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WIPO Committee Presentations Show Nuanced View of Copyright

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the at-least-given-the-context dept.

The Courts 84

AtomicJake writes "As the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is known for a very rigid course combating counterfeiting and piracy in general, it comes as a surprise that during a meeting of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement, several presenters have shown nuanced views on the economics of enforcing intellectual property rights. Combating clothing piracy might not be beneficial for the welfare of a developing country. Most surprising is the presentation of WIPO Chief Economist (PDF) Carsten Fink, which says that illegal copies of software may actually be beneficial even for consumers of the original goods. Also the piracy of audio-visual goods creates not only losses but also benefits for e.g. hardware manufacturers. Maybe this is because Mr. Fink wrote the presentation before joining WIPO?"

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84 comments

WIPO hasn't taken its multiple personality meds (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017998)

These guys don't just want it both ways. They want it every which way and twice on Sunday. Take your meds boys, and put on this comfy straight jacket before the multiple personality disorder results in a paradox so vast that the only way the Universe will be able to resolve it is implode. LHC eat your heart out. WIPOs got your black holes beat!

Re:WIPO hasn't taken its multiple personality meds (1)

juletre (739996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018216)

The ultimate duel: can WIPO properly handle baguettes?

Re:WIPO hasn't taken its multiple personality meds (2, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019502)

These guys don't just want it both ways. They want it every which way and twice on Sunday. Take your meds boys, and put on this comfy straight jacket before the multiple personality disorder

I didn't actually RTFA, but it's a committee receiving multiple presentations. It's somewhat natural for there to be multiple, potentially exclusive, opinions, because there are multiple agents involved with multiple backgrounds, offering multiple opinions and proposed solutions. In fact, if they didn't display multiple personalities, that's when you worry about their sanity and self-awareness.

Re:WIPO hasn't taken its multiple personality meds (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#30025440)

These guys don't just want it both ways. They want it every which way and twice on Sunday. Take your meds boys, and put on this comfy straight jacket before the multiple personality disorder

I didn't actually RTFA, but it's a committee receiving multiple presentations. It's somewhat natural for there to be multiple, potentially exclusive, opinions, because there are multiple agents involved with multiple backgrounds, offering multiple opinions and proposed solutions. In fact, if they didn't display multiple personalities, that's when you worry about their sanity and self-awareness.

Lately they have been displaying a hive-mind over at WIPO... this story is a refreshing break from that nonsense.

Re:WIPO hasn't taken its multiple personality meds (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054238)

I don't know what it is with you Americans and your preference of group-thinking... They ARE, as a matter of fact, multiple people. To everything OTHER than having different views, depending on who is speaking, is perverse and sick.

Money money money..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018072)

MO-NEY!

Fink (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018154)

...is a great name.

Re:Fink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018734)

Not as cool as "Carston Dickinass"

Rights-holder bears costs (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018184)

One of the most interesting suggestions was that rights holders should expect to bear enforcement costs for violations.

At first it would seem to make the rights holder a double victim, once by the infringer, and again by the state. However, rights holders are usually the only group that clearly benefits from suppression of counterfeit goods, and government costs of tracking down every back-ally sneaker salesman could be better spent in other areas.

The suggestion was also raised to make it the mission of government to actively enforce only those infringements that have a public welfare aspect, (bogus medicines, dangerous shoddy rip offs of patented products).

However, there is this old saw thrown in:

If firms cannot prevent third parties from copying the fruits of their inventive and creative activities, they have little incentive to invest financial resources into such activities. Arguably, inventive and creative would not grind to a halt without government intervention. Artists may be motivated by prestige or inherent self-interest in pursuing their profession. Firms may have other means of profiting from new technologies, such as benefiting from a first-mover advantage. Nonetheless, governments have historically opted to supplement these “natural” incentives with exclusive rights to intellectual property.

Which of course is at best a stretch and at worst simply untrue. There is no evidence that invention did not exist prior to patents and copyrights, or would cease without it. Its clear our current system goes way beyond protecting first movers, to the clear detriment of society as a whole and an unwarranted power shift to rights holders.

All in all, a far more balanced report than you would expect from this organization.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018416)

There is no evidence that invention did not exist prior to patents and copyrights, or would cease without it.

By the same token, is there any evidence that every family in America needs to own their own automobiles? Maybe they should all be community property, so people can access them when they need them instead of having the vehicles go idle much of the time.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (2, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019034)

I am an American, and I got rid of my car and instead I walk, take public transit, ride a bike, and use cars that are available to me as a member of a car-sharing organization. It works very well, in fact, and it saves me quite a lot of money.

I think that it would be very appropriate to re-engineer our urban and suburban areas so that cars are generally unnecessary and undesirable, and to encourage various car sharing arrangements rather than to have so many individually owned cars, which, as you point out, are usually idle wastes of space.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020512)

Nice troll turnaround.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019638)

Your analogy is valid if, when you say "by the same token" you actually mean "by a totally different token bearing no resemblance to the one in discussion and making no sense anyway".

I disagree (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018454)

However, rights holders are usually the only group that clearly benefits from suppression of counterfeit goods

I disagree. Look at China. Due to rampant piracy, no company can make a name for themselves (I'm talking more physical products vs. media). Anyone trying to make a high quality product is undercut by someone making a low quality knockoff (down to the same name/logo) driving the quality producer out of business. Now everything becomes a low quality product competing over price. This makes it hard to compete globally.
I realize this post will get a lot of heat for saying China has trouble exporting, but when is the last time you purchased something that had the name of a Chinese company on the box. They have the low end covered and their factories can make products for multinationals that oversee the quality, but it will be very difficult for them to sell a car in the US or to compete with a company like Caterpillar. They even have trouble selling major appliances, even though most of the name brands are made over there to begin with.

Re:I disagree (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018540)

But this practice assumes no intelligence on the part of the buyer, which is increasingly not true.

China is not mud huts and peasant farmers anymore, and the sophistication of the local consumers should not be underestimated. They can tell a counterfeit iPhone from a real one, and even a real one with wifi disabled from a real gray market one from Hong Kong with working Wifi. (Which is why the Official China iPhone roll out is flopping big time).

As for China brand names on products, it would appear they prefer to sell brand names that already are known like Lenovo and Hummer.

Leaving local marketing to local entities makes sense, especially of you are still somewhat delusional and believe you can maintain a closed society forever.

I'm not sure China is such a good example here. And I think your example is confusing "counterfeit" with "inferior". Counterfeits need not always be inferior.

Re:I disagree (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020272)

funny enough, lenovo was a no-name outside of china, tho a big name computer brand there, until it grabbed the PC division of IBM!

Re:I disagree (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020478)

That's the whole idea of a counterfeit. Replace quality (expensive) parts with cheap crap, put the famous name on the box and sell them at full price. You get the money, the original company gets all the customer complaints and bad reputation. The closest they get are "shanzhai" factories that meld parts from different customers together into their "own" product. I suppose it wouldn't be called classical counterfeiting.

I've had my original sweat-of-the-brow work counterfeited and copied, and it fucking sucks. I think the entire copyright debate should be had by people who have been victimized, but hey I'm weird and that's just me.

PS just today I was hanging out with the farming peasants, the mud is still on my shoes. Plenty of them left in China. You might even say that they make up the vast majority of China's population.

Re:I disagree (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020536)

I wish trademarks and copyrights weren't mixed so much. Trademarks can certainly be abused, but their purpose for being and the way they are abused is not consistent with copyrights. Also the opinion of anti-copyright folks is certainly not always anti-trademark. Trademark infringement is closer to fraud than it is to copyright infringement.

Re:I disagree (5, Insightful)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018558)

Japan was in the same boat 50 years ago. Now look. And with the public access to information about products that the internet has brought, I would bet China could change perception about their brands in a decade easily.

Re:I disagree (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019106)

The point of the original poster was that for Chinese companies because of weak intellectual property protections they are forced to compete on price alone. By the time Japans companies were innovating in terms of quality and technology they were also enjoying strong protections.

Re:I disagree (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019302)

Japan was in the same boat 50 years ago. Now look.

The difference being that China has:
1. an enormous industrial base which is almost impossible to police
2. an corrupt government and police force which make a token effort to stop commercial-scale counterfeiting of goods

Re:I disagree (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019762)

And with the public access to information about products that the internet has brought, I would bet China could change perception about their brands in a decade easily.

Let me tell you about quality versus price: if you need to get dressed and ensure you can actually eat something tonight, you don't buy the more expensive clothes, not even if they'll pay off in not having to buy new in the next 10 years.

OTOH, many of these knockoff factories produce quality products, too.

Re:I disagree (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020230)

I think you are proving the OPs point. Japan has the same sort of IP enforcement as the rest of the world. China does not. I'm sure China can go the same route. Your suggestion of "public access to information" won't work though - being informed about the relative merits of FooCorp vs BarCorps products only works if both Foo and BarCorp label their products correctly, ie are based in places where trademarks are enforced.

Re:I disagree (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018750)

It sounds like you're making more of an argument for trademarks than copyright. Modeling after US law, Nike keeping it's logo's off of other manufacturer's products is a matter of trademark, not copyright.

Re:I disagree (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018784)

One example of the top of my head. Huawei. Telecom and networking equipment.

Re:I disagree (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018792)

China has high quality products that are being imitated by knockoff artists?

Citation needed.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020926)

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_06/b3919001_mz001.htm [businessweek.com]

But more Chinese corporate interests have seen profits hit because of counterfeiting -- which may lead to a tougher response from Beijing. Li-Ning Co., China's No. 1 homegrown athletic footwear and apparel company, has gotten the ultimate compliment from counterfeiters: They're faking its shoes. So today, Li-Ning has three full-time employees who track counterfeiters.

As for the "this is a trademark, not a copyright issue" comments, when someone reverse engineers your product and sells an identical looking (but lower quality) knockoff down to the logos, then are violating trademark, patent, and copyright law.

One of the most well know examples of fraud is the Huawei example mentioned above. They didn't steal the Cisco name, but they stole everything else down to the typo's in the user manual. http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/corp_012303.html [cisco.com]

Re:I disagree (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018794)

Due to rampant piracy, no company can make a name for themselves (I'm talking more physical products vs. media)

Because no one has heard of Leveno? The main reason why no company can make a name for themselves in a US market is A) Their name sounds distinctly foreign (I'd rather drink an English-sounding drink than a drink from Kweichow Moutai Company) B) They are tailored to a specific market. China doesn't have the mass media that the US and Europe does, almost all the media in China is state-run or sponsored. Because of this the advertising needs to be changed, where in the US, individuality and uniqueness is appreciated, in China it is not. So a lot of ads that are successful in the US because of that (such as the Think Different Mac ads) would fail in China. C) in China -a lot- of companies either have government control or influence. Cherry Automobile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chery_Automobile) is the largest independent Chinese auto maker and it is run by the Chinese government. Such things don't export well and D) A significant amount of Americans avoid things that are Chinese. There are a lot of Americans who think that China is going to nuke the US or other crazy theories, but nonetheless some people do believe them and so that keeps a lot of Chinese-sounding goods from American shores.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020148)

Because no one has heard of Leveno?

I have not heard of Leveno. Even wikipedia has no article on it. The closest sounding trademark I know is Lenovo, which I have heard about only since they acquired the ThinkPad production from IBM.

And I even did not know that Lenovo was Chinese. I thought it was an Asian-American multinational corporation.

Thanks for the post, though! It is rare to see a good example of irony!

Re:I disagree (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020378)

individuality and uniqueness is appreciated

while agreeing with your other points, which US is this that you're living in?

certainly wasn't the one I lived in.

Re:I disagree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020810)

"D) A significant amount of Americans avoid things that are Chinese. There are a lot of Americans who think that China is going to nuke the US or other crazy theories, but nonetheless some people do believe them and so that keeps a lot of Chinese-sounding goods from American shores."

I'm not in the US, but, yes, I try to avoid products made in China when there is a choice. The reasons have nothing to do with crazy theories or prejudice, but simply: A) I do not want to (indirectly) support a non-democratic government, and B) I'd rather support industry in my country or another country where labor, safety, and environmental standards are rather better. I'm even willing to pay a little more to get that.

There's nothing crazy about such a preference.

Re:I disagree (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30021706)

Have you worked with Lenovo?

All of their websites that have any important (ie, not marketing) information, including drivers, SPM, and maintenance stuff are all hosted on IBM's servers. All my parts I order (I'm a certified lenovo tech) come from IBM. Most of the people that do R&D are at IBM. Seriously, put down your thinkpad, and go pickup an "Ideapad" laptop. Completely different, and completely crap. (My wife has a Y510). All lenovo actually does, it would appear, is Assemble the machines in China.

Not to mention, every time my "next day parts" take 3 days to arrive, I get excuses about how they figured out some of our laptops in Location X didn't get setup for onsite service, because there was a "glitch" between their systems and IBMs. (that seems to be our Lenovo Reps favorite excuse, and were really getting tired of it) We have been told it would take a week to get parts for next day service, since it was a holiday in china, and all the factories were closed. We wait quite a while when they run out of parts, and new ones have to come through customs.. (or when we order a new batch of systems on the deadlines their sales teams give us)

Lenovo bought the rights to Thinkpads, ThinkStations, and Thinkcentre's how many years ago, and they still rely on IBM like you wouldn't believe.

Re:I disagree (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30054262)

Why would they nuke you? They already own you.
What is the point in destroying your own property? ;)

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018796)

Take a look at Walmart sometime... an increasing amount of isn't from a "US" company (made in china) but from a chinese company. Not only can you outsource production, you can outsource everything else as well. (I don't blame walmart... I find it easier to find American made goods at WalMart than many other stores. Ultimately, consumers chose cheap shit to raise their standard of living)

As far as the chinese cars... I know that there are efforts to get them into the US, though I'm sure they'll require work to get them street legal. GM was criticized when they mentioned importing chinese-manufactured cars into the US, but it will happen.

Re:I disagree (2, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019886)

Thank you for your excellent argument in favour of trademarks. That is why we have trademarks.

Now, can you please explain how this is relevant to copyright?

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020194)

Electric guitar... is copied... The copy sounds better.
Call this the law of justice, call this freedom and liberty --
I thought I perjured myself, right in front of the jury!
Is this a crime against the state? No!

Re:I disagree (1)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020284)

It's not fair at all to make that comparisons. Intellectual property such as a trademark works on a different fundamental level than something like copyright. Knockoff products could exist under their own name as a blatant imitation of a premium product without sharing the premium products name. This is, in fact, quite often the case in the USA. You can often buy generic clothing or food which has a striking resemblance to a premium product, but under a store's own brand name. It's cheaper and usually obviously less in quality, but it doesn't destroy the premium brandname, and the more premium names not only continue to exist, but seem to thrive.

In China, this is not quite the case. Products not only blatantly imitate more premium items, but they rip off the name as well, sometimes as a deliberate act of deception. This is fundamentally different, as it is essentially tricking the customer into buying something other than what they think they are buying. This isn't true in the USA example above, where generic brands are always labeled as a generic brand.

This is a lot closer to outright stealing than, say, downloading a song, or using some software in a way that breaches some esoteric license. I can't imagine many people in America purchasing goods whose tags have been stolen from different items and placed on cheaper knockoffs, at least not in a common area of business such as on display in a store. It may happen from time to time, in a similar way to stolen goods being sold, but most people would not put up with it. If you buy a generic knockoff you know what you are getting, but if you buy a knockoff which impersonates a premium brand, not only do you not know what you're getting, you might not know what you're getting if you try to buy legitimate items of premium brands. It universally lowers the confidence of customers and significantly affects business.

If companies in China couldn't get away with selling their own items with "Sony" labels, we would all be much better for it, and they would be better off for it on their own. If companies there produced "Sony-style" items under their own brand names, then the issue you cite wouldn't be a problem. If a company made Caterpillar-style equipment and named themselves Chinapillar, their products would stand on their own merit and Chinapillar might even become a well known Chinese brand of reliable industrial equipment.

Re:I disagree (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020586)

I wouldn't label it stealing, its closer to fraud or identity theft.

Re:I disagree (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020344)

I think you're mixing up trademark infringement with copyright infringement (which some people call piracy). Trademark infringement is when someone makes a cheap knockoff good with your logo on it, Copyright infringement is when someone redistributes your media.

Re:I disagree (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020376)

Anyone trying to make a high quality product is undercut by someone making a low quality knockoff

Except there are very few companies ever competing on specific quality. Usually it's about the perception of quality rather than any actual quality, so the only 'quality' may be the actual label, the rest is from the same production lines as those 'low quality knockoffs'. After all, profits are made by selling cheap stuff for a lot more than it's worth.

If quality is what you want out of branding, you should try to get quality labelling or product equivalence labelling, because all trademarks will give you is bottled tap water made toxic. But with a brand.

This makes it hard to compete globally.

Their export surplus would indicate otherwise.

or to compete with a company like Caterpillar.

They don't need to compete with a company like Caterpillar. Either they can buy it outright, or more likely, replace the supply chain, then buy the brand when that's all that's left.

The fact it, intellectual 'property' is, from a macroeconomic point of view, pretty much equivalent to a form of taxation. The effect of it is to make the subjected country far less competitive on the global scale; it creates no new wealth, it merely extracts funds from consumers and the economy as a whole and redistributes it, and with all redistribution systems the most important factor is efficiency. Efficiency is rarely better than free market competition, and in the case of ip monopoly protections, all the forms are less efficient than any other reallocation system ever demonstrated.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020424)

I disagree. Look at China. Due to rampant piracy, no company can make a name for themselves (I'm talking more physical products vs. media). Anyone trying to make a high quality product is undercut by someone making a low quality knockoff (down to the same name/logo) driving the quality producer out of business. Now everything becomes a low quality product competing over price. This makes it hard to compete globally.

The Chinese government seems to recognise this and in the past year there have been significant revisions in how IP is officially viewed in China, with IP rights now being seen as a key driver of their economy. The implementation of the "National Intellectual Property Strategy Outline" is being rolled out across the country. The Outline states that strong protection IP rights are critical to the State's plans to move China away from being a manufacturing and imitation economy to a more innovative one. There is more information about these changes in this opinion piece by an IP lawyer http://www.out-law.com/page-10472 [out-law.com]

Re:I disagree (2, Interesting)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020606)

However, rights holders are usually the only group that clearly benefits from suppression of counterfeit goods

I disagree. Look at China. Due to rampant piracy, no company can make a name for themselves (I'm talking more physical products vs. media). Anyone trying to make a high quality product is undercut by someone making a low quality knockoff (down to the same name/logo) driving the quality producer out of business. Now everything becomes a low quality product competing over price. This makes it hard to compete globally.

I realize this post will get a lot of heat for saying China has trouble exporting, but when is the last time you purchased something that had the name of a Chinese company on the box. They have the low end covered and their factories can make products for multinationals that oversee the quality, but it will be very difficult for them to sell a car in the US or to compete with a company like Caterpillar. They even have trouble selling major appliances, even though most of the name brands are made over there to begin with.

Let me turn this around. What if the rest of the world were like China in this matter? Isn't that more ideal? Companies fighting over pennies and adopting eachothers ideas constantly, and consumers that just keep getting better and cheaper products. With this in mind, is it so easy to say that the model in China is flawed? Rather than the artificial scarcity which the rest of the world has accepted.

Re:I disagree (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020818)

I realize this post will get a lot of heat for saying China has trouble exporting, but when is the last time you purchased something that had the name of a Chinese company on the box.

When I bought my most recent Thinkpad which says: Lenovo. A product that has worse fashion-design and higher prices than their competitors, but is favored because they still have the highest build quality in the industry,

Re:I disagree (1)

Esvandiary (1302095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020830)

Interesting you say that...

A few years back, a fake NEC company [eetindia.co.in] was found operating, selling knock-off products under NEC's name.
The funny thing? As well as copying NEC's products, they actually made some of their own as well, anecdotally even rivalling the quality of the real NEC. Good old competition, eh? :)

Re:I disagree (1)

Arran4 (242789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30027084)

After watching the Youtube video on Google's venture in China I am 'slightly' inclined to disagree. It was stated that free was priority so they just bundled up the software which as much Malware/spyware that was necessary to pay for the software.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018512)

Except for the first sentence, the paragraph you quote appears to mostly discuss the idea that invention and creativity would continue without intellectual property.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018544)

It does, but dismissively.
I did not want to quote the entire section.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018556)

Its in paragraph 78 if you care to read the rest.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018646)

You mean paragraph 13?

Having read the whole thing, it actually seems refreshingly balanced to me. The beginning of the part you quoted is really kind of a summary of the consequences pointed out by Kenneth Arrow. I'm willing to believe that, in a world with instant communication, the rate of invention might slow down somewhat if there was no IP.

In the next paragraph the author points out that IP rights are detrimental to consumers and that governments have to strike a balance between encouraging investment in knowledge generation and the detrimental effects from those policies (decreased competition, higher prices).

I can't imagine one of the regular IP organizations even suggesting that IP rights could be in any way detrimental to anyone.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (5, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018756)

You seem to have only read the first sentance of that paragraph, because it goes on to give additional incentives besides money, and also admit that companies can potentially profit from new technologies in ways other than the monopoly that copyright provides. Then they state that governments have chosen to suppliment the natural incentives.

It is completely accurate.

A lot of the current extreme backlash against copyright stems from a misunderstanding of what copyright is, and what it is intended to do. The goal of copyright is not to allow content producers to profit from their product - that's simply the vehicle for achieving its goal. The goal of copyright is to produce as much new creative content (art, literature, music, etc) as possible for the overall benefit of the public, and it sounds like at least one person at the WIPO understands this.

You see, copyright is really an exception to an individual's right to use of any property they own for any purpose except directly harming another individual or their property. It is an exception to your natural rights, and as such it has limitations. This doctrine basically says there are some situations where copying all or part of a work for certain purposes like analysis, review, commentary, etc, are fair and the copyright monopoly does not affect those uses. Because fair use is determined by deciding what copyright does not apply to, rather than what fair use applies to, it tends to be fuzzy and subjective.

Now, the companies who profit the most off of copyrighted works couldn't give a rat's ass about producing new content for the enhancement of society as a whole, all they care about is how much their content can be consumed. Obviously if copyrights they own go away after 20-30 years, they can't keep milking that cash cow, so they push for extensions. As soon as they get one they push for more, and more. It doesn't help that half the time congressmen don't have a clue (or sometimes even want to have a clue) about things like copyright and what it is for. So we end up with cartoons that have been copyrighted for 100 years with no end in sight, books that won't come into the public domain until they are largely irrelivant, and music that is copyrighted virtually indefinitely.

Sane copyright is a good thing, however insane copyright really just encourages piracy. Piracy has gotten so prevalent that I'm not even sure copyright is having that much of a detrimental effect on society. The funny thing is, people are generally happy to pay for this stuff if it is priced reasonably. What does it cost a record label to cut the price of a digital download in half and sell three times as many copies? If you can't do that math, you suck at business.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (3, Insightful)

Anci3nt of Days (1615945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020116)

While the stated goal of copyright is to promote creativity, in practice copyright primarily creates a commercial system that has little practical relevance when applied to modern technology.

If the laws were actually intended to promote creativity, copyright systems wouldn't provide rights for Life + 70 years (AU).

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020258)

It's just playing with words. Saying the goal of copyright is to promote creativity and prodution of useful content is exactly equivalent to saying that the goal of the free market is to encourage the betterment of society and creation of wealth we can all share. I happen to agree with both statements but you'll find significant numbers of people who don't, especially the last one.

The problem isn't that copyright length is too long or too short - any reasonable person can debate this. The problem is that there's a significant group of people who reject the very notion and system of copyright itself, all whilst expecting to benefit from its fruits.

For instance Bigjeff5 trots out tired old canards like "people are happy to pay if it's priced reasonably", although such a statement is useless for a content creator (what is reasonable?) and wrong anyway as seen by the huge amount of iPhone app piracy.

I don't know what the solution is, but it doesn't surprise me that the WIPO considers all angles. It also won't surprise me if they don't make big changes - the "anti copyright" lobby makes a lot of noise about how the current system sucks but their suggestions for alternatives are usually weak and poorly thought out.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020260)

iirc, it started out with a limit of 14 years, no more, no less.

the current life + 70 years was pushed into existence by lobbyists over decades afterwards.

i think there is a saying that when the mouse is about to go public domain, the lobbyists come out in force...

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020618)

Actually, I'm not so sure if insane copyright encourages piracy because of what it does. It just gives a good justification. I obviously could be wrong, but I was under the impression that most copyright infringement occurs with materials that wouldn't come out of copyright even in a relatively conservative system. Short of being more convenient and comfortably priced, I don't see how eliminating mass copyright infringement is even possible. That said, the current system certainly is insane and needs to be changed.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30019174)

It's not a stretch at all. Just because production won't drop to zero doesn't mean that it wouldn't be less than we have now. The statement merely recognizes that governments have historically decided to do the thing that they think will result in greater "IP" production.

It's not a binary switch, and it never was.

Artists who need to eat, need to make money from their art. Otherwise they're something else-ists, who do art as a hobby. I think we can all agree that a 9-5 takes a lot of time out of your week that you could be using to make more art. And while there would still be some art jobs in a no copyright scenario, keep in mind that not every artist can be an Andy Warhol and makes a fortune from "red top white bottom." Society needs good art, too, you know.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020152)

Society produced lots of good art before copyright was thought up.

As far as some forms of art go (music, for example), I think the output was better quality before copyright.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019584)

The stakes are higher now than back when everything was made by skilled craftsmen. Between R+D costs and investment in production line equipment and staffing, a corporation is at a significant loss before they make their first sale. Back when one-man industries were common, not only were economies more localized (allowing less competition), but I am assuming larger projects were generally agreed (even paid) in advance, so that only a few days' wages were often at stake when producing anything.

Without patents, only corporations would ever invent anything. An individual does not have the resources to produce anything near the scale a $multi-billion corporation can, so anyone not tied to a corporation has zero benefit. Even so, most products take time to start turning a profit- if the corporation that invested in developing the product has maybe a year head start instead of 14 or so, they have to rush to production as soon as anyone sees the first prototype, meaning less time to improve quality- not to mention the profits will be slim enough that quality cannot be afforded.

People love talking about corporations not getting that their business model is obsolete and not adapting- maybe patents weren't needed before but they've become necessary to adapt.

I like the idea that information should be free, but until I'm convinced that can be truly beneficial, I'm going to support patent and copyright. I disapprove of their current implementation, though.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019868)

Without patents, only corporations would ever invent anything.

That's almost certainly untrue in general. Some people invent stuff because that's what sort of people they are, irrespective of the economic incentives (or not) for them to be like that. However, without patents you'd probably see the rise of guilds again as groups of inventors grouped together to share know-how and defend themselves against the rest of the world. Given the experience of the middle ages, patents are probably better for society overall. (Of course, one of the best things about patents is that they last for a fairly short time. If only economic copyright rights lasted only a similar amount, they'd be much less of a problem...)

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020294)

not short enough on some topic, 24 years is a lot of time in the computing field for instance...

and hell, even with patents, some things are not researched by big corps, as the they cant get a return on investment before the invention is obsolete (see pharma and flu).

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020166)

Can you produce some evidence. Software manage to progress very rapidly for a few decades before it became patentable. There is no correlation between strong patent law and development at a national scale. Academic studies have generally concluded that something other than patents was the main driver of R & D (e.g. the need to get new products out before the competition).

ON the other hand, we know that patents impose costs on both producers and consumers.

Uncertain, unquantified, probably slight benefits, against known very large costs. Sounds like a great idea.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020308)

iirc, more and more research are done at universities and similar, in a system where different corps sponsor new equipment, and gains the benefits of any results.

this means they have no standing labs of their own, do not have to pay dedicated staff, yet gets a whole lot of R&D done.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019596)

It sounds like you didn't notice the "NOT" in the second sentence. It says "Inventive and creative [sic] would *NOT* ground to a halt without government intervention". The article introduced the old saw solely to knock it down. That appears to be exactly your position too.

Re:Rights-holder bears costs (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30052874)

Which of course is at best a stretch and at worst simply untrue. There is no evidence that invention did not exist prior to patents and copyrights, or would cease without it. Its clear our current system goes way beyond protecting first movers, to the clear detriment of society as a whole and an unwarranted power shift to rights holders.

I agree that government should not get involved in petty copyright infringement. I do think there is a "happy medium" that could benefit both consumers and investors.

For example, trademark enforcement where a knock-off handbag manufacturer is allowed to manufacture as long as their bags don't display someone else's trademark could work. (Think of CVS's generic brands that obviously come from the same manufacturer that holds a trademark.) Likewise, government assistance in blocking piracy of new works of information could also work, as long as this protection is limited to the first few days, weeks, or months that a work of information is on the open market.

"nuanced" is just an excuse for a power-grab (2, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018194)

Different meanings of "nuanced":

--we're elitist snobs, and of course we know better than you what's good for you.

--whatever shade of meaning applies is the one we want at any given moment.

--dictatorships and Communist nations will get a pass.

--a person's freedom to create, innovate, and distribute must be hindered at all turns.

I defy this bogus organization to prove me wrong.

Re:"nuanced" is just an excuse for a power-grab (2, Informative)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018562)

I don't understand why you're being modded a troll. You really aren't far off the mark on how these organizations view themselves and others, and aptly calls out their behavior.

They force 3rd-World nations to sign WIPO treaties in order to get any disaster/poverty relief aid from the World Bank/IMF, for instance. The only 3rd-World nations that get away with not signing them and still get the money are nations like Venezuela and Columbia (or any other 3rd World nation that has an abundance of A) drug/narco-production B) immense natural resources, such as diamonds, natural gas and oil), or that is controlled by a strong dictatorship that despises the 'Western' world, while wanting all of the money and benefits they can get from dealing with 'The Great Satan' and its allies.

Re:"nuanced" is just an excuse for a power-grab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020996)

This is a myopic view of the WTO/IMF (which are two entirely separate organizations, btw). Could you imagine a world where these organizations force governments to turn into U.S.-style democracies? How would WWIII help the world's economies?

It's just not their bailiwick. Specifically regarding the IMF, what they do is ensure that there is a minimum competency in rule of law and the financial sector. Without this, they are flushing the members' contributions down the toilet, if there is even the banking structure to handle the money.

In fact, if you have an open mind, there are many examples of heroic IMF actions, where countries receiving IMF money were forced to clean up their banking sector. It's like an FDIC action on a bank, but on a national scale. I have sympathy for them; it is a thankless job, and is made more difficult by NWO conspiracy theorists. Imagine the negotiation skills it takes to convince a head of state and/or their relatives to give up 90% of their personal wealth for the good of their people. And then add the diplomatic tightrope act from the pressuring of ideologically-opposed IMF members (protip: every government thinks their system is the best). And on top of all that, get thousands of accountants in on Friday evening and out by Monday morning, leaving the country with a new banking system.

Broaden your horizons. The world is much bigger than the Unites States. I sincerely hope that you can free yourself from your media.

mighty broad brush there (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30038302)

My objection to "nuanced" has nothing to do with the media, unless you count John Kerry's abuse of the term during the 2004 presidential campaign as "media." For him, it was merely a weasel-word for defending the indefensible, with an attitude of "you just don't understand." I'd expect the same from a self-absorbed teenager, which it turned out Kerry is anyway.

Words have meaning. "Don't steal," "don't lie," and the like, have meaning. There is no "nuance" to them. Only a lawyer or a paid shill (like the MafiAA) would claim otherwise.

ACTA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018208)

This explains why ACTA is not going though the WIPO and instead it's own little path.

This is right on the mark - mod it up. (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018396)

This AC is absolutely right. WIPO has actually been taking a much more moderate approach to a lot of IP policy lately, with its development agenda and the increased influence of developing countries there. There has been so much relative moderation that some people feel WIPO is gridlocked

So, US, EU, Japan, et al. know that they will make no progress in pushing ACTA through WIPO (which would be the appropriate forum). As a result, they've pursued ACTA by itself, in a completely non-transparent manner.

Re:ACTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018426)

You say that like WIPO is some great thing and not the source of the DMCA.

Wipo has been sidelined (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018442)

Why do you think the Acta bullshit is being negotiated outside of the Wipo or WTO? That's because those entities, having been founded upon principles such as fairness and equity, cannot be brought to come up with such bullshit. What you're seeing here is not surprising. It's precisely why those motherfuckers in power avoid it.

Re:Wipo has been sidelined (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019616)

And also why those mofos are tickled pink they get to use state secrets to shut out criticism.

What about the free piracy that Antigua gets (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018446)

What about the free piracy that Antigua gets under Online Gambling ruling? And I they can view the ACTA as a way to for the us to get out of paying up and what can the us cut the WIPO off the internet? That may become a big thing and I don't think that others will want to go against the WIPO.

IP Enforcement waste of resources (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018500)

Could you imagine how much money eBay would make if it withdrew voluntary IP inforcement?

LOTS.

Everything that comes from China, Thailand, Mayalasia, and India is counterfeit. Don't fool yourself.

Re:IP Enforcement waste of resources (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019200)

No, quite a lot of stuff from China is not counterfeit. A lot of those products are manufactured by Chinese companies under their own names or under other made-up names, which by definition makes them not counterfeit because they aren't claiming to be something they're not. A lot of it is the result of manufacturing overruns, which while not authorized by the manufacturer and thus in a strict legal sense counterfeit, are in fact identical to the actual products, and thus not counterfeit by most sane definitions. And so on. Don't overgeneralize.

Not so" new-ance" (1)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018598)

From TFA: "Fink cited a study by Maffioletti and Ramello (2004) which concluded that . . . increased copyright enforcement would not expand sales of legitimate copies on a one-for-one basis."

The study did not say this, but anecdotally it seems to me that if not for "piracy" the audience penetration for a lot of movies and music would be a lot less, and I often wonder if it's "pirates" who posted Iron Man to youtube or put up a torrent of Wolverine, or Paramount and Marvel (maybe even Audi?).

Copyright enf't--at least in the common law jurisdictions--has always implied an assessment of money damages; it's not really a new thing, or shouldn't be if it is.

well (4, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018668)

Most legal and political discourse is more nuanced than it usually gets credit for; it's just by the time it reaches slashdot it's been distilled into a misleading, emotionally-charged headline that people can get outraged over.

Re:well (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30030956)

You mean /. is a news site? Who would have thought?

Adult Industry (5, Interesting)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019022)

I think for a real distilled view of the impact of piracy, we should ask the adult entertainment industry. They don't do concerts like musicians, or have big cinema releases like regular movies, so pretty much the only income of a porn studio comes from overpriced DVDs and licensed sex toys (as in ones made to mimic stars' body parts). My (obviously anecdotal) experience suggests that most of the pirates causing hollywood headaches are pretty avid consumers of porn, and given that they already pirate normal movies and music, I dare say they don't usually buy their porn either. If we could get some figures from the porn industry on just what impact piracy has had on them, then we could probably extrapolate that to the regular entertainment industry. Given that porn is still both plentiful and expensive, and I've actually seen the number of adult stores increase in the past few years, suggesting proffitability, I think the results of such a survey would be interesting to people on both sides of the copyright fence.

Production Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30020782)

Porn costs nearly nothing to make, that's why the industry doesn't really care about piracy.

Let's Make a Deal! (3, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30019992)

Ars recently had a story about how Paramount was using Star Trek as an example of how piracy is out of control.
http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/11/paramount-pictures-over-five-million-copies-of-star-trek-stolen.ars [arstechnica.com]

Poor darlings. They only grossed $400M... at the box office alone.
http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=startrek11.htm [boxofficemojo.com]

But Paramount cry poor. Their executives must be living out of dumpsters on their own lot. Well, let's we the public make a deal:

1. The public shall stop downloading torrents so long as
2. The studios make them available online immediately without DRM for a reasonable price AND I MEAN REASONABLE.. $400M suggests you're milking it *
3. The public backlash is being fueled by hatred at the erosion of fair use rights. Like the Sono Bono Copyright Extension act which has stopped works owned by filthy rich corporations from entering the public domain. So if Congress repeals that glutinous piece of legislation (and Disney cedes the rights to Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh to the public domain) then we'll have a deal. **
4. And stop bribing politicians too. Lobbyists who exchange cash or favours or "donations" should go to jail as the people who receive them.

* = and don't pull any of your Hollywood Accounting scams to try and "tell us you made a loss" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org] )
** = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org]

Free trade is just like socialism (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30020702)

Free trade is just like socialism:

a) Proponents say that free trade has never been tried enough, just like socialism.
b) Proponents say that once we get past all the economic disasters from free trade, everyone will be happy, just like socialism.
c) Proponents say that free trade is an international thing and there will be no countries any more, just like socialists.
d) Proponents say that old cultures will get altered, just like socialists.
e) At the end, you'll lose your job, have to work more, to get less, just like socialism.
f) Entire communities will shut down and people will stay in permapoverty, just like socialist communities.
g) Nobody will want to work because, it will almost be pointless, just like socialism.
h) Free trade requires everyone to be totally honest and decent, just like socialism.
i) Except they aren't, just like socialism.
j) Free trade, totally sucks, just like socialism.

real counterfeiting crimes (1)

kholburn (625432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30021282)

Unfortunately while WIPO and others argue about counterfeiting watches and designer accessories and other fripperies which affect rich companies there is real and dangerous counterfeiting going on which really does kill people.

China has a huge number of operations counterfeiting medical drugs. These are sold inside China and exported, mainly to third world countries. They are often very good fakes and very difficult to tell from the real product and often contain very little of the active beneficial drug. Especially bad are the counterfeit antibiotics and anti-malarials. It's actually quite hard to get real medical drugs in China, and the counterfeting extends to traditional chinese herbal medicine.

A lot of the real designer goods are made in China anyway, the fakes often made at the same factories but without the QA provided by the contracting design companies.

When the US was developing... (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30032778)

There was no copyright or other IP protection of foreign material in the early days of the US, and this was deliberate, to help the US economy to grow to be the juggernaut that it is today. Now that the US is the big kid, it's time to make sure no-one else uses that trick.

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