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UK Government Order Review of IP Rights

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the changing-of-the-mind-&-guard dept.

Patents 159

quaker5567 writes "The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has ordered an independent review of intellectual property rights in the UK. The review will be led by Andrew Gowers, formerly the editor of London newspaper The Financial Times. The review will look into the awarding of IP rights to business, the complexity of current laws and the extent of "fair use" in the current law. Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate. Andrew Gowers recently criticised the print industry for not realising the true power of the digital platform, comparing them to a record company which specialises in vinyl."

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Hey Hemos! (-1, Troll)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184426)

Shut the fuck up!

Can we guess the outcome? (4, Insightful)

ill dillettante (658149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184431)

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

Not necessarily... (2, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184466)

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

Things might not actually go so badly.

Gordon Brown has been playing to the people a lot lately. Blair has said he will not be seeking a fourth term, and so will probably step down in a couple of years' time; Brown is the heir apparent, and has been plotting to become Prime Minister for a long time.

So, Brown's been doing popular things wherever possible. He was very big on the whole debt-cancellation move during the summer, for instance. He's trying to look as good as possible to voters. He's not likely to endorse law changes along the lines of 'hey, people I'd like to have vote for me at the next election: you're not allowed to copy CDs to your iPods!'

There's every chance that we might actually get some sane policy out of this. Of course, I'm not holding my breath...

Re:Not necessarily... (3, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184546)

More likely he's looking for new ways to raise taxes, especially after raiding pension funds, applying stealth taxes on property inheritance through fiscal drag, and introducing an new tax on landowners who sell land to property developers.

As soon as anything can be "owned" and has "value" in the eyes of the law, then the right to use and transfer of ownership can be taxed.

The biggest danger as always is that the large multinational companies will squeeze out the small software developers, especially when government contracts are concerned.

Re:Not necessarily... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184760)

The biggest danger as always is that the large multinational companies will squeeze out the small software developers, especially when government contracts are concerned.

Well they're already doing that, thanks to the utterly ridiculous accounting and regulatory procedures required to even bid on most UK government contracts. Even many large multi-nationals don't even bother these days; any given contract of any worth will, almost without fail, fall into the lap of a useless shower of bastards such as EDS.

This really is not flamebait... (2, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185049)

I am not so optimistic. Brown is an uncritical supporter of the US ways of doing things. He also sucks up to big business on the same massive scale as his boss. I never thought I would find myself writing this, but IF David Cameron becomes leader of the Conservative Party, and IF he manages to fight off the right wing, he might be a better bet for the next Prime Minister. Although the Conservatives tend to euro-scepticism they also do have a healthy tendency towards US-scepticism. And some Conservatives in the past have strongly opposed vested interests; I was at a lunch once with Michael Heseltine (centrist Conservative) where he likened many industry bodies to the Trade Unions and said that if Britain was to modernise they had to be defeated just as much as the miners and the print unions had to. My intention, if Cameron wins tomorrow, is to start writing to any modernising Conservative who will listen explaining why over-long intellectual property rights are ultimately a bad thing, and asking why a patent for a real invention lasts less than 20 years, but copyright in a book or musical performance goes on for 70 years beyond the death of the copyright holder. Why should Paul McCartney's descendents derive an income from his work after his death when the children of, say, James Dyson will not, simply because one is a musician (sort of) and the other is an industrial designer?

Re:This really is not flamebait... (1, Troll)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185209)

I was at a lunch once with Michael Heseltine (centrist Conservative) where he likened many industry bodies to the Trade Unions and said that if Britain was to modernise they had to be defeated just as much as the miners and the print unions had to.

Heseltine, I fear, is among the last of a dying breed. He and Kenneth Clarke are all that remains of the Tories as they once were, the party of old Mr Heath. I wouldn't attach too much hope to him.

Many of the rest are hideous Little Thatchers. Authoritarian, xenophobic, possibly racist, shameless panderers to the Daily Mail. God help us. Fortunately, they're the ones who have failed dismally to bother Blair for the best part of a decade now.

You may be right in hoping for something from Cameron. From what I've read, he has a lot of support among younger Tories of a libertarian persuasion. These are the ones who are keen on things like flat tax rates and so forth. I'm not especially keen on that, but they are at least liberal capitalists, rather than scary authoritarians like Thatcher was. They may well be open to a line of reasoning about over-long copyrights and software patents being unfair government-backed monopolies, and be persuaded to liberalise the regulations in the name of the free market...

I totally concur (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185273)

Wait 20 secs...

I suspect flat tax rates will prove a con too, but in principle they are better than the present system which actually means that poorer people pay a higher percentage of their income in tax than the rich do (regressive taxation.)
I suspect too that I will be disappointed again...but who else is going to provide a credible opposition to the free holiday scrounger and Berlusconi's mate who always has the door open for the likes of Ecclestone( - there's a monopolist if there ever was one)?

Re:Can we guess the outcome? (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184500)

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

My question is, what viewpoint does Mr. Gowers hold regarding current copyright law? I couldn't glean that information from the article. If he thinks print publications are outdated and that publishers should start taking advantage of and learning to work with digital publication, that could mean either he is in favor of lengthening copyright terms and strengthening the law, or he could also be in favor of shortening copyright terms and perhaps just making the law more clear. Does anybody have more information on him?

Re:Can we guess the outcome? (1, Funny)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184628)

Close ... it will be CowboyNeal's descendants (after the hostile take-over) ... not yours.

Re:Can we guess the outcome? (5, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184710)

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

No, no... that would grant legitimacy to the idea that you can give something away for free and still hold copyright on it.

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be to create perpetual copyright for commercial, proprietary products, while anything given away for no or negligible financial cost will be declared to enter the public domain automatically, to prevent unfair competition from F/OSS harming the software industry.

Not that I'm at all cynical or anything.

Re:Can we guess the outcome? (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185815)

That's stupid, to put it mildly. Imagine all the free EXEs circulating out there.... Hell, you can even find Microsoft Offie for free 30-day trials....

Re:Can we guess the outcome? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184749)

I suspect that the outcome of this "review" will be my descendants owning this post long after I am dead.

Well, as long as they can't sue me for quoting you...

From the article: (1, Interesting)

demondawn (840015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184445)

"The UK's IP regime is a critical component of our present and future success in the global knowledge economy."
The whole "IP IS EVIL, DESTROY IP" slant on Slashdot aside....I'm not even sure what this article is saying. This sounds, more than anything, like "come bribe us for 12 months while we 'study' IP". Maybe US the US political system has just made me too cynical.

Re:From the article: (4, Insightful)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184488)

This is just a review: some guy with good credentials is sent away to study the area for a year or so and proposes some sensible reforms. The resulting report gets a few hours of press coverage before the government dismisses its findings as too expensive, too hard to get through parliament or "not the answer we paid for".

Re:From the article: (2, Funny)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184743)

"sensible" is not a word labour understands..

"We need ID cards! It'll make us safer" "but no one wants them, they've shown no benefits what so ever and they're going to cost a bomb!" "But they'll stop terrorism!" "NO. THEY. WON'T." "Shut up! We'll buy another report which says they will! That'll show you!"

Please don't use common sense in this matter.. it's not a good idea.

Re:From the article: (2, Insightful)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184876)

You mean pushing through ill-thought-out reforms which inevitably fail, covering up the failure by leaping onto some new reform before even properly allowing the last load of reforms to settle, all the while chipping away at the confidence and conditions of the public sector workers who have to implement each of these reforms isn't a good way to govern?

Re:From the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14185405)

You make a good point.

Personally, I think we need more performance tables. That'll fix it.

Re:From the article: (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184533)

> ...The whole "IP IS EVIL, DESTROY IP" slant on Slashdot...

I don't think this is fair. Many us of here are software authors, and I think you'll find that something like 10 to 1 subscribe to the "programming is art" as opposed to the "programming is science" school of thought. Having said that, we know that programmers and authors and artists and musicians are the least likely to profit greatly from the hoardes of money that our products bring. I write a great program, a great song, a great boook, and I make a days pay from the suits who will still be making piles of money on my work long after I'm dead. Clearly there is a great inequity built into the system, which is only aggravated by the zero-cost, zero-effort rquired to make copies of a work. The lesson of Open Source products is that there is no great need for large permanent distribution networks, nor for large marketing campaigns. People will find and use products that are worth finding.

Re:From the article: (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184589)

Clearly there is a great inequity built into the system, which is only aggravated by the zero-cost, zero-effort rquired to make copies of a work.

And?

Here's a little secret to the free market: it requires dozens of people or groups to bring anything to the mass public. Idea makers, content producers, content directors, content creators, sales and marketing, packaging, shipping, distribution, retail and the end customer.

Just because you can come up with a great idea doesn't mean you have the best version of it. Just because you can code the best version doesn't mean you have the best interface. Just because you have the best interface doesn't mean you have access to the best distribution. Just because you have the best distribution doesn't mean you have an in-road to the customers' minds. Just because you have good advertising doesn't mean the sales staff will understand how to sell the product.

This is my problem with IP -- it disregards everything after creation. Creation is not enough, in fact, it is worthless. So much of creation is based on previous inventions -- how fast would we have new inventions if the old investions didn't have decades of protection?

There are those who say that creation will stop without protections, but I think this is stupid. Companies for hundreds of years have hired "invention wings" of thinkers who come up with new ideas. Before IP laws became so protective, companies continued to invent, create and distribute. The IP laws that help your company protect one idea are the same laws that prevent your company from perfecting the ideas of millions of others.

IP does not protect freedom or creation, it hampers both. Monopolies are bad -- and can only be protected in the long run by government force.

Re:From the article: (2, Insightful)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184780)

That's my favorite part of the IP Myth:
Give us protection, or there won't be any innovation!

Of course for that to be true, there couldn't have been any innovation or creation before IP ... and yet...?

To be human is to be creative.

You're as likely to stop human creativity as to stop the tides, the winds or this little rock spinning 'round the sun.
Even these IP laws won't stop creativity: Creativity will just move to where it can be free. America was the destination for scientists and artists in the last hundred years because in America they were free to create. IP strips that freedom, and will cause the creative to seek refuge elsewhere.

Re:From the article: (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185058)

I think most people would agree IP isn't wrong, it's just being enforced incorrectly. If they made it so IP lasted say 10 years most people would have no problem. I can't think of many things which still sell as well ten years later unless they are vital to society (toilet paper, car fuels etc.). It would give music authors enough time to make a shit load of money before it ran out and most people don't want ten year old music unless it's something inbred into the culture or totally unknown and unavaible to buy any more.

Re:From the article: (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185176)

Copyright at the current term is too long. I'd argue for about 20 years - that allows all manner of music and movies that missed being an instant hit to be eventually get recognition and reward the creator.

Re:From the article: (2, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185743)

Few missed gem are ever found, a shorter copyright term might lead to a greater exposure for them and so give the author some recognition. That said I think even 30 years might be a good compromise--it can still let the generation play with it's culture.

Re:From the article: (2, Funny)

Sheridan (11610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184725)

The whole "IP IS EVIL, DESTROY IP" slant on Slashdot aside.
But IP is evil - IPv6 doubly so.
--
I know what you're thinking, but I am not a nut-bag. -- Millroy the Magician

Somebody has to say it (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184770)

IP IS evil
IP is obsolete
therefore :
DESTROY IP

Somebody had to say it

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185078)

We have cars.
Bikes are obsolete
therefore :
DESTROY BIKES!

Your theory doesn't make sense..

The vinyl curtain (3, Funny)

kahei (466208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184446)


Now, to be fair, there are many very interesting record companies that specialize in vinyl. In the same way, I'm sure there will be small but interesting paper book companies decades from now :)

Re:The vinyl curtain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184506)

I agree, it's a stupid metaphor.

Metaphors (2, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184827)

I agree, it's a stupid metaphor.

Dude! What did you expect from a member of Tony Blair's government? As far as I know that group contains no sentient life-forms.

Re:The vinyl curtain (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185001)

If none of the publishers (or a few of the smaller ones) make the switch to digital and no change in law is made, I sincerely doubt it. Why? Because the dirty little secret of copyright is that it's generally the publishers who effectively retain the copyright, not the author. There's no way a small upstart or even a few of them all putting their entire catalog online will be able to remotely compete, in the major market shift sort of way, with larger book publishers.

Things like iTunes, for example, didn't really hit it off big until several record companies got into it. This all comes from the fact that there's a large back catalog. That and larger brands have the sort of foundation that draws a lot of authors. Further, larger publishers can buy larger, more expensive ad campaigns for their authors, which further enhance their ability to win out. Moving online doesn't change this. It only changes the scale and the ability to monitor effectiveness.

So, certainly larger publishers moving in, and taking a big risk, could do well. But if one does, they'd probably all join, and their own little part of the oligarchy, via back catalog, would guarantee one couldn't dominate the other (though really late starters might be set back, and the first one to jump in might possible get far ahead..or perhaps the second or third generation).

That being said, it's already the case that several publishers (at least a few bigger ones included) are already selling ebooks, but with ebooks not selling incredibly well so far (compare to iTunes which is something like the 6th largest music seller, though admittedly it's using the catalog of a lot of major players), there is something of an indication that people are either unwilling to buy books online or that ebooks are too constrictive, DRM-wise. The first part is probably in large part due to books inherently taking hours or days to read while there still not being a reasonably cheap mechanism to portably carry around ebooks. Having to charge a book midway through is definitely not acceptable for most people; it's a lot more acceptable to recharge a portable music player when such is already common.

Having said that, the better analogy to all this is simply that of what the RIAA was doing 5 years ago. Whether Apple or another company can lead a major, multi-publisher push to portable/downloadable ebooks in a few years is questionable. In reality, it all comes down to the progressive improvement in portable displays.

Re:The vinyl curtain (1)

brickballs (839527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185126)

I'm sure there will be small but interesting paper book companies decades from now :)

I certainly hope so. I find printed form far easier on the eyes for anything over a few pages.

"fair use"? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184463)

UK copyright law calls it "fair dealing".

I'll take my pedant-points now, if that's ok.

Re:"fair use"? (2, Informative)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184567)

Fair dealing has a very limited scope in UK Copyright law though. It only covers copying and some distribution for research and journalism purposes. See Sections 29&30 of the CDPA [jenkins-ip.com]

UK rules need an overhaul anyway (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184777)

The two aren't really equivalent.

Several uses that I think most of us would consider reasonable are actually illegal in the UK, or legal only on a technicality under some circumstances. Making back-ups, format shifting, and making music compilations are all somewhat dodgy, for example, even where only legitimately bought content is involved and it's strictly for personal use by the person who bought it.

To give an example of how daft this is, a local dancing club I help to run would like to make compilation CDs of the music we have legitimately paid for, since we have a large library and carrying all the CDs everywhere is awkward. We also pay an additional fee for the right to play this music at public classes and events, so our use of the music itself is entirely legit. We have concluded that none of the standard licensing agencies can authorise the simple compilations we'd like to produce, so we have made efforts to contact the copyright holders directly.

Interestingly enough, the specialist dancing music companies from which we buy most of our CDs (we're talking about things like ballroom, rock 'n' roll, salsa and swing here, rather than clubbing stuff) tend to be helpful, slightly surprised that we've even bothered to ask, and happy to grant permission for reasonable uses. The big names, which we actually don't buy as much from, have also been slightly surprised to hear from us, but we get strange things like permission for the mechanical copyright, but not for the actual recording because the publisher doesn't actually hold that copyright, and doesn't seem to know who does.

In other words, we have a reasonable use, we're paying properly for the music itself and the right to play it at public events, when asked the publishers generally haven't objected to our request or asked for any extra consideration in exchange, but legal technicalities mean that strictly speaking we still can't make the compilations because some unknown copyright holder hasn't given permission and there's no way for us to seek it. That seems a bit daft to me.

Personally, I'm not sure US-style fair use is the best way to go in a digital world; it's just too easy to argue that activities which could -- not necessarily are in practice today -- be seriously damaging to copyright holders are authorised. I'm thinking in particular of distribution to "friends", and thence to their "friends" and so on, until a new track/e-book/game/whatever has suddenly spread across the whole Internet.

However, it seems about time that paying to buy content should guarantee certain inalienable consumer rights, such as the right to make a back-up copy, to shift to a different media format, and the right to make compilations composed only of legitimately purchased content. In particular, those should be rights rather than exemptions, so that the media industries can't simply add DRM that makes it technically difficult for an average consumer to do these things (or to criminalise the behaviour under alternative laws such as the EUCD or DMCA as a back door).

Hopefully, the guy they've put in charge of this review has his head screwed on the right way, and a reasonable balance between the legitimate interests of the consumer and the legitimate interests of the copyright holder and content creators will be found. I'm a bit worried about some of the language, as no doubt mentioned by others in this discussion by the time I post this, but I'm far more interested in how the review actually goes than in any guesses based on government weasel words before they've even started.

Oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14185089)

US-Style fair use


Im sure those terms are mutually exclusive.

Some interesting issues, esp re author's copyright (4, Interesting)

Snamh Da Ean (916391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184464)

Interesting that they have got someone who used to be involved in print media to review IP. The FT have been subscription only for quite a while now...

As for whether it is legimitate to enforce copyright 70 years after an author's death, it seems clear that any reasonable economic analysis would conclude that the marginal incentive provided to authors by this absurd protection doesn't influence their output of creative work, and is only likely to cause detriment to those who cannot afford to pay full price for a novel or other creative work. This would include citizens of LDCs, and poor people, two groups in particular need of reasonably priced access to important literary or academic works.

It could be argued that publishers are more likely to support struggling writers if they can collect money for 70 years after the death of the author, but where is the evidence that 10, 20, 30...years after the author's death wouldn't provide exactly the same incentives to publishers to hunt for the next JK Rowling?

Here is a (pdf) link to some of the main economic issues involved here http://www.oiprc.ox.ac.uk/EJWP0502.pdf [ox.ac.uk]

Re:Some interesting issues, esp re author's copyri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184512)

There's lots of stuff on this on http://www.egovbarriers.org/ [egovbarriers.org] dealing with e-Government privacy etc..

70 year copyright (2, Interesting)

dunstan (97493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184979)

I ran into just this problem with a piece of Easter music I wanted to use, written by Vaughan Williams. He died in the 1950's, so he is in copyright for another 20 years.

I approached the copyright administrator for permission to reprint something for our congregation, and they wanted more royalties than I was prepared to pay. The net result is that a piece of music which Vaughan Williams wrote for the greater glory of God was not sung because of the copyright laws, and the excessive copyright terms. He couldn't have guarded against this - the term was life+20 at the time of his death.

The whole idea of posthumous copyright terms was to ensure that any dependants who were still minors would be supported after the author/composer's death should it come prematurely, hence life+20. Instead, longevity and life+70 terms mean that sacred music written over 100 years ago is still "owned" (no pre-1923 clause in Europe).

I don't think thats the real problem (1)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185172)

"The net result is that a piece of music which Vaughan Williams wrote for the greater glory of God was not sung because of the copyright laws, and the excessive copyright terms. He couldn't have guarded against this - the term was life+20 at the time of his death."

I don't think thats the real problem with over-long copyrights. I think the problem is that the copyright holder has no incentive to invest in new works because they can milk the old works. Which is a pisser if you're todays "Vaughan Williams" since there's little incentive for companies to promote your works.

Perhaps the solution is for works to go into crown copyright after 20 years, so future earnings from works go to the tax man rather than the company promoting them. That would both encourage companies to invest in new works, and at the same time permitting the work be available for re-use by others.

Re:Some interesting issues, esp re author's copyri (1)

shimmin (469139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185643)

I think the proper term of copyright can be determined through a back-of-the envelope accounting calculation.

The expiration of a copyright involves the transfer of something that has value (the copyright) from the rights-holder to the public. This is a fair trade if the public has compensated the rights-holder with something of equal value, which they will have done through granting the copyright in the first place, if the term of copyright was long enough.

Put another way, the "fair" term of copyright is the term at the end of which, the present value of monopoly rents already extracted from the copyright is equal to the present value of all future monopoly rents that could be extracted from the copyright if it were extended into perpetuity. Or even more straightforwardly, a copyright of "fair" term has exactly half the value of a perpetual copyright.

Reducing this to a concrete policy recommedation requires making some assumptions about the sales curve of a typical work, and the interest rate at which future income should be discounted to a present value, but just as a reference point, if we use a "flat" sales curve (generous, since most works decline in sales over time), and a 2% interest rate, the "fair" length of copyright is 35 years.

"Review of IP rights" (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184514)

To the people of the UK -- be afraid. In fact, be very afraid:

  • From the head of the comission: "I believe that Intellectual Property is at the heart of Britain's success in the knowledge economy. This review will ensure that we maintain a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation."

    In other words it is the legal scheme (IP) and not the ideas, creativity or innovation which what lies at the heart of Britain's success. an environment for innovation usually means an environment rewarding past innovation with infinite monopoly reducing the motivation for future innovation (consider US copyright law).

  • "The Gowers Review will be actively consulting stakeholders throughout its duration.".

    This sentence is usually a sign that the public, the largest stakeholder in the business, is about to be excluded.

Re:"Review of IP rights" (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184648)

For most people, there will be an immediate tranfer of the stake from hand to heart!

Unless IPod owners make their future voting intentions clear!

Re:"Review of IP rights" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184730)

I'm a strong believer in fair use and realistic IP Laws. Neither of these statements cause me concern.

The first could be taken either way. By the record industry and other supporters of stronger IP laws as a victory, or by the other side of the fence (us) as support for our position that a "world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation" is acutally fostered and can supported openly and without ristrictive laws as evidenced by the sucess of the open source software movement.

The second is just political crap. Stakeholder at least in terms of the UK, specifically from the government is a term that is applied to everyone remotely involeved in a project or issue. You make music, software or write books... you're a stakeholder. You sell them, you too. You buy them, you're a stakeholder as well. This isn't a loaded term, it's a common term anyone who has worked on software projects that have some public funding will have heard many times. Heck we use it within our business to refer to ourselves as well as customers. Depending on the discussion the sales team, the tech team and the support team may all be considered stakeholders.

The world is changing at 5.6kbps (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184520)

"The world - and the media especially - is changing at internet speed and the pressures are immense. Those in leadership positions who do not adapt fast enough to change of whatever kind will end up being overtaken by it," he (Gowers) wrote.

So everyone is moving to internet media? What is your point? FT.com has been around for years, so it will just overtake itself?
Believe it or not, there will always be people who buy newspapers, especially while commuting. Internet access is not as ubiquitous today as it maybe should be, but for now, people will still buy newspapers for the sheer convenience of them. Look at online books, they really have not taken off that well, maybe it is because people actually like books?
Guy sounds a tad bitter to me after suffering 'immense pressures' at the Financial Times.

Intellectual Property is a scam (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184538)

Many slashdot readers are starting to realize what a scam Intellectual Property laws are, and I firmly believe that the only ownership one can have is physical ownership of a good. The power of IP is born from government's monopoly on force, and the majority of IP-owners are corporations, another figment of government's imagination. Isn't the intent of government to make all citizens safe, secure and let no one's freedom to produce be hampered by another?

The U.K. isn't going to make any changes to their laws. In a country with increasing inflation, increasing unemployment and increasing debt, the powers-the-be will more likely collude with megacorps than shun them. There is a mistaken belief that employment is a creation of government fiat and that the market won't provide unless government sets up regulations and restrictions. IP is one of those restrictions. IP also creates unemployment, as companies that could otherwise compete with the IP holder are not allowed entry into the market.

Kinsella wrote a decent [mises.org] article (PDF warning) about Intellectual Property and how anti-freedom/pro-force the idea is. I don't believe we can "fix" the laws, and I don't think we can even roll them back. The slippery slope has shown its ugly face, and the only hope we have is to completely toss the rules and find a better way, maybe a non-government way. Kinsella's 53 page article has more footnotes and links that I could ever place in a slashdot article, but he hits the nail on the head in reaching the same conclusion: don't offer protection for non-physical property.

If you post it, expect it to get copied. If you create it, expect cheap knock-offs to appear. If you don't want either thing to happen, don't put your idea into the public eye. If you want to profit from your creation, you have to add in the cost of knock-offs and copying into the equation, and offer value added options in order to attract customers to your first-to-market creation.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (2, Insightful)

tobybuk (633332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184813)

What a load of crap. What you are saying here is: someone like JKR should spend 2 years writing a book, get it published and then sit back and watch the Chinese print off a gazzilion copies of her work a week later without her profiting one cent.

There has to be reward for work.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184889)

There has to be reward for work.

There is. It is called a salary. If you want to earn a living from writing, get a job with a writing house (newspaper, website, cartoon creator, etc). They'll pay you a salary in exchange for your creativity. They will take on the costs and risks of trying to make a profit.

If you want to be independent, you are accepting a HUGE risk, just as an independent IT consultant is taking a huge risk versus working for "the man."

Creating content is not enough to make a product. I'm working on an article regarding the death of copyright -- and the more I research it by querying succesful authors/musicians/writers, the more I realize that copyright has absolutely no effect on creation and only puts power in the hands of the distribution corporation.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184931)

There has to be reward for work.
Not if you're a libertarian it seems.

According to the Libertarian ethos, I should be rewarded for my efforts to defraud someone by using misleading, but technically correct on some level, language to sell something, or by using knowledge only I have access to (say, as the director of a large multinational) to gain a massive advantage of others (say, by selling stock on the sly shortly before revealing losses, etc), but I shouldn't be rewarded for creating new music, movies, and novels.

This is why I'm not a libertarian. Much as I generally agree that personal liberty should be maximized, I can't get my head around the notion of a world being a better place because dishonesty and crookedness are rewarded, but creativity is for losers.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185019)

According to the Libertarian ethos, I should be rewarded for my efforts to defraud someone by using misleading, but technically correct on some level, language to sell something, or by using knowledge only I have access to (say, as the director of a large multinational) to gain a massive advantage of others (say, by selling stock on the sly shortly before revealing losses, etc),

I'm not a libertarian really, but that's not important :)

First, the ability to defraud the public was much more accessible in the past -- which is why I understand the reason for laws. Now, we have the Internet, the instant access to information shared by the masses. Moderation of products is happening real time, in fact, we're receiving information about test products before they come to market. If you are an uneducated consumer even with all the reviews and moderations available, you're at fault for making bad decisions. Ebay and slashdot are good examples of market anarchism: there really isn't any force being used against consumers or producers, and both consumers and producers are able to rate the transactions made. Is it perfect? No, but it is becoming more perfect as time goes on, thanks to the market's ability to change at an instant.

but I shouldn't be rewarded for creating new music, movies, and novels.

Of course you do -- get a job with a company that makes those things. You're guaranteed a paycheck that way. If you want to be independent (just like an IT consultant or an independent hair stylist), you are accepting a much bigger risk in exchange for the chance of a much bigger reward. I became an independent consultant at 14 and for 3 years I made less than $0.50 per hour. At 17 I was making over $60 an hour and at 20 I was making over $150 per hour. At 21 I was bad to making less than $0.25 per hour for 2 years while I watched my old profession fall apart. Risks/rewards!

Much as I generally agree that personal liberty should be maximized, I can't get my head around the notion of a world being a better place because dishonesty and crookedness are rewarded, but creativity is for losers.

Dishonest and crooked producers will be judged by the market's moderation system in place. Look at Sony. Look at Enron. Look at http://www.fuckedcompany.com/ [fuckedcompany.com] for a list of producers who screwed their customers and ended up with what they deserved. I'm losing one of my companies right now because we didn't focus on our customers, and in April that business was one of the top 100 in the nation. 8 months later and its bankrupt. I continue to learn lessons. If I didn't want such a big reward, I know I could go get a job for someone else and do very well, but I don't want that. My businesses that treat the customers with respect and concern grow -- slowly but surely. My business that took advantage of customers and lied grew VERY fast but crashed even faster.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184945)

No there doesn't. People work without reward all the time. Look at Gigli. Very very few authors actually make enough from their works to even support themselves, much less to get anything of value.

What you ought to have said was that people often hope to have a reward for their creative works; not just any reward, in fact, but a large enough one to outweigh their best alternative.

That's fine, but remember that just as an author should weigh their best alternative against a hoped-for reward (e.g. author X can write a book or become an accountant, and should choose whatever is most likely to yield the most money), so too should the public engage in a similar calculus. If the copyright laws necessary for an author to create a particular work are very onerous, the harm caused by these laws may outweigh any benefit we gain from the work itself being created. The public not only must attempt to provide authors with the least reward for the most output (just as authors try to get the most reward for the least output -- both are self-interested) but we must be willing to accept that some works are not worth the reward it would take for them to be created.

I for one would rather have sensible copyright laws than the next Harry Potter book, if that's what it boiled down to.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

Edam (911039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185609)

You're living in a fantasy, sonny!

If JKR writes a book and releases it to the world, then he should *expect* to have it copied (assuming it's a good book of course)! That's the nature of the world!

You're talking as if JKR should be pissed off that after making his work public, other people are copying it. It's like me drawing a work of art in the sand and then being pissed off that the tide's gonna wash it away!

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

shmmeee (934743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185878)

Um, JKR is a she

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

glgraca (105308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184824)

...and I firmly believe that the only ownership one can have is physical ownership of a good

There is also land, business and buildings. I think they all require different kinds of ownership. Should someone be allowed to sit on their land while people starve? Should someone be allowed to close a factory when people don't have jobs? Its all very different from owning goods.

But people still view all kinds of property as one.

Heres the deal (4, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184831)


You see, the UK, and especially the US are starting to realise that they have way too much debt for all that stuff they bought on credit from overseas, in their housing markets, in their bond markets, and in their industries. In fact, in economic circles bankers talk about the fall of the dollar as if it was pre-destined (which it is).

The deal is that they have this wet dream that they are going to be able to export their "intellectual property" abroad, to make up for all these economic imbalances - and bring them unlimited growth and profit.

I think they are going to be in for a very very rude supprise.

Re:Heres the deal (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184866)

This is very true. A service-oriented economy can be very profitable IF the market is free to set prices. Unfortunately, minimum wage laws combined with a union focus combined with an inflationary policy by the central bank all lead to higher costs which lead to a lower demand.

I'm preparing for the market surprise by holding gold-as-money, downsizing my house significantly so I have no mortgage, and traveling more (which helps me gauge the realities of the market, not what the media and the government report).

I see bad things ahead for most, and I feel bad that no one listens to the realities of the economy. Keep building those 401Ks if you're interested in having zero net value in a decade.

Re:Heres the deal (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185006)

I'm preparing for the market surprise by holding gold-as-money, downsizing my house significantly so I have no mortgage, and traveling more (which helps me gauge the realities of the market, not what the media and the government report).

WOW! that's exactly what I'm doing. (well, I'm not traveling, but have been planning an exit strategy just in case ... probably Chile). It's almost sureal, people are doing their christmas shopping and whatnot like there is nothing wrong. Slashdotters routinely act like the big economic moves aren't even in the picture. I don't think people have any idea what they're in for. Americans have never experienced 3rd world like conditions in over 150 years - it's going to be a real shocker. They'll probably elect Hillary - God help us.

Re:Heres the deal (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185074)

If you're serious and want some great insight, drop me an e-mail. I've found some really inexpensive ways to play for a market crash while still being profitable if the market moves forward. Trailer park ownership, home improvement co-ops, and even local bartering clubs are great ways to maximize your financial security while still making money if my doom-and-gloom fears don't come to bloom.

And they likely won't either (1, Offtopic)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185410)

I don't think people have any idea what they're in for. Americans have never experienced 3rd world like conditions in over 150 years.

And they won't either. it doesn't matter a whole lot if the US economy suffers a total meltdown, for two reasons.

One, the US is the worlds largest consumer. If their economy suffers a meltdown, the whole earth will cascade down as a result. Moving to Cole won't help you out much, guess where most of their exposts go?

Two, even if such a thing happens, a poor economy does not make real-world assets vanish. No matter what happens to the economy, the US still has the worlds most powerful military. If they were in bad enough shape, I am sure they could just recall all their guys from abroad and take whatever resources they needed from smaller resource-rich nations by force or intimidation.

Re:Heres the deal (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185071)

A service based economy can not maintain itself. You need to produce a bit of everything (or something that you can trade) if you want to keep going.

Re:Heres the deal (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185099)

Actually, this isn't completely true. The complexity of the market is due much to government control of currency, wages and wealth redistribution.

In a completely free market, you DO have the ability to provide a solely service economy more now than ever in history. There are so many services that can be performed over the Internet, but we are not competitive because of our government's destruction of wealth and currency while continuing to push prices higher through counterfeiting the dollar (legally).

I am currently working on outsourcing some new services -- drafting, engineering, estimating and marketing -- to Western Europe. The production quality of $6 per hour college students far surpasses that of many of the $30 per hour college graduates I find in the States. The world will change overnight and we'll continue to believe that we're worth $60,000 per year here in the U.S. when there are billions of others who can live nicely on $12,000. You can blame the high standard of living on Greenspan, not the free market.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184835)

Many slashdot readers are starting to realize what a scam Intellectual Property laws are...

And do "many people" who want to add artificial weight to their own views on a controversial subject start their statements by implying, without proof, that many other people agree with them?

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

corellon13 (922091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184950)

So, if we were not to have any laws governing ideas and printed material and it's just every man for himself, who wins?

Let's say some kid from a poor or under privelaged family has a great idea or writes a great story. He wants to sell that and share it with the world while making a living for him and his family. Then he realizes that he needs money and help to do that. He goes to someone who has the money and means to get this done. That person or company takes it and kicks the kid to the curb.

Governments and companies have made a living on the backs of the poor since the beginning of time. Now that we have some laws and some protections, you want to go ahead and give them a blank check to do with ideas and property as they please? Not to mention the human nature of screwing your buddy if you get the chance (aka survival of the fittest). Sure these laws have been used by the rich to get richer in some ways, but I think it would be a mistake to think that this warrants removing laws on IP completely.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185431)

A guy who can write good stories is infinitely more valuable than one single of his stories will ever be. Shafting him as you describe is financially the wrong thing to do for the publisher. Therefore, it will not happen with sufficient frequency for it to be something worth worrying about.
And, indeed, once this guy can find a proper publisher, he will release his first book with this publisher and chances are that quite a few people who bought from the first publisher will buy the "proper" version also. Book audiences are, I believe, somewhat more loyal than many give them credit for.

Let me clarify... (1)

corellon13 (922091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185677)

I know I should have known better than to make up a story to help illustrate my thoughts. Please, for those of you who do not get it, the story is what I like to call an "example". I know it's easy to shoot holes through the story and thus trick yourself into believing you have blown away my opinion. I do not mind being called out as being wrong (I'm married. Trust me this is not new to me), but please point out the problems with my statement based on the opinion I was trying to convey, which is: Without some kind of IP laws, it will be impossible to protect those who cannot otherwise protect themselves. [more or less]

Wow, guess I should've just said that to begin with : ) Sorry.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (2, Insightful)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185113)

So, exactly how are we supposed to create new pharmaceuticals in your brave new IP-less world? Do we eliminate the massive costs associated with testing and just let people fend for themselves (and companies too, since presumably you'd support suing any company that still puts out a risky product)? How can a company spend millions or billions of dollars on new research if the only saleable end product is a pill that can be copied in under a day by production houses that do no research at all? Should all future medical and pharmaceutical funding come purely from the government?

Your other responses thus far are not particularly illuminating either. Getting paid a salary (as you suggest) would stifle many writers, not free them. Corporations expect product on a timely scale, so you'll have the next Steinbeck or Joyce writing filler crap instead of their next masterpiece.

Is IP law horribly fouled up? Most certainly. Are the primary beneficiaries the distributors, middle-men, and corporations instead of the authors and inventors? Yup. Is that wrong? Definitely. But your suggestions amount to no more than throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We need a major reformation of IP law across the board, with more reasonable limits (esp. for copyright) and fair use rights. Patents need less obfusication and more requirements on actively defending the patent (submarine patents are bad!). Trademarks aren't too bad off, although there's certainly some absurdity going on there (not nearly as much though).

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185188)

So, exactly how are we supposed to create new pharmaceuticals in your brave new IP-less world?

In my experience, the IP debate ends when someone brings up pharmaceuticals. It is now called Dada's Law of IP Debate. The pharmaceutical industry has incredibly high costs because of government regulations, not because it really costs US$325million to make a new drug. We have 6.5 billion people in the world. If reducing government intrusion would save half, we're talking about 2.5 cents per person to make a new drug. Even if we didn't dump the FDA of every country, it is still only 5 cents. Forget about 70% of the world who can't afford, and we are still looking at 17 cents per person. Considering that more and more of the population is needing medication, I don't think you can say that drug reseach would halt -- the costs would just be passed on in different ways.

As long as there is a demand for something that has zero supply, people will always find ways to create a supply. That is how the market operates. Then along comes government regulations, which slows the supply, causing prices to go up. Then along comes government taxation of the population, which decreases the available dollars to spend, causing prices to go down. Then along comes government manipulation of the currency, which causes prices to go up. Then along comes anti-drug laws removing drugs that actually have a purchase, causing legal drug prices to increase. The drug business adds thousands of layers of complexity to the equation, but there will always be a demand, so there will always be someone trying to supply it.

Re:Intellectual Property is a scam (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186007)

The pharmaceutical industry has incredibly high costs because of government regulations

Yes, and I alluded to that. You didn't answer the question.

We have 6.5 billion people in the world. If reducing government intrusion would save half, we're talking about 2.5 cents per person to make a new drug.

That's nice. What about the vast majority of drugs that don't target every human being on the planet? Not everyone is HIV positive. Not everyone has diabetes. Not everyone will get esophageal cancer. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be doing research on them.

I'm narcoleptic, and I'm very happy that the research that led to modafinil [modafinil.com] was done -- it's far better than the alternatives, such as ritalin or other addictive stiumlents. Of course, in its case I will question whether or not it should still be covered by patent -- it was originally found in the 1970s during other research, but only recently re-visited for usage in narcolepsy treatment. If it couldn't have been patented, however, I'm unsure that it ever would have been revisited -- there aren't a huge number of people suffering from narcolepsy after all -- instead the stimulents would continue to be the only treatment course, or someone might have eventually stumbled upon a new treatment. Maybe.

As long as there is a demand for something that has zero supply, people will always find ways to create a supply. That is how the market operates.

You're missing the bits that involve making profit. In the case of pharmaceuticals there is a huge research cost -- even if you remove all regulation. You have completely failed to explain how the R&D costs will be recovered if a company has no exclusivity time period.

Nor do you explain how removing governmental regulation will magically make it happen. What you'll end up with then is a huge cycle of lawsuits as companies come out with blatantly unsafe medications (because they didn't bother doing the now unrequired testing), people take them and suffer significant problems (problems which may not surface for a long period of time (c.f. -- the tobacco industry for an imperfect example), or problems which may cause lasting, long term effects) and sue the company. Odds are the company goes out of business and the consumers are left holding the bag. That or companies have to do the testing cycles anyway, which creates even more R&D expense, which they then can't recover because Drugs'R'Us waits for them to put out the product and then does some pretty simplistic chemistry to determine what the makeup and production methods are. These aren't things you can keep as trade secrets after all.

n my experience, the IP debate ends when someone brings up pharmaceuticals

Maybe because it's a serious issue that your "abolish IP laws" doesn't address? And it's hardly a fringe issue. There are numerous industries in which this is true (high R&D costs, low barriers to entry for production); the pharmaceutical industry is merely the most prominant one.

'Review' means 'extend' (4, Interesting)

jonathan_ingram (30440) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184586)

Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate.

As a UK citizen, this has got me worried. I don't think there has ever been a government that has *reduced* the copyright term. This move also probably ties in with the announcement earlier this year that they were going to extend the copyright term on recordings from 50 years to 100 years (after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?).

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (2, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184712)

It's labour.. have they done a single thing that's good for "the people"? All I see is abuse of prisoners, higher taxs, more schooling fees and erm Jamie Oliver complaining about food..

We all know labour will do the EXACT opposit of what the people want..

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185287)

Umm, independance for the Bank of England? That seems fairly good.

Here's a list of some other bits and bobs they're quite happy about.

Labour's top 50 achievements [labour.org.uk]

BTW, considered a job writing for the Daily Mail?

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185506)

I'm sorry I don't follow news papers..

But I suggest you look at the URL. It's labour's website.. oddly enough I don't trust the horse's mouth for news on the horse.

Everything I've seen lately (and checked many places) basicly says "you're 20!? HAHAHA you're fucked!". I was hoping to goto university.. hey guess what, I probably won't be able to untill I'm nearly 30 because I'll never have the money being that I have to save my ass off, pay for other peoples pensions and get no support funding my education what so ever (let alone needing this funding to get more money to pay for these old people).

The list is full of bullshit that doesn't account for anything. Things like "more nurses", well yea more nurses with lower standards.. nice that.. being paid less.. nice that. All these sort of things.

Labour may have done some good, but I'm currently 19 and looking at my future I have little hope of moving into my own house before I'm 30 (and I don't want to waste money on rent so living with parents untill then). I have little hope of getting the education I'd like (to goto university and study computer science and business management), and then when I do get my ideal job I have to work till I'm 70 to pay for people who didn't save. What sort of a life do I have ahead of me honestly? To work as a slave for an aging population untill I'am too old to work any more, then when I can't do anything with my life my children have to pay for me to sit in a chair and die.

I'm sorry but I don't care what "good" labour has done. I can see a damn lot of bad, which effects me to a degree I'am not happy about. I also see them abusing loop holes and giving each other back handers.. but then I'am a meer peon. I have no real power in the world (1 vote means nothing) so my opinion is all but invalid. I can tell 1, 2, a million people, how bad I see labour and 99% of them will go "oh well, that's the government for you, don't really care for politics".

You'll have to excuse me for ending this post so shortly. I see no point continueing an angry rant because anything I say now in ten years will be invalid. We'll look bad at this time and go "well hot damn it wasn't SO bad was it?". Because the future seems to just lead to more of the same and I don't much like it.

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (1)

shmmeee (934743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185952)

"Here's a list of some other bits and bobs they're quite happy about."

"It's labour's website.. "


You sir are a deductive genius!

Also, I'm 24, just graduated (Computer Science) and planning to move into my own house fairly soon on mine and my girlfriends first graduate wage, just like 3 of my other friends. Cheer up mate, it's not as bad as those newspapers you don't read say it is!

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (2, Insightful)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184738)

after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?

Yes -- we wouldn't want more artists to expand [bannedmusic.org] on their work. This would take away, diminish, undermine and otherwise dammage the Beatles.

Afterall, it couldn't possibly bring a whole new generation to listen to their work?

New Fans (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185217)

Afterall, it couldn't possibly bring a whole new generation to listen to their work?

Once upon a time, a man and his wife were traveling by car and "Get Back" came on the radio. Wife says to man that the vocals sounded a lot like Paul McCartney; husband tells her that it is Paul, back in the days of the Beatles. Wife says she'd never heard it before.

Man and wife? Sir and Mrs. Paul McCartney!

'Review' need not mean 'extend' (1)

moscow (68604) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184937)

The Adelphi Charter [adelphicharter.org] was a fairly thorough review of IP recently, and came to the conclusion that even the term IP presumes the shape of the answer. It will be interesting to see how much influence they have on this, as the RSA [rsa.org.uk] , who were behind the original project, have a fair bit of nous in getting the ear of these kinds of committees.

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185274)

(after all, we couldn't have any of the Beatles' material get into the public domain, could we?)

Since much of the Beatles' catalogue now belongs to Michael Jackson, I wonder if McCartney might, if asked, now support the reduction in length of the copyright cover? He gets to spite Jackson, and simultaneously look really amazingly cool and froody...

Re:'Review' means 'extend' (3, Informative)

shippo (166521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185450)

There's two kinds of copyright in effect here.

Firstly there's the mechanical copyright - the copyright on an actual recording. In the UK this currently expires 50 years after date that the recording was first released, independant as to where it was released. In all cases the expiration takes place at the end of the calendar year. There are a number of record companies who exploit this by issuing old recordings whose mechanical copyright has lapsed.

Secondly there the publishing copyright - the copyright on the song. This expires 70 years after the authors death. Payments for these are usually managed via a publishing company who collects the rights and passing on a percentage to the authors. So even if the mechanical copyright has lapsed, the publishing copyright still remains in place.

In the Beatles case, Northern Songs which owns the publishing rights to most of their compositions (excluding some of the earlier material, later George Harrison compositions, and Ringo two) is partly owned by Michael Jackson. The publishing company still passes the payments on, Jackson will just get some kind of financial benefit as the co-owner of the company.

So under current UK copyright law anyone will be albe to press up a copy of 'Love Me Do' (their first single, dating from 1962) from January 1st 2013, but publishing will still have to be paid to Lennon's estate until the end of 2050, and to McCartney's estate up to at least 2075.

Sneaky corruption in law-making (0)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184608)

"... current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death)"

That's an example of sneaky corruption in law-making. It is usually very difficult to know if and when the author died. So, in practice, most materials will not become available immediately after the copyright term is ended.

Re:Sneaky corruption in law-making (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185047)

That's an example of sneaky corruption in law-making. It is usually very difficult to know if and when the author died.
Generally, asking a doctor will help, though if a doctor isn't around, poking the author with a stick and seeing what the reaction is might help too. If, after repeatedly being prodded, the author hasn't said "Oi!", "Stop that!", "Get off me!", or in some other way indicated that the stick has been noticed, it would strike me as likely the author's health might be in question. This is particularly the case if the stick passes right through the author's rotten carcass. That's pretty much a "dead" give-away. "Dead" give-away, geddit? Huhuhuhuhuh.

Anyway, my advice is: in the absense of an obituary or some other document letting you know when the author died, find the author and, if it's not obvious he or she's alive, get a doctor to check.

Re:Sneaky corruption in law-making (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185757)

It is usually very difficult to know if and when the author died

Que?

We have these things called "death certificates", which have a person's name and date of death on them. Failing that, as the poster above said, poking the potentially-deceased with a pointy stick tends to work wonders...

Simon

70 Years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14184612)

"Importantly, the review will also examine whether the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is appropriate."

"Dear Minister,

After careful review of all available facts, and thorough discussion with industry experts and panels of citizen dicsussions, our team has determined that the current term of copyright protection (70 years after the author's death) is most certainly NOT appropriate, and is quite unfair indeed.

It should be 140 years."

Cynic (2, Insightful)

Stokey (751701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184641)

I think we can safely assume that there is no way that a lessening of copyright periods will occur, nor that any other IP laws will be repealed or relaxed nor indeed that the stakeholders (as identified by another poster) will represent the people.

For my own peace of mind, I am going to try to write to Mr Gowers and ask hime whether IP laws are there for the benefit of business or society? Being ex-editor of the FT makes me think that this question has already been answered in Mr. Gower's mind.

The fact the Gordo is playing to the public will not make one jot of difference, because the majority of people will never come up against an extension to copyright as a problem and the spin on this will be:

"Britain needs to be a super power in the global knowledge economy and this can only be realised through the introduction of increasingly draconian laws surrounding your precious and flavoursome IP".

fucking great (0, Flamebait)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184654)

Brown has screwed up several things and now needs to jack up taxs because of it. He's leading us into a major debt (and screwing over everyone under 40). So now he's going to take away our right to copy things and give the suits even more time to abuse their back catalog. This is getting ridiclous.. we should stop comparing ourselvs to America and instead start going "We're all doomed! Just not 'quite' as doomed".

Re:fucking great (1)

Jesapoo (929240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185494)

I'm sorry, but i have to reply to this "Brown is evil and ruining our economy" flavoured post.

The economy has been more stable (indeed, kept growing) over the last 5 years (*cough* 9/11 ecenomic downturn *cough*) than the vast majority of Europe.

The Pensions crisis you talk of has been on the cards for a long, long time - and it's largely because of the mess the previous Conservative government left that Brown is having to deal with it now. And, the simple fact is, people live longer now. Deal with it.

I admit he's done some things wrong (student top-up fees, NHS targets, blah blah), but this kind of "our chancellor doesn't know what he's doing" post is totally unfair.

Re:fucking great (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185542)

Erm.. I think it's very fair. I'm currently 19 and basicly everything he's done wrong is aimed at GASP the youth like myself. Things they all used to get where they are I can no longe ruse because they've taken them away..

Gordon Brown (2, Informative)

IainMH (176964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184698)

For those not up on UK politics, this is significant because Gordo is second only to Tony Blair in the Government (no matter what Prescott thinks) and is seemingly the heir apparent as Prime Minister when Tony Blair resigns. (Which I will take bets on will be soon after he beat Thatcher's reign).

Re:Gordon Brown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14185467)

Blair waiting to beat Thatcher's record? You may very well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Why? (3, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184705)

I'd be a lot more accepting of the whole notion of IP rights if our fearless leaders would publically state the laws importance and need to their consitituents. Without some rational for why we should be doing this I'm left to conclude that its just to make rich people richer.
And what about extending ideas? They're locking up our common culture - I still can't legally link to a copy of steamboat willy (Micky Mouse precursor) for the readers in the US can I? Could this mean that in some future dystopia everyone will have to pay simply to participate? Sorry Bob, I can't talk to you about last nights episode of Friends as you don't have a license....
Damnit. [gnu.org]

For those not up on UK politics ... (3, Informative)

threaded (89367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184798)

For those not up on UK politics this is just another scam to see how Gordon Brown can raise taxes. Any other outcome will be nothing but secondary.

My suspicion is, because he is so desperate to raise more tax revenue, it that he will allow anyone and their dog to patent anything, "fire", "the wheel", for example, and then others will have to fight it down in court.

Remember, you read it here first.

Re:For those not up on UK politics ... (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185120)

As an alternative, something like this might work to both Brown and our advantage:
  1. Copyright lasts for twenty years, by default
  2. Copyright can then be renewed for a further twenty years, on payment of, say, a 1,000GBP registration fee each year
  3. Copyright can then be renewed for a maximum of 150 years, on payment of, say, a 5,000GBP registration fee each year
Simple. More money goes into the "public pocket", twenty years is about the most long term any business would consider a return to be worth holding out for so this doesn't stifle innovation, indeed by building a massive base of public domain works, it should encourage it. I would want to add a clause to such an arrangement protecting the moral rights of artists (the right to be credited, the right not to be credited) for the full artist's lifetime + 20 years, to be entirely happy with the system, and for software to require source disclosure to gain the protection of copyright, but in general it ought to make most people happy.

Now, here's the bad news: none of this is compatable with any of the recent global inter-governmental copyright pacts and treaties. Indeed, so far as I can see, most copyright reform would have problems there.

Re:For those not up on UK politics ... (1)

jifl (471653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185281)

150 years is the equivalent of 5 generations. What is the moral reason for allowing the IP rights to be held so long?

IP rights are a balance between allowing a creator to be rewarded for their efforts (including providing some limited inheritance) and allowing the public to enjoy work when the need for an incentive has passed.

Something like lifetime+20 years should be adequate (although perhaps there's an argument that the 'moral rights' could last longer than the commercial rights).

What happens for companies, where they cannot legally die and IP exists in perpetuity, is a more arguable matter.

Re:For those not up on UK politics ... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185436)

150 years is the equivalent of 5 generations. What is the moral reason for allowing the IP rights to be held so long?
The fact my generalization - that most businesses will not think more than 20 years into the future when considering what to invest in - is just that, a generalization. If a business really does decide it can justify investing so much money into creating something so valuable to the world that it'd expect revenues far in excess of 5,000GBP a year 150 years from now, then, well, then it's probably worth giving it the chance to do so.

We can fiddle with the figures, perhaps you'd prefer 80 years, and the fee going up to 25,000GBP per year after the 60th, but either way, the principle that someone can reserve long term copyrights for money, rather than for free, strikes me as a system that, compared to the one we use today, would benefit both "the people", and our tax chests.

Re:For those not up on UK politics ... (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185480)

Bah, that's old news. I can already patent (should I be so inclined) exciting new innovations such as:
"Fire, on the Internet"
"Fire, on a mobile communications device"
"Wheels, on the Internet"
"Wheels, on a mobile communications device"

Straight Talk About Copyrights (3, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14184871)

Well, this is actually a repost from a week or so back, but it seems like not so many have read it .....

The theory that we've all been taught is that copyrights are "intellectual property" rights that protect creators, and give them an incentive to make creative works that provide personal and public benefit. The truth is that property rights exist to allocate finite resources, not to artificially choke supply for the sake of incentive. Rather than protection, or a free market property, copyrights are more like a regulation that micromanages how people can use information. In practice, they are dangerous to rely on and lock out more opportunity then they promote.

History has shown that just protection of property rights leads to strong incentives, but coercion of incentive does not necessarily lead to just property rights. Simply because an institution calls something a property right, doesn't mean that it is. If, for example, an industry used the government to artificially restrict the natural supply of food and called shares of that monopoly a "property right", it would be very easy to see how the artificial distortion of markets would not only cause opportunity loss, but harm to society. Copyrights are a way for some industries to use government to artificially restrict the natural supply of information and force the market to center around information control rather than service value. That causes opportunity loss, harm to society, and a burden of enforcement that is too heavy to bear in the information age.

Normally copyright concerns would not be so eminent as they have been effectively used for hundreds of years without failure. However, things are different this time and faith in the copyright system is rather dangerous. Just as the industrial revolution forced the commoditisation of the labor market and the ugly death of the plantation system. The information age is forcing the commoditisation of information and the ugly death of the copyright system. It is not a coincidence that the speculative stock market crash around 1857, regarding industrial technology is very similar to the speculative stock market crash in 2001 regarding information technology. It is not a coincidence that the slavery issue created a raging debate about artificial "property rights" as copyrights have today. It is not a coincidence the disproportional prosperity of the plantation system then and the disproportional prosperity of the copyright industries today (That is, unless one thinks hollywood is underpaid). Things like the harsh punishments for merely teaching a person of color to read, vs copyright crimes having punishments worse than rape today. These are all symptoms of drastically changing markets and entrenched dying industries trying to prevent change. As for those industries that thought that the entire purpose and meaning of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton-gin to expand their plantations for unlimited growth and profit - they were deadly wrong in spite of all the money and intellect behind them. Those industries today whom believe that the entire purpose and meaning of the information age is to leverage inventions like the Internet to expand the influence of copyright controls for vast growth and profit, well?

Well, over the next several years, the copyright system will not only be changed, it will become effectively dead. All industries that center on them will change or die a protracted death, and all institutions that rely on a proprietary information infrastructure will be stuck in the mud as they suffer numerous opportunity costs. The information age is doing for information services what the industrial revolution did for production. However, the copyright system doesn't center around the supply and demand of service, but an artificial supply restrictions on information that services bring about. Over the coming years as information becomes commoditized and service value becomes more important than the content value, there will be trillions of dollars worth of pressure to kill the copyright system. In fact, it's already starting. Publishers, newspapers, and advertisers are under siege from Google, Hollywood is under siege from p2p networks, and Microsoft is under siege from free and open source software like Linux. In fact, MS, AOL, and Yahoo were so blinded by content strategies that Google drove in 20 freight trains right under their nose. Linux and Apache seized a majority of the web server space with 1/1000th the backing that Microsoft had. This was not luck, but a fundamental market shift forcing change.

So in truth, copyrights are a false "incentive"; they are not "property", but anti free market; they are not "protection", but instead will bear heavy on organizations that use proprietary technology as lost opportunity costs. Organizations that rely on copyright revenue will find out how dangerous they are as copyrights die an ugly and protracted death. Copyrights are incompatible with information age paradigms, and there will be trillions of dollars worth of pressure to kill them. Even though many IT companies are isolated from harm because their revenue streams do not center around control over content distribution. Any company that wishes to be excel in the information age needs to treat the free to copy nature of information as a end game benefit and not a persistent threat.

end note: copyrights should not be confused with trademarks, patents, trade- secrets, and anti-plagiarism which have a different nature - other than perhaps software patnets which will die for similar reasons.

Re:Straight Talk About Copyrights (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185017)

I agree with you "in theory". The problem is a lot of large countries with the power to rule the English speaking media (America and the UK), currently have very corrupt governments who refuse to listen to the people. They're clearly taking bribes left right and centre and with the new laws being imposed (terrorism laws), it's very possible it will go the complete and opposit way and a police state will kick in, where you may only listen to Government licenced media. I hope it's not true but if you look at the last few years I fear we're on a knife edge and one side is your idea (and my ideals) and the other is a police state.. and the men with power are pushing us to 1984..

Re:Straight Talk About Copyrights (1)

LordHawkstone (936285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185253)

Yes, A Police State, with very high levels of protectionism (and corruption) in the west is looking more and more likely over the short term, but over the long term, argoff about sums it up (providing we survive the short term).

On reviewing policies... (3, Insightful)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185070)

This review is one in a very long range of policy reviews doomed to fail. It focuses on the fine-tuning of the existing policy, not looking at the conceptual level of the policy. Mr Gowers speaks of 'maintaining a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation'. He does not ask: How good is our environment for creativity? or: Do we have such an environment at all? or: What fundamental shifts are at stake?

When he talks about balance between right-holders and consumers, he clearly misses the fact the distinction between the two is getting at least very vague. When he talks about enforcement of IP, he doesn't seem to see enforcement of IP will be futile in the very near future.

What happens now with music and movies, will happen with physical products soon. Right now metal parts can be custom machined by sending a drawing over the internet to a metal shop. It's done almost fully automated, noone checks on patent infringement. A metal shop could be manufacturing patented machines on a large scale without being noticed by the owners of the shop. The drawings could be torrented all around the internet. (it's probably happening already). It will happen with chemicals in less than five years, and with DNA in probably less than ten years.

Not to mention the 2.5 billion of people living in China and India alone, who will be very hard to convince they have to pay for using certain knowledge freely available on the internet.

As attempts to enforce copyright on music never fail to fail, so will other forms of IP as we know it fail. A study which does not recognise the fact that the very concept of IP is under pressure and likely to collapse, is therefore doomed to fail too.

On the other hand, if the review does recognise this, and studies IP at a conceptual level, it's also doomed, because it will be ignored.

IP can cost billions...of lives! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14185724)

Intellectooool 'property' is failing now, in Taiwan, and soon in India as well. Bet on it in China! What is causing this perfect storm attacking the ship of IP? Why it is the emerging possibility of a bird flu pandemic. A Swiss gnome named corp named Roche (no joke, pronounced 'roach') is claiming monopoly trading and manufacturing rights on one of the only drugs capable of fighting the bird flu h5n1 virus. It is restricting manufacturing of its product in order to elevate the price worldwide. The trouble is, if bird flu emerges as a pandemic, not millions, but billions will die and agonizing asphyxiating death all because of the greed of the corporate creation of crooked banker descendants of the financiers of the original Third Reich!
    Taiwan originally negotiated with 'roach' in good faith, but seeing that 'roach' wanted to do limited production runs, vitriolically opposed any stockpiling for emergencies, and absolutely refused to do cooperative production agreements with local Taiwanese companies in case of emergency, the 'negotiations' predictably broke down. So now Taiwan has determined to break the 'roach' patent and is going ahead with emergency local manufacture of 'tamiflu'....and off all the participants go to: courts locally which will probably back the interests of humanity; courts internationally which will probably back the best bribe or the most loudmouthed international bully, the USA..or both; the WTO stacked with IP monopolist pig sympathizers who have always treated Taiwan as a pariah that they wish would go away from their front door while accepting the products of its hard working people through the back door (remember Hong Kong 'not' shipping real Chinese product). If and when bird flu begins its grim march on the world, know you all that Americans and Europeans are completely unprotected except for the ruling class. This is official policy. You Americans and Europeans will all die in misery in your houses or at the hands of military specifically instructed to 'cull' you (secret orders). You will die from greed as legislated and administratively decreed policy present in all political parties in all the countries of Europe and the Americas. China, India, and Indonesia are now in negociating with 'roach', but the talks are going basically the same way. India has now some limited 'rights' to manufacture the drug, but those 'rights' may become the noose that hangs to death 700 million Indians as the production has been limited and stockpiling limited still more. The Russians and other CIS countries are probably making the stuff and not telling anyone, and the population of these countries are dispersed to make really efficient spread more difficult. Australias cities will die, leaving the countryside to fend for itself. Same for New Zealand. South America will suffer the same as North America, but its lower population density in hinterland regions will be a similar barrier to efficient pandemic spread similar to rural Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. The middle east will suffer a similar fate as parts of it, especially Saudi, have become very urbanized; but again, the rural areas will survive for far longer because heat and the Muslim traditions of cleanliness and isolation will compound with sparse settlement and nothing to eat for migratory birds to probably stop the disease here. Consider the other Muslim traditions of wearing masks! These block this airborne pathogen somewhat as well, and 115 to 120 degree heat and zero humidity will clean the already clean air like no other location save the vast deserts of Australia and other hot places.
The only hope that this disease is to be stopped is in Viet-Nam and the Peoples Republic of China who are slaughtering so many birds that many people are becoming impoverished even more than they were. In Viet-Nam, they are using a new approach, vaccines. There are some test ones that work on birds because that is the disease that exists now. Its mutation will probably be very similar to this one, so some of those vaccines will become good candidates for a start on human vaccine research. Hopefully the Viet-Namese will not give in to the temptation to sell these vaccines' 'rights' to monopolists from outside or inside its borders. Write the continent of Africa off! Forget about it, they are dead men walking. They have no industry large enough or experienced enough to make these products, and their populations are mostly poor people who even now can't even afford aspirin. What survivors there will be in the large cities...in very small numbers. The movie 'the Stand' from Stephen King comes to mind. That is a book, too. A thick one! READ IT!
        IT IS YOUR FUTURE IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY!
              YOU DO OWE THE LIVES OF YOU, YOUR FAMILIES, AND ALL
              WHOM YOU EVER LOVED TO THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY HOLDERS ........DON'T YOU??!!

Hopefully the slashdot owners will have the courage to publish this

IP and the Race to the Bottom (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14185854)

Protecting Intillectual Property Rights merely accellerates the drive to lower prices and a lower standard of living in the developed world. Developed Nations who view strong IP as the basis for their new economic engines, fail to realize that something needs to be sold, not just created. Protection of IP fails to take into account the Grey Market and "Innovation" that occurs in countries where actual production takes place. Product produced off shore on behalf of firms who own IP rights, often find their products reverse engineered or competing in the marketplace against grey market goods manufactured in the same plants that they contract to. In the end, the Patent/Trademark owner loses, as do the workers who lost their jobs to offshore producers.
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