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What Could Have Been In the Public Domain Today, But Isn't

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the none-for-you dept.

Media 309

An anonymous reader writes with an article from Duke Law on what would have entered the public domain today were it not for the copyright extensions enacted in 1978. From the article: "What could have been entering the public domain in the U.S. on January 1, 2013? Under the law that existed until 1978, works from 1956. The films Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Forbidden Planet, The Ten Commandments, and Around the World in 80 Days; the stories 101 Dalmations and Phillip K. Dick's The Minority Report; the songs 'Que Sera, Sera' and 'Heartbreak Hotel', and more. What is entering the public domain this year? Nothing." And Rick Falkvinge shares his predictions for what the copyright monopoly will try this year. As a bit of a music fan, excessive copyright hits home often: the entire discographies of many artists I like have been out of print for at least a decade. Should copyright even be as long as in the pre-1978 law? Is the Berne Convention obsolete and in need of breaking to actually preserve cultural history?

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309 comments

I nominate... (5, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440879)

...All the stuff that made it to the public domain that was retroactively clawed back after Congress extended copyright and didn't grandfather stuff that had already lapsed.

Who cares? (2, Insightful)

mlw4428 (1029576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440885)

I don't mean to sound rude or ignorant, but really...who cares? Will the foundations of society crumble because someone can't get out that ONE GOOD Hamlet remake where everyone dresses like they're in present times, but speak in Shakespearean language? We should focus on the REAL issues of copyright and that's the lack of ownership of digital copies or something serious.

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440913)

plenty of people care. you could have pretty bitchin digital libraries of education materials without the extensions.
also libraries would have plenty of print on demand things for really cheap.

and mickey remixes. gotta have them.

Re:Who cares? (3, Interesting)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441447)

There's another side of the coin, since that means that software protected under GPL would loose its protection, which is obviously bad. So there is a good argument for unlimited copyright.

In my opinion it's much better if copyright holders voluntarily decides to contribute their work to the common good, rather than doing that by force.

Some people claim FOSS destroys the market (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441555)

There's another side of the coin, since that means that software protected under GPL would loose its protection

GPL is designed to protect users from companies who would take free software, add compelling features to its own product, and restrict users of the improved product. Under a 14+14 year scheme like that of the original Copyright Act, such a company would have to replicate the existing 28 years of improvements before doing that.

In my opinion it's much better if copyright holders voluntarily decides to contribute their work to the common good, rather than doing that by force.

Some people claim that allowing people to "voluntarily decide[] to contribute their work to the common good" destroys the market [slashdot.org] and then go and successfully sue anybody who makes another program that performs the same function as their own copyrighted program [slashdot.org] .

Re:Who cares? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441673)

So there is a good argument for unlimited copyright.

No, there is not. Not on a planet with approx. 7B people. Copyright needs to be radically pruned. It was introduced as an _artificial_ monopoly with a very clear goal. This goal has been all but lost. It's simply beyond ridiculous...

Re:Who cares? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440917)

I don't mean to sound rude or ignorant, but really...who cares?

So what you're saying is Que Sera, Sera? If copyrights never expire then there will never be anything close to resolving your assumed legal ownership of that digital copy of whatever. Why? Because if current laws can be tweaked, misused and altered for the benefit of the copyright holders then they'll never have to get around to something serious.

Re:Who cares? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440929)

to quote TFA : "[If they had entered public domain as they should have ...] You would be free to translate these books into other languages, create Braille or audio versions for visually impaired readers (if you think that publishers wouldn’t object to this, you would be wrong), or adapt them for film. You could read them online or buy cheaper print editions, because others were free to republish them"

That's why you should care.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440967)

minority report is $1.99 on the kindle

Re:Who cares? (5, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441059)

minority report is $1.99 on the kindle

And if it were in the Public Domain, it would be available for $1.99 less than that - both free and libre [gutenberg.org] .

Re:Who cares? (4, Funny)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441427)

Or we could ask the copyright holder to release it under such license. No need to force anyone.

Re:Who cares? (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441567)

Or we could ask the copyright holder to release it under such license. No need to force anyone.

It is my understanding that this would be a waste of time, that all major publishers have a policy of blanket refusing such requests.

Re:Who cares? (4, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441917)

What that means is that when future generations look at our culture all they will see is free/open source software and creative commons since everything else will either be long gone or happened to be good enough that it survived.

Re:Who cares? (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441963)

That or they'll just see nothing, as the publishers of proprietary works will have sued the authors of freely licensed works for "plagiarism" (infringement of copyright in nonliteral elements) or software patent infringement.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441573)

Assuming that you can identify the copyright holder. For many older works, that can be quite a problem.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441767)

Easy solution.. Violate the copyright and wait for the lawyers to come-a-knockin..

Re:Who cares? (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441931)

So we loose that particular piece of work. No problem. Maybe we can replace that part of the history books with something under creative commons.

Re:Who cares? (3, Insightful)

maeglin (23145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441607)

Or we could ask the copyright holder to release it under such license. No need to force anyone.

Copyright is misnamed. It's not a right granted to an individual, it's a restriction placed on everyone else. It may make sense to restrict 5,999,999,999 people for the benefit of one person for a limited time. But, using your stellar logic, why force anyone to do something they don't want to do? The author chose to create something, everyone else is being forced. No need to force anyone, right?

Re:Who cares? (0)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441949)

Sure but you're not forced to use anyones work. Just let that fade out of history if the copyright holder didn't wanted it to survive.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441967)

Wow! What a great solution to the problem of copyright destroying some of our culture!

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441617)

Mod "Funny".

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

redwraith94 (1311731) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441677)

I don't understand this lack of a line of logic. Congress was granted the authority to protect works of art & science for the sake of their authors. They were also charged with doing it a manner that actually furthers the ENTIRE country's artistic & technical development. Patents are only good for 20 years...Did you cure cancer? That'll be 20 years that your work is protected...Did you invent Disney? That'll be 90?! That is thoughtless, and indefensible.

Copyright infringement penalties of $150,000 PER INSTANCE or there about are absurd in a age where I can make millions of copies in minutes by clicking a button.

Patenting molecules for drugs that we have negligently released to the market without adequate testing it preposterous. Drug PROCESSES should be patented, NOT the molecule, as this would actually spur innovation to find a more efficient process, as well as encourage companies that have a modicum of pride in their work to test the molecule perhaps more thoroughly, as they could sell it too...

Patenting genes, and then getting to sue farmers that have copies of these genes on their land (Monsanto), because the wind you know carries things is no small mix of absurd, criminal, ludicrous, unhealthy, and apparently dreamed up by those with no respect for reality.

Anyone who actually bothers to take anything close to a fair & balanced review of our current system regarding Patents, and Copyrights will find nothing short of a full blown kleptocracy.

Alot of people do not seem to understand the reason Congress was granted this authority in the first place. It was to balance the need to protect the creator of the work, with the need for the public to have to access to it. Another example of this is that Patents MUST contain enough detail about the invention that 'anyone similarly skilled in the art can recreate it', otherwise the work is unpatentable, and is to be rejected as such. The Authors have no more right to protection of their work than we have the right to demand it for free to further the good of all. It is a balance between the two, and it is currently quite broken. As congress has engaged in nothing approaching due diligence in the matter.

Re:Who cares? (-1, Troll)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441969)

Patents are evil but copyright is not. You don't have to copy Mickey Mouse to make a cartoon.

Re:Who cares? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441957)

Fuck availability.

If it were public domain, you could create a school play based on it, or a musical version, or whatever you want, without asking anyone's permission first. *That* is the big fucking deal.

Stop thinking like a consumer, start thinking like a creator.

Re:Who cares? (1)

mlw4428 (1029576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441335)

If I had modpoints, I would mod this up. I had honestly not considered Braille, audio, or other functional editions. Thank you for enlightening me.

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

pstorry (47673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440979)

Everyone should care, because creative works rarely happen in a vacuum.

As I write this, the other replies have focused mostly on long copyright terms affecting availability - digital libraries, Braille editions, audiobooks, etc.

But creativity often builds upon what went before. The longer we lock up works with copyright, the more expensive it can become to create new works - because you suddenly find yourself sued by someone who did a similar thing before you were even born, and believes you stole their plot. Or character(s). Or world.

And yes, people really do sue over these kinds of things.

Imagine a future where only the largest companies can create, because they have "creativity cross-licenses" where they've agreed not to sue each other. Sort of like we have for patents.

Now look at the mess that sloppy implementation of ever-further-reaching patent law has gotten us into.

That's why you should care.

Re:Who cares? (0)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441171)

You have to copy pretty close to get sued
Lots of plots are similar but the story is different enough that its ok

As for time, culture changes so unless you write historical fiction you won't get sued. Even the it's pretty easy to make up your own stuff

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441209)

What society do you refer to? A society in which everyone, and everything is measured by it's value to a corporation? If changing copyright back to about fifteen or twenty years should cause that society to crumble and fall, then we should change it. No other reason is needed to do so.

Re:Who cares? (0, Troll)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441217)

Will the foundations of society crumble because someone can't get out that ONE GOOD Hamlet remake where everyone dresses like they're in present times, but speak in Shakespearean language?

Will the foundations of society crumble if I punch you in the face? No, but that doesn't mean it's not a problem.

Re:Who cares? (2)

mlw4428 (1029576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441319)

What a stupid response. Not only did you not address my question, but your comment is devoid of anything that resembles intelligence above a retard.

You know what this comment: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350353&cid=42440929 [slashdot.org] was actually good. It presented me with options I did not think about, it wasn't some veiled threat or call for violence. What makes you even more stupid is that you wouldn't ever punch me in the face and you've delegated yourself to the millions of armchair, internet "tough guys" who would never actually DO anything that you describe.

It's too bad Slashdot doesn't have an ignore button, because I'm perfectly convinced there is not a single thing further you can say that would come off as anything that's intelligent or reasonable. Congratulations on being mediocre.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441465)

What a stupid response. Not only did you not address my question, but your comment is devoid of anything that resembles intelligence above a retard.

Off-topic though it is, in the future, would you please refrain from using the word "retard"? Not only is it considered an offensive slur towards people who have a hard enough time as it is getting past their health concerns, it makes the user sound like an unenlightened fool. Thank you in advance.

signed, Your friendly neighborhood A.C. :)

Re:Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441515)

Shut up you fucking retard

Re:Who cares? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441761)

What a stupid response. Not only did you not address my question, but your comment is devoid of anything that resembles intelligence above a retard.

No, I did respond. You asked whether or not society will crumble if we let this continue as if that's the only thing that determines whether or not something is a problem. Something needn't cause society to fall apart for it to be a problem.

Did you really not get that?

Re:Who cares? (2)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441693)

So that's the only standard by which decisions should be made, whether the foundations of society will crumble? Well, let's see. Will the foundations of society crumble because I set fire to your house? Nope, nothing to worry about there. Will the foundations of society crumble if police are allowed to set up cameras and record anyone in their homes without a warrant? Ehhh, a few people might complain but no crumbling going on here.

Dismissing a concern on the grounds of ridiculous hyperbole is about as rude and ignorant as you can make yourself. How about "will society benefit from wider access to creative works that might otherwise be forgotten?"

If you have an objection or disagree with a concern that's being raised, how about putting some effort into a counterargument with some relevance and at least a shred of understanding of the issues involved?

Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishers (5, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440897)

The the UK, publishers started printing new works from living authors without giving them anything and without permission. That is why copyright was created. It was never intended to restrict private citizens, just to prevent commercial exploitation that made authors starved.

Seems to me we have reached that point again and copyright is only a perverted shadow of what it was intended as. Dropping it completely for non-commercial use and 8 or 12 years for commercial use would have tremendous benefits society as a whole.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440989)

"copyright is only a perverted shadow of what it was intended as. Dropping it completely for non-commercial use and 8 or 12 years for commercial use would have tremendous benefits society as a whole."

On the contrary. When these laws were created, only those with expensive equipment (publishers) were in a position to adversely affect the ability of authors to make a living from their work. Modern technology allows large numbers of private individuals to do just as much damage to living authors of all types of works by making unauthorised copies for which the author receives no payment.

Consider the majority of professional photographers who deal primarily with individual, personal clients. The photographer has only two real choices: charge lots more for doing the initial job (because they know full well that they're never going to sell any copies) or switch to a different market altogether. That doesn't benefit the consumer, does it? It just means those services cease to be available, not because the services aren't wanted any more but because the majority of consumers are too dishonest to be worth dealing with.

Sadly, I don't think there's a realistic solution to this. Not while the average consumer continues to believe it's okay to rip off the author because 'it's just for personal use'.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441133)

affect the ability of authors to make a living from their work.

This is the mistake. In 1991 I helped change the contaminated hydraulic oil in an industrial cardboard bailer/press. It was a 100% success. No one thinks it unusual that I was paid up front in one lump sum for my labor at that time of dumping in uncountable bottles of hyd oil rather than 10 cents every time someone uses that cardboard bailer for the remainder of my life plus the next 74 years, or whatever it is.

If you shrunk the copyright duration down to roughly how long it took the author to write a book, it would hardly result in the downfall of western civ. Lets give them a decade. That sounds realistically fair. For example, I'm going to cough up $15 for Stross's next book, not wait ten years. In fact I buy all his books on the day of release, so a 1 day copyright wouldn't realistically affect his income from me.

If you eliminated it completely, Stross would either have to live on a pre-order bounty system (no more laundry series until he gets $50K in the bank!) or speeches / book signings, or just apathy. Most likely it would result in the death of the middlemen. Yes I could buy a copy from a cheater of the equivalence of those shady copied DVD sellers, but in the modern internet era its no challenge anymore for anyone in the world to buy a copy of the book directly from Stross. In fact I'd throw in an extra $20 for a personally autographed copy, which under the current middleman system, my extra $20 probably represents his share of about 1K sales.

Would I buy a copy of HP Lovecrafts work from one of his heirs? Hmm hard question. God knows they don't deserve the money merely for having the luck of being born to the author. On the other hand if they guilt tripped me by maintaining an museum or using the money for a touring exhibition of artifacts or even something like a tuition scholarship for young wannabe authors, well, yeah, they'd be doing enough good work to deserve my cash.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

dougisfunny (1200171) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441233)

Sure, you wouldn't want to wait ten years to buy the book. But suppose the publisher waits ten years to publish a book, so they don't have to pay the author anything? Without any way aside from publishers to get books, that could be a real problem.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441257)

Sure, pre-internet, that would work. Now authors can release and sell books without the publishers help.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441641)

Sure, you wouldn't want to wait ten years to buy the book. But suppose the publisher waits ten years to publish a book, so they don't have to pay the author anything?

Then add up to the first 25 years of unpublished status to the term. (This is what the U.S. already does for works made for hire and pre-1978 works.) So assuming the ten-year copyright term proposed by vlm, the publisher would have to wait thirty-five years, by which time the publisher's exclusive option on the manuscript will likely will have expired several times over and the author will have pitched it to other publishers.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441139)

Professional photographers are providing a service -- they take better pictures with better equipment than giving your camera to your buddy to take the pictures. But then, that's it. If they try to enforce any monopoly that they should be the ones printing the pictures, that needs to be ended. I don't feel sad they can't have their stupid exploitation. Charge a real price, drop any monopoly dreams, and if there's not enough money in it for them, they can get a real job. There's a market -- we paid our wedding photographer for the digital negatives and for a print album. My wife loves the album, I like having the digital negs in my collection. We wouldn't hire any photog that thought he could own our pictures for us.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441535)

There's a market -- we paid our wedding photographer for the digital negatives and for a print album. My wife loves the album, I like having the digital negs in my collection.

Did you actually request digital negatives? I mean, I imagine most people would be satisfied with the unaltered, positive RAWs. However, perhaps this is something else about professional photography I don't know.

...or perhaps you just meant "digital negatives" in the context of a pseudo-skeumorphism style metaphor.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441235)

Modern technology allows large numbers of private individuals to do just as much damage

Damage: 0. Not giving you money != damaging you. Unless, of course, you waste someone's time, use their resources, take something physical (something that actually exists), or alter something of someone else's.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (4, Insightful)

paaltio (978687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441179)

Seems to me we have reached that point again and copyright is only a perverted shadow of what it was intended as. Dropping it completely for non-commercial use and 8 or 12 years for commercial use would have tremendous benefits society as a whole.

Are you saying that I as a professional composer should let companies use my older music for free in commercial contexts, to benefit society? How could that possibly benefit anyone except the companies that already are completely nickel-and-diming freelancers like myself?

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441425)

In benefits society because it's an incentive for you to write even more music, which benefits us all.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441489)

I do not get paid for work I did 8 years ago and I don't think you should either.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441865)

Because you'd be free to use other people's older music to make derivative works.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441411)

What a strange explanation for copyright. It runs counter to my understanding which is that the primary purpose of copyright (and patents) is to encourage the creation of works that will, after a fixed time, enter the public domain. That's why I get so angry at the abuse of the original intent. We're allowing the creation of an aristocracy of ideas and that is a very, very bad thing.

Re:Copyrigt was created because of greedy publishe (1)

Bogtha (906264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441439)

Actually, copyright was originally a censorship mechanism for the Crown. It's true that there was a transformative change to protect authors with the Statute of Anne, but there were laws in place before then you could fairly refer to as copyright law.

Footnote 2 is interesting (2)

Arker (91948) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440899)

Under the law at the time, these âoemusical compositionsâ â" the music and lyrics â" were subject to copyright, but the particular âoesound recordingsâ embodying the musical compositions were not; federal copyright did not cover sound recordings until 1972. So, for example, the musical composition âoeQue Sera, Seraâ written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans was copyrighted, but not Doris Dayâ(TM)s particular sound recording of that composition.

This old rule made more sense if you ask me. And notice that, despite copyright covering only 'the work' itself rather than particular instantiations of it, the music industry was still able to grow huge and make tons of money under the old law.

The software equivalent would be to hold source code copyrightable, but not binaries. And this would make even more sense.

Just make binaries uncopyrightable w/o source (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441007)

If you don't get source, the binary is not expressive and cannot be used to advance the state of the art, therefore should not be copyrightable.

I think that most people would agree that if you had the source code (and it WAS the source code) for the binary sold, then this could be copyrighted together since the binary is merely an operable version of the source code.

But if you don't have source, you don't get copyrights on either the code (it is a trade secret) or the binary (it isn't copyrightable on its own).

Remember: just because JK Rowling's books are "Open source" (if you can read the language it is written in), this neither stops JKR making money off the work nor means people can just make a new "Barry Hotter and the Chamber of Commerce" if it would be too much a rip-off.

What could be in public domain in U$A, but isn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440921)

Cause we couldn't give a flying over your broken legal/patent system.

Immigration (0)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441655)

Is your country accepting refugees from our "broken legal/patent system"?

If this intellectual property is like your house (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440923)

Then it should be treated like your house.

Taxes paid on it.

You must maintain it or have it reposessed.

If you don't evict squatters after a time they become the new owners (effective abandonment)

Public gets rights to access.

Pay tax on your "property" and if you let it fall into ruin, you lose it.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441157)

If houses were like IP, those bricklayers would be rich, after all, they could charge everyone living in the house, even 70 years after they died.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (4, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441189)

This is an interesting idea. While I'd rather see copyright abolished completely, what about this:

* if you hold copyright on work X, you declare how much it is worth
* a periodic tax is levied, based on the value you declared
* at any moment, you may declare a higher value. It can go up but never down (valuable works that are no longer profitable should go public).
* at any moment, you may abandon the copyright, irrevocably putting the work into public domain
* anyone may buy the copyright from you for the listed price
* if the other party intends to buy it to keep (as opposed to freeing it to the public), you may instead raise the value [1]
* the tax rate increases with time

[1]. You could have immediately bought it back for the same price, this rule merely resolves such a loop for the benefit of the old holder.

Such a scheme would ensure any copyright is taxed based on its fair market valuation.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (1)

La Gris (531858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441905)

Your proposals sounds really clever.

I deserve you a symbolic +1 Interesting because I have no mod points today.

Something similar I posted ~ a decade ago (4, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441987)

http://journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/biplog/archive/000431.html [berkeley.edu]

I got the idea earlier from someone's slashdot sig around then which I saw in passing -- wish I could figure out who. The sig was something like: "If it is intellectual property, why isn't it taxed?"

In the variant I proposed, anyone could pay the money to put the copyright into the public domain (not purchase it for themselves).

Lawrence Lessig proposed something simpler -- a small ($50) tax after fifty years to re-register a copyright. That way at least all the abandoned works would become public domain when the tax was not paid on them (which would be a matter of public record). So, even some simple steps could be a huge step forward.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441327)

Taxes paid on it.

Dead people earn a lot of money, and pay taxes on it: http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2012/1024_dead-celebrities.html [forbes.com]

And no, you can't take it with you, unfortunately.

Vampires are undead, who live off the living. In the case of celebrities, there are living people who are living off the dead.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (2)

fibonacci8 (260615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441513)

In the case of celebrities, there are living people who are living off the dead.

Ghouls, in other words

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441805)

Ghouls, in other words

Ghouls is only one word.

Re:If this intellectual property is like your hous (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441599)

Let's just say... you don't really understand how houses and real property are treated under the law.

OMG, nothing new has been made (-1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440925)

crazy, the only movies are the old copyrighted ones

no new movie, has been made in the last 30 some years because of these copyright laws
no new book has been written
no new music made

we are forced to keep on buying the same old movies over and over

Re:OMG, nothing new has been made (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440981)

no new movie, has been made in the last 30 some years because of these copyright laws
no new book has been written
no new music made

You missed a major consequence: we don't see a lot of old movies, old books, old songs. Because no one knows who the copyright belongs to, so no one dares reissue or adapt them in case they get sued. Or the owner is known but doesn't think it's profitable to release, so no one else can ever do so either.

Re:OMG, nothing new has been made (2)

BlkRb0t (1610449) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440991)

crazy, the only movies are the old copyrighted ones

no new movie, has been made in the last 30 some years because of these copyright laws no new book has been written no new music made

we are forced to keep on buying the same old movies over and over

It's not about being able to create new stuff. It's about ensuring unhindered access of our culture and knowledge to our children. Just imagine the possibilities if you can search, catalog and read/view/listen through hundreds of works by artistes who're dead for years, and build upon them. The current copyright law only benefits the greedy corporates, so much creativity is lost just because of that.

Re:OMG, nothing new has been made (5, Insightful)

pstorry (47673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441021)

It's hard to detect sarcasm on the internet, so I'm going to assume you're serious. :-)

we are forced to keep on buying the same old movies over and over

Quite. Only the big studios can afford to license the old films for remakes.

So Disney's big break was with a film based on a folk story written down by the Brothers Grimm - it was out of copyright. Nobody to pay, nobody to clear changes with... Does the modern film-maker looking for a break have such luxuries?

Can any new film maker do what Disney did? Modern copyright probably makes it very difficult indeed, and somewhat risky as there may always be someone who crawls out of the woodwork to sue you after you've done the expensive hard work...

So we are forced to see nothing but franchises and remakes of old films, as they are "safe" in copyright terms.

A great pity.

Abandon all culture ... (2)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440949)

This is the obvious way to make it not matter at all what they lock down for 100s of years. Laurel and Hardy used to be on every Christmas when I was a child. I haven't seen any of their films now for a long long time. Probably they're all sitting in a vault somewhere turning to dust. I guess it is a reminder than in 10^3, 10^4, 10^5, 10^6 ... years eventually it will all be lost. So, we lost all our culture early because of greedy people. Well let them have it. I'm happy to opt out of their world. What was our culture for anyway? We seem to have lost the point of it. Meanwhile at street level human creativity remains unstoppable. Those with the itch to create something will create it no matter what.

Re:Abandon all culture ... (4, Interesting)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441041)

This is the obvious way to make it not matter at all what they lock down for 100s of years. Laurel and Hardy used to be on every Christmas when I was a child. I haven't seen any of their films now for a long long time. Probably they're all sitting in a vault somewhere turning to dust. I guess it is a reminder than in 10^3, 10^4, 10^5, 10^6 ... years eventually it will all be lost.

Probably, but you can do something: Help keep backups online. [thepiratebay.se]

I've found myself become the (apparent) sole custodian—i.e., the only persistent, public seeder that I can see—of a number works. When that happens, I feel an obligation to keep my copy available indefinitely. I consider the personal risk in doing so to be less serious than the risk of one of said works becoming permanently unavailable.

Re:Abandon all culture ... (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441121)

Well, I guess we're heading into a new "dark age" when it comes to our culture and art. We will of course have all the documents and historians of the future will have no problem discovering what politicians ruled where, what wars were fought and why, but what music we listened to, what movies we saw, will be lost.

Lost due to incompatibility and formats that nobody can read anymore. How many items from earlier times do you have on VHS and Beta that you digitized so it won't be lost when that VCR dies? No such luck with BluRays. Once there is no player for it anymore, those discs are mighty shiny coasters, but that's pretty much it.

Creating a big "national archive" isn't really going to solve the issue either, at least if we don't think in decades but centuries. Remember the great library of Alexandria? It did contain pretty much all the knowledge of its time, and all of it was lost in the big fire. All it takes is some civil war or some religious nuts taking over and declaring the whole crap as "heretic" and we being better off if we just destroy it.

Though blaming just the religious nuts is maybe a bit short sighted, considering pretty much the same happened with a lot of religious iconography in Russia when the Soviets took over, so ... no matter what radical idea takes over, anything in government hands is prone to destruction.

Historians often have to rely on "private" archives that nobody but the original owner knew about, because such archives are usually much safer from deliberate destruction. But just these archives will not be available to future historians.

Re:Abandon all culture ... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441657)

. Laurel and Hardy used to be on every Christmas when I was a child. I haven't seen any of their films now for a long long time. Probably they're all sitting in a vault somewhere turning to dust.

Checking "find TV shows" on my Tivo... I find three showings of Laurel and Hardy on a local channel in the next two weeks. (Which is all the further Tivo caches schedule information.)
 
Checking Netflix, there's a whole raftload of Laurel & Hardy, both streaming and DVD's. Hulu has ten episodes. Amazon Live Video shows a stack of movies available as well. iTunes has two dozen or more movies, plus music.
 
So no, Laurel and Hardy aren't sitting in a vault - you either have sucky local channels, or fail massively at basic media searching.

Re:Abandon all culture ... (2)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441787)

Oh no! I have to spend 2 seconds thinking of a better example now. (I am not US-resident, incidentally, so would not know what is available on your local region-locked providers.)

old game roms (5, Insightful)

spikestabber (644578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42440957)

You only need to go as far as the MAME, or the (S)NES libraries to realize copyright is broken. Licensing issues or lame owners prevent at least 80% of these titles from ever seeing the legitimate light of day ever again. Copyright has become a cultural lockup, nothing more.

Re:old game roms (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441129)

It gets a helluva lot more recent than SNES. There are countless games and applications which for all intents and purposes are abandoned, yet someone is still holding onto those rights. There was a game from the mid 90s that some artist and coder friends got the idea to remake. We spent the better part of a year trying to get a hold of whoever holds the rights to it currently, must have called 100 people myself, but never found who that is. We resorted to provoking the rights holder into surfacing by making a short demo which was the game's prologue. Didn't work out, got shot down by the file host we put it on as well as video websites we posted teasers on, they would not disclose contact information for whoever filed the take downs.

Re:old game roms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441505)

they would not disclose contact information for whoever filed the take downs.

You need a new file hosting service.

Re:old game roms (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441291)

You only need to go as far as the MAME, or the (S)NES libraries to realize copyright is broken.
Licensing issues or lame owners prevent at least 80% of these titles from ever seeing the legitimate light of day ever again.

Copyright has become a cultural lockup, nothing more.

Just to be clear, copyrights and the corruption surrounding the entire system have jack shit to do with culture or society.

It's about money. Nothing more. One could claim it's about control, but the only real control you have is the control over who makes the money, so once again, the real reason rears its ugly head.

Re:money vs culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441743)

The reason for the corruption is always money, yes, but the destruction it causes in this case is the loss of culture.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42440961)

Maybe everything should be.

Summary of Rick Falkvinge's predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441029)

1. More politicians will educate themselves on copyright issues.

2. Something big will happen, but I don't know what.

3. The judiciary system will not change course.

Re:Summary of Rick Falkvinge's predictions (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441075)

Rather vague, but generally safe. I can make some vague but safe predictions too:

1. While some politicians may indeed start to speak of excessive copyright, neither of the big two parties will make it a campaign issue.

2. There will be at least one attempt to sneak an unpopular copyright-related law in through a legislative backdoor or by trying to sneak it under the radar of opposition notice.

3. There will be at least one successful takedown/raid of a major pirate service, possibly even TPB, but piracy will continue regardless.

Berne convention is responsible (5, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441037)

The Berne convention isn't just obsolete, it should never have been adopted in the first place. Its most odious aspect is the prohibition of registration requirements, creating the large orphan works problem we have now.

The irony about the Berne convention is that Europeans pushed for it thinking that they would be the largest beneficiaries under it because Europe had traditionally been so culturally productive. But it turned out that it was instead a boon to the US movie and music industries, and they have learned to play the copyright game very well. Now, Europeans are crying foul even though they are responsible for the mess in the first place.

Berne convention is better than US copyright law (1)

jrincayc (22260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441977)

The details are somewhat complicated, but in most cases the Berne convention is better than current US law. For example, under the Berne convention, copyrights for movies only last 50 years (Article 7 (2)), but under US law is 95 years. Copyrights for a new book last 70 years after the author's death under US law, but only 50 years after the author's death under the Berne convention (Article 7 (1)). For photographs, the term is 25 years under Berne (Article 7 (4)), and 70 years after the photographer's death in US law.

http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/trtdocs_wo001.html [wipo.int]

For some cases it the current term under US law is longer than the Berne convention, for example, a work written in 1923 will expire in 2018 (Publication + 95 years), but if the author died in 1975, it would still be under copyright until 2025 (author death + 50 years).

The Berne convention allows countries to keep shorter terms, but I don't think that it allows countries to go back to there shorter terms than the Berne convention allows after they extend them. See Article 7 (7).

I think it would be very useful to pass a law in the US that the copyright term should be the minimum of current law or the Berne convention.

A copyright extension makes no sense at all (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441055)

Actually, shortening it would reflect the changes in technology and society.

The original copyright (IIRC of 7 years) was adequate for the time when it was invented. It took a creator a long while to get his works into a format where it can be reproduced easily, reproduction took quite a bit of time and making the item known to create a stock of customers took even longer. Those 7 years was pretty much what it took to get the item produced and sold.

Today, creation, reproduction and advertising can be done in mere hours, maybe days. A copyright of about 7 months would reflect the reality of today.

Your analysis looks at the wrong thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441309)

The copyright term was intended to reflect the economic life of the work to the author -- not how long it took the copyrighted work to be reproduced. The economic life of today's works are longer. In today's society, we consume (e.g., watch movies, listen to mustic) from generations ago. We, as a society, have more leisure time to enjoy these works, and the mediums used to store these works are much longer lasting.

The copyright system is to protect the creator's interests -- not to protect the interest of the consumers. The consumers already have a legitimate way to obtain the work -- purchase it or borrow it from a library or a friend.

Copyright consumers don't add anything to society as it pertains to artistic works beyond their ability to pay for it. The Copyright Act was meant to provide a mechanism by which the creators of artistic works can be paid. Personally, I don't have any sympathy for people wanting to get something for free.

Like most things, if you are honest with yourself, this debates centers about the economic interests of the two sides. In such a debate, I'm going to side with the creators – not the copiers.

Please specify this legitimate way (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441709)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

The consumers already have a legitimate way to obtain the work

What's the legitimate way to obtain a copy of the film Song of the South or the animated television series Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea?

Copyright consumers don't add anything to society as it pertains to artistic works beyond their ability to pay for it.

They add the ability to produce fan-made derivative works.

The Copyright Act was meant to provide a mechanism by which the creators of artistic works can be paid.

Then why is it implemented as a ban on copying rather than a regulated royalty?

Re:Your analysis looks at the wrong thing (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441755)

The copyright term was intended to reflect the economic life of the work to the author -- not how long it took the copyrighted work to be reproduced. The economic life of today's works are longer. In today's society, we consume (e.g., watch movies, listen to mustic) from generations ago. We, as a society, have more leisure time to enjoy these works, and the mediums used to store these works are much longer lasting.

Um..."the economic life of the work to the author" is about as long as there's a copyright term. Choosing that term is based in part on the curve of sales tapering off over time, but if it were merely a consideration of the author's economic future with a work, copyright would never end. Further, the idea that today's society consumes older works in general is very preposterous except in that re-implementation of very old Greek works keep popping up. Of course, as you note, people used to have a lot less leisure time long ago. Yet oddly people still did a lot of reading and then, like now, it was centered on the popular works of the day with few people really reading classical works.

The copyright system is to protect the creator's interests -- not to protect the interest of the consumers. The consumers already have a legitimate way to obtain the work -- purchase it or borrow it from a library or a friend.

No, the copyright system is to protect society's interests; that's why copyright terms end at some time--late enough to create an incentive to authors but short enough to hopefully allow society at large to prosper from the new ideas introduced. Having said, the very point is that one can't borrow or purchase a lot of works precisely because the copyright term today is so long that surviving copies of a work are often incredibly rare and because the ownership of the copyright is often enough in dispute there's often no clear legal means to make more copies.

Copyright consumers don't add anything to society as it pertains to artistic works beyond their ability to pay for it. The Copyright Act was meant to provide a mechanism by which the creators of artistic works can be paid. Personally, I don't have any sympathy for people wanting to get something for free.

Which is why, I presume, you support all authors paying royalties on plot ideas from the Greeks, words and grammar from the English, and religious, moral, musical, and cultural themes from Mesopotamia. It's not like authors create all those things out of whole clothe and so they can't expect "to get something for free". Oh, right, at some point it's recognized that to create indefinitely copyright or patents or trademarks on things is actually a bad thing.

Like most things, if you are honest with yourself, this debates centers about the economic interests of the two sides. In such a debate, I'm going to side with the creators – not the copiers.

Yep. Because we all know fairy tales, which were heavily copied by Disney and a large basis for its economic success, were all sourced from one creator who created them perfectly in their original. It's not like a lot of oral copiers took fairy tales, "made it better" when they told the story, and the very fact that actually better stories were more likely to be copied meant those versions were the ones we know more today... Oh, right, what you're talking about is people who are wholly consumers. Gee, I wonder why, in a system in which copyright lasts a lifetime and then some, people would be less inclined to take existing ideas and experiment with them. It's almost like they've been trained to believe they either have to (a) consumer soley, (b) be sued if they try to create upon an extant idea (fan fiction is a starting place for a lot of writers, programmers are more inclined to clone an extant game first to learn, etc), or (c) be very good at changing the window dressings on a story to avoid (b) given how very little really new stuff there is to create.

Re:Your analysis looks at the wrong thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441895)

The copyright term was intended to reflect the economic life of the work to the author -- not how long it took the copyrighted work to be reproduced.

Citation needed.

We, as a society, have more leisure time to enjoy these works, and the mediums used to store these works are much longer lasting.

Nonsense. CDs, DVDs, Blue-Rays etc. deteriorate _way_ faster than a printed book.

The copyright system is to protect the creator's interests -- not to protect the interest of the consumers.

Again. Nonsense. The system's stated goal is to find a middle ground between creators' and society's interests.

Copyright consumers don't add anything to society as it pertains to artistic works beyond their ability to pay for it.

Of course they do. Including new/someone else's ideas into your own mindset adds _a_ _lot_ to society. This is almost the whole point of culture.

Personally, I don't have any sympathy for people wanting to get something for free.

Personally I have any sympathy in the world for people wanting to get something for free. Oops. Sorry. Does that contradict your beliefs?

Have Abba's "Mamma Mia" in every fking ad? (2)

osiaq (2495684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441065)

No, thank you. I would puke having Mickey Mouse danc8ng with 101 Dalmatians to the Queens "we are the champions" in the new, exciting corn flakes ad. Seriously, ladies and gentelmen: copyright is evil and im fine with this.

Gendre Extermination (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441097)

Because of copyright laws entire gendres of music are missing in action. For example try finding Dixie Land jazz on any radio station including net radio. Worse yet, most of Dixie Land music was never scripted while it was in vogue. Later a few people created sheet music that matched the music they had heard in earlier years. Those copyrights prevent the playing of the music as well as free acquisition of musical scores even though the transcribers actually never had anything to do at all with the creation of the music. So we are still held captive in what we can hear and learn to play from tunes popular clear back into the Civil War era. And since the potential market for such music is rather small what publisher will take the risk of making a score available to the public even for a fee.

Everything aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441123)

Isn't it a true shame that no one has created an "UNIVERSAL" (Whatever information available etc.) library that is accessible by all of mankind? Some of the contributions on the net aren't advantageous, still, I salute the internet, and those who work to make the net a better place to find "Knowledge"..... the net does say a lot about the people, doesn't it? Oh wait. I like the internet. :p May it prosper, in the best thinkable way. And the people too. *done ranting*

I have reached the acceptance phase (2)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441287)

It's pretty clear to me that nothing will ever again be allowed to enter the public domain.

Re:I have reached the acceptance phase (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441483)

Copyright holders can of course always choose to do that. And if it turns out that none of us wants to distribute our work under such circomstances, then why are we doing this in the first place?

Copyright: Forever Less One Day (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441293)

It probably doesn't say much that most slashdotters aren't already familiar with, but this video [youtube.com] is both entertaining and informative about the subject.

As if... (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441311)

As if life + 50 years wasn't enough! You know, if you put 2 or 3 notes together they would appear in virtually every piece of music ever published. I wonder how long it will take the music companies to start suing over those strings.

Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441729)

I wonder how long it will take the music companies to start suing over those [short] strings [of notes].

They already are suing over these strings. Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music, for example.

can we have a torrent website just for these? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441317)

I think it would be nice to have a bittorrent website that
just list the things that would have been in the public domain today.

or perhaps a list here directly in slashdot?

slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441365)

Still in 2013 there seems not to be any system on slashdot to prevent execution of smaller webservers... :-(

The way Western democratic countries are run (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441393)

The way Western democratic countries are run.

If I were rich (1)

wildzeke (191754) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441429)

I would create a web page that will let people download copyright works that are about to expire in a year. And see if anyone tries to sue. If no one does, I will put up copyright works that will expire in two years and see who cares to sue. Keep bumping the number up to see what the real threshold is for years in copyright before someone decides it is appropriate to spend money protecting these works.

I thank 7ou fCor your time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42441605)

its corpse tuRnEd

Convoluted (1)

fibonacci8 (260615) | about a year and a half ago | (#42441691)

Unless I'm interpreting the Berne convention wrong, literary works of authors that published in signatories outside of the USA either solely or simultaneously as publication in the US, will still enter the public domain 50 years after the authors death or the lesser of the terms granted by any of the signatory country publications. Combined with the summary , this leads me to believe that A) the summary is false and works from other countries did enter the public domain, B) No authors died in 1962 and the summary is true, or C) All other signatory countries with authors that died in 1962 gave equal or greater duration for copyright than the USA and the summary is still true. Or some combination of A, B, and C. My vague understanding is that the extensions to copyright in the USA only apply to works published first solely in the USA and not published in other Berne signatory countries for 30 days after the initial publication.
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