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Internet Archive Loses Copyright Fight

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the rejected dept.

The Courts 412

tiltowait writes "As reported on LISNews.com, the Internet Archive has lost a copyright lawsuit which challenged the Congressional lengthening of copyright terms and conditions. The ruling has implications for abandonware and other copyright-eligible materials that have no active owner. Brewster Kahle plans to appeal the decision." The decision is available. As we noted in an earlier story, the Eldred case challenged the length of copyright expansion, this one challenged the breadth, and so far, this one is going about as well as the Eldred case did. Stanford has an overview of the case.

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412 comments

I don't know what to say. (4, Insightful)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956368)

Wow, that sucks.

Re:I don't know what to say. (2, Insightful)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956390)

right to the point. it does suck.

Re:I don't know what to say. (1)

blahnameblahname (835947) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956394)

most of the software I use I obtained under the sharereactor license, does this apply to that?

Re:I don't know what to say. (1)

TylerL82 (617087) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956415)

How about "First post"?

Re:I don't know what to say. (1)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956581)

too cliche... I suppose I could have yelled 'POP' as in cherry...

Re:I don't know what to say. (2, Funny)

cwapface (835930) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956418)

oh, canada?

Re:I don't know what to say. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956449)

more of a big DUH!

every one of those judges and senators are in the pockets of big business.

hell our president is simply a puppet of big corperations.

no suprise there....

welcome to America(tm) a devision of International Megacorp(tm)

Re:I don't know what to say. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956629)

You sir, are the reason why we should have placed a cap on Slashdot user registration at 800,000.

Yay! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956401)

Another win for big business over the little guy! Go Disney!

government is funded by business (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956403)

paid to help business out - not the folks they are supposed to be helping.

Re:government is funded by business (0)

DarkMantle (784415) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956592)

Unfortunately this is too true. I did some research into the Music industry while in college, was hoping to try to promote the band more... Well, anyway, I found out (among many other things) that the LABEL would own the songs that *I* wrote, *I* paid to record, and *I* payed to produce, and *I* paid to market.... so tell me, why do *THEY* get all the money?

Re:government is funded by business (1)

bm17 (834529) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956815)

Because THEY control the means of distribution.

Hey, just because it was a rhetorical question doesn't mean I can't answer it.

Re:government is funded by business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956837)

And because THEY'll pay for the lawyers that will defend your work from infringement.

Even if you don't feel like you're being infringed upon.

Re:government is funded by business (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956839)

Because all the other Artists sign contracts like that.

Re:government is funded by business (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956830)

Actually, that's wrong. Most of the taxes that the government gets comes from you and me. Politicians, on the other hand, get their money from businesses who would like their interests served. There's all kinds of "funds" and crap like that out there. They need to make that illegal but unfortunately, the people who make it legal are the very people who benefit it. I wonder if there's something at the judiciary level that could be used to combat and clean up the system a bit?

Relocate (2, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956411)

Relocate the server to some small island in international waters or some country that doesn't give a Flying...ya know... about U.S. laws like North Korea.

Re:Relocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956492)

Yeah, because in North Korea only old people follow U.S. laws.

Re:Relocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956497)

The only problem we have there is that only old people would be able to use it.

Re:Relocate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956560)

I prefer to co-locate with a type-III dyson bubble and an array of ion cannons. mmm unlimited free power to annhilate any and all threats to my right to webhost anything I want...

Re:Relocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956740)

But is the complete radiative output of a G-type star enough to withstand a slashdotting? :)

Re:Relocate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956738)

All of my thread brothers and sisters are wrong. The correct answer is: In Korea only old people can be legally archived.

Re:Relocate (1)

maxchaote (796339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956840)

Relocate the server to some small island in international waters or some country that doesn't give a Flying...ya know... about U.S. laws like North Korea.

Such as HavenCo [havenco.com] .

Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (3, Insightful)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956417)

I thought abandonware was defined as software that was no longer commercially available or supported. What's that got to do with copyright?

Re:Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (5, Informative)

archipunk (649241) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956532)

I thought abandonware was defined as software that was no longer commercially available or supported. What's that got to do with copyright?

Software is subject to copyright law.

The law states that copying, distributing, etc. that material, even if it is abandoned and unsupported, is illegal. But there are many individuals who want to use, modify, develop, etc. those materials who are presently prevented from doing so by the law.

If abandoned material was no longer encumbered by copyright, people with an interest could do new and creative things with those materials. Instead, though, the law acts to stifle and constrain new advances and developments, rather than to encourage them.

It preserves the rights of ignorance and suppression, rather than allowing and encouraging creativity, invention, and development.

Re:Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956659)

What's that got to do with copyright?

Very simply, copyright deals with whether the material is owned, not with whether it is distributed or not.

The car in my garage that I haven't driven in 10 years is still mine, and you can't take it just because you need a car and I'm not using it.

I have the legal right not drive my car, and I have the legal right not to distribute my software. My availing myself of these rights does not in any way confer rights to my things upon you.

Thus, you cannot distribute my copyright protected material over the internet, even though I am not doing so myself.

KFG

Obligatory copyright infringement != theft comment (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956736)

The car in my garage that I haven't driven in 10 years is still mine, and you can't take it just because you need a car and I'm not using it.

That's because taking your car would be an act of theft, leaving you with no car. It is not the same as copying a program, whereby you would not lose anything tangible.

If a company is not selling the product anymore, then how can copying a program deny them a sale? They're not making any money off of it.

Not Quite Right (3, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956802)

Well, you're right to some extent. Copying "abandonware" that is "owned" by a company that still exists is a little tough. Personally I think if you can't buy a copy (i.e. the company doesn't have a copy, won't sell a copy, whatever), you should be able to make a copy, but that's my opinion and only a small part of the discussion.

Much more significantly, let's extend your metaphor. Let's say you die, as companies are prone to do. Let's say you have no heirs, no will, and in every other conceivable way no one with any legal claim to your car.

What happens then?

Honestly it depends on where you live, but in most places your car would probably get auctioned off at some public auction where the proceeds get dumped back into the community (law enforcement funding or whatever).

The equivalent "resources return to the community" scenario for software would be that the copyright is considered "expired" before the "official" expiration date.

Re:Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (4, Informative)

mopslik (688435) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956690)

What's that got to do with copyright?

The argument goes something like this:

Consumer: "I'd like ProgramX, please."
Producer: "I'm sorry, we stopped making ProgramX a few years ago."
Consumer: "Oh, well where can I purchase a copy then?"
Producer: "I'm sorry, you cannot purchase a copy of ProgramX."
Consumer: "What if I copy ProgramX from a friend who has it then?"
Producer: "Copying ProgramX is illegal, because it denies us a sale."
Consumer: "But where can I buy ProgramX?"
Producer: "I'm sorry, you cannot purchase a copy of ProgramX."

Or something like that.

Re:Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (3, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956806)

Or even worse, the company has gone out of business but the copyrights have passed on to stockholders or other creditors in a chain with more begats than the Bible, and who knows where the rights are now. It's probably safe to do things with it, but there'll always be an IP submarine waiting out there for the right moment to strike. (Just look at how junk patents are acquired from mostly-dead companies by litigious b-tards.)

Re:Abandonware is still copyright-eligible (2, Informative)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956755)

The free availability of Abandonware is based not on the fact that its free from copyright - I don't think anyone said otherwise. Its based on the fact that it seems morally right, and it is really unlikely that the copyright holder will give a flying fsck about their old crap that they're no longer making a dime over.
The-Underdogs.org approach is this: post it unless you can buy it, or there's a legal letter on the subject - and that's gotten them pretty far. They've thrown some heavy hitters onto their site like WipeOut XL, and its a site that industry bigwigs know about, and are still chugging along fine.

Abandonware, ahh.. (5, Insightful)

Staplerh (806722) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956419)

As a long-time consumer of abandonware, this is horrible news. If the product is not available for sale, I would aruge that common sense dictates that the public sharing of the product hurts nobody as the copyright is not being actively protected! The persecution of Abandonware when the programme is still available for purchase as part of a 'legacy' series is understandable, but otherwise it is rediculous.

Besides, the ability to play the games that I once oggled over in PC Gamber but couldn't afford is really quite something.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (2, Insightful)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956466)

This is an awful argument. Just because something is no longer for sale to the public DOES NOT mean the copyright should no longer apply, thus taking control away from the owner/creator.

The copyright is not dependent upon the owners ability/desire to distribute it. So the copyright should not be any less enforceable should the product no longer be available for sale.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (5, Insightful)

rcw-work (30090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956599)

Just because something is no longer for sale to the public DOES NOT mean the copyright should no longer apply, thus taking control away from the owner/creator.

Copyright isn't just about giving control to the copyright holder. It's a deal struck between authors and society. Authors agree to produce work for society, society agrees to give the author a fair chance at compensation for their work.

One could easily make the argument that when an author refuses to distribute their product, they aren't living up to their side of the deal.

Of course that's not how the law reads right now, but a simple majority can change that.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (0, Flamebait)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956786)

Well, that is how it is written in the Constitution. I know, the Supremes no longer seems to care about the Constitution when is is not to Big Corp's interest.

What about this scenario? (4, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956788)

I create some software.

My company collapses thus the software is no longer sold or supported.

1 year later I create a new company and I want to sell my software again.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (5, Insightful)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956603)

Just because something is no longer for sale to the public DOES NOT mean the copyright should no longer apply, thus taking control away from the owner/creator.

Sorry, wrong. That may be the way the law is currently interpreted, but that is clearly not the way the law should be interpreted.

What follows is U.S. specific: that's appropriate, since the decision is also.

Our constitution gives Congress the right to extend monopolies to artists, authors and inventors, for limited periods, to serve the public interest. The ultimate aim is to enhance the public domain. I'd say that allowing a copyright owner the ability to exercise dog-in-the-manger style control, by intent or by apathy, is clearly unconstitutional. If the courts disagree, they're following in the grand old tradition of Dred Scott [wustl.edu] . The courts have been wrong before.

The copyright is not dependent upon the owners ability/desire to distribute it.

That is probably true, but if so, it is an accident of law, not The Way God Commanded It.

Copyright is not a natural right like your right to not be murdered. Copyright is a deal we make with authors, because we think we're better off for it. If we aren't better off, if the authors aren't holding up their end of the deal, we have right to change things around. Copyright should be called copyprivilage.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (2, Insightful)

phats garage (760661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956787)

The deal is still made, the Gov't made the deal with the people to protect copyright.

Now this means that a company can choose to withhold a product from distribution and there are valid reasons to do this. For instance, Microsoft wants people to buy their latest version of software so thats why they may elect not to distribute previous versions, especially as the previous versions may not be cost effective to support.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (3, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956675)

This is an awful argument. Just because something is no longer for sale to the public DOES NOT mean the copyright should no longer apply, thus taking control away from the owner/creator.

The key there is the should. I'm pretty sure that the law as it is worded makes abandonware as illegal as copying current software. However, it is argueable that the original intent of copyright law is to encourage the creation of new intellectual works for the enrichment os society. Under that interpretation, it becomes pretty hard to prove that protecting abandondonware under the current copyright law barely helps the creator in any way, while at the same time doesn't help society in any way.

Most of the time, whenever the owner of the rights is found, websites are given permission to distribute the program for free. The problem is that in most cases, figuring out who is the copyright owner is almost impossible, leaving the status of the program in limbo.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (1)

style7711 (535582) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956542)

If the product is not available for sale, I would aruge that common sense dictates that the public sharing of the product hurts nobody as the copyright is not being actively protected!.

That is how Disney makes money. They release a movie. Sell the hell out of it. Then they yank it off the market and tell you they are going to do so thus heightening the demand for the product.

Even if this is not the case if a company chooses to no longer sell a product that doesn't mean you can go and give it away for free. They own the IP rights. They spent the time and money to develop it. It's their right.

As far as nonexhistant companies go it's sorta like grave robbing.

This may not be a popular postition on /. but it is one way of looking at it.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (1)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956612)

If you keep using phrases like yank and grave robbing you're likely to turn me on...

Re:Disney's business plan. (2, Insightful)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956688)

Actually, how disney makes money is:

1) Find a classic story with expired copyrights.
2) Whitewash it until it can't offend anyone.
3) Use its mass media engine to make it ubiquitous, similar to how Microsoft sole Windows 98.
4) Copyright their neutered version of the public domain work, and pay the government to keep it copyrighted in perpetuity.

It's reminiscent of how many humans take all their nourishment from their environment, yet take every measure, from coffins to embalming, to prevent giving back to it when they die.

Re:Disney's business plan. (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956710)

should've been sold Windows 98

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (4, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956801)

Yes, but the entire pupose of copyright is to promote the arts and science by encouraging the discemenation of works. Originally you could not have a copyright on something if you did not publically publish it. Copyright like patents are intended to reward for letting the cat out of the bag so to say.

Re:Abandonware, ahh.. (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956556)

Don't worry...you will be sued by...hmm who is there to sue you if the product has been abandaned? Well other then SCO that is...

Thats too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956422)

This is the first time I can recolect hearing about this battle, I wish it had been more public because it would have definitly drawn my support.

Google's cache next? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956425)

In regard to copyrights what Google's cache is very similar. So is the Google cache next on the hit list?

Re:Google's cache next? (1)

sodul (833177) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956776)

Google got sued for copyright infringment by Perfect 10 Inc (pr0n provider) because Google Images was caching some pictures.
Article there [searchenginejournal.com]

Re:Google's cache next? (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956795)

Of course. Google cache is against EngSoc's interest of "rectifying" information.

In Korea... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956426)

In Korea, only old people lose copyright fights.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956609)

...copyright fights lose YOU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (0)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956678)


Now this is funny someone mod parent up...

Who cares? (-1, Offtopic)

mrn121 (673604) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956427)

I'm not saying that this is not newsworthy, but I submitted an article about the resignation of Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and it got declined. How is this more important (in terms of the direct affect on my life) than that?
I would have thought that in the Politics section of Slashdot, the resignation of a cabinet member would be newsworthy.
Oh well, flame on, my friends.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956447)

Fuck you, you fucking asshole!

i guess we'll have to resort to google (1)

ghaz (830652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956435)

I guess we'll have to resort to google when looking for information/stupid stuff that gets real old real fast

Re:i guess we'll have to resort to google (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956464)

In Korea, only old people look for stuff that gets real old real fast.

Creative Commons (2, Interesting)

echocharlie (715022) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956438)

Has any big company ever used a Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] license? Or even a non-"all rights reserved" copyright?

Re:Creative Commons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956614)

Has any big company ever used a Creative Commons license?

Not in Korea. Here Creative Commons licenses are only for old people.

Freedom! Plusglorious Freedom! (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956455)

Hello 2004! Reporting myfinded something in Google Temporality cachecopy of Slasharticle [slashdot.org] in question.

"The decision is available. As we noted in an earlier story, the Eldred case attacked the length of copyright expansion, this one attacked the breadth, and so far, this one is as big a victory for freedom as the Eldred case was. Stanford has an overview of the case."

Those who control the past, control the future; those who control the future, control the present; those who control the present, control the past.

Rewrite fullwise ubsub netarch.

Re:Freedom! Plusglorious Freedom! (1)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956552)

On thanksgiving me and my family enjoyed watching a bunch of old films for the Prelinger archives. [archive.org] Most of the movies were produced by some industry group, but of course after 50 years these have no value anymore.

Disney of course can still make money, and on principle, a can support them being able to get extensions, but it is stupid to not allow abandoned works to be free.

Re:Freedom! Plusglorious Freedom! (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956692)

I think the quote you're looking for is "rewrite fullwise upsub antefilling."

Damn that Mickey Mouse (5, Insightful)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956456)

Its ironic that the company that probably benefits the most (Disney) from the copyright extension owes it existence to the lack of long copyrights 50 years ago. Lots of the older "Disney Classics" were based on books with expired copyrights. Disney never would have been able to remake Cinderella if the book they adapted it from had a copyright as long the laws allow today.

Re:Damn that Mickey Mouse (1)

archipunk (649241) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956571)

That's why some refer to copyright extension legislation as the Mickey Mouse Preservation Act.

Re:Damn that Mickey Mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956666)

This legislation was introduced by the Deceased but Respected Senator from Disney.

Re:Damn that Mickey Mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956832)

Deceased but Respected Senator from Disney

Actually, he was a Representative, not a Senator.

PMD Prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956463)

Kinda ontopic, as it deals with IP laws. Given the idiocy the patent office is descending into, has anyone considered giving a prize to the first person to sneak a perpetual motion device patent past them?

Re:PMD Prize (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956626)

I assume that you speak of the USPTO.

For perpetual motion devices, they require a working prototype, so I'd guess a long time.

Although I have been working on something involving a lead ball and a bottomless pit...

I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956470)

And if not there, then in congress.

But somewhere deep down in my brain, I know that there are no political solutions. We should just find a technical solution, and be done with it.

Re:I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956578)

There IS a technical solution. It's called dissent. And the tools to ignore copyrights are out there.

Re:I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (2, Funny)

kesuki (321456) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956584)

an army of android warriors fighting for the free exchange of data by exterminating huma-- err n/m

Re:I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956623)

But somewhere deep down in my brain, I know that there are no political solutions. We should just find a technical solution, and be done with it.

What's that you say you want... a technical solution to the problem of copyright laws?

Here [suprnova.org] you go!

Re:I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956643)

The courts can only interpret the law.

The correct way would be to fight this politically, instead of looking for technical solutions that border on the illegal (from either side of legality).

But I'll be darned if I knew a political solution that has a chance of getting implemented.

Re:I hope they'll beat this in court somehow. (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956724)

I know that there are no political solutions

There are ways to get congress to act. But it is totally impossible to get enough commitment from the IT community. If there were a voluntary national IT strike until the copyright and software patent laws were overhauled. But you could never get enough IT people to do it. And if you could, you would still not get the H1B visa slaves to commit.

We have to face it... (4, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956479)

One of the things that is happening in this country is that people - especially with issues outside of the sight of the mainstream - are taking their pet causes to the courts for problem solving.

I think we need to face it: the copyright extensions passed by Congress were legal. We had one of the best minds of any generation - Lessig - argue the Eldred case in front of the Surpreme Court. They remained unmoved. Why? Because the Constitution is pretty clear on the issue... Congress gets to regulate these issues as they see fit.

The courts are not the right place to fight this issue. The courts are the wrong place to fight this issue.

Congress is where this is at. They pass the laws, they pass the penalties, they make it all happen. The courts cannot and more importantly should not be used as a legislative tool.

Copyright has swung too far from the commons that defined much of what is good about this country. Congress needs to move it back.

The Courts generally can offer no relief where there is none deserved. What is happening now with the extension, DMCA, etc is *exactly* what was intended by Congress.

Re:We have to face it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956605)

I agree with most of what you said, but as unpopular as it may be (especially in this forum), Larry Lessig is not a good lawyer. As theory goes, he may be brilliant, but his practice is lacking. That he would make the argument as in the Eldred case is unimpressive. As you point it, the proper place to deal with copyright extension is through Congress, not with the legally and mathematically dubious argument that 120 == infinity

And I have faith that Congress will swing back -- as many people as there are who benefit from strong copyright, there are at least an equal number who benefit from a weak copyright. Innovators squelched with fight back with their own attorneys and lobbyists, and probably swing to the opposite extreme.

For an example, see the draft history of the INDUCE act. On one side, RIAA and MPAA members lobbied for broad language in the act; on the other side, there were technology companies wary of additional unclear legislation. The sides fought strongly enough that the bill is currently stuck in committee, and looks unlikely to proceed (at least in its current form).

Re:We have to face it... (1)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956607)

thank god the founding fathers had a "pet" cause ... keep up the good work you "causers"

Re:We have to face it... (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956689)

I think you are right.

We need to identify a couple of congressdroids and start "lobbying" them. Having looked through OpenSecrets, it is amazing how cheap most of these guys go for. We all ought to be able to collectively scrape up enough spare change for at least 2 or 3 of them.

If we could just get them to slip it in as a rider on some big noisy and unrelated bill. We should target something ridiculously popular, like the anti-gay marriage brigade or the anti-flag burning bozos. Tag a secret little rider for copyright reform onto one of their bills and we could turn a bad thing into a good one.

right, now EVERYONE do your part (5, Interesting)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956697)

Well at least everyone who is legal to vote in the US. Starting a little over a year from now, your local political parties will be holding meetings to determine their direction for the next election. Find out when and where they are, then show up. For the two major parties this is public knowledge posted well in advance. (third parties hold them too, but finding out when and where is more difficult)

Once you are there, start talking, but make it intelligent. Find out the format in advance each party is slightly different. Prepare some resolutions in advance.

Normally the format is someone starts by reading a prepared sentence ("Be it resolved that abortion shall be illegal"), and then the floor is open for debate. Immediately someone will jump in and say no, they disagree ("Abortion is a women's choice"). After a few minutes the chair stops discussion and calls for a vote: yes, no, abstain. (Note I specifically picked an example you are likely to hear when you go! Your resolution will not be near as controversial, so it won't get near as much debate)

At some point they then pick people to represent their local area in the state convention. Get picked! (this isn't hard, in many areas anyone who shows up gets a position if they want it, and then they pick alternates from those who couldn't make it that night but have gone to state in the past) At the state convention much the same happens, except the debates are larger.

Remember, present your resolutions as non-controversial, good ideas. Most people will not be informed, so they will abstain. Then when it gets to state the only people who care are those from /. who took my advice, and are on your side.

Now get your party elected.

The above is the grassroots processes. It is how everything is done politically in the US. The power is by following the above, forget the party boss, they are nothing compared to the millions of little guys working together to get something done.

Note that it does not matter much which party you pick. Neither major party has a monopoly on doing the right thing as far as copyrights (both have done the wrong thing countless times). Pick one you generally agree with, and fix the parts you don't. This works even better when some pick the republicans, and others the democrats. Then when congress meets in 2 years, there is strong grassroots bi-partisan support for your issue, so congress passes it so they can be reelected for doing something non-controversial.

Of course the above is ideal. In the real world reform can take years, and many will oppose you. Keep at it. Good luck.

Re:We have to face it... (4, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956745)

Lessig himself admitted in a lengthy self-flagellation [legalaffairs.org] that he blew it during the Supreme Court arguments. The court wanted to side with Eldred, but they were looking for a case based on economic harm whereas Lessig insisted on giving them an argument based on the limitation of Congressional powers.

Anyway your argument is not at all persuasive. The Constitution clearly limits Congressional power of copyright and patent, and it even employes the word "limited" and gives a perfectly valid reason:

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

There ya go. Copyrights must be "limited" and they must "promote the progress of science and arts" whereas the Sonny Bono act satisfies neither.

No, we don't have to accept that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956763)

I believe they were illegal. The only reason we even can have IP laws is the constution allows it. However it doesn't ust say "And congrass can pass whatever law it likes in relation to IP. It says "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;"

The relivant restrictions here are:

1) "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". The reason for copyright to exist is to promote progress of them, not grant arbitrary control or stifle innovation. Thus if it can be shown (and I think it can) that current copyright acts to retard progress of the arts, then it would be unconstutional and thus illegal.

2) "securing for limited times". The intent is that the time they get it be as short as necessary to serve the purpose of promoting the arts and sciences. They didn't put a specific time limit on it since the constution is a framework, but the intent is clear. I think it's also pretty clear that life + 50 years is in violation of that.

Thus the courts are an appropriate place for this battle. Congress passed a law that is in violation of the constution (or at least so I believe, as do others). Thus the law itself isn't valid and must be struck down. All laws must conform to the constution, it's the highest law and can't be legslated away, it must be ammended to be changed.

Re:We have to face it... (1)

xnot (824277) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956783)

The Constitution is pretty clear on the issue... Congress gets to regulate these issues as they see fit.

CAN regulate is a completely different thing then SHOULD regulate. The Constitution can specify that Congress has the power to pass intercourse laws, but that doesn't make it a good idea to pass a law which requires everyone in the US to have anal sex with a pink monkey every Saturday at midnight, with Frank Sanatra music playing seductively in the background, now does it?

Laws need to make sense and promote the welfare of ALL the people the law affects. If those conditions cannot be met, then the matter should be left unregulated, plain and simple.

One more thing. I disagree strongly that the courts should not have any say with regard to the actions of Congress. The whole premise of Checks and Balances is to make sure that no one single government entity has all the legislative power. The courts have just as much responsiblity to protect and defend the rights of the people as Congress does.

In Soviet Russia, government controls YOU! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956491)

Oh wait, they do in America as well

Re:In Soviet Russia, government controls YOU! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956645)

In Korea, government control is only for old people. Come to think of it, government control is only for old people here as well. In a sense, I guess, everwhere is Korea.

Constitutional Amendment? (3, Interesting)

apenzott (821513) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956495)

Since our (United States) congress is so out of control in this realm, the only way to stop this nonsense is with a constitutional amendment declaring explicit copyright terms and terms for revocation.

Perhaps slashdot (readers)could hatch a plot to make this happen. (Perhaps I'm dreaming.)

Some states provide for direct democracy by ballot initiative; other states will require more work. (Sounds like a hackers challenge to me.)

Re:Constitutional Amendment? (1)

Capt.Buckle (815122) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956715)

"Perhaps slashdot (readers)could hatch a plot to make this happen. (Perhaps I'm dreaming.)"

C'mon! Getting any geek or similar community organized into a cohesive force with a unified voice is very similar to herding cats. I wish you were right, but yes, you're dreaming. :(

ownerless products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956502)

Finders Keepers.

I think the same should apply for Music and Software.

Who can sue you if the owner is gone?

Re:ownerless products (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956573)

the person who bought the rights to the music and software?

if the case of music, since usually in the contract, the music company becomes the artist of the music, so they hold the copyright until they go out of bussiness and for 50-75 years after that.

this is f'ed up. you people down there need to start banning corproate contributions in political campains.

Revisit the TripsForJudges website and ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956537)

you'll understand what is wrong with the US Judical system. It is owned lock, stock and barrel by Corporations. Same goes for the USTPO.

Unfair! (1, Funny)

switcha (551514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956547)

The ruling has implications for abandonware and other copyright-eligible materials that have no active owner.

Hey, most guys who write software aren't very active. Why should geeks be forced onto treadmills to keep their copyrights?

you gotta love it when ... (1, Insightful)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956554)

judges sell out the law,
americans sell out the country
and people sell out each other

But if it's abandonware.... (2, Interesting)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956562)

Then who's around to actually pipe up and complain about "their" material being made available online?

IANAL... (4, Interesting)

nebaz (453974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956572)

but I looked over the ruling, and it said basically on all counts that the case was "dismissed with prejudice". Some of the rebuttals were of the form

1) Eldred vs. Ashcroft said this, so we can't overturn that, try to go to the Supreme Court.

2) People live longer now so copyrights should last longer (for kids and such)

3) Congress carefully considers the meaning of "promotes the progress of arts and science" every time they extend this

4) Technology increases the amount of time a given work is "valuable", (tell that to the RIAA, or anyone using an old version of Windows) and thus extending the copyright gives authors even more of an incentive to create.

My question though is that since all charges are "dismissed with prejudice" is there any grounds for an appeal?

Congress... (5, Interesting)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956576)

Congress, the cause, and solution, to our copyright woes...

Has any effort been made to request of congress the creation of a statutory "safe harbor" with respect to the use of material eligible for copyright protection but otherwise abandoned? Would it hurt Disney if the law included protection from liability for those who make a good faith effort to get permission but receive no response?

For that matter, if we really want to treat IP with the same rules as physical property, then should notions about adverse possession, abandonment, and eminent domain apply?

Re:Congress... (1)

stumbler (219354) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956701)

I agree.

The Supreme Court has validated the law in question.

So,it's time to stop looking for the Judicial Branch to strike down the law.

Instead it's time to lobby the Legislative Branch to change it!

Re:Congress... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956767)


"Instead it's time to lobby the Legislative Branch to change it!"

You know what the Legislative Branch hears? Overwhelming voices of support for the status quo. They hear, "We The People, are resolutely in support of your position, and demand More Of The Same".

A feeble, meaningless voice to the contrary is ignored.

We had a chance to change the goddamned world, and we blew it.

Intellectual property is different (5, Insightful)

JohnnyX (11429) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956582)

Intellectual property, e.g. copyright, is a legal fiction along the same lines as "corporate personhood". The mistake it appears the courts and the legislature are making is to imbue intellectual property with the same sanctity as actual physical property.

Now I'm a Libertarian [lp.org] who works in an idea business, so I understand the utility of intellectual property, but it seems reasonable that the law should require an actual rights-holder to affirm their rights and/or create a process by which someone who wanted to republish abandoned intellectual property could give notice to the purported rights-holder. If there was not a negative response in say, 60 days, the person would get the rights to publish the work.

Just a thought.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...killer Benihana shrimp [sarwark.org] ...

In Soviet Russia (1, Funny)

Isbiten (597220) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956644)

Software abandons you!

NOT REDUNDANT (2, Funny)

which way is up (835908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956651)

As a long-time consumer of abandonware, this is horrible news. If the product is not available for sale, I would aruge that common sense dictates that the public sharing of the product hurts nobody as the copyright is not being actively protected! The persecution of Abandonware when the programme is still available for purchase as part of a 'legacy' series is understandable, but otherwise it is rediculous.

Besides, the ability to play the games that I once oggled over in PC Gamber but couldn't afford is really quite something.

Oh and before you mark this REDUNDANT know that Staplrh lost rights to this original post by abandoning it after posting. I've now assumed copyright to it...

Most Useful Abandonware (2, Interesting)

Oori (827315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956774)

I agree that abandonware should be archived and publiclly shared. Here's a prime example: Alta-Vista Personal search engine, which was developed in 1997, and worked on win89 and win2000 flawlessly (until a win2K bug forced me to index manually) -- it was pretty quick, and did a better job than google's current desktop search. It also didn't run constantly in the background, but updated it's index at preset times.
Finding altavista personal search is almost impossible now (and it won't run on XP), but it's still useful for other WIN OSs. FOr those interested: you can get it here

Re:NOT REDUNDANT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956812)

Oh and before you mark this REDUNDANT know that Staplrh lost rights to this original post by abandoning it after posting. I've now assumed copyright to it...

Where did Staplrh say that (s)he had abandoned the post? Looks to me as if you're infringing.

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