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Consumers vs. IP Owners: The Future of Copyright

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the time-to-buy-the-white-album-again dept.

415

conJunk writes "The BBC has a thoughtful article about new challenges in copyright. The problem: The rights to the audio recordings of the Beatles first album will expire in 2013. While consumers stand to benefit from competing releases of the materials, the copyright owners are of course terrified. And the artists? This one doesn't even seem to affect them."

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415 comments

What the copyright owners need to be told (0, Troll)

G-stringed troll (623365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746218)

Nothing here to see; move along.

Re:What the copyright owners need to be told (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746233)

Fuck off

Re:What the copyright owners need to be told (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746235)

I am the owner of "Nothing here to see; move along."© Pay me.

Re:What the copyright owners need to be told (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746460)

You're funny! But I own the rights to the usage of the term, "Anonymous Coward." Please pay me in cash. Thank you, come again!

Whats the problem? (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746228)

Thats the entire point of copyright- a limited monopoly in exchange for greater incentive to produce. It is expected to eventually run out. The problem here isn't that its going to run out, the problem is that its been over 40 years and it hasn't run out already!

Re:Whats the problem? (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746274)

Surely you jest. As any child could tell you, it is critically important to the well being of our democracy that songs like The Happy Birthday Song [snopes.com] remain copyrighted until at least 2030.

Re:Whats the problem? (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746279)

Thats the entire point of copyright- a limited monopoly in exchange for greater incentive to produce.

But it's not an incentive to produce. Prior to copyright law content creators had to keep creating to feed themselves, whereas the system we have now says, "Create a winner, milk it for the rest of your life."

Re:Whats the problem? (2, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746355)

I don't disagree. I was stating the argument for copyright. I think that a short (2-3 yr) copyriht might work, the current system is ridiculous.

Re:Whats the problem? (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746430)

I think a 2 or 3 year copyright is rediculously short.

If I could freely get any song or movie (and you can be sure that people would post online mirrors of DVDs and CDs) in just 3 years, I don't know if I'd every buy another one during the time of protection.

The situation with software is different because there are (sometimes) actual productivity gains from newer versions. But you can bet that I wouldn't buy the latest copy of Visual Studio unless I was doing something in C# that needed generics (2003 works well enough), wouldn't buy Office, wouldn't buy Photoshop (not that I have it now), etc. With a 2-3 year span, that's barely the release cycle. You think you see compatibility problems now? Wait until software companies REALLY have to force you to upgrade.

I *really* don't think I'm in the minority here. I'm perhaps a bit more patient than some would be with regards to the movies and music, but stuff that's more than 3 years old are still big movers in stores.

The original copyright term was 14 yr, renewable once. I personally think that this is about as short as you should get, and I like the idea of protection for the life of the author or an equivalent term for companies.

Re:Whats the problem? (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746497)

I think a 2 or 3 year copyright is rediculously short.

Rediculously, as opposed to Greendiculously or Bluediculously.

Let's face it, some films don't even make it to the screen but are marketed straight to DVD. Most popular music is going to see it's highest percentage of payoff in the first year, declining over time with only spurts when it comes back to public conciousness, as an old song in a movie (i.e. Satchmo's It's a Beautiful World, revived in Good Morning Viet Nam)

Films are in the theater and then on store shelves within the year, unless you are George "Let's actually have Han shoot first" Lucas.

3 years is plenty of time.

Re:Whats the problem? (2, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746523)

I *really* don't think I'm in the minority here. I'm perhaps a bit more patient than some would be with regards to the movies and music, but stuff that's more than 3 years old are still big movers in stores.

Actually, you are in the minority. Look how many people see movies in theatres and pay $25+ for 2 people to get a single viewing. They can wait 3 months and buy the DVD for $15 or rent it for $3 (a savings of 88%). Yet millions of people still go to the theatre for most movies, and 10's of millions go for big hits.

2 or 3 years is a long time for movies. To put the timescale in perspective, in 2003, we had the release of LotR: Return of the King, Seabiscuit, Pirates of the Carribean, and Finding Nemo. To save $3 on a rental, you think people would have waited until later this year to seem the for free? First, life is just too short for that kind of waiting, and second you're 3 years behind the pop culture and current events references; you lose a lot of the enjoyment of the movie. In 2008, when we're rid of Bush, do you really thing the "Shock and Awe" and "If you're not with me you're against me" type quotes from Anakin in Revenge of the Sith will be timely and funny?

Re:Whats the problem? (5, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746563)

No, not really. It's a bit short, but not ridiculously so.

Most creative works have no copyright-related economic value at all. Slashdot posts fall into this category; no one is publishing compilations of their best posts and selling them because they'd never make money at it.

Of the small fraction of works that have such value, the value usually is front-loaded. That is, the vast majority of all the value the work will ever have is realizable right away. For example, a movie makes most of the money it will ever make from theatrical releases on opening weekend. When it hits pay-per-view, it again makes most of its money on the first weekend. Ditto for when it becomes available to rent or buy. The amount of money that can be extracted later on typically declines, and is pretty small compared to the initial amount. We're talking about 70-90% up front, you see.

Of course there are exceptions, but remember that they are tremendously rare. It is foolish to design copyright policy around aberrations. For an author to make a work like that is on par with winning the lottery. They would make a lot of money even with short terms. We don't need to help them. Rather, help should be tailored around the needs of more common artists. After all, copyright is a subsidy in the form of a monopoly on commodity goods and it's just dumb to give subsidies to the people that need them the least.

Some studies have been done as to the economic life expectancy of works. IIRC, the number tends to be 10-20 years. For some works, such as software, I can easily imagine the number being a lot shorter.

Life terms are totally unacceptable. They make the system unpredictable: author A could have a copyright that lasts fifty years, and author B could have a copyright that lasts one. Adding yet more time doesn't help. And as already noted, the economic worth to authors is usually minimal. The CTEA extension was valued on average at about a nickel, IIRC, and that was 20 years more. Better to have a fixed length term (or better still, to make it granular with many short terms that need to be renewed) so that artists know that there is a time limit, and the public can anticipate the regular release of works into the public domain and act accordingly. (E.g. you can run a business when you know that you can reprint a book in 20 years, but you can't when it could be any damn time in the future)

Long copyrights do not help provide for artists in their old age, or for their families, except in the rare cases mentioned above (in which case it is almost certain that the author already got a lot of money). This is because old copyrights are usually not valuable. If artists want to be secure in the future, they should rely on the same things everyone else relies on: savings, investments, pensions, social security, life insurance, etc. Not only is it more fair, but artists have far, far better odds of being better off with these things than betting that their book will still sell very well decades in the future and against all odds.

Long copyrights as a widows and orphans fund is as irresponsible as giving them scratch off lottery tickets would be. The only people who do tend to come out well are the ones that got rich right at the beginning, and they don't really need our help to become much more rich, do they? They're not going to be struggling in their old age, unless they're crazy irresponsible, right? Why are we treating them specially then?

Powerball (1, Interesting)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746493)

Walk into your local bookstore and look around. Now tell me what percentage of those tens of thousands of titles do you think is a "winner" that will stay in print and that the author will be able to milk for the rest of their lives? (Hint: 5% is way, way too high.)

And some people can win the lottery too. The vast majority of us, however do not. Most of the authors in that store will do well if they're able to make their car payments. Even when one does hit, such arguments ALWAYS seem to ignore the amount of time, training, effort, and skill involved it took to get to that point in the first place.

The bottom line is the for every King or Clancy there are 100,000 other writers who just get by. Same for musicians. But your line is that we need to demolish the system because someone has the potential to hit the Powerball.

Worse, because in their case they managed to create something that people actually wanted, valued, and were willing to pay for...

Nice Exaggeration (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746554)

The bottom line is the for every King or Clancy there are 100,000 other writers who just get by. Same for musicians. But your line is that we need to demolish the system because someone has the potential to hit the Powerball.

More like there are a few hundred to each big success. I don't see too many Foyles [foyles.co.uk] -sized book shops around the cities I visit most, to accomodate the millions of starving authors to go with Clancy, King, Rowling, Pratchett, Crichton, et al.

What you rather shamefully overlooked is for most trade paperbacks, the initial order by distributors and bookstores, immediately after publication, is where most of these authors sales are going to occur. After the store has returned unsold extras or tossed them on the bargain table, you're hard pressed to find them again except at a used book shop. A second run of a relatively unknown author is an exceptional thing and I do know a few who have been lucky enough to have garnered enough of an audience to see that, after several years on the shelf. Nothing is preventing them from doing that. But you seem to assume there are greedy bastards lurking around the land itching to reprint obscure books which are three years after publication. Considering the overhead of the printing business that's pretty silly.

Copyright laws no longer have a moral base (1)

Via_Patrino (702161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746525)

Exclusive right to intelectual work, like copyright and patents, should be gave for just enough time to incentive the creation of the work.

No one can tell exactly how much time is it, and it may depend of the kind of work are you doing and how you can profit from it. But one thing is sure, with the great improvment of the communication and logistics, that time is much lower than it was when those "50/70 year" laws were created.

But the law makers still don't want to realize that.

The problem is that copyrights no longer protects inovation, as it was designed to be. Today, when the time to recover that mental investment is much lower, it majorly protects copyrights administration, that's much less concerned in inovation and diversity than in imposing to the society a specific work they hold copyrights.

"Society may give an exclusive right to the profits rising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility" Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson, 1813. ME 13:333

Re:Whats the problem? (1)

vandoravp (709954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746543)

The idea is to show people that they can at least have a reasonable chance of making money off of a creation. Without copyright, anyone could then undercut you and prevent you making anything off of it. If that happened you'd probably give up and switch to something with a better payout. The original law had a much shorter term (14 years I believe, don't quote me on that) which seems more than reasonable, though nowadays that should probably be lessened, I think. By expiring, it forces the creator to not rely it for a source of income and, since they can have some expectation of recieving money from creations, be encouraged to create something new. Also, the expiration helps innovation because, as many would agree, everything that is considered an improvement or progress is all based on something that already existed.

The current copyright durations are most certainly counter to the original intent and should (ideally in my opinion) be completely scrapped for something closer to the GPL [wikipedia.org] , or at least, as another poster said, to 2-3 years maximum.

Re:Whats the problem? (2, Insightful)

stedo (855834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746592)

the system we have now says, "Create a winner, milk it for the rest of your life."

Which amounts to an incentive to create a winner

Re:Whats the problem? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746285)

Haven't they already extended the limits on copyright to satisfy Disney's desire to retain control over a certain cartoon mouse?

Re:Whats the problem? (2, Informative)

cei (107343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746490)

The article is on British copyright law regarding audio recordings specifically.

Re:Whats the problem? (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746287)

The problem is... I must getting really fricking old since I have a copy of that album....

Re:Whats the problem? (0, Offtopic)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746309)

Are the Beatles going to be the next Mickey Mouse?

Speaking of beatles, why wasn't this submitted by * * Beatles Beatles?

Oh, and check out "The Grey Album" it's a remix of The Beatles by DJ Danger Mouse. http://www.illegal-art.org/audio/grey.html [illegal-art.org] The site has a torrent link on it, but you can find http mirrors through google.

Re:Whats the problem? (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746416)

Can you please explain the appeal of the grey album to me? I listenend to it and it didnt do much for me.

Re:Whats the problem? (4, Interesting)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746476)

I'd like to see some rich dude state the following in his will:
- Use all the billions of dollars left in the estate to buy the rights to as much music as possible
- Re-release all that music under a Creative Commons licence, allowing full use (essentially setting it FREE!!!)
- Set up a P2P sharing network to allow those CC hits to be shared, and request donations per track (suggesting 5c per song), Also have Google ads embedded in the app (just tiny ones)
- Use the donations and ad-funds to generate more $$$ to buy the rights to more music
- Repeat from step 2

BTW. The above is patent pending...

US copyright will be extended by then (2, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746229)

It's highly likely that copyright in the USA will be extended again by then. History tells me that much.

Re:US copyright will be extended by then (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746241)

Yes, as long as we have huge recording companies, we will have copyright that lasts FOREVER....
Personally, i welcome our MPAA overlords.... not!

Re:US copyright will be extended by then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746265)

careful, don't let them hear you say that

Don't even need the US congress! (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746314)

It's highly likely that copyright in the USA will be extended again by then. History tells me that much.

You don't even need the US congress! I got an email just today:

e><t3nd y0ur c0pyr1ghts!

Mexican pharmacy can provide you with all meds you are need of! Get more satisfactions! Fast and descreet deliverie!

That gives them seven years... (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746230)

To get the laws changed. More than enough time. Ask Disney.

Re:That gives them seven years... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746383)

The problem is, they were so heavy handed recently with the DMCA, and heavy handed action against file sharers, that they've turned a lot of people against copyright. It's a lot harder to justify an extension on the grounds that everyone's for it when you have a lot of people who are reasonably organised and informed telling you that it's a bad idea. The dogmatic matra of the media cartels doesn;t work so well when you have people willing to point out how wrong it is.

What is the Problem Here? (1)

C-Diddy (755183) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746242)

Is it the copyright law as it now stands, or is it that the work of the Beatles specifically is in question? Does their work somehow present a "problem" because it is considered by the poster to be more important than someone else's work?

Re:What is the Problem Here? (3, Informative)

fLameDogg (866748) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746301)

It's a "problem" to the interests that currently make lots of money off the Beatles in particular. As the article points out, most works of the era (actually it mentions slightly older works, already free of copyright) are of little or no value. This isn't about preserving artists' rights at all, it's about "the industry" hanging on to a few sacred cash cows as long as possible--and the Beatles are among the cowiest.

Re:What is the Problem Here? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746369)

Is it the copyright law as it now stands, or is it that the work of the Beatles specifically is in question? Does their work somehow present a "problem" because it is considered by the poster to be more important than someone else's work?

The Beatles themselves, and perhaps Paul in particular, knew there was money in the catalog of songs, but nothing like the amount brought in by performances. Sales of recordings and sheet music are typically small potatoes compared to touring stadiums and playing to crowds of tens of thousands who paid dearly for tickets.

Re:What is the Problem Here? (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746529)

What a novel idea: Paying a musical perfomer to PERFORM MUSIC!

If this idea takes off, all the studio groomed 'pop' performers are screwed. (Yay!)

Who owns the song? (3, Informative)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746249)

And the artists? This one doesn't even seem to affect them.

Naturally - they still hold the copyright on the lyrics and music. So the performance moves into the public domain, but that doesn't mean nearly as much as the copyright status of the lyrics and music. Nobody will be performing songs from "Please Please Me" for free. But royalty payments for the album itself will dry up.

Of course, a lot can happen in seven years.

-h-

Re:Who owns the song? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746340)

nonsense. You don't know what you are talking about.

Re:Who owns the song? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746363)

Naturally - they still hold the copyright on the lyrics and music.

Well, actually, Michael Jackson and Sony [snopes.com] own the copyrights on most of the Beatles' music.

So, when the copyright extension issue comes up, ask this: "Do you want to put more money in the pockets of a man who sleeps with little boys?"

Re:Who owns the song? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746378)

Oh, please! Why attack Michael!

You could just as easily have said something about a company who roots you're machine when you listen to Yesterday. Or something about wanting to buy songs on iTunes but can't because Sony doesn't play well with others.

Re:Who owns the song? (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746390)

Well, actually, Michael Jackson and Sony own the copyrights on most of the Beatles' music.

They own the copyrights of the performances, not of the lyrics and music.

And, for what it's worth, it looks like Sony will own MJ's half of the catalog soon.

-h-

Re:Who owns the song? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746570)

No, Michael Jackson and Sony do in fact own the publishing rights to most of the Beatles catalog (aka, music and lyrics). This includes sheet music, printing of lyrics, and royalties for covers performed.

Re:Who owns the song? (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746521)

That is really sad. I wish it was the other way around. An album sounds and performs just as good today as when it was released. Can the beatles ever perform again? Impossible. I wish other muscians could benefit from performing their work without royalties. If this was true you would see a bunch of creative use of their music.

They think no one will like the Beatles (3, Funny)

LiftOp (637065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746262)

...in 95 years. Or, perhaps, the very selfish assume they will be dead and no longer receiving royalties.

Just wait. The Bottled Head of Paul McCartney's gonna be pissed!

Not "owners" (4, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746263)

Please, stop using the words "owner", owns" etc. when you're talking about copyright and similar things. For that matter, please stop talking about "intellectual property", too - there is nothing here that's property or being owned.

What copyright *is* is a time-limited monopoly granted by the state, with the expectation that you will use this incentive to create stuff that society as a whole benefits from; it's not and never was supposed to be a never-ending money making machine.

Using words like "property" and "own" to describe copyright just reinforces the (wrong) idea that copyrights should not ever run out in the minds of the general, uninformed public.

Re:Not "owners" (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746399)

But "owner", "owns" and "property" are pretty good words to use to describe intellectual property. For example:

From "I don't own this apple" I can deduce "I don't have the right to give this apple to my friend"

Similarly from "I don't own this music" I can deduce "I don't have the right to give this music to my friend"

There is a wide range of analogous statements where ordinary intuitions about your taboo words carry over and give reliable intuitions about IP. Admittedly we have problem cases like:

"I took this apple from you" implies "You no longer have this apple" but not
"I took this music from you" imples "You no longer have this music".

But we do have
"If you grow an apple I'll take it from you without paying" implies "You aren't going to be quite as motivated to grow apples" as well as
"If you make some music I'll take it from you without paying" imples "You aren't going to be quite as motivated to make music".

The correspondence works so well most of the time that it seems entirely reasonable, at least to me, to talk of ownership and property.

Re:Not "owners" (3, Insightful)

egburr (141740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746516)

Similarly from "I don't own this music" I can deduce "I don't have the right to give this music to my friend"

Wrong. From "I don't own this music, but I do own this copy of the music" I can deduce "I have the right to give this copy of the music to my friend, but I do not have the right to copy it and keep a copy when I give it to my friend. I also have the right to let my friend listen to my copy of this music. I also have the right to let my friend borrow my copy of this music. I also have the right to sell my copy of this music for whatever price I set if I can find someone willing to pay that price."

Re:Not "owners" (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746520)

If you completely fail to distinguish between apples and data, then your argument is sound. Since apples and data differ in a fundamental way (you can't really copy an apple), your argument is not sound.

Giving an idea to somebody else doesn't take it away from you.

Re:Not "owners" (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746595)

Giving an idea to somebody else doesn't take it away from you.
I addressed this point explicitly. The correspondence isn't perfect but it seems good enough to me.

Re:Not "owners" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746410)

Using your reasoning, there is no such thing as property. Real property, personal property, only exist as a concept because the state allows it to exist.

Nice going comrade.

Congress calls them "copyright owners" (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746414)

Please, stop using the words "owner", owns" etc. when you're talking about copyright and similar things.

Precise discussion about law uses words defined in the letter of the law. The statute in question, 17 USC 101 [copyright.gov] et seq., defines and uses the phrase "copyright owner".

Re:Not "owners" (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746457)

since it is granted by congress, and congress use the term Intellectual Property to describe Patens, Copyright and trademark, it is in fact, a proper term.
Point in fact, copyright does state that one owns the rights to that work. So yes, owned and owns are perfectly valid.

"with the expectation that you will use this incentive to create stuff that society as a whole benefits from;"
incorrect.
It is a way for the creater to make money for a limited time. Releasing it back to the public domain is what enhances the creative opportunities of society.

" it's not and never was supposed to be a never-ending money making machine."

correct.

OTOH, if it is considered property, should we add a property tax to it?

Re:Not "owners" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746466)

Please, stop using the words "owner", owns" etc. when you're talking about copyright and similar things. For that matter, please stop talking about "intellectual property", too - there is nothing here that's property or being owned.

Wrong. The copyright IS owned, as are patents & trademarks. They can be bought, sold, rented or leased as the owner sees fit. Similarly, I can buy, sell, rent or lease a drill. A drill is property. The fact that copyright expires after a period of time doesn't mean it wasn't owned in the first place. Using the words "intellectual property" make it clear that you aren't talking about real property - I think it's convenient.

What copyright *is* is a time-limited monopoly granted by the state, with the expectation that you will use this incentive to create stuff that society as a whole benefits from; it's not and never was supposed to be a never-ending money making machine.

True. Nothing in that statement contradicts ownership.

Using words like "property" and "own" to describe copyright just reinforces the (wrong) idea that copyrights should not ever run out in the minds of the general, uninformed public.

The public (generally) doesn't have a problem with ownership of copyright. The public has a problem with a dramatic expansion of the rights that go along with copyright, and the draconian penalties for infringement that are far out of proportion to the harm caused by infringment.

Re:Not "owners" (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746530)

You are entirely right.

It's amazing how we went from 'holder' to the ivory tower of 'owner'.

Copyright is not enumerated by the constitution as a permanent property right, though others would like to create one in their minds.

The other posts above are tools for those who want to endlessly extend copyrights. The public needs to demand that they receive something in return for granting of the *temporary* monopoly, rather than giving a free handout to people who are not even the original artists.

No matter how much they plead, cajole, or lobby.

Re:Not "owners" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746576)

Copyright is not enumerated by the constitution as a permanent property right, though others would like to create one in their minds.

True, but the constitution only recognizes some rights. It is not an exhaustive list of all rights. The fact that something is not in the constitution doesn't mean it isn't legal, moral or ethical.

Duration (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746264)

While consumers stand to benefit from competing releases of the materials, the copyright owners are of course terrified. And the artists? This one doesn't even seem to affect them."

Which is one of the reasons Disney was among those who fought tooth and nail to get copyrights extended to 70 years after the creator's death. Now they've re-acquired the rights to the first character Walt created and lost to someone else, back when he was paying his own dues.

Of course it's rarely the dead guy who cares about making more money, it's those who feel some eternal sense of entitlement.

Just imagine where we'd be if Mozart's works were still held by his heirs. Back in his day after the initial performance works fell to the public domain, which was to encourage the creator to be more productive. Now we have a system where the same tired crap gets dragged out for years and years and someone build theme parks around it.

When was the last time Mickey Mouse actually appeared in an original cartoon or film?

Re:Duration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746300)

Last year. Called "Twice upon a Christmas."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424279/ [imdb.com]

Re:Duration (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746328)

Last year. Called "Twice upon a Christmas."

Took them long enough. Throughout my entire childhood they made zilch and I was trying to figure out for the longest time what the association was between the company and the mouse.

I grew up with Bugs and Daffy, which eventually saw later life through tiny-toons or something like that.

Re:Duration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746344)

In the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
ok smart guy, you tell me then! :P

Re:Duration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746440)

Kingdom Hearts

New Energy Source (1)

jack_csk (644290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746268)

Don't worry about the artists. In fact, at least Paul will roll in his grave by then - and we get a new energy source. :-)

It's essential that this happen. (5, Insightful)

Overneath42 (905500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746275)

Limited copyright is an essential element to maintaining a consistent creative human spirit. By allowing works to be protected for a limited amount of time, the artist can comfortably turn some profit on their creation. But by allowing that protection to lapse, another creator can pick up the work of the original artist and manipulate it, turning it into something different. The whole of human creativity depends on building upon the works of others.

It's pretty frightening to think about the incredible lengths that IP holders are going to these days to increase the length of copyright ever further, all in the name of limited, short-term profits. They represent an immeasurable threat. Think about it: if copyright never expired, where would the motivation to innovate come from? There would be none, if you could indefinitely profit from one or two ideas.

Free Culture [amazon.com] by Lawrence Lessig has some very enlightened analysis on this subject.

Re:It's essential that this happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746402)

"Limited copyright is an essential element to maintaining a consistent creative human spirit."

In my opinion, the human spirit seems to have been consistently more creative prior to the existence of limited copyright (but limited copyright has been around for such a short time and the creativity of the human spirit is hard to measure across time so who can really tell). Limited copyright is a tool in a particular model of business. Leave the human spirit out of it.

i agree (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746471)

phrased another way: extending the length of ip creates a little more financial wealth at the expense of a much greater amount of cultural wealth

irrationally long terms of copyright extension creates a situation where a company gets a few more bucks, and our entire culture suffers for the sake of that

common sense copyright periods is a balance between the need to reward innovators, and the need to provide future innovators with material to work with

the current ip environment is shortsighted in that it destroys our culture for the sake of financial greed

Re:It's essential that this happen. (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746541)

Although I don't believe in copyright at all, I would like to point out that even if a copyright is given forever it doesn't mean that profit on a single idea would continue indefinitely. The motivation to make a NEW idea is still there, its just going to come from someone else.

It's already begun (2, Interesting)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746281)

This year marks fifty years since Elvis' performance of Heartbreak Hotel [wikipedia.org] was released. It's not like this comes as some sudden surprise, though - recall the dozens of Elvis re-release compilations a few years back? Expect the same treatment for all the sixties classics in the next few years, as every last cent of cash is wrung out of them before they're finally, grudgingly handed over to the public domain.

Try 2057 in the States (2, Interesting)

gvibes (579654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746286)

Please Please Me was published in 1963 - that would make the expiration of the copyright in 2057 in the States, right?

OTOH, the point is likely moot anyway, as copyright will be retroactively extended as soon as Mickey Mouse starts getting near entering the public domain again. Damn you Sonny Bono!!! Oh...

Probably the most logical POV on the subject yet (2, Interesting)

TheAxeMaster (762000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746292)

I like how they did that thing that news is supposed to do, you know, where they tell the whole story, without the spin. Anyone in the US remember that? no?

50 years still seems like a lot to me. I don't see how it would need to extend past maybe 25-30 years. There are very few bands that are still active at that point and even if they are, they make money from concerts still, reguardless of CD sales. If the record label hasn't sucked enough money out of the general public in 30 years, the band wasn't good enough to begin with.

Copyrights won't expire in the U.S. (2, Interesting)

yorktown (947019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746307)

According to this [keytlaw.com] , pre-1978 works had their copyright extended to 95 years from the date the copyright was first secured. This was done via the 'Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act". Why would works copyrighted in the 1950's or 1960's be expiring in the next decade?

Copyrights Never Die in America (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746332)

US copyright law does not apply to the EU, or to International Copyright Law.

We have a never-expiring copyright.

Luckily for me, when I published stuff years ago in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, I sent a copy to the US Library of Congress, so my copyright will never die.

Now if I could just do something about patenting my own genome, I'd be set.

Re:Copyrights Never Die in America (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746480)

So how does all this work internationally, then? Does this mean that in 2013, in the U.S., I'll be able to legally copy an import of "Please Please Me"? Or that if I'm in the U.K., I'll be able to copy any copy of "Please Please Me", regardless of origin? Or some other variation?

Re:Copyrights Never Die in America (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746513)

So how does all this work internationally, then? Does this mean that in 2013, in the U.S., I'll be able to legally copy an import of "Please Please Me"? Or that if I'm in the U.K., I'll be able to copy any copy of "Please Please Me", regardless of origin? Or some other variation?

No, it means that in 2013, you can go to an EU country and make a legal copy of the Beatles song, and not pay royalties.

But if you make it or sell it in the USA, you'll be liable for royalties.

Not to worry, I'll have patented your genome too by that point, and start charging you royalties if you have any kids ...

Re:Copyrights won't expire in the U.S. (1)

tomjen (839882) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746366)

The Beatles is a British (ans in England, Europe) and united states law does not (yet) mean anything here.

the summary says it all .. (2, Insightful)

joeyspqr (629639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746320)

what about the rights of individuals and citizens to transmit their culture? (aka 'media' or 'IP' - you know, the stuff that gets copyrighted)

wait ... i'm not a citizen, i'm a consumer/taxpayer

i exist to provide revenue streams for corporations and governments ... which no longer exist to fulfill social needs like useful goods or services, but to perpetuate their own power

Damn you Marx !! How could you let us down like this ??!!


/rant

long week in the cubicle forest. i'll shut up and go home now ... and drown my angst with ... consumption

Re:the summary says it all .. (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746396)

wait ... i'm not a citizen, i'm a consumer/taxpayer

...and a terrorist suspect..

Compromise (4, Interesting)

Tlosk (761023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746323)

The most reasonable compromise I've seen suggested is to have them expire by default, but allow extensions for a fee. Making available all the out of print works that would languish in obscurity otherwise, while still allowing the truely valuable properties to continue.

But I would like to suggest one further refinement that would make it fair, any application for extension would automatically make ownership revert to the original creator or their heirs. Forty or fifty years ago when the rights were signed away it was under a framework that the rights were of limited duration. If they are going to continue in perpetuity, then fair selling price needs to be renegotiated.

Re:Compromise (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746441)

That's a terrible compromise--only unwanted crap gets into the public domain? Surely the public interest would be better served if the good stuff gets into the public domain?

Re:Compromise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746443)

Compromise, shmompromise. Copyright is the compromise. Copyright in essence is saying "Look, we like this stuff, and we want you to make more of it. But what you produce is very very easy to copy. So, in order to keep you making enough money to make this stuff for a living, we're gonna give you a limited time to control how your work is copied."

Somewhere along the line people got convinced that copyright was actually a right and not a social contract, and now we have people suggesting compromises when the system is already overfair for the copyright holder.

Re:Compromise (4, Interesting)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746473)

The most reasonable compromise I've seen suggested is to have them expire by default, but allow extensions for a fee. Making available all the out of print works that would languish in obscurity otherwise, while still allowing the truely valuable properties to continue.

I agree, but where do we place the price point? Even if it's a million dollars a year, giant corporations like Disney will gladly pony up.

I propose that once the copyrights expire (no more than 35 years after initial publication), the fee to renew for one year is $1.00. Then the fee doubles for every year after that.

So if Disney wanted to extend copyrights an additional 35 years, they would be paying $2^33, or $8.5 billion, for the 35th year. That doesn't even count the $4.3 billion they paid for the 34th year, or the $2.2 billion they paid for the 33rd year, or...

Nothing like exponential math to "promote productivity." Hey, we might even reduce the national debt!

Re:Compromise (1)

iphayd (170761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746533)

I like the idea of a fee. I like the idea of a sliding fee better...

50% of all revenue made from the work during its copyright to date. And that extends it for 10 years or so, then you have to pay it again, updated for the revenues of the previous ten years, of course.

It becomes a gamble, then... Can I make more than 50% of what I did in the last 28 years in the next ten years? If not, there is no reason for a company to hoarde what should be considered the pubic's right.

It gives a financial reason to allow items to move into Public Domain.

Re:Compromise (1)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746567)

Erm, I don't think you follow what copyright is for. It isn't about reimbursing creators (although that could be considered a positive side effect). It is about encouraging creation of new works that enhance the cultural heritage of a nation via enhancement of the public domain.

Copyright is already a compromise. Copyright admits that more works will be produced (eventually enhancing the public domain) if artists can eat, have a room over thier heads, etc by artificially giving monetary value to the work by restricting other individuals access to the aforementioned work.

If you make it so copyright can be extended indefinitely you defeat the whole point of copyright by preventing work from entering the public domain.

The founding principles here are that people have a right to access thier cultural heritage, and that it is proper to do as much as reasonably possible to enhance that cultural heritage. Result, you balance one against the other through reasonable copyright terms. Artists get to eat, and in a limited period of time people get access to the resulting cultural developments.

So what is reasonable? How about between 10 and 20 years? Life plus 70 seems a very excessive to me. You are not incentivising a dead man to produce art. In fact by preventing work entering the public domain you are stopping derivative works (impeding further enhancement of a nations cultural heritage) and encouraging 'one hit wonders' who produce one good work and stop because they, and thier children are set up for life. As far as I'm concerned that wasn't part of the plan.

Why is copyright assignable? (4, Insightful)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746326)

The Constitution reserves for Congress the power to secure "for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

A lot of copyright problems would obviated if this were enforced as written. The Beatles' works for instance would be controlled by Sir Paul and Ringo. Mickey Mouse would be in the public domain because his inventor and author is dead. Bands, not labels, would control their music. Inventors, not IP holding corporations, would control their inventions.

You cannot sign away your inherent legal rights--no matter how many contracts I sign with you, it does not allow you to act fraudulently or negligently toward. Imagine if copyright worked the same way--if it were illegal to sign away your copyright. A lot of bullshit would be avoided IMO.

Re:Why is copyright assignable? (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746405)

amen.

Imagine if copyright worked the same way (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746422)

Well I'd be out of a job. My employer would see no reason to pay me for something that they have no right to and that I could simply give to a competitor whenever I wanted.

Re:Imagine if copyright worked the same way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746581)

Or would they pay you more to insure you did not leave and take your works away. After all how would they have anything to sell in the first place if nobody was creating.

Re:Why is copyright assignable? (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746498)

But also lots of stuff wouldn't been made either. It would work for things where it's reasonable to assume one person or a very small group of people can create something (like music, books, paintings), but it would be a huge nightmare if this would apply to things where hundreds of people participate. For example a movie like Shrek, imagine if a couple of modellers own the copyright of the Shrek model, but other own the copyright of the Donkey one... it would be a huge legal nightmare trying to negotiate the rights for something even as simple as a poster or even a commercial. IMHO, Copyright law has lots of things wrong, but the part of being able to sell ownership of something's copyright, or the fact that if you do something under contract, the copyright falls on the contractor (or whatever is it that it's called in english) aren't some of them.

Consumers vs. IP holders my foot! (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746351)

This about those who would treat copyright as a pure property right vs. those who don't. Almost everybody who wants copyright treated as a pure property right doesn't create anything. They are a publisher or corporation who aggregates the copyrights of all its employees, or some other entity concerned with the accumulation of coprights.

Accumulating an asset that has a built in time when it becomes utterly worthless is a very unpleasant proposition. It is much nicer and more convenient to treat the asset as some sort of durable good like a box of bolts or something. In fact, copyright has the potential for being the perfect asset since it doesn't decay at all!

But, the people who do create know that being able to create relies on a rich environment of ideas to draw from. Treating copyrights as a pure asset destroys that environment and creates an environment where the only things that get created are those the primary holders of copyrights are willing to allow to be created.

It really irritates me when I see the word 'consumer' when I hear talk about copyrights. There are no 'consumers', there are people. Everybody writes things and says stuff, and many people sing or dance or make up silly lyrics or any number of things.

This isn't about 'consumers', those incredibly dumb entities that eat products and shit cash. Casting it as that kind of a fight is inane.

oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746371)

Someone owns the Internet Protocol now?

Yes, its me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746417)

Now pay up. ^^

What did you call me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746372)

I wish people would stop using the term "consumer" as a synonym for "people". A lot of people, including myself, think of the term "consumer" is insulting. It's like using the term "idiots" for "people".

In this case, using the would consumer is pointless anyways. When these works move into Public Domain, it is no longer a matter of consumption. It's a matter of something becoming part of a culture. It's like saying that people who read Leaves of Grass are spend-a-holics.

Drowning in media (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746391)

I wonder if short copyright terms hurt other artists (i.e., not those whose copyright has lapsed) in indirect ways.

To me, the current world is drowning in media and choice. In many ways, media consumption is a zero-sum game. I can only listen for so many hours per day. Current iPods hold upwards of 1,000 hours of music -- you can listen for 8 hours a day and only hear the same song 3 times a year if you want. This massive supply of music makes each track less valuable.

Think of it this way. When my iPod has 15,000 songs, is the 15,001st song worth that much? For the most part that 15,001st song must be worth far less than $0.99 and maybe less than a penny. Sure, I may have a few hot favs that command a premium but, by and large, an iPod's worth of music provides all the fresh (or relatively fresh to me, that is) music that I could ever hope to listen to.

Short copyright terms help flood the market with large volumes of cheap music and current recording artists will find themselves competing against inexpensive copies of old, great songs.

As a consumer, I want music to be plentiful and cheap. In contrast, an artist wants music (including music created by others) to be rare and expensive.

Re:Drowning in media (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746568)

yes cheap and beatiful old art raises standards and not many can compete against it. but if the artist is good enough he will survive and more likely flourish. we will not get crappy music all the time. what you are saying is that in order for not-so-good artist to survive, we should keep good old art expensive and away from the hands of people.

try making similar arguments for civil engineers and bridges/buildings/roads. or any tangible physical human creation for that matter.

Legitimate points (4, Funny)

blibbler (15793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746436)

I know that there will be a lot of anti-recording industry comments on here, but it is clear that their main interest in extending the copyright period is to protect us from low quality Beatles compilations. Consider the irreversable damage that could be caused to children if their first experience of the Beatles has the songs in a less than ideal order.
Please think of the children.

So what do the beatles have to say about it? (2, Insightful)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746438)

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

This is stupid! (1)

barefootgenius (926803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746448)

The Beatles don't own the copyright to their works. As far as I know, Michael Jackson does (Goggled it, but found no other owners).

At the moment you can't find pieces of music because they are under copyright but it's not worth printing more CD's. I would make the statement that huge amounts of music are disappearing off the face of society but I can't, because I don't know of something that isn't there. How many pre-1950 vinyl has been released on the P2P networks...a little. By the time the Beatles will be released onto the networks most of the uncopyrighted performances will have died (lost, damaged, etc....) and we will end up in the same situation as with classical music where the music isn't copyrighted but the performance by the blah, blah, blah orchestra is and thats the only one you can obtain.

Re:This is stupid! (1)

rjmars97 (946970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746519)

it appears that Michael Jackson owns the publishing rights to the lyrics, not the entire songs. assuming this page is still accurate 10 years later: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a951027.html/ [straightdope.com]

michael jackson (2, Informative)

rjmars97 (946970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746503)

doesn't Michael Jackson own the publishing rights to the Beatles lyrics? so its not just Paul McCartney that has a stake in trying to extend the copyrights

Lifetime copyrights, or equivalent (1)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746510)

I don't know why it's so hard to conceive of a system wherein a created work is owned by the creator until their death, or ten years, whichever is longer (so that the heirs of an artist who suffers an untimely death less than ten years after releasing a work can still reap some benefit.)

The Corruption of Copyright Law (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746528)



In 1790 Congress passed the Copyright Act, which set the period of a copyright at 14 years, with the opportunity for the original author to renew for a second 14 years if he was still alive. This law existed unchanged for the next 100 years. The feeling of the original lawmakers, who were, incidentally, the same people who wrote the Constitution for the most part, was that copyrights and patents encourage authorship, science, and industry by providing a limited monopoly to authors and inventors. This monopoly was required to expire after a short time so that the public could then reap the benefits of these new works in their turn. There was, therefore, a balance between the good of encouraging authorship and invention with a limited monopoly, and the good of public ownership after a short period of time.

Since 1890 Congress has seen fit to extend the term of a copyright eleven times. It has gone from a maximum of 28 years in 1790 to the life of the author plus 70 years currently, or 95 years if the ownership is corporate. The issue that prompted congress to enact all of these extensions had nothing at all to do with encouraging invention, art, or science, and everything to do with the fact that valuable corporate properties such as the copyright for Micky Mouse were due to expire. The clear and unequivocal result of this Congressional effort is that the public suffers by not being able to freely access and use works that would have long since become public property under the intent of the constitutional framers . . . and the corporate copyright owners maintain their lucrative legal monopolies. There is no question at all of public benefit here, only corporate subsidies at public expense.

http://breakthelink.org/Costs.php [breakthelink.org]

Re:The Corruption of Copyright Law (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746594)

I'm not sure which is more sad - the fact that the copyright has been extended so many times, or that consumers are stupid enough to continue paying for the material (I'm not advocating copyright infringement, I'm merely suggesting that people keep their money, and let the copyright "owners" keep their material).

Public Geo Data (2, Informative)

NumbThumb (468496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746546)

On a related note: if you are in the EU (and maybe even if you are not), you may want to sign the petition for public geo data [publicgeodata.org] . Apperently, there is a proposal [inspire.jrc.it] considered by the EU that would make geo data collected by public agencies no longer free to use.

Waive copyright (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746586)

I don't really see why folks are so bent out of shape about copyright when we already live in a world where all of the decisions regarding producing and consuming copyrighted material are voluntary.

As a content producer, I am free to waive copyright on anything I produce. As a content consumer, I am free to avoid copyrighted material. Nobody is being compelled to do anything they do not want to do.
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