Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Statistical Analysis of Copyright Registrations

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the number-of-the-beast dept.

Media 337

linuxizer writes "I've been poking around in Penn's Library for most of my Freshman year, looking up copyright statistics. What I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation. Perhaps most fascinating is the strong 40-year upward trend in registrations which is sharply broken in 1991 with a precipitous decline. Also included are some interesting observations about the RIAA's data. The numerous graphics should be well-enough explained that you don't need to go to the data files, but they are included if needed."

cancel ×


GNAA fr0st piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454642)

Join GNAA Today! GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which
gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY?
Are you a NIGGER?
Are you a GAY NIGGER?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America. You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 2 simple steps!

First, you have to obtain a copy of GAY NIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [] and watch it.

Second, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on EFNet, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today!

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is EFNet, and you can connect to or as one of the EFNet servers.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

This post brought to you by a proud member of GNAA
| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ |
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ |
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ |
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ |
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ |
| ______-"!^____________________________________ |
` ______________________________________________'

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454647)


Um (0, Offtopic)

voudras (105736) | about 11 years ago | (#6454660)

34% of statistics are false

Re:Um (2, Funny)

KillerHamster (645942) | about 11 years ago | (#6454689)

Liar. 78% are false.

Re:Um (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | about 11 years ago | (#6454807)

Now 79%.

Re:Um (1)

DrFrob (568991) | about 11 years ago | (#6454996)

80% of statistics are shit.

However, 80% of everything is shit.

early post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454661)

(see header)

Jeez (5, Funny)

The Bungi (221687) | about 11 years ago | (#6454668)

linuxizer writes "I've been poking around in Penn's Library for most of my Freshman year, looking up copyright statistics.

By $DEITY man! Get out, get drunk, get laid! There'll be plenty of time to poke around libraries when you're 40!

Re:Jeez (1)

Sam Jooky (54205) | about 11 years ago | (#6454714)

No kidding! Right now he needs to be poking something else ...

Re:Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454723)

By the time he's 40, RIAA will own the library, and have full shredding rights :)

Re:Jeez (1)

unixwin (569813) | about 11 years ago | (#6454748)

Poking around in the library could mean with something else too... there are cute chicks in the library you know ;)
Go ahead and poke
Please don't assume that it means something innocuous.... :)

He *is* 40, (4, Funny)

deego (587575) | about 11 years ago | (#6454802)

you insensitive clod!

Nah (1)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | about 11 years ago | (#6454966)

People who choose user names such as "linuxizer" don't generally have much chance of getting laid anyway. The best we can hope for is getting him drunk while he plays everquest with 14 year olds pretending to be girls.


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454670)

if anyone cares


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454729)

It was awesome.

Of all the wet dreams I've had, that had to be number two, right after the one where I'm butt raping Burt Reynolds while he's dressed up as "The Bandit."

Most of your freshman year? (4, Funny)

ajlitt (19055) | about 11 years ago | (#6454673)

There's something wrong with you if most of your freshman year of college is spent looking up copyright statistics.

Re:Most of your freshman year? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454722)

There's something wrong with you if most of your freshman year of college is spent looking up copyright statistics.

My freshman year was highly spent looking up statistics:

for example,
Milwaukee's Best Ice Light: 5.1% alcohol, $3.99
Natural Light Ice: 5.4% alcohol, $4.29.

I could never decide which was the better deal, but I preferred the Beast's taste and I was most like to have 4 $1 dollar bills, as opposed to 4 $1 bills and random change, so my scientific analysis dictated the Beast Ice.

Poking around in libraries (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454872)

My sophmore year I poked my girlfriend in the library.

Thank you! Thank you!

Re:Most of your freshman year? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454890)

come on, he's a Slashdot reader. There's nothing wrong with spending hours and hours on Stats (nevermind spending countless hours bothering the prof in office-hours and appointments).

What would you suggest he do? Join a frat, drink a ton of beer, see how many STDs he can get, fail out of classes, go home and live with his parents?

What will that do for him? Give him more time to spend on /. but only with nothing to contribute!

This is have funny and have insightful (for those moderators that are clueless).

zinger time (5, Funny)

Savatte (111615) | about 11 years ago | (#6454683)

"I've been poking around in Penn's Library"

I thought the only one who did that was Teller.

Thank you, I'll be here until I get booed off stage.

Re:zinger time (1)

gosand (234100) | about 11 years ago | (#6454759)

"I've been poking around in Penn's Library" I thought the only one who did that was Teller.
Thank you, I'll be here until I get booed off stage.

I think I speak for everyone when I say :


Innovation? (4, Insightful)

UTaimSRC (689392) | about 11 years ago | (#6454690)

extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation but how do you measure innovation? you can't just say that so many more CD's were sold or so many more compositions were written. The statistics are there but I believe that they don't prove the hypothesis.

Go Quakers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454694)

you heard me.

Re:Go Quakers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454828)

I enjoy your Instant Oatmeal, especially the Maple and Brown Sugar variety

Re:Go Quakers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454896)

Fight, fight for the inner light!
Kill, Quaker, kill!

Horrid advertising (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454695)

Site contains multiple popups and spyware.

Lose IE (2, Informative)

blunte (183182) | about 11 years ago | (#6454775)

Strange, I went to the site and saw nothing but some scary statistical info.

Maybe you should switch to Mozilla [] . I've been happily-popup-free for quite a while now.

Re:Lose IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454799)

Or better yet, keep IE, but lose the pop-ups.

Avant Browser []

Re:Lose IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454842)

"Or better yet, keep IE"

You have a very, very odd definition of 'better'.


blunte (183182) | about 11 years ago | (#6454920)

Now you got me started.

The newest scourge of the computer world is spyware. Spam is bad, but it's generally isolated to your inbox.

Spyware, crapware, whatever (read: Gator, Xupiter, Save4whatever, etc.) suck the life out of computers.

Spyware is the secret plague. Most people don't realize they have it, but most people do have it. It slowly sucks the life out of their machines. It pops up porn ads. It changes browser address entries. It sucks bandwidth and CPU.

Of course, the scum who create this spyware should be doomed to a life of cleaning up messes using SpyBot and AdAware.

But MS, and the IE project, should receive some of the blame, since they've done little or nothing to prevent ignorant (and I use that term politely) users from getting this stuff installed on their machines.

How many security problems have existed that take advantage of IE/ActiveX weaknesses?

Anyway, I just get personally sick of having everyone I know come to me with a story like, "I've got a new P4 computer, but it's really slow, and I get porn popups all the time, and sometimes when I'm entering a web address, my browser changes it to".

Re:Lose IE (0, Flamebait)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 11 years ago | (#6454892)

Maybe you should switch to Mozilla

And didn't Mozilla development take a near death-blow today with the AOL-directed layoffs?

Re:Lose IE (1)

Darth Maul (19860) | about 11 years ago | (#6454945)

Umm, what? I have no idea how to respond to this. You are obviously quite misinformed.

Can you explain why you call that a "death-blow"?

Re:Lose IE (1)

Binestar (28861) | about 11 years ago | (#6454974)

And didn't Mozilla development take a near death-blow today with the AOL-directed layoffs?

And this undoes all the development that has already been done?

You are telling me that when you read that story you went and uninstalled mozilla because it was suddenly inferior to IE?


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454897)

switch to OPERA [] instead, you insensitive clod! and version 7.2beta1 is out! check it out in at

Fascinating (0)

phuckauthority (689896) | about 11 years ago | (#6454699)

I've always thought that copyrights inhibited innovation. Although, OpenSource licenses seem to help it along while still guarenteeing many of the same rights.
Punk Radio Cast [] has a funny copyright notice and so does CrimethInc.TK [] ...

Re:Fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454831)

I forget what album it was that used to have a modified form of the standard copyright disclaimer that said something like "Unauthorized reproduction is never as good as the real thing".

Ye Gods! (4, Informative)

(startx) (37027) | about 11 years ago | (#6454707)

I clicked on the link and there were 5 popups plus a Gator install! What kind of a sadistic freak are you?

(yes, I know, don't use IE, etc. work computer, don't have much of a choice)

Re:Ye Gods! (2)

glenrm (640773) | about 11 years ago | (#6454769)

Luckily I don't read the articles, how is this acceptable to the average slashdotian. I mean a site filled with spyware and the gator is allowed on the front page? What would Howard Dean think?

Re:Ye Gods! (1)

NightRain (144349) | about 11 years ago | (#6454779)

Gah! I see what you mean. I'm in the same boat, and the bloody things never seemed to end...

Reason why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454810)

The editors use Mozilla or some browser with a pop-up blocker so they didn't even notice the site did have pop-ups (EVEN THOUGH MOZILLA HAS AN ICON ON THE STATUS BAR TELLING YOU ABOUT POP-UPS!). The submitter probably thought they would use a popup blocker so they wouldn't even notice the popups and post it and the submitter was right.

Re:Ye Gods! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 11 years ago | (#6454816)

I put Mozilla Firebird on a coworker's computer where the user didn't have admin can you. You can keep it in your /home..err..."My Documents" folder under Win32.

Re:Ye Gods! (1)

Aadain2001 (684036) | about 11 years ago | (#6454829)

I'm lucky, I installed Firebird here on my work computer. No popups, no Gator install, jus the site. Makes me wonder why corporation don't install Mozilla/Firebird by default these days.

contact the bastard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454855)

the guys homepage is here:

fire off an angry email to the fucker here:

Everybody Surprised (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 11 years ago | (#6454709)

And everybody is surprised about this because...?

Points about copyright law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454715)

As I was browsing the article, I had an interesting thought. It occurs to me that we should look at this from a different angle. Basically, we are going to listen to some sloberring acne-infested college boy tell us about copyright law?

This place is going even farther into the toilet - something I didn't think was possible.

Re:Points about copyright law (0, Troll)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | about 11 years ago | (#6454832)

>Basically, we are going to listen to some sloberring acne-infested college boy tell us about copyright law?

Wait... *checks URL* This IS Slashdot, right?


I thought that's how things always are around here...

link = junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454718)

this is what i get for RTFA..

Ugly Popups -- UGG! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 11 years ago | (#6454733)

Congratualtions on directing us to one of the most ugly, popup ridden site it has ever been my displeasure to visit.

Re:Ugly Popups -- UGG! (0)

nsideops (579890) | about 11 years ago | (#6454776)

Popups? Thank god for mozilla, and on a work computer...I wonder if they know I put it on here yet. :)

Re:Ugly Popups -- UGG! (0)

OriginalPrankster (686652) | about 11 years ago | (#6454825)

Maybe you should join the Mozilla side....

Re:Ugly Popups -- UGG! (1)

Darth Maul (19860) | about 11 years ago | (#6454964)

Dude, get a faster horse. It's called Mozilla. It's the only way to browse.

Graphics ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454737)

The numerous graphics should be well-enough explained that you don't need to go to the data files, but they are included if needed.

Would this be the graphics as embodied in yet another ad ?

Worst Slashdot Article Ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454743)

There has to be some minimum standard that the editor applies to filter stories. I got no fewer than 8 popups and 2 'Gator' install prompts (yah, yah, I'm using IE, blah blah blah).

Michael did you even try clicking on the link?

Re:Worst Slashdot Article Ever? (1)

ball-lightning (594495) | about 11 years ago | (#6454871)

The quality of a site is not neccessarily the advertising on it. They guy obviously did a lot of work and research, his only crime is using a free webhosting company that uses pop-ups.

Dude! Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454941)

Michael did you even try clicking on the link?...

dude, are you kidding me? Of course he/all-the-rest didn't/can't/won't/don't click the links. 'the hell kind of "editing" would that be? Too status-quo yo.

innovation (3, Insightful)

geekmetal (682313) | about 11 years ago | (#6454749)

What I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation.

Well you have to also analyze the quality of the those extensions. A well thought out extension to the copyright terms could certainly have a positive effect on innovation, but sadly the viewpoint of the bodies making those extensions is only to protect. Little thought is given as to how it could be used to effect innovation positively.

Re:innovation (1)

deman1985 (684265) | about 11 years ago | (#6454870)

I think that the best thing that copyright laws can do for innovation is protect the investment of the inventors/authors for a short period of time-- just long enough to get the idea/product developed and on the market. After that, it should become public domain so others can improve upon it, if the author chooses not to do so

Possible Reason for Decline (2, Interesting)

isn't my name (514234) | about 11 years ago | (#6454750)

Perhaps most fascinating is the strong 40-year upward trend in registrations which is sharply broken in 1991 with a precipitous decline.

Isn't that about the time that the US copyright law changed so that you no longer had to register to claim copyright? I thught it was some time around the late 80's.

June 26th, 1992 (1)

AzrealAO (520019) | about 11 years ago | (#6454905)

Renewal registration becaome optional on June 26th, 1992. Works copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977, automatically renewed even if registration not made.

Ewww (0, Offtopic)

i8urtaco (663163) | about 11 years ago | (#6454752)

I must be working too hard. I thought the first line read I've been poking around Penis library. Must....have....more...caffeine....

I can't believe it... (0)

dcypher_67 (674764) | about 11 years ago | (#6454753)

You actually knew where the library was BEFORE your 5th year?!?!

Where does innovation come from? (3, Insightful)

Gorny (622040) | about 11 years ago | (#6454754)

"I found is basically what many suspected all along: extending and strengthening copyright terms has little effect on actual innovation."

Innovation isn't always completely tied to copyright terms. Take the GNU/BSD licenses (copyright terms) of the recent decade. They're successfull and at least a part of their success comes from people being not satisfied with other copyright terms.
Indirect the innovation comes from the strengthening of other copyright terms, but you cant say it doesn't have any effect. It does, people are searching for other ways in order to not infringe other stupid copyrights (MS EULA).

SUN HOAX REVEALED! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454762)

by Secret Jew "Tyron Zegold"
While there is no moon to drive people mad or turn them into werewolves, the moon-hoax has tragically succeeded in robbing us of our senses for so long. Fortunately, the ground-breaking research undertaken by THE MAD REVISIONIST has uncovered and dismantled this hoax. Yet there remains an even greater hoax perpetrated against the world, and unlike the moon-hoax, in the light of day- and all the more dangerous for that. In the final stanza of Auden's Funeral Blues, yet another piece of poetry relied upon to establish the existence of the moon, the poet laments, "Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun", and this latter suggestion should interest any serious revisionist scholar. Like so many revisionists, I do not know very much about the field of study to which I propose to contribute. More glaring than any "sun", however, the sun-hoax, I argue below, is so obvious that it can be recognised by laymen and open-minded "experts" alike.
Scientific waffling

As with its partner the moon, theories and fables about the sun have been constantly changed and retracted by the embarrassed scientific community, always on the verge of exposure. In ancient times very silly things were fabricated about the sun in many cultures around the world in order to sow confusion. These myths include elaborate and outlandish accounts of the sun really being a woman riding in a chariot across the sky, and other such nonsense hardly worth mentioning.

Along with the moon, the sun was said to revolve around the earth, which according to the Ptolemaic system lay at the centre of the universe. Nicolaus Copernicus, the astronomological establishment's big hero, later argued that the earth revolves around the sun. Needless to say, Copernicus' ideas have also been substantially revised by modern science, which describes in vivid detail how the sun too and its solar system traipse about the universe. New models of the universe, however, are also constantly being conjured, and it seems as if the subject of dispute, the sun, hangs in even more suspect environs.

Mathematical impossibility

Secondly, as with the moon, if the sun existed, a horrible apocalyptic collision with the earth would be expected. While the moon would have to plummet into the earth, since our planet supposedly revolves around the sun, we should expect to come crashing down into the sun. While the moon is said to be 384 000km from the earth and the sun 149 600 000km from the earth, the sun is much bigger than the moon. The moon is said to have a diametre of 3476km, the earth a diametre of 12 756km (at the equator). Since the sun supposedly has a diametre 109 times that of the earth, it has diametre of approximately 1 390 404km (109 X 12 756). To compare in ratio the supposed sun-moon diametres and supposed sun-moon distances from earth, divide 149 600 000 (sun-earth distance) by 384 400 (moon-earth distance), and also divide 1 309 404 (sun diametre) by 3 476 (moon diametre). The respective distance-diametre ratio is then approximately, 389.18 : 376.70. The supposed larger distance from the earth, is compensated by the supposed sun's larger size.

Concerned that we may realize this, the astrological community admits the swallowing of the earth by the sun, which we are told will expand over billions of years until it wondrously explodes as a supernova. Need I say more?

Chemical absurdity

The sun is said to be a ball of burning gasses. But is not oxygen necessary for even the tiniest flame to burn? Inconsistently, the scientists describe space as lacking this oxygen.

Nevertheless, if the sun could burn, this would entail consequences which are not apparent. If the cold, small moon can affect the oceans and form tides, surely the massive sun, burning at millions of degrees at its core, would evaporate all the oceans, let alone melt the very crust of the earth and all those, including revisionists, living on its surface.

Lack of eyewitness evidence

As for eyewitnesses, the sun is said to be very difficult to look at. This means that there are NO reliable eyewitnesses. This is clearly problematic. As for photographic evidence, once again as with the moon, no photograph was taken of the sun before the 19th century. The sun appears indistinct in most photographs - that is if the developers even return pictures featuring the sun, which they suspiciously dispose of as "faulty".

Clear photographs of the sun used in textbooks are always produced with modern telescopes, containing the necessary devices used to view (read: fabricate) the sun properly. The telescope manufacturers along with the organisations which use the telescopes, those very organisations which propagate the moon-hoax, have an interest in their being a sun, and so their evidence cannot be accepted as authentic.

There are many others who benefit from propagating the sun-hoax. These include those who have interests in its sister moon-hoax and all the many listed elsewhere on your sight, in an e-mail comment poignantly titled, Stop promoting the sun conspiracy!

While strict revisionist standards will not accept moon-landings and moon-rocks as evidence of the existence of the moon, I am prepared to drop my standards and beg for any evidence from a sun-landing or a tiny sun-rock. I advise anybody who either has landed on the sun or has a sun-rock in their possession to contact THE MAD REVISIONIST as soon as possible.

from the Sun. t. htm

OT, but Good (1)

blunte (183182) | about 11 years ago | (#6454839)

This may be way off topic, but it's a fun read.

It beats the heck out of many + moderated posts... :)

are registrations a useful metric? (3, Insightful)

jrstewart (46866) | about 11 years ago | (#6454768)

My understanding is that registration isn't required in order for your work to be copyrighted, and hasn't been required since at least 1976. Everything I read on this give some line about how registering a copyright makes your court case easier if you have so sue someone over infringement, but I wonder how many published works are registered.

I would venture to guess that most mainstream works are.

Re:are registrations a useful metric? (4, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 11 years ago | (#6454837)

My understanding is that registration isn't required in order for your work to be copyrighted

While strictly speaking you are correct, at least in the field of screenwriting of which I'm familiar, registering your material with the copyright office within 90 days of completion entitles you to extra classes of monetary damages in the event of infringment that are not available otherwise.

Re:are registrations a useful metric? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 11 years ago | (#6454891)

In fact, you can't even sue someone for infringement until you've registered your work. (whether extra damages are available depends on if you registered prior to the infringement; just to get to that point you'll have had to register anyway)

So since the copyright holders of non-registered works appear to not care if their works are infringed upon, I think it's safe to discount them; they're getting protection that AFAICT is meaningless to them, and isn't motivating them to create. They'd act the same without the benefits of copyright, so why bother giving it to them?

Pop-up, Gator, slashdot effect free version (5, Informative)

Carbonite (183181) | about 11 years ago | (#6454777)

Made curious by the continual claims of politicians and industry executives that stronger copyright leads to more innovation, I went to the library early Freshman year to see if there was any corroberating research. I was unable to find any, so I went to a historical index of statistics. However, that only had data until 1970, so I extracted the more recent data from the annual Statistical Abstract(s) of the United States.

The trends are fascinating, especially in a field where a surprising amount of innumeracy and overinterpretation appears from people who should know better. For instance:

"We did a survey in April that asked people the reasons why they downloaded, and 65% said because it was free," a BPI spokeswoman said.

They are, of course, absolutely correct. But they leave it up to the reader to infer that those respondents are displacing purchases with free music. In effect, however, what is happening is price discrimination. Those who are willing to tolerate lower-quality music are paying less (nothing) for it. Those who are not pay more. Society gains, the industry loses--and then only assuming recent studies showing that downloads serve as a form of music sampling, a free preview for users that later buy music, are incorrect.

Now, on to the data. Some of this pertains directly to copyright, others directly to the RIAA.

Most interesting to me was one trend that my statistics professor, Professor Wyner, pointed out. From the early 1950's until 1991, copyright registrations rise exponentially. In fact, a simple quadratic fit shows an Rsquare of over .99 .

That a four-decade trend of such strength could reverse itself in a single year so dramatically--and without an apparent cause--is incredible. The fact that it happens across all categories of copyright suggests the effect is perhaps due to a change in the way the Copyright Office records entries. However, given that music registrations correlate well with overall registrations, it would have to have been a policy change for all copyright entries. The sheer precipitousness of the plummet belies many otherwise viable explanations. However, in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-307, making renewal automatic for works from 1964-1977. Depending on whether the Copyright Office was including renewals in its statistics, 1991 could be a break in analyzability for the data. Furthermore, if they did, indeed, include renewals, trends will be blurred and obfuscated by the lagging renewal registrations.

The single-category music registrations show the same plunge.

Also interesting is that, as the price of CDs increase, shipments increase. This trend is not nearly as strong as the former, and is only based on a decade of data provided by the RIAA. Possible explanations for this trend include that CDs are a luxury item--unlikely, I should think--or that the economy's rise during this period (1990-2000) lead to an increase in spending.

And, in fact, it did. A classical Demand Curve. Not such a great mystery after all, as it turns out.

Since we are starting to analyze statistics provided by the RIAA at this point, I should mention that they have a nasty tendency to only release data which they can put a proper spin on. Consequently, analyzing becomes much more difficult and leads to kludges such as the 2002 CDs shipped data extrapolated from news of an 8.8% decline from previous years. If anyone would provide me with a complete set of Nielson SoundScan statistics this project would be much easier. If anyone disputes my figures please provide me with a better set. Many of these numbers took hours to find, here from one source, there from another. Fortunately, most of the time there was some overlap in data provided, so I was able to see that the numbers were directly comparable.

That said, the numbers are interesting. The RIAA has been shipping fewer CDs in the last few years, by all accounts. The most recent (and most contested) numbers come from SoundScan, and so should be pretty reliable. The rest come from the RIAA itself, which does not provide data for those years.

As one might expect, offering more music produces more sales. Here, CDs shipped is used as a proxy for CDs sold because the data is more available. Again, if anyone has data available for sales, please send it to me.

Based on this data, one might well expect to see a decline in sales given the approximately 10% decline per year in releases from 1999-2001. From 1999 to 2000, CDs released fell 8.70%. In 1999, the linear model predicts 933 million CDs shipped. In 2000 it predicts 855 million shipped, a decline of 8.36%. The actual value is 942.5 million. However, sales that year may have been particularly bad relative to units shipped because the industry overshipped based on past sales, not taking into account the decline in new releases. Again, if anyone has the CD sales data by year I would love to have it.

Now for the pretty data:

The patent data I gathered to try to answer Professor Wyner's question: why do copyrights plunge after 1991? However, all the additional data did was increase my puzzlement. Not even a hint of a plunge. Curiouser and curiouser!

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the copyright data itself is how much it is affected by major historical events. The Great Depression is clearly visible, along with the post-war speculative boom leading up to the market crash. Continuing onwards, one can see World War II and post-war expansion, followed by the Korean War and an economic adjustment. After this, the aforementioned 40-year trend begins. The 1909, 1976, and 1998 "X" markers indicate expansions of copyright law.

The expansion of copyright law in 1909 did little to encourage innovation as the Constitution proscribes it must. In fact, for a decade afterwards the best that could be said of the law was that it maintained the status quo. This is particularly interesting because it happened in the middle of a boom following the Panic of 1907.

The next time Congress expanded copyright was in the middle of the dramatic increases in copyright registrations from the mid century almost to the turn of the millenium. The effect this time is much more qualified. The overall trend is upwards, but that certainly cannot be attributed to the law, as the decade shown deviates little from the overall 50-year trend.

The enormous hump in 1977 seems to be an artifact of looking at all copyright registrations. Since categories were added, a rush to copyright previously-unprotected works would have ensued. An analysis of a single category would provide further clarity. Unfortunately, I am missing the data for those years.

The most recent decade provides the least information of all, unfortunately. Many analyses have been done of the miniscule incentives to produce the latest round of copyright expansion gives in return for gutting the public domain. However, the actual effect of the law remains unmeasured to my knowlege. Consequently, it would be useful if enough data were available to draw a conclusion. However, that is simply not the case as of my research a few months ago, especially given the eccentricity of the data since 1991.

What about the early years, you ask? I spend months searching, and found nothing. The Copyright Office is all-but-useless in gathering the statistics for the early years. In fact, the various people I talked with in my visit to the Library of Congress had very little of substance to say at all regarding serious research. The entire Copyright Office seems to be set up with the sole intent of helping would-be copyright holders do copyright searches. In addition, 1870 was the first year records were centralized in Washinton. Prior to that they were kept in the District Courts. The National Archive was somewhat helpful. " Good luck! You'll never find that," was the response I received before the librarian helpfully tried to find as much information as he could--painfully little, just as he predicted.

And now for the main question of this document: does increasing the length or protective powers of copyright has any effect on innovation as measured through the number of registrations? The choice of metric is unfortunate because it says nothing about the quality of those works produced, as well as being affected by changes in the way such things are registered. However, given that hundreds of thousands of works are produced each year, one must assume that the sheer numbers involved evens out the effects of differing quality. So the premise remains valid. The conclusion is pretty clear as well, as seen from the decades following the passage of the 1909 and 1976 laws: the drastic expansions of copyright had little to do with increasing innovation in this country. As such, in future years they may well be ruled unconstitutional, Eldred v. Ashcroft notwithstanding.

All graphics on this page were generated by JMP-IN from data I've collected over the past year. If you are a student, you can purchase a copy of JMP for about $70. If not, I believe it's a few hundred, but well worth it.

Data file 1. Data file 2.

If you have any data to add to these files, please e-mail me to that effect. If you disagree with my numbers, please e-mail me to that effect. If you disagree with my analysis, please e-mail me to that effect.

Look for my symphony, which should be completed by the end of this summer.
Ari Friedman
The University of Pennsylvania, 1740


Subject Line Troll (581198) | about 11 years ago | (#6454889)


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454967)

Way to go SLT, please keep your trolls clever from now on. Thank you.

Holy pop ups batman (1)

Friendly (160067) | about 11 years ago | (#6454778)

May be we could have less spyware pop ups!


Re:Holy pop ups batman (1)

realdpk (116490) | about 11 years ago | (#6454917)

The only way to stop pop-ups from being used on sites is for everyone to stop loading them. Try out Mozilla. It's quite effective at stopping the pop-ups you don't want, while letting you enable pop-ups you need for specific sites. Even if the pop-up plague does not stop, at least you won't see it.

Re:Holy pop ups batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454968)

Holy crap, there sure are a lot of IE users on Slashdot. I would think you would know better

Statistics are B.S. (1)

felonious (636719) | about 11 years ago | (#6454785)

Although statistics might have their place somewhere I've yet to find that place. Say you take a poll asking how many times a week a person has sex and 100% say never or less than once a month. You release these findings and give it a +/- of 3% as usual in these cases. You entitle your findings "America's deep, dark secret about rarely having sex".

Let's cut to the chase. The grouped you polled was a convent full of nuns...ok bad pun but you get the gist of what I'm saying...100% of polls are misleading and only serve the purpose or ideology of the entities invloved. If you don't believe me I suggest you research the subject yourself because in the latest poll I tracked showed this to be true in 99% of the cases give or take +/- 3%.

Re:Statistics are B.S. (2, Informative)

Webtommy88 (515386) | about 11 years ago | (#6454881)


Let's cut to the chase. The grouped you polled was a convent full of nuns...

AFAIK, alot of research and effort goes into the sampling protocol.

My interpretation is that you are suggesting most study use poor sampling protocols which result in biased samples that do not accurately represent the study population. I find this very hard to swallow as you would almost have to go out of your way to do bad sampling to get unrepresentative sample populations. Even if more advanced methods of sampling cannot be used, one could fall back to random sampling mos to of the time and still get a pretty damn good sample.

I agree interpretation of statistics can be manipulated, but you're critizing the actual statistical process, and it's hard to believe there are groups of PHD's who do this that could do it flagrantly wrong. The data never lies.

Re:Statistics are B.S. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 11 years ago | (#6454940)

>>>I find this very hard to swallow

So do the nuns, son. So do the nuns.

Conclusion (3, Interesting)

Webtommy88 (515386) | about 11 years ago | (#6454787)

So the premise remains valid. The conclusion is pretty clear as well, as seen from the decades following the passage of the 1909 and 1976 laws: the drastic expansions of copyright had little to do with increasing innovation in this country.

Like the study says, this is good grounds to stop extending copyrights as extending them would only serve to give incentive to innovate through prolonging the period of returns on said innovation. If this becomes widely accepted then it's just a matter of arguing copy rights are too long, (or too short?) as to provide enough incentive to innovate.

Note that the conclusions (and in the entire study) says nothing about copy right extensions slowing innovation.

I really would like to see some analysis on the negative effects (if at all) of copyright extensions on innovation.

It's a big jump to innovation (3, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | about 11 years ago | (#6454801)

Innovation is impossible to quantify. Using the number of copyright registrations as the measure of innovation is ignoring much, mostly innovation in the public domain. There's nothing wrong with puting together these statistics for analysis, but jumping to any conclusion about quantity of innovation is impossible. It's simply impossible to factually state whether innovation increased or decreased during any period of time. It's purely judgemental.

Re:It's a big jump to innovation (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | about 11 years ago | (#6454898)

while ou are correct, there is meaning in the metric. it is interesting how during times of depression/resesion the trend dips and in times of boom the trend spikes.

it is also meaningfull that the data shown points out that record sales go up as the rate of new record releases/talent goes up. the RIAA knows this trend for sure, and it is even more interesting that the graph shows a, 8.7% drop in sales and an 8.3% drop in new releases/talent.

Obsolete (1)

deman1985 (684265) | about 11 years ago | (#6454804)

The current definition of copyrights and patents are really obsolete for a world in which technology can be duplicated overnight and any idea out there is always some derivation of an earlier technology. They are used for nothing other than lawsuits these days and need to be overhauled for a better system.

Patents and copyrights alike should be granted only to original ideas which are in product form. If the idea is too vague, such as to cause problems, it shouldn't be granted. And any patents that are granted should only extend for one year after the filing of the patent; so if, for example, the patent isn't granted until a year after it was filed, it will already be expired and will prevent such idiocy as is happening between Walmart and Netflix, and SCO and IBM.

The USPTO is getting grant-happy and granting patents to anybody who asks for one. This is not right and needs to be stopped. Before long, we won't be able to say a word without having to check if someone hasn't trademarked it for their own use.

Lies (0, Redundant)

Gefiltefish11 (611646) | about 11 years ago | (#6454809)

"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."


copyright extension fatal to film preservation (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454826)

Most movies made in 1923 and later now are covered by copyright extentsions. The effect as been a virtual halt in private film preservation efforts. Most movies made before 1950 were printed on nitrocellulose film stock, a very unstable and highly flammable substance. It is expensive to preserve nitrate film stock, and transfer the print to safety film.

Prior to copyright extension private preservationists undertook the job of saving many, many obscure films that had no economic value to the former copyright holder, yet to have a cultural and historical place in the history of cinema. Now these films are totally off limits. Major studios have no interest in preserving obscure silent movies from the 1920s, yet the copyright extension has stopped private efforts to fill the gap.

The copyright extension removes all financial impetus for private individuals to undertake film preservation. Previously, companies such as Grapevine Video [] would undertake the preservation and recoup expenses by selling video tranfers to libraries and collectors. Maybe 200 or 300 sales at most. Now Grapevine Video is being forced out of business because they can no longer preserve and sell obscure films from our past.

The studios who own the copyrights are not going to fund preservation of films for which they can sell only a hundred or two videos. This is where private enterprise filled the gap through the meager financial incentive that public domain material offered. Now that incentive has completely gone, and most small companies involved in film preservation are now going out of business.

piracy fatal to creation of films worth preserving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454953)

Look at China.

Their most talented filmmaker cannot generate enough funds/investment to make his next movie because every release is bootlegged and for sale on the street hours after its first showing.

there's lies, damn lies, and then there's.... (-1, Troll)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 11 years ago | (#6454836)


> Since we are starting to analyze statistics provided by the RIAA at this point, I should mention that they have a nasty tendency to only release data which they can put a proper spin on.

How is this different from anyone else. Statistics are not a tool for analyzing data, you silly fool.. Statistics are a tool for enabling people to legaly lie! I'm sure Enron had all sorts of rosy statistics, and black lines going up on charts. For refereneces to using positive spin to lie, please see this website []

good analysis (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | about 11 years ago | (#6454841)

to bad no one has been keeping track of all the information in the last decade....conspericy?


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454851)

... so we don't have to view the annoying popups!

Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454859)

I set out to research x and conclude y. Surprise! I concluded y!

You and the companies that do funded research for MS, IBM, and whoever are in the same boat.

Statistics of Statistics Sites (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 11 years ago | (#6454863)

What are the statistics on the number of pop-up ad windows and attempted spyware installs on sites dedicated to Statistics?

Re:Statistics of Statistics Sites (1)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | about 11 years ago | (#6454934)

You must be on crack. I went to the site, and saw nothing of the sort.

And in other news... (1)

goldspider (445116) | about 11 years ago | (#6454878)

A similar report concluded that 76% of all statists are made up.

Another reason registrations declined. (4, Informative)

Feynt (680159) | about 11 years ago | (#6454880)

According to an obsolete brief [] , on 1993-02-16, the Copyright Reform Act of 1993 was introduced in both houses of the US Congress. If the bill passes [I assume it did?], [it will] remove the requirement for registration prior to bringing suit, and would remove the restrictions on statutory damages that are described above.

Looks like a reason why registrations would trail off...

Obligatory Homer (4, Funny)

umrgregg (192838) | about 11 years ago | (#6454895)

Kent: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?

Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.

-- Effective interview responses, "Homer the Vigilante"

"then let's extend it forever!" (2, Interesting)

tstoneman (589372) | about 11 years ago | (#6454909)

Playing devil's advocate, if copyright extensions have no effect, then the Bad Guys can say,

"Let's extend copyrights forever, so that people can never gain from other people's ideas. This is legitimate, since extending doesn't affect the number of copyright registrations... innovation is not hindered by copyright extensions!"

VERY Interesting (3, Interesting)

q2a (519813) | about 11 years ago | (#6454911)

Here's the thesis:
"The conclusion is pretty clear as well, as seen from the decades following the passage of the 1909 and 1976 laws: the drastic expansions of copyright had little to do with increasing innovation in this country."
We all need to ask ourselves how much is the public domain worth anyway?
The answer is A LOT [] . Our artists and culture are suffering.

-- Have you read 1984? []
Since 1997, clicking this link is a Jail-able offense in the US.

1991 copyright changes (2, Informative)

JungleBoy (7578) | about 11 years ago | (#6454931)

I believe that before 1991 (or 1992) works had to be explicity declared and registered as copyrighted to get protection. Changes in law (or rulings, I can't remember which), made all created worked copyrighted by default so that copyright registration was no longer required.

note: this is all dredged up from memory and may be grossly inaccurate.

Interesting Article (3, Interesting)

ispeters (621097) | about 11 years ago | (#6454933)

All jokes about the wasting of his freshman year, and the innumerable popups (Long Live Mozilla!) aside, this was a rather interesting article.

I'd like to have seen the copyright numbers graphed next to some population numbers to see how they compare. Do the number of copyrights registered in the US correlate with the number of people in the US?

Also, the number of copyrights seems to follow a fairly linear trend until 1950, and then it suddenly becomes quadratic until 1991. Why? Was there some huge up-swing in population growth at that point, or something? (The baby-boomers wouldn't have started registering copyrighted works until much later, would they?) Did everyone suddenly discover acid and become that much more creative?


Crappy article (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6454958)

Yes, I know it fits in great with the Slashdot party line, but did anyone actually *read* this article and look at the graphs he presents ?

In one graph, he attempts to show a dramatic "reversal" in the number of copyright registrations by year, fitting a quadratic. Did anyone LOOK at the quadratic he fit ? If so, how could any such person not question his claim of an R-squared > .99 ??The graph only fits in part of the graph. I can't even believe whoever was advising this dufus would suggest he TRY to fit a quadratic, since the graph he shows is clearly not suitable for a quadratic.

As for the "reversal" he sees in the last few years, it is questionable what his extrapolation from 4 decades and "finding" a subsequent dip in registrations really means - he certainly doesn't present the statistics to convince ME there's a dip, and I bet if you dropped the points from around 88-91 you'd get just as good a fit to the 1950-2003 data. That is, he has some sort of dubious fit, and he's concluding there's something deep and meaningful about the dislocation of the last 10 or so points, without question whether maybe 4 or so points that mark the supposed reversal are really themselves what is dislocated.

Then there's the myriad graphs entitled "Bivariate fit of X" and "Bivariate fit of Y", in many cases he just connected the dots. Yes, "bivariate fit" adds an air of authenticity, to everyone that is except someone who knows the slightest bit of statistics.

The whole "article" is covered with "just-so" stories, anecdotes, and supposition about what might or might not be. Where's the rigorous statistical analysis ? You can't make a statistical argument by showing graphs.

I just don't trust statistical arguments made by a guy who doesn't seem like he knows what he's talking about.

They don't teach math at Penn? (2, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | about 11 years ago | (#6454979)

Most interesting to me was one trend that my statistics professor, Professor Wyner, pointed out. From the early 1950's until 1991, copyright registrations rise exponentially. In fact, a simple quadratic fit shows an Rsquare of over .99 .


innovation? (1)

vasqzr (619165) | about 11 years ago | (#6455001)

RIAA speaks on $$ terms, only.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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