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What Would Have Entered the Public Domain Tomorrow?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the alas-'twas-not-to-be dept.

Media 331

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain about items that would enter the public domain starting on January 1, 2010, if not for copyright extenions: "'Casino Royale, Marilyn Monroe's Playboy cover, The Adventures of Augie March, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Crick & Watson's Nature article decoding the double helix, Disney's Peter Pan, The Crucible'... 'How ironic that Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, with its book burning firemen, was published in 1953 and would once have been entering the public domain on January 1, 2010. To quote James Boyle, "Bradbury's firemen at least set fire to their own culture out of deep ideological commitment, vile though it may have been. We have set fire to our cultural record for no reason; even if we had wanted retrospectively to enrich the tiny number of beneficiaries whose work keeps commercial value beyond 56 years, we could have done so without these effects. The ironies are almost too painful to contemplate.""

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Offensive (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610724)

As a 49 yo grandmother, feminist, and C programmer of 20 years, I am offended that no feminist liturature is mentioned. It shows the bias of the IT community.

Re:Offensive (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610768)

I personally find the rollover popups in TFA to be more offensive, but I take your point. Whats in your list?

Re:Offensive (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610848)

There's a real reason for this that has nothing to do with any biases: There wasn't much by way of feminist literature being written in 1954. This was a full decade before such classics as The Feminine Mystique, and in the realm of speculative fiction predates McCaffrey or LeGuin.

Re:Offensive (2, Funny)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610930)

Glad to see you are offended. You might check out some early feminist literature - I refer specifically to a book called "The Woman Who Did". After reading this you will understand why nobody is interested in feminist literature before about 1960 or so. Depressing and whacked-out come to mind to describe this early version of the genre.

Re:Offensive (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610956)

Everything you mentioned before "I am offended" is completely irrelevant to both the article and any point you are trying to make.

Re:Offensive (1)

OttoErotic (934909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611070)

Yay, finally I'm not the one getting swooshed! Everything else was quoted from a comment a few weeks back that I'm too lazy to find.

Re:Offensive (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611114)

LoL. I can't be expected to read every comment that gets posted on Slashdot now, can I? Especially those that are likely to get modded into oblivion.

Re:Offensive (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611110)

Don't be offended by Slashdot. Be offended by Duke University. That's where the quoted text was from. There are other reasons to be offended by some members of the Slashdot crowd in the same realm.

    If you read the story, women are mentioned also. It doesn't appear to be a male biased article. Most likely it wasn't heavily researched for the sake of gender bias, but more of a reflection of works that the author recognized from a big list.

    There were a lot of books [amazon.com] published, and they couldn't possibly mention them all.

Re:Offensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611198)

This should be marked as "Funny", not "Offtopic". Are people REALLY that slow on the uptake of new memes?

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610728)

I'm going to treat them as if they have entered the public domain.

Re:Cool (3, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610780)

Since everything is so readily available now through torrents I can't really say there is anything that I can't get my hands on now that I would be able to get my hands on if they were made public domain. Unless of course you start including classified government documents and the like, or very obscure gems that for some reason never made it into widespread circulation

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610800)

Classified government documents are usually declassified after 50 years so they'd be in the public domain anyway.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

joebok (457904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610964)

Public domain isn't about getting content for free, it is about creating a public pool of culture from which to base further creative works. If you found a torrent of "From Here To Eternity" you could not create a new work with those characters or the story or whatever.

Current copyright law (at least US copyright law) is stagnating the pool. We grow up surrounded by ideas and culture that inspire us, but which we can't use to create our own works.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611266)

And so much of it has changed right before our collective eyes. As example, there is no way anyone in their right mind would try to create an album like Paul's Boutique in today's sue-happy licensing-whore world - yet that album still stands as one of the greatest rap albums of all time.

What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610786)

Everything TFA mentions is in the public domain! It's all available via bittorrent!

Help! Slashdot is trapped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610796)

Immoral is what it is (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610808)

These copyright "extensions" are nothing more than another government bailout.

Any legislator that voted for these extensions should be voted out of office, no matter their party affiliation. There wasn't even the possibility that they'd put the good of the citizens above the good of corporations.

Re:Immoral is what it is (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610836)

We need to start an anti-corporate welfare lobby.

Re:Immoral is what it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610968)

who cares about their bullshit 'laws'. just download the fuckers from piratebay.

Re:Immoral is what it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611194)

How do you propose finance to do that? Start a company? A non profit company

Re:Immoral is what it is (5, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610854)

Any legislator that voted for these extensions should be voted out of office, no matter their party affiliation.

Or run into a pine tree at high rates of speed.

Re:Immoral is what it is (4, Funny)

aedan (196243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611020)

I thought it was an "I Got Yew" tree.

Re:Immoral is what it is (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610910)

Any legislator that voted for these retroactive extensions should be arrested.

Fixed that.

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, paragraph 3:

"No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed."

Congress broke the biggest law.

Re:Immoral is what it is (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611132)

    You should already be aware that most of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights has already been undermined, so I don't know how you'd be surprised that a few other words have been ignored. They have become a historic relic, not a guide to the modern legal system.

Re:Immoral is what it is (4, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611226)

No one cares about the U.S. Constitution any more... it fell out of copyright.

Re:Immoral is what it is (4, Informative)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611312)

AFAIK, that section is interpreted (sadly SCOTUS has more of a say in this than you do) to mean criminal law and has no bearing in civil law -- which is what we're talking about here.

Re:Immoral is what it is (3, Interesting)

Stolovaya (1019922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610918)

Any idea when the latest copyright law/extensions were voted in and who voted for what? I would like to see if anyone I can make a vote for/against was part of them.

Voice vote (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611004)

The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 passed in both houses by voice vote. Under the U.S. Constitution, it takes either one-fifth of either house or a presidential veto in order to force a roll-call vote. So I guess you have to vote against anyone who served in the 105th Congress.

Re:Immoral is what it is (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610942)

Well it's not like he voted himself in the office, I believe he had help, millions of voters, now you say that they were deceived misinformed, no they were just ignorant, and now all will pay for it, democracy at it's finest. Thousands of years of known history and this is how we live ...

Congress is Working Well (5, Insightful)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610986)

Here we go, the whining and complaining from people who are too cheap or too poor to buy a Congressman. Congress works fantastically well if you're willing to invest in it. The return on a few hundred thousand bucks can reach into the billions, as the entertainment, weaponry, and banking/gambling industries have shown -- go find any other investment with that sort of ROI. Stop yer socialist whining -- Congress does a fantastic job when it's made worth its while.

I hate you ;) (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611270)

Where's the +1, True mod?

Re:Congress is Working Well (1)

Compuser84 (1032400) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611302)

You sir, would get all my mod points if I had any right now. That is the best description of Congress I have ever read.

Worded this way.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610816)

...I find that you just want media that is the IP of others (legally so) offensive.

You've just turned me off to the whole IP copyright abandedment argument.

Re:Worded this way.... (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610976)

Yeah, I'm pissed off that the Dickens estate isn't getting royalties to works based off A Christmas Carol.

Heretic ;) (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611296)

It's too bad your mind is too closed to the real harm being done by too-long copyright. Derivative works: if the term was twenty years we could be enjoying remakes of Alien or 2001 or anything from back then. Not only would we as a culture be enriched by having more choice but the people who created those choices would have their own twenty years to prove they understand capitalism as it relates to society as well.

Why so black arm band? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610818)

The tone of the submitter was as if the works had some how died or at least been banned from distribution. Back in the 50s there was no internet or home computers. Without traditional distribution and funding most of these works either would have never existed in the first place or had never been released for the public. Be happy the works exist so rights can be debated over.

Out of print works (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611018)

The tone of the submitter was as if the works had some how died or at least been banned from distribution.

A copyright owner who takes a work out of print effectively bans it from distribution. You can prove me wrong by showing me evidence of an authentic U.S. DVD release of Disney's Song of the South. Works whose copyright owner cannot be located are also banned from distribution.

Without traditional distribution and funding most of these works either would have never existed in the first place or had never been released for the public.

The works were first published when the statutory maximum copyright term for a new work was 56 years, with a maintenance fee due in the 28th year. How would Congress's failure to extend the copyright term in 1976 and 1998 have caused these works not to have been published in the 1950s?

Bring back copyright renewal (5, Interesting)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610826)

The Copyright Act of 1976 did away with the "x years, with an additional x years on renewal" clause of copyright law; nowadays you just have one option, which is the length of the copyright term. Allowing authors and artists to renew their copyrights if they so choose keeps commercially viable works protected (which is arguably good), as it will be worth it to pay the fee to renew the copyright, but it also lets works that aren't commercially viable (and in many cases, not even commercially available) fall into the public domain much sooner. Since copyright encompasses all works, not simply those that the entertainment industry promotes and sells and makes huge profits from, it needs a sort of balance and the return of copyright renewal could be a step along that path.

I mean, there are lots of creative works out there that are still under copyright, but because there's no central registry of copyright holders (which is another advantage that copyright renewal could bring, as it would require registration), it's difficult, expensive, or just plain impossible to find out who the rights holders are. These are works that are decades old and haven't brought in any profit in years and years- and yet it's still illegal to use them because of copyright law.

Thanks a lot, Mickey.

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (5, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611012)

Thinking about this, suppose a good compromise is to allow unlimited extensions but to charge higher and higher prices as the length increases.

Perhaps 7 years automatic for free, with the next 7 years costing $1,000, and the next costing $10,000, and the next costing $100,000, then $1,000,000, and so forth. A 10x increase for each extension.

..with the proceeds of extensions going towards public education.

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611096)

It would thus cost $1000 to get the original unextended 14 years.

It would cost $111,000 to attain the 28 years "legacy length"

49 years would cost $111,111,000.. and some copyrights would be extended this long.

only a couple would ever be extended to 63 years ($11,111,111,000)

It is unlikely that any would be extended to 77 years (over a trillion dollars)

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611128)

Seems like a solution to me. "How much is Mickey Mouse worth to ya, you Disney assholes!"

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611142)

yeah public education... cause funds always go towards where they are intended. a year later they'll pass a bill where those funds go to preserve wild lands to improve people's education... Those park service funds will go towards roads because that's how people get to the parks... Road funds will go towards preserving oil interests, etc...

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611152)

..with the proceeds of extensions going towards public education.

For U.S. in particular, the Constitution could be followed to the letter here - spend the money thus acquired "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

Otherwise, I agree, except that I think that 7 years for free is actually too long, but the grades should be finer. E.g. 1 year free, 5 more years $100 each, then 10 more years $1000 each, etc.

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (1, Insightful)

tayjo (673861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611156)

All that does is shoot down the little guy. A big corporation would have no problem paying those fees.

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (2, Insightful)

Velodra (1443121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611274)

The point is that the big corporations could get their copyright as long as they want as long as they think the copyright is valuable enough. Right now we see Disney constantly getting copyright extended so they can keep Mickey Mouse from becoming public domain, but the only way to do that is to extend copyright on everything. With this new system they could decide the length of the copyright based on how important the work is to them. That means we can let them have 70 years of copyright on Mickey, but only 7 or 14 years copyright on most other things. Much better than today's system where we have to have ridiculously long copyrights on everything so Disney protect one important work.

Re:Bring back copyright renewal (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611224)

I like your idea, but Congress won't enact it because the government gets the money anyway.

The zeitgeist is that in the post-industrial age, protecting the interests of the large-scale copyright holders is in the best interest of the US economy. Microsoft, Disney, and countless smaller companies like them bring a metric buttload of cash into the economy; revenues that will become even more important as more and more manufacturing moves to China. Our government is funded by the taxes paid by US-based copyright holders.

If the US starts taxing copyrights themselves, that's simply less profit to tax at the end of the year.

I'm perhaps presenting an overly simplistic view of corporate tax, but it's clear that when it comes to how copyright holders are treated, the average Slashdotter and the US governments are at the ends of the spectrum. Your typical slashdotter would like to see companies who make excessive revenues on copyrighted works to be punished; perhaps even to be made extinct. Yet these same companies are our government's lifeblood.

Berne Convention (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611028)

the return of copyright renewal could be a step along that path.

One condition of joining the World Trade Organization is joining the Berne Convention, which appears to ban countries from requiring a renewal or any other formality from a copyright owner. Reintroducing copyright renewal might require the United States to withdraw from the WTO.

Re:Berne Convention (1)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611060)

One condition of joining the World Trade Organization is joining the Berne Convention, which appears to ban countries from requiring a renewal or any other formality from a copyright owner.

Well, that's something we shall have to remedy, isn't it?

Re:Berne Convention (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611086)

Well, that's something we shall have to remedy, isn't it?

There are more industries than the copyright industry that would oppose the United States' withdrawal from the WTO and other bilateral or regional trade treaties.

Re:Berne Convention (1)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611144)

No, no, my point was that the WTO might need to look into this "no formalities" policy and maybe, possibly, chuck it out the window. I mean, is there a reason for this policy? Formalities such as registration and renewal are arguably good for society for reasons I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread: a registry of copyright owners with contact information, plus a healthier public domain that results from copyright renewal (the logic is that rightsholders won't bother renewing works they aren't profiting off of).

Re:Berne Convention (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611278)

Does the Berne Convention say that the penalty for violating a non-registered copyright has to be the same as violating a registered one?

the next step (5, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610832)

This is an excellent idea, to continually point out what we're losing out in the reneged Copyright bargain. The next step, for those with far less imagination than our own, is to point out the kinds of successful artistic endeavors can stand on the shoulders of the culture that has entered public domain. Point out that if powerful Copyright had prevailed earlier, then without heirs' approval, we would not have such works as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The West Side Story (adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette), and many adaptations of The Raven including The Simpsons. What kind of legal pain happens when protected works stifle creative adaptation? Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind was retold from the slaves' point of view in The Wind Done Gone, long after Mitchell died; the heirs sued over its publication and finally took a payoff to allow an 'unauthorized parody' label on it (which is ironic, as 'parody' is one of the four valid branches of copyright infringement defense).

Re:the next step (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610882)

The problem for me is that there are a lot of books I would love to buy except they are out of print and second hand books are not available. So why can't I just go and download them? I assume the profit isn't there to go through the whole publishing thing, or the copyright holder can't be located.

If copyrights are not being used there should be a way to make the content available in digital form. I don't necessarily want it to be free.

Re:the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611054)

I think what should be pointed out to more people is this: if not for public domain, Disney wouldn't have been able to re-write and cartoonify Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or any number of other works it's profited off of over the years.

To put it another way, in a stellar display of hypocrisy, Disney uses profits made off of public domain to lobby against the existence of public domain.

Curse You Purchased Politicians (2, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610838)

I've been wanting to read J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. It would have been lovely to find it on Project Gutenberg.

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610940)

You can buy it for a good deal less than a politician, so I'm not sure you want to read it all that badly:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0316769509/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used [amazon.com]

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611042)

You can buy it for a good deal less than a politician

The Amazon link you give is to buy a copy, not to buy the right to write and publish a sequel.

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611066)

It sure does, but I was replying to the comment above mine, not to whatever you are imagining.

Creating a public pool of culture (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611100)

I was replying to the comment above mine, not to whatever you are imagining.

I was "imagining" comment #30610964 by joebok [slashdot.org] .

Re:Creating a public pool of culture (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611116)

And I was replying to a comment that was roughly "I want to consume it for free!".

I get that you are pointing out that the discussion is about more than access to the content, but you don't seem to get that I was doing the same thing.

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611074)

He wasn't talking to you, either. He was replying to the guy who said he merely wanted to read the book, not make a new work based on it. You can hardly blame him for not answering a question you didn't ask him, troll.

Compare CC BY-ND to CC BY-SA or CC BY (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611112)

He was replying to the guy who said he merely wanted to read the book

And I was saying that passive enjoyment of a work is not the most important part of public domain status. It's like the difference between Creative Commons licenses with the NoDerivs clause compared to licenses with the ShareAlike clause or neither clause, or like the difference between freeware and free software.

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611032)

Let me tell you of a magical place where one can borrow and read a book. It is called a Library.

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611056)

You could just make a statement about these copyright extensions and pirate an etext off the Net.
How likely do you think it is someone would actually come looking for you?

Re:Curse You Purchased Politicians (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611160)

Do be careful. Zombie Holden Caulfield stalks the net protecting innocent corporations from violation.

One hour to go (UTC) (4, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610856)

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

...at the beginning of the decade I believed this, but turns out it doesn't if the damage is sufficient.

To sum up this decade: We marvelled upon the freedoms that networked computers promised; not merely electronic versions of existing media, but a whole new frontier, only to watch it be crushed for the most trivial of reasons.

1. Protectionism in the popular music and film industry. All that is trivial, frivolous yet mildly entertaining in our culture.
2. The completely non-existent, child predator moral-panic, boogeyman.
3. Security theatre and the statistically vanishing threat of global terrorism.

Out of a comprehensive list of possible reasons, those have to right at the bottom of the list, scraping the barrel of pathetic excuses.

Re:One hour to go (UTC) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611260)

Aren't you giving up too soon? I still expect the media industries to falter, fall and fade. They're fighting the inevitable with ever more absurd legal stunts, which in my opinion is a sign of panic, not progress. Happy New Year from Europe!

What's entering Rob Malda's ass tonight? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610868)

1 chrome buttplug, 1 matchbox car (wrapped in condom), 2 gerbils, 3 fingers, 1/2 bottle astroglide, 3 black cocks, 1 russian cock, 1 mexican cock, 2 white cocks, 1 vibrator, 2 fat turds, and cowboy neal's arm.

What should have happened (2, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610886)

Copyright extension- ok BUT

1) Copyright extension renewal required. If you or your heirs dont care enough about your copyright to file paperwork and send in a check to cover the costs
of copyright preservation then you dont get one.

2) All copyrights from this point on come with a set date of copyright expiration at filing that cannot be lengthened beyond that date.

Do they care? (4, Interesting)

Grey Loki (1427603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610900)

I wonder if the people who actually created the work care that after five decades they may not be able to make a miniscule amount of income from it - personally, I would be fairly embarrassed if I made one 'great work' and then ended up desperately lobbying governments to protect my one meagre source of income, instead of continuing my artistic development and releasing new material that consumers value enough to buy (while getting a kick out of the fact that someone's rewritten a story that I wrote decades ago, and is now making their own name).

Re:Do they care? (4, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611238)

The vast majority of people who created the works don't care but the vast majority of corporations do.

Greedy note aside (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610902)

One thing that people do not seem to understand is that if works were entering public domain this does not mean that there would be huge numbers of things suddenly available for free. What it likely means is that some mega-distributor (think WalMart or Sony) would snap up materials that no longer had an "owner" and they would publish and distribute them.

Now some people might laugh at a book on the shelf at WalMart that was simply a reprint of something that had entered public domain. Alternatively, there are many that would buy it. Printing books is cheap, promoting them is not. If WalMart had zero cost other than simply putting the book on the shelf, would they print lots of books?

Would Sony make them available "exclusively" for the Sony Reader? Wouldn't it be fun to see Amazon and Sony both declaring that they exclusively were making Gone With the Wind available to for their devices? And then Barnes and Nobel coming along with "their" version for their device.

Free stuff isn't interesting to people with large distribution channels. Stuff you can charge for, even just 1% over the cost of production, is much more interesting. Stuff you can charge 200% over the cost of production is even more interesting. As long as most of the world doesn't have access to high-speed Internet connections or have the knowledge to make use of them distribution is going to be where the big bucks are.

Re:Greedy note aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610970)

One thing that people do not seem to understand is that if works were entering public domain this does not mean that there would be huge numbers of things suddenly available for free.

I'm a free-market capitalist as much as the next guy, but seriously: It's called Project Gutenberg. Maybe you've heard of it. And no, you don't need a very high-speed internet connection to read a book.

Re:Greedy note aside (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610992)

But the fact is that, once a work is in the public domain, you are free to distribute it any way you please. So yes, so big chain could print off a ton of copies and profit from them (and in a way that happens, Shakespeare's been in the public domain for over four hundred years, and yet publishers still put out copies of everything from single plays to whole the damned Folio). But even if one can publish and sell for profit these books, at that same time I can go to Project Gutenberg and download my own copy, and it's perfectly legitimate.

However, I'm thinking of writing a speculative fiction story where big publishing houses and media firms convince Congress to allow them to buy up public domain works, and then go after anyone who has an illegitimate copy of Henry V. What scares me is maybe it'll come true.

Re:Greedy note aside (3, Interesting)

aynoknman (1071612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611034)

Free stuff isn't interesting to people with large distribution channels. Stuff you can charge for, even just 1% over the cost of production, is much more interesting. Stuff you can charge 200% over the cost of production is even more interesting. As long as most of the world doesn't have access to high-speed Internet connections or have the knowledge to make use of them distribution is going to be where the big bucks are.

The most important lesson here is that small distribution channels are becoming more important. As is voluntary production. Without the unjust copyright monopoly that steals from the public, these items would be available.

High-speed internet is not universally available, but is still following a law similar to Moore's law. A personal anecdote:
I lived in a rural African village in 1991 when my father died in Canada. I had to travel four hours to reach a telephone. Today that village has cell phone coverage and not-very-high-speed internet. Cell phones are revolutionizing the third world and will soon be their libraries.

14+14 years (5, Insightful)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610912)

The original copyright term was 14 years, with another 14 years if you bothered to renew. That's the maximum copyright any work should get. Anything longer than that is grossly unfair.

Re:14+14 years (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30610932)

Obviously you've never created anything that was worth paying for.

Re:14+14 years (2, Informative)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610946)

If a work is still making money after 28 years, it's been an enormous success already.

Newly invented media (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611072)

If a work is still making money after 28 years, it's been an enormous success already.

One of the arguments of Dr. Seuss Enterprises in favor of copyright term extension was that a work's author deserves the exclusive right over adaptations in media invented after the publication of the original work, like the CG-film version of Horton Hears a Who.

Re:Newly invented media (3, Informative)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611102)

One of the arguments of Dr. Seuss Enterprises in favor of copyright term extension was that a work's author deserves the exclusive right over adaptations in media invented after the publication of the original work, like the CG-film version of Horton Hears a Who.

Then why can't we grant a different copyright to the new adaptation? If I write a book and then make a movie based on the book in sixty years, it shouldn't affect the book's copyright.

Re:Newly invented media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611104)

Did they make it clear WHY they thought that the author deserved that right, other than they wish it was that way?

Re:Newly invented media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611180)

One of the arguments of Dr. Seuss Enterprises in favor of copyright term extension was that a work's author deserves the exclusive right over adaptations in media invented after the publication of the original work, like the CG-film version of Horton Hears a Who.

Why is this such a special case? Authors whose works went public domain before all the shenanigans started shouldn't have any monopoly on film rights, just because movies hadn't been invented yet.

There ought to be a reasonable limit here, as implied by the Constitution.

Audrey Geisel is a golddigger.

Re:14+14 years (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611006)

Though I agree with you on principle the reality is there isn't a chance in hell that would come to pass anytime soon. However a compromise might be reached by giving the mafia the "forever minus a day" that they want contingent on yearly renewal fees and the removal of derivative rights.

Re:14+14 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611130)

If you want more works in the public domain, then how about you go do some work yourself and put in the public domain by your own choice instead of whining about how you can't steal someone else's work after 28 years.

Re:14+14 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611314)

So if you write a book that's 30 years ahead of its time, you don't deserve to profit off it when popular culture finally discovers it? That doesn't sound fair.

Re:14+14 years (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611326)

Dude. in 1789 people lived to be 35 on average. So yeah writing a book when you were 30, meant that your kids and grandkids could be rich too. Life expectancy has grown and so should the 14+14 artifact.

A book my great-great-grandmother wrote (4, Interesting)

chrisgeleven (514645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611052)

My great-great grandmother wrote a book in the late 1960s just before she died. It is long ago out of print, but we luckily have a copy thanks to someone who had a used copy for sale on Amazon.com and our luck of happening to look for it right when it was for sale.

I would love to make a PDF copy and put it up on my genealogy site as a free download, however from my reading of copyright laws it appears it is still under copyright. No one knows who is the owner of the copyright is at this point, we have no idea if the publisher is still around, and I doubt it sold more than a few hundred copies back when it was released in the first place. No way it would make any money at this point even if it came back into print. In short, the best place for this book is the public domain.

A perfect example of what a smartly written copyright law could do. This book should have long ago been in the public domain and even if it was copyrighted thanks to a renewal, there should be clear information on who the owner is.

Re:A book my great-great-grandmother wrote (3, Informative)

SEE (7681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611208)

Who's printed as the copyright holder in the book itself?

So treat it as if it was (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611064)

Civil disobedience, in a sense. Everyone treat things as if they were in the PD, even companies.

When enough people go along with the idea, it'll happen for real.

Boyle's logic failure (2, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611108)

James Boyle, "Bradbury's firemen at least set fire to their own culture out of deep ideological commitment, vile though it may have been. We have set fire to our cultural record for no reason;

We have not "set fire to our cultural record". The firemen in Bradbury's story systematically destroyed works to remove them from the culture. There is no such destruction and/or removal of works from our culture. There is a limiting of the works for the benefit of the copyright holders, but the works still exist and are accessible. The works are even available at lending libraries.

His statement is not a fallacy. It is an outright lie.

Re:Boyle's logic failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611168)

[i]There is a limiting of the works for the benefit of the copyright holders, but the works still exist and are accessible.[/i]

Prove it. I'm interested in computer history; show me where I can purchase a [i]legitimate[/i] copy of Microsoft Windows 1.0.

Re:Boyle's logic failure (4, Insightful)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611228)

There is a limiting of the works for the benefit of the copyright holders, but the works still exist and are accessible. The works are even available at lending libraries.

Do you really think that every creative work produced since the 1920s or so is easily available today? And even if there is a copy in some library, that copy is still bound to physical limitations- just because the one copy exists doesn't mean anyone can access it. Not so online, and if these works were in the public domain, they could be legally and freely available online. But since some insanely low number (something like 6%) of works created in the 1920s era are commercially viable and therefore commercially available, a vast majority of that 94% of "non-viable" works are pretty much nonexistent.

Big Content opposes proposed laws that enrich the public domain, even if said laws have little to no effect on their own IP. What else could they be besides usurpers of the public domain and, by extension, our culture?

Re:Boyle's logic failure (3, Insightful)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611232)

For old obscure out-of-print books, it's often effectively impossible to access them because no bookstore or library has them. For all practical purposes, they have been destroyed from the cultural record.

Re:Boyle's logic failure (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611252)

Speak for yourself. Works still exist. Three years ago at the university, I tried to get my hands on a couple of papers in my field. They exist. Barely. At less than a dozen libraries in the United States. Sorry--I didn't want to check on what I had to do to get a European intralibrary loan. The publisher long ago went out of business. Nobody knows where they are or can be found--and just because it shows in a catalog doesn't mean the first two places I contacted could locate it. Or would have sent it to me even if they could. I'm not talking about some rare original copy of some book by Chaucer here--but papers published in actual academic journals. My professor had some 40 year old yellowed mimeograph (I think) he refused to let students see for fear it would crumble to dust. They weren't in books, they weren't aggregated in later volumes--the author was long dead, the publisher out of business or purchased--google could find me some citations but no sources. Yes--I could have read it--if I'd traveled to Boston. Maybe. Even then, I'd half wonder if it was actually in the stacks of the library or not.

It's not an outright lie--copyright destroys our culture by making it impossible to lawfully propagate and reproduce materials that are unnaturally scarce to the point of unavailability. What happens as those 50 year old out of print journal articles fade to the point of being illegible? When you take something, make it unnaturally scarce, and make it illegal to replenish it--eventually it decays to the point of nothing.

Just because fireman don't burn them doesn't mean copyright doesn't have the same effect when spread out over something first printed in the early 30's. 80 years later--I really can't get a copy without traveling. And soon those will turn to dust, or only be available with white gloves in some obscure room. If the university libraries don't pitch them.

Sorry--copyright is a fire--and it needs to be put out. Any work that has more than 90% of its original publications lost/destroyed should be immediately opened to the public domain.

GPL (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30611134)

The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the appropriate response to draconian copyright law. If they want to make copyright with indefinite length and draconian punishments for violators, then GPL becomes the new public domain.

In some senses, this new GPL Domain is better than the public domain, precisely because it is "viral". Anything based on the public domain need not acknowledge its heritage, but anything based on the GPL Domain requires it.

At first, the content pool is small, but as it grows and becomes the richest and easiest material to re-use, it reaches critical mass. And pity the poor corporations who touch a GPL work and try to call it their own, as they are now hoisted on their own petard.

Re:GPL (2, Interesting)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611318)

I agree with this, though I would go so far as to say that copyleft in general, not simply the GPL, is the perfect answer to ever-increasing copyright. Copyleft is just awesome- it lets people use creative works in ways that conventional copyright does not, and has the double whammy of protecting these works from the big corps using the power of conventional copyright.
Oh, and did I mention that freely available, permissively licensed content is direct competition to the entertainment industry's products? Suck it, RIAA. I don't need you for my music.

Obligatory (4, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611178)

Late to the thread, anyway here is the obligatory read concerning copyrights (short read, 1.5 pages): Melancholy Elephants [spiderrobinson.com] by Spider Robinson. Basically, to protect all the artists some must be disadvantaged. The some fight tooth and nail to prevent this. Being disadvantaged is having your work enter the public domain. The "all" who are protected are the artists of today, tomorrow, and forever who get to use ideas to resurrect, reinvent, or just plain re-do. Give all artists these protections and all of us in the wider society benefit, thrive, and grow.

By the way, maximalists.... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611218)

As an addition you are only disadvantaged if you are not flexible enough to take advantage of the markets in a reasonable time. If you don't do this then it is not our problem, go stick your head in the sand somewhere else.

A free iPhone game (2, Insightful)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30611268)

I've been thinking about a moral thought game. What if someone made a free iPhone game that was rather good, and set it out for free? Technically, you'll be taking the jobs of a lot of people--often independent developers--who won't get a sale. As far as I know, nobody has done this--ever, in the entire world.

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