Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Alternative 2009 Copyright Expirations

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the world-of-what-if dept.

Books 427

jrincayc writes "It's nearly the end of 2009. If the 1790 copyright maximum term of 28 years was still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be now be in the public domain — like the original Ultima and God Emperor of Dune — and would be available for remixing and mashing up. If the 1909 copyright maximum term of 56 years (if renewed) were still in force, everything published by 1953 would now be in the public domain, freeing The City and the Stars and Forbidden Planet. If the 1976 copyright act term of 75* years (* it's complicated) still applied, everything published by 1934 would now be in the public domain, including Murder on the Orient Express. But thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, nothing in the US will go free until 2018, when 1923 works expire." Assuming Congress doesn't step in with a Copyright Extension Act of 2017. What are the odds?

cancel ×

427 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What did you expect? (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521430)

I give you a prediction:

New law - Copyright doesn't expire.
Consequences - Not enough people care and life goes on.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521484)

No, courts would probably strike down a law making copyrights not expiring, hence adding more years to existing copyright law. I think there was a court argument regarding this but I can't seem to find it.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Informative)

praksys (246544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521600)

The case was ELDRED V. ASHCROFT. Lawrence Lessig (and others) pointed out that the constitution only allows copyrights to be granted "for a limited time". SCOTUS responded that they couldn't give a shit what the constitution says. The decision was 7-2 so it's highly unlikely that the court will change it's mind anytime soon.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521758)

SCOTUS responded "On paper, it is limited - we don't care if Congress keeps changing the limit."

While I disagree with the decision, it's not QUITE the same thing as "[we] couldn't give a shit what the constitution says."

Re:What did you expect? (4, Funny)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521802)

So what they meant was "we couldn't give a shit what the constitution intends[, we're happy to have it's purpose undermined to the point it's hollower than a slice of swiss cheese]".

Yay for living in Europe, where the spirit of the law still counts for something.

Re:What did you expect? (2, Insightful)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522034)

Yeah.. I just hope that the spirit of the law will not be abused, as it always has been.
Yet, I love the fact that a contract cannot be void based on simple technicality.

Re:What did you expect? (-1, Flamebait)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522050)

Yay for living in Europe, where the spirit of the law still counts for something.

Right, I'm sure you live in a country that didn't sign the Berne convention, right?

Arrogant little prat.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521916)

And in defense again of SCOTUS, they are correct here. There is a limit. Albeit a limit that is so long that it basically becomes "forever" for all practical purposes. It will have to become much worse before it will improve.

Just like DRM: the only reason it will go away is when it gets in the way of people's daily life. Copyright doesn't get in the way of many people's lives, so they do not care. Even with copyrights they can watch TV, watch their DVDs, listen to the radio, go to the movies, etc.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522042)

That is what happens when common sense in a legal system is illegal. And most of Americans call eurocrats - technocrats.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521920)

SCOTUS responded "On paper, it is limited - we don't care if Congress keeps changing the limit."

While I disagree with the decision, it's not QUITE the same thing as "[we] couldn't give a shit what the constitution says."

If limited can mean "until the sun burns out", you have effectively stricken "for limited times" from the constitution. If you can play with words like that, it's worth less than toilet paper.

Re:What did you expect? (5, Insightful)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521490)

It can't happen without amending the U.S. Constitution.

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; -
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8

The key word there is limited time. The problem has arisen is that the courts have defined limited as anything short of forever, and I think it stretches the Constitution beyond all meaning. Originally you could register a copyright for 7 years, and renew it one time for another 7. This was when shipping between cities could take weeks, and to cross continents could take years. With modern distribution copyright durations should be decreasing not increasing. Copyright was never intended to be a life time income source, and it definitely was not intended to cover heirs.

Re:What did you expect? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521506)

presumably, then, one could simply pass a law stating that copyright shall not expire until the heat death of the universe.

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521540)

More realistically: Does not expire until all of the Human species originating from Earth have been destroyed.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

hasdikarlsam (414514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522072)

That might be later, or never. The heat death will pretty definitely happen, so it fits the definition of "limited" better.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

jcwayne (995747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521556)

Welcome to the American Bar Association, you must be new here.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521812)

presumably, then, one could simply pass a law stating that copyright shall not expire until the heat death of the universe.

SCOTUS would probably campaign for it to be extended beyond this, to encourage struggling artists

Re:What did you expect? (5, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521612)

Lawrence Lessig argued that before the SCOTUS [cnet.com] , and they wouldn't buy even that basic point, IIRC.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521668)

I fail to see any reason the shipping time decreasing from weeks to days should have any effect on copyright. Please explain your logic.

Re:What did you expect? (5, Interesting)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521742)

It's pretty obvious really. The whole point of copyright was to enable the creator to benefit commercially from their artwork for a limited period so that they would have an income and be able to continue producing works that enrich/entertain society. As distribution has become quicker and quicker, the time needed for an artist to commercially exploit their work has decreased and therefore the time period for which copyright applies ought to be shorter, not longer, than in the past.

What has happened instead is that time periods have been extended, more and more money has been made, which has concentrated the means of distribution into fewer hands, with the net effect of decreasing the amount of art (music, literature etc.) that is widely available. This is now starting to change with digital distribution, although it's quite clear that DRM is not about preventing the pirating of works (because it doesn't stop commercial pirates) but is about maintaining a barrier to entry into the market.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Insightful)

cboslin (1532787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521810)

It's pretty obvious really. The whole point of copyright was to enable the creator to benefit commercially from their artwork for a limited period so that they would have an income and be able to continue producing works that enrich/entertain society. As distribution has become quicker and quicker, the time needed for an artist to commercially exploit their work has decreased and therefore the time period for which copyright applies ought to be shorter, not longer, than in the past.

What has happened instead is that time periods have been extended, more and more money has been made, which has concentrated the means of distribution into fewer hands, with the net effect of decreasing the amount of art (music, literature etc.) that is widely available. This is now starting to change with digital distribution, although it's quite clear that DRM is not about preventing the pirating of works (because it doesn't stop commercial pirates) but is about maintaining a barrier to entry into the market.

Great post, simple to the point.

Another reason to DENY companies person-hood

What in the constitution allows a company to buy the rights from a person and continue them in force as if they are a person?

Everything we need to fix problems with corporations are in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. If we really are a nation of laws, its time to start enforcing them.

Even Presidents must NOT be above the law!

To not enforce laws ensures their continued abuse. I do not think that this is what our founding fathers had in mind!

Re:What did you expect? (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521886)

Another reason to DENY companies person-hood

You're focusing on the wrong problem. The issue isn't corporate personhood, but rather with certain legal persons (natural or corporate) having too much power. It really isn't any better for the person "J.P. Morgan" to be able to buy a congressman than it is for company "J.P. Morgan Chase" to be able to do the same thing.

Changing some arcane corporate classification don't help a damned thing.

What will help is limiting how influential a single person can be. Limit the maximum size of corporations. Institute a super-progressive income tax that asymptotically approaches 100% as you reach, say, the 99th percentile of the population.

No man on earth is worth FOUR BILLION [wikipedia.org] times that of another human being, no matter who is he or what he's done.

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521968)

Who are you to say what a person is worth? Everyone votes with their dollars, and if someone provides a good or service which is in high demand, then they are worth it. That's democracy in action, people directly making their own decisions.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522014)

That's democracy in action, people directly making their own decisions.

Sometimes, everyone making the decision that's best for himself leads to an outcome that's terrible for everyone [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30522080)

Another reason to DENY companies person-hood

I don't see what that has to do with copyright at all.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521790)

So then make it 1000 years and just call it good. No one will care about the copyrighted works of someone over a thousand years in the past, and it will take care of these questions until this time ~2950

Re:What did you expect? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521914)

The supreme court has decided that its up to congress to determine what "limited times" means .. which is really stupid because if anything that's the one thing that judges are for it's for is exercising what's reasonable and what's not. And a hundred years in unreasonable.

Re:What did you expect? (4, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521976)

Copyright was never intended to be a life time income source, and it definitely was not intended to cover heirs.

No, it's intended to be an indefinite source of income for the RIAA, MPAA, and a growing list of IP holders who effectively want to own all meaningful human endeavor.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522054)

With modern distribution copyright durations should be decreasing not increasing

Actually, modern distribution is precisely why copyright should be increasing not decreasing. If it takes forever to ship something, who wants to order and wait? Let people take a copy of the "local cache". It wouldn't hurt revenues.

The counter reason in favor of decreasing copyright duration comes from the ease of copying and the sheer quantity of competition. Material that has been published and then produced in limited supply without a good reason in spite of demand should be taken out of bloody copyright.

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521554)

So long as they never manage to screw over very many people by enforcing it, I actually kinda hope it gets more ridiculous. That way, people will feel more free to ignore it, rather than pretending to respect it most of the time.

I mean, come on, you already can't sing "Happy Birthday" without owing royalties to someone long dead. Just how low can it go?

This is how low... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521638)

I mean, come on, you already can't sing "Happy Birthday" without owing royalties to someone long dead. Just how low can it go?

How low? You've clearly never heard the Egyptian recording of Happy Birsday To Yooooooooou

I don't have any idea if it was made to get around that copyright but it will make your ears bleed.

Sickening (5, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521450)

I vomit a little bit when I think about the state of copyright. Surely this is advancing the collective cultural repository?

Re:Sickening (5, Funny)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521482)

It depends on the contents of your vomit, but yes, I'd imagine it'd be an advancing collection of cultures, from your repository.

Re:Sickening (1, Troll)

gnupun (752725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521694)

Surely this is advancing the collective cultural repository?

It definitely is. Copyright ensures authors and publishers get paid, which in turn encourages them to write and publish more books. They profit with money and you profit more useful or entertaining material to read. That was the whole premise behind copyright -- temporary financial reward and support for the author in return for permanently enriching the collective cultural repository.

If your type were to influence reduction in copyright duration, the profits would drop and authors and publishers would cut quality and quantity of books to compensate for the reduction in revenue. Why are you /.ers always looking for a free ride? If you don't want to pay for a book go to a public library. There are thousands of interesting books available for free, but nobody's reading them and they are collecting dust.

Re:Sickening (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521800)

And of course good ol' Walt never would have created Mickey Mouse if he'd not known that down the line the brave souls at the company that carries his legacy would fight the good fight and get copyright extended from that extra 20 years!

Seriously - there is no justification for extension of copyright being retroactive. People aren't going to be motivated to retroactively create new old works...

Re:Sickening (4, Funny)

Froboz23 (690392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521892)

Seriously - there is no justification for extension of copyright being retroactive. People aren't going to be motivated to retroactively create new old works...

Time Lords need creative incentives too, you insensitive clod!

Re:Sickening (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521804)

You seriously think that present long copyrights and huge profits (at least in case of biggest offenders, MPAA, RIAA & co.) do anything towards quantity and quality?

It stiffens the creativity of huge number of small artists (there's quantity) who can't build on works which are long past their directly profitable time (quality). It's about strong-arming their control as middleman during times when progress (both when it comes to distribution and much lower costs of creation) made them obsolete.

Re:Sickening (5, Insightful)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521814)

No. We're now in a situation where copyright extends well beyond the likely lifetime of the creator(s) of the work in questions. Endlessly extending copyright causes a net decrease in the amount of books/music/etc. available, here's why:

Long copyright terms have made music and literature into big business and concentrated the means of production and distribution into the hands of mega-corporations who get to decide what is published and what isn't. Long terms encourage companies to exploit their back catalogue ad nauseam rather than constantly seeking out new talent because they know that within [less than a decade | whatever short time period] all of their current catalogue would be valueless. Musicians only have to produce a couple of hit singles to be made for life, and then they can churn out mindless 'concept' albums that no-one really wants to hear. Conversely, manufactured bands can record covers of hits from 10 years ago, and because the big corps control the market, you end up with shops saturated with music that's already been sold ten times over (unless, apparently, you buy Rage Against the Machine).

If copyright terms were short, amateur musicians like me could record covers of hits from 10 years ago and enjoy the pleasure of recording and giving away music or distributing for free / cheap online. Why should I not be able to record a cover version of a song that's been sitting in a record label's back catalogue and hasn't seen the light of day for 40 years? Compare this to the software market, where software from as recently as the 1980s is being perceived as 'abandonware' and available for download online on the premise that the copyright is owned by companies that no longer exist and therefore no-one will challenge it.

The point is, copyright per se is a good thing, but the never-ending extension of its terms is definitely bad. It's now well over the the line from stimulating creativity to just lining the pockets of the already very-rich, and the way that the market is set up makes it very difficult for small-time artists to make a dent.

"the state of copyright" (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521702)

I vomit a little bit when I think about the state of copyright.

By that do you mean...
A. the fact that things that should have fallen into the public domain long ago, aren't due to copyright term extensions
B. the fact that most people really don't care and will copy it anyway ...?

It's funny, really... laws regarding copyrights are getting ever more restricting.. while the public mindset thinks ever more loosely about copyrights, and ignores those laws.

Surely this is advancing the collective cultural repository?

Option A: not so much - short of arguing that without copyrights, nobody will have any incentive to create any works anymore, consequently don't, and nothing new enters the regulated collective cultural repository.
Option B: yes - short of arguing that without copyrights, nobody will have any incentive to create any works anymore, consequently don't, and thus there's nothing new to copy from the regulated collective cultural repository into the unregulated collective cultural repository.

Ridiculous (3, Insightful)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521452)

I think this graph [wikipedia.org] in the wiki links sums the problem up nicely.

These copyright extensions are simply ridiculous. It's pretty obvious that the copyrights are going to continue being extended indefinitely, even though this clearly wasn't the original purpose of our IP laws. What gives?

Re:Ridiculous (3, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521592)

I think this graph in the wiki links sums the problem up nicely.
These copyright extensions are simply ridiculous.


The problem actually appears to have started in 1831. Why was nothing done then, since the US Congress dosn't (in theory) have the power to create ipso post facto laws?

Re:Ridiculous (3, Informative)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521964)

The problem actually appears to have started in 1831. Why was nothing done then, since the US Congress dosn't (in theory) have the power to create ipso post facto laws?

I believe the term you're looking for is "ex post facto" ("after the fact") laws, not "ipso facto" ("by the fact itself").

I believe the courts *have* limited Congress, in that they aren't allowed to pass a law that would put works that have fallen into the public domain back under copyright.

Fair Copyright (5, Interesting)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521460)

Give them 7 years, after 7 years, they have to renew the copyright every year for $50-100. If they fail to renew it it becomes public domain. Prohibit the outsourcing of this process, require the actual copyright holder to submit a signed statement each year with the renewal, change the forms yearly to prevent them from stockpiling 100 years of renewals. This process should have a search-able registry of all active copyrights and who to contact about licensing rights. This would allow economically supported works to continue in copyright as long as it is economically supported, but it would also allow orphan works to enter the public domain much faster. It's called balance, and would be a revenue generator for the Government.

Also they could require the work to actually be available for purchase during the previous year, or else you can not renew it. This would stop the Disney-ish practice of copyright holders removing their their copyrighted works from the market to generate a artificial demand later on for their product.

Re:Fair Copyright (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521530)

or may be a permissive "derivative/continuation of work" clause of a sort. That would solve the stagnation issue.
one good example is "Brutal Legend".

Re:Fair Copyright (4, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521574)

Instead of $50-$100, make the copyright holder choose and pay a fee of 1000x the cost of license.
If you paid $1000, I can have a copy of your work for $1. If you paid $10k, I can have it for $10. If you paid $10, I can get a copy for $0.01. And you're not permitted not to license the work to me for that amount.

Re:Fair Copyright (4, Interesting)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521586)

How would this work with legal persons though? They have more resources to renew and such than a single natural person. I suppose only allowing natural persons to have copyright would be a nice start.

Re:Fair Copyright (1)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521642)

It would work exactly the same. The price is low enough so as long as you realistically believe that you have a chance to generate some income from the intellectual property in question, you would have the incentive to continue the registration. Corporations would likely possess many more registrations is all, they would pay the exact same fee. You have to do it that way due to the Equal Protection clause. All IP owners weigh the prospects for each one when deciding if it worth renewing the copyright for the coming year, or not. Much of the $50-$100 fee would go towards maintaining the accurate database of all copyrights and copyright holders.

Re:Fair Copyright (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521898)

You have to do it that way due to the Equal Protection clause

IANAL, but I don't see how that clause applies here. We're not talking about discriminating based on a protected category like race or gender, but rather on size, and we've been doing that for 100 years [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Fair Copyright (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521832)

I think that's very interesting. The think that bothers me is the amount of music sitting in the back-catalogues of record companies, that could be out there for the general public to enjoy. I'm not talking about recordings here, I'm talking about compositions/songs/lyrics that never see the light of day. Putting a small piece-price on each copyright work would encourage corps to do clear-outs and release or sell on works, and I think that would stimulate creativity and 'enrich society' far more than the current model.

Re:Fair Copyright (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521852)

With your idea open source dies.

Re:Fair Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30522074)

Your suggestion is complete and entire bullshit, the same nonsense as the patent system. It keeps individuals and small companies from maintaining income and transfers IP to large companies for which a few hundred bucks is peanuts. (And yes, the sums add up quickly so $50-100 can be a problem for small companies and will definitely be a problem for individuals.) There is only one way to get sane copyright: Make it 20 years and not a day longer.

Mandatory reply (5, Interesting)

mdenham (747985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521498)

Melancholy Elephants [spiderrobinson.com] by Spider Robinson. This is the best-written argument I've seen against non-expiring copyrights (and, by extension, copyrights of inanely long duration).

Not 2017, but by 2023... (5, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521500)

The next copyright extension will be by 2023. Why? Because that's when the Walt Disney Corp will lose it's copyright on Mickey Mouse [wikipedia.org] . And there is no way they would ever willingly lose their symbol. Walt Disney is the largest lobbying force in the Copyright Term Extensions, primarily because of all their older, but well recognized artistic works.

Politicians, from both parties, are easily purchased to vote for Copyright laws. Copyright laws appeal to both Democrats and Republican lawmakers. Democrats, because by keeping copyright laws in effect makes them seem like they are protecting the (copy) "rights" of the people, making their constituents happy. Republicans, because by keeping copyright laws in effect makes them seem like they are protecting the rights of business, making their constituents happy. And when both parties agree... everyone loses.

The biggest problem with copyrights though isn't that it is becoming such a big political issue, at least with some groups of people, or that it is easy to "presuade" lawmakers to side with the copyright holders; it's that Copyright laws are merely a symptom of the disease. Simply rolling copyright laws back to 1790 levels would only be a temporary solution. That fix would be repealed within the decade. The voters need to completely re-shape the political atmosphere of America, perhaps removing the 2 party system entirely (5 political parties, anyone?), or at least reforming the political parties so that Special Interests have much less of a say on future laws and bills. But if we only see more of the same, I expect to eventually see copyrights last an "indetermined" amount of time. Your great-grand-children may live to see the Mickey Mouse copyright expire...maybe.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (3, Interesting)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521520)

A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons. This would be similar to copyright but would not expire. These would require a specific act of Congress for a copyrightable work to be awarded this status but would not expire as long as the company in question is still actively using and marketing the iconic item in question.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (5, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521542)

I too, would enjoy a license to print money. Can I get the exemption?

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521544)

That would require a Constitutional amendment.

Of course, an awful lot of stuff that should, doesn't, so maybe it wouldn't.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (2, Insightful)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521584)

Not really, it would fall under the commerce clause.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; - Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3

While copyright was limited, a new intellectual property status called "National Icon" would not be directly limited by the Constitution. The idea is if Disney is going to continue to use their money and political influence to craft legislation to suppress the progress of all the Arts and Sciences (extend all copyrights) in order to protect their interest in Mickey Mouse, separate it out!

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521590)

If that kind of thing were covered by the commerce clause, then why is it described elsewhere, in such detail that it specifically excludes what you're talking about?

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521620)

Copyright is indeed described. However, there is no description, restrictions, or limitations in the Constitution for the proposal I suggested which is creating a new class of intellectual property, a "National Icon" status. Therefore Congress is free to create it without requiring a Constitutional amendment. Again this is not a Copyright, but would grant a similar protection against commercial use as do copyrights, but would not expire as long as the icon is in active use by the creator. I have little doubt that something like this would past court review.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521644)

No, the Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to secure for limited times exclusive rights.

That doesn't mean they can go make something else up that's unlimited!

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521674)

The key here is that these would not be exclusive rights. The Nation Icon would only secure Commercial rights, which is a power explicitly granted in the Commerce clause of the Constitution. Copyrights protect against both commercial, and non-commercial uses.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (3, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521578)

A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons.

Or Disney (TM) could trademark everything to do with Mickey Mouse(TM) in the same way that Paramount (TM) treats everything to do with Star Trek (TM).

Re:I've thought about this before (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521652)

Using almost the same terminology: "cultural icon"

The difference was, I thought it made sense that if one could reasonably prove in court that a copyrighted or trademarked property had become a "cultural icon", all rights to it (but not derivatives) would instantly expire and the whole thing would be free for the public to use.

Imagine if Coca-Cola tried to enforce trademark on "Santa Clause wearing red and white"

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

edjs (1043612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521786)

Sounds kinda sort like trademark. Disney gets to keep Mickey regardless - all they're (probably not ever) losing is a specific work that happens to include Mickey. You can do what you want with the Steamboat Willie cartoon, but you won't be able to market it with Mickey's name, and you'll have to be careful of derivative works that are more than just re-sampling the cartoon.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521996)

"A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons"

Maybe we could call such a thing a "trademark".

Personally I never understood the Mickey Mouse thing, if Disney make a new cartoon staring Mickey then that is a new work and the copyright starts the day it is released not the day Mickey Mouse was dreamt up. How many copies of Steamboat Willy does Disney actually sell these days?

These corporations remind me of art theives who keep stolen artwork in their basement and won't show it to anyone. Art theives at least have a logical reason to hide their stuff, what is the corporate rationale for doing likewise?

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (2, Insightful)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522020)

A simple way around this is to allow Disney to keep Mickey, you do this by creating a new class of limited rights for National Icons. This would be similar to copyright but would not expire. These would require a specific act of Congress for a copyrightable work to be awarded this status but would not expire as long as the company in question is still actively using and marketing the iconic item in question

Or simply link the copyright to a trademark. Trademarks, unlike copyrights, have to be maintained (costing money), and as such are dropped by corporations when they are no longer cost-effective. They have all of the attributes of your "National Icons".

So Disney could potentially keep "Steam Boat Willie" under copyright for as long as they wish, by tying it to the Mickey trademark(s). But the majority of copyrighted works would never be linked in this fashion (because there's no economic incentive to do so), and could fall into the public domain in a reasonable number of years.

The real problem with these copyright extensions isn't that certain valuable properties are being kept under copyright forever. It's that the vast majority of works, which aren't particularly valuable, are being kept under copyright forever as a side effect of protecting those valuable works.

Dear Powers That Be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521536)

Please deal with this inanity at once. Just grant Disney their eternal copyright on Mickey Mouse as an exception, and be done with it. Nobody wants the bloody rodent anyway.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (5, Insightful)

dryo (989455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521606)

It's a well-known fact that the limit of US copyright is always at least the age of Mickey Mouse plus one year. It's kind like Moore's Law for copyright attorneys.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521778)

Mickey Mouse, and the Ears, are registered trademarks of Disney. Steamboat Willie, et. al., are the copyrightable works. There's a huge difference between issuing Steamboat Willie on a rogue DVD and selling your product with Disney ears for a logo.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521796)

It wouldn't be Copyright stopping you from using it but Mickey is the symbol for Disney and thus Trademarked. Much like how you wouldn't expect to use the McDonalds Golden Arches.

Five parties? Not in our system, even if you try. (2, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521858)

We're not going to have more than two parties until we change the way we vote. Our simple plurality voting [wikipedia.org] system naturally leads to [wikipedia.org] a two-party steady state system as surely an electron orbiting a proton leads to a hydrogen atom in the ground state. No amount of imploring, scolding, pleading or whining will change that reality.

If you really want more diverse representation, change the way we vote. Granted, a perfect voting system is impossible [wikipedia.org] , but we can far better [wikipedia.org] than the system we have today.

That said, I'm not sure that adding political parties will necessary end corruption. After all, the British have a multi-party proportional system and still ended up with Tony Blair and Darth Mandelson [guardian.co.uk] . Corruption is a different problem, and is best fought by an enthusiastic and educated public demanding sunshine laws and public campaign financing.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (4, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521870)

Then the answer is simple. We must culturally kill Mikey.

come again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521942)

who's "Mikey"?

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521944)

They could trademark it.

That way they may lose the copyrights on old cartoons featuring Mickey but no-one will be able to make any works with Mickey in it's current looks. There is afaik no need for copyright to keep Mickey Mouse the unique symbol/character that belongs to Disney.

This way it becomes kind of a logo. A moving, talking logo. And trademarks iirc are protected for as long as they are in use.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521948)

And when both parties agree... everyone loses.

Indeed. They both certainly seem to be against murder, the rotten bastards.

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30522002)

the more important question is - how do we convince more democrats to have abortions and get their existing children to start smoking earlier?

Re:Not 2017, but by 2023... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30522038)

I concur, as long as Disney exists, copyright will continue to get extended. You have no idea how much money they make off of Mickey alone.

What are the odds? (1)

Donkey_Hotey (1433053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521508)

Assuming Congress doesn't step in with a Copyright Extension Act of 2017. What are the odds?

The odds fall somewhere between slim and you-have-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me...

Meh (3, Insightful)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521522)

I have a hard time getting excited about this. Whether copyright expired in 1, 10 or 100 years, people would still violate it, whether it be by torrent or some other means of sharing. Copyright infringement has taken the same character as speeding to many people: while people get caught and fined, almost everyone does it to some degree or another, and almost nobody feels guilty about doing so.

Re:Meh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521650)

So..... by extension you are saying that we shouldn't bother making laws at all since people will break them anyway?

The point here is not if people will break copyrights but when we can stop worrying about doing so. There is a big difference between being able to use 100 year old or 10 year old work without any legal worries.

For fuck's sake! (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521550)

so the original Ultima and God Emperor of Dune and would be available for remixing and mashing up.

Remixing and mashing up? I like a good remix as much as anybody, but the faddish use of these terms needs to die. Mashup, really? You think you're being edgy, but you're actually being a giant cuntnozzle. Get off my lawn!

Re:For fuck's sake! (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521716)

Well, what do you expect? That is the state of creatives in the year 2010. They honestly can not think of anything new, and only plunder the past for its riches. Can you imagine a cultural and artistic flowering like the 60s in our current age? Hell, even establishment stooges like Perry Como or Frank Sinatra seem like cutting-edge innovators compared to Lady Gaga or Alicia Keys.

Re:For fuck's sake! (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521846)

Ahh yes, in the good old days people weren't influenced by others in their activities. While you're at it, also point out that in the past youth wasn't on the road of moral and intellectual demise that will doom our civilization.

Re:For fuck's sake! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522078)

Try looking outside the top 40 sometimes, compared to the 60s there's tons of bands all the way from great to crap best left in the garage that have managed to record a CD. You certainly don't have less opporunity to find it and buy it than you did back then with the Internet and all, despite whatever shenanigans the RIAA is doing. People don't want it really diferent, they want it like sports with this season being almost like last season except the teams and results are slightly different. So you have new teenpop with a hot bimbo or boy bands. You have new blues with someone crying their heart out. You have new country and western though there's next to nothing left of that life and so on. If copyright went away we'd have plenty mixes to keep everyone busy, and it wouldn't be any less "new" than what's already happening.

Re:For fuck's sake! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521730)

Cuntnozzle? Cuntnozzle! I was using that wod in the days when buggies still needed whips. These new-fangled whipless buggies are an invention of the devil, I tells ya.

The original mashup (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522006)

You call that a mash-up? This is a mash-up:

The year is 315 AD, and the absolute despot of the western world, Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus has commissioned a Mission Acc^W^W [wikipedia.org] triumphal arch [wikipedia.org] to celebrate a battle his army* won for him three years ago. He orders that this arch be constructed in the style of triumphal arches of emperors long ago.

The only problem is that a century of warfare, overtaxation, hyperinflation, and neglect has driven the Roman middle class to extinction, along with its sculptors, masons, goldsmiths and painters. There is nobody left alive who knows how to build a triumphal arch! Yet you are a loyal imperial servant (capricious executions tend to breed a kind of loyalty), and you have to figure out a way to give the emperor what he wants.

What do you do? You build the basic framework of an arch. You take statues from the forum of Trajan [aviewoncities.com] and stick them on top of your arch. You chisel some ba-relief sculptures off of Hadrian's buildings, touch them up to look like your emperor, and paste them onto your structure.

At the end of the day, you show your emperor his "new" arch, and all is well. You go to bed that night and don't think anything of it, because it's routine and expected to cannibalize old monuments. If everyone does it, it can't be wrong, right? It can't indicate that your culture is terminally sick, can it?

* By that time the army had a huge portion of auxiliari^W mercenar^Wprivate security contractors [wikipedia.org] . Italians go the war? That was so 100AD.

Sonny Bono - I own you babe! (3, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521624)

But thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act

They say we're young and we don't know.
Won't be out of copyright till we grow.
Well I don't know Babe if you think that's true
But I've got a bill that'll F*** you!

Babe.
I own you babe.
I own you babe.

They say this music won't pay the rent
But I'll increase copyright and they'll get bent
I guess that's so, this song is dross
But at least I'm sure that I won't make a loss

Babe.
I own you babe.
I own you babe.

I got money coming in
And I don't have to do a thing
And when I'm sad, I'll copyright a clown
Then laud it over parents all over the town

Don't let them say your copyright's too long
Why would I care? I can buy a thousand bongs
Then put your awful song with mine
Sit on our backside while our profits climb

Babe.
I own you babe.
I own you babe.

I got though this song's bland
I got you, you understand?
I got you if you walk like that
I've got you if you talk like that
I've got you kiss your music goodnight
I've got you and you know what you can bite
I got you, I won't let go
I got you to pay me so

I own you babe.

Re:Sonny Bono - I own you babe! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521966)

Did you actually try singing that, or even speaking it out loud? Scansion - look it up.

Re:Sonny Bono - I own you babe! (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30522030)

Did you actually try singing that, or even speaking it out loud? Scansion - look it up.

Dude it's a joke on an Internet board, and singing it out loud might get me fired. Get a grip.

Meanwhile, Outside the USA... (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521636)

1.3 billion Chinese are laughing at your legal shenanigans.

Re:Meanwhile, Outside the USA... (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521682)

No they aren't, their firewalled from accessing our news sites cause they talk bad about the Chinese government.

Unconstitutional and illegal (3, Interesting)

neghvar1 (1705616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521664)

The EFF and other consumer rights and public domain supports are pushing to ban perpetual copyright extensions which is what will happen as each extension approaches its lifespan. The judges read limited as infinity minus 1 second. They think like a computer or robot. Total lack of commonsense. But as we know, our government does not give a shit about what we, want, believe or think. Their ears are listening to the lobbyists and corporations with deep pockets that hand them a bill with a check attached to it under the table. It's bribery. Pure and simple The purpose of copyright was to promote creativity meaning that when a singer writes a song and copyrights it, they will profit from it, but when it expires, if that singer want to continue getting profits, he must continue to use his creativity. Personally, I believe copyright of movies, music and literature should be 30 years or when the original copyright holder dies. Software should be 10 years. i.e. Micheal Jackson did not create the Beetles music, yet he owned the rights to them. They were never his and never should have been. "Elvis sure makes a lot of money for a dead guy" And nor should the creators heirs and their heirs and there heirs live off the works of someone over a century ago. Along with that, of all copyrights ever filed, these extension acts are only working for the less than 10% which are still commercially exploitable. Thus all those other fall into the abyss of time. In order to preserve great works of the past, the laws must be broken

God Emperor of Dune? (5, Funny)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521770)

Poor Leto. Killed by *all* those inner voices demanding royalties for the copyright of their memories. Eternal royalties. The Golden Path ends before it could begin.

Copyright extension act (4, Informative)

ommerson (1485487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521772)

Sonny Bono's main argument in favour of the Copyright Extension Act hinged on providing a retirement fund for composers. So, it's somewhat ironic that killed himself by wrapping himself around a tree whilst skiing only a few years later.

Cliff Richards acted as a figurehead for a campaign in the UK to lengthen the copyright term on sound recordings [1] using similar arguments. If only...

[1] Very unsuccessfully - not least because some of his recordings were about to go out of copyright and the perception that he already had quite enough money.

what about retirement for RIAA? (3, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521876)

I think I'd rather pay some tax to support retired artists and musicians than to turn the RIAA and MPAA into private vigilante groups.

The most shameful... (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521784)

... is not to keep commercial rights on these known books that we will still be able to buy by 2020. It is the millions of books that did not achieve enough popularity to still be easy to find. Not edited anymore but forbidden to save for posterity. Really, copyright is nothing to respect anymore.

"...copyright protection to last forever..." (3, Informative)

knarf (34928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30521984)

SONNY BONO COPYRIGHT TERM EXTENSION ACT (House of Representatives - October 07, 1998) [loc.gov]

(should this search expire go to SONNY BONO COPYRIGHT TERM EXTENSION ACT (House of Representatives - October 07, 1998) [loc.gov] and look for page 9951)

"...Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti's proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress..."

Forever minus one day. Look for it around 2022-2023...r

Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30521988)

It is a simple case of corrupt government ministers.
There is plenty of evidence that Peter Mandleson, an unelected (and unwanted) UK government apparatchik, has been installed to do the bidding of his friends in Big Media. Just days before the corrupt Mandleson released the despairingly bad 'Digital Britain' legislation, which in fact does little more than protect the greedy interests of the record industry, Mandleson spent time on the private island of his rich 'friend' from the record industry. There is no democratic mandate for extended copyright legislation. We need to all write the the parliamentary standards committee, and London Police, demanding investigation of this kind of corruption.
Everything surrounding 'intellectual property' hucksters stinks. They are the real pirates, robbing their customers again, and again, and again, and again, for exactly the same product. They don't innovate, and the best the can do to 'create' content these days involves zero risk, hard sell, heavy duty promotion of talentless and plastic morons. This is a reflection of the vacuum in the badly damaged society of the United States, where social cohesion has all but disintegrated.

Lets all do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30522058)

lets copyright everything we do, I am sure somebody somewhere will breach my copyright - but I will only sue polliticians and move/music execs :)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?