×

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!

Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the congress-shall-make-no-law dept.

Government 431

An anonymous reader writes "In yet another bad ruling concerning copyright, a federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling, and said that it's okay for Congress retroactively to remove works from the public domain, even if publishers are already making use of those public-domain works. The lower court had said this was a First Amendment violation, but the appeals court said that if Congress felt taking away from the public domain was in its best interests, then there was no First Amendment violation at all. The ruling effectively says that Congress can violate the First Amendment, so long as it feels it has heard from enough people (in this case, RIAA and MPAA execs) to convince it that it needs to do what it has done." TechDirt notes that the case will almost certainly be appealed.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

431 comments

FIRST BACON (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655418)

I like to wring out my bacon before it is cooked and make solid bacon fat lubricants out of it for my oral pleasure and then cook the bacon in other oils and then consume

The RIAA are not people (5, Insightful)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655434)

The RIAA are not 'people'

Re:The RIAA are not people (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655482)

Too bad. I was hoping to pick up some Soylent Recording Execs at the store later today.

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655516)

You are right, they are first class corporate citizens.

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656048)

That got the luxury of not needing to worry to much about a deadline when they are working on the Adavanced ACTA , or Acta 3.0 edition, or the 3.5 edition.

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

tys90 (1123511) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655518)

Don't worry, the RIAA has plans to have Congress retroactively let them take your soul for themselves to prove they've always been real people.

Re:The RIAA are not people (2, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655522)

correct.
They are more closely related to kimono dragons and pit vipers. I hereby move that we strip serpent people of their rights as citizens of the US.

In an aside, if there is a work in the PD and I am using it right now, then congress removes it from the public domain, how does that shake out?
Is it like when a GPL project goes closed source, where I can continue with the fork I've made, or is it as I expect (all fscked up) and I immediately am infringing and can be sued?
-nB

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655778)

how does that shake out?

I suspect it will go in whatever manner the RIAA instructs their puppet congresscritters to make it go.

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655840)

Is this Disney's successor trick to the stunt they pulled for the Mouse Act? "Pretty good trick" he says cynically, before they take away the Tom Swift rights.

I want to toss an Unidentified Legal Object to the IAAL crowd. Can full Public Domain be considered a "contract with the people" such that removing something from it then becomes a breach of contract? All the following stuff sounds like it makes sense - "reasonably relied upon", etc.

Re:The RIAA are not people (4, Informative)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655876)

I guess that would depend on what you mean by "using it". The ruling itself appears to be mostly concerned with people who have produced derivative works (e.g. performances, recordings, etc.) of items that are in the public domain in the US but were originally produced and are still under copyright in their country of origin. As far as what will happen, I'll let this excerpt from ruling speak for itself:

"a reliance party may continue to exploit that derivative work for the duration of the restored copyright if the reliance party pays to the owner of the restored copyright reasonable compensation . . . ." If the parties are unable to agree on reasonable compensation, a federal court will determine the amount of compensation

RIAAland? (1)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656102)

Then *AA just need to found a new country and make it so every work is registered there and say copyright never expires on that country?

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656038)

Is it like when a GPL project goes closed source, where I can continue with the fork I've made, ...

Ya, I'm sure the government can figure *that* out.
The only "fork" you're going to get will be in your ass. :-)

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655536)

And the brand new swimming pools in the judges' backyards have absolutely nothing at all to do with how they ruled... nothing to see here, move along.

Re:The RIAA are not people (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655896)

And the Supreme Whores keep on singing the same old song...

Re:The RIAA are not people (2, Informative)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655924)

Yes they are, in the way Greenpeace, the American Red Cross, or the FSF are "people". Corporations are simply groups of people acting together. Why should one group of people be allowed to pool their resources and influence, but not others?

Re:The RIAA are not people (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655988)

Some are out for an ideal the others for profit. Changing laws to increase someone's profits is nuts.

Re:The RIAA are not people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32656064)

Corporations are simply groups of people acting together. Why should one group of people be allowed to pool their resources and influence, but not others?

Why should one group of people get special treatment under the law, immunity from jail time, and effective immortality, but not others?

Re:The RIAA are not people (1)

rnturn (11092) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656152)

are people. And, since this ruling was from a Federal appeals court, the next appeal would be to the Supreme Court. Anyone want to place a bet on which side of this argument Roberts, Scalia, and Alito will take?

ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (4, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655456)

Copyright is, at it's core, the government-enforced ability for a private entity to say "you're not allowed to say that, because I said it first". This is by definition an impingement on free speech.

Free speech != original speech.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (2, Informative)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655568)

No, copyright at its core is a system to ensure those who spent months writing books didnt get fucked just cause the guy next door has a printing press and could, hypothetically make and sell as many copies as possible. Thats not to say the system hasnt been corrupted in such a way that allows it to be abused in the way you described.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (5, Insightful)

skywire (469351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655686)

The fugitive slave laws are a system to ensure that those who have spent good money buying and training Africans don't get screwed just cause some abolitionist runs an underground railroad and could, hypothetically, free as many slaves as possible.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655804)

Are you saying that writing a book is like keeping people as slaves?

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (4, Insightful)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655986)

I guess he means "not allowing people to read/share/copy a book is like keeping people as slaves".

This sounds like "the content wants to be free".

After all, it makes sense to have some ability to control our own work. The problem is that instead of just assuring people don't get robbed, the congress usually gives *AA sort of a license to kill.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32656118)

Indeed he did. Clearly he's never put any effort into creating anything worthwhile. or owned a nigger.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1, Insightful)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655912)

Did you just honestly compare the ownership of a person to the ownership of a work that conceivably took weeks, months or years to complete that resulted from the work of an individual, or a group of individuals? That is such a ridiculous, absurd comparison that I don't even know where to begin.

When people compare things like this to slavery and Nazism, they either look like idiots, or if taken seriously degrade what happened during those events.

I am unaware of any books that were offered up by their fellow books as a slave, transported to another country, and forced to perform menial services against their will.

Are there issues with copyright laws that need fixing? Absolutely. Do the things that are wrong with copyright law rise to the level of enslaving a race of people?

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32656182)

Whoosh!!!

The focus here is on the rich and well-connected getting their way -- how in a democracy (where we the people are to have ultimate authority) are disenfranchised by the wealthy elite; how the courts, congress, and the presidency continually change the law to suit the interests of the wealthy rather than the interests of the majority. There are exceptions. Emancipation of slaves is one such exception. The wealthy had it wrong then with regard to slavery, and they have it wrong now with regard to copyright. It is the same thing. These fucking bastards think that they should own EVERYTHING for ALL TIME --- books, music, land ... and people. They use the same language to justify it every time. The GP is spot on.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656122)

> No, copyright at its core is a system to ensure those who spent months writing books didnt get fucked ...because the first genuine literary expert to examine the work declares it rediculously derivative.

Copyright doesn't exist to "protect authors". It never did. This is just the "Big Lie" perpetrated by corporate sock puppets.

Oddly enough, this ruling will just make it easier for the estates of long dead authors to shake down newer writers that "spend months writing a book".

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655576)

Copyright applies to a great deal more than speech.

But yes, that ruling stinks. It basically says someone with lobbying dollars can buy exceptions to the first amendment. And at the same time it reinforces the eagerness of the courts (federal in this case) to sell out to big business/groups whom they are trying to fool us into believing are somehow representing "the people". If you want to be making that sort of comparison, "big business" is pretty much the polar opposite of "the people".

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655752)

It basically says someone with lobbying dollars can buy exceptions to the first amendment

So sort out the issue of campaign funding so that your elected officials stop acting like cheap crack whores.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656088)

But yes, that ruling stinks. It basically says someone with lobbying dollars can buy exceptions to the first amendment.

(Cough)Disney(Cough)

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656132)

Music, illustration and code are also a form of speech.

Free speech doctrine apply to lot more then making sounds with the mouth.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655606)

Copyright was in the original constitution, free speech was not:
"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."

However, unlike what this ruling seems to say, the Constitution gives congress no authority to reassign ownership of works and I'm pretty sure "limited time" is now is nowhere near what the founders had in mind.

As far as I'm concerned, what should be focused on here is the ban on passing Ex Post Facto laws in the Constitition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_post_facto_law#United_States [wikipedia.org]

This seems like such a breach.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

shogarth (668598) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655722)

I tend to agree. Challenging this as a 1st Amendment issue is probably the weakest legal argument. It seems that the ex post facto violation would be stronger. Even more powerful would be to challenge this under the 5th amendment (unlawful taking) since property (in the form of legal, derivative works based on the public domain materials) is being rendered valueless.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

jason.sweet (1272826) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655624)

Thanks a lot!
You've taken the whole free speech vs. free beer argument and turned it on its head.
Now what am I supposed to do?!?!?
Screw it! I'm unpacking my C64.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (5, Insightful)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655664)

Wrong because "free" speech has nothing to do with copyright or vice versa.

Free speech means you can say unpopular things, things that disagree with the "establishment", things that are inflammatory, things that are downright disgusting (in some segment of the populations opinion)..

Free speech does not mean you can copy things either privately or for profit.. it never has and it never will. Fair Use/Copyright/Public Domain are all interrelated with only each other.

There are times when Free speech and Copyright may cross paths.. (such as I dunno.. someone putting out a scathing unauthorized biography of a political figure.. and selling that book/movie.. and then suing someone else for trying to copy his or her work and sell it)

I really wish that people who are so into constitutional/bill of rights issues would at least do the rest of the world a favor and get a passing knowledge of the subject first.

This misunderstanding of Free Speech comes up nearly as often as the complete and utter confusion over "the right to keep and bear arms" clause.. not to mention the strict constitutional interpretations that conveniently (much like religious zealots) ignore the parts that they do not like or agree with.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655926)

>>>I really wish that people who are so into constitutional/bill of rights issues would at least do the rest of the world a favor and get a passing knowledge of the subject first.

Says the person who doesn't understand this is really a TENTH amendment issue from the Bill of Rights. Does Congress have the power to take public domain works like Tom Sawyer and move it back into copyright?

No.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656160)

What about the 4th?

A ruling like this is basically taking the work of some author "that spend months of labor" writing something and gives it to someone else.

All of the shills shedding crocodile tears really should be harping on this point more.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656220)

There are times when Free speech and Copyright may cross paths.. (such as I dunno.. someone putting out a scathing unauthorized biography of a political figure.. and selling that book/movie.. and then suing someone else for trying to copy his or her work and sell it)

Uh, like for example most of fair use?

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. 106 and 17 U.S.C. 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

This section largely exists because of the first amendment, without it you'd be almost unable to talk about a work because you'd be infringing copyright. It's funny how you talk about others getting passing knowledge but yourself seem clueless.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655812)

>>>Copyright... "you're not allowed to say that, because I said it first"

True. However per usual the Courts are blind and do not see the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Congress was never granted the power to take public domain art or writings and convert them into copyrighted art/writing. They may not take the Venus de Milo and copyright it to MGM. Congress may not use power it was never given.

Such powers are reserved to the Member State governments, or the People.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (4, Informative)

ghrucla (1392521) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655894)

There are two legal issues here:
1) This is a straightforward application of the Supreme Court precedent in Eldred v Ashcroft. Lower courts are bound by SCOTUS precedent and so this is an easy call in terms of case law even if you think (as I do) that it's bad policy and Eldred was wrongly decided.
2) It's not a First Amendment issue but an Article I, Section 8 issue and in particular if you read the clause "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" as meaning that Congress can only grant IP rights when such rights are likely to incentivize creativity (which would exclude retroactive grants).

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655994)

OT but it warms my heart to see the word "impingement" used. It's one of my favorite words :) I first heard it going to a chiropractor.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656034)

Copyright is, at it's core, the government-enforced ability for a private entity to say "you're not allowed to say that, because I said it first". This is by definition an impingement on free speech.

Which is why unfortunately I don't think this is any more or less of a violation of the first amendment than copyright itself is. If you say copyright for 50 years is constitutional and 70 years is constitutional, then I don't see how copyright for years 1-50 and 60-70 can be unconstitutional. Some people would say the deal is whatever copyright was when the work was made, but if you look at other laws Congress might very well decide to allow something for ten years then forbid it again. When it comes to products, sometimes there's a grandfather clause and sometimes there's not. It's not truly a retroactive law either, since it only applies forward in time. Don't get me wrong, I think this is asshattery of the highest order but I don't formally see that it can't be done.

Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656036)

As much as we may dislike the ruling, there is no inherent conflict between copyright and free speech. Both are clearly represented in the Constitution:

Article 1, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power...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;

Amendment 1:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.

Obviously, if the Constitution treated copyright as a blanket violation of free speech, the part of Article 1, Section 8 that established copyright could not exist. The question is then: can Congress extend those protections retroactively? The implication of Article 1, Section 8 is that Congress can define whatever term it considers to be "a limited time", a Constitutional plot hole that has recently been abused by Congress, but which the Supreme Court has decided is entirely within the purview of Congress.

Oh, if CONGRESS thinks it's ok? Sure then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655470)

Democracy? Too much hassle. Oligarchy is much easier.

Re:Oh, if CONGRESS thinks it's ok? Sure then. (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655590)

The only reason the Oligarchy exists is because your average american citizen cannot name their congresspeople.

Rights don't exist (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655472)

When government "reserves the right" to oppress your rights, then by common sense, your rights never existed in the first place.

This is stupid (1)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655496)

Trust Congress to do what's right? People change and the makeup of congress changes. This would mean the decision to take something from public domain is up to an ever-changing group of people. This would not lead to a consistent way to decide what gets to become public domain and what doesn't--aside from the fact that the decision would be consistently be made in favor of the side with the most to offer (ie: money).

Re:This is stupid (4, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655668)

There's no rule of law any more. Look at the issue in the Gulf: Congress limited liability in 1990, but now the Federal government sees a political opportunity and so puts pressure on BP to pay up above the legal limit. It's rule by force today, with the rules on sale to the high bidder at the moment (given that political capital is worth more to Congress than money at the moment).

Re:This is stupid (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656060)

Those liability limits only apply if negligence was not found to be a factor. BP is paying to avoid anything criminal from happening. If they had not been caught with their hands in the cookie jar they would be trying to make use of those legal limits.

Re:This is stupid (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656218)

Look at the issue in the Gulf: Congress limited liability in 1990, but now the Federal government sees a political opportunity and so puts pressure on BP to pay up above the legal limit.

Well, that's because oil interests lobbied Congress to basically take away any penalties so they could be free to pursue profit without any responsibility.

Now, people are realizing that if you let industry write the rules of how it has to conduct business, they will do stupid and greedy things without consequences.

The problem is that the corporations keep asking for laws that are in their own interests, and in the process screw everyone else over. Having the Public Domain erode even further is just more of the same.

Public Domain erosion (5, Insightful)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655520)

If the Public Domain erodes, so too does our cultural identity. Sounds hyperbolic, but it is true. How far back do you want to go? Shall we just end the PD as a possibility, and all things are owned for all time? Who does that benefit, outside those whose items would be escheated to?

The business of government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655718)

Who does that benefit, outside those whose items would be escheated to?

The business of government. An insanely complex, ambiguous, and exploitable system of law rakes more cash through the business of government than one which is simple and based on common sense. We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars per year more. Think about it: the courts are infinitely tied up with business. That costs money, and a lot of it. It doesn't matter where the money needed to run this enormous scam comes from. What matters is that it passes through the hands of the elite at the top of the pyramid, where they can exploit it for personal gain.

Re:Public Domain erosion (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655742)

Removing PD entirely would be great. Force the RIAA and MPAA to now give royalties to foundations of works they've been leeching off of for decades.

Oh, and let's make it retroactive.

Shakespeare and Mozart are gonna be richer than Carlos Slim...

Re:Public Domain erosion (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655914)

If the Public Domain erodes, so too does our cultural identity. Sounds hyperbolic, but it is true. How far back do you want to go? Shall we just end the PD as a possibility, and all things are owned for all time? Who does that benefit, outside those whose items would be escheated to?

Lawyers.

Who does that benefit? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656116)

It benefits the people that you pay off to change the rules. ( ie,congress/judges/attorneys )

does this mean.... (1)

Gnaythan1 (214245) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655582)

Disney just lost the rights to winnie the pooh?

Re:does this mean.... (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656058)

...Or The Jungle Book, or The Little Mermaid, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Beauty and the Beast, or...

Finally the right call (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655588)

This is absolutely the correct conclusion to the Golan case. As someone who wrote a 20 page term paper on this case for an International Intellectual Property class in law school, I understand the OP's concern, but this decision will have far narrower application than imagined. It is absolutely ESSENTIAL if we are going to meet our obligations under TRIPs in order to avoid WTO sanctions, and it will apply only to a small subset of authors who utilized a small subset of works that fell into the public domain because the US /wasn't/ following its treaty obligations for a number of years.

Important decision this is, but the sky ain't falling yet.

Re:Finally the right call (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655916)

I'd mod you down as troll, but I think you have a sincere belief that the reasons behind this ruling are correct. I and many others see this as an erosion of fundamental, constitutional rights and a limitation of what makes our culture so vibrant. Since you've written a 20page report, can you elaborate as to how this case has a narrow application that cannot be abused by someone with lobbying power?

Re:Finally the right call (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32656022)

The part of Section 514 at issue here applies only to (1) works that were based on public domain works which (2) fell into the the public domain because the US was not complying with its Berne Convention obligations. Section 514 restores copyright to the works /that should have been copyrighted to begin with/. It does this because international obligations require it (not because Congress wanted to). It applies only retrospectively, and CANNOT be used to protect new works in any new way.

This means that (1) the US is only meeting treaty obligations, providing the same level of protection as that afforded in other WTO nations, and (2) the application is limited to a finite number of works and affected authors.

Re:Finally the right call (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656110)

Then maybe we should not be entering into such treaties?
Why in the world did the copyright on M go back into place? Oh yeah a treaty that decided a 1931 work somehow still needs protection. Everyone involved in the film is dead, no amount of money will incentivize zombie Fritz Lang to make further works.

Heh (2, Insightful)

Dremth (1440207) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655600)

I was under the impression that it was the government's job to protect our rights. I guess the joke is on me.

Re:Heh (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655762)

The "job" of any long term organization is to grow so that it will be around tomorrow. (There were a few Utopian societies that didn't get this, they're no longer around.)

Apply this to Government, Church, and Universities. There's a Darwinian evolution going on here, organizations that adapt and grow survive and out compete the ones that don't.

Re:Heh (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655884)

I was under the impression that it was the government's job to protect our rights.

If that were the case, no one would have ever thought we needed a Constitution. Or a Bill or Rights.

Government provides services: defense, build roads, educate, explore space, etc.

We in this case means Americans, i.e. U.S. Citizens.

Re:Heh (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656004)

Huh? The whole purpose of the Constitution is to protect rights. The whole idea of the Bill of Rights was to restrict the powers of government. Today, the government gives rights, and what the government giveth, government can taketh away. But don't confuse current situation from the original intent. If you go back and read the Bill of Rights, they are very carefully worded. "Congress shall make no law" or something like that. Not "you have the right to do this and that." Huge difference, but unfortunately irrelevant today with our plutocracy.

What does the 1st have to do with it? (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655620)

While I think removing works from the Public Domain was a bad idea, I'm a little fuzzy as to what on earth that has to do with the 1st amendment. I can understand why removing say, the law or official publications from the public domain would be bad and stifle free speech, but I'm not sure how removing private works from public domain would rise to the level of a constitutional violation.

I'm not trying to be combative here... I genuinely want to know!

Re:What does the 1st have to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655870)

The way it was explained to me was this.

If I say something 'first' I can own it. No matter what it was. What if the very constitution itself was under copyright? Or lets say some news station is covering a story that is in its best interest. Then another wants to give an opposing view point the first could claim copyright to squelch out any dissension of its first opinion.

That is why copyright *can* (not is) be a first amendment issue.

Copyright can be used to 'lock up' ideas so opposing views can not be voiced. As by the very nature of the opposing view it is a derivative work.

Translate Double Speak Please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32655630)

I don't get it. can someone decode the double negatives?

There's a reason to have an ever expanding public (3, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655638)

For anyone here who promotes the expansion of copyright law I ask a question:
What if Shakespeare was still in copyright? Or Beethoven, or Bach or Chaucer or Gilbert and Sullivan.
Would society be better if such intellectual legacies were allowed? Without a constant updated public domain isn't society suffering?

Why not? (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655956)

What if Shakespeare was still in copyright? Or Beethoven, or Bach or Chaucer or Gilbert and Sullivan.

While I think we are on the same side of the copyright issue, I think your argument isn't really a strong one. I mean, what would happen if Shakespeare's work was still under copyright? Books of his collected works would cost about the same (supply/demand would be about the same). I don't see a lot of obviously derivative work that isn't parody, which is allowed under copyright law. Academic analysis is also fair game, so we wouldn't lose out on the countless books about his writings. What would we lose here?

A better example might be some author's work that is important, but not the world's most renown writer. There isn't much risk of the Bard's work from going out of print, but this is a very real issue with lesser know authors.

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656134)

Books of his collected works would cost about the same (supply/demand would be about the same).

Having a monopoly on publications of Shakespeare's works would probably affect the supply.

Re:Why not? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656210)

If Shakespeare was still under copyright then every little pissant group that wanted to put on a play would have to pay a heft license to some organization like ASCAP.

HELL, ASCAP is already doing all it can to destroy small local venues. If you allowed the same with the theatre, you would end up with similar results.

What little high culture exists in America would be quickly priced out of existence.

I don't like it, but it's probably correct (4, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655660)

I don't like the ruling, but it's probably correct. Congress has the Constitutional authority to institute copyright laws and there is no particular legal reason to presume that once something is in the public domain, it can never be returned to being copyrighted. Not liking it is not a legal reason.

However, after skimming over the decision I see no mention of the issue of this being an ex post facto law w.r.t. using things that were in the public domain, but suddenly weren't. I believe that under a reasonable interpretation of that clause you can not touch those people, and it is not Constitutional to ask them to pony up any money, "reasonable" amounts or otherwise. Liabilities should only be incurred based on the copyrighted status of the used works at the time of use, not at the whim of any future Congressional acts. Unlike "not liking retroactive extension", this point is actually a Constitution-based argument.

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (4, Insightful)

TomXP411 (860000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655866)

I think you nailed it.

People claim this is a First Amendment issue, but I can't see how. Free Speech isn't about publishing other people's works; it's about protecting people's right to disagree with the government.

More to the point, though: Copyright law is not part of the Constitution, so Congress has every right to change it as they see fit.

I don't like it. I don't like how Copyright has become a way to protect big companies at the expense of the little guy. But I can't see any way to interpret the First Amendment so that it conflicts with Copyright and Congress's right to extend it.

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656100)

Free Speech isn't about publishing other people's works; it's about protecting people's right to disagree with the government.

Bullshit. Free speech is about protecting people's rights to speak, period. This "disagree with the government" qualification is your own invention and has no basis in law.

Copyright law is not part of the Constitution, so Congress has every right to change it as they see fit.

Wrong again [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656188)

>People claim this is a First Amendment issue, but I can't see how. Free Speech isn't about publishing other people's works; it's about protecting people's right to disagree with the government.

1. "publishing other people's works" - nope - if it's in the public domain it belongs to no one and everyone.

2. "protecting people's right to disagree with the government." - if the public domain work is a screed of political speech and people are using that to criticise the government, then taking ownership and preventing distribution = censorship.

3. "More to the point, though: Copyright law is not part of the Constitution."

I am not American, have never read the US contitution, but I can tell you that even more to the point, you are entirely and wholeheartedly wrong.

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655934)

"no particular legal reason to presume that once something is in the public domain, it can never be returned to being copyrighted."

When some publisher type with enough money to grease the palms of the "Copyright Committee" in Congress for the rights to, say, Plato's Republic (although why some one would want the rights to that is beyond me, but just sayin') and then you come up with a really insanely great ((c) Apple Computer, Inc.) advertising campaign that uses passages from said work, well, you're screwed.

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656090)

However, after skimming over the decision I see no mention of the issue of this being an ex post facto law w.r.t. using things that were in the public domain, but suddenly weren't.

Technically it wouldn't be ex post facto either. The law forbids copying, selling those copies, etc.

You certainly couldn't be charged with any copies you made during the time it was in the PD, but you could be charged with any copying or distribution done after the work was removed from the public domain.

A better constitutional argument would be some sort of 5th amendment thing, but I'm not sure that's going through either.

We own it (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656130)

The clawback of culture that we in common own in the public domain into private monopoly without compensation for our loss is theft. It is a theft from each of us. It is a theft from all of us. It is theft on a grand scale. It's unconstitutional. It's wrong.

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656162)

... there is no particular legal reason to presume that once something is in the public domain, it can never be returned to being copyrighted.

Sure there is. It says so right in the US Constitution: "... by securing, for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

Re:I don't like it, but it's probably correct (1)

nbossett (1835098) | more than 3 years ago | (#32656176)

The state of public domain means that no particular individual has more of a claim to use/exploit a work than others. To me (non-lawyer) it seems that picking an individual and assigning exclusive rights would break the definition.

How does this affect me? (1)

elephant_hunter (814983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655670)

For those unfamiliar with Golan v. Gonzales, it's worth noting that JRR Tolkien's works and several novels by HG Wells are covered by this case.

Idiot bloody lawyers (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655678)

They all want to argue the First Amendment, like it's some Holy Scripture and they get bonus karma for it in a future life.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States 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."

Taking things out of the public domain that were already there is the opposite of progressing Science and (the) useful Arts. That's the pertinent Constitutional issue, not some bullshit Amendment-of-last-resort argument.

Dibs on the "Invisible man" (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655732)

I like that story. I think I'll own it.

Seriously - this is about as far as you can get from "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" as you can get, taking from the public domain and making a private monopoly.

Perhaps the argument would be that classically nobles and aristocrats funded science, so by funneling more monopolies and money engines to the super-elite, you might get more 'trickle down' arts and sciences. However, looking to corporations, the trend is for less actual science to get done, as it is increasingly seen as a pure cost rather than a benefit, despite protections available. In modern centuries, it is the public sector that has funded science for the most part, and the private sector "art" has been mostly marketing and mass produced goods.

Ryan Fenton

What ??? (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655744)

What does this mean?

If something goes into public domain, I republish it. (clean up the spelling and reformat it) who now has rights?

They are idiots
 

Wow (4, Insightful)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655826)

Why bother following any laws anymore? So many unjust laws on the books it almost undermines the validity of any sane laws that are left.

Why are you worried about RIAA when... (4, Interesting)

SunSpot505 (1356127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655844)

Disney has already been doing this much more effectively for years. You would think that Mickey Mouse would be public domain, but every time he gets close to the public, there is a nice bill through congress that extends the expiration date. You can look at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for more on the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act", but it's hardly a surprise that corporations are attempting to circumvent limitations to IP ownership.

What worries me the most is that, if Mickey can get his rat ass protected, what will Congress see fit to remove from the Public Domain, and just how much of a campaign donation does it take to do it?

Um... (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655904)

The ruling effectively says that Congress can violate the First Amendment, so long as it feels it has heard from enough people

Based on the reader's own comments earlier, didn't the ruling effectively say that it's not a violation of the First Amendment?

You can disagree with that decision, but don't mischaracterize what the court's ruling says, especially if that's going to contradict your own account.

Oook, still not convinced ? (3, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32655946)

that patents and copyrights are harmful and detrimental ? and they are going towards intellectual feudalism ?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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

Loading...