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Ask Slashdot: What If Intellectual Property Expired After Five Years?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the many-tears-from-publishers dept.

Businesses 577

New submitter ancientt writes "As a thought experiment, what if the constitution of the U.S. was amended so that no idea (with exceptions only for government use, like currency) could be protected from copy or use beyond January 1, 2035 for more than a five-year period. After a five-year span, any patent, software license, copyright, software NDA or other intellectual property agreement would expire. (This is not an entirely new idea, but would have had significant recent ramifications if it had been enacted in the past.) Specific terms are up for debate, but in this experiment businesses must have time to try to adjust to sell services and make the services good enough to compete with other businesses offering the same basic products. Microsoft can sell a five-year-old variant of OSX, Apple can sell Windows 2030. Cars, computers and phones would, or at least could, still be made, but manufacturers would be free to use any technology more than five years old or license new technology for a five-year competitive edge. Movie, TV and book budgets would have to adjust to the potential five-year profit span, although staggered episode or chapter releases would be legal. Play 'What if' with me. What would be the downsides? What would be the upsides?"

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Not all Patents are the Same (5, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014531)

Pharmaceuticals would still be in clinical trials when their patents would expire. How about we just focus on getting rid of bad patents that don't bring knowledge or insight to society?

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014547)

How about letting patent examiners determine the duration instead of keeping a fixed time for everything? Pharmaceuticals with decade long trial periods would be protected for longer, software patents (like "slide to unlock") only for a few years.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (5, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014575)

If you leave the decision to the examiners, you'll just get the effect that each and every applicant will be unhappy with the assigned duration. Result: at least two additional office actions per application debating the correct duration for the patent in question. I am not opposed to different durations for different patent classes, but there have to be clear rules, or it'll be a hell of a mess.

I do not mind (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014607)

As the sole owner of 3 patents, I do not mind if all my patents expire tomorrow

At that time I filed my patent for self-protection - not for profiting from the patents

You see, the world we live today is so fucked up, that if you invent something really brand new and you do not patent it, you just _might_ get sued !

Re:I do not mind (-1, Troll)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014679)

You see, the world we live today is so fucked up, that if you invent something really brand new and you do not patent it, you just _might_ get sued !

Lol. The "world" meaning the US of course. And being in the US, you'll probably get sued anyway...

It isn't just the USA (5, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014767)

Whether you live in USA or Europe or Asia or Timbuktu, them fuckers will sue you if they think they can get $$$ from you

Look at how many patent-related lawsuits that are filed in Japan, Korea, Europe, Singapore, if you do not trust me

Re:I do not mind (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014785)

As the sole owner of 3 patents, I do not mind if all my patents expire tomorrow

At that time I filed my patent for self-protection - not for profiting from the patents

You see, the world we live today is so fucked up, that if you invent something really brand new and you do not patent it, you just _might_ get sued !

That works for you and congratulations. But for others, it's a different story.

As the GGGP said, there are things that have a long time horizon before one can possibly recoup R&D and other investment costs - many things take much longer than 5 years. And if you factor in a decent ROI that investors will require, I see a lot of ideas never making it to market or even developed because there's very little hope of reouping investment let alone making a return.

I get the impression from a lot of posts here that everyone is thinking of this problem from a software point of view - very little investment is required compared to many other things out there; like pharmaceuticals for example.

Re:I do not mind (2)

Kirth (183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014913)

Pharmaceuticals: Contrary to what the industry says, a drug does not take 800 million Dollars to develop and test, but only 40 million Dollars.

Re:I do not mind (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40015003)

Does that include the drugs that fail? Pharmaceuticals have to tack on the cost of drugs that don't make it to market in the cost of drugs that do.

I grant you that they do overcharge in the US market...

Re:I do not mind (2)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40015007)

And if you factor in a decent ROI that investors will require, I see a lot of ideas never making it to market or even developed because there's very little hope of reouping investment let alone making a return.

With the exception of pharmaceuticals where the vast majority of development cost comes from the necessity of clinical trials to ensure patient safety, most ideas are nothing more than small iterative improvements on older ideas. We don't need huge multinational corporations blowing billions of dollars on R&D to make innovation happen. Shotgun approach (thousands of startups adding small and cheap improvements on top of the same basic idea) works just fine. But you can't have shotgun approach working next to huge multinational corporations owning nuclear patent portfolios. When you place both side by side, the only thing you get is huge multinational corporations dropping the lawsuit nuke on startups.

Re:I do not mind (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014883)

As the sole owner of 3 patents, I do not mind if all my patents expire tomorrow

I sure wish you'd enforce your patens on MyCleanPC and GameMaker posts. That would stop those posts for sure ;-)

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014609)

Pharmaceuticals usually take about 11-13 years to go from discovery to mainstream usage. The only reason I know this is because I'm a pharmacy technician and had to know about this in order to pass the PTCB test.

It looks like intellectual property rights are going the other way, though. Instead of being valid for a limited amount of time, the time is being extended depending on who owns the rights to what. It would make being creative and covering songs simpler, etc. But there are other industries that this could effect, as well.

It would also serve as a double edged sword, so to speak. Though it would keep large record companies from suing the pants off of 15 year olds after a few years, those who have genuinely great ideas and want to profit from those and create a livelihood may be threatened. That, and some people really do only have one great idea that will get them set for life.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (5, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014857)

I think it may have the effect of weeding out some of the bullshit pharmaceuticals. Especially if we don't allow unfinished (untested) products from being copyrighted/patented. I can't patent an unfinished invention, I can't copyright an unfinished book, they can't own vaporware. " It ain't done, till it's done."
Products like Mediator,or weight loss pills that undo your heart valves wouldn't make it to market let alone the patent office. Of course we would wait longer for medicine that worked and some would suffer and die. Surprise, we've waited this many thousand years for a cure/treatment, don't bring me shit that doesn't work or causes something worse. Not an issue.

Further, I think we could lead the world in this 5 year I.P. ownership. Some would say, the world would run us over with their laws, but we will either need to diplomatically get them to see the light and include it in treaties/agreements or just flat out quit recognizing their I.P. after 5 years and let them figure it out for themselves.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014925)

"I think it may have the effect of weeding out some of the bullshit pharmaceuticals. Especially if we don't allow unfinished (untested) products from being copyrighted/patented."

Dude, several layers of lab testing and clinical testing are what is put in place to "weed out" the "bullshit pharmaceuticals" - if you mean things like viagra - that was discovered while they were trying to develop a blood pressure medication. Most people know what it does, but not the intentions behind the original drug. The same drug that's used to grow longer, thicker eyelashes is used to treat several other eye problems in the form of eye drops - get out of here. Why would a company spend 125 million dollars in research and development only to get a patent after its done? by the time pharmaceuticals get released, they have about 5 years to get back as much of that money as possible before the patent expires and another company can make a generic version of that drug.

"Products like Mediator,or weight loss pills that undo your heart valves wouldn't make it to market let alone the patent office. Of course we would wait longer for medicine that worked and some would suffer and die. Surprise, we've waited this many thousand years for a cure/treatment, don't bring me shit that doesn't work or causes something worse. Not an issue."

To some people, they could care less about the risk of this happening. The drug side effects are clearly outlined on the package inserts/the information given to you by your pharmacist. On very rare occasions one slips through that's truly awful (Like Lindane) - and these are usually banned or recalled. (Take the birth control Yaz for example).

Surprise, drug therapy keeps people from dying of things like strep throat in a modern world. It also helps dialysis patients that would die a much faster, much more painful death. Drug therapy also makes it so you can be put under instead of having to bite on a stick while you die from getting a limb amputated. You're welcome.

"Further, I think we could lead the world in this 5 year I.P. ownership. Some would say, the world would run us over with their laws, but we will either need to diplomatically get them to see the light and include it in treaties/agreements or just flat out quit recognizing their I.P. after 5 years and let them figure it out for themselves."

Oh, you're trolling. Disregard above responses.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014899)

Pharmaceuticals usually take about 11-13 years to go from discovery to mainstream usage. The only reason I know this is because I'm a pharmacy technician and had to know about this in order to pass the PTCB test.

Then grant the pharmaceutical companies a patent that expires 5 years after their product comes to market, but with a maximum total lifespan. This 'after release' approach may work for the pharmaceutical industry, but not most industries. You can't have someone patent <insert technology here> and then never bring it to market. That would surely kill innovation and technological advancement.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (4, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014615)

How about letting patent examiners determine the duration instead of keeping a fixed time for everything?

That would just lead to companies bribing patent examiners and the whole system would be corrupted.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (5, Insightful)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014641)

How about letting patent examiners determine the duration instead of keeping a fixed time for everything?

My personal opinion on this is that, to fix the issues around patenting of pharmaceuticals, the best is to devise a new system to substitute the one based on patents. I think it would be preferable for the state to grant monopolies after the fact. Maybe using some auction system, maybe something else. Once a possible drug has been determined as being promising, the state could contract someone to do the clinical trial, or perhaps even do it itself through funding for universities, or other organizations. Of course, this rises the specter of corruption and so on, but i think it is likely that such a system could be engineered to work a lot better than the existing one.

This type of system already exists in other areas. Nuclear plants in most countries are owned by the state and operated by private companies. Similar arrangements exist for the production of explosives and some poisonous substances. Mining is another classic example of such a type of system.

As things stand nowadays, the best way of sinking a promising therapy is to publish the details unpatented. This is a ridiculous state of affairs, and could be fixed by a scheme like the one above. Also, since patents expire without anything to mitigate the effects, there is an incentive to invent nonexistent illnesses and useless drugs, a behavior which is itself dangerous to public health.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014681)

How about letting patent examiners determine the duration instead of keeping a fixed time for everything? Pharmaceuticals with decade long trial periods would be protected for longer, software patents (like "slide to unlock") only for a few years.

I think that's a bad idea that just opens up for corruption and more lawyer work.

How about "15 years from filing or 5 years from licensing or first unit shipped, whichever comes first"?

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014593)

So what? They would need to find a new business model, or get government regulation around clinical trials modernised too.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (2)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014599)

I misread that and started wondering then why reduced patent length would lead to reduced patient life expectancy. Then I wondered why pharmaceutical companies would have patients at all. After re-reading it, I'm a little upset that I misread and got patients expire but bad patents came through ok. I guess I'm not used to reading about patents expiring :(

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014817)

It would probably result in *horrendously* expensive drugs while they are still under patent, and less expensive drugs the rest of the time.

It would also result in a few less drugs (as healthcare would become cheaper, so big pharma would have less to spend on R&D, and doctor "education"), but the extra money could be spent on more leisure, or non-pharmaceutical treatments (stomach staples?).

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (4, Insightful)

tao (10867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014613)

Then how about 5 years from clinical approval?

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014867)

A better idea would be not to lump in patents with copyright and so on. Patents already have far shorter expiration dates than copyright, although software patents should be nixed completely.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014639)

Let the 5 year period start as soon as it hits the market. All IP would have complete protection during development, clinical trials would be considered development. The same would be true for films, cars, and whatever else usually takes a long time to develop.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014879)

Damn good idea, don't think I would've signed it A.C. though.
Oh I get it, and A.C. contributes to C.C.
Right on.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014645)

Pharmaceuticals would still be in clinical trials when their patents would expire. How about we just focus on getting rid of bad patents that don't bring knowledge or insight to society?

I had the same thought about the pharaceuticals. Even non-pharmaceuticals can have a long time-to-market once the patent has been filed.

A better idea would be (say) 20 years from filing or 5 years from the date of first sale, whichever is sooner. 20 years might be a bit generous... I don't know the specifics of clinical trial durations, but just a date so you couldn't just sit on the patent forever.

With a 5 year duration, the 'bad patent' thing would probably solve itself.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (3, Interesting)

FilthCatcher (531259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014673)

Lots more things take more than 5 years to create.

Without the protection of copyright there would just be more secrets - you can't copy information you don't have.
The protections/limitations (depending upon your point of view) of GPL would disappear too.
Most software development would switch to cloud-based services so that all code stays within the company and no software gets distributed.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014731)

I think pharmaceutical companies can ride these rails too. Let's not allow patenting of unfinished products, not tested , not finished.
The downside of taking patents/copyrights down five years; foolish businesses who built their model on patent/copy rather than product will suffer.
But at least they provide an example/warning for that kind of wrongheaded crap.
The upside, we can finally make some progress,hell, maybe go back to leading as an innovator. We can finally be done with this f**king mess we've all been posting here about for years.
Things will be as they were MEANT to be, as designed by much smarter men than can be found in government today.
I'd call it fixed.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (3, Insightful)

fearofcarpet (654438) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014775)

How about we just focus on getting rid of bad patents that don't bring knowledge or insight to society?

...because this is a thought experiment about enacting a hard limit on the protection of intellectual property.

If the five-year clock started ticking when the product was brought to market--i.e., after development and clinical trials--it would circumvent the long lead-time for drugs. The most common argument against reducing the lifetime of drug patents is that the cost would go up and/or that no one would make drugs anymore because the profit margins would be too low and/or innovation would be stifled as "talent" (used to describe MBAs, not PhDs) migrated to more lucrative businesses. I find the latter arguments absurd, much like their cousin, the argument in favor of ridiculously high executive compensation.

Personally I think that five years of the exclusive right to sell is plenty if the composition of matter and other broad drug patents don't change. They allow a company to make minor structural changes, perhaps even something as simple as the counter ion of the protonated form that is packaged for sale, and then re-brand as a new "gotta have it" drug while simultaneously preventing others from selling less-closely related structural analogs. If the patents timed out five years after the drugs went to market, then drug companies would have to rely on marketing and quality assurance instead of lawsuits. It would also allow competitors to start exploring derivatives of a break-through drug much sooner, which would in principle lead to better drugs over all in the same way that the free sharing of results rapidly accelerated semiconductor technology in the early part of the Cold War.

When faced with any disruptive technology or shift in public policy, the arguments pretty much go the same way. Con: time-tested business models will become obsolete, storied corporations will go out of business, the lack of competition will drive prices up, innovation will be stifled--things will be much different than they are now and that is bad. Pro: time-tested business models will have to be re-thought, storied corporations will give way to fast-growing newcomers, competition will drive prices down, innovation will abound--things will be much different than they are now and that is good. Current examples include the film, financial, and health insurance industries. Past examples include the telephone, automobile, and airline industries. I think that you can take any of those as examples supporting either the pro or con position, depending on whether or not you like change.

Re:Not all Patents are the Same (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014827)

Actually, pharmaceutical patents would do well to disappear. Promising drugs get ditched because they can't recoup the investment. All they produce are "treatments". There is no monetary interest in finding cures even if cures were possible through medication. A patient who never heals but can survive many long years is more profitable than one who cures. Governments would save money to finance research in those areas instead of financing the purchasing of patented drugs.

So I would think that the 5 year period would be justified on this basis only.

You heard it here first. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014533)

Niggers tongue my anus

the colours would all fade (1)

zugedneb (601299) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014537)

the songs would all turn sad, and we would all become communists :D

Any excuse to bring up DRI (1)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014539)

Five-year-plan, eh? Why not? Might make progress come even quicker.

it would work as intended. more resources for food (1, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014543)

yep, copyright would work as intended.

you'd have more money for whatever.

you'd have less business as a media mogul just selling the same old crap again and again.

you could cover beatles songs for free.

you'd have much more easier time creating new music, new interpretations.

Re:it would work as intended. more resources for f (5, Informative)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014787)

Okay, let's be a nasty person and game the system.
I've just had a new author come to me with pretty good kids book. Let's call her K L Moss. Her first book is well received but nothing special. A year later she comes back with book 2. That does significantly better. The first print run sells out immediately(I intentionally did a small one to minimise my risks). I then start a year long publicity campaign on books 1 & 2. Book 1 is now 3 years old.
By the time book 3 is ready I decide that it will first have a good year of publicity and excerpts published in small chunks to build up anticipation. Now I'm selling books as fast as I can print them.
By the time book 4 is ready copyright has expired on book 1. It's not really worth anyone else printing book 1 as its available on e-readers for free. No-one else will make a deal with Ms Moss under better terms for book 5 because they can't do the group deal for books 2-4. I can negotiate Ms Moss down to almost nothing. I can keep printing book 1 and pay her nothing.

Under such a short copyright term I can only see ways to screw over authors it sems to me that they will suffer more than the publishers. Also IMO you want profitable publishers so that they can afford to take a risk on new authors. If they become more risk averse that will be bad for authors and the public domain.

A much simpler first step would just to be to say that companies cannot own copyright only people. That copyright then expires on their death. Copyright is not transferable(although the royalties could be). That would then prevent the CEO/founder of the company owning all the copyright.

I say all this in the knowledge that my job is to produce copyrighted/secret code. Under the current system the company owns this code and will forever because they employed me to write it. However that code has a halflife of about 2 years because technology marches on and others innovate along with us. So producing something once will almost certainly not make you set for life. It's worth groking why Ms Moss effectively gets more protection in that regard than I do.

Re:it would work as intended. more resources for f (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014829)

No-one else will make a deal with Ms Moss under better terms for book 5 because they can't do the group deal for books 2-4.

Assuming for the moment that this is correct (which is doubtful), how is this different from the existing system? Once a publisher has the rights to a book, they are under no obligation to give them back if later books are more successful.

Re:it would work as intended. more resources for f (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014895)

12 years copyright protection with an option to extend to 24 by paying for the privelege should be plenty.

Re:it would work as intended. more resources for f (2)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014965)

Music is the one thing, I think could be best protected by not calling it I.P. at all.
Music and intangibles should have NO protection and should be shared by the world to prevent parasitic business models from becoming a disease to them.
For instance.musicians could actually make a living playing live and promoting themselves by givng away their music. Talented musicians who weren't writers would make money just playing anyones tunes. The shift towards rewarding talent rather than ownership would have the effect of allowing the cream to rise.
Bad music would go nowhere due to lack of interest, people gravitate towards good music. The current industry only markets music made by the malleable, cooperative, willing to lose everything for fame. A poor filter by any standard. It explains a lot about quality of mainstream music vs. what's available.
I'd don't know about other media, but music deserves no protection for the best outcome universally.
Perhaps there are other intangibles that should be purposefully unprotected. I suspect so. Ideas?

Spoilers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014553)

What happens is that the US is found to be massively in breach of international law and its treaty obligations.

Re:Spoilers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014739)

Constitution trumps treaties in the US IIRC.

Re:Spoilers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014813)

Maybe on paper. In the real world, it means pulling out not just of one treaty, but of a whole treaty system. If you and Ron Paul think that can actually happen, you're deluding yourselves.

Re:Spoilers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014749)

international treaties and international law don't override the US Constitution, or laws
when in Rome...

Re:Spoilers (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014843)

Of course international law overrides national laws. Overriding national laws is the one and only thing international law is for.

Re:Spoilers (3, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014823)

Countries are allowed to leave treaty agreements. Once we've finally convinced the political world that tightening the ratchet on IP law is a vote loser, and serving up the next alphabet soup variant of SOPA PIPA ACTA etc. won't work, the next logical step is rolling back some of the worst and most outdated treaties, and the world won't fall apart when we do this.

The US stayed outside the Berne Convention for over 100 years, and there are lots of countries that haven't signed. Once jobs, data and investment start flowing towards lax IP regimes, we'll see countries either go back to a minimal enforcement approach (one of the factors responsible for China's economic success) or for the ones where law enforcement isn't selective, we'll see them leaving Berne.

Ooo, I know this one. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014557)

Technology and media companies would quickly wither away and, consequently, science and art will die.

Re:Ooo, I know this one. (0)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014605)

This is my prediction too. Even if the period was 10 years, it would be problematic. It would not be feasible to invest on many things anymore.

Re:Ooo, I know this one. (1, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014735)

It would not be feasible to invest on many things anymore.

I need to point out the above as a very seditious lie

A lot of inventions do not cost tons and tons and tons of $$$

In fact, MOST inventions, and I mean, genuine inventions do not cost billions of billions of research

The fact that things are costing that much isn't because it's about invention - most of the costs are related to SELF-PROTECTION, ie:

* Getting people to carry out a global search on the competitors, see that if your invention(s) infringe on their patents, or not

* Paying lawyers to figure out a way to NOT GET SUED, especially those frivolous lawsuits filed by the assholes who got nothing better to do than trying to extort money from others

* Making sure that your inventions are covered with layers upon layers of insurance - just in case some stupid fuckers use your new invention and hurt themselves

In other words, the megabucks that are often involved in the "inventions" are actually NOT within the invention loop.

The $$$ are there to pay the legal racketeers

Re:Ooo, I know this one. (2)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014713)

Why so? The past 15 years offer plenty of examples of businesses being built on top of copyleft, artists distributing their music on the Internet, etc. As for science, most researchers would rather see their work more widely available, not less.

Mixed, but overall positive. (with one exception) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014559)

On patents:

All but the richest biggest incumbents would benefit

On copyright:

Large publishers and the copyright dinosaur industries would have to change for the better, society would benefit.

Some small companies and individuals would benefit massively from more freely being able to build upon the work of others.
Some small companies and individuals would suffer as large corporations would find new ways of screwing them over.

On trademarks:

It makes no sense to expire trademarks after 5 years. Society as a whole would suffer.

Re:Mixed, but overall positive. (with one exceptio (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014677)

Trademarks are different/not limited in time in the same manner as copyright and patents, so the last point is irrelevant.

Re:Mixed, but overall positive. (with one exceptio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014733)

On patents:

All but the richest biggest incumbents would benefit

Are you sure about that? Small inventors license ideas to large companies all the time. In most industries, 5 years isn't that long of a time. The large companies could instead just wait until after the patent expires to implement the idea. Anyone licensing the idea would have a pretty short lead time over their competitors, and thus they'd be willing to pay much less for the license.

JK Rowling would be pissed (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014563)

Whether this is a downside or an upside is up to you.....

I don't think 5 years is a long enough period for film development and recovery of costs. I do think 15-20 years, perhaps with a 10 year extension on payment of a fee would do it though.

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014627)

JK Rowling SHOULD be pissed.

Don't you think if someone gets that rich from writing a few books, purely due to government granted monopoly protection, then that protection has gone too far?

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014903)

Why? Nobody forced anyone to buy her books. What's your problem with her getting rich for bringing enjoyment to millions of people who felt it was worth their cash?

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014711)

15-20 years is way too long. Other discussions on this site have implied that some people have experiencing age discrimination at 40. Assuming they start their productive career at 20 there would still be whole areas of work they could be productive in that would be closed to them during their working life time. No. The term should be such that encourages innovation during the working lifetime of individuals.

Exactly Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014791)

And the studios all make huge blockbusters with $100M marketing budgets that require equally expensive CGI like The Avengers in attempts to recoup their costs quickly and prevent the fanboi film students from being able to create something comparable.

Good scripts -- written words -- plummet in value, because they are easily and inexpensively claimable in an anti-copyright climate.

No parent will ever send his child to school to study software development or any once-copyrightable craft, as the career return-on-investment for such courses of study also plummets. Development becomes a hobbyist's pursuit, liking novel-writing and animation.

And so the dumbing down of society accelerates under the guise of "freedom from copyright." Everybody is a "writer," everybody is an "artist," because the financial impetus for the genuinely talented writers and artists to pursue their craft, at great cost and sacrifice, is removed.

Nice Work, Unimaginative Under-Achievers! You Win!

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014819)

Not all intellectual property is the same. Different types deserve different durations.

However, when it comes to renewals, we need to ask a few questions.

Would the renewal stifle innovation?
Has the rights holder made a sufficient amount of income on which to retire?
Would the personal use of the intellectual property not have a negative effect on the commercial use?

If it doesn't stifle innovation, then a renewal might not hurt.
If the rights holder hasn't made much money, then a renewal might be fair.
If the personal use of the intellectual property DOES HAVE a negative effect on the commercial use of said property, then a renewal probably is needed. (In other words, if the personal use, say copying copyrighted material, hurt the ability to make money on it still, a renewal in favour of the rights holder deserves to be taken.

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (1)

neyla (2455118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014841)

I agree, 5 is likely below optimum for many classes of works. On the other hand the current bullshit of Life of author + 70 years is insane, if you write a book when you're 25, and live to 85, that amounts to 130 years of protection.

10 years from publication, or 15 from creation, whichever is shorter sounds about sane to me. The precise term is debatable, but I've never seen -anyone- arguing that creative work would suffer if the current 100+ years where reduced substantially.

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014853)

5 years is plenty for normal movies. The thing with JK Rowling is that she didn't set out to make movies, or even to write movie scripts. She wrote books, and under a 5 year copyright term, she would've profited handsomely from those books and still become a millionaire. After 5 years, anyone would have been free to make a movie version of her books, which, in the end, could benefit society - movies that are not possible to make now, because the rights can't be acquired, would become possible to make.

Re:JK Rowling would be pissed (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014927)

JK Rowling has so much money she never needs to work again for as long as she lives. I'm sure she'd be pissed at a 5 year copyright duration, but she would also have an incentive to write more books that is lacking at the moment.

This is one of the big problems with justifying copyright law as an incentive, to do so implies it that more money is always an incentive, and that's simply not true.

Consider the ownership of the Beatles songs, which has presumably passed to Michael Jackson's children. Copyright law assumes that if we give enough money to these kids, it will be sufficient incentive for Lennon and McCartney to start writing together again.

Logos and trademarks (2, Interesting)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014567)

Not very likely, since copyright on logos and trademarks would also expire, for example the Windows or Apple logo. Imagine that everyone would be able to create a 100% clone of any given product after 5 years! They should create categories instead. 10 years seems to be so much more reasonable.

Re:Logos and trademarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014585)

Not very likely, since copyright on logos and trademarks would also expire, for example the Windows or Apple logo. Imagine that everyone would be able to create a 100% clone of any given product after 5 years! They should create categories instead. 10 years seems to be so much more reasonable.

Trademarks are different than copyrights.

Re:Logos and trademarks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014629)

Summary and headline say "intellectual property". Trademarks are intellectual property and can be managed as-such with policies and licenses as well.

Re:Logos and trademarks (5, Informative)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014601)

Trademarks are not copyrighted they are trademarked. There is no time limit on trademarks.

Re:Logos and trademarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014649)

Trademarks are not copyrighted they are trademarked. There is no time limit on trademarks.

The OP wanted us to consider that after a 5-year span, all Intellectual Property agreements (which trademarks are a form of) would expire.

Re:Logos and trademarks (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014661)

Not very likely, since copyright on logos and trademarks would also expire, for example the Windows or Apple logo. Imagine that everyone would be able to create a 100% clone of any given product after 5 years! They should create categories instead. 10 years seems to be so much more reasonable.

Trademarks can expire very rapidly; they only protect while the mark is being actively used and defended. They're also always non-functional in all respects other than to identify the company doing the selling or product being sold. Because they're always non-functional, they're not a problem unless you're insisting on confusing consumers (generally a scummy thing to do!)

Other forms of IP have problems though: with patents the problem has been that far too many obvious things have been patented and it's gumming everything up, and with copyrights the problem is the validity span is ridiculous. Normalizing copyright terms down to the same length as for patents would help a lot (yes, some people who have been living off work from long ago for a long time would get screwed, but they're really outliers) and so also would raising the bar for what is patentable to the equivalent for what it is with physical items. The law shouldn't protect rent-seeking idleness or patent-trolling.

Re:Logos and trademarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014671)

You could exclude trademarks and logos from this provision. But maybe we should also think about how a world would actually look like if there were no trademarks. Or at least none that lasted longer than 5 years.

Re:Logos and trademarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014727)

copyrights (c), trade marks (tm), service marks (sm) - they are separate things.
Clarity when using terminology is important.

Clearly, today, a company wants a consumer to purchase their own and presumably superior product - hence it has their logo on it, brand recognition is very important for consumer products, making branding which may fool a consumer will generally get the newcomer involved in a legal dispute.

Today, copying a logo (tm) to trick the consumer into purchasing a product similar to, but of lesser quality, product is bad - it takes away from the originator.

The alternate of 5/10 years, great, you can clone things - but call them "generics" (drugs) or "ibm clones" (the modular PC) if you will - but the secondary producer with the similar, albeit less quality, product wants the consumer to continue purchasing from them. So they may clone a design, or formula, but they're not going to advertise a competitor surely?

Without looking it up, but as I understand it the company making Apple clones was refused an appeal in the courts, so where does the limitation of cloning or producing similar products begin and end?

Just food for thought.

Re:Logos and trademarks (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014751)

A thought experiment about trademarks being undefendable would be even more interesting.

First of all, ads would become pointless.

Then, consumer would have to check the product or trust the issuer. How do you check the quality of food, electronics? unwieldy. So there would rise up a class of middlemen whose only asset is trust.

It would be a step backwards, but I'm not sure that we progressed in the right direction regarding the dominion of symbols over minds. They made a lot of sense when producers were humans that cared about their business, but those have been swallowed up for the most part by ruthless competition.

Re:Logos and trademarks (0, Offtopic)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014869)

How do you check the quality of food, electronics? unwieldy.

If you trust the quality of something because it has a logo stamped on it, then you're an idiot.

Re:Logos and trademarks (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014753)

In a probably vain attempt to stop this being misquoted, please permit me to start by shouting: I DO NOT THINK TRADEMARKS SHOULD EXPIRE unless the company that holds them closes down without selling them on, or the person that owns them dies with no heirs.

Thank you.

Right, on to actually talking about the idea... Trademark law is there to protect the manufacturer, not the purchaser. If we did abolish trademarks WHICH WE SHOULDN'T then consumer protection law would still do pretty much the same thing. Apple couldn't stop you from slapping their logo on something, but if anyone (including Apple) bought it, they could still sue you for misleading them about who made it. We'd be right back to square one.

Re:Logos and trademarks (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014831)

Logos are not protected by copyright but trademarks, right? As long as you use it as a trademark, you can have a clain on it. Of course IANAL

Everything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014579)

Hope this five-year expiration includes anything GPL'd.

Time dependent on awesomeness.. (5, Interesting)

Eaglehawk (203548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014583)

I think the time of the patent, software license, copyright, software NDA or other intellectual property should relate to it's "impact".

eg. Swipe to unlock. Length: About 10 secs. Hoverboard. Length: 10 years.

I would have suggested relating it to the cost of discovery, but there's some things that would not have cost much, but the impact would be huge. I'm sick of these "obvious" patents being awarded to companies, but make them last only a short period might reduce the companies from submitting silly patents.

there would be a lil prob with tech... (1)

ticktickboom (1054594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014587)

like M$ sold windows xp for more than 5 years. should other companies also be allowed to sell the same os at the same time? doesn't seem right to me. perhaps if the current tech is no longer supported/updated. this also opens a large loophole for companies who will release a patch to whatever once a year just to say their updating it. personally, i don't believe in any intellectual rights and think patents are way way too long. none of its there to help or be nice to the people, like the stories we get from big govt. like for instance, music. if its good, people will buy it. if it isn't, they wont. you don't need some extra protection on it. if it sucks, it sucks and only 13 year olds will buy it. tho if it is good, people will buy it and for a long time. pink floyd, the beatles and greatful dead are all still making profits for the company.

long term development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014589)

sounds like a race to the bottom

Windows XP (3, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014603)

You would have been able to use Windows legally without paying while it was still the "current" OS from Redmond.

Advancements (1)

worf_mo (193770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014635)

Microsoft can sell a five-year-old variant of OSX, Apple can sell Windows 2030.

The interesting thing about your thought experiment wouldn't be selling an existing product, but being able to implement some features into our own products without being afraid of stepping on just another patent.

But don't limit this move to a single nation or continent; try to make it global: the advancements in all areas would be great, and the majority of people would take great benefit. No holding back or artificial price inflation for much-needed medication, faster development cycles at less cost (less legal battles), musicians would be incentivized to keep coming up with new stuff (and performing live), and tech companies would concentrate on delivering solid products with great service.

The enterprises that are benefitting from the current system could adapt or take a nosedive, but I would like to think that over time a fair number of smaller companies will take their place.

But I'm afraid I getting carried away by my idealism.

Why 2035? (1)

Meneth (872868) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014643)

Why 2035? Let's do it right now!

Clearly this is along the right lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014683)

Indeed. Fully agree. It would not be without affect however I believe the affect is one that is more in lines with the wishes of the majority of the people. i.e. it would spread the overall opportunity across the width of the population instead of restricting it to only those that have the money to hit others over the head with law suites. This is the way things should be, the situation where we are now is only truely for the benefit of a society the coverts oliarchs. Unfortunately, whether this worked or not in the past the Internet has changed things so that the reach and efficiency of the oligarchs in terms of grabbing assetts to the detriment of the greater population has improved dramatically. Unless we do change along the lines of this suggestion we will simply reach a situation where the vast majority of the population will be much poorer than they've ever been before and a really smaller number of players will have massive wealth.

Some law firms would go broke (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014689)

As would patent trolls...

But one could argue good riddance in both cases.

Publishers would flee the US in droves (5, Insightful)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014709)

Publishers and other IP holders would flee the US in droves. Hollywood and Silicon Valley would cease to exist as world centres of filmmaking and software development, respectively. Without the obscenely long protection period afforded by current copyright and other IP laws, major publishers would no longer consider it profitable to arrange for their works to be produced in the US. They would instead move their operations to countries with IP laws favourable to their monopolies. Perhaps a better thought experiment would be if most or all countries cut their copyright and other IP terms simultaneously. If just one of them does it all that will do is hurt their competitiveness in the international IP market.

I Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014793)

They would be forced to adjust their business model to acheive their ROCI and any other measure they needed within their monopoly period.
Thus a trip to the moving would be $50/per seat rather than $10.
Windows 2030 would be $1K a pop.
(Not including inflation)
They would also put measures in place to make sure that the software stopped working completly at the end of their monopoly period.

Re:Publishers would flee the US in droves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014855)

Fact is it's the US with those centers of culture that is driving prolonging of copyright and it's enforcement world wide. Chances are, if the US reverts it's position on this most of the world might follow.

Re:Publishers would flee the US in droves (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014873)

Why flee? We'd get to copy it freely in the US, and they'd get long copyright protection elsewhere, regardless of if they stay or go.

Law doesn't work that way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014905)

The US-based companies can still enforce the copyright law of the rest of the world, in the rest of the world. And the rest of the world cannot enforce their copyright in the US.

Re:Publishers would flee the US in droves (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014915)

...and nothing of value would be lost.

Almost 3 years ago now I was unsuccessful at bribing a cable internet installer to enable basic TV to come across my wire. During that time, I learned to live without... the period of adjustment was about... maybe two weeks to a month... After that, I realized I just didn't need those things.

Sure, there are movies I want to see from time to time. But they are rare... especially these days. The "Good Old Stuff" would be free to copy and distribute and that would keep us going for a very long time. All the while, as technology for the creation of this entertainment content continues to develop and become cheaper, "big productions" will occur more frequently from independent and even hobbyist groups.

We are outgrowing the publishers and the evidence is all around. Independent artists are constantly on the rise. The trends are obvious.

What if? (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014715)

What if Spartacus had had a Piper Cub?

It varies (1)

mkwan (2589113) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014743)

For some categories of intellectual property it makes sense, for others it would be a disaster. Trademarks and logos need to last at least as long as the product itself to protect consumers against counterfeits. Pharmaceutical patents probably need to remain at 20 years. As things stand, after a 7-year FDA approval the drug companies have only 13 years to recoup the 9-figure development costs. But for software copyright/patents it makes sense. In any case, most software is protected by keeping the source code secret.

Math and Taxation (2)

Hecateus (628867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014771)

IIRC, there was a study done which concluded that 14 years was the more or less optimum time period for most intellectual property as a protected monopoly and such. Assuming this is true, I would move the number to 10 years and place the property on a yearly auction/property tax. After which, the owner must declare a sale price, and pays a small proportional property tax for every year it is not sold. If it the property is crap it will be put in public domain forthwith by declaring $0 in value for year 11 (this is the default value at this year), which is obviously not taxed either. If the Intellectual property is $hiny the owner will declare a high value and hope noone buys the property, AND hope the guessed right so they can afford the yearly property tax. Refusing a valid would-be purchaser invokes serious penalties...use imagination here. Or Something like this. Which was derived from the sci-fi novel Leo Frankowski's A Boy And His Tank. http://www.baenebooks.com/chapters/0671578502/0671578502.htm [baenebooks.com]

I know many who... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014781)

...have had their intellectual property expire in less time than that, now they are just AI.

Try to think sometimes (5, Insightful)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014821)

Well.. it also means that after 5 years your photos are not your anymore. So please now image photos you made 5 years ago, they could be used in the anti-diarrhea commercial! Isn't this cool?

Big things would become small things (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014825)

There is no question in anyone's mind that the way things are and the way they are expanding has created monstrously big "IP" industries. Monsanto, **AAs, Microsoft, Oracle, Big Pharma and on and on. And in each of these big cases, it is easily observed that these monsters harm the industries they are in at the expense of their competition and the public at large. And what enables this to happen and to grow are intellectual property laws.

Were there such a drastic change would these goliaths wither up and die? No. They would be weakened. The competition could more easily rise up and force the goliaths to compete rather than dominate. And in order for them to compete, they would actually have to spend more money on research and development in order to keep on top. It would, of course result in more employment for intellectual workers, something which has been in terrible decline in the US. But it would also mean the C-level would have to accept that these operational factors will eat into their bottom lines.

Oh, poor obesely-rich people... what ever shall they do with a less obscene amount of money?!

Linux would be public domain (4, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014859)

... and therefore free to use for any purpose without having to distribute the source.

Trade Secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014885)

Companies would work on obfuscation and security so that they could maintain a monopoly on their ideas for longer. Corporate espionage and counter-espionage would become far more important. More companies would compete to build the cheapest knockoff of the latest successful idea, instead of developing their own new ideas.

Industry specific terms and ramp up costs (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014891)

Fixed term across all industries is unreasonable. Instead I would suggest having patents awarded with industry specific time limits, but very short ones. Also, if you apply for a patent in a specific industry, the patent only protects you from commercial efforts in that industry sector. Add to this a ramp up cost. The first term is free. The second term costs $X, where X is industry specific. The third term costs 2x$X, and it keeps doubling from there. You can extend a patent as long as you want to, but the cost keeps doubling. If you have a product really worth protecting, it will be commercially viable to protect it for a few extra terms. If you've patented some bullshit idea even you can't profit from, then you won't pay the extension costs, and others can use it soon enough. Third scenario: you have something that's giving you a small edge, but it's not mind blowing (e.g. magnetic power ports on apple macs); the extension costs would become onerous very quickly...

Lack of Understanding (5, Interesting)

coldmist (154493) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014897)

I saw the title and was already afraid of how the post was going to be worded. Within reading the first 2 sentences of this article, I was cringing.

If you can't express yourself properly, nobody will take you seriously, and you won't win any intellectual argument.

Let's reword the title: What if Exclusive Intellectual Property Control Expired After 5 Years?

See the change? Intellectual property (or IP as everyone calls it) has existed, exists, and will exist forever. The exclusive control (with a few exceptions) over reproduction, distribution, etc is a limited monopoly granted by copyright and patent law, where the exclusive control lasts for a finite time. The authority to do any of this is in the US Constitution, but only in the simplest of terms. In order to change it, for all intents and purposes, one needs only to get (or buy) legislation--not amending the constitution itself--to change the rules of the game.

And, even this monopoly is a modern creation. Historically, most of all the worlds best music, paintings, etc were produced under patronage, where a wealthy person would pay the creator (which might include letting the person live on his estate, etc) to make a work for him. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage#Arts [wikipedia.org]

Now, on to the real reason of your article: What if this exclusive control period was reduced to 5 years.

I have looked at this for a long time, and I have come to some conclusions myself. Let me share my conclusions.

My personal opinion: Patents have never had their duration period expanded. They are still 20 years. Why? Patents benefit companies/corporations for the short term for the original purpose -- to prevent a competitor from 'stealing' the idea and mass-producing it, reducing your rewards -- in the short term, but it is in their interest to get access to the IP in the long term. So, it's "naturally" limited in that sense. If one company got all patents lengthened to 100 years, they wouldn't be able to use a competitor's ideas either for 100 years.

But copyright is another matter. In this case, it's publishers (today) against the consumer. There is no "natural" limitation in the sense that to a publisher, the consumer is just another lowest common denominator revenue target, and not a competitor (that they want to 'limit') nor a high-value content producer that they can exploit. Once you see this, you see how they try to get copyrights extended to 'one day short of forever' (can't remember which liberal congressman said that recently, but one did) so they can abuse/extend their monopoly against 'us' if you will, with the content they already control.

For copyrights, there is no 'natural' competition to keep the game honest. So, will your 5-year period ever happen? Not without a revolution.

Now, as to your 5-year period. It's too short. It takes 3-6 years to get a product, like a new car model or a new CPU architecture, or a new DRAM standard, etc into production and into the market. With a 5-year exclusive period, it could be over before a company can make any money on their 'creativity' and a competitor could steal their thunder quite easily. For copyright as well, it could take 2-5 years to produce a movie, and they lose control of it in the same time as it took to make it? That makes it too short, as it could dissuade creative people from even trying to write/produce content.

But, the current 120-150 years is a joke. The US founding fathers struck a good balance: An initial 14-year copyright term, with an optional 14 years if the author is still alive and deemed it 'worth it' to pay the fees to extend it once more for another 14 years.

Since most books only have a single printing, the first term is long enough to motivate people to 'produce', while it's short enough that if it doesn't work out as the author intended, then the public can extend the idea on their own. It's the porridge is too cold/hot problem. There has to be a balance so everyone is benefited.

Let's look at Star Wars as an example. With the original copyright terms, after 28 years, me or my son, and anyone else, could start producing movies, writing books, etc, in the Star Wars universe. The balance is, George Lucas should get no more than 28 years to make his money off of his efforts. With 28 years, the original Star Wars would have been in the public domain in 2006. (In today's world, I would even argue a 10/20 year term is long enough, but at least we are still in the same order-of-magnitude.)

From a cultural standpoint, that's about half of a person's productive lifetime. With a 28 year copyright term, a person or society in general would be free to expand the Star Wars universe how they see fit. This is the compromise that copyright was supposed to provide: the author could make their money, while society (that was alive/effected at the time of initial release) could benefit from the creativity, and then expand on it.

With current copyright laws, my son will never 'legally' be able to make/produce/participate in a fanfiction movie in the Star Wars universe. Maybe not even his son, or his son's son. When multiple generations of 'us' can't legally be creative with an idea like Star Wars, that helped shape a generation's idea of lasers going pew pew in space, something is wrong.

But, Would George spend 100 million dollars to produce another movie, if he lost all exclusive rights to it in 5 years? Probably not. Then, people aren't publishing creativity because they couldn't make enough money off of projects to justify them. That swings the pendulum too far to the other extreme.

So, to make a long-story short, 5 years is too short. The current term is wayyy too long. Something in the 10-20 year range is reasonable.

One last point. From a software standpoint, I would like to see a change where if someone wants copyrights on software, they would have to provide the source code to a government agency, and after their term, the source code is released. Then, other people could read/learn/extend it much easier.

Also, once a thing is published, it should never have its term lengthened. Rather than stating the publishing date in the front cover of a book, it should have printed the copyright expiration date. If laws change in the meantime to shorten it, great. If not, everyone still knows when the book will be in the public domain -- no matter what. It's mess right now with all the extensions, changes, etc to know when a book/movie/work is in the public domain so people can start to reproduce it.

Need to use the Registry of Motor Vehicles model (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014933)

No, not the waiting in line model. I mean that copyrights should be extendable in perpetuity as long as they are renewed by application every ten years or so by payment of a small fee. That way Disney can keep Mickey without locking up hundreds of thousands of other properties which should go into the public domain.

counter productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40014961)

Tech investors would not invest in new ventures because they couldn't defend the new IPR for a significant amount of time.
Tech investment takes a long time. There might be a year and more between investment rounds. By the time youve got through seed, first and second round funding there is usually very little to be realised by an entrepreneur. The "significant" paydays are third round funding, commercialisation and of course IPO. This is the carrot that gets most of us tech innovators out of bed in the morning. Remove the 17 year patent window and you essentially remove most of the carrot.

The problems isnt the duration of patents, its the the fact that they are being applied for and granted en masse with virtually no due diligence by the PTOs to big companies with large legal budgets and then being used as anticompetitive weapons in the marketplace.

What if... (3, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40014973)

What if laws were vetted as if a theory or hypothesis via the scientific method?

What if, instead of blindly applying a blanket of legal rules, hoping for the best while ignoring the possibility of failure, we tested laws such as these on smaller samples of the country to prove the hypothetical benefits?

What if the country were segmented into regions whereby people could examine these different legal statuses and vote with their feet?
Why, we could call the regions having differing states of law: "States"

What if, instead of relying on only law making bodies and ultimately upon pompous pontifications of the elite "supreme" ruling clas--er... court, we also had a law unmaking body which could call for re-testing of the theories to adjust to changing socio-economic realities via examination of real world evidence?

What if basic proven scientific methods were applied rationally to government?
I know, I know... rational thought and government, oil and water... yes... but WHAT IF?!

I mean, its not as if the human society of the World isn't already doing such an experiment using countries as the legal boundary regions. Letting states enforce their own civil laws would only accelerate the process of legal evolution. What if, instead of trying to force a single unproven set of rules upon the entire world, we let each country compete on socially beneficial rules and let the best laws win?
What if, indeed.

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