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Lessig Spins Copyright Law

CowboyNeal posted about 12 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

Links 279

ceebABC writes "In the always riveting CIO Insight magazine, tech-pundit (and professor) Lawrence Lessig examines the copyright laws and how they can be applied to e-books and other electronic forms of rights management... i.e., in today's world, the author doesn't receive a royalty everytime someone reads a book from the library. Will they in the future?"

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asdf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876770)

fp

i certainly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876774)

dont get royalties for every read of this first post

How's "FREE MICKEY MOUSE" going? (2, Offtopic)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | about 12 years ago | (#4876775)

I want to know! Mickey needs to be free.

Re:How's "FREE MICKEY MOUSE" going? (2, Informative)

stevezero (620090) | about 12 years ago | (#4876887)

you can always check here [eldred.cc]

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876782)

hey

Bizarre (-1, Offtopic)

everyplace (527571) | about 12 years ago | (#4876783)

Wow, I actually get to read an article before it's slashdotted. Amazing.

Re:Bizarre (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876897)

I had that very same experience, actually. It was quite odd, since I just opened slashdot, I hadn't been browsing the site for a while. First load, no comments. Wow.

all muslims are terrorists (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876786)

phirst poast!

It is quite easy. (0, Redundant)

Trusty Penfold (615679) | about 12 years ago | (#4876791)


It is obvious how copyright applies to ebooks.

If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong.

Re:It is quite easy. (1)

kaxman (466911) | about 12 years ago | (#4876820)

Then apparently the umpteen million copies of that message created during the span of time this article remains on the front page will be illegal?

Re:It is quite easy. (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 12 years ago | (#4876832)

"If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong."

Actually that is the "copywrong law" you are talking about. Please read the link and think about it before you post comments on it.

The idea of pay-per-use is so very wrong, that I think anyone who has had to use a pay toilet will know that I speak the truth.

Re:It is quite easy. (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | about 12 years ago | (#4876851)

I'm glad that people can't write down physical constants, mathematical laws, and scientific principles and copyright them.

Wouldn't it be horrible if someone wrote down 'F=MA' or 'PV=nRT' and then owned the copyright on it? Then, every physicist and thermodynamicist in the world would be in the wrong if they copied it...

Re:It is quite easy. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877154)

It could be worse, someone could try to patent them. Then when anyone comes up with an application of gravity, they could be sued. Then you'd get some shadowy group controling all the physical laws and .. hmm .. VoidEngineer? Forget I said anything.

Re:It is quite easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877148)

It is obvious how copyright applies to ebooks.

If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong.

It is obvious how copyright applies to ebooks.

If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong.

It is obvious how copyright applies to ebooks.

If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong.

It is obvious how copyright applies to ebooks.

If I write something then I own the copyright on it. If you copy it, you are in the wrong.

You better track my IP so you can sue me.

What is more likely, (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876802)

a micropayment each time you open the ebook file. Judging what a 'read' consists of otherwise would be too difficult, until you computer starts reading (pun) your retina for ID.

Re:What is more likely, (2)

WeaponOfChoice (615003) | about 12 years ago | (#4877128)

but then there is the trend (especially in PDA style devices) to keep files open between user sessions on the device. As memory expands the systems will be capable of doing more and more at once and background process management may become intelligent enough to keep an entire library in an 'open but dormant' state.
We may end up requiring a micropayment every time the application gets focus...

Re:What is more likely, (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 12 years ago | (#4877181)

When I buy a book, I expect to read it a number of times, sometimes just to quickly check a reference on a particular page.

Goal: Royalties for publisher! (5, Insightful)

Maul (83993) | about 12 years ago | (#4876807)

in today's world, the author doesn't receive a royalty everytime someone reads a book from the library. Will they in the future?

The ultimate goal of most publishers is likely to be pay-per-read. In other words, royalties for the PUBLISHER. The author might recieve 0.00000001% of this, or something like that, if they are lucky.

Re:Goal: Royalties for publisher! (5, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 12 years ago | (#4876893)

The ultimate goal of most publishers is likely to be pay-per-read. In other words, royalties for the PUBLISHER. The author might recieve 0.00000001% of this, or something like that, if they are lucky.

The publishers are out of luck if they want to kill an author's percentage.

For most, it's contractually set at a certain rate (whole percantage points of the gross sale), and the publisher making MORE money only means more money for the author.

Last numbers I heard had an author's royalties at somewhere between 1% and 5%. And the big names--those that bring in the massive ammounts of sales that keep publishers in busienss--certainly won't sell their already-done-and-anyone-can-print-it books for less than this.

Lightning bolt! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876953)

Lightning bolt [attbi.com] !
Lightning bolt [attbi.com] !
Lightning bolt [attbi.com] !
Lightning bolt [attbi.com] !
Lightning bolt [attbi.com] !

Re:Lightning bolt! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876978)

OMFG. You taped taco's honeymoon!

Re:Lightning bolt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877192)

Fucking amtgarders. =)

Re:Goal: Royalties for publisher! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877124)

Everyone always bitches about the big companies saying the authors or artists get nothing so it's ok to steal from them anyways! If you buy a book, and the author gets $0.05 for each book sold, or you steal a book(Gnutella, etc) they get nothing! So the big boys take most of the money? That's a completely different problem from everyone else literally stealing from the authors!(Hey a pun! Where'd that come from?). So quit bitching about the RIAA taking all of the money or the publishers taking all of the money. Publishers generally actually pay pretty well, compare it to self-publishing and you'll see _why_ publishers take alot of the money. I know, this is off-topic because I agree completely with Lessig about copyright law, but I'm sick and tired of people bashing the big boys and saying the little guys get only 0.00000001% of anything, that's still something and if no one buys the book, they get 0.0000000000% and that's 100% less! So go out there and buy some god-damned books and CDs. We all do piracy, I'm sure, to an extent, but doing it because the authors/artists would otherwise get almost nothing is not better than them simply getting nothing! Quit changing the topic to allow yourself to pirate.

Don't mod me down because you disagree with me, mod me up and maybe get people to say something insightful.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876810)

Copyright laws spin YOU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876875)

I love the Soviet russia jokes. Anyone know the first 1 on slashdot? I couldnt find it.

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876932)

I don't have the link handy, but I have seen it in the past couple of weeks. It actually got modded "Funny" back then ;)

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877062)

In soviet russia, back then actually got modded it!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877118)

Near as I can tell, this [slashdot.org] seems to be the earliest IN SOVIET RUSSIA post on slashdot. may or may not actually be the first one, but it is the oldest IN SOVIET RUSSIA post with the word SOVIET in the subject. I got tired of going back, so I only checked through october of last year...

Congratulations to Your_Mom [slashdot.org]

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

commbat (50622) | about 12 years ago | (#4876976)

Does anyone else miss the 'petrified girls' posts?

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877140)

Q. Why do they have 5 or more exits in a Russian theater?

A. Because people are just dying to get out!

Q. Why don't people like to sit by Russian soldiers in the movie theaters?

A. They have bad gas

Q. Why did the Russian theater patrons have to buy bigger clothes?

A. Because they were carried out of the theater on a stretcher

Q. Why did the Russian cinema fan fall out of his seat?

A. Because he was dead

Library Royalties (4, Insightful)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | about 12 years ago | (#4876813)

I certainly hope that authors in the future don't recieve royalties for public library readers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be anti-copyright here, Authors should definitely recieve royalties - just not from a public library that my tax dollars went to fund.

Just my 2 cents.

Re:Library Royalties (2, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 12 years ago | (#4876925)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be anti-copyright here, Authors should definitely recieve royalties - just not from a public library that my tax dollars went to fund.

They do, chuckwhite. Unless the author donated the book, they get a cut of the sale to the library.

That is, after all, why your tax dollars are paying something to the library. So it can get new books.

Actually, in the future I think it'd be grand if authors got a little bit of money (a few pennies) everytime someone outside their family checks out one of their books that was still copywritten. Cut out the middleman, streamline the publishing biz, and keep the economic incentive for authors to keep writing things people want to read.

Hmm... if a book costs $5 to get on the library shelves and the author gets $0.25 from each read, once it's been read twenty times they make pure profit... and that could even be paid for out of the pockets of the readers without too much trouble.

Re:Library Royalties (1)

Salubri (618957) | about 12 years ago | (#4877009)

Hmm... if a book costs $5 to get on the library shelves and the author gets $0.25 from each read, once it's been read twenty times they make pure profit... and that could even be paid for out of the pockets of the readers without too much trouble.
Yes, but one of the points of borrowing books at the library is that (as long as you pay the late fees if you go overdue) you get the use of the book for free. It may be something that could be "paid for out of the pockets of the readers without too much trouble", but it would be much the same as suddenly being charged a quarter to download the linux source off of a public universities public servers, as tax dollars also go to support public universities. You could be very much able to pay it but it is the principle of the thing.

Re:Library Royalties (5, Insightful)

Dialithis (33532) | about 12 years ago | (#4876946)

Clearly, an exact duplicate of the existing system with pay-per-read royalties wouldn't work. But what if this hypothetical library can "buy" books for 1/10 of the current price in electronic form, but pay a small amount for each reading?

Small libraries would suddenly be able to have millions of available volumes, and users of the library will have far more choice than before. The tradeoff would be that money previously spent in acquiring actual paper and storing it would be spent in paying for an equivalent amount of "electronic publishing" or use fees.

I don't think this sounds so terrible.

I'm glad you're not in charge (5, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | about 12 years ago | (#4877034)

Authors should definitely recieve royalties - just not from a public library that my tax dollars went to fund.


I'm an author, and I don't object at all to my books ending up on library shelves. When it happens, it means I'm probably "relieved" of 97% of my royalty for each time the book is read -- given that I suppose the average library book is checked out 30 times. But I don't care that this is such a bad deal for me, since I think it's great that people are reading my book.


But I bristle at your notion that libraries ought to be entitled to distribute recently created copyrighted works, with no compensation whatsoever to the author. On what basis do you feel that government should essentially engage in intellectual theft?


I'm trying to understand your point of view, but I can't make any sense of it. It seems totally selfish and poorly thought out.

Re:I'm glad you're not in charge (3, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 12 years ago | (#4877237)

What if the library could insure that only one active copy could be in use at a time, with active copies set to expire within a period of time. (To avoid the problem of "overdue" ebooks.)

The library would retain a dormant copy that couldn't be used to generate another active copy until the active copy was "checked in" or expired?

This might also work for an ebookstore, except the ebooks wouldn't expire, and the store would have to order more "stock".

This is just off the top of my head. The technology would be a problem.

Ah (-1, Flamebait)

houseofmore (313324) | about 12 years ago | (#4876818)

Books are for poor people.

and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876918)

One liners are for idiots?

Re:and... (0)

longhairedgnome (610579) | about 12 years ago | (#4877000)

haha you showed him

Re:and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877036)

Your mom is for Santa.

Re:and... (0, Offtopic)

houseofmore (313324) | about 12 years ago | (#4877057)

ahahah! ah. eh. hrm.

Meta Information (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | about 12 years ago | (#4876822)

Goes to show that the written word is a de-valued commodity in the information age; same goes for music (napster). If you want to make money, figure out a way to do something that a billion other people aren't doing (i.e. typing, writing, and playing musical instruments).

Re:Meta Information (2, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 12 years ago | (#4876958)

Goes to show that the written word is a de-valued commodity in the information age; same goes for music (napster). If you want to make money, figure out a way to do something that a billion other people aren't doing (i.e. typing, writing, and playing musical instruments).

Like what? Playing with computer code? Flipping hamburgers? Lying to the public?

There are a LOT of people who want to write books or play instruments for a living. Most of them suck.

The written word wasn't worth all that much after the printing press--but the gov't stepped in to make sure that the authors didn't get screwed. Copyright, in this form, has been with us for longer than any work has been or ever will be covered by it, and no one's had a good objection to it.

The key to ebooks et al is TRANSFER of the copies. If I buy an ebook, I should be able to give that book to any one person that I want to.

A low-level switch from "copy" to "move" as a default for these files would do the trick. But since that's not technically feasible (for a whole lot of reasons), a physical tie-in would be the best.

Re:Meta Information (4, Insightful)

VoidEngineer (633446) | about 12 years ago | (#4877201)

Like what? Playing with computer code? Flipping hamburgers? Lying to the public?

1. Building shelters (architecture)
2. Healing others (medical doctor)
3. Feeding others (restaurant management)
4. Listening to others (psychiatry)
5. Making kitch (manufacturing)
6. Hospitality (hotel management)
7. Risk management (actuarial science)

I could go on if I wanted to, but I don't. And yes, there are billions of people in the world who flip hamburgers, lie to the public, and write code which makes sense to them, but doesn't necessarily have any greater use (myself included). Many of these people are making minimum wage, or slightly better. What they are not doing is making $100K per year, $1M per year, or $1M per month. People who run restaurants, hotels, casinos, heal others, and make kitch can make $1M per year or more.

There are a LOT of people who want to write books or play instruments for a living. Most of them suck.

Agreed. Unfortunately, the fact that most of them suck is a side affect of statistics. (somebody has to create the bulk of a statistical distribution, by which 'average,' 'above average,' and 'below average' are measured by.) I also agree that a lot of people want to write books or play instruments for a living. Doesn't necessarily mean that other people are going to pay them to do it, however. Which is my point, in regards to eBooks. People shouldn't worry about copyrights on written works. Worry about patents on physical things, processess, and systems (such as building a house, opening a restaurant or hotel, making kitch, or building a more efficient automobile.)

My point is that in the information age, there is so much information in the world that its a loosing proposition to try to stand out from the crowd and to actually make a living by merely writing for a living... The competition is too numerous. Writing and coding are merely skills that a person must know how to utilize, in addition, to other skills.

The key to ebooks et al is TRANSFER of the copies. If I buy an ebook, I should be able to give that book to any one person that I want to

Actually, I think I agree with you in regards to the distinction between 'copy' and 'move'. And I definately agree with the physical tie-in, however I also suspect that floppy disks and compact disks are going to be obsolete within the next decade. (optic storage cubes, biochips, wireless transmitters, and smart cards are were tech is currently going).

Re:Meta Information (1)

fritz_269 (623858) | about 12 years ago | (#4877033)

Goes to show that the written word is a de-valued commodity in the information age...

Uhhh, isn't this post hypocritical?
If your post isn't worth anything, why'd you write it?

The same specious argument you use for copyrights could go for patents. They're completely devalued in our 'information age' because anything you build, Mr. VoidEngineer, can be copied cheaper and sold faster in China or Korea than in the US. So I imagine that anything you're doing (whether or not a billion others are doing it) is just as 'devalued' as writing or any other form of human creation.

Re:Meta Information (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | about 12 years ago | (#4877251)

I said that the written word is a de-valued commodity, not de-valued in and of itself. Moreover, the written sentence, the written website, and the written book may not be as devalued as the written word (the complexity is greater, and therefore rarer).

As per hypocracy, I am not trying to sell anything with this post. I am not trying to make a profit with it. I am not trying to copyright it. Copy and redistribute as much as you feel like.

And actually, the same cannot be necessarily said for patents. Resource requirements vary from patent to patent, whereas resource requirements for written word generally require a typewriter, computer keyboard, pen, pencil, etc. The fact that resource requirements differ from patent to patent is what differentiates them. Which also brings up the point that patents cannot necessarily be copied cheaper and faster in China or Korea. I can build a restaurant in the US far faster than somebody in China or Korea can build one in the US. I can build kitch that markets to trends locally and faster than foreign markets can.

Moreover, we don't live in the 'patent age'. If someone were to invent an honest to goodness 'replicator' like they have on StarTrek, I would agree that patents would become devalued.

But my point is that the written word is a devalued commodity in the information age.

If there every anything important to read... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876830)

you can usually find it on theBubbler.com [thebubbler.com] , at least if it pertains to Wisconsin anyway.

Re:If there every anything important to read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876849)

I'm surprised you can read yourself, given the subject of your post.

Making copies in hard/soft/wetware... (1)

Malfourmed (633699) | about 12 years ago | (#4876846)

As every action (on a digital network) produces a copy, and every copy (under the current regime of copyright) is presumptively within the reach of copyright law, every use of a copyrighted work in cyberspace amounts to a copyright event. Thus, to give an e-book to a friend involves a copy; it is therefore regulated by copyright law. To borrow an e-book from an Internet library involves a copy; it is therefore regulated by copyright law. Indeed, to have the computer read an e-book aloud involves making a copy; it, too, is therefore regulated by copyright law. All these "uses" of an e-book are within the reach of copyright's regulation, while the very same uses of a book in real space would not be.

Arguably (and at a broad, conceptual level), having a computer read an e-book (aloud or otherwise) and having a person read a book (aloud or otherwise) both involve making copies - one in software/hardware, the other in wetware. Of course there are differences, but I can imagine that these will become less obvious over time.

FIXED is the difference between HW and wetware (2)

yerricde (125198) | about 12 years ago | (#4876998)

having a computer read an e-book (aloud or otherwise) and having a person read a book (aloud or otherwise) both involve making copies - one in software/hardware, the other in wetware. Of course there are differences

The difference is that United States copyright law considers RAM to be a tangible medium in which a work can be fixed; thus, reading a file into RAM is copying. The brain is not such a medium.

No, they won't. (5, Insightful)

kwerle (39371) | about 12 years ago | (#4876850)

in today's world, the author doesn't receive a royalty everytime someone reads a book from the library. Will they in the future?

Nope. This was tried with new-fangled technology - the pay-per-view DVDs. It failed because folks aren't (quite) that dumb.

If you think that folks will 'buy that' for the written word - a technology that has been around for a long time, you're a fool. Hell, folks won't even buy e-books that they can re-read.

Good points, except... (5, Interesting)

SoCalChris (573049) | about 12 years ago | (#4876857)

He's got good points about if you have a book now, you can loan it to friends or borrow it from the library without any troubles.

The problem is, that before eBooks, you couldn't "loan" your copy of the book to 10,000 of your friends on Kazaa.

There are some interesting ideas in there, but I don't think his ideas are the answer. They are a good start though.

Re:Good points, except... (5, Interesting)

susano_otter (123650) | about 12 years ago | (#4877028)

The problem is, that before eBooks, you couldn't "loan" your copy of the book to 10,000 of your friends on Kazaa.

And things were better before eBooks and Kazaa how?

Also, are things better now that we have made a dramatic leap in information transfer technology, but are restricted from using the new tech because it makes the old tech (and everybody who profited from the old tech) obsolete?

See, I might even accept the restrictions on use of new tech--If it were part of a well-reasoned, long-term plan to phase in the new tech without destabilizing the economy, spiking the unemployment rate, or creating a whole new area of ethical/legal conundrums that we haven't really had any time to think about or address.

Since that's obviously not the reason the old tech is being preserved (nor will it ever be, probably), I say fuck it: release the hounds and go for broke.

Re:Good points, except... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 12 years ago | (#4877130)

The problem is, that before eBooks, you couldn't "loan" your copy of the book to 10,000 of your friends on Kazaa Is that really a loan? When you loan a thing, the thing goes to one person or group, and you no longer while it is loaned. In actuality, you are making 10,000 copies of the book and giving the copies away. And that is against copyright law

Scalability (3, Interesting)

MacAndrew (463832) | about 12 years ago | (#4877212)

Everyone realizes that not everything is scalable; what works on a certain scale may not on another.

Libraries are a wonderful institution that doubtlessly cut into the income of those who produce the books. More importantly (to me) they are repositories of books that are out of print and can't easily be located. Older books doubtless stimulate interest in buying newer ones. In the very earliest days, of course, few could afford books at all.

The thing is, electonic distribution blows up the apple cart. It's just too easy. And I worry it will somehow fundamentally change a system that we have grown used to over many decades. Just because the library system is familiar and effective doesn't mean that scaling it to the Web will work. It will be wonderful for the user, but the producer? In fact, in could be a disaster, save the current reality that reading books on a computer just isn't like a real book.

There isn't... (2, Interesting)

kaxman (466911) | about 12 years ago | (#4876858)

...a whole lot to say, since I basically agree with him. In fact, the very idea that anyone with a T1 can create and publish content makes me very very happy. I never like the way the original creators of material seem to get less than what they deserve. Authors less so than musicians, but hopefully (ever so hopefully) that is changing. I envision massive user-run blogs of cool content released by independent people, filtered from among the other inevitable cruft and lifted from obscurity simply by the scouring power of billions of people. It could be cool.

Cyborg rights! (3, Funny)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | about 12 years ago | (#4876862)

What happens when I get my artificially enhanced memory modules in 2025? Will the DMCA dictate what kind of memories I can have? Will media distributors discriminate against me as a buyer since I can play back my memories whenever I want?

--LinuxParanoid, only somewhat tongue in cheek

Re:Cyborg rights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877006)

[from Sealab 2021]

Sparks: Don't expect any mercy during the Great Robot Wars.

Hesh: Yeah? Well, have fun on the robot reservation, suckers! We're not gonna honor those bogus treaties! Hesh, will see you, in Hell.

Sparks: He's right. They will screw us.

Marco: Listen! ...It's time to get serious.

Murphy: Yeah, enough of this talk! Let's... kill the human.

Next up... (4, Funny)

wray (59341) | about 12 years ago | (#4876863)

copyrighting popups, and extracting a royalty for everytime someone "reads" one...

IN SOVIET EKROUT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876865)

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New! Try Google News: Search news for copyright [google.com] or browse the latest headlines [google.com]

US Copyright Office [loc.gov]
US Copyright Office is an office of public record for copyright registration and
deposit of copyright material. ... (Legal Notices)Legal Notices. About Copyright. ...
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www.copyright.com/ - 22k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

SUL: Copyright & Fair Use [stanford.edu]
... Overview of Copyright Law Copyright Management Center of the University
of Texas System Administration Office of General Counsel. ...
Description: A very good starting place built by the Stanford University.
Category: Arts>Music>Resources>Copyright [google.com]
fairuse.stanford.edu/ - 5k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

10 Big Myths about copyright explained [templetons.com]
10 Big Myths about copyright explained. An attempt ... Internet publication.
- by Brad Templeton. Note that this is an essay about copyright myths. ...
Description: Answers to common myths about copyright from Brad Templeton, former publisher at ClariNet Communications...
Category: Society>Law>...>IntellectualProperty>Copyrights [google.com]
www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html - 23k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

What is Copyright Protection? [whatiscopyright.org]
What is Copyright Protection? A brief memorandum regarding copyrights
in general and as may be applied to the internet. Researched ...
Description: Information about copyrights in general, and as applied to the internet.
Category: Society>Law>...>IntellectualProperty>Copyrights [google.com]
www.whatiscopyright.org/ - 2k - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

TITLE 17 [cornell.edu]
... TITLE 17 TITLE 17 - COPYRIGHTS. CHAPTER 1 SUBJECT MATTER AND SCOPE
OF COPYRIGHT; CHAPTER 2 COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP AND TRANSFER; CHAPTER ...
Description: Title 17- Copyrights- of the US Code in its entirity from Cornell University
Category: Society>Law>...>IntellectualProperty>Copyrights [google.com]
www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/ - 5k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

US Copyright Office, Copyright Basics (Circular 1) [copyright.gov]
Circular 1. Copyright © Basics Español September 2000. Copyright
Basics. Format Note. Table of Contents. ... WHAT IS COPYRIGHT? Copyright ...
www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html - 78k - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

THE UT SYSTEM CRASH COURSE IN COPYRIGHT [utsystem.edu]
Copyright Crash Course Logo with Link to Copyright Crash Course, Want to use, images?
Want to create things with them? You need a crash course in copyright... ...
Description: Beginner's guide to all aspects of copyright law, from the University of Texas.
Category: Society>Law>...>IntellectualProperty>Copyrights [google.com]
www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/cprtin dx.htm - 11k - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

IPR Notice and Disclaimers [w3.org]
... Copyright © 1994-2002 W3C ® (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institut National
de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique, Keio University), All ...
www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/ipr-notice - 12k - Cached [216.239.53.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]


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Why Should they? (3, Insightful)

arakon (97351) | about 12 years ago | (#4876866)

Do I collect money every time someone walks across my yard? I'm a big supporter of the "Pay for it once" philosophy. If I buy a book, its mine, I can loan it to whoever I want. The idea can remain the writer's or whoever came up with it and copyrigted it, but the book is mine. I'm pretty sure that a "book" , as in a collection of paper with words on it, cannot be copyrighted, so as long as I don't make money off of it, how is it violating copyright if I let someone else "see" (I'm not talking about copying the book, just one copy). As I see it anything printed on paper can be seen by anyone, and read by anyone because it exsists on prior art.

We never had to pay an author before for trading in a book, why should the model change now? Content should be paid for once. Continual payment to use it is just crap.

Who vs Whom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876951)

Use "Who" when the person is known. For example:
Jack, who likes to spank his monkey, copped a feel of my monkey.

Use "Whom" when the person is question is not known. For example:

I can loan it to whomever I want.
or
The idea can remain the writer's or whomever came up with it and copyrighted it, but the book is mine.
or
I want to know whom it was that copped feel of my monkey.

Re:Why Should they? (2)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 12 years ago | (#4876995)

I'm pretty sure that a "book" , as in a collection of paper with words on it, cannot be copyrighted, so as long as I don't make money off of it, how is it violating copyright if I let someone else "see" (I'm not talking about copying the book, just one copy)

The book is protected by copyright law, which is interpreted by judges. There ARE thigns you can do with a book (cut out the prints and sell them seperately) that don't involve making copies but are still copyright violations.

We never had to pay an author before for trading in a book, why should the model change now? Content should be paid for once. Continual payment to use it is just crap.

The model used to be "one payment for one physical copy."

Computers threaten to destory this model, so we have two options:

* The "Pay per use" option
* the "one payment for one person's use" option, which I'd prefer.

If a book I write is read by a million people, and I get $.50 from each of those people, I've got $500,000 and can quit my job and go back to school, suddenly having more money from doing what I want to do and making a million people happy, and getting myself such funds that it could pay me my current salary for thirty years.

I don't care if those million people buy a physical book, or just go into a database of "people who can read Planesdragon's book."

it keeeps going around (0)

longhairedgnome (610579) | about 12 years ago | (#4876867)

if people werent so interested in just making money, maybe more people could get exposed to arts and actually learn somehting without someone making a buck off of them and heres a link to some pictures of a dead hooker in the '40's http://poetry.rotten.com/hooker-morgue/ thank you

Pay for long copyrights? (5, Interesting)

fritz_269 (623858) | about 12 years ago | (#4876895)

Why not have a short copyright term as the standard (say life + 10 years). But if a corporate entity wants to keep that copyright past that point, it would have to pay a substantial fixed fee plus some small royalties to the government (i.e. a tax on profits).

This way, the list of long-term copyrights would be small, maintained in a single place, and thus easily searchable. There would be a financial disincentive in place to keep companies from locking up works unless they were actively making money. Companies are happy, museums are happy, the gov'ment is happy, and the internet is happy.

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (4, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | about 12 years ago | (#4877017)

Forcing companies to have to renew copyrights every 5-10 years would help but you'd need some major incentives to keep them from just putting everything they roughly own on a list they automaticlly keep renewing. Possibly after the first 10 years the rate starts climbing exponetially. I still think there should be a reasonable limit. Possibly limit it to 15 years unless they release it under an opensource style license. ie a license that makes it available for free but forces those who modify it to release their works under the same license.

I also think obfustication should make it impossible to get a copyright. If the work is made such that it blocks copying of that work such that it'll be hard for people to use/copy/modify when the copyright has expired then they should not be granted a copyright.

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (2, Interesting)

fritz_269 (623858) | about 12 years ago | (#4877075)

Forcing companies to have to renew copyrights every 5-10 years would help but you'd need some major incentives to keep them from just putting everything they roughly own on a list they automaticlly keep renewing. Possibly after the first 10 years the rate starts climbing exponetially.
Makes a lot of sense. And I also figure that the first payment should be substantially high hurdle in order to force most stuff out quickly. But then perhaps it could double every 5 years or so?

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (2)

SoCalChris (573049) | about 12 years ago | (#4877039)

This is an interesting idea. As the copyright gets extended longer, the fees go up substantially. This would encourage companies to let go of copyrights that are no longer making money. For example, a film that was created 50 years ago but was still making boatloads of money could be kept copyrighted - for a price. A film made 10 years ago that never was all that popular or profitable could quickly get into the public domain.

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (2)

Dr. Bent (533421) | about 12 years ago | (#4877094)

What if independent authors can't afford the copyright tax? Large publishers and media companies (like Disney) always would. All that's going to do is tip the scales even further toward big media, and I've had quite enough of that already.

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (2)

infolib (618234) | about 12 years ago | (#4877254)

Independent authors can afford it if they sell well.
Disney can afford it for stuff if it sells well.

This is really not a matter of whether the corporation is large or small, but whether the material gives a good return on investment for the copyright fees.

Re:Pay for long copyrights? (2)

infolib (618234) | about 12 years ago | (#4877243)

Why not have a short copyright term as the standard (say life + 10 years). But if a corporate entity wants to keep that copyright past that point, it would have to pay a substantial fixed fee plus some small royalties to the government (i.e. a tax on profits).

Yeah, and for computer programs (however you define that), a condition for copyright beyond 2 years should be that the source code was kept in a public archive for release when copyright expires. "Life + 10 years" is too long though. 10 years of copyright should be plenty to ensure a steady production, so why go with more?

Companies are happy, museums are happy...

No, companies are not happy with these ideas. A corporation sees only the interest of its shareholders, and that is to keep as long and as finegrained control of their creations as possible. Economics 101. The question really is whether we as society should let them get away with that...

Mod this post as a troll. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876900)

## ## ##
###### ##
## ## ##

Sounds a lot like (2, Informative)

Vladequacy (633590) | about 12 years ago | (#4876924)

that Lessig movie [randomfoo.net] everybody is always playing, which is far more easy to digest. It's in Flash so it works great in Windows. Lessig is the same author as the article by the way.

Mod this post as Redundant. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4876930)

##### # # eeeee
## # # # e
###### # eeee
## # # e
##### # eeeee

What is the opposite of hello? I'll tell you
what. The opposite is what is written above
these sentences. Yes sir. Sound a little
redundant?

Re:Mod this post as Redundant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877077)

OMFG.

[ More Information About This Copyright Pioneer! ] (0, Informative)

ekrout (139379) | about 12 years ago | (#4876940)

free_culture [randomfoo.net]
Lawrence Lessig. <free culture>. Intro. Over the past three years, Lessig
has given more than 100 talks like the one captured here. ...
randomfoo.net/oscon/2002/lessig/ - 7k - Cached [216.239.51.100]

Eldred v. Ashcroft [eldred.cc]
... 10 had a favourable piece on Lessig and the lawsuit. ... October 13, 2002 - Amy
Harmon of New York Times: uphill battle over copyright. more news ...
eldred.cc/ - 7k - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

The Limits of Copyright [thestandard.com]
... it an offense to write code to interfere with this use-controlling code, regardless
of whether the use would be considered fair under the copyright law. ...
www.thestandard.com/article/display/ 0,1151,16071,00.html - 34k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

Copyright law and roasted pig. [redherring.com]
Communications Copyright law and roasted pig Lawrence Lessig on Eldred v. Ascroft
By Lawrence Lessig October 22, 2002. In 1930, 10,027 books were published. ...
www.redherring.com/insider/2002/10/ roast-pig-copyright-102202.html - 29k - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

O'Reilly Network: Free Culture: Lawrence Lessig Keynote from ... [oreillynet.com]
... A flash version of Lessig's presentation, including audio and other source files. ... their
works) instead of exercising all of the restrictions of copyright law. ...
www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/policy/2002/08/15/lessi g.html - 27k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

High court weighs copyright law - Tech News - CNET.com [com.com]
... Lessig and his allies are hoping not merely to overturn this law, however, but
to build momentum for an all-out legal assault on many recent copyright ...
news.com.com/2100-1023-961467.html - 28k - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

Lawrence Lessig [stanford.edu]
... Declan McCullagh of CNET News.com mentions Professor Lessig in Left gets nod from
right on copyright law, on a speech given by Appeals Court Judge Richard ...
cyberlaw.stanford.edu/lessig/ - 23k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

Home--Berkman Center for Internet and Society [harvard.edu]
... Also see: Digitial Copyright Law on Trial [CNet]; Google Excluding Controversial
Sites [CNet]; ... the Hard Questions: On October 9 Lawrence Lessig appeared before ...
Description: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School is a research program founded...
Category: Computers>Internet>Policy [google.com]
cyber.law.harvard.edu/ - 13k - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

Techdirt:Copyright Law And Roasted Pig - Lessig Pushes His ... [techdirt.com]
Copyright Law And Roasted Pig - Lessig Pushes His Campaign Forward.
Ramblings Contributed by Mike on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002 ...
www.techdirt.com/articles/20021022/1311202.shtml - 5k - Cached [216.239.51.100] - [slashdot.org]

Franklin (5, Insightful)

Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) | about 12 years ago | (#4876954)

If Franklin were alive today he'd never be allowed to start a "library." Just like then, it would be portrayed as a way to rip off authors -- but unlike then legislation can now be purchased to prevent these creations.

Lessig brings up an excellent point that only 147 out of about 10000 books from the 20's are still in print. What happened to the rest of this knowledge? The rest of this creativity? It has been lost and forgotten.

We were supposed to build our society on the shoulders of giants. Instead we've institutionally forgotten everything that came before us. It seems appropriate that our attention spans are now short enough not to notice what we've lost.

Societally, we're only a step away from being the old lady in a flannel nighty that keeps wandering away from the old folks home.

You lost who now in the what where? (3, Funny)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 12 years ago | (#4877103)

Sorry, what are we talking about again?

The Road to Tycho (5, Informative)

Hanji (626246) | about 12 years ago | (#4876959)

This story, which you all really should have read by now, depicts a world of copyright/DRM/Etc. laws to the extreme:
The Right to Read [gnu.org]
The scariest line definitely comes after:
most of the specific laws and practices described above have already been proposed

Melancholy Elephants (2)

yerricde (125198) | about 12 years ago | (#4877044)

So does "Melancholy Elephants" [baen.com] by Spider Robinson, which predicts the unavoidable consequence of perpetual copyright: eventually, every pleasing combination of n notes is owned by somebody. Copyrights become like land in that it's possible to own them but not create new ones.

This is why Americans do not need copyright term extensions such as the Bono Act.

DRM and Star Trek (1, Funny)

dcuny (613699) | about 12 years ago | (#4877015)

Ever notice that the Trekkie philosophy of not making multiple copies of something with the transporter is just DRM in disguise?

I mean, if I were a red shirt, I'd certainly prefer to have my duplicate go down to be zapped, and (in the unlikely event that he's not killed), let his molecules be scattered to the winds when his lifespan is up.

Heck, they can't even reconstitute something from the buffers once someone's dead. What's up with that? The only reasonable explanation is DRM.

Clearly, we must act now to prevent this horrible future awaiting our great-grandchildren. Take up the battle cry now: Freedom to replicate!

OK, where's the funny part again?

That's quantum physics (4, Funny)

yerricde (125198) | about 12 years ago | (#4877194)

Ever notice that the Trekkie philosophy of not making multiple copies of something with the transporter is just DRM in disguise?

Actually, it's Heisenberg's quantum reality. As you measure the quantum state of the object you're transporting, you also destroy that state. Think of it as God's DRM.

Re:That's quantum physics (2)

WeaponOfChoice (615003) | about 12 years ago | (#4877249)

In trekkie physics you could actually pull it off (thanks to the near magical heisenberg compensator...) and indeed this has been the subject of many episodes.
However, the quantumn state coupled with pairing could actually deliver some form of teleportation in the long term (centuries rather than decades though...)

Pay per use would be great if done right (4, Insightful)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 12 years ago | (#4877024)

I've always thought pay-per-use was a perfectly reasonable idea, as long as the usage fees were low enough.

Imagine, you could build a vast library for free.. in fact, you wouldn't even NEED a personal library, because EVERYTHING would be available freely on the net.

Then, you pay based on what you use. So, if you listen to the latest Britney song 1000 times, you owe her some cash. And why shouldn't you?? If you listen to the song that much, obviously you're enjoying it.

If you grab a movie and only watch it once, you pay next to nothing. But if it becomes your all time favourite, and you watch it over and over again, you pay more money. It's totally fair.

I know a lot of people would be opposed to this, because they want to pay a flat OWNERSHIP fee, and get infinite usage. But in the Internet connected world, where anything digitizable can be copied infinitely for near zero cost, I posit that the concept of ownership is obsolete. We have the capacity for everyone to own everything, in other words, and just pay for what they actually use.

Speaking for myself, I have a library of hundreds of DVDs, which has cost thousands of dollars to build. If instead of purchasing copies, I could watch ANY movie I wanted for say, 50 cents, I imagine I would have seen a lot more movies, for a lot cheaper, than I would've by purchasing a personal library. And the number of times I've seen Aliens could probably fund Cameron's retirement. ;)

Now of course, I'm not saying converting to such a system would be easy, or even possible right now. It would require universal, mandatory ID3 tags or equivalent, a ubiquitous micropayment infrastructure, and global co-operation of everyone who designs media playback mechanisms.

Re:Pay per use would be great if done right (5, Funny)

chromatic (9471) | about 12 years ago | (#4877091)

So, if you listen to the latest Britney song 1000 times, you owe her some cash. And why shouldn't you?? If you listen to the song that much, obviously you're enjoying it.

Not necessarily -- you could just have a roommate or an officemate tuned to a ClearChannel station.

Re:Pay per use would be great if done right (2)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 12 years ago | (#4877122)

Good point, I'll rephrase: if you PLAY the latest Britney song 1000 times.

Re:Pay per use would be great if done right (2)

WeaponOfChoice (615003) | about 12 years ago | (#4877160)

Excellent Idea - and hopefully we'll get there sooner or later (preferably after we manage to get the rest of humanity to a point where they can benefit from this) but I can see it getting labeled as just another form of communism, though considering the way ms is going with their software as a service plan it may just slip under the radar of the ownership is everything radicals...

Re:Pay per use would be great if done right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877271)

I don't think I want my experience of most novels and my favorite musical selections to be affected knowledge that with each passing read/listen of it, I'm paying for it.

I don't want a subscribed lifestyle any more than I need to. Phones, cable, sure. Static artistic possessions? No.

I make my living as a writer and a photographer; what you propose has no attraction to me. It may be an "innovative" commercial design, but it intrudes on the inherent nature of the objects you're talking about.

How long... (5, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | about 12 years ago | (#4877027)

...till I have to play "catch the monkey" in order to read the climax?

What I call a "copyright ripoff" (3, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | about 12 years ago | (#4877047)

Did you know that even when you own a paper version of a book, it is illegal to download an electronic version of the book? The current copyright applies not only to the content (as it should; especially since copyright is supposed to promote advancement in arts), but also the format (which should be protected by patents, not copyright). As a consequence, under the copyright law you have to pay twice for the same book - the paper and the electronic version.

Technology Review did a piece on this (1)

arcadum (528303) | about 12 years ago | (#4877096)

The story is very interesting. [technologyreview.com]

Re:Technology Review did a piece on this (1)

yerricde (125198) | about 12 years ago | (#4877214)

But how, before buying the article, are we supposed to know whether that story is worth $4.50? And how, before buying the article, are we supposed to know whether the PDF will come with restrictions on use with text-to-speech apps?

best line: (3, Insightful)

jeffy124 (453342) | about 12 years ago | (#4877097)

Top of the third page:
The purpose of copyright law is to create incentives that "promote...Progress." But extensions of copyright for works that already exist do not promote progress.

Easily the best comment I've heard against Pro Bono for copyright terms.

Copy rights (5, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 12 years ago | (#4877102)

I read the actual copy right law as applied to print and recordings. It seems fairly straight forward.

You buy a book. You own the book. You can sell the book. You can make copies of the book for personal use. If you sell the original, all the copies have to be destroyed, or go with the original. You can't sell copies with out the copy right holders permission. You can even loan the book, as long as the person you loan it to returns it and doesn't keep a copy.

I can't understand why software is being treated in a different manner.

Just my two cents.

I am drunk on irony (5, Informative)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#4877110)

Disney happens to be one of the biggest miners of Public Domain works there is. Here is a very short list:

Treasure Planet - Treasure Island (duh)
Snow White - Grim
Pinocchio - Grim
Cinderella - Grim
Peter Pan
Sleeping Beauty - Grimm
The Jungle Book - Kipling
The Little Mermaid - Andersen
Beauty and the Beast
Alice in Wonderland - Carrol

I may be wrong on the authors (from memory) but those are all books in the Public Domain that have been hijacked by Disney, and are aggressively defended by them.

Funny.

Writers/publishers need to lighten-up a little (4, Insightful)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 12 years ago | (#4877142)

As someone who creates a lot of material that falls under the protection of copyright law I think it's time that other writers and publishers lighten up a little.

I'm certainly not in favor of people being able to copy and republish or redistribute my work for free without my permission -- but I can't think of a single occasion when I've refused a request from someone who wished to do so.

The only condition usually associated with the granting of such rights is a clear attribution.

Of course if the NY Times comes knocking on my door asking to republish something I've written then I'll probably ask a fair fee for the privilege -- but when it's another not-for-profit website or there's a measure of public good then I simply grant a non-exclusive right to republish without charge.

This usually works well for all concerned:

* The republisher gets some good free content.
* My work becomes more widely known
* The general public has more access to my writing.

In marketing terms, these free republication licenses are a loss-leader. What I lose (which is probably very little in cash terms) by giving away the content, I gain by being able to charge more for material that I write specifically for other publishers.

What those who produce material protected by copyright have to appreciate is that just because you can enforce your rights to be paid for copying doesn't mean it's always a good idea to do so.

I cringe every time I hear Microsoft, the RIAA or MPAA preach about how much money they've lost through unauthorized copying. How on earth do they know that those who copied their IP would have actually purchased it otherwise?

OH MY GOD THIS IS FUNNY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877165)

Racing Against Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877175)

December 12, 2002
Racing Against Time
By Lawrence Lessig

In 1998, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended the term of existing and future copyrights by 20 years--from 75 to 95 years for corporate works, and life plus 50 to 70 years for literary works by authors. This was the eleventh time in 40 years that Congress extended copyright terms. Its effect is to stop, or "toll" the passing of copyrighted work into the public domain. When it expires, the public domain will have been tolled for 39 out of 55 years, or 70 percent of the time since 1962.

These perpetual extensions of existing terms harm Internet growth. They make it harder for content to be deployed on the Internet; they increase the cost of innovation. Thus, in a constitutional challenge to the Sonny Bono Act, argued before the Supreme Court in October, the Internet was offered as Exhibit 1 against the statute. The Internet, the court was told, makes it critically important that copyright terms actually be, as the Constitution requires, "limited."

This is a hard argument to make. I know, because I argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in October, on behalf of plaintiffs who depend upon the public domain for their livelihood. It is difficult for lawyers and for businesses to see how the Internet changes things--hard for lawyers because they are typically far removed from the Internet, and difficult for businesses because they often don't see just how the law really regulates. But it is crucial for the future of innovation and growth that both sides come to see why a new technology makes an original constitutional value so much more important.

Copyright law is a crucial part of the system of incentive necessary to spur creative work. But the law affects creativity differently in cyberspace than in real space. Content owners have been quick to argue that cyberspace weakens copyright protection, since digital copies are so easy to make and distribution costs are so low. That may be true. But it is also true that the Internet can strengthen the power of copyright owners far beyond anything imagined by the framers of our copyright act.

Think, for example, about the difference between a book and an e-book. When a book is published in real space, copyright law controls who may print and initially distribute the book. If you reprint John Grisham's latest novel and sell copies without permission, you will be hunted down and prosecuted--and rightfully so. Copyright properly assures that the author, or copyright holder, has an "exclusive right" to the profits from the initial sale of the book. Thieves who invade that right are punks.

But once the book is out there, ordinary uses of the book in real space are untouched by the law. If you read the book 10 times, copyright law doesn't care. If you buy a copy at a local used bookstore, or borrow it from a library, the author doesn't get a royalty (in the U.S., at least). These uses are unregulated by copyright law. They are not "fair uses" of copyrighted works; they are simply unregulated. The life of an e-book is quite different. Because of a simple technical feature of the Internet, copyright law regulates much more of the life of an e-book in cyberspace than of the life of a book in real space. As every action (on a digital network) produces a copy, and every copy (under the current regime of copyright) is presumptively within the reach of copyright law, every use of a copyrighted work in cyberspace amounts to a copyright event. Thus, to give an e-book to a friend involves a copy; it is therefore regulated by copyright law. To borrow an e-book from an Internet library involves a copy; it is therefore regulated by copyright law. Indeed, to have the computer read an e-book aloud involves making a copy; it, too, is therefore regulated by copyright law. All these "uses" of an e-book are within the reach of copyright's regulation, while the very same uses of a book in real space would not be.

It is this difference that creates the worry about extending copyright terms. Just at the moment that the Internet creates the opportunity for unimagined cultivation of our culture, the law is locking up yet another generation of our culture through copyright control. If a museum wants to create a Web-based exhibit about the New Deal, for example, including pictures and songs from the period, for another 20 years it must check the copyright status for all the material it might use, and get permission from copyright owners for any material still under copyright. If an archive such as Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive wants to digitize those books published in 1930 that are now out of print (all but 174 of the 10,027 books published in that year), it would have to trace the copyrights on each of these books for another generation. Or most urgently, if a film restorer wanted to digitize films from the 1930s, which, because printed on nitrate-based film, are all currently decaying, he or she would have to race against this inevitable decay to locate all the owners of the different copyrights bundled into a single film.

This additional 20 years of protection means 20 more years of licensing before content can be easily used on the Internet. And while lawyers don't often recognize the burden the law imposes on business, businesses can easily recognize the burden of 20 more years of licensing. Imagine a world where used bookstores would have to pay royalties each time a used book was sold: Would there be any used bookstores? Or imagine a world where you had to sign a contract before you were allowed to link to another site on the World Wide Web. Would there be a World Wide Web? And if you think that's bad, imagine having to deal with copyright term extensions for works created in 1923. You'd need to get the permission of unknown and effectively untraceable owners before you could put content on the Web. That is our future if copyright terms continue to grow.

The purpose of copyright law is to create incentives that "promote...Progress." But extensions of copyright for works that already exist do not promote progress. Only 2 percent of the work copyrighted during the first 20 years affected by the Sonny Bono Act have any continuing commercial life. That 2 percent is benefited by the extension, while the rest of the creative work still under copyright is thrown into a black hole of legal regulation. These extensions only harm the creative process, especially when technology makes it possible for so many more to become creators.

Shorter terms, on the other hand, would increase the lawyer-free zone that we call the public domain. They would, therefore, lower the costs to companies that want to distribute and build upon the public domain. Just as there are scores of competing editions of public domain books, there would be scores of competing content providers serving film, and eventually music, from one of the most creative periods in American history. This competition would, in turn, increase demand for bandwidth, which would fuel Internet growth.

The framers of our Constitution didn't know about the Internet. They had no clue about the opportunity for creativity it would present. But they committed our tradition to a rule that requires that copyright terms be limited. That requirement may not have mattered much for 200 years, since for most of that time, only commercial publishers could produce and distribute creative work. But now that technology has given that power to anyone with a T1, the wisdom in the framers' plan is again becoming obvious. Government-granted monopolies, as the framers called them, make sense when they create incentives. But even the United States Congress can't create incentives in the past. No matter what Congress says, George Gershwin will not create anything more. We should thank and honor him and others for their extraordinary work. But we should also honor our framers' plan--that terms be limited.

Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and the author of The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. His next column will appear in March.

Offtopic: free eMail address @fuckMicrosoft.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877236)

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Lessig Spins Copyright Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4877272)

Posted by CowboyNeal [cowboyneal.org] on Thursday December 12, @07:58PM
from the stuff-to-read dept.
ceebABC writes "In the always riveting CIO Insight magazine, tech-pundit (and professor) Lawrence Lessig examines the copyright laws and how they can be applied to e-books and other electronic forms of rights management... i.e., in today's world, the author doesn't receive a royalty everytime someone reads a book from the library. Will they in the future?"

I received this information before it was slashdotted and posted it for everyone's viewing. Glad to help.

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