

            But the developer of a bridge, who creates it for himself and owns it, keeps on getting paid tolls.

            Just like the software developer. Be it the boss of a company, or an indy working on his own.

            The two industries are indeed similar.

            Actually cheating on paying tolls is not a bad analogy for so

            • by vux984 (928602)

              But the developer of a bridge, who creates it for himself and owns it, keeps on getting paid tolls.

              But the ENTIRE point of the post i was responding too was that the so-called creative people were somehow different from regular workers.

              What you are describing just proves my point. The people reaping the perpetual reward in this case aren't the creative ones at all.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @06:29AM (#42543971)

      ...King is making all kinds of money off of 30 year old books and I think he deserves it.

      You've missed the point completely.

      If Copyright lasted 2 weeks, he could still be making all kinds of money off of his books.
      You hidden assumption that Copyright == right to sell and that no Copyright means loss of ability to sell is false .

      This is what the R1AA (, etc.) wants people to believe. What (the current) Copyright deprives us is the amazing
      spin-off products that could be possible but are stopped.

      Copyright was retroactively applied, illegally I might add, to many works that had already passed into the Public Domain (in the U.S.).
      But consider if Copyright had existed in it's current form back in 1925 (I don't know the exact "Mickey Mouse" year),
      does anyone really believe we, as consumers, would have the choices that we have today? Steve Jobs did NOT come up with the
      idea of rounded corners, he simply applied it to the iThings. Look back through any old magazines, and you see so much conceptional
      prior art on that design - you can't believe how clever your grandparents really were.

      Too, for example, much of the music from the 70's was built on music from the 60's built from the 50's, and so on. Each and every
      interview I have ever seen with a musician has always asked the question who/what influenced your/their style. No one has ever
      responded that they pulled it out of thin air. Ever! That 1-4-5 progression - their would be only one song that actually had it, all of
      the others would be an infringement no matter what lyrics or tempo applied.

      So, you call BS - you don't hear of that now with the "new and improved" Copyright system and there is a lot of music that "sounds"
      alike already - what are you talking about? People seem to forget that there's only a few houses that hold Copyright on music now,
      BMI, Sony, and others amounting to a small handful (relative to the amount of works produced). Remember too, that Copyright
      protects the PUBLISHER, not the original author. So, getting back, Sony's not going to sue itself for infringement, etc. And the
      big publishing houses "work" with each other in this regard. That's why things "appear" to work.

      Consider The Lord of the Rings - pretty original, right? Well, maybe. I'm sure trolls were mentioned in other prior works - so that
      would be infringement, wizards too. Let's face it, Gandalf was pretty standard as far as the "wizard" template goes. He performed
      magic, cast spells, and was great with the pyrotechnics. Not, it's not silly - double dare you to produce a book/movie about a man
      who was bitten by a spider and has the attributes of that spider - let's call him Webman - let's see how far you get with today's Copyright laws...

      The founding fathers (of the U.S.) understood a lot more than we give them credit for -- which is why Ex Post Facto was added
      (sadly, this is being largely ignored by our current group of elected officials) to the U.S. constitution.

      CAPTCHA = certify

    • by Kartu (1490911)

      Except constitution stays nothing about "deserves". From the original memo from the guy from subject:

      Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it

      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 r

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      The problems with copyright are obvious. We now have a system where copyrights almost never expire anymore.

      As far as I'm concerned, copyrights are unlimited. A copyright will NOT expire within your lifetime, they currently barely expire within TWO lifetimes. I can't believe this is what the "for a limited time" means. A limited time should be within a lifetime. I don't know the exact time, 14 years? 28 years? I don't know. But something less than 75 years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You should probably have taken a moment, before you wrote your post to consider the purpose of copyright: what is the basis of "reasonableness" on which you judge possible copyright terms? You've gone into a lot of detail about your proposed copyright scheme, but all you've done to justify it is to assert that it's "perfectly reasonable", without any explanation as to why this should be so. Why, exactly, is your proposed solution better than one in which copyright lasts for a century, or for a week?

      My own

      • by pecosdave (536896)

        You've actually outlined a lot of my reasoning.

        "He deserves it"

        Pick that apart for a moment. Does he deserve it for writing good books? Debatable, I like his work, literary snobs hate him so deserves needs to have a different meaning. He deserves it because he's still selling books and people are paying for them, that's why he deserves it. It's perfectly reasonable to make money off of your work as long as you are selling it and people are buying it.

        If he is getting paid for his work it absolutely is my

      • And, possibly, it shouldn't apply to pure entertainment at all: it's meant to apply to the "Useful Arts".

        No, that's a common mistake. Copyright is meant to promote the progress of science, while patents are supposed to promote the progress of useful arts.

        In the late 18th century english in which the constitution is written, science means learning or knowledge, while arts refers to skills and applied technology. Since then the two words have come to be more associated with other things, such that they get confused easily as has happened in your post. Some vestiges remain, though: patents are meant to deal with

        • by fnj (64210)

          So ultimately, ... mere entertainment still contributes to human learning and knowledge and should be copyrightable if we're to have copyrights.

          Uh ... why? You left out the why. You said "so", but nothing you said before that led logically to your conclusion. I don't claim it is possible to define "mere entertainment" and treat it differently from other work. I just don't think the above thought has any place in rationalizing the system.

          You also lost me with "Copyrights OTOH are sometimes not granted if th

          • So ultimately, ... mere entertainment still contributes to human learning and knowledge and should be copyrightable if we're to have copyrights.

            Uh ... why?

            The purpose of copyright is ultimately to serve the public good by promoting the progress of science (which as has been explained, means knowledge). Are you saying that our total knowledge is not increased by new works of entertainment?

            Copyrights are not "granted" through any process.

            Not so. Copyrights may automatically be granted by the federal government when certain conditions are met, viz. a copyrightable work is fixed for the first time into a medium of expression, but they are nevertheless granted. In the absence of a grant by the government, there'

    • My idea would be to revert copyright back to the original 14 years. If the copyright holder wanted to, they could renew for an additional 14 years. Maybe you could allow a second 14 year extension, but that would be it. Total copyright time: 42 years. (Cue "Answer To Life, The Universe, and Everything" joke.) Plenty of time to draw a profit off of your works.

      The advantage to this would be that it would naturally move abandoned works or works that are no longer bringing in a profit into the public domai

    • Personally I think something along these lines is perfectly reasonable. Also lets not forget that just because something goes out of copyright doesn't mean that the original author, or his heirs, can't continue to exploit it. They just can't exclusively exploit it. So somebody else could come along and say do a reprint or something. Doesn't mean the original creator couldn't also come along and re-release it. Though it may require him put in some sort of value add to compete vs. other people publishing the

    • I think there's a reasonable medium.

      I used to think this, but I believe I've learned better. To see why, let's see what imaginary property really is.

      You have some paper. You have a pen. What can you do with these two things? The natural answer is that you can do anything you want, because it's your property (short of damaging somebody else's property with it).

      But here's what imaginary property says: "We as a State are going to take away the real property rights of three hundred million people to arran

    • I think your point of view is more reasonable, but still unreasonable (as my blog title would indicate).

      These works are our culture--and they need to be freed *much* sooner than 50 years under any circumstances.

      Personally, I also think your system is too complex. I think it would be simpler to simply expand fair use to include any non-commercial use. That also narrows the targets for lawyers to people who are actually using a work to make money without authorization--as opposed to, you know, eve
  • by Boltronics (180064) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:28AM (#42543557) Homepage

    Didn't RMS just tell everyone off the other day for using that term? :)

    • by Boltronics (180064) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:36AM (#42543589) Homepage

      Specifically here:

      http://features.slashdot.org/story/13/01/06/163248/richard-stallman-answers-your-questions [slashdot.org]

      It sounds like the article is just about copyright - not trademarks or patents or whatever else "Intellectual Property" is supposed to mean.

    • by evorster (2664141)
      To expand a little on this.
      A product of the intellect can never be property, in the sense that it is not a tangible thing.

      At most, information can be hidden or restricted in some sense, but eventually it will either be completely lost, or be completely free.
      Think of it like water in the wilderness, always flowing to the sea.
      We humans can pick it up, bottle it, sell it, etc. etc, but eventually it will return to nature, and water is a lot more tangible than some idea someone thought up, or some arra
    • And GOP staff are know for strictly adhering to most things RMS says?

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Just like he went off at everyone over "free" and every time someone mentioned linux he used to say "never hurd of it, ha ha" (even 3 times in a fucking row when the question was repeated). It's his style. He twists meanings to make points stick with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but it works and you know exactly what he's talking about even if the words mean something else coming from anyone else's mouth in any other context. It doesn't mean that the rest of us can't use the words with their accep
  • So when is he going to post his epistle on the door of the cathedral? Is he going to suffer the diet of worms?
  • To be honest, I'm not really surprised that Derek Khanna lost his job. Some rather large GOP supporters are rather pro copyright law and staunchly so. You can no longer pin down the goals and objectives of either pary because they both do the opposite of what they preach, or worse, don't follow through at all.
  • Khanna wrote a brief suggesting the current copyright law might not constitute free market thinking.

    Damn right it ain't. Free market applied to intellectual works is trade-secret protection. If you want your information non-disclosed, you only communicate it to people prealably bound by non-disclosure agreements. If there is a breach, the discloser owes you the indemnity that you had agreed upon initially, which represents the added value of creating the works in the first place. That's the whole of it.

    That

  • It's entirely possible that Khanna doesn't actually have any personal investment at all in what he proposes, and is simply using his "novel solutions" as a means to stand out and make his mark within his chosen (Republican) tribe. And stand out he certainly has. If Khanna actually felt that strongly about current IP law being unethical, he's chosen the wrong tribe to give a larger voice to it and he would know that. It's already well established that the sort of people most strongly drawn to corporate bo

  • One major issue I have with current copyright laws is that it seems that characters can be copyrighted. It's common knowledge that Congress keeps extending the copyright age so that Disney can retain the right to Mickey Mouse. It seems the idea is that once Steamboat Willie passes a certain mark, anyone and everyone can create new and original works for Mickey Mouse. So why don't we separate copyright from authorship rights? Change copyright back to 7 years. But create the idea of authorship. Disney creates
    • by dkf (304284)

      One major issue I have with current copyright laws is that it seems that characters can be copyrighted.

      That's you being confused, as what is going on there is Trademark. Trademarks are theoretically perpetual, but only if actively used. They also have to be wholly non-functional aspects whose primary purpose is to be distinctive in the public mind, and are typically very specific as that is far easier to defend. Every trademark exists to allow a particular participant in the marketplace to clearly identify themselves to their customers, and nobody should ever need to copy one.

      An expiry of the copyright on St

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