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Fair IP Laws?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the injecting-sanity-into-copyrights-and-patents dept.

The Courts 723

epsalon asks: "Most of us are against the current status of Copyright and Patent law, and are outraged from stuff like the DMCA, SSSCA, et al. We know that this system is wrong, and must be changed. However, nullifying all IP laws is IMHO a bit too strong, because there will be no incentive to create anything for mass market sale except out of goodwill, or for leveraging other revenue (aka Linux). Assuming you could rewrite the entire world IP law, and even create a new social system, my question is: What laws can be written that will be fair both to content creators and to users, while cutting the middleman?" Here's your chance to do something other than complain about the current state things. How would you revise or restructure IP and copyright law to make both sides of the fence happy?

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Troll Tuesday (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560249)

Is the best day for FPS.

CowboyNeal Eating Club -- JOIN NOW! (-1)

ChristmasTroll (571911) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560264)

The CowboyNeal Eating Club

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  • Is this fattening...ENOUGH?
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  • Wiping your ass...when you just can't reach!

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Frost... Uhh.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560250)

How do I do this again?

Re:Frost... Uhh.. (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560301)

Here, let me help you:

"I'm an AC fucktard who couldn't get FP with a beowulf cluster of dildos running RedHat 2.5. The extra vibration is for RMS !"

well.. (0)

SnAzBaZ (572456) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560257)

Life isn't fair. We all know that.

Re:well.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560277)

Let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet.

As far as patents are concerned (2, Interesting)

dmanny (573844) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560258)

I would really like to see a period of public review prior to issuance

Re:As far as patents are concerned (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560275)

A peer review of intellectual property before protection is in place? Why didn't I think of that?

Re:As far as patents are concerned (2, Insightful)

xonker (29382) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560484)

Ever heard of "patent pending"? Many companies release products before the technologies are actually granted a patent. Since companies are often awarded damages when a product or whatever infringes on their patent, there's no reason why a company couldn't get damages if a company steals an idea from a patent application if that patent is eventually approved.

I think the peer-review / public comment idea has some serious merit. It could potentially be abused, but the current system is already being horribly abused. At least this gives the public a chance to say "hey, this isn't worthy of a patent" or "hey, this has been done already." Remember, patents and IP protection are not divine rights, they're tools our society invented to promote creativity. Right now, they stifle it instead. Society has the right to change the system to best benefit society as a whole overall. In this case, patent and IP law has become skewed in favor of large corporations and is damaging the rights and interests of the majority of society (even if they don't really realize it...). It's time for a drastic change.

Re:As far as patents are concerned (2)

Xentax (201517) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560485)

We'd need to see something a lot more specific than that...

Would issues be required to be addressed? Would there have to be a certain minimum amount of feedback on EVERY patent (because let's face it, some things are sufficiently obscure that few people if any will bother or even be able to comment)? Would a popular "vote" against the patent's validity be sufficient to prevent it from being awarded?

I'd require at least prior art claims to be addressed by the applicant, if they meet some hard-and-fast criteria in terms of verifiability (especially if the prior art isn't itself patented).


Kill the big corps (1)

Black_Logic (79637) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560269)

Breaking up all the really big companys would probably be sufficent.
Hey, this IS hypothetical right? :)

Re:Kill the big corps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560299)

Sure, push those who are successful.

Full House: Weekend Recollection (-1)

LOTR Troll (544929) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560271)

TheMonday morning after a weekend spent mostly at the VA Hospital with her mentally crippled sister depressed D.J. slightly. Uncle Joey passes by the unhinged door of D.J.'s room and says "You're sexually harrassing me with your eyes you little bitch, get your fuckin' ass out of bed, it's time for school. Cut It Out! No seriously, don't make me undress you." Uncle Joey departs licking his lips and heading downstairs. D.J. pulls the covers over her head drifts off into a recurrence of events sequence as the audience laugh track plays.

We're now observing the events of Saturday as D.J. is dreaming. D.J. is required by her father to use a specific routine each time her sister Michelle needs medical attention for asthma attacks and immunizations, of course Danny would never bother to to do this for his youngest offspring. However, D.J. does it reasonably well, albeit mostly slower than could be done through legitimate channels. On Saturday afternoon she arrived at the hospital, claiming to be a pre-teen runaway that lives in a dumpster with her retarded sister. As usual, a nurse promptly took the pair to the rear of the children's ward and had them stripped after administering a generic inhaler on Michelle. The nurse Juanita, a middle-aged heavy-set black woman asked with mild compassion "Good looooahhd, why you have this padlock on your puujammas?" D.J. had no reasonable reply, none that wouldn't wind her up in a worse abusive foster home again, so lied and said she did not know. "Don' you worry tho', I gots a pair of bolt cuttahs near the crazy ward, I will be right back yungins." Juanita returned shortly with bolt cutters and cut the lock off of the homemade fabric secure.

Juanita said quickly, "You know the drill" as she surprised the two sisters with a forceful, icy burst from a garden hose; laugh track applauding as the girls squirmed in frozen discomfort. Juanita threw soaps at the girls. Juanita exlaimed in disbelief, "Mercy D.J., you have a mighty serious case of jock itch for a chile of yo' age!" Michelle didn't know what to make of the soap, so bit off a tiny piece. Michelle, like most retards, reacted in a heavily emotional manner to the bitter taste in her mouth as she began to foam, and swallowed most of it on accident. Juanita exlaimed "Good loahhhd," and directed the hose stream square into the tard's open whiney mouth, knocking her onto her naked ass as the laugh track reched climax. D.J. was nearly finished washing herself, and let her idiot-child sibling struggle against Juanita's hose current, bawling as full volume while Juanita chuckled heartily at the reaction she had induced.

D.J. dried herself off and watched Juanita deliver the thick stream of water at Michelle's tiny hindquarters; pushing her along the slick tiled floor with a white nurse's shoe. Several minutes later Juanita dried Michelle off, sat her down on an examination table and administered a Polio immunization. The tard showed signs of discomfort, but was met with a swift slap to the head by Juanita in anticipation. Juanita remarked "Don't you be lettin' that chile cry in this hospital room!" Michelle sat stunned; cross-eyed as the laugh track played. "Time to see what chile welfare can do about a foster home fo' you kids," Juanita said as she left the exam room. D.J. picked up her little sister and snuck past the front desk of the hospital and left the building, bare asses visible through the rear of their hospital gowns as the sequence of occurance faded out with the laugh track playing in the background.

Danny was walking past his daughter's room and noticed that she was still sleeping. Danny took off his leather belt, halved it, placed the folded end in his palm and savagely began to beat his daughter with the buckle end of the belt, screaming "Your Uncle Joey *thwap* told your ass to *thwap* get out of *thwap* bed! You remind me of your dead mother, useless, may she burn in hell! Get out of bed!" Danny Tanner put his belt back on, buckled it, took something out of his pocket wrapped in a Burger King hamburger paper wrapper and threw it at his daugher. "Here's breakfast, be careful of the extra 'surprise' I've included," Danny said as he left in the hall chuckling snidely with the studio audience. D.J. unwrapped a half- eaten BK Whopper that had been in Danny's left pocket for several days and ate it greedily, dabbing at some ketchup on a snotty kleenex that was wrapped with the burger. The scene closes with the credits rolling over a freeze-frame of D.J.'s face immediately after having seen the repulsive kleenex with about a teaspoon worth of yellow phlegm.

There's certainly a need... (1)

Anomolous Cow Herd (457746) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560273)

By "fair", of course, you mean probably meant to say "unfair for the big bad media corporation".

Re:There's certainly a need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560394)

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." - George Bush

George Bush Sr. said that. Not GW. I'm not saying he doesn't think it. But your sig is misleading. There's no reason to mislead people into thinking GW said said something stupid, when really says stupid things all the time. It's like framing a guilty man: when his supporters find out, you will make him look less guilty.

get your text here (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560274)


As far as we know, the idea of copyright and the royalty-fees in connection to it, did not originate in the minds of composers nor creators at all! Protection of copyright entered our law-systems only under pressure of publishers and replaced their former privileges to print and to sell books. Therefore the idea of copyright cannot be traced back any further than up to the moment of the invention of the printing press with Gutenberg. Even if the idea of individual authorship and moral rights with regard to intellectual property goes back on the french revolution, it should be said, as to musical composition, that all copyright regulations date back only from the second half of the nineteenth century. The time when our music culture took a turn towards historicism.

Concert life at that time just achieved independence from contemporary music production and concentrated merely on reproduction of so called classic music from the past. Only commercial, i.e. mass-consumption oriented new music (Strauss-walzes, the real origin of pop-music) was really in demand. The majority of academically schooled composers became sort of superfluous and thus felt a lot of social frustration. Nobody was in need of their music and thus, economically speaking, their music was (and still is) absolutely worthless, since out of demand. Organisations such as Sabam here in Belgium, were not founded to help out poor composers, but only to secure them a place in a capitalist economical system: to give them some psychological feel of being valuable. It is thus very well explainable why those organisations where founded by probably the worst of those days composers, and... why still today they are led by the worst and most academic amongst them. But, what they have done in fact, was nothing else than copying the idea of copyright protection from the publishers, but without understanding the very basis of the system. Publishers in fact used and needed copyright protection in order to protect their investment. Composers at the other hand do not usually invest anything but cheap ink and musicpaper.

However, I am not going to annoy you all with historical facts and details, but the only reason why I am raising these few points is to show that the underlying motivation to the legislation of such a thing as copyright was nothing else than the protection against competition of the publishers material production. The publisher, before printing, had to do a for that time rather substantial investment, and he did'nt like the risk of someone else producing the same book - cheaper - in fear of major financial losses. He didn't protect the contents of the book, but merely used the criterium of the contents as a way of protecting his material production and financial investment. One can consider such an attitude to be clearly in contradiction with liberal economic theory. Information in the second half of the nineteenth century still was quite strongly bound to its medium, to its material carrier. As a parenthesis, allow me to remark that the first books printed in large numbers were actually bibles, wherefore nobody could really claim any form of copyright anyway! One thought of it being quite evident, the Holy Word going round. And, as a second remark, of course also before printing the practice of copying was widely in use, and nobody ever made a problem with regard to the "property of the contents" . Every copy - a manuscript in itself - was a new commissioned product and that product was owned by the one who payed for it. In every case, the notion of content was entirely unrelated to the economical value of the manuscript. The labour of copying - by hand - was what was payed for. Furthermore, in the case of "original" work, the new work was either a commission in some way (of a publisher, a monastery, a government, an art collector, an institution...) or a normal result of a given job situation (as in the case of professional researchers in service of an institution, university, conservatory etc...), or else, it could also be a new work under the personal initiative of the writer. In the first case the work was of course payed for by the commisioner or the employer, whereas in the second case, no claims for remuneration could of course be made.

Up to the beginning of the 19th century, this procedure sounded - and so it still sounds to me - quite fair. Things have changed from the second half of that century on, where the first associations of authors and inventors were founded in an attempt to protect the economy against its own and most beautiful and democratising consequences: technology. And here we enter the level of the philosophical debate of the matter, since this paradox can only be solved by careful analysis of the different concepts used. So, let's first have a brief look at the notion of 'information', and let's define information broadly as a set of perceivable forms of matter or energy (form in space or form in time, as in the case of music). As such any form is transferable to any material or energetic substrate or carrier. This is a logical consequence of the defined notion of information itself. It seems extremely evident when we apply it to such things as knowledge: it simply means that I can tell you something I know, that I can also write it down, record it on a cassette or store it as a sequence of bytes in a computer. The basic property of information seems to be that its transfer and multiplication is possible without taking away anything from the source. When I tell you something, I don't lose anything from what I'm telling you. I just lose some salliva, some energy etc...

This entails that information cannot be owned for very intrinsic reasons. Property after all, is something you can lose. If you can't lose something you can't consider it to be your property neither. Thus the whole notion of intellectual property, property of ideas, appears to be nonsensical, and , not for ideological reasons but logically so. Its merely a bad metaphor. Secondly, as information is not a product and an object of possession itself, it cannot be considered to have been produced neither. The notion of production can be sensefully applied only to the substrates and the labour put into shaping them. This means clearly that thinking is not producing. An idea is not a product. A score is, speach is, just as making (and I mean, playing) music is the result of a real production. Now of course, it may be true that it is quite impossible to communicate ideas, or information in general, without producing shaped substrates, but still the distinction remains fully correct.

Knowledge is not a product nor is it produced. Knowledge and memory are simply properties of collective systems necessary for their survival in an steadily changing environment. I say clearly collective for transferability characterises information and for the fact that this implies a social context. Knowledge and information in the broadest sense therefore is a capacity of a system and its transferability is even a criterium for its being knowledge! If society takes care of its members' knowledge, by organising schools and such more..., it does so because only doing so it has a chance to increase its survival and developmental chances as a society. The members do not own this knowledge, but they share it, change it, contribute to it, examine it, recombine it, transform it and... can only give it back (i.e. let it know) to society. Nobody doubts this reasoning as long as we apply it for instance to the discovery of physical laws. Who would say that Einstein owned the general relativity theory? Or stronger, who would find it logical to pay a fee to Einstein (or his heritagers) everytime "his" knowledge would be used for something? Where, but more important, why do our institutions draw a line of calling something property or not? There is absolutely no intrinsic difference as to the nature of information in the case of a physical law, a technical idea to solve a problem, an argument, or an expressive piece of music! Therefore, any legal limitation on the reproducibility of information is an infringe on the proper character of information. It is an epistemological lie! Moreover, it is purely immoral towards society. So far it should be clear that I support the idea that an effort - labour - should be payed for only once. More so, if an effort is done without anyone asking for it, it should be clear that that effort should not necessarily lead to a remuneration whatsever: it becomes a leisure activity. As to music, we can distinguish both cases very clearly:
(i) Either a composer gets a commision for a piece, in which case he also gets a remuneration for the writing. There is no problem, the author is simply a "professional". His labour is payed for. No further royalties should be payed to him, regardless the number of performances the piece eventually gets.
(ii) Or else, the author takes the initiative to the creation of a work. In this case he becomes an "amateur" - and I do not have any negative associations with this term whatsever -, just as those who are helping in the Red Cross, collecting stamps, playing chess, or perform any kind of hobby. It seems logical that he does not get payed automatically, since his effort was not requested at all.

Consequently, to me the idea of a composer, author... as a 'free' profession is pure madness. In the margins of this all, I could of course also remark, closer to the everyday practice amongst the vast majority of new music composers, that they generally compose within the time they are already payed for by our social institutions: radio-stations, music schools, universities etc..., or else they are on welfare, social security or such more. If these composers claim and get copyright royalties I would not even hesitate a moment accusing them of theft.

Yet another, more practical question one could ask with regard to the corruption of the royalty system, is related to the object of protection itself: the information and the properties characterising it one would consider protectable. Speaking of music for instance, traditionally melodies were considered to be the criterium for deciding whether one piece of music was different than another. Since almost a full century now, virtually all possible melodies have been written and one could question whether melody is even a criterium. Are two pieces of music on the same order of notes different? Why not protect instrumentation for instance, or, as would be most appropriate for most rock music, the 'sound' as such. A full analysis along these lines must lead to the unavoidable conclusion that those aspects of music that are probably the most 'original' and typical are not quantifiable, and thus cannot lead to any kind of formal and non-arbitrary legal protection.

Within the last decennia, the whole paradoxical issue of copyright became really something enjoyably problematic. I think that it will become even more problematic up to the moment that it will collapse. Since the idea of copyright is based on the false assumption that information is a product, it will reveal to be auto-destructive. Moreso, it will destruct itself relatively fast: recently our technology made reproduction not only possible, but also accessible to almost everybody at little effort, and the prices of copying (in any medium...) sink everyday. This is a natural consequence of the transferability of information and technological progress. A single CD-rom disk can nowadays contain many whole books for only a fraction of the price, and contrary to the photocopy-procedure, which is still quite time-consuming, here dubbing takes only a fraction of a minute, and this medium has the great advantage of ease of transfer everywhere in the world: only use a modem or better, a fast broadband internet connection! All this beautiful technology made the "music publishers" - the social group that originated the copyright idea - completely anachronistic. Publishing in the traditional way is nowadays only done in two cases:
1. When the published product, by mass production, can be brought on the market at a lower or equal price than the price of a 'pirate' copy. This is the case of our newspapers, many paperbacks and such more...;
2. When it may serve the purpose of a anachronistic honoration of an author (generally, the publisher only starts working, when can he be certain to get some subsidy in some form: guaranteed clients, such as libraries, universities ,orchestras). In most of these last cases, the reason for the publishing is not so much related to the contents of the work, but rather to the 'product' character of the publication itself: it becomes a bibliophile-edition. This of course, is material production, and copies here do indeed lack the prestigiuous values associated with the owning of these publications.

Applied to the realms of new music, we will see the publishing companies disappear entirely within the next generation. Already now it is true that photocopies of scores are always cheaper then the originals, and consequently, most new music is played from copies... As to music in its quot;realized form", we see very similar things happening: so called "pirates" appear everywere, and I find it awfully hard to call them pirates, since dubbing here is just an act of normal common sense and economical behaviour. If publishers want to change this situation, they can only do it sensefully, by lowering the prices of the originals below those of the copy, which is, in the case of records for instance quite possible. The only other alternative they would have, and some actually take this consequence, is to market a product with a high product value (e.g. expensive and complicated covers), but this reflects a change from publishing to producing. For video, of course, the same phenomena are true, and in the last decennium of the 20th century we saw it already happening for digital audio: for instance the recordable CD's as well as the DAT recorders, MD disks, MP3 formats and players. The 'royalty maffia' will of course try to fight this, but they will always be late, since whenever they've succeeded in forcing laws, technology will come up with another not yet covered technique of reproduction and distribution. Consequently I do not only see copyright disappear from our socio-economic system, since its paradoxical position will reveal itself as entirely untenable, but also do I think this to be a very favourable thing for our music culture and for culture in general.

At a very first sight it may appear sort of strange for a music maker as I am to defend a thesis against his own (financial) interests. But, defending the case of copyright on such low and muddy grounds would be purely childish since the long-term advantages, particularly for "serious new music" are huge. Therefore, let's look for a moment to what would happen to the commercial music industry if royalties on copyright grounds would cease to exist: very probably the whole industry would collapse pretty fast and would become, in order to maintain some market position, even more boring than ever... going into real massive mass production. Small scale music production everywhere would flourish and only as long as the participants are interested ("no labour, no money" principle!), so many more musicians would get chances to play more musics. Nobody would make music only for the royalties anymore - no more top hits - since that ridiculous hope would have no more grounds. Reproduction of music would no longer be in the financial interest of the record producer, so he would to a much lesser extend put media under pressure to program it. Also, radio and T.V. would become substantially cheaper, what would render regional TV and radio a lot more possible and interesting. Also, in the realm of technology, inventions would improve a lot faster than now and show economically an ever steeper price evolution. Inventors and factories could no longer sit on their patents and by doing so, slowing down the otherwise very natural process of improvement and further development. Computer software would be free or else, customer-specific. The nature and the possibility of the secret of course remains, although such could only be for a limited period of time, since all codes are in principle breakable...

But, what interest or motivation would the author or inventor have in such a royalty-less society? First of all it should be noted that his value as an author remains as before: his value would still be higher, the more of his ideas get accepted and applied or performed in a society. Such would of course increase his social status, for, the refusal of royalties and of the economical consequences of copyrights does not lead to a denial of authorship. The author, or the collective of authors in some cases, will still be the origin, source and cause of new information, and should be given credit. He does not become anonymous, since for control and improvement reasons it is always better to have the possibility to trace back the origin of information. Copyright would end up being nothing more than a matter of honour and prestige deserved by the author. Breaking these minimal copyright rules in this respect, would be nothing different then lying!

Now most law systems speak in terms of "the necessary protection of the author", but... who is attacking him ? If I choose to play someone's piece of music, then first of all I should know it (for instance by having a score). This means that the piece cannot be a secret. If it is not a secret, it must have been the author's wish to have it known to others. If I choose to let it know to more, what the hell could I be attacking the author??? Furthermore, this raises the question of control. Since at the end we would have no other alternatives than either some kind of 'Big Brother' watching you or no controls on information use whatsever. Who would suggest hiding spies in my bathroom to make sure I'm not whistling "The bridge over the river Kwai" with my window opened to my neighbour???

Dr.Godfried-Willem RAES

p/a Logos-Foundation

Kongostraat 35

B-9000 G E N T


Re:get your text here (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560334)

The trolls are really on top of things (Natalie Portman, hot grits, my pants) today. I haven't seen this much crapflooding since the time Cowboyneal ate 22 cheesburgers and accidentally took that super-laxative.

Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes.

bloated legislation (1)

Jacer (574383) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560276)

restructuring the IP law would require more political insight than currently exists, we'll end up with several more dmca's and end up in a worse situation than we are currently. we should just leave well enough alone, and let the current laws do their work

The laws we had 10 years ago (3)

Kohath (38547) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560279)

What was wrong with the laws we had 10 years ago? IP owners got protection, but didn't get to run your life. Sounds roughly fair to me.

Didn't the patent office used to more-or-less do their job correctly back then too?

First Thing We Do (3, Funny)

pnatural (59329) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560292)

"First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

--Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part II, IV, ii

Yes, yes, I know the quote is out of context, but it's still damn insightful.

Re:First Thing We Do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560321)

"I pee over IP laws"


Re:First Thing We Do (4, Funny)

ari{Dal} (68669) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560352)

Having studied law in a previous incarnation, I think we should look at the ramifications of such actions before beginning the slaughter.

1st, we'd decimate the government. As we all know. most of em have at least some kind of legal training.

2nd, we'd lose the entire justice system. Everyone would be gone except for the cops. And who'd keep them in line?

3rd, we'd certainly end up living in a rampant, copyright infringing society where p2p ruled all.

Having said all this, I say we start at the student level and work our way up. That way, we get some practice in on the lower echelons before moving up to the big time. Now where'd I store my shotgun shells...?

Re:First Thing We Do (2)

gnovos (447128) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560439)

1st, we'd decimate the government. As we all know. most of em have at least some kind of legal training.

2nd, we'd lose the entire justice system. Everyone would be gone except for the cops. And who'd keep them in line?

3rd, we'd certainly end up living in a rampant, copyright infringing society where p2p ruled all.

So... you are saying the lawyers are already dead?

Faster into Public Domain (2, Interesting)

floppy ears (470810) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560294)

The best change that could be made to IP laws would be to speed up the time that it takes a work to enter the public domain. Maybe 10 years or so of protection would be good -- after that, no more protection.

Content providers would still have an incentive to create content -- lots of money could be made during that 10 year period. But overall, this would drastically reduce the bad consequences to the public from IP laws.

Re:Faster into Public Domain (2)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560423)

7 years for copyright. anything more than that is stiffling innovation. corporatio^^^artists are monopolizing on IP long since obsoleted. mickey, minnie, ... is elvis still around?

Decrease length of time copyright applies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560300)

Music/Software: 5 years - Enough time to get return on your investment and a big incentive to continue to innovate so you have something better to sell when the original product falls into the public domain

Shorten the life of the patent/copyright (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560302)

You could start by shortening the time period in which the IP owerner owns the material. The rate at which technology advances these days, having a patent for to long can only be of benifit to the owner and not the people.

Get your patent, make your money, loose your patent all in a shortened period of time.

Just read the Constitution, fer chrissakes. (3, Interesting)

Pop n' Fresh (411094) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560305)

It was originally designed to balance the rights of the copyright holder against those of the public, and the interests of creating an 'intellectual commons'. If we could just strip away all the BS the content industry has tacked onto copyright law over the years and go back to what we started with, that would be an improvement. Isn't the expiration of copyright now almost as long as it's been since Jefferson died?

The concept of intellectual property has got to go (5, Insightful)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560306)

In the first place, it was created to protect individuals against corporations. Now it's used by corporations to take advantage of individuals. There are just too many advantages to having no restriction on the flow of information. As the poster put it 'leveraging other business' should be the only way people who make information, be it text, code, music, etc... make money. It's the way I and everyone I work with makes money.

It's also the way I spend a great deal of my free time [furinkan.net] .

Patents, copyrights, and 'intellectual property' has got to go. If not, then when we, as a society, manage to convert fully to a non-scarcity based economy, those who have the ownership rights to information will be kings and everyone else will be paupers.

I wrote an essay for my website about this subject some time back. You can find it here:

http://www.furinkan.net/display.php?pageid=75 [furinkan.net]

The one exception that I would make to getting rid of all IP laws is the use of Trademarks. These are less in the way of making a piece of information which *should* be able to be copied freely uncopiable, but is a lot more about an individual or a business uniquely identifying themselves.

Other than that, IP law has got to go. End of story.

Re:The concept of intellectual property has got to (3, Insightful)

Blindman (36862) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560459)

The problem with your plan is that there would be no sharing of information. If you outlaw intellectual property, then there is very little incentive to share ideas with others. That would basically mean that companies and people would hide their ideas, and much time would be wasted by having multiple companies repeatedly inventing the same things.

The idea of intellectual property laws is to encourage sharing of ideas by granting exclusivity to the creator for a limited amount of time. I believe that idea has been corrupted by corporate interests, but I don't think we should throw out the baby with the bath water.

Faster Expiration (1)

Blindman (36862) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560309)

I think the first thing that should be done is to greately reduce the amount of time that different works can be protected. Perhaps, you could have software expire after 5 years, and maybe books and movies after 10. I believe that the timeline is currently 75 years which is far longer than is necessary and appropriate.

Copyrights and patents (1)

nattt (568106) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560310)

Patents no longer seem to be necessary at all, so they'd all go straight to the bin.

Copyrights are harder to just throw away. I'd like to see recognition that it's individuals that hold copyrights and that they last no longer than their creator.

It's harder still to deal with companies that own copyrights. Perhaps some sort of licencing agreement that makes sure that individual creators don't get ripped off by companies/universities etc that claim all rights to their work.

Re:Copyrights and patents (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560384)

Copyrights are harder to just throw away. I'd like to see recognition that it's individuals that hold copyrights and that they last no longer than their creator.

While in principal I agree with you you need to handle the corner cases - for example "struggling writer finally writes the great novel and the suddenly dies leaving wife and young chilren" etc etc. Better to do something like "for real people life of creator, or spouse or surviving dependants to age 21, for companies or when rights are sold to companies 10 (insert arbitrary number here) years"

Of course a large part of the problem is that unlike real people companies can, in principle, last for ever - resulting in such craziness as the mickey-mouse-preservation-act thingy

Give companies control of information they create (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560311)

Why would it be so bad if companies had copyright over information they create, as long as they wish to produce it, as long as there are laws that also enforce turning it to public domain after the company doesn't sell it for some period of time (5 years?)

Also, there would have to be strong enough fair use laws that mandated easy access to content in cases of fair use.

This isn't a troll, btw, I really have started thinking recently that something like this, with enough safeguards, would be good.

Re:Give companies control of information they crea (1)

Nutcase (86887) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560452)

You would have groups like music companies that automatically reissue a single, well documented, copy of every album in their catalog every 4.9 years. It would be an auction or something. And as soon as the copy was sold and delivered, agents would patrol p2p network suing anyone who was sharing those files under the pretense that only 1 person can legally own those versions. And that would be all it took to maintain their permenant hold on all materials, even if they have no intention of ever issuing it again on a larger scale.

"Original" Copyright law and Patent law (5, Insightful)

swhalen (30377) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560313)

We'd be fine if we went back to the Patent and Copyright law as it existed before the recent (last 20 years) unwarranted expansion of both.

We'd go back to the 17 year copyright with 17 year renewal, and eliminate "soft" patents including "software" patents, business process patents, etc...

Going back to the basics on both fronts would eliminate most of our current problems.

Our founding fathers had it right in the constitution: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

Re:"Original" Copyright law and Patent law (2)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560427)

Hear, Hear!

I was just about to make this exact point. Copyright has worked very well in the past. It's what happens when you try to extend copyright law into something it's not that gets you in trouble -- DMCA, what not.

And software patents are silly. Yeah, it would be nice if they could be made workable. There are fields where patents are very beneficial (pharmecueticals for one), but with software, patents don't work. Can you think of even one example of software research and development that was carried out because of patents? Patents are supposed to foster research, but it's too much of a craps game in software to be able to bet on it. So research and development isn't helped by patents on code. With software patents, then, we get all of the bad consequences of creating an intellectual monopoly, but none of the good ones. And because of the nature of the software, there is simply no way to reform the system to make it workable.

A bit one sided? (1)

gopher35 (575449) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560317)

The problem with asking a question like this is that you only get one side. Rather then an "Ask Slashdot" this needs to be more of a discussion where all parties are available to comment. I don't expect any of the major content owners to respond with their opinions. Although this is a public forum, the major content owners view Slashdot as a haven for extremists.

Well (2)

rhadamanthus (200665) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560319)

I wholly support the right of any copyright holder to defend their copyrighted works and pursue those responsible for violation of said works. On the other hand, the numerous extension acts for copyrights have given to much to the content creators, and too little to the content consumers. As I see it, copyright is inherently a balance between the producers and the users. It is designed to ensure that the creator is compensated for creating, and the consumer allowed to properly utilize the creation. Without such a balance, either there is no incentive to create, or no reason to use said creation. Extension acts, such as the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act (S.505), and the DMCA give far too much control to the content creators, thus eroding copyright law's intent, to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts."

A fair copyright law needs to reestablish this balance, taking into account the digital revolution. There is nothing keeping congress from redesigning copyright laws for the digital age. Unfortunately, current policy seems to instead favor the opposite. The CBDTPA in particular desires to handicap the digital age in order to maintain the current copyright machinery. This is counterintuitive and an assured disaster.

I would prapose that copyrights be granted in this way: First, draw a distinguishment between a corporation and an individual. I think that a corporation should have a smaller "term" of copyright than an individual, simply due to greater resources. This would also promote a more competitive and innovative business sector. In the same manner, place restrictions on the duration of patents based on individual inventor or corporate status. However, one should also readjust the patent lenght based on the patent itself. In particular, patents dealing with human DNA are bioinformatics research should be strictly monitored. Likewise, software patents should be limited in scope since so much of coding "innovation" relies on code reuse and modularity.

Re:Damn it, hit the submit button.... (3, Insightful)

rhadamanthus (200665) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560376)

Edits/additions on last paragraph:
I would prapose that copyrights be granted in this way: First, draw a distinguishment between a corporation and an individual. I think that a corporation should have a smaller "term" of copyright than an individual, simply due to greater resources. This would also promote a more competitive and innovative business sector. In the same manner, place restrictions on the duration of patents based on individual inventor or corporate status. However, one should also readjust the patent length based on the patent itself. In particular, patents dealing with human DNA or bioinformatics research should be strictly monitored. Likewise, software patents should be limited in scope since so much of coding "innovation" relies on code reuse and modularity. The bottom line: Copyright law as a whole should be redesigned to ensure that it is easier to prosecute "real" pirates while enabling the honest consumer to continue utlizing fair-use clauses in copyright law. The patent business needs to be reevaluated to ensure a firm commitment to granting patents only to truly "innovative" ideas, and without hampering future inventors with frivolous patent arguments. Basically, the system should be rewritten with a much more precise and strict version of the original goals, both with respect to copyright and patents.

Things are almost ok now... (1)

ArchMagus (32772) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560320)

The only real problem is the amount of time a creative entity maintains control of their works. If the amount of time an entity could solely control their creations was shortened to a reasonable amount of time (perhaps 20 years or so?) it would allow the creator time to benifit from their creation (establishment of a brand name, royalty income, etc.) and when the 20 years was up, the public could then benifit from the non-protected content. I think it's absolutely abhorent that every time Disney's copyright on Mickey Mouse is about to expire, the government conveniently extends the protection time.

Zoinks! (3, Insightful)

I am the blob (239590) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560323)

The day we live under the assumption that financial reward is the only reason to do things is the day this society falls apart.

Oh, wait.


IP is too long (5, Insightful)

conan_albrecht (446296) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560326)

IMHO, the techo world moves too fast for traditional IP laws. For example, copyrights on file formats should expire after 3 years or so. That way a company gets a small time to make money off of their new format (as well as permeate the market).

But then after three years, other companies can use the format. What would the world be like if MS had to release the exact specs on .doc the same way that Adobe freely releases the specs on .pdf? WordPerfect, OpenOffice, and others could seamlessly import .doc files and people would no longer have to use Word to collaborate with others. MS would have to compete on product quality alone.

In sum, I'm not against IP laws, but I think the time limits simply need to be (much) shorter for tech areas.

Re:IP is too long (3, Insightful)

kevin42 (161303) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560371)

You can't copyright a file format. Copyright covers content, not ideas. You can patent a file format though.

Re:IP is too long (1)

kryptobiotic (451986) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560399)

Wouldn't this just result in Companies drastically changing their file formats every three years and still require you to use the newest to collaborate? Sure it would be nice to open older files but if the companies make it so that all new programs only save in the up to date format, collaboration will still be difficult/impossible with purchasing Word or whatever.

Re:IP is too long (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560428)

of course the thing about M$'s file formats is not that they are copyrighted, but that they are trade secrets (or maybe just not written down anywhere, even inside M$).

M$ would of course argue that they must be free to innovate (read keep changing the file format of word so that customers have to keep buying the latest version, because some bozo in marketting got a new Dell that only came with the latest version on it) - but with real competition out there M$ itself would find itself under real market pressure (something I believe it's scared to really face having hidden behind its monopoly for so long) to conform to standards like everyone else

Let the artist keep the copyright (5, Insightful)

TootsMutant (522541) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560329)

I'd be all in favor of all the usual stuff: limited life copyrights (some reasonable length of time), a clear definition of fair use that won't fall apart with the next change in technology... you know, that sort of thing.

By far, the thing I'd like to see the most is for the copyrights to stay with the artist. In the system we have now, the publisher, production company, record label owns the copyright, then spends all their money trying to figure out how to get out of paying royalties to the original artist. This is not new, either (just look at some of the original jazz/blues artists). If the publishers, recording companies or studios had to license the copyright from the artist (instead of buying it for a song), perhaps they'd learn a little respect.


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do we really need IP laws? (1)

dybvandal (535813) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560335)

who sais we really need IP laws. so lets say there aren't any ... would people stop developing? probably not? how will they earn their money? service! bands will make their money by giving concerts or other services software developers will make their money with installation, maintainance and customizations

Re:do we really need IP laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560487)

Programmers don't want to earn a living by providing service - most of us prefer to write code and leave installation & maintenance to people who like doing it.
Why should I be forced to give away the results of my time & effort (the software)?

Constitutional IP law (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560336)

Why not go back to strict 14 years? Maybe 5 for software, since most software is obsolete after 5 years anyway - and if it isn't it's of obvious benefit to the public at large.

The Constitution says that copyright is there to encourage creativity - and if you give someone the ability to create one thing, then sit back and rake in royalties for ever amen, there's no incentive to create any more. It's gotta expire sometime, or what's the point?

You can't make both sides happy, because both sides are greedy and unreasonable, and won't compromise. (this is perhaps because corporate greed is driven by investor greed, and investors are consumers anyway).

But if the system was, at one point, not broken, and is obviously NOW broken, why not go back to basics, and return to the system that was not broken?

Copyrights on software should be shortened (4, Interesting)

JordanH (75307) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560341)

Seeing as the whole purpose of IP is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;", it's absurd to hold a copyright on software for 70 or 90 years or whatever the current law holds.

It's just way way overkill. Rather than promoting progress and the "useful Arts", the current system just extends a monopoly into the indefinite future and discourages anyone from building on your work constructively.

Really, if you can't get enough benefit out of writing a piece of software in 10 years, then it's someone else's turn. Note that you could make modifications in those 10 years and those could be copyrighted, but let the original software go back to the public domain in a reasonable time.

Ten years is just notional. I'm not sure where I'd set it, but I know 70 years is ridiculous and the 90 years granted to corporations (most Software copyrights on proprietary software is probably held by corporations) is even more out there.

Software is different than other IP. It's greatest benefit to society is in it's use and in it's flexibility. A sensible policy wrt to software copyrights would encourage more flexibility and more use.

Re:Copyrights on software should be widened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560415)

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Re:Copyrights on software should be shortened (2, Insightful)

Bodhidharma (22913) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560417)

I agree with this but I'd go a bit farther. Software patents should be good for 2 years. I could be persuaded that 5 years might be okay. Anything longer than that is just goal tending. With the way things change rapidly in internet time, I believe a software patent should not last longer than 2 to 5 years.

I believe other types of IP might be allowed longer life. A copyright on a piece of music or literature should not extend beyond the life of the author or composer.

Software copyrights are another matter. I'd like to see things go into the public domain after they are no longer being marketed. I think a 10 or possibly 20 year copyright should be long enough.

My point is that the people who create IP should get some benefit from their work. However, the point of copyright laws should also reflect the interests of the general public.

It was good once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560345)

The general patent and copyright law practices that was in use a decade ago and back was quite balanced and well working.

Like any force on this planet could ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560346)

Like any force on this planet could make both sides happy. As long as there is a need for control, wealth, etc. it is impossible for both sides to be happy because.

Can we solve the abortion issue while we are at it?

nullification (1)

prizzznecious (551920) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560355)

Why exactly is nullification too strong? The world has obsoleted IP laws by the advent of digital reproduction and the internet. Why must we cling to these vestiges of a former, darker era?

IP laws don't affect software, since a software company can easily protect its own product (closing its source) if it so chooses. Therefore, IP laws pertain only to entertainment media--and it's clear that even the most draconian legislative measures are fingers in the dyke, mere lip service to the corporate campaign donors. Despite how much we complain about these laws, they have had no strong real-world ramifications--the proliferation of freely-attainable entertainment on the internet attests to that.

Let's just forget this charade and point our resources elsewhere. Let the current entertainment industry die the death it deserves, and let a new, more capable industry rise to fill the void. It's the natural order of things.

Simple (2)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560356)

Reset all IP laws to what they were prior to the release of "Snow White" in theaters. Then update them to cover current (and projected future) tech.

Just a start... (3, Interesting)

Dr. Bent (533421) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560357)

This is a huge issue and I'm no lawyer, so I'm just going to give my opinion on once piece of this puzzle:

EULA's are out of control, and they shield software companies from lawsuits which would motivite them to produce better software. In an effort to stop this I would propose the following:

1) EULA's for commercial software must be agreed to BEFORE the software can be purchaced. If software companies do not provide a mechanism for this then they must allow users to return the software for a full refund.

2) Implied warranties like the warranty of merchantability and fittness for a particular purpose cannot we waived in a commerical software EULA. Free (as in beer) software can be distriubuted 'as is', but the second you exchange money for software, you take responsibility for it functioning correctly.

I realize that this will increase the cost of software in the short term, especially as companies scramble to get their software up to code before the changes go into effect. However the long term effect of ignoring faulty software cannot be overlooked, and the sooner we do something about it, the better.

Simpler System (1)

nat5an (558057) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560358)

What is really needed is a simple system in which content providers are paid for their work and consumers are still allowed their fair-use rights (duh).

Quite frankly, we already had this a few years ago, until the content providers decided they wanted to control the whole game. Turn back the clock a few years to before the DMCA. Allow people the make an unmetered number of copies (digital or otherwise) for personal use and crack down on the trafficking of pirated media.

Have stronger laws for dealing with real piracy, i.e. thousands of copies, but make these laws very specific in terms of what they address. No more nebulous language like "could be used to circumvent copyright, maybe, if a person really wanted to." Don't allow companies the excuse to drag people into civil court based on trumped-up charges. Make piracy a criminal offense (it already is) and leave the civil side for after the criminal trial. Don't allow 'symbolic' lawsuits, only allow content-providers to sue people that they can actually prove were selling illegal copies of their property.

This will protect both the consumers and the companies, and hopefully will enable artists to continue to make their music/movies/whatever and to make money from them. But, of course, IANAL, so this may be impossible.

USPTO Reform first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560369)

Currently, patent law as it sits is half of the problem. People can patent software that does absolutely mundane and boring tasks that have been written for years. (see form posting patents) Clearly, that's not new, nor innovative, yet someone convinced the PTO that it was.

As I see it, step one is to ban software patents. Given that you can't patent a formula for a soft-drink, how is that any different than say, an algorithm? By extension, most software is just creative algorithms for solving a specific problem (or, as a tool for abusing small companies), and thus, shouldn't be patented.

On the other hand, most processors are now sold as synthesizable VHDL cores. Those could be patented, as they can at least be sythesized to a physical prodouct. (Much like how old processor designs at the gate level were patented.)

But the existing properties of of USPTO that allow something to be patented can still apply to technology, just not in software.

One last remark: The research staff for determining prior art before a patent is even issued needs to be increased, and they need to be trained to understand what technology.

Standard Software licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560375)

Having a set of standard software licenses for all companies to use instead of: You can only use my software between the hours of 10 and 12, while you are at home, in bed drinking a beer in blue boxer shorts. And then forcing the police to enforce each of the "laws" made up by the software vendors.

The Copyright Law That We Had Was Fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560379)

The original question is flawed. Eliminating the over-the-top draconian DMCA is hardly eliminating all IP laws.

The state of things a decade ago was just fine. The Berne Convention provided as close to an ideal balance between the rights of content creators and the rights of content consumers as we're ever likely to get. We should eliminate the DMCA and return to the Berne Convention.

The problem is that the current situation has been allowed to become unbalanced in favor of big business. The recording and movie lobbying associations are going hog wild, throwing money at easily-bought legislators as fast as they can. It's going to take some time before we can sort out the damage to society that is currently being done and get things back to an even keel.

State (2)

redhog (15207) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560380)

I know thi might sound like communim or something. But it might be the only alternative:

Remove all ip-law what so ever. Then have the state research which tunes, software programs or poems are listened to, used or read by people (same thing as companies do today, and call "market-research"), and pay the creators of those works accordingly, with tax-money. Then we can copy as much as we like. Good artists will get paid, and bad ones (the ones no-one is litening to) won't get paid...

I think this is the only alternative to having ome middle-man RIA-workalike pirate the users/listeners.

Take Canada's Example (1)

dadragon (177695) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560383)

Even though we're supposedly getting our own version of the DMCA, you can take a look at Canada's CURRENT IP laws. Stuff like reverse engineering and such are perfectly legal, and copying audio cds is limited.

Our CD copying laws work like this: the government collects a levy on blank media. This is to compensate artists for piracy. Businesses who use lots of cds can apply to have the levy refunded. Canadians can copy a friends audio cd for themselves, but are not allowed to do it commercially or on a large scale.

Software is governend by licence, just like the USA, and IIRC the SSSCA is not even remotely possible here.

Limit it to the life of the author.... (0)

Spazholio (314843) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560387)

Why not limit protection to the life of the artist/author/etc. or a predetermined time (set by the type of artwork), whichever is shorter? What good does protecting a piece of art serve once the artist isn't around anymore? None that I can see, other than to enrich his/her estate, who most likley had no hand in the creative process to begin with.

There ARE other ways (5, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560388)

We know that this system is wrong, and must be changed. However, nullifying all IP laws is IMHO a bit too strong, because there will be no incentive to create anything for mass market sale except out of goodwill, or for leveraging other revenue (aka Linux).

This is an assumption that is stated so often it has become arguably an axiom of intellectual property proponents.

But, the history of the human race, indeed of our own civilization, doesn't bear it out. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Ulysees, Shakespear, Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, and other artists too numerous to mention had all the incentive they needed to create the greatest works our civilization has ever known, all without the existence of copyright or any other form of "intellectual property."

There are other ways to insure artists are compensated, without granting them (or, more likely, their publishers) an exclusive monopoly on their work, for any length of time.

It is unfortunate that our society never even discussed, much less considered, alternatives to copyright when the republic was founded, instead saddling us with an approach whose original conception was designed to facilitate censorship of the press, a design flaw which a little tweaking to help give something back to the artist is insufficient to alleviate.

We should be discussing alternatives to copyright which can be implimented to insure that artists get compensated for their work, without imposing artifical, government mandated monopolies upon our society, monopolies which are antithetical to free markets, to freedom of speech, and ultimately, to freedom itself.

Re:There ARE other ways (0)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560463)

Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Ulysees, Shakespear, Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, and other artists too numerous to mention had all the incentive they needed to create the greatest works our civilization has ever known, all without the existence of copyright or any other form of "intellectual property.".

and now with copyright we get britney spears. we've come a long way baby.

The good, the bad, and the, uh... (1)

jmweeks (49705) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560389)

I see IP law, or the good in IP law, as a protection from rogue publishers, a protection from, say, a book or an album being copied and sold by any company out there with a little technology (or a lot of patience). The bad side of IP is the use of it, by companies, to smack around the consumers.

IP laws should apply, not to the people listening to mp3s or dubbing videos for their own enjoyment... it should just be there to make sure, when people are being paid for the service, the right people are being paid.

Not IP but copyrights and patents (1)

Scarpux (556596) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560392)

It is confusing to talk about IP. We should distinguish them as copyrights and patents etc. They should each be handled differently.

Copyrights are good. They protect GPL code etc.
Patents on physical inventions are probably fine.
Patents on software and algorithms are very bad. They stifle innovation and competition.

So you see we can't just talk in general terms about IP we must distinguish between the different forms.
It seems Stallman made these points in a talk but I don't remember when or where.

Copyright length and otherthings (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560393)

Copyright duration should be shortened, at least for "IP" and perhaps for all things, maybe around 3-5 years. Also, new legislations should not restrict fair use any moreso than already provided by copyright law

Here's mine... (5, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560396)


All copyrights must be held by a private individual. No corporate entity may hold a copyright.

Copyright terms may vary up to a period of 17 years (depending on content type -- To Be Specified), with a single renewal for the same period of time

Copyright expires upon the death of the copyright holder.

Copyrights cannot be assigned to another entity

If a work has some form of access control, that access control must be disabled when the work enters public domain

Reverse engineering any sort of access control is legal


Patents must be held by individuals, not corporate entities

Only physical objects and processes may be patented.

(Corrolary) No patent shall be granted for algorithms or business processes

A working implementation of the patented process must be provided (upon request of USPTO)

Naturally occuring results of processes may not be patented (ex: DNA)

The USPTO must conduct a good faith search for any prior art

Re:Here's mine... (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560462)

I think you meant to say exclusive copyrights can not be assigned to another individual. If you can't assign any copyrights, then you can't distribute it without the recipient infringing.

Also, requiring the access control to be disabled upon expiration of the IP is impractical -- the author and publisher are generally long gone.

Also, with regards to patents, most software processes should be protected by patent, not copyright. Copyright protects the what, not the how. Patents protect the how. This means that no copyright protects a clever algorithm (even if it does protect the specific software you used it in), so if you want to protect it you need a patent.

Re:Here's mine... (2)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560470)

"Copyright expires upon the death of the copyright holder."

Oh hell no. I can't even begin to imagine the types of strange "accidents" that people might start to have if that happens. Especially considering the questionable activities of corporations lately.

"Cut out the middleman?" There ya go. (1)

Gryffin (86893) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560398)

What laws can be written that will be fair both to content creators and to users, while cutting the middleman?

You just answered your own question.

IMHO, the single easiest improvement would be to forbid corporate entities from owning copyrights they themselves did not create. The creator of the intellectual property should retain sole ownership; they may licence others to make use of their work, but the creator should always have complete rights to their own creations.

I think that the best laws (1)

Qwerpafw (315600) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560410)

In my opinion the best times for IP laws were when computers were first introduced to the public. (By computers I mean PCs, and by public I mean at prices less than $10K)

It was generally accepted that some pirating would occur, yet companies let you copy (once) their media for "backup" purposes, et etc. And none of this futzing around with rights management. The users were innocent until proven guilty.

Furthermoe, free speech prevailed. If someone wanted to reverse engineer a BIOS (like, say, IBM's), they could do it without being prosecuted. They could even distribute that knowledge around. They could even sell that reverse-engineering work (like, say, compaq).

So times were simpler and better then. Its a pity I remember it, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to realise how bad things are now.

And one other restriction might be nice: If ALL IP was relinquished after 14 years, in a method similiar to patents. For all software. THis is not such a bad idea--before you go screaming "NoOoOoOo. No-one will work! No incentive!" remember that patents work a similiar way. And plenty of people patent stuff. Furthermore, given the rapid pace of change in the computer industry, don't you think that 14 year old stuff wouldn't be a giant competitive advantage? If it was going to succeed, it already did.

This would also apply to copyrighted stuff--To get a copyright, you'd have to agree to release the material in its entirety to public domain (though copyrights might be more, like 30 years, since books and so forth are relevant longer)

Imagine Bach today. Would he demand licensing fees for all his music being used in movies? Would he demand that people distributing his "source code, or musical scores, be prosecuted? Would he demand that anyone infringing on his style of classical music be prosecuted? Would people just laugh at him?

Now consider the computer and media industries. Pretend they were Bach. While Bach's stuff was obsolete in 100 years (but still wildly popular), their products will be obsolete in 20 years. Is what I suggest that preposterous?

Several simple but effective changes (1)

StupidFodder (575698) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560413)

  • The patent service should not be a central government-controlled monopoly. Instead, independent patent registration services should flourish competitively, with conflicting registrations at different services being resolved simply by which registration was acquired earliest. And in a competitive system, registrars that do a better job of investigating prior art will earn a more respected reputation for the legitimacy of their patents in the courts and in the marketplace.
  • A patent should only last for 5 years, period.
  • In any patent dispute case in court, the loser should have to pay entirely for the defense costs of the winner, in addition to any damages owed.
  • In any patent dispute case in court, the general public should be able to provide prior art evidence to the court during an open discussion period, and if the judge ignores prior art in his/her decision that should be automatic grounds for appeal.

Fairness (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560418)

1) No IP outlives its author, or one half of a "lifetime" if the owner is a company or organization other than the author.

2) Anyone who implements technical impediments to fair use (or use after the expiration of the IP) loses the right to punative damages (that is, can only collect real damages) due to infringement.

3) Consumer right to transfer an owned copy of an IP from one physical media to another (CD to a tape or mp3, painting to a computer image, etc).

4) Unvoidable consumer right to own any IP in his legitimate posession with all rights of an owner of one copy. (Come on, copies aren't a limited resource. There is simply no justification for the rental of IPs.)

5) Require DMCA infringement claims to prove that the primary purpose or use of a technology is infringement (and not some legitimate use).

6) Right to modify an owned copy of an IP in any way (but not to redistribute the modified copy).

let freedom rain (0)

GreenCow (201973) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560433)

i think the ideal solution would be if we would all start using www.fairtunes.com and sending donations to the artists we listen to, and once the artists have enough money to sustain themselves making music without the industry's paycheck, they can start giving away their music on their website..and we've gotta support these free artists even more so they'll stay on that track. they could still sell cd's through the industry if the industry will accept them giving away music as well.

i had also imagined something like a winamp plugin that would track all the songs you listened to and make a division of donations report to send with your 20 bucks a month to fairtunes.

encryption and all this stuff preventing people from copying music will ultimately fail..people will protest and stop buying music altogether if the industry attempts to pass that. and there will always be ways to bypass it, if it comes out of my speakers i can record it unencrypted and redistribute that.

oh ya and bush shouldn't be in the white house www.michaelmoore.com read the book..take action


MiddleMan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560435)

Right now the only people who LIKE the current laws ARE the middle men.

Publishers, "Assosiations" (MPAA RIAA), Corporations.

Actual content creators, (musicians, programmers, authors) are doing everything they can to get their work out to the consumers. In the past the middle men HELPED this process. Now all they do is HINDER the process.

There's actually quite little wrong with the laws (other than the obvious). Where is all breaks down is because it they were made to balance content creators with consumers, however, with the current all-powerful MiddleMen, the two parties never get a chance to talk to each other.

(Distributors, Publishers, and Producers...Gotta hate'em. However, how else would you come up with $130mil to make Spiderman.)

Shorter is better. (2)

scenic (4226) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560441)

Reduce the duration of copyright, trademark, patent, etc. back to some smaller duration. It's more than just going back 10 years, it means going back at least 40 years, and probably 100 years or so.

I would also be in favor of significantly shorter durations on software patents if we're going to have them (2 or 3 years max?). Of course, the best thing to do would be to eliminate them entirely, but I'm trying to be realistic (in this dream scenario ;-) ).

For patents in general, I would suggest that we find a way to shorten the amount of time it takes for for the USPTO to turn around patent applications. It's too slow. The length of time it takes to turn around a patent applicaiton often itself leads to several kinds of abuse. I'm sorry to say that I have no meaningful suggestion on this topic, other than throw more people at it.

I've also often thought about a Fair Use Amendment to the Constitution that would codify the basic thinking behind fair use, and would create a definition of what fair use is and why we need it as a society. Academic research, and fostering creativity need. I realize that this is controversial, and would be very difficult to properly write, let alone pass, but the existing lines in the Constitution get ignored so often because they don't come out and grant fair use.

If a constitutional amendment is outrageous, than at least some legislation that would make it clear that no law can ignore certain basic provisions.

Finally, I would ask that we legislate the rights of corporations by not defining them as people, and defining what rights they have. This is by far the single most onerous situation in our current legislative landscape. Corporations aren't people. They shouldn't have the same rights as you or I.


Entire revamp of system is necessary (2)

ari{Dal} (68669) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560450)

Unfortunately, it's not gonna happen. Why? Because the law moves slowly.

One of the first lessons I learned in law school (yes i admit, i was a law student before i started a real job in programming), is that the law is like a supertanker. Big, clumsy, awkward, and once you set a course, you'd better hope no icebergs get in the way, cause it's damned difficult to change course or stop.

Our common law system works kinda like a pecking order. The supreme courts are at the top of the order, and anything they say cannot be countermanded by lower courts. So the only way to even think about getting a law that's been given the stamp of approval by the highest court is to go through a lengthy and expensive round of appeals all the way up through the justice system. and that's only if they choose to hear the case in the end, and assuming they do hear it, that the majority changes their minds on their previous stance. They could just say 'we've already done this. we're not doing it again' and stop your appeal right there. Of course, by the time you get to this stage, most of the judges that heard the last case are probably dead of old age, and new ears are hearing it.

So, best case scenario you try and change a law that hasn't been brought to the supreme court yet. Unfortunately the ones backing laws like the DMCA are the big boys, with deep pockets, who can afford all the highly paid, specialized lawyers they want. Most of em just keep pushing knowing that the little guy doesn't have the time or money to keep up with them. They can appeal all the way up the ladder, and wait for you to run out of money and patience. When/if that happens, they automatically win.

Personally, I'm completely pessimistic about seeing any real changes coming our way anytime soon. It's in the best interests of the government (they do get paid to make laws like this after all), courts (who get paid to interpret the laws), and big business (who get to keep their stranglehold on everyone else) to keep things just as they are.

"Fair" "Both Sides Happy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560453)

Customers: "Fair" let us watch/read/listen to what we want, when we want, where we want after we've paid for it.

Big Media: "Fair" you pay for every second of watching/reading/viewing as much as we choose and you watch *every* bit of crap we produce, paying over, and over, and over for centuries.

And you want to make BOTH sides happy? (Sound of long, loud, disbelieving laughter)

Dire Predictions Too Strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3560454)

However, nullifying all IP laws is IMHO a bit too strong, because there will be no incentive to create anything for mass market sale except out of goodwill, or for leveraging other revenue (aka Linux).


Before copyright and patents, you still had people creating art and inventing devices and processes. Putting copyright and patents under the same umbrella -- "IP" -- is a bit misleading, as the protections and justification of same for each are different. The end goal, however, is the same: that the public should have unfettered ownership of the "property" so protected after some time.

The problem is that IP laws are being used to steal that "ownership" from the public without giving anything back.

Consider patents. The alternative to this protection is not the cessation of invention and innovation -- it is a return to trade-secrets and oaths of secrecy.

Oddly enough, that's pretty much what we have now. So where would be the change? Patents are used to block innovation and to suppress invention. Doing away with 'em would most likely stimulate invention and innovation, or at least do no harm.

And copyright is frequently seen as a defense against plagiarism, which is arrant nonsense. Plagiarism is truly theft (and work-for-hire contracts that allow another to remove or change the attribution associated with a work is still theft, even if legal), and is not what copyright protects. Copyright grants a limited monopoly to reproduce (for sale, presumably). Note the limitation.

Unlimited restriction of duplication is far worse than no restriction. Would the creation of art, be it graphical or as words, cease with the abandoning of copyright? Not at all. Would there be a period of disruption? Certainly.

Would publishers stop making, and bookstores stop selling, books? Hardly. Would everyone stop writing things to print? Not at all. Would it be different? Yes.

But would all incentive vanish? Not at all.

Reasonable Time Limits (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560466)

Copyright time limits should be dramatically shortened (and copyright law should punish those who violate copyright, not those who engage in actions which may lead to other people engaging in other actions which may lead to copyright infringement - but I digress). How short? IMHO maybe 20 - 25 years, but that's not based on much real analysis.

Patent is a bit more complex - the core problem I see is that some fields (EG: computer science) are advancing so rapidly that even a 7 year patent seems astronomical. Meanwhile other fields (EG: heavy industry) are more established - patent worthy innovations are far more rare, require significantly more up-front investment, and take longer to build a market. This is problematic - 4 year patents would be insufficient for the automotive industry, but 15 year patents would strangle computer science.

It seems that the most efficient solution would have to have different patent expiration periods for different industries. The inevitable result would be increased corruption and reliance on lawyers.

The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number (3, Insightful)

Tri0de (182282) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560468)

All laws and systems exist, in the end, to ensure the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number.

Thus the goal should be to ensure sufficent renumeration for the creators to have an incentive to create while ensuring that the products of their creativity are made available as soon as possible to serve as the foundation of further creativity.

The question, of course, is quantification of the length of time; 3,5,7 or 99, years.
Secondary question: should all forms of IP have the same protection? Arguably, a patent should expire, but what about a Trademark?

IMHO the Constitution got it right with 7 years for a patent. I cannot see ANY justification whatsoever for Copyright to extend past the life of the author. Trademark *IS* important, if you buy a Plextor drive or drink Jolt you have a right to be sure that the product you get is the product you expect to get; otherwise it's fraud. But I do think that Trademark should be subject to Fair Use, especially in the realm of satire and product review.

"Our" core geek mantra is sound "Information Wants To Be Free". The greatest good for the greatest number is best served by erring on the side of too free a dissemination of information rather than too restricted, if err we must-and err we will!

Prerequisite: A "fair use" bill of rights (2)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560473)

Given the opportunity, the media middlemen will outlaw or surcharge for anything resembling fair use. They seem to think that encryption and legislation will let them turn every user's activity into a revenue stream. If this becomes a "pay-per-click" world, then I'll join the opposition.

Job #1 is to define precisely what fair use is, and to enact meaningful penalties for those companies who violate it. It might be as simple as legalizing piracy of those products that violate the "Fair Use Bill of Rights (FUBOR)". Want to market a non-standard/crippleware CD? Great, but you have no recourse against anyone when it's cracked and P2P'ed onto every PC between here and Jupiter. To me, the concepts of backup, time-shifting, space-shifting, and media-shifting are fundamental. Those distributors who play games with the fundamental principles of fair use should be left to suffer the wrath of the hacker community.

Make no mistake, the consideration of consumers' rights is key to the process. Currently, the DMCA and other related legislation makes it a clear-cut battle of all consumers against all media distributors, or "the pirates" vs. "the greedy sleazebags". The current one-sided approach to legislation is not going to achieve voluntary compliance. Anyone who chooses to crack, copy, and distribute their media will think of their actions as the modern-day equivalent of "The Boston Tea Party".

The media companies need to realize that their interests cannot be fully protected without consideration for their customers.

I wouldn't even try (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560475)

How would you revise or restructure IP and copyright law to make both sides of the fence happy?

It just pissing in the wind.

Until the dictator dies (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560477)

If I was going to re-engineer goverment, the constitution would be mich simpiler:

The president shall be choosen randomly from all adults.

The president shall have power to write all laws, or set up bodies to make laws.
In all cases the president shall be the highest judge in the land.
The president shall have sole power to declare war and approve treaties

On death of the president
All laws and treaties shall be null and void
All prisoners shall be free
All taxes and fines due shall be forgiven.
All goverment officals shall be fired.

There shall be no punishment for killing a president.

Note that failing in an attempt to kill the president might be illegal. Also note that ex post facto laws are not prhibited. A president who doesn't do a good job will soon find himself without a life, while those who do a good job are likely to be hit by a crackpot after a few years, preventing power from going to his head.

It wouldn't never work, but it is fun to think about.

get rid of copyright - create royalty rights (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560481)

We can't successsfully regulate copying anymore. Any law that is based on restriciting the right to copy is therefore fundamentally flawed.

We should drop the notion of copyright, and replace it with royalites on for-profit use of a work.

The basic idea is similar to how songwriter royalties work today - I can sing in the shower and not pay anyone a cent, but when I sing at the bar and (theoretically) attract more business, or record and sell CDs of music other people wrote, the songwriters gets paid. (Theoretically. The current implementation is rather corrupt - we are dealing with the record industry here, one of the greatest concentrations of human scum on the planet.)

Sharing information has become as easy and almost as commonplace as singing in the shower. We have to stop trying to regulate sharing, and instead focus on regulating selling.

A decision must be made (1)

Theonewhois (536856) | more than 11 years ago | (#3560482)

Well, first of all, it needs to be decided which things constitute a licensed items, and which things constitute sold objects. When we buy the cd, do we own the music/software/whatever, or have we just paid for certain rights of use. If the first, then you can listen at will, sell to a friend, modify for your own uses etc. But there wouldn't be any copying really. You can't copy a car. If you lose or damage your cd, you'd have to buy another one. If you own a DVD and want to watch on a VCR, then you'd have to buy the tape version as well.

On the other hand, if it was a license, then you'd pay once, or perhaps recurringly, and not be able to distribute, modify, etc. but because you have paid for the RIGHT to use the material, and not the material itself, if the cd was ever lost, or broken, etc. then the provider would have to provide another, or at least, it would be perfectly legal to burn a copy of a friend's disc.

The problem is that both parties want the "best" of both worlds. Consumers want to be able to modify something they have bought, and sell it on to someone else once they're done with it. The producers on the other hand, want you to have to buy over and over again, and then don't want you to do anything other than their "approved" uses.
In the end, one or the other must be picked, or perhaps a whole new paradigm for dealing with this new problems can be found, but until we can state concretely what the items in dispute actually are, we will never be able to regulate them or their sales/leasings.

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