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Doctorow On Copyright Reform & Culture

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the part-and-parcel dept.

Editorial 243

super-papa sends us to Locus Magazine for an article by Cory Doctorow discussing the conflicts between copyright law and modern culture, and arguing against the perception that copying media is still unusual. Quoting: "Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant. Clip a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity, it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement. There's a word for all the stuff we do with creative works — all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture."

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243 comments

Tell us something we don't know (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684699)

Seriously, this is just preaching to the choir at this stage. Although it'd be nice if this picked up some mainstream coverage.

Re:Tell us something we don't know (5, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684757)

Post the story here [change.gov]

Re:Tell us something we don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684863)

Hahaha.

Re:Tell us something we don't know (1)

consequentemente (898944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685039)

Which would be illegal, considering the bottom of the locusmag homepage clearly says: (c) 1997-2008 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.

Re:Tell us something we don't know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685333)

funny joke:

Q: What do you call a black president?

A: nigger

Re:Tell us something we don't know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685649)

This guy has had an obsession with copyright law bordering on the pathological forever, like the US copyright office murdered his family. something. Whenever you see his name in "print", you know what it's going to be about. Someone please just reform copyright law so he can complete his Frankie Goes to Hollywood collection and so we don't have to see his art-school reject hipster face or fucking ridiculous name ever again.

Re:Tell us something we don't know (4, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25686155)

Perhaps, but it's not yet common to see the topic covered with such clarity and thoughtfulness.

BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684715)

So when is the author going to spend $50 million of his money making a blockbuster movie and then give it away for free to everyone? I *eagerly* await that...

Re:BRAVO! (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684893)

With copyright out of the way, it might not take $50 million to make a "blockbuster" movie. And I don't know about you, but I'm not going to slit my wrists or shoot up a shopping mall if they suddenly stop making $50 million blockbuster movies.

Re:BRAVO! (5, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684983)

Yeah, they clearly spent $100 million on copyright clearances alone for Transformers.

The better argument is that if there is really a market for movies, someone will find a way to finance them, copyright or not (I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together).

Re:BRAVO! (4, Interesting)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685123)

I'd risk a buck on the next Bourne movie, and I bet enough people would join me that it wouldn't be all that hard to put it together

Thats how movies should be financed.

Let the film companies raise the money for them by getting it from customers... giving money gives you the right to own that movie on whatever formats you choose.
If the film does well, it shouldn't be hard to raise more for a sequel but if they make it a pile of crap they wont earn as much next time.
It encourages studios to make good movies, not just churn out whatever remake/special effects shite they think will earn them the most.

Fund Bourne Film 4.. 10 million shares @ $10 each... all the profit gets split between the shareholders (with a percentage being held to help raise money for Bourne 5?)

Re:BRAVO! (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685307)

Let the film companies raise the money for them by getting it from customers... giving money gives you the right to own that movie on whatever formats you choose.

That only has a chance of working if the people who don't give money are not allowed to own the movie on whatever format they choose. This disallowal can either be by legal means (but then it's basically copyright, so you are right back with what you are trying to get rid of with this approach), or technical (DRM).

Re:BRAVO! (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685369)

You make it sound like nobody would pay if it was available for free. You might be right for some people, but I would.
I'm sure there are enough people out there who would do the same.

There doesn't have to be a legal means or anything to prevent people from copying, just a moral one.

Re:BRAVO! (0)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685509)

Bullshit. You might (I doubt it), but people, in general, simply will fucking not.

Hell, go look at the Radiohead album release. They made relatively shit for money, and this was for a product that already existed.

Re:BRAVO! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685777)

Apparently [wikipedia.org],they made more money off this than the download sales of all their other albums combined. And, even after giving it away for free, the CD release was one of their best selling albums.

Re:BRAVO! (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685933)

Actually you wouldn't even need that,you give the people the best reason to pay: More of what they want. Kinda like how Joss Whedon suggested. Take a show like Firefly that the network didn't get,or an idea like Faith the Vampire Slayer or Ripper that a lot of the fans wrote in about. To get up the cash for the first one you can have several ways for the fans to give: donations(Give $50 and get a cool t-shirt that you will ONLY get here! For $100 it'll be signed by one of the stars!) auctions for walk on roles(who wouldn't want to wear the vamp makeup and get turned to dust by Eliza?),plus you can have product placements,etc.

Then you tell the fans "Hey! You guys want another movie? Buy the DVD and tell all your friends! And don't forget the new limited t-shirt for the sequel! Just come and donate!" plus you can sell memorabilia from the set of the first movie,etc. Just think,if movies and shows were made like this we would have probably never had "The Dukes of Hazzard" or "Bewitched" stinkbombs. Personally I have my Joss Whedon collection sitting on the shelf in the nice pretty boxes but would be happy to buy more stuff for a new Firefly or FtVS or even a Spike and Dru TV movie. How about you?

But no matter what we REALLY need copyright reform. I have said this before,but in case some missed it I'll say it again as it bears repeating. For those that don't think copyright is broken I have one sentence for you: Steamboat Willie is still under copyright. The man has been dead a half century,and his FIRST work,one made when most cars on the road had to be started with a freaking handcrank,is STILL under copyright. That is just totally fucked up,no ifs,ands or buts about it.

Missing the Point (4, Insightful)

mdm42 (244204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685891)

Actually you've completey missed Doctorow's point. (Didn't RTFA, did we? :)

The crappy little 450x300-pixel, lossy-compressed-format, lousy audio version would be free and on the 'net. But if you enjoyed the storyline, you might well be willing to pay something to watch it on a big-screen in 7-channel. Or to buy a high-def limited-edition DVD that comes with a bunch of (physical) other stuff. Or perhaps you'd pay serious money to attend a local premier where some of the stars and technical people attend, together with dinner afterwards and a DVD-signing.

It's not about the content. It's about the differing values that people derive from these various format. The "premier, dinner, signing" thing is about being able to say to your friends, "I was there!" (Presumably they'd be impressed by that.)

It's about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685427)

That is the awesomest idea ever. I'm just trying to think of where the catch will be.......

Re:BRAVO! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685733)

Entitled nutjobs would fantasy that the $4 they spent financing the movie should give them a discount when they go to see it at the local theater.

Yes, they would.

No, they really would.

Quit arguing, I'm quite sure about this.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Interesting)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685745)

Of course you and ten million other people would risk a couple dollars on the next Bourne movie. After all, other people already shouldered the real risk by making the FIRST Bourne movie. And before that otehr people shouldered the risk of publishing the book it was based on. And before that someone took the first risk by publishing Robert Ludlum's first works with no guarantee that anyone other than his mother would ever buy it.

Real crowd sourced funding like this will never work for any media with a decent budget. It is simply not realistic to convince a million random people to give you $10 to make something they have never heard of before, and that's for a total budget of $10 million, or peanuts in film terms. If something has enough brand recognition to get a million random people to pony up money, then it has enough recognition to make use of simpler sources of funding.

Now, cheaper distributed distribution and lowered production costs might still make alternate production methods feasible. A company that produces episodic content where you can buy in ahead of time for a 'season' of their work and get some say over what is made, with continued production of any given project based on interest and return? Possible. But it would be a lot of work and big time risky for anyone willing to risk their livelihood on getting it to work.

Re:BRAVO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685993)

One of the better posts on this topic I've seen in a long time. "BRAVO", as it were.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

dwillden (521345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25686143)

I agree with you with one exception, this concept of crowd sourced funding is how this stuff is paid for in the first place. It's called the stock market, and investors buying the stocks of the media companies they feel are likely to make them a profit, are the crowd who are financing these movies.

The Studios aren't printing the money it costs to make these movies, they are using invested funds and the profits from prior sucesses to fund new movies. The only hard thing to understand is how this system still manages to put out soo much garbage. Oh, that's right, they claim it's art. (Bullcrap, it's business, and a cutthroat business at that.)

Re:BRAVO! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685165)

The better argument is that if there is really a market for movies, someone will find a way to finance them, copyright or not...

I cannot disagree. In fact I have stated position before(don't remember when, but I did, I swear) Let's compromise and say the the arguments are complimentary, not contradictory.

Re:BRAVO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684985)

I'd sure as hell slit my wrists if we end up with movies made on crappy handicams starring a bunch of pale-skinned slashdot nerds who can't act to save William Shatner's life.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685141)

"who can't act to save William Shatner's life"

That's not can't, it's won't. The only line I ever had in a film was "Rodger, We just want.. yer Brainzzzz!", but for Shatner, I could have flubbed the take.

(Yes, I've played a zombie, in a 70's indy film that actually got released, although I don't think it ever made back its costs.).

Re:BRAVO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685203)

I'd sure as hell slit my wrists...

I got the blades, and a camera...It'll be a smash hit. Snuff films always are.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Informative)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685001)

With copyright out of the way, it might not take $50 million to make a "blockbuster" movie.

How do you figure? Are actors going to start working for free? Will the camera and lighting equipment stop being so expensive? Are the racks and racks of servers they use to generate the CGI going to just appear out nowhere? Are the CGI guys going to start donating their time? Are they going to magically "duplicate" the props, instead of renting or buying them?

Without copyright they might have an easier time picking the sound track, but very rarely is that a large percentage of the budget.

If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay because it would be impossible to make money from them.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685055)

If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay because it would be impossible to make money from them.

and that's why we have the hords and hords of CDs with that noise known as classical music on them, or DVDs based off of ancient fables and stories because no one could possibly make money off of public domain works... (hint - the DVD reference is directly aimed at Disney...)

Don't be silly (2, Informative)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685267)

Seriously. Those recordings of classical music are copyrighted in exactly the same way as recordings of pop music are! It's only the copyright on the composition that's run out.

You wouldn't get a symphony orchestra putting out CDs if we didn't have copyright. The only way for them to make money would be live performances which would mean they would only put out recordings insofar as they drove people to turn up at live events, it'd just be advertisements.

Re:Don't be silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685445)

And except for the bigger and more famous orchestras, that's exactly what the CDs are. The Boston Pops sells because of who they are. I've played with many community groups as well as a couple of professional orchestras, and they *definitely* don't sell CDs to make a profit. Anything above break-even is a bonus.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685327)

and that's why we have the hords and hords of CDs with that noise known as classical music on them, or DVDs based off of ancient fables and stories because no one could possibly make money off of public domain works... (hint - the DVD reference is directly aimed at Disney...)

You should probably actually watch a Disney DVD or two before using them in your examples.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685063)

Lesser known actors will work for cheap/free, cameras are getting cheaper all the time, better cameras will work with natural lighting, CPU time for rendering is dropping in price even faster than the cameras, less time is needed on CGI modeling when you can freely reuse existing models, better 3d tools are improving productivity. Real props aren't getting any cheaper, but they're usually a minor portion of the budget, and rapid fabrication systems could cut costs here in the future.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685295)

Lesser known actors will work for cheap/free

In the hope they'll get noticed and make it big.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685375)

That's not true for a number of reasons.

Cameras are getting cheaper in part because better, more expensive cameras are coming out. CPU time required for a given scene is dropping, but they're churning out more complex scenes with every movie. Models can be reused, but those models still need to be customized and improved for specific "roles". 3D tools are improving productivity, but the artists are being asked to produce more than ever.

CGI is one of those areas that will always expand to fill computing power. Movie makers will always want to eat up new cycles with a slightly more realistic algorithm, or a few more objects.

Also note that all of those things have been improving for the last 100 years, yet movies are still more expensive than ever.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685401)

Yes, and all of this happens without repealing copyright laws right now.

Many of these techniques HAVE been used to make blockbusters on a budget, the most famous of all being Star Wars of course.

Nobody has stopped anyone from making movies like this. The question remains will anyone even try if copyrights go away.

Re:BRAVO! (0, Redundant)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685083)

If there was no copyright law nobody would sell VHS/DVD/BluRay...

Without prohibition nobody would sell alcohol. There wouldn't be any money in it.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685305)

I wasn't aware making alcohol was as easy as downloading a torrent.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685349)

Let's see you download a torrent without a computer :-)

Re:BRAVO! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685425)

Let's see you make alcohol in an empty room with nothing but your own body and the concrete floor and walls.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685721)

I wasn't aware making alcohol was as easy as downloading a torrent.

Yeast, sugar, water.. mix well. Store in a warm place with a valve to allow the CO2 out, and fairly soon you get alcohol. Good alcohol on the other hand, takes skill and a certain familiarity with the ingredients and the brewing/distilling process.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

lordsid (629982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685351)

I completely agree with you. Without price fixing (read: copyrights) media would reach a normal balanced price that both the producers and the consumers would be happy with. Instead the market is artificially inflated by pseudo protections. This is exactly why people pirate media of all forms, because it is much easier. The answer here isn't to make it harder for people pirate the stuff they want. That will only encourage people to work harder to find ways around those mechanisms. Instead you make your product more available (i.e. cheaper) and quit being such a greedy fuck. This then returns two fold. People will stop pirating your stuff and actually pay for it and your market will grow. It has been statistically proven that pirating does not harm a market of any type. Corporations try to play it off as theft when in fact the people that are "stealing" are in the fact the ones that would never buy their product in the first place. So instead of getting money for their product they instead receive the most valuable commodity of all: free marketing (i.e. word of mouth).

Re:BRAVO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685111)

Are actors going to start working for free?

do you honestly believe a guy who spends 8 weeks pretending to be someone he's not should be being paid 7 (hell, sometime 8) figures? big name actors contribute the least value to society, while leech vast amounts of money for doing so. reduce the actor's pay to a low 6 figure number and a $50M movie suddenly becomes a lot closer to a $5M movie. and that's just one area where the could trim the fat. the problem is not "who is going to make the $50M movies without copyright?", it's "why are people wasting 20x more than is actually necessary to make movies".

do you really believe that movies would be worse is the exclusive actors club stopped being the only people employed to act in movies? with the hundreds of actors struggling to find employment, you could bankroll an entire film on the pay you give to one big name in the current system

Re:BRAVO! (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685407)

do you honestly believe a guy who spends 8 weeks pretending to be someone he's not should be being paid 7 (hell, sometime 8) figures?

If people are willing to pay them that much, then yes, they should make that much money.

Get back to me when actors and movie studios start putting guns to people's heads, forcing them to cough up money and sit through movies.

big name actors contribute the least value to society, while leech vast amounts of money for doing so.

You're trolling right? Or are you really that stupid?

Re:BRAVO! (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685233)

"I don't know about you, but I'm not going to slit my wrists or shoot up a shopping mall if they suddenly stop making $50 million blockbuster movies."

well, as long as there is a single virgin somewhere wishing on their magic fairies or guardian angels, who would slit their wrists then it doesn't matter what you would or would not do. because as we all know the price of wanting to kill a single life is $8 million dollars. actually killing a single person, costs at least $50,000,000.00 US Dollars.

btw where is the -1 paranoid rant moderation?

Re:BRAVO! (3, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684923)

You must have missed the point in time in which we stopped needing $50 million dollar passively-watch-and-let-our-brains-erode blockbusters for entertainment. Remix-Reuse-Recycle licences like Creative Commons provides far more entertainment for those of us that still have an imagination. And yes, Cory Doctorow's life work is freely available under said license.

Re:BRAVO! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685313)

Remix-Reuse-Recycle licences like Creative Commons provides far more entertainment for those of us that still have an imagination.

Link to some decent music under such licenses? I personally like:
* Queen
* Bee Gees
* Cat Stevens

along with a few others. I don't like:
* Metallica
* Britney Spears
* AC/DC
* Whatever other rubbish people are squeezing out these days.

Surely there is "free" (as in speech) music to suit my tastes, right? Except I've never found it.

Re:BRAVO! (0)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685367)

Remix-Reuse-Recycle licences like Creative Commons provides far more entertainment for those of us that still have an imagination. And yes, Cory Doctorow's life work is freely available under said license.

Not all of them. And I have found none that are in the public domain, which all books would be in if Cory got his way. Here are the licenses of the books I could find:
* Must use it for non-commercial purposes, must attribute and create no derivative versions. Hardly Remix-Reuse-Recycle.
* A permissive licence limited to those in developing nations.

If Cory really believed in a world without copyright, he'd put his work in the public domain.

Re:BRAVO! (1, Informative)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685743)

Hmm. Maybe he has different books under different licenses, but the books that I have on my hard drive (see Little Brother, for example) are under CC version 3.0 and say explicitly that you are free:

to Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work

to Remix - to adapt the work

There are some conditions, like the redistribution has to be non-commercial (which is waved for certain countries) but he certainly gives the right to make derivative versions.

Also, I only skimmed the article, but I didn't see anywhere where he said he was completely against copyright, it just sounded like he really doesn't like the way copyright law is right now. Just like how some people would prefer that software licenses were all GPL, instead of doing away with them altogether.

Re:BRAVO! (2, Insightful)

Selfunfocused (1215732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685021)

Doctorow has mentioned many times that his main problem as a writer is obscurity. Giving away his books build a fan base. At the same time, he and his publishers still make money on hardcopies of his works. A similar model is at work when AdultSwim streams its shows for free and then sells fans DVD box sets (except they would likely sue you for remixing their content). True, Doctorow and AdultSwim don't capture the value at every possible point, but they definitely get by.

Re:BRAVO! (3, Insightful)

kohaku (797652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685059)

It's impossible to make a blockbuster movie without charging for it. Not because of the reason you think, but because the definition of "blockbuster" is that the film makes more than USD$100 million.
HTH :P

Re:BRAVO! (1)

6 (22657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685549)

Which is more important to you; that our culture expand into the internet and continue to grow or that $50 billion dollar blockbuster movies get made?

Copyrights are immoral (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684731)

The problem is that copyrights are like the guilds. For example, you can call the right to make shoes a property right, buy and sell it, make profit off of it. But on no uncertain terms it is not a property at all and in fact it is an immoral restriction on peoples liberties.

Well the same is true with copyright. Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services. Well, lawyers are good at controling things, while creators are good at creating things.

In fact, even when they do all these lawsuits, it's gotten to the point where they are not even trying to get copyright infringers any more. They know darn well it's unenforcable. Their only goal now is to sue guilt and intimidate people into buying overpriced content. That is why we have a moral duty to promote copying no matter what and treat it like a moral duty, not an infringement on peoples property.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684993)

Copyright exists to promote sharing, not creation. A talented song writer is much more inclined to share his creations in a world where he is able to benefit more from the sharing than others. In a world without copyright, he is quite likely to benefit a lot less than a better funded entity (at least until he manages to establish himself).

Re:Copyrights are immoral (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685043)

To be honest, an actually talented songwriter would share his creations with the world even if he wasn't able to profit off of it. It turns out that human beings had a pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years we lived before the advent of recording and copyright.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685169)

I'll see your "pretty rich musical culture for the several thousands of years" and raise you a "perfect cost free reproduction for about 10 years".

Re:Copyrights are immoral (4, Interesting)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685207)

I'll see that, and I raise you a "up until a short time ago, artists used to make most, if not all of their money through concerts".

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685345)

What's the point you're trying to make, exactly?

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685475)

That the reason music survived for thousands of years without copyright is because it was commercially viable because it was impossible to recreate it perfectly.

Try having perfect recreation without copyright and see how viable it is then.

At least, that's maxune's point from what I understand. I believe concerts would make music viable.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685693)

Concerts may make music viable without copyright, but that doesn't really say anything about whether musicians benefit from copyright or not (It seems pretty clear to me that right of sale for a short period of time is highly beneficial to artists, with little drain on the commons; short for me means 5 or 10 years).

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25686067)

highly beneficial to artists, with little drain on the commons; short for me means 5 or 10 years).

It may be difficult to see it from where we are now, but even a 5 year copyright period might be enough to prevent *most* artistic works from ever being made.

A key function of works in the cultural "commons" is to serve as the basis for new works. The number of possible derivative works that can be created based on a single basis work is practically unlimited. Further, artists are most likely to get the idea for a derivative work when the basis work is new and popular. Exactly what the function of disinterest is would be interesting to look at, but certainly with the current copyright period almost no-one cares about a work by the time it gets out of copyright. It doesn't seem entirely unlikely to me that the majority of interest in creating derivative works would come in the first year or so of the existence of a basis work, so it's certainly possible that a 5 year copyright could eliminate tens or hundreds of derivative works per work - stopping most artworks before they are ever created.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685685)

My point is that technology has fundamentally changed the market place in very recent years, so arguments based on how the market worked prior to that technology don't necessarily apply to today's market.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (3, Informative)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685715)

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

Written by Guthrie in the late 1930s on a songbook distributed to listeners of his L.A. radio show "Woody and Lefty Lou" who wanted the words to his recordings.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685085)

you are definitely being unreasonable. While I don't agree at all with the *AA's stances on copyright, I don't agree with no copyright. I do believe the founders of the US Constitution had it right when they stated that copyright should be for a limited time. 50+ years is not limited for most adult life spans.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25686077)

Do you have any basis for your position, or is it just a "gut feeling" based on a feeling that the right answer must be a compromise between the "two extremes"?

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685143)

Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services.

The part I don't get about this talking point is, instead of using someone else's work, why not make your own? Isn't that more creative than just copying someone else's work?

The kind of talking point you use is the same kind given by pro-P2P people. They repeat such statements often, despite the fact that copying & P2P in themselves are among the least creative thing that can be done.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685153)

Well the same is true with copyright. Contrary to myth copyrights don't promote creation, all they do is force the market to center around creation controls instead of creation services.

Exactly what is your data to back up this claim?

Moreover, why is "creation services" what we want to encourage? Do we really want to dismiss the value of creating new compositions - as currently encouraged by sales of copyrighted material - and instead encourage bands to play lots of shows with covers? It's already a lot easier to make a buck as a musician playing in a covers band than writing your own stuff - hell, a lot of older bands are essentially covering themselves as people in live venues mostly want the old and familiar, rather than new and foreign.

The patronage model for albums, the only alternative to the live band that I've heard talked about by anti-copyright people, is extremely problematic - I've typed about it too much before, so I'll summarize: Essentially it not only requires bands give away initial creations for free, but to be competitive for patron fees from the public they'll want the initial recordings to sound the best they can; this will eventually lead the artists to get backers to produce those initial creations, and those backers will make the artists sign agreements in order that they have a good chance of making some profit, and that sounds a heck of a lot like the role record companies already fill. Considering how poorly that would go (with occasional exceptions, of course), just imagine how terribly the patronage model would work for movies.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685355)

Perhaps, but say you made a movie, Warner or Sony copied it and sold it as their own and there was no law to prevent them from doing so.

Perhaps you included a scene in the middle as a mini-commercial asking people to send what they felt reasonable if they liked it. That can be edited out.

To sue you need some notion of copyright and registration to prove YOU made the movie. (Especially if you personally don't appear in it)

Copyright doesn't need to be (and shouldn't be) the bloated monster it is now, but it's not wholly without merit. Rather than trash it, we should scale it back. Thomas Jefferson, while at 1st very against IP law eventually realized it's utility.

If Disney wants to take credit for your movie and make an in theater sequel they'll charge for, what's to keep them from making up a BS lawsuit to keep you quiet for several years? (Unless buying it legit seems cheaper, but as many people as have a grudge...) They could keep many people quiet with just the treat of such a lawsuit. (Works for RIAA prosecution)

If you submit a manuscript to Random House and they obviously steal / publish the idea w/o paying you and you don't have a contract yet, what can you do? You need a law that handles theft of an intangible good. Your work can't be sold to a competitor, it will look like a rip-off. Will people believe your's is the real one? Often-times the 1st to capture people's imagination wins, especially for fad ideas.

Copyright was originally created to restrain businesses from unethical behavior, and while it may look like it's not needed, perhaps that's because it's been working better than realized.

Copyrights aren't immoral, their misuse is. The same could be said about Ford if they had people drive their trucks over people they didn't like, but should the trucks themselves be condemned?

One more note, NO amount of our grumbling will change it. Copyright law is payed for. (Hence the grudge against Disney.) If you want to make a change, you must do something which convinces those paying for the law to consider it a bad thing to leave laying around. Find people wronged by major publishing companies and help them bring suit. If they face enough bad PR and lawsuits, they'll eventually change the law or clean up, a win either way. (Except possibly Sony, their attitudes after being caught with broken DRM suggest complete shamelessness.)

Re:Copyrights are immoral (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685409)

If we had a world without copyright, then you could say goodbye to mass media as we know it. All the book companies would dry up tomorrow. As would the music studios and the movie companies.

Instead we'd live in a world where content is created and paid for:
* by the creators who do it because they love it. E.g. Star Trek: New Voyages. [startreknewvoyages.com]
* Those who refuse to create unless paid up front through donations. E.g. The Guild [watchtheguild.com]
* People who use their creation as an advertisement for hard to reproduce goods such as t-shirts. E.g. Questionable Content [questionablecontent.net]
* People who perform live such as in concerts or theatres.

In fact I think if we lost copyright we'd completely lose the movie theatre (whose experience is now up shit creek) and would see a boom in live theatre. I think we could stand a chance where we live in a world that has Star Trek episodes performed in theatres rather then on televisions.

The draw would become seeing it in person, as well as getting the story. These groups would also film a closed session and put it on the internet for free after a week or two as a form of advertisement.

In such a world only a very few would be able to afford to live off the fruits of their labour.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685551)

* by the creators who do it because they love it. E.g. Star Trek: New Voyages. [startreknewvoyages.com]

You...do realize that that completely fucking sucks, right? If that's one of your examples, you are in serious trouble.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685613)

Yes I do realize the quality is pretty bad. I'm not saying its a good thing, I'm saying its what the world will be like if we abolish copyright.

Re:Copyrights are immoral (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685457)

I see that laws need to rewritten when technology/society comes to a case where it very possible for people to accidentally violate the current laws. People who try to live and follow a lawful life shouldn't worry about having to keep up with a word for work knowledge in all the laws.

Good job, Obama (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684755)

You call it "hope and change" but it looks more like clinton retreads and washington insiders. Barack Obama = George Bush + tan.

black boy likes to run his mouth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684759)

bitch isn't even in the whitehouse yet and he's already giving an old woman attitude? what a little bitch.

In other news... (4, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684777)

Richard Stallman announces he would prefer that firms release all their code under the GPL or one of its variants.

Re:In other news... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685193)

no no, he switched to the BSD license model, so that hackers would know how to hack into every computer on the earth all with one single program.

Cory needs a swirly (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684897)

He's a dweeb among nerds.

frustrating (4, Insightful)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684991)

for me, the most frustrating part of the whole copyright law vs. culture thing is how the big guys calling the shots always say that they are doing this 'for the artists'.

well, i am an artist, and copyright law isn't helping me, it's getting in my way.

there have been many times when I've had to work around it. yes, i can usually do *almost* what i originally wanted to do, but a lot of my time is wasted researching laws, re-recording, writing new material, re-shooting things, covering up certain parts, etc.
Not only does this water down what i originally wanted to say, but it also wastes valuable time that i should be using to make my next piece (or post on /.)

copyright should not be abolished, there are legitimate uses for it, like stopping subway station vendors selling burnt CD's and DVD's for $2 a pop, but we need a sudden outbreak of common sense to be injected into this debate immediately.

non-commercial infringement should never be a crime.
re-appropriation should always be fair use. permission should not be required.

i believe that if the 'creative commons attribution share-alike non-commercial' was the default license that creative works would be released under; and people had to register for 'copyright, all rights reserved', we would all be much better off.

Re:frustrating (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25686009)

The minute it's "non-commercial", you certainly can't re-use it in your work - at least not if you intend to make a living from it.

Best. Analogy. Ever. (4, Funny)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685003)

To pretend that you do not copy is to adopt the twisted hypocrisy of the Victorians who swore that they never, ever masturbated.

He's earned that cape.

Simple Cause (4, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685013)

it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement.

If voters had a chance to vote on such, the penalties would be much shallower. There are three reasons they are so high: Lobbyists Lobbyists Lobbyists. Biz has too much influence over our politics and I hope the new administration does something about it. We risk not being classified as a democracy.

boingboing sux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685037)

I heard that Cory Doctorow is a notorious infantilist and diaper fetishist.
Cory farted.
Xenicock?

its evolution and progress (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685041)

indeed, copying used to be for only a few large corporate players, in any media. copyright laws are merely polite gentleman agreements between major players. but the internet has entirely upended this by making everyone with a broadband connection the legal equivalent of bertelsmann, fox news corp, and time warner circa 1988. with a greater global reach and pretty much equivalent publishing capacity. and what used to be decided in terms of publishing outlays and release dates at the golf club over a cigar and a glass of whiskey between two executives is now decided by legions of 13 year olds

technology has taken us a lightyear in 20 years in terms of progress and how we relate to our culture and our media. meanwhile, the law concerning copyright and media has gone an inch

it is time not to reform copyright law and intellectual property, but to completely throw it out and rewrite it, based on a completely radically new status quo. or rather, of course, this will never happen. as if we ever has to rewrite copyright law. technology is moving so fast, the law's applicability can't keep up, and is outdated before it is defined and proposed. i'm not saying laws and morals are outdated, i'm saying that the ability to trade files in secret and without raising suspicion or flags will soon become commonplace

encryption and obfuscation are the next horizons in filing trading. at which point, the laws concerning our media will not be quaint and outdated, they will be completely alien. how do you enforce them? how do you investigate their compliance? its like coming into a spanish bank and holding a chicken up in the air and announcing in russian that you are making a bank robbery. who is going to pay attention to you? who is going to know what you are even talking about?

that's what copyright law is becoming: a russian bank robber with a chicken in a spanish bank: absurd, surreal, pointless, laughable

copyright law has been rendered obsolete, useless, defunct. there will soon be simply no way to enforce any of it, because there will soon be no insertion point for it into what is being done in media and culture nowadays. technology is evolving in ways beyond the law's ability to adapt

and no, that's not scary, its exhilarating. we are not talking about law concerning rape and murder here, we are talking about laws giving large media conglomerates the right to insert themselves into our culture, put up toll booths, and extort cash from us. simply not necessary anymore. bertelsmann, fox news corp, and time warner: they are now tollbooths on a dirt road for horses and buggies, over which a modern interstate highway bridge has just been installed. adios, media execs. your time is up. you are finished

One of these things is not like the other (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685047)

Take a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity.
.

Your office door exposes the clip to a casual glance by perhaps twenty-five people. There are no limits to re-distribution through your web site.

And let's be honest here. It isn't the photo of your office door that gets posted to the web. It's a high-res scan of the strip itself.

The geek takes his prize when he posts an HD rip of The Dark Knight Returns.

Entry level requirements a Blu-Ray drive and broadband service. Bonus points in platinum if he can score a pre-release screener and be first across the post.

It is not about money. It is not about Fair Use.

It is pure ego. Nothing more.

"I am invincible!" The James Bond flicks got that much right.

At this level of play, the geek is scaling Mount Everest and not cruising the Kansas plains, and he is lying if he says otherwise.

Re:One of these things is not like the other (3, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685317)

Other laws make all sorts of distinctions based on motives and other conditionals. Often, it's conditionals just like the distinction you are drawing that matter.
        The FBI for example, becomes involved in kidnappings of victims defined as 'of tender age' (usually 12 and under). Many people believe the Lindberg law requires a ransom be sought, or that the victim be transported across state lines. Instead, the law lets the FBI start gathering evidence without either condition, just in case there's a federal crime, and the agency is looking for motives such as ransom or interstate movement for immoral purposes. Some of these motives may make a given kidnapping a federal crime. But, if the FBI doesn't find evidence to support a federal crime, they are supposed to pass the case back to the state agencies, and just provide lab services, database help and such on request.
        Shouldn't copyright laws do something along these lines - make a distinction between organized crime and individual violators, violation for profit and violation for ego-boost? It's not only penalties that don't seem to reflect these distinctions, it's also a question of which agencies become involved. And there are other results that would be affected by making the right distinctions, such as limiting how much taxpayer money should support the forensic processes in trivial cases. That's all what doesn't seem to be happening anymore.

Re:One of these things is not like the other (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685709)

It is pure ego. Nothing more.

yes it, is. But not in any way like you claim.

It is about the ego boost someone gets by sharing something cool with other people, the sharer gets praised for finding and promoting something of value to others. That ego boost is human nature that every single person on the planet has and unlike almost every other real crime - like murder, theft, rape, etc.

That commonality of sharing is Doctrow's point - not that sharing on the internet is massive scale versus sharing in one-to-one contacts. It isn't the scale that matters, it is the act.

They have almost solved this! (1)

dw604 (900995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685099)

Auditude [auditude.com] is a fingerprint system that basically embeds a watermark in the entire media file. That means any public web site that chooses to read this watermark can support the content creators by embedding ads over top of the media! Why oh why was this not done long ago to identify the source of piracy or at least add an extra step for pirates to remove the watermark?

Re:They have almost solved this! (1)

Mister_IQ (517505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685189)

Because that's all it would do: add an extra step to remove the watermark. Which would slow piracy by an extra two or three minutes. You are already recognizing that it can easily be defeated before it's even implemented. THAT is why oh why this was not done long ago.

Oh? Could I post this then? (0, Redundant)

stemcel (1074448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685301)

I wonder what Cory Doctorow would think if I posted a copy of this [amazon.com] for my room mate?

(So that he didn't have to get up and get it from my book shelf, of course).

Live by the sword... (2, Interesting)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685311)

It's a laughable thing that movie studios spend their entire (large) advertising budget making people want to see their movie and then complain when some use any means necessary to see aforementioned movie.

These people aren't criminals. These are people responding to marketing. Marketing that emphasises seeing the movie. Many times I have seen very successful marketing centering on supporting the artist and experiencing the art.

I'm not saying that big movie studios can necessarily use that approach, what I am saying is that is that the blame should not be placed solely on the individuals engaged in bypassing copyright. People are essentially indulging themselves in something you made them desire.

Think of it this way. If I embark on a campaign to have people drive by one specific road to a remote town outside their city, emphasizing excitement at the end of that journey, should I be surprised when the speed limit is broken by some, some take different, easier routes, some fly to the town and some stow away in cars that only legally hold a certain number of people. No. I shouldn't be surprised. Are any of these people really criminals? Doubtful.

Re:Live by the sword... (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685365)

So when DeBeers advertises diamonds it's ok to go out and pull off a diamond heist? I never thought of it that way.

Re:Live by the sword... (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685759)

So when DeBeers advertises diamonds it's ok to go out and pull off a diamond heist?

Probably not, but a closer analogy would be if you instead went to your basement, started pouring tequila into your imported mexican machine, then used the resulting diamonds to build a ring identical to the one advertised in the DeBeers ad. Do you think you should be sued for that?

dda dsav dvdv (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25685329)

SLA.SH.DOT NE.E.DS MO.RE AR.TIC.LES. I'.M S.I.C.K OF G.OIN.G TO DI.GG

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

One of these things is not like the other (1)

Kyle2008 (1402587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685413)

Both Simon and Green remind us of details we might have forgotten, skillfully weave a mass of information into coherent narratives and come up with some previously unreported nuggets. =================== Kyle DUI [legalx.net]
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