Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

O'Reilly On How Copyright Got To Its Current State

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the sad-state-of-affairs dept.

Patents 177

Schneed Tweedly writes "William Patry is one of the leading scholars in the world on copyright law. For a long time he maintained a blog, "Patry on Copyright," that discussed new cases as they came out. A few days ago, though, he shut down his blog because 'the Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing.' O'Reilly has a long post up on their news site discussing Patry's retirement from blogging and giving a history of copyright that explains how we got where we are."

cancel ×

177 comments

No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#24531867)

An entire article on the development/abuse of copyright and not one mention of Walt Disney & Sonny Bono's Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] . I think the graph on that illustrate what this article talks about, the gradual extension of copyright through the years by political legislation.

Yeah the current state is bad. Even worse that the people making the calls are the people who have the most money. I don't think we should do away with it completely but I think it's well past the point of stifling innovation. Well past that point.

You want an indication of problems witch those in power continually extending it? Point me to a single proposed reduction bill [copyright.gov] . It's all about extension, reinforcement and expansion to other works like vessel hull design.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (5, Interesting)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532081)

I'd argue that the growth of piracy is not only due to the increased ease, thanks to computers and the internet, but also due to the perceived fairness. After all, copyright is supposed to be a social contract where we allow the creator to profit from their creations so that we can enrich our own culture. But its been so lopsided towards the creators these days. Pretty much all of our modern culture is locked out from you unless you are willing to pay the price.

A large problem is that most people just don't feel copyright infringement is immoral anymore. How much of that is because the creator's aren't keeping their end of the bargain? If you had free access to 10-year old games, books, and music, wouldn't that lower the incentive to commit infringement on the current-day stuff?

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (4, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532131)

To expand upon this, I feel like the large corporations who fucked up copyright have ruined it for the rest of the creators who just want to make a living. People no longer view the copyright issue as a moral one, and a pure legal one. Its not the large corps that are going to suffer. Its the hobby game developers, independent photographers, small bands, and other people that copyright was made to promote.

Copyright was not originally a moral issue. (3, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532255)

To expand upon this, I feel like the large corporations who fucked up copyright have ruined it for the rest of the creators who just want to make a living. People no longer view the copyright issue as a moral one, and a pure legal one. Its not the large corps that are going to suffer. Its the hobby game developers, independent photographers, small bands, and other people that copyright was made to promote.

Au contraire, I think. As most of us around here know, the reasoning enshrined in the US Constitution for copyright is to "promote the progress of science and useful arts." That's not a moral issue. There's no discussion of the moral rights of an author, or intellectual property, or the ownership of one's ideas or the creations of one's mind.

No, from what I can see, copyright was established for a very practical purpose. It wasn't a moral issue. If anything, people are making it into one nowadays - it's all talk about rights and ownership and fairness.

Re:Copyright was not originally a moral issue. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533481)

The American founders didn't even want that much, it was grudgingly conceded to smooth trade with Britain. Copyright is the leverage permitting private interests to shift democracy from its foundation. If that sounds alarmist, you're not clearly thinking the process through to its natural end.

Re:Copyright was not originally a moral issue. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533739)

ummm I think to "promote the progress of science and useful arts" could be seen as an ethical, if not moral issue for a society.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532263)

Copyright was never viewed as a moral issue in the first place outside of a handful of Western countries. Try telling the average person in much of Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America that you aren't allowed to copy your music for your friends, and they'll look at you like you're a madman. People would do better to remember that copyright was envisioned not a natural right, but an artificially granted government monopoly, and one that now seems a mistake.

How it really worked: (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532327)

A few megacorporations (like Disney) realized their ace-in-the-hole (like Mickey) was about to hit public domain.

So they sent bags of money, hookers, and bags of money with hookers hidden inside, and made sure the "right" collection of congresscritters got them along with the message "extend copyright, and there's more."

Repeat every time Mickey Mouse was about to be public domain... meanwhile Disney RAPED the public domain (little mermaid, snow white, jack and the beanstalk, etc...) of everything they could and started flinging lawsuits when other people produced competing works based on the same PUBLIC DOMAIN works.

Copyright should be for the same length as a patent, period. The purpose of each is the same: to promote progress by letting people have a limited time monopoly on the product of their unique expression/inventiveness.

If I write a semi-popular novel at age 25 and live to the average age of 86, that means that my novel won't hit the public domain until the 22nd century (if ever). I personally find that repulsive, and anyone who gets the purpose of copyright ought to be disgusted by the notion as well.

If I want to keep making money, I should have to (at some point) start working again. The best authors - Stackpole, Niven, Asimov, McCaffrey, Doyle - always have, even if their properties could have let them retire in opulence and never have to lift pen again. Intermediates like Rowling (and sorry, but no she's not as good as people gushing over her like to think) do the opposite: they just cut off and sit back on the eternal "it's copyrighted forever" bandwagon.

Re:How it really worked: (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532665)

The best authors - Stackpole, Niven, Asimov, McCaffrey, Doyle - always have, even if their properties could have let them retire in opulence and never have to lift pen again. Intermediates like Rowling

Funny that you think of Asimov as among "the best authors". He's a blip in world literature. Perhaps you mean just in science fiction? Even there, critical reaction has turned against him in recent decades, basically accusing him of writing too many books, too few of which were any good. And McCaffrey took the interesting world of Pern and beat the life out of it through endless sequels. That science-fiction authors nowadays can never seem to write a concise little work and leave it at that is increasingly remarked on as a blight on the genre. From the Wheel of Time to yet another Thomas Covenant trilogy to those godawful Dune prequels, we see plenty of authors that should have quit when they were ahead and retired in opulence if possible.

Re:How it really worked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532757)

They shouldn't have the opulence so it'd force them to actually do something worthwhile.

Re:How it really worked: (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532775)

Intermediates like Rowling (and sorry, but no she's not as good as people gushing over her like to think) do the opposite: they just cut off and sit back on the eternal "it's copyrighted forever" bandwagon.

a) She's just fine, you just don't like her work.

b) Pretty sure she's made enough money off the Harry Potter books at this point that, even if another copy never got sold, she wouldn't have to work any more.

Re:How it really worked: (4, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532943)

And that there's the problem. There's no incentive to keep creating, which is the entire purpose of copyright. Thanks for making such a great argument against it!

Re:How it really worked: (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533129)

Indeed no worries, if there was no copyright she'd never have gotten rich!

Of course, she'd probably also never have bothered to keep being creative for so long. You might have gotten a book out of her, maybe a short story. But not as many books.

Re:How it really worked: (4, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533217)

I didn't mean to intimate that ALL copyright was bad. Just the current length and breadth that it affords a well-financed creator is stifling to society in general. Rowling and others have construed copyright to control whether or not other people can mention or even significantly reference their works, which is WELL outside the bounds of what was intended by copyright. She sued the Harry Potter Lexicon because she INTENDED to make another encyclopedia of Harry Potter stuff. And the law, as it is, has to take her seriously. How fucked up is that?

Re:How it really worked: (3, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533311)

I'd take you seriously if this were JK Rowling's children or her some decades later. As it is, the Harry Potter series is slightly over 10 years old. This would be within the bounds of copyright in the US as established originally in the constitution.

So yes, it's completely sane for them to take her seriously. What would (and probably will) be fucked up is when decades down the line her children or some rights holder sues someone over something Harry Potter related.

The obvious solution is to drastically shorten copyright lengths, with appropriate balancing of the author's rights against large corporations that could simply wait out the copyright.

Re:How it really worked: (5, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533385)

Also, the argument regarding the length and breadth at this point, especially when referring to JK Rowling, is moot as she has made her entire fortune almost purely off the books and within an extremely short timespan.

If you want to rip someone for that sort of thing, go tear up JRR Tolkein's family. He's been dead decades and they're still raking in cash from his works. Or wait a couple decades and -then- use her.

Re:How it really worked: (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533477)

Indeed no worries, if there was no copyright she'd never have gotten rich!

Prove it.

(Also, abutebaris modo subjunctivo.)

Re:How it really worked: (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532931)

Worse yet, the perpetual and endless copyright hinders any kind of development, since we'll one day run into a lack of "free" material to draw from. Everything you could write, no matter how much it was your own creation because you didn't even know anything like it existed, will have been done before and someone will sue you for plagiarism.

There are only so many ideas you can explore that are interesting to read. When are we going to run out of material you may use without causing someone to sue you for plagiarism?

Re:How it really worked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533297)

If you can reasonably prove that you didn't know anything like it existed, then you're in the clear. Sure, you have to pay to defend yourself, but that doesn't just happen in copyright.

Much easier said than done (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533671)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

If you can reasonably prove that you didn't know anything like it existed, then you're in the clear.

For years, I've been asking people how to do exactly that, and nobody has been able to give me a straight answer as to how to keep myself from becoming the next George Harrison [vwh.net] . Do you have any ideas?

Re:How it really worked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533091)

You forgot to mention that they also sent hookers with bags of money hidden inside. I'm a stickler for completeness and symmetry.

Re:How it really worked: (1)

rathaven (1253420) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533515)

and bags of money with hookers hidden inside

and here I am trying to decide whether opening what seemed like a big bag of money and finding a hooker would be a let down or not...?!?

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (4, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533101)

Its not the large corps that are going to suffer. Its the hobby game developers, independent photographers, small bands, and other people that copyright was made to promote.

While it is the large corps that have destroyed copyright through overexpansion, I don't think this has ruined the scene for independent creators, but what it means to be successful as an artist is starting to change. Of the last ten CDs I've bought, seven have been purchased directly from the artist (usually while they were playing on a subway platform, usually for $10). I think the modern move away from paying for creative content owned by big corporations frees up those dollars for buying creative content from local artists. Local artists then give places regional flavor and culture (severely missing from the world these days) The changes taking place seems to slowly be smoothing out the income progression for artists, it's not just a bipolar jump between the poverty of the unknown and the riches of the famous. Along with losing that sudden jump comes the loss of the ability for an artist to make one or two great pieces, charge a fortune for them and then be set for life. Artists will have to work every day just like everyone else, always producing new content to sell just like a farmer must always produce new food to sell. I don't think the mainstream stardom is going to vanish quickly, but I think that is going to slowly fad in favor of more regional and local talent.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (3, Insightful)

DataPath (1111) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532271)

A large problem is that most people just don't feel copyright infringement is immoral anymore.

It's not immoral, and never was. Copyright infringement isn't wrong, it's merely illegal. It's an economic incentive for writers and inventors written into the constitution.

That's it.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532325)

You're right. What I meant was this: when we the public feel that copyright is no longer a fair trade, then we correct the situation.

I frequently ponder whether or not piracy would be so common if we had 5-10 year copyright limits.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532795)

That is perfectly debateable. I always have maintained that copying someone's work that is their livelihood is every bit as immoral as stealing a physical widget that is someone's livelihood. Just because you say copying isn't immoral, doesn't make it morally acceptable to a wider audience than just yourself.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (4, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532965)

I shall make my livelihood masturbating into a cup.

What, no one pays me for that? Perhaps I chose the wrong business model.

To make it clearer: No one has a RIGHT to make a livelihood in anything they do. They have a right to pursue it, and that's it. If they can't make money making copies of things (because it costs nothing to do it, and is therefore infinitely available), they should make money getting people to pay them to make it in the first place (their time and skill is the scarce resource, and therefore what's valuable).

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (5, Interesting)

Geno Z Heinlein (659438) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532695)

But [it's] been so lopsided towards the creators these days.

Not the creators, the copyright holders. Those are not always the same people. Courtney Love does the math [salon.com] is still a good place to start.

This is important to me personally because I feel that our genuine intellectual lifeblood, the creators, are frequently screwed over by lawyers and businessmen who legally own the copyrights. As a Nietzschean, of course I feel that businessmen are supposed to be at the bottom of the social pyramid, and the creators, our genuine artists, at the top. The legal types are supposed to be a support mechanism for our creators. Instead, the artists are treated as a commodity to generate cash-flow for the suits.

Somehow these briefcase-wielding cocksuckers have flipped the whole damn world upside down.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533003)

How much of that is because the creator's aren't keeping their end of the bargain? If you had free access to 10-year old games, books, and music, wouldn't that lower the incentive to commit infringement on the current-day stuff?

Little, I gather. Look on all of the major torrent sites and you'll see stuff on them day and date with release. This is not people protesting against unfair copyright laws but people who see it as them getting what they want for free.

If it were opposition to unfair copyright laws, you'd see torrent sites consistently full of older or hard to find works. Torrents older than a few weeks are usually dead and ones past a year are lucky to have leechers, much less seeds. The only -real- opposition to unfair copyright rules are works being released under various open licenses like the GPL and Creative Commons, but the hard part there is it requires you ACTUALLY BE CREATIVE YOURSELF instead of just lifting someone else's work and claim "zomg free speech!"

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (5, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533093)

'd argue that the growth of piracy is not only due to the increased ease, thanks to computers and the internet, but also due to the perceived fairness. After all, copyright is supposed to be a social contract where we allow the creator to profit from their creations so that we can enrich our own culture.

Yup. I feel like it's time for me to jump in with my standard copyright spiel: The problem with copyright right now is that the common modern conception is out of line with why it was created. It was created as a ploy to encourage writers to write books. The idea was to say, "If you write a book, you get a few years to profit from it before other publishers can poach your work." So the purpose was to provide a limited benefit to the creator of a work in order to encourage creation, the intended end being to promote the common good.

Some time later, the whole thing got re-conceptualized into guaranteeing the creator a *right* to have control over his/her own creation. Many people now imagine that this was the original intent of copyright-- that authors have some kind of God-given inalienable right to control their own work absolutely and for the rest of time, and "copyright" is intended to guarantee authors that right. Later, people even forgot about the authors and passed that right only to the corporations who "own" the stories and characters. The famous case is Disney, which ironically has fed off of older public domain characters and stories while insisting that they retain perpetual rights to their own characters. Still, copyright wasn't intended to be this "right" to control all possible incarnations and derivative works for all time, because art has always reused common stories and characters.

But still, copyright was treated as protection against *other publishers* printing and selling copies. After all, it was unimaginable that some individual would make millions of copies of the work and distribute them for free. Of course, the Internet comes along and that exact unimaginable thing happens. So then, when the business model of the big media companies gets threatened, suddenly "copyright" again becomes something more than it was intended to be. Suddenly now it's not just the perpetual right to decide when the creation is published and sold, but it's also the right to control any time that the work is evoked in any situation at any time by any person. A "copy" is now a nebulous concept, so instead you need a license to read the book, to listen to the music, to watch the movie, etc. But copyrights were never really intended to be used against individuals for *reading* a book, but only against people/companies who would republish the book.

So even though the intent of copyright was to place the common good above the greed of publishers who wished to poach works that they hadn't invested in, it's now seen as an inalienable right that exists, by nature, above the common good. Further, it's being used by greedy publishers to harm the arts by stifling use of old characters and stories, in order to put off the need to invest in new ventures by milking the old ones.

Rant over. And no, I didn't RTFA.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533417)

I'd argue that the growth of piracy is not only due to the increased ease, thanks to computers and the internet, but also due to the perceived fairness.

Unfortunately, lawmakers see allowing a work to enter the public domain as legalizing piracy of that work, and that's being soft on crime, something they can't risk being accused of when coming up for re-election. And when that work is the beloved Mickey Mouse, they fear the smear campaign for not thinking of the children (who really don't give a damn about Mickey Mouse).

The most recent thing I've seen Mickey Mouse in was him being blown to pieces by terrorists on South Park in the Imaginationland story. And loved it!

sonny Bono, Copyright and Harry Potter (3, Funny)

number6x (626555) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532109)

J.K. Rowling and her publisher are known to aggressively fight perceived copyright infringements of her Harry Potter Series of books, as well as the movie and merchandise empire it has inspired.

Works involving Harry Potter generate a lot of income for parties with licenses to produce goods linked with the storyline.

I always thought that it was quite humorous that 10 years before J.K. Rowling first published her copyrighted works there was already a Harry Potter movie that starred Sonny Bono [imdb.com] !

Its a great example of how just having a movie about a character named Harry Potter does not immediately imply that Ms. Rowling engaged in any infringement. The 1986 Movie and her 1996 books deal with completely different subject matters.

J.K. Rowling's book deals with a young boy named Harry Potter who must fight against evil magical forces to save his friends and even a family that despises him.

While, on the other hand, B-Movie creator Charles Band's Movie deals with a young boy named Harry Potter Jr. who must fight against evil magical forces to save his friends and even a family that loves him.

All kidding aside, they are completely different stories. Otherwise Sonny Bono might come back and Haunt J.K. Rowling for copyright infringement! That would be way scarier than Voldemort [youtube.com] !

Re:sonny Bono, Copyright and Harry Potter (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532585)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Potter#Nancy_Stouffer [wikipedia.org]

Even better, before Rowling ever started writing Harry Potter, there was a series of books years earlier called Larry Potter that featured a boy just like Harry with dark hair and glasses.

He went to a wizard school in a magical castle, and non-magic humans were called Muggles.

Yet Rowling tries to accuse everyone of stealing from her. And to date, she has never really come up with an idea outside of Harry Potter. Her new book coming out is a series of fairy tales from the Potter-verse, despite the promise she was going to write something completely new.

Re:sonny Bono, Copyright and Harry Potter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532727)

You like shows Stouffer lost in court, twice! Being accused of changing her shite to make a court case. So what was the point you are trying to make?

Re:sonny Bono, Copyright and Harry Potter (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532825)

She was a broke author who couldn't find the monetary might of Warner Bros, yet it is extremely easy to verify with the ISDN number that her books were in fact published before Harry Potter.

It is possible this is all one big coincidence. But it sure doesn't look like one.

Re:sonny Bono, Copyright and Harry Potter (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532851)

I'd also like to add you should read that entire Wikipedia page and you'll find over and over again Rowling sued people who were in their legal right, and occasionally she has won court cases, likely do to her wealth and ability to fight lengthy legal battles.

She has claimed parody books have no right to parody, and that reference books are theft.

Rowling is a perfect example of someone who abuses copyright and has no clue what the law actually states.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (2, Insightful)

pxuongl (758399) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532535)

i think the problem here is that they're extending copyrights for all works uniformally. Wasn't the extension of copyright to an absurd life+75 years just to ensure that the copyright owners can keep making money on property that was profitable?

why not change the law such that you have to apply for an extension of copyright? If nothing is filed within, say, 10 years of expiration, then the work goes into the public domain. I'd say 10 years is a long enough time to realize profits on even the most unwanted cartoon character.

Re:No Mention of the Copyright Extension Act? (2, Interesting)

naoursla (99850) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533257)

I wrote to my representatives in Congress about the ever lengthening copyright term. The response was that there are copyrighted materials that are still bringing in lots of money to the US economy from overseas. If we allow those copyrights to expire, we will signficantly increase our trade deficit.

Is it really? (1, Insightful)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24531919)

Sure, copyright legislation is getting stricter, but that's only because it's trying to combat the increasing cases of infringement. It's a fight that's about to end, and there can only be one winner. When the rivals are the governments vs the entire world, my money isn't on the governments...

Re:Is it really? (5, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24531979)

How is increasing the copyright term for something written by a dead guy going to affect the people downloading the matrix off bittorrent?

Re:Is it really? (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532279)

How is increasing the copyright term for something written by a dead guy going to affect the people downloading the matrix off bittorrent?

You rip us off by pirating so we'll rip you off by keeping stuff locked up indefinately and vice versa? Face it, anything like a social contract is royally screwed, people don't respect the copyright holders and the copyright holders don't respect us. They're just playing to grab all the money that they "lose" according to themselves and to hell with the rest.

Interesting (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532285)

How is increasing the copyright term for something written by a dead guy going to affect the people downloading the matrix off bittorrent?

Ask the estate of Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind). It wouldn't surprise me if they sue /. for me posting the title of the book.

Disney isn't the only force behind this. There are many ancestors and owners of copyright that are able to sit on their asses and collect royalties for some brilliance of their ancestor.

One of the wisest things I've heard (forgive me for not giving proper credit) is that, sure, let the creator get rich if he's able, but IP shouldn't be used to provide a trust fund the creator's grand-kids!

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532347)

Money isn't the only motivator. The descendant of James Joyce who currently holds the rights to some of his works has been aggressively using copyright law to stop being from even commenting on Joyce's work if he finds their criticism unacceptable. There was an article about this in The Atlantic a few years back.

Re:Interesting (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532639)

Screw Margaret Mitchell's kids - they have no moral claim to royalties from a book they had nothing to do with. The only realy reason to make copyright survive a writer's death is so there's no incentive to kill him so you don't have to pay the royalties.

Re:Is it really? (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532671)

How is increasing the copyright term for something written by a dead guy going to affect the people downloading the matrix off bittorrent?

Bingo. Nail, head, direct hit.

There will come a time when everything is under copyright forever. But nobody will give a shit.

The really worrying thing is whether by that time we will have become so accustomed to trivially breaking copyright law that it will have become a gateway to breaking other laws. Tax evasion? Pah! Parking? Fake numberplates. Exams? Cheat, because everyone else does... etc.

Re:Is it really? (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532023)

Oh please....
You're in fantasy land if you think the people are not going to riot over copyrights. Food, Depression, Water, Crime, etc... sure. Copyrights... not so much.

Re:Is it really? (2, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532053)

Frankly, were I in charge when the masses came to my palace chanting "FREE ENTERTAINMENT" at the tops of their lungs, I would order my forces to shoot into the crowd indiscriminately on principle.

Re:Is it really? (2, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532183)

I would order my forces to shoot into the crowd indiscriminately on principle.

Oh come on, that's your solution to everything.

Re:Is it really? (1)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532935)

They asked for free entertainment. That sounds pretty entertaining to me and he's not even charging them to see it.

Re:Is it really? (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532429)

Oh please....
You're in fantasy land if you think the people are not going to riot over copyrights. Food, Depression, Water, Crime, etc... sure. Copyrights... not so much.

People wouldn't accept it if shop owners called for the death penalty for shoplifting, nor if copyright holders do the same. Countries not so utterly under the spell of lobbyists as the US won't make large parts of their population into "dangerous criminals". Unlike the US where a riot is the only thing that'd change something in many countries you can actually vote parties out of the parliament for doing stupid shit - two are at risk of doing so next election here. Maybe the US will kill itself under its copyright tzars but the world won't.

Re:Is it really? (1)

kipman725 (1248126) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533377)

people will riot when they have no bread which will be the result if this is allowed to continue. Already the standard of living has fallen in America in my lifetime and will continue to decline if progress is not made. You end up with a rotten old empire that keeps going only under the inertia of previous generations slowly declining into anarchism. Go read Asimovs foundation. (which should be public domain by now but isn't)

Re:Is it really? (3, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532061)

but that's only because it's trying to combat the increasing cases of infringement

Infringement cases are increasing because of the continual copyright term extensions.

Bah.

Sorry, your reality check bounced (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533163)

Infringement cases are increasing because of the continual copyright term extensions.

Sure they are. That's why if you look at the torrents, they're full of people trading Mickey Mouse cartoons that were only yanked away from the public domain by Disney's latest lobbying efforts. P2P is dominated by pop songs from the 1950s, and all those cracked game sites are full of Tetris and Pacman.

Does it even occur to you before you spout the kind of knee-jerk crap quoted above that that overwhelming majority of copyright infringement going on on-line today is ripping off material released so recently that even the original copyright terms would easily have covered it (assuming it has even been released to the public yet at all)? Or that copyright infringement might be increasing because we now have a high-speed communications medium connecting most of the first world that can copy and redistribute copyright material near instantaneously and with negligible cost?

It's tragic that posts like the parent get modded (+5, Insightful). It's obviously not even true, at least on any remotely significant scale. (+5, I Want Everything For Free Groupthink) is more like it.

Re:Sorry, your reality check bounced (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533517)

Does it even occur to you before you spout the kind of knee-jerk crap quoted above that that overwhelming majority of copyright infringement going on on-line today is ripping off material released so recently that even the original copyright terms would easily have covered it (assuming it has even been released to the public yet at all)?

Here's a question - as technology has improved, why on earth are we witnessing increased terms? If anything, the term ought to have been reduced. It's orders of magnitude easier in this day and age to distribute and profit from copyrighted material than it was when they copyright term was originally established as 14 years. Creators need much less time to bring in profits, in great part thanks to the Internet that also enables this infringement. All that popular media you're thinking of only has a shelf-life of a few years at best, anyway. 14 years is way too long for today's movies and music, if you ask me.

Re:Sorry, your reality check bounced (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533695)

I don't necessarily disagree with any of that. But even if you considered only 5 years to be a reasonable period for exploitation of a work by its creator, you would still find the majority of the material that is swapped illegally on-line today was under copyright.

The "everything I want should be free" crowd like to complain about copyright extensions, but the fact is that for the most part they don't even respect copyrights for material released yesterday, or that won't be released until tomorrow for that matter. They just want to have things other people worked to create without having to give any compensation in return. This used to be called "greed" or "not living up to your side of the bargain". Bitching about copyright extension laws is just an irrelevant smokescreen that they use to cover up this lack of basic ethics.

Re:Sorry, your reality check bounced (2, Insightful)

novakyu (636495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533783)

Sure they are. That's why if you look at the torrents, they're full of people trading Mickey Mouse cartoons that were only yanked away from the public domain by Disney's latest lobbying efforts. P2P is dominated by pop songs from the 1950s, and all those cracked game sites are full of Tetris and Pacman.

If you look at just the terms, you are absolutely right. Some people (like myself) may look specifically for those abandonwares, but that's not where the most active warez/p2p scene is.

However, if you look at the scope of the copyright as well, the parent poster is far more in the right than you are. Originally, copyright simply covered "maps, charts, and books", i.e. not music scores (which did exist with the technology of the time), newspaper articles, etc.

But over the last century or so, the scope of the copyright literally exploded, covering basically all aspects of the culture, and with the automatic copyright (no registration required, unless you want to sue for statutory damages), you will be lucky to find something that isn't copyrighted.

Just like you make everyone a tresspasser when you make all lands (including the roads) private, you make everyone a copyright infringer when you make everything copyrighted---and, since you are going to be infringing on copyrights no matter what you do (for example, sing "Happy Birthday" in a public place), why not fully participate and reap the reach rewards? As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Re:Is it really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533559)

1. Make widely performed acts illegal.
2. Prosecute newly illegal acts.
3. Profit?

/this cliche property of AC, reproduction in whole or part consider the product of a withered imagination...

Re:Is it really? (1)

grolaw (670747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532205)

Increasing cases of infringement? Where did you get that BS?

Of course, with vastly more material in copyright there will be more infringement.

There are no such things as "innocent infringers" any longer and that is total BS. Do you really think that George Harrison intended to lift the melody from He's So Fine for My Sweet Lord?

Re:Is it really? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532989)

You obviously haven't been around when Iran revolted against the Shah or when the east bloc collapsed.

What should a government do when all, or almost all, of its citizens object against its rule? You can't shoot everyone, you can't jail everyone, you can just give up. Remember that any government is just propped up by those it rules. It doesn't produce anything, it doesn't generate wealth. We can exist without them, they're easy to replace. They can't exist without us.

No more! (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 5 years ago | (#24531955)

Damn whos blog entries am I going to copy now?

Mickey Mouse (4, Insightful)

Necreia (954727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24531981)

Copyright will continue to extend for as long as that damn mouse makes money.

Re:Mickey Mouse (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532187)

Copyright will continue to extend for as long as that damn mouse makes money.

Which will be forever unless,

1) Everyone gets over it

or

2) People start boycotting Disney

Disney has diversified somewhat (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533713)

Which will be forever unless,

1) Everyone gets over it

or

2) People start boycotting Disney

From about 2003 to 2005, I tried to organize a Disney boycott. But that means giving up Pixar, ESPN, ABC, A&E, History, and all the rest of these [cjr.org] . Do you have any idea how I could convince a significant number of people to agree to that?

Re:Mickey Mouse (1)

gdog05 (975196) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532217)

"Earthman, your Mickey Mouse is one big stupid dope!" - Jerry

Re:Mickey Mouse (2, Funny)

grolaw (670747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532237)

I guess that Anaheim and Orlando have to go. Let Euro and Japan Disney fare for themselves.

I think a few thousand hungry alligators dropped into each park every morning would take the luster off of the mouse - especially if the alligators were fitted with Mouse Ears (PARODY).

Optimization of code (1)

sdemjanenko (1296903) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532033)

well seeing as the article argues that copyrights protect expression - which i agree with, what classification would optimization of code fall into. On a theoretical level there should be one best way to do it for a specific platform. I dont think it would fully fit the patent classification either.

Re:Optimization of code (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532367)

Optimization is about minimizing some set of N functions out of some superset of N + M functions. If you assume that N=1 and that the function has exactly one minimum (eg: it is linear with a lower limit, or quadratic), then yes, there is one best solution. In practice, programs are not that simple. If you want to solve a more complex system - optimizing multiple parameters that vary non-linearly, which is the normal case - then you will have some number of local minima and one or more global minima.

(A local minimum is the lowest point within a region, but may not be the lowest point overall. Automatic optimizers - or indeed any automatic herustic - will tend to get stuck in local minima unless well programmed, as it will "appear" a good solution because of a lack of understanding of the problem space. Understanding, of course, is impossible until or unless a machine passes the Turing Test.)

In a few, rare, cases, no optimizer could ever solve the problem because there are no minima to find. This would happen if the relationship between the different characteristics you wish to optimize is a chaotic system which, when graphically mapped, would produce a fractal. Every point in a true fractal can be expanded to produce more information, and because the system is sensitive to initial conditions, that information cannot be inferred from any surrounding information. It is thus impossible to ever know if you are converging or diverging from a solutions, and impossible to know when such a solution is reached, since there is always an infinite amount of points that could potentially be better.

I shall leave it as an exercise to Slashdotters who are also on OpenCores to develop a microprocessor instruction set that is (a) Turing-Complete, but (b) possesses the nature that no non-trivial program can ever be optimized for the above reason. (ie: the limits of any function describing a characteristic are always Strange Attractors, not minima or maxima.)

Re:Optimization of code (2, Funny)

zapakh (1256518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533011)

I shall leave it as an exercise to Slashdotters who are also on OpenCores to develop a microprocessor instruction set that is (a) Turing-Complete, but (b) possesses the nature that no non-trivial program can ever be optimized for the above reason. (ie: the limits of any function describing a characteristic are always Strange Attractors, not minima or maxima.)

Look out! It's a nerd sniper [xkcd.com] !!

Re:Optimization of code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24533057)

The problem is that its impossible to determine optimality once you get above a "trivial enough" programs.

Proof by contradiction:

1. Assume there exists a program that is able to prove whether *any* input program is optimal (smallest possible program with a given output).
2. It is possible to construct by adapting the program in #1 a program that determines the smallest optimal program larger than itself (by exhaustively searching for said program), and then simulating that program.
3. Number 2 is a contradiction because number 2 is smaller than the optimal program it finds, therefore there is no algorithm to determine whether you have an optimal program.

QED.

Expression vs. function (2, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532037)

I know this is rather tangential, but the article did start out with contrasting Expression vs. Function under "Copyright in Context" heading. I think the best proof that software is ruled by copyright vs. patent is available at http://99-bottles-of-beer.net/ [99-bottles-of-beer.net] 99 bottles of beer, programmed in 1214 different languages and/or variations. Clearly the function is the same, but the expression differs wildly.

we just have to change copyright (2, Insightful)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532039)

Let's change "copyright" to "copywrong" to reflect the current situation.

Patry to make archived posts (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532155)

available, reports Jon Newton [p2pnet.net] at p2pnet.net

Re:Patry to make archived posts (2, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532653)

Mr. Beckerman, I don't know if you'll have a chance to respond to this, but I'm kind of itching to ask after reading something.

It seems to me that the whole copyright debate has shifted from what was originally an issue of economic incentive to an issue of natural and moral rights. The starving artist is invoked not only to inspire our sympathy, but because we're told to think that it's only fair for someone to be able to control their ideas.

Now, according to the analysis of the copyright clause of the Constitution available here [gpoaccess.gov] , there is no natural, moral, initial, or other right of exclusive use. I.e., the only reason the rights exist are because of the copyright clause - it's not that the copyright clause was expressing a natural right that pre-existed:

Wheaton, while denying this assertion of fact, further contended that the statute was only intended to secure him in his pre-existent rights at common law. These at least, he claimed, the Court should protect. A divided Court held in favor of Peters on the legal question. It denied, in the first place, that there was any principle of the common law that protected an author in the sole right to continue to publish a work once published. It denied, in the second place, that there is any principle of law, common or otherwise, which pervades the Union except such as are embodied in the Constitution and the acts of Congress. Nor, in the third place, it held, did the word "securing" in the Constitution recognize the alleged common law principle Wheaton invoked. The exclusive right which Congress is authorized to secure to authors and inventors owes its existence solely to the acts of Congress securing it, 1446 from which it follows that the rights granted by a patent or copyright are subject to such qualifications and limitations as Congress, in its unhampered consultation of the public interest, sees fit to impose.

So my question is, is this Wheaton v. Peters idea still in force? Or has the law evolved since then to find some sort of natural right? If not, doesn't that make so much of the copyright debate ultimately misguided?

Re:Patry to make archived posts (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532945)

There is nothing in the Constitution to suggest that 'copyright' is a 'natural right'. All that is in the Constitution is an authorization to Congress to grant limited copyrights if it so chooses. Congress is given permission, if it so chooses, to give authors and inventors, only for a limited time, certain rights, for the purpose of encouraging them to continue with their creative work. Congress was not given permission to grant the rights for more than a limited time, nor was there any grant of authority to encourage corporations, with perpetual lives, to accumulate copyrights for the sake of profit. Today's duration of copyrights, which exceeds the life expectancy of the authors, and goes well beyond anything necessary to encourage them to continue their work, is flagrantly unconstitutional.

Re:Patry to make archived posts (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533413)

I don't believe it's a principle in US law, but in the UK (and several other countries) some of the rights protected by copyright are defined as 'moral rights' which has a specific legal meaning. The right of the author to be identified with their work is one of these rights. It's been almost a decade since I studied IP law (and I only did enough then to realise that I would find working with such a painfully broken system too depressing), but I seem to recall this was one of the big differences between copyright in the US and much of the EU.

Re:Patry to make archived posts (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533473)

No, 'moral right' is a specific concept that the author has the right to prevent people from altering his version.

How copyright got this way? (5, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532213)

That's easy: Greed.

Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532221)

Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town.

That is all that Bastard O'reilly ever says....

I need a better News channel to get my news from.

Re:Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532375)

he also say "if you wish to opine"

Re:Name and Town, Name and Town, Name and Town, (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533161)

He also says Shut up!

Obligatory Wayne's World (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532313)

O'Reilly: Patry on Copyright
Patry: Party on O'Reilly

Real problem is equal protection (4, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532387)

These laws like copyright extension would be good, on balance, if it weren't for the fact that large corporations are in improved positions compared to a typical private citizen, when seeking damages, especially in court but also in any negotiation.

If the playing field were level, laws like those protecting copyright would protect you exactly the same as they protect the big players.

Even so, I still think people should already take this status quo as a sign that it is time to stop being a mere consumer of entertainment. Be creative. This stuff should be a powerful whip, provoking and compelling you to make your OWN music or whatever artistic/creative endeavor you choose.

But don't listen to me, I'm crazy. I don't even have a TV in my house. (I need the space for my piano.)

Re:Real problem is equal protection (3, Informative)

dwandy (907337) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533383)

These laws like copyright extension would be good, on balance...

Retroactive Copyright extension is theft. Real theft. The authors and publishers made a deal with the public: They would do/publish something creative, and we'd grant them a limited duration during which they'd be the only ones that had rights to distribute this work. The reason we're willing to make this deal is that once the monopoly period is over, the work gets added to the public domain ... that same public domain that Disney needed to pillage to make piles of their work. If the terms were good enough for the artist when they made and distributed the art then they were good enough: there's no reason to grant a longer monopoly.

For future-only extensions, there's still nothing to suggest that longer terms (then current) would do anything to encourage more works then we get today. It seems most income happens in the first few years (too lazy to find references, but IIRC it was less than 5yrs for 90% of revenue) so there's little reason to increase the terms...and in fact this would be reason to decrease terms.

So, I must disagree, laws like copyright extension are on balance bad, regardless of who holds the gold.

Re:Real problem is equal protection (1)

kipman725 (1248126) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533389)

why would I need protection if I were dead?

Cryptomnesia (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533729)

Even so, I still think people should already take this status quo as a sign that it is time to stop being a mere consumer of entertainment. Be creative. This stuff should be a powerful whip, provoking and compelling you to make your OWN music

I could write, record, and distribute my music, and then possibly get sued for having accidentally copied part of Big Media's work into my own. What should I do to prevent this from happening?

Hmm (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532511)

Well, at least it seems like a fair and balanced commentary.

Depressing (1)

DarkAnt (760333) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532521)

From the article:
"It is unfortunate that under the current copyright law, the most accurate predictions about prospective cases usually come from borrowing from the branch of academia known as legal realism. Legal realism is a cynical interpretive strategy that sees all law in terms of political power structures; the reasoning behind individual decisions is nothing more than window dressing for underlying political biases and power struggles.

Under a legal realist analysis, any use of copyrighted material that was objectionable or questionable would be struck down as infringing. Nonobjectionable use of copyrighted material would be allowed only if the political and economic interests in support of the use were more powerful than the political and economic interests against the use. Unfortunately, this is, in my opinion, the best guide to the outcome of any future copyright case."

The current state of BLOGS is too depressing.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532559)

...so let's shut down a lot more of those blogs!

Reasonable Solution (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532631)

Where exactly can we find a reasonable solution? One might contend the US produces no finer export that its IP, from music, movies, to books, software and video games.

I believe we should be able to protect IP, but that doesn't mean it should become this draconian institution. Where exactly is the compromise?

Re:Reasonable Solution (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533273)

I've never understood why we can't have a simple system that basically says once you've got a legitimate copy of something yourself, you can use it however you like, but you can't distribute copies to others during the copyright period, and that copyright period should be set long enough to allow for reasonable exploitation by the people who created and distributed the original content but no longer; a few years rather than a few decades strikes me as fair in most cases. Don't let copyright holders use artificial hackery like DRM and the DMCA to extend their powers, and don't subsequently change the law to extend copyright terms beyond that basic level. Throw greedy infringers who don't want to pay up like everyone else in jail like any other criminal.

Re:Reasonable Solution (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533415)

What is a good length for a book? 25 years? 50 years? What about music? What about software?

Sometimes I wonder if the simplest solution is to treat it almost like a trademark, which means you must continue to use and enforce it. Disney still very much actively uses Mickey Mouse. So despite Steamboat Willie being an ancient cartoon, it would be protected. However, abandoned software products would become legal abandonware after a certain number of years.

Some of the early Beatles music is coming up to the period of public domain in the UK I do believe, and yet that music is still actively sold. So long as the original copyright holder is still maintaining the copyright, they should keep it.

I don't think copyrights should extend past one generation of inheritance. A widow or child could benefit, but not grandkids and so on.

Re:Reasonable Solution (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533645)

The problem with that argument is that it means each generation will probably never benefit at all from the copyright bargain on works released during their lifetimes: they give monopoly rights to others, but never get anything back themselves in return. That doesn't sound like much of a fair deal to me.

Re:Reasonable Solution (2, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533895)

Problem with this idea: Copyright is (supposed to be) for the purpose of encouraging the production of creative works. The Beatles haven't created anything new in years, so allowing a publisher to derive ongoing income from their works diverts sales from potential new works. If the Beatles portfolio had a horizon on its income producing potential, record companies would be motivated to invest in new artists.

From the point of view of the originating artist, at the moment the work is complete, it should be viewed as any other financial asset. The value of the work is the present value of its potential future income stream. That means the artist has to balance holding the rights in anticipation of receiving money in the distant future with receiving a lump sum payment equal to that cash flow discounted for the value of time. It can be shown that income (even large amounts) in the distant future have very little present value. So extending the terms of a copyright has little value to a creator (author, musician, etc.) at the time they are creating. Beyond that point, it becomes a purely economic decision. Keep the rights to the cash flow or reinvest the present value into some productive enterprise.

From the point of view of the heirs of an old portfolio. Get a job. Or curse dad for not having diversified into IBM, Exxon, etc.

Re:Reasonable Solution (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533707)

Where exactly is the compromise?

I'm tempted to say it is a moot point. So long as it is legal for corporations to give large donations to congresscritters' campaign funds, laws will be passed to favor them over the people as a whole.

Still, you asked. My compromise is automatic copyright of two years for any work. That is extended to four years, free of charge, if a reference copy is filed with the Library of Congress. Reference copies must be DRM-free and include everything needed to view/use a work (if it is a XBox game, Congress needs to have at least one free Xbox console). Finally, provided a reference copy is filed, copyright holders should be able to file for extensions on that work in four year increments for up to 100 years, total, with the cost increasing by an order of magnitude every extension. I'd say $1000 is a reasonable fee for the first extension.

The main problem I have with our current copyright laws is 99% of copyrighted works cannot purchased at a regular market price because they are no longer being published and aren't making any money for anyone... but it is still illegal to make copies and distribute them.

Roll back copyright terms (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533787)

Where exactly can we find a reasonable solution? One might contend the US produces no finer export that its IP

Internet Protocol was invented in the United States, and yes, it was a fine export. But if you're talking about "music, movies, to books, software and video games", you're talking about plain copyright, not "intellectual property" which also includes patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. So just say "copyright".

I believe we should be able to protect IP, but that doesn't mean it should become this draconian institution. Where exactly is the compromise?

Roll back the copyright term to the Berne bare minimum, for a start. That means 50 years for works made for hire (I'll settle for 56 for conformity to the Copyright Act of 1909) and life + 50 for other works.

Re:Roll back copyright terms (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24533861)

But if you're talking about "music, movies, to books, software and video games", you're talking about plain copyright, not "intellectual property" which also includes patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. So just say "copyright".

A belongs to B. B belongs to C. Calling A part of C is wrong?

What next? I'm sorry, you can't call a Toyota Matrix a car, because it is a crossover vehicle, and cars denote a larger field of several types of cars. For that matter, cars include Toyotas, Hondas, etc. You must just simply call it Toyota Matrix specifically, and can not lump into a larger group which it belongs to, even if everyone else does so commonly.

Wrong O'Reilly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532657)

Damn, I thought it was Bill O'Reilly. I mean really, who cares what this guy has to say? Hes not even a right wing nut.

Vanishing Art (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532903)

I think a lot of people discussing the issue of copyright law in the U.S. are missing out on a big part of the picture. This is not just about greed sucking money from our wallets needlessly. Sure that sicks, but it is just money. The real problem is the irreparable damage. It's the works that are gone completely, or exist only in tiny quantities and may as well not exist as far as the average person is concerned. The U.S. no longer requires reference copies of works to be submitted, so when the last copy of a movie corrodes, the last copy of a book is burned in a fire, the last recording of a song is shattered... that's it. Society will never get those back and we're no longer able to build on those works and progress like we used to.

Have you ever read about how the great works of art, film, and literature were received by the public? Often it is the case that they were not well received and were recognized only by later generations. The film "It's a Wonderful Life" is a good example. It bombed at the box office and sat on a shelf for decades until copyright expired and PBS ran it (because it was free). That story is not one that will be repeated. Our current laws assure that similar works today will sit on those shelves forever. Heck, they've even re-copyrighted "It's a Wonderful Life" through a technicality. The laws have not kept up with technology either, allowing DRM to further make sure it will be very, very difficult for works to be viewed by future generations.

Fourteen years was enough time back when books had to be printed with slow, old fashioned presses and shipped by horse or ship. Now, works can move instantly across the net and fourteen years after a console video game is released (locked by DRM to specific machine) will there be any machines left that can even play it? Huge portions of our artistic heritage are simply being flushed down the toilet... and for what? So companies can continue to make a profit from that tenth of a percent of copyrighted works that are still being sold after ten years? Greed may be the cause of the problem, but it's a lot more than just money that is being taken from us.

There is a single-character explanation for this (0, Redundant)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24532921)

How copyright got to it's current state: "$"

I'm not so sure about personal copying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24532963)

In the article, O'Reilly quotes van Linberg, who states that prohibitions on personal copying came about in the 1909 Copyright Act. I'm not so sure. Copyright law doesn't really address personal copying all that much. Jessica Litman (author of the Digital Copyright book O'Reilly recommends) has an article called "Lawful Personal Use" that discusses the history of copyright and personal use. It's freely available from her Web site or the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...