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Intellectual Property Manifesto for the UK

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the countdown-to-quashed-in-3-2-1 dept.

238

feepcreature writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the British Library has published a Manifesto calling for a balance in Intellectual Property rights between the interests of users, creators and publishers. There are 6 key recommendations, including: DRM should not override users' statutory rights; analogue rights should apply to digital media; and copyright terms should not be extended without evidence that this would be good for society. There is also part of the debate on the UK Government's Gowers review of Intellectual Property, due to report in the Autumn."

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238 comments

DRM in the UK (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16288187)

So who are the DRM pushing companies in the UK?

Re:DRM in the UK (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16288403)

Oh, it's not about what companies are pushing DRM. No, see this is a library taking the fight to the copyright industry preemptively. They've seen how the movie and music industry is going after P2P services, and they know that they're next.

All this "sharing" stuff - don't you know that denying companies their deserved profit is stealing?! Think of those poor starving authors whose work you borrowed from the library instead of buying it! Thieving old gradmas, reading books for free! There should be a law I tells ya!

(Note for the humour impaired: The preceding was not serious, and should not be read if you are sarcasm deficient. Warning: Sarcasm should not be taken internally).

Re:DRM in the UK (4, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288703)

But it was a good question: the companies are the same companies as elsewhere, both US and multi-national. Sony, Disney, Samsung, and other companies interested in DRM protecting their digital investment help prevent what folks in the US call "fair rights" use.

These desires for DRM are supported heavily by Microsoft, which wants to protect its software licenses and prevent other software from writing or even reading the private formats they use, especially for "personally encrypted" files. The whole field of DRM is about to get much worse with the "Trusted Computing" software program, led by Microsoft, which locks software and media to a specific motherboard's encryption and authentication chip, and which will als be built into the next generation of AMD and Intel CPU's. These tools are aimed squarely at preventing duplication of digital media, and create a real burden for making backup or archival copies of these media. They also specifically restrict the authorized software tools to play these media, making "fair use" sampling or even using other non-specifically licensed players very difficult.

The libraries of the world are quite right to be concerned about this.

Re:DRM in the UK (2, Informative)

Ngwenya (147097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289321)

These desires for DRM are supported heavily by Microsoft, which wants to protect its software licenses and prevent other software from writing or even reading the private formats they use, especially for "personally encrypted" files. The whole field of DRM is about to get much worse with the "Trusted Computing" software program, led by Microsoft, which locks software and media to a specific motherboard's encryption and authentication chip,

Well, hold on a sec. Microsoft has a vision for its Windows system as a home media platform - not a home computing platform. Each new version of Windows angles straight for this goal - to remove the open nature of computing, in favour of a trustworthy media consumption platform. Now, if the studios were happy to trust MS in this regard, DRM would never have happened. MS have no incentive to develop and maintain a mathematical impossibility. But the content producers will simply not produce for computer platforms unless a sufficiently robust anti copying technology is present in the system. Hence MS have no option but to invest in DRM. And since the obnoxiousness of the DMCA and EUCD came to pass, the odious nature of DRM has multiplied.

Now, as for TC related activity - there's a lot of nonsense talked about this, and I don't have time to go into it right now. TPMs are neither good nor bad. They are simply a way for the owner of the platform to measure the integrity of his/her platform, and to attest that integrity to a remote verifier. That's all it can do. The key here is the word "owner". Vista and friends are very much interested in separating the role of computer and platform owner into that of computer owner and platform licensee. As a licensee, you end up surrendering some ownership rights to MS. But fundamentally, if you control the hardware, you also control the mechanism for verifying any result. A Linux machine running with a TPM has several advantages over one which doesn't - and the TPM won't enforce one damn bit of DRM unless the platform owner wants it to.

BTW, I can't believe I inadvertently backed Microsoft in a /. post. I'll go and flay some skin from my back by way of mea culpa

--Ng

Re:DRM in the UK (3, Informative)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289457)

Now, as for TC related activity - there's a lot of nonsense talked about this, and I don't have time to go into it right now. TPMs are neither good nor bad. They are simply a way for the owner of the platform to measure the integrity of his/her platform, and to attest that integrity to a remote verifier.


If you're running Windows, your no longer the owner of the system.

TPM could be a good thing in the hands of, say, a Linux or *BSD developer. That would be nice on a server.

Re:DRM in the UK (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289035)

Does it matter? Considering all of Britannia is now a colony of the United States (Tony Blair's obedience to the United States in invading Iraq proved this), any UK "tea party" action is for nought. Just be happy you can still buy music of your choice. Before too long the conservatives in America will be banning any non-Christian media throughout the empire. The ultimate DRM is the bible.

Life + 70 years (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288199)

All that is well and good. We (the communal 'we', not the 'we' as in you Limeys) should of course be allowed to retain the same rights to content and media as was available before they became digital. Digital, as they say in their very first point, is not really different fundamentally than any other publishing medium, and therefore the rights extended to non-digital content should also be extended to digital content.

The real point I was struck by was how they still hold on to the belief that copyright must last "life+70 years". That can easily last over 100 years of copyright, bestowing on heirs of the creator the benefits of his hard work. This does not incent those heirs to do any creating and only pools the money in their pockets while simultaneously making poor the common intellectual property pool.

a (age) + p (plus 70) = t (too freaking long)

What we need is an ool. Notice there's no 'p' in it.

Agree and disagree (4, Interesting)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288249)

Agree: "The life+70 years term is ludicrous. "To believe that anything beyond lifetime copyright impacts the incentive structure of creators takes some serious suspension of disbelief.

Disagree: "Going non-digital to digital changes nothing." It does - high-grade, repeated copying becomes a lot more easy and economical with digital media, often at near zero cost. This has two effects, pushing in different directions:

1. Immense possible benefit to consumers. You can get lots of high-quality stuff for almost nothing!

2. Immense possible harm to producers. If people are just copying your content free of charge, it's going to eat into your profits in most likely scenarios. In some scenarios, you might cease production entirely, or shift towards more difficult-to-copy formats.

Depending on your preferences, it's very likely that you will be wanting to rebalance copyright, one way or the other (more lenient, more strict), due to the adoption of digital media.

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16288281)

2. Immense possible harm to producers. If people are just copying your content free of charge, it's going to eat into your profits in most likely scenarios. In some scenarios, you might cease production entirely, or shift towards more difficult-to-copy formats.

Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of production.

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288433)

That should read: "Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of reproduction."
The cost to produce the first copy will still exist.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288583)

And as such is the only cost you need cover, so what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288979)

>And as such is the only cost you need cover, so
>what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?

The same right that anyone has to price what they sell at whatever price they like. As long as the information on what you sell is correct and good, you can basically ask for any price you want, there is no law forbiding you to charge more than the development cost.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289019)

I think he means, "What right do you have to complain you are not getting MORE then you put in".

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289231)

Ohh, well, true. If you feel you get to little for what you pay the answer is of course to not buy at all. Of course, in some cases there are legal alternatives were you can pay less or even nothing at all. One such example is to buy second hand.

Re:Agree and disagree (3, Insightful)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289283)

"One such example is to buy second hand."

Except buying a lot of digital goods second hand is going to become next to impossible as they get tied to USERS rather than being tied to a physical product like a CD or DVD.

Re:Agree and disagree (0, Flamebait)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289405)

>Except buying a lot of digital goods second hand is going
>to become next to impossible as they get tied to USERS rather
>than being tied to a physical product like a CD or DVD.

So? Untie them first! It is very hard to tie a non service to a person. One can argue that companies want to sell everything as services instead, on the other hand, if there is a damnd for selling goods, there will be those that offer it, buy that. However, the topic of discussion was the price of a product, not its availability.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289233)

I think he means, "What right do you have to complain you are not getting MORE then you put in".

If you don't get more than you put in, you don't eat. This is not generally considered a sensible move.

He might have meant "what right do you have to complain that you are not getting a LOT more than you put in". The thing there is that these companies are putting a lot into a lot of products, and with many of those products they get out a lot LESS than they put in. So if they don't make significant profits on their popular products, they still come out losing money.

It's pretty simple. If you want commercial products, you have to make it worth people's while to produce products on a commercial basis, and that means buying things for significantly more than they cost to make.

If you don't want commercial products, there are plenty of people giving their work away for free - though the fact that they need a day job to make ends meet means that they will never have the leisure to explore their full creative potential.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289107)

Sure, you can charge anything you want.. for services that *you* offer.. but I'm the one making the copy here. Copyright gives you the power to discourage me from making that copy, forcing people to come to you to get copies. That's the bullshit.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289265)

>Sure, you can charge anything you want.. for services that *you* offer..

Yes, that was what you wrote and I replied to: "so what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?".

>but I'm the one making the copy here.

Ehh, so you are now talking about a case were the buyer is the one manufacturing the actual copy himself? What does that change? Nothing, the seller can still charge whatever they want. As a buyer you factor in the price you pay plus any extra cost you might have which might include many completely unrelated things such as the cost to travell to the shop just as one example.

>Copyright gives you the power to discourage me from making that copy,
>forcing people to come to you to get copies. That's the bullshit.

Ehh, a third topic not present in the oririnal post/thread. The discussion was about the cost of development, manufacturing and so on. You are now switching to the purpose of copyright to start with and appearanlty feels it is "bullshit". Fine, most tend to believe it is good in some way or form but feel the current situation is not good.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289213)

And as such is the only cost you need cover, so what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?

If the initial cost of production was $1m and you only expect to sell around 34,000 copies, how can you justify charging less than $29.95 per copy?

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288459)

Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of production.

Not really, no. But drastically lowered cost of production, zero cost of distribution and near-zero cost of marketing. These can be recouped in other ways than selling physical copies of content -- in ways that are more diverse, more resilient to technology shifts and gives more money to the real creators. No wonder the distributors are scared shitless...

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288497)

But drastically lowered cost of production

As another poster already pointed out, the initial cost of production still exists. Depending on what it is being produced, the move to a digital distribution method may have little or no impact on the cost of production (eg for a writer going from typewriter to PC isn't going to make a whole lot of difference to the amount of money they spend producing the work).

zero cost of distribution

Bandwidth is free now? Servers are free?

Cost of distribution is much lower per unit, but it most certainly is not zero.

and near-zero cost of marketing.

Why is that? Because the moment you put something on the web, google and word of mouth will do all your marketing for you? Why does going digital all-but eliminate the need to market your product?

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288987)

Bandwidth is free now? Servers are free?

Yes!

Upload it once, and all your fans will P2P it for you. You're right that the cost isn't zero, technically, but it might as well be since you're not the one who has to pay for it!

Zero distribution cost (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288477)

Well, zero cost of distribution, more like. Which is nice - but only if offical distribution (Producer sales/distribution) maintains some advantage over non-official channels. Otherwise, the distribution advantage really isn't worth much.

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288567)

"zero cost of production"

Let's take the iTMS move store, for example. I submit that the bandwidth needed to download a 1.2GB file has SOME cost, as does building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to ensure that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people can do so simultaneously.

And anytime you want to talk about delivering a million copies of anything I think you'll find the costs are far from inconsequential.

As far as that goes, I'd almost be willing to bet that once those costs are taken into account, the actual costs of delivering a movie online is perhaps only a single order of magnitude away from that of delivering a piece of plastic to a store.

The actual cost of a mass-produced disc is pennies on the dollar anyway. You pay for the content.

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288921)

According to this [postaudio.co.uk] cost breakdown, the production and marketing costs of a £12.99 CD total about £1.60. The retailer and wholesaler between them take £5.97. I couldn't find figures for a DVD but I should think they would be similar.
On a million units, that would be nearly £6 million delivery costs. I can't believe that distribution via (say) bittorrent would be only one order of magnitude cheaper then this.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289011)

Let's take the iTMS move store, for example. I submit that the bandwidth needed to download a 1.2GB file has SOME cost, as does building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to ensure that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people can do so simultaneously.

And I submit that it's their own damn fault that they think they need all that, when all they really need to do is run a BitTorrent server!

Of course, that's what happens when idiots insist on retaining imperious control over a fundamentally uncontrollable thing...

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

treskel (927405) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288387)

A group of 16 organizations of writers, artists, musicians, cartoonists and publishers has issued a statement asking the Cultural Affairs Agency to extend copyright protection from 50 years after their deaths to 70 years -- just as in Europe and North America. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060930f 2.html/ [japantimes.co.jp]

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

arose (644256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288615)

Organizations do not die.

Re:Agree and disagree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16288737)

...of writers, artists, musicians, cartoonists and publishers... asking...to extend copyright protection

And which of these will actually get any benefit from this? Not the public. None of the above either, who will be dead, except the publishers, who can milk their back catalogue without having to find new artists,

We're getting this crap in the UK for music now: the publishers claim that they won't be able to get a return on their investment if anyone can reissue 50 year old recordings and will have to stop their searching for and promoting of new artists. Those of us not versed in the intricacies of the music business naively think that if their cash cows are guaranteed to some day die, they'll have to find new ones...

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289311)

And which of these will actually get any benefit from this? Not the public. None of the above either, who will be dead

Suppose you start a business. Suppose it becomes a successful business, and you become rich. Suppose now you die.

Should the state immediately confiscate your business, and distribute its value to the general public, so that your heirs don't benefit at all from your life's work?

Well, it's quite a reasonable suggestion, isn't it? I mean, it won't hurt you. You'll be dead. And why should your heirs get something they didn't work to produce? Surely having your business snatched out of their grieving hands will merely incentivise them to start their own businesses and benefit society even more?

Funnily enough, fewer people seem to think that a reasonable proposal than snatching artists' property at, or even before, their deaths.

Amazing hypocrisy (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288397)

'it's a digital world! the rules no longer apply!"

Anyone remember hearing that? I've heard it countless times. So the old rules no longer apply when the argument suits people who trade stuff the content owners don't want traded - but wait! The old rules should apply now because.... because this new stuff makes it harder to trade stuff the content owenrs dont want traded!

Re:Agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

truedfx (802492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288509)

Agree: "The life+70 years term is ludicrous. "To believe that anything beyond lifetime copyright impacts the incentive structure of creators takes some serious suspension of disbelief.

Hmm. Would we suddenly see all sorts of mysterious deaths of authors directly after they publish their works, if the copyright on their works would immediately end? I do agree in principle, but I think a fixed duration of copyright, regardless of how long the copyright holder lives, might be better.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288741)

Oh, yes. The changes when the US eliminated the need to register copyrighted documents were quite sufficient. And given the amount and ease of creating new documents in this digital world, 20 years seems quite sufficient.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288883)

Hmm. Would we suddenly see all sorts of mysterious deaths of authors directly after they publish their works, if the copyright on their works would immediately end?

No. Why would we ? Who would derive enough benefit to be willing to trade off the punishment for (and stigma of) a pre-meditated murder conviction ?

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288595)

Digital media has nothing to do with the excessive copyright duration, and I don't see how "rebalancing" copyrights would have an impact or be impacted by digital vs. analogue or other media formats.

An active enterprise that continues to develop new products and material based on older copyrighted material should be able to extend the copyright on the character(s) involved. For example, if Disney were still producing Mickey Mouse media, it would make sense that they could extend the copyrights and trademarks to cover the new material.

But copyright as it is currently implemented in many nations does nothing but service the greed of corporate shills and do nothing to benefit the creator or their descendents.

In particular, if there is so little profit to be made from copyrighted material that the owner ceases production, the copyright should be cut short.

Perhaps instead of looking at things in terms of "life + 70 years" we should be looking at "viable marketing and sale period plus 10-20 years." If they take it off the market, they have ten years to bring it back as a new series, media, or product to try and earn additional revenue. If the owner fails to do so, the copyright falls to the public domain.

Re:Agree and disagree (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288727)

Oh, agreed. That legislation in the US was aimed squarely at protecting the Mickey Mouse copyright: Disney is a huge sponsr of such legislation, as that darned mouse gets older and older and Disney's library of old movies grows in value. Librarians I've spoken with are amazed at the difficulties current US copyright law creates for them.

The naming of rodents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289137)

Disney is a huge sponsr of such legislation, as that darned mouse gets older and older
I think the phrase you were really after was "...darned rat gets older..."

Lifetime plus some is an incentive (2, Insightful)

old man moss (863461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288969)

"To believe that anything beyond lifetime copyright impacts the incentive structure of creators takes some serious suspension of disbelief."

I'm guessing you are quite young then? I'm over 40 and have 2 children. I write but haven't made a penny at it. Much as I enjoy writing, there is definitely an incentive to "publish" in knowing that if my work becomes popular late in my life (or just after) then my kids will benefit.

Parents want to provide for their children.

Re:Lifetime plus some is an incentive (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289119)

"I'm guessing you are quite young then? I'm over 40 and have 2 children. I write but haven't made a penny at it. Much as I enjoy writing, there is definitely an incentive to "publish" in knowing that if my work becomes popular late in my life (or just after) then my kids will benefit.

Parents want to provide for their children."

Guilty as charged, and fair point. My assumption here is that the number of people who write / perform only do so for the sake of their heirs to a very limited extent. Anyone know about any empirics regarding this?

Re:Lifetime plus some is an incentive (1)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289329)

>Parents want to provide for their children.

For most people in the world, that means they have to first work to make money that the children can then get. Why should for example artists be different? Why should they not have to work and make their money first? Should my employer or whoever buy my services (or whatever you like to take an example) have to continue to pay to my children AFTER I die? If one still want such a system, a fixed time not tied to ones death would of course be much better.

Re:Lifetime plus some is an incentive (2, Insightful)

old man moss (863461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289487)

"Why should for example artists be different?"

Because often an artist does not make much (or any) money from his/her work until years after it was done.

I'm not suggesting artists should be paid more than anyone else; just that they (or their children) should be paid.

Yes, I agree, a fixed term (50 years) would probably be better. But maybe that might encourage well known artists to stockpile work for their kids to publish?

Re:Agree and disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289145)

It does not harm producers. It harms distributors. Since distributors are not the creators of content, it makes no sense for copyright law to grant them any non-necessary benefit. Since anyone can distribute digital media easily over the Internet, there is no longer any necessity for distributors. (Conversely, where people cannot easily distribute digital content, distributors are not being harmed by digital content.) Copyright law is not supposed to benefit distributors. Copyright law is supposed to benefit society by benefiting creators for a limited time (not a "limited" amount of time that is extended each time it's about to expire, as you already agree). Distributors are no longer part of the equation because distribution is no longer a problem for creators (and thus society) thanks to digital content.

Re:Life + 70 years (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288287)

Digital, as they say in their very first point, is not really different fundamentally than any other publishing medium, and therefore the rights extended to non-digital content should also be extended to digital content.

Yes, it is, because digital reproduction is both a) instant and b) free.

IMHO, the fact that digital reproduction *is* fundamentally different, is what it has taken to demonstrate how broken the whole idea of copyright is.

Re:Life + 70 years (4, Interesting)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288465)

Somebody on Ars [arstechnica.com] pointed out a post here on Slashdot that is, IMO, the most clear and succinct argument against life-plus copyright [slashdot.org] that I have ever seen, saying (in part):

I think the reason people don't see infringement as immoral is because they don't understand the social contract that underlies copyright law. And that's because the social contract has been trashed so thoroughly by the media industry that it's effectively invisible. Joe Average isn't stupid, but he's not an IP lawyer and given that he has never seen any copyrights expire during his lifetime, and may never see it, the notion that copyright is a tradeoff of short-term disadvantage for long-term advantage never occurs to him, because as far as he knows it's just a permanent restriction. Ask Joe who owns the copyright to Shakespeare's works and he's likely to think it's a reasonable question.

(Emphasis mine.)

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289037)

I think the reason people don't see infringement as immoral is because they don't understand the social contract that underlies copyright law. And that's because the social contract has been trashed so thoroughly by the media industry that it's effectively invisible.

Heh, that's funny -- I don't see infringment as immoral because I do understand the social contract, and how it's been trashed!

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288845)

The recommendation for life + 70 years is for unpublished works. The recommednations they make for published works is centered around the typical term in which works have commercial value -- much shorter in almost every case.

First, with respect to unpublished works. IANAL but it's my understanding that in the common law, there is no "intellectual property" for published works. As soon as you inject it into the public mind, it becomes part of the commons. But unpublished works are a person's private property. Copyrights are established by statute. The distinction is important because the common law for the most part protects rights of indivuals. While statutory law may do this, it often functions to promote the public good. We should be aware that when statues do something to promote the public good, they usually involve some measure of private harm.

The property right to unpublished works recognized in common law, it seems to me, protects the individual right of privacy. Life + 70 years is probably adequate and reasonable for this, but it is worth remembering that we may be taking something the author never wanted to share.

TFA:

Although the number of case studies on the music
industry in this area is not large, a number of US
based studies show that less than 2 percent of
works have any commercial value at all 55 - 75
years after they were created and that more
material is released by publishers when sound
recordings enter the public domain than when still
in-copyright.


This is not a sound analysis, because it also argues for the protection of the minority of works that have value after half a century or more, when in fact there is no public interest in this. Lord Macaulay's analysis [kuro5hin.org] is more sound:


I will take an example. Dr Johnson died fifty-six years ago. ...
Now, would the knowledge that this copyright would exist in 1841 have been a source of gratification to Johnson? Would it have stimulated his exertions? Would it have once drawn him out of his bed before noon? ...
I firmly believe not. I firmly believe that a hundred years ago, when he was writing our debates for the Gentleman's Magazine, he would very much rather have had twopence to buy a plate of shin of beef at a cook's shop underground. Considered as a reward to him, the difference between a twenty years' and sixty years' term of posthumous copyright would have been nothing or next to nothing.


In other words, we should consider only the marginal economic incentive an extended copyright term offers to authors presently writing works. The value to current copyright holders is irrelevant to discussions of the public good. They have already recouped their investment, usually over a much longer term than the expected when they bought the rights. Macaulay's point is that they wouldn't have given two cents more to the authors if they'd known the term was going to be seventy years, not seventeen.

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288933)

Barring a steep inheritance tax that prevented the transfer of wealth from parent to child, Johnson would probably be very interested in the posthumous publishing rights if his work were of enough value that they could be republished often enough and profitable enough to do so.

The problem isn't that we're talking about Dr. Johnson here. We're really interested in media companies that produce their own content, not individual content creators that subsequently sell their relatively worthless works to magazines for limited circulation. Authors and musicians who are worth a damn already have their own lawyers and have their deals made with publishers that generally let them keep copyright (moreso for authors than for musicians).

It is the Disneys and Paramounts that are of the most concern. Disney indeed has an interest in holding on to all of their property. A Disney product that ceased to be a Disney product (due to copyright expiration) would be indistinguishable from Disney's continued production of that product. The only thing that really protects Disney in such a case is trademark laws that allow a much more flexible system of IP. By branding their stuff as their own, they can, in essence, extend their copyright as long as they like. Though the material may be out of copyright, the trademarked images in that material remains covered and Disney may use legal means to prevent others from distributing trademarked though uncopyrighted materials.

The landscape has changed, and when I see people complaining that copyright isn't doing what it was designed to do, I see them focusing almost solely on the wrong points. Yes, copyright is very long. However, fair use should permit enough flexibility that no single person would be hampered in their private usage of the material. Yes, copyright prevents materials from entering the public domain. However, that material is generally available, even when not in the public domain, from publishers. What is necessary, then, is more clarity surrounding abandoned works, not shorter copyrights.

BL is reinforcing it's "custodian" role (1)

tpholland (968736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289031)

At the end of the day, the BL isn't going to stand up for the interests of consumers. They themselves are heavy users of DRM, and anybody who's ever read in the BL (and paid the exorbitant photocopying fees!) will know how zealously they police copyright laws.

As a legal deposit library, what's important to the BL is that they're seen as the custodians of our intellectual heritagenot the publishers. Quite right too: the points about archiving and library priviledge are meant to ensure that copies of works survive--possibly giving the BL the right to reverse-engineer DRM, as we've seen happen in numerous other National Libraries accross the world. I don't think that it means they'll stop policing fair dealing, looking over your shouler to make sure you don't copy any more than 10% of a work or one chapter (whichever is the smallest)!

As an example of the BLs DRM usage, take a look at their Secure Electronic Delivery service [www.bl.uk] . Not much room for fair dealing there. My partner (a librarian) was working for a big government department that regularly requested heaps of documents from the British Library. They could have saved a bit of public money using electronic delivery, but the Adobe DRM that the British Library uses was a bitch to get working through the departement's web cache. They would have had to pursuade an intransigent IT department to support a different version of Adobe Reader--people have just carried on using good old hard-copies, delivered by van from the BL's Document Supply Centre in Boston Spa.

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289043)

Not trolling, really, but can someone explain this to me:

1. disney puts out a cartoon with a mouse in it
2. disney owns copyright (and associated mouse trademark)
3. disney sells distribution and reproduction rights for profit
4. time passes
5. suddenly everyone is now allowed to do whatever they like with it for free

just to be clear, I'm all for fair use, the archivability of content, and i understand that somewhere in there is a blurry line between watching the cartoon in a dusty basement room of a library for research purposes and genuine licensable broadcasting. But why should a person, or their family, or their estate, or a company just have their copyright rights whipped away from them?

And where does it lie? if i invent a recipe for rhubarb crumble that tastes perticularly delicious and sell it at my restaurant, sue a few people for copying the recipie in their own restaurants a little too closely but turn a blind eye to people cooking it for their kids (not for profit), 70 years after my death should my continuing restaurant empire give up the rights to their famous rhubarb crumble? Now, we're not talking burgers and salad in layers in a bun here here, we're talking a combination of unlikely ingredients mixed in a particular order and fashion.

Now I also understand that a distinction is being made between published and unpublished content, and personally if i kept diaries that may be of interest to historians it'd be much better if the death+70 years thing covered not just myself, but everyone else named in the diaries, which might be better for memoirs, as for ficional work, can anyone say "douglas adams" and "milk it dry"?

Re:Life + 70 years (2, Interesting)

Pofy (471469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289369)

>But why should a person, or their family, or their estate, or a company just have
>their copyright rights whipped away from them?

They don't. You missed a 1.5 in your list:

1.5 The public desides to give up certain rights to the created cartoon and grant a time limited copyright to the creator!

There is nothing taken away from the person, family or whatever, the limited rights they were granted have run out.

So point five should be:

5. The creator's given time limited rights by the society expires and the work is again free to be used and inspire the creation of new work to benefit the society.

By the way, you don't get copyright on recipies so not sure what that part of your reply was about. Perhaps you can seek patent for it, that is VERY different from copyright though, for one, it has a much shorter time limit on the granted rights by the society to you.

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

myc_lykaon (645662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289073)

That can easily last over 100 years of copyright, bestowing on heirs of the creator the benefits of his hard work. This does not incent those heirs to do any creating


Being a bit of devils advocate here, I presume you would support 100% inheritance tax? After all, inherited funds (savings, share certificates, bonds and property etc) are something that the children haven't worked for and lowers the amount of work they have to do to achieve a certain level of wealth. Ditto, copyrights. They are objects with earning potential (like share certificates and bonds) that are handed to the heirs.
Perhaps the creators view such 'after death' copyright span as a life assurance of the artistic classes?

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289125)

No, I am in favor of fixed copyright terms. What does it matter if someone wrote the great American novel at age 25 and lived to be 100 or whether they were hit by a car the day after they wrote it? Why should the length of copyright be determinant upon the length of the creator's life? A fixed system would be more equitable for all involved, I feel.

The question of heirs really doesn't come into the picture except that life+70 typically covers heirs until late life. Such a built-in disincentive to work (as far as royalties from publishing can go, I suppose) should be discouraged in favor of equitable treatment of authors and their works.

Re:Life + 70 years (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289193)

i don't think i can sue someone for being rich. i can however sue them, if they quote from a book my grandfather wrote. anybody can have share certificates and bonds, you just have to buy them. this gives them an innate value (how much is the bond worth? ans: how much someone's prepared to pay for it). the value of a bond goes down if it is copied and freely distributed; a bond only has a monetary value, that's all it is. a piece of music, a book, or similar has an intrinsic value. Is beethoven's fifth symphony less worth, because i have a copy of the music? should i be allowed to withhold a piece of music i've written from other people? howie

Re:Life + 70 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289263)

With all the nut-jobs running around, it would not be wise to have less than life+70 yrs, if only to make it not worthwhile to wack great authors to have their works for free...

Around and around.. (0, Redundant)

beefcake1942 (996262) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288211)

These arguments have been said a million times before. DRM shouldn't infringe on user's rights, etc etc. The problem is, the simple inclusion of DRM at all usually infringes on those rights, so how can the two coexist?

hmm. (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288213)

well, i certainly like the looks of this, except for the support for the "life +70" copyright term, which is completely excessive IMO.

Copyrighted (4, Funny)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288225)

Was this manifesto copyrighted?

RIAA, MPAA response: (1)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288227)

There are 6 key recommendations, including: DRM should not override users' statutory rights; analogue rights should apply to digital media; and copyright terms should not be extended without evidence that this would be good for society.

The RIAA and MPAA have posted their official response: "....aaaaaaaAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

Re:RIAA, MPAA response: (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288971)

The RIAA and MPAA have posted their official response: "....aaaaaaaAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

Sitting here in the UK, my official reply to the RIAA & MPAA: So sue me. I remind you that despite our best efforts at being the 51st state, you still have no jurisdiction on this side of the Atlantic.

Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (2, Interesting)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288267)

I can see some of their point, however I think they're trying to err on the side of the content creator/publisher.

I still maintain that I should have the right to keep copies of ebooks and music I own on as many of my own digital devices as I please. I can not use it all at once (I can multitask, just not that well), and would have to lend my digital device to a friend in order to break the intent of fair-use (and how many times have you loaned a book or CD to a friend?).

I think I'll just stick with my personal DRM-Ban and leave it at that. I won't buy anything that employs any form of DRM (with the only exception being Windows, which I purchased then removed WPA and WGA). This includes eBooks, which thanks to Microsoft I have $100 worth or so of ebooks which are locked to an account that I have been locked out of (apparently upgrading one's computer or portable device a couple times each within a 6 year period is abnormal and breaks some sort of fair-use law). It also includes purchasing music downloads and CDs that contain DRM. I don't care if I can remove it, I will not give money to a company that employs those methods of "protecting their copyrights."

The only way the companies will learn is if you speak with your wallet, the Dollar (or Euro/Pound for you blokes on the other side of the pond) truely is the most basic and effective form of communication. :)

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (2, Funny)

shawnmchorse (442605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288289)

Make sure you don't buy any DVDs either, what with region codes and encryption and such. Laserdiscs are where it's at, anyway. ;-)

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288619)

Make sure you don't buy any DVDs either, what with region codes and encryption and such. Laserdiscs are where it's at, anyway. ;-)

Good point, however by the time I started getting picky about it the encryption had already been cracked for quite some time and it has slipped under my radar. The fact that the companies producing the "protected" media decided to continue using the cracked encryption rather than risk disrupting the consumer market (and therefore their cash flow) by releasing a new ecryption standard has also helped a bit. I guess I should add DVDs as an exception, even though I think I can count the number of DVDs I have purchased on one hand (the rest have come as gifts). You can surmise that I do not have many DVDs. :)

Upon a little thought I have realised that I also failed to list compuer games, which represent yet another potential grey line in my personal vendetta against DRM. Starforce is evil (on my black list), yet Safedisc and whatnot are so easy to circumvent that I hardly count them as DRM. I guess it's a result of computer games requiring the CD/Floppy to play since I was a wee lad. Perhaps it is a bit hypocritical, however the alternative (an eye patch and peg-leg) is less appealing than paying for a game I have to work on a little to play. :)

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (1)

arose (644256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288997)

Perhaps it is a bit hypocritical, however the alternative (an eye patch and peg-leg) is less appealing than paying for a game I have to work on a little to play. :)
Alternatives are plenty (read a book :-), but they aren't identical substitutes.

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289069)

Good for you! But please -- stop making an exception for Windows!

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289181)

If you're suggesting switching to an alternate operating system, I do run Linux for my small webhosting company (http://www.offbeathosting.com) as well as on several boxes that serve various tasks at home (including my Linksys router). In my opinion Linux is far superior to Windows in the server field, and I take advantage of this as often as I can.

My college runs Windows exclusively, all the machines at my dayjob run Windows, the majority (if not all) of my webhosting customers run Windows, and so on. In addition, game support for Linux exists but is pretty weak in comparison to the support for Windows. :(

The thing with Windows is it has become the market standard for desktop operating systems, using anything else as my primary desktop OS may give me moral high-ground over those who fork over $$$ to Microsoft (or who don an eye patch, raise the Jolly Roger, and set off to sail the tubes), however in the end it would cost me a good deal of extra time. What I have found is that on Windows, things tend to either work or not work. On Linux, things tend to either work or could work, depending on how much time you spend on it. While I consider myself to have an absolutist personality (could you tell?), I have found that I need to make compromises so that I can get work done at the end of the day (or have fun at the end of the day!). For the moment, Windows is one of those compromises.

If you're suggesting the method to do with eye patches and peg legs, I don't subscribe to that train of thought. :)

Re:Digital is different, you get it off the tubes! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289249)

Actually, I'm don't particularly have a problem with either of those ideas -- as long as it doesn't result in payment to Microsoft (which would imply support of their actions) it's fine with me.

However, there is a third possibility: go back to Windows 2000. I use Linux and Mac OS instead as much as possible, but my one remaining Win 2K box (that I use only for things like Half-Life and AutoCAD) works "just fine" (by Windows' standard). And it's not infected with WGA or even Activation!

Fair Use? (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288297)

I would say that defending consumers' statutory rights is nice, but not sufficient. I don't believe any of the fair use rights are statutory. Fair use isn't a set of rights that we have, it is a defense against infringment.

Fair use changed with DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16288847)

When it comes to old media, fair use was a defense to infringement as you state. However, you've lost WHY that defense is warranted: certain uses of copyrighted material is not intended to be consrtained by copyright.

When you can exercise these changes, making them a defense from infringing means that they are not illegal and (effectively) they are exceptions to the control of the copyright law coded in a legally tight manner.

However, if there is no way of exercising these rights (DRM), then it doesn't matter that they are not prosecutable in much the same way as instantaneous individual transportation is not a legal right. Therefore, the rights you have to use the copyrighted work you have bought without restriction of copyright is irrelevant: DRM means you can only use it the way the DRM proponents want it.

E.g. selling your DRM'd work is not copying or distributing so is not restricted by copyright. However, DRM does stop you doing so.

Preempting Gowers? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289519)

As an aside, in the UK, the nearest equivalent to the US "fair use" concept is "fair dealing", but it's much more limited. Basic things like format-shifting and other copying for strictly personal use are not currently included, for example.

It's an odd time for the British Library to publish this. The Gowers Review, mentioned in the Slashdot story, ran a call for evidence that closed back in April, and I imagine the BL submitted their comments to it. The official line is that the Review will publish the results in "Autumn 2006". However, I can tell you as someone who submitted a response that they wrote to me around three weeks ago, and asked me to confirm by last Friday whether I was happy for that response to be posted on the Review's web site (which is linked from the story), so it sounds like the reporting stage is imminent.

I wonder if the British Library is sneakily trying to push its own agenda ahead of the Review publishing its results in the next few days? After all, although the Review plans to make concrete recommendations to government on the future IP framework within the UK, the government still has to accept the results and implement the laws.

The Primary Prerequisite to Progress (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288453)

Create more distance between politicians and money. After that, we will see more balance between public and private interests.

Re:The Primary Prerequisite to Progress (1)

walnutmon (988223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288601)

I think the only way to do this is to ban lobbying, which is pretty much the most obviously bad thing that happens in American government... It just happens to also be pretty much the most effective way to get things done in American government.

Is that irony? I'm not really sure, but I know it sucks.

Re:The Primary Prerequisite to Progress (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289097)

The problem is that somewhere along the way we all forgot that the government isn't supposed to get things done, but rather to do as little as possible.

kind of hard to do (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288789)

money attracts power and power attracts money, inexorably

money and power will steamroll all laws, morals, decency, justice, fairness, and accountability in order to be with each other, no matter what system of government you devise or imagine

money and power will find the path of least resistance to get to one another and shortcircuit all of your good intentions

look at modern china, where 50 years of hardcore communist rhetoric has created... drum roll... the most social darwinistic model of capitalism on this planet right now. with all of the social inequalities that go along with that, abject squalor sandwiched against diamond encrusted bathrooms, modern china would make the robber barons of the gilded ages of victorian times in the usa blush

money+power: i think it's one of the fundamental forces in physics... along with entropy and taxes and magnetism

you can't beat it even in glorious goody two shoes canada: look at their recent corruption scandal that recently swept the liberals out of power up there

i'm not saying it's a good thing, i'm just saying it's pretty formidable force of nature you are contending with rather lightly

Re:kind of hard to do (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289113)

you can't beat it even in glorious goody two shoes canada: look at their recent corruption scandal that recently swept the liberals out of power up there

On the contrary, that is beating it -- when corruption happens here, we fail to have a scandal and the crooks stay in power!

Re:The Primary Prerequisite to Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289163)

There is no public interest (or please define it). Everybody wants to eat, to be healthy, to have housing, to have means of transportation (including roads). Everybody wants to own their property and not have it stolen.

How come government doesn't manage bakeries, restaurants, doesn't provide housing, when all these obviously are in the public interest?

The distinction (if you draw one) is totally arbitrary.

British (2, Funny)

wbren (682133) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288499)

This is destined to go nowhere! People won't take them seriously if they keep misspelling words. I mean, who's ever heard of words like "analogue" and "favourite"? Not this red-blooded American!

Re:British (1)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288831)

This is destined to go nowhere! People won't take them seriously if they keep misspelling words. I mean, who's ever heard of words like "analogue" and "favourite"? Not this red-blooded American!

You sir, are a cad and a bounder. Now, stand still while I whack your arse [wikipedia.org] with this piece of aluminium!

Re:British (3, Funny)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289375)

So, why do you Americans write "favorite" but not "serios", and "sulfur" but not "fosforus", and "alfa" but not "alfabet", and "aluminum" but not "americum"?

If there's one thing worse than archaic and illogical spellings, it's half-arsed spelling reform that leaves half the archaic and illogical spellings intact.

Public libraries and P2P have similarities (4, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288599)

The British Library does take a fairly balanced view on this subject ("life+70" excepted), but there is one important area where their view is not balanced at all: they believe that libraries are somehow exceptional in their needs. Well they're not.

Libraries have many roles, but almost none of those roles are exclusive. The three most important ones are collecting, sharing, and archiving for posterity, but these roles are also performed within society as a whole (as a normal part of life and culture), and therefore libraries do not have exclusive need for protections here. We all do.

P2P is probably the most contentious sharing technology today, yet what P2P'ers do is not significantly different to what libraries do --- ie. provide access to their collections to the public. They're similar not only in function, but also in social neutrality and economic effect: sharing is available to everyone equally, no money is made or taken from the sharing, they both reduce somewhat the sales of the items in question, and they both provide free public promotion for the items as well.

The role of archiving for posterity is not exclusive to libraries either --- nobody wants to lose their collected works through media deterioration from old age, so being able to make copies and not being at the mercy of DRM is important for everyone, not just libraries. Indeed, passing down our digital collections to our descendents will undoubtedly be a common interest.

So, while I support what the British Library is saying for the most part, their preoccupation with the needs of libraries sends the wrong message --- we are all in that same boat.

Re:Public libraries and P2P have similarities (2, Interesting)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288869)

I agree with most of what you say, except the very last part. It sends exactly the right message. The British Library is raising a serious point about DRM and how it interferes with our legal protections. Of course they are library focussed - that's what they do.

Do you think they would be taken seriously if they went on an anti-DRM crusade? No - and neither do they want to. They actually use DRM themselves to allow them to publish copyrighted material on the internet. Without the protection it affords (to satisfy individual requests to copyrighted works) they couldn't do that, and users would have to physically visit the library to see much of their stuff.

They are making the point that even the British Library finds the new technology dangerous to our legal rights, and we should be very careful about allowing those rights to be superceded by technologically enforced contracts. Great message, to the point and relevant. If there are other interest groups with similar messages, speak up!

Re:Public libraries and P2P have similarities (3, Informative)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288941)

Libraries have many roles, but almost none of those roles are exclusive. The three most important ones are collecting, sharing, and archiving for posterity, but these roles are also performed within society as a whole

The british library is a national library, and also a legal deposit library (one of only six) under the 2003 Act, and its job is to perform those roles. Others may perform the roles, but it isn't their stated purpose enshrined in law to do so.

This does make them exceptional. There is a huge difference between saying "DRM is stopping me doing Y" and saying "DRM is stopping me doing Y, which I am required to do by law".

Different times for different things (2, Insightful)

kyb (877837) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288729)

IP law should respect the fact that there are many different fields of endevour, and different terms are appropriate for each of them. It's perfectly reasonable that the copyright on a novel should last a pretty long time (I think the author should receive some compensation if it gets made into a film 10 years later for example), but patents on computer related things should last a very short time - the computer industry is changing much faster than the book writing industry, and if the entire industry is held up for 10 years because of one guys patent, that is a very serious detriment to the public good.

Regardless of what is decided, it seems very obvious to me that the current lengths of these things are far outside what is reasonable. I'd be much more in favour of 20 years for literary/artistic works, and 3 years for patents, with the posibility of a single extension for 5 more years for patents, requiring a large fee (so only patents that are being used get extended).

That's what I think for IT patents, but longer terms might be more appropriate for slower moving industries.

Re:Different times for different things (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288797)

Patents on software are like copyrights on individual words: they actively hinder development of new works, and add a serious burden to new software projects to guess whether or not some obscure patent will be held to be infringed by the new work.

Both sides can learn from this (0)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288835)

On the one hand we have the idiots like Sony with their rootkit, the starforce gang, and the people prosecuting kids dancing in their living rooms on youtube. on the other hand, we have the hardcore software crackers, the 'pirate party' and the pirate bay and their ilk, with zero respect for intellectual property or the rights of the content creators.

We need intelligent, reasonbale debate on the issue, where both sides can accept some basic principles. Nobody will care what the RIAA or MPAA or Sony say on the topic any more, as they have screwed the customers and lost credibility. Nobody on the content side (including msyelf) listens to the 'pirate party', 'pirate bay' or their defenders, as they have blatantly supported illegal distribution withgout any attempt to compensate the content creators.
We need more people like this, more discussion like this. Unless the anti-DRM people can frame their arguments reasonably, politicians will undoubtably listen just to the big corporate lobbyists. The companies can always argue that piracy is costing jobs and affecting the economy. they can also buy influence. In a straight out slanging match, the RIAA /MPAA will win. Keep the debate reasonable, and dont let the people you oppose have the ammunition they need to shout you down. Calling a movement against DRM the 'pirate party' is possibly just as stupid on the anti-drm side, as sonys rootkit was on their side.

Copyright Infringement is not Theft! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289055)

We need intelligent, reasonbale debate on the issue

That's simply not going to happen, I'll tell you why after a little background for the benefit of Johnny Foreigner.

In the UK we have this organization called "FACT", the "Federation Against Copyright Theft". These idiots put "piracy funds terrorism" type trailers are at the head of every video/DVD release and cinema screening. My favourite trailer makes the points that "you wouldn't steal a car", "you wouldn't steal a film" and then flashes "copying is stealing" accross the screen in huge letters. The purpose of these offensive little skits is to decieve the public into believing that all copyright infringement is a criminal offense comparable with theft.

How do you propose to conduct an intelligent, reasonable debate with people who will not even come to the table without lying and misrepresenting their cause?

Re:Copyright Infringement is not Theft! (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289261)

well it would be a good start to accept that piracy harms the companies who make the content. Or is even this not common ground that can be agreed upon?

Re:Both sides can learn from this (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289185)

We need intelligent, reasonbale debate on the issue, where both sides can accept some basic principles... Nobody on the content side (including msyelf) listens to the 'pirate party', 'pirate bay' or their defenders, as they have blatantly supported illegal distribution withgout any attempt to compensate the content creators.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Don't you realize that the idea that "information wants to be free" is a valid "basic principle," even if you don't agree with it? Don't just blame the "pirates" when it appears that you're also failing to open yourself to reasonable debate!

Unless the anti-DRM people can frame their arguments reasonably...

I've got some that I'll be happy to tell you about... later (I don't have time right now). Check my posting history, or reply (so that I'll be reminded by seeing it in my message list) and I'll do so the first chance I get.

Re:Both sides can learn from this (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289293)

Well it is a 'principle' in the same way that comunism is a principle, but I dont agree that it is one that can coexist in any sane way with capitalism. If your starting point is "all information should be free" how do you expect the people who actually make that information for a living are going to meet you halfway? You layughably say im the pot calling the kettle black, then in the very next sentence draw a line in the sand where you basically refuse to pay for anything digital.
It's arguing from that point of view that has got us exactly where we are right now.
I'm well aware of the arguments that people use to justify copyright theft. They are frankly, laughable, and entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. This is about excessive DRM, and consumer rights, not some debate over the very legitimacy of the concepts of copyright or IP, which most grown up sane people realise are required for a modern, capitalist economy.

Its people like you who try to connect a sane debate over consumer rights and DRM with some hippie philosophy of abolishing intellectual property that has prevented there being any sane debate on the issue. If the campaigners against DRM also rant about how all information should be free, they will never get any sympathy, any compromise, or any attention from mainstream politicians.

To everyone campaigning against DRM (I'm against it too, and dont use it), it would be wise to distance yourself from the 'information wants to be free' crowd. They just make a mockery of the whole debate, and allow corporations to label you all as thieves.

My views (4, Interesting)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16288999)

Fundamentally, I believe copyright to be a concept that is broken by design, but that it has taken the "digital age", with its inherently instantaneous, free reproduction capabilities and near-instantaneous, near-free distribution channels to make that obvious.

With that said, I recognise that copyright is here to stay.

So, my guidelines for a fair copyright regime:

* Copyright is recognised as fundamentally an economic tool for artificially assigning value to something that inherently has none (ie: none of this flowery "for the betterment of society" claptrap).
* Copyright protection for economic purposes becomes an opt-in process (eg: if you want to sell a book or song, you have to register it as a copyrighted work).
* Length of copyright is linked to a works "ECD". When a work is registered as copyrighted, it must include an "Estimated Cost of Development". Once the owner of the copyright has recorded income from selling the copyrighted work that meets or exceeds the "ECD", the work is no longer subject to protection from non-profit copyright infringement (ie: filesharing and the like). Note that for-profit reproduction (ie: someone else *selling* a copyrighted work) is still a crime (and would be harshly punished).
* Fraudulent reporting of "ECD" or copyright-related income would be *severely* punished. Upon confirmation of such fraud, the work would immediately enter the public domain and a fine would be issued to the registered copyright holder equal to the submitted "ROI" value PLUS any reported income from the work. Where possible (ie: with proof of purchase), refunds would be issued to anyone who had purchased the work.
* On the death of the copyright holder, all their copyrighted works enter the public domain.

Re:My views (1)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289143)

* On the death of the copyright holder, all their copyrighted works enter the public domain.

Great incentive to shoot your favorite artist!

Re:My views (1)

Ngwenya (147097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289225)

On the death of the copyright holder, all their copyrighted works enter the public domain.
Great incentive to shoot your favorite artist!

Also a great incentive to ensure that all the mind numbing crap is locked up in copyright forever. So that means we'd have to keep Paris Hilton alive by cryogenics if necessary. Can you imagine a world where her warbled excreta could be freely traded? Will no-one think of the children?

--Ng

Re:My views (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289323)

Great incentive to shoot your favorite artist!

So you wouldn't violate copyright (ie: breal existing laws), but you *would* kill someone ?

Right....

Re:My views (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289209)

Wow, that's the first idea for copyright (other than reducing it back to 14 years or abolishing it entirely) I've heard that actually seems reasonable to me! Keep telling people about it -- I hope they listen.

Re:My views (3, Interesting)

Ngwenya (147097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289211)

Length of copyright is linked to a works "ECD". When a work is registered as copyrighted, it must include an "Estimated Cost of Development". Once the owner of the copyright has recorded income from selling the copyrighted work that meets or exceeds the "ECD", the work is no longer subject to protection from non-profit copyright infringement (ie: filesharing and the like). Note that for-profit reproduction (ie: someone else *selling* a copyrighted work) is still a crime (and would be harshly punished).

I sympathise with the goals, but think that the practice you're trying to implement would be extremely difficult. The unintended consequence of such a regime would (I think) be the artificial inflation of ECDs (notwithstanding your next point). Noone would have the appropriate incentive to report true costs - you'd need an extremely rigorous copyright equivalent of the SEC and Sarbanes-Oxley. Hell, Hollywood inflates its costs right now so that it can avoid paying percentage of profits to authors/screenplay writers/etc. I think having an ECD as the sole determinant of copyright duration would make this obscene situation much worse.

Fraudulent reporting of "ECD" or copyright-related income would be *severely* punished. Upon confirmation of such fraud, the work would immediately enter the public domain...

The problem here is determining what is a fraudulent assessment of a works costs. If everyone has an incentive to maximise their costs, then how does the appropriate copyright authority determine that they are all out of line - and by how much? You'd need some sort of state appointed copyright regulator (something like the Office of Communications [OfCom] in the UK). Regulators are generally employed, however, where there is, in effect, no free market in goods or services. Think of it as a sort of "surrogate market". You'd have a hard time saying that copyrighted works weren't in abundant supply.

I like the tone of your idea - that copyright is there to ensure you've got a chance of getting your costs back (NOT a guarantee) plus some reasonable profit for the venture (NOT some obscenely bloated ROI which guarantees you never have to work again). I think I'd simply advocate that one has an exploitation window of 10 years for free, and then an exponentially increasing copyright cost for keeping a work out of the public domain. After 25 years, a work enters the public domain, come what may. The incidence of works which only recover their costs after 25 years of distribution is vanishingly small. I have never understood the logic which says that works will not be attempted unless monopoly distribution rights extend 70 years past the death of the author. How many new works is Elvis producing these days?

--Ng

Re:My views (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289473)

I sympathise with the goals, but think that the practice you're trying to implement would be extremely difficult.

I should have clarified, here, that there would be two distinct sets of requirements depending on whether the body registering the copyright is an individual or a corporation.

An individual would be allowed to put forth a "reasonable estimate". This would be, in effect, the cost of raw materials + (a "reasonable wage" * time of development)[0]. Corporations, OTOH, would have these reports folded into their standard accounting and taxation procedures (ie: if they make money out of selling copyrighted works, they must report that separately on their standard accounting/taxation forms).

My reasoning here is that the scope for copyright abuse by individuals is small, therefore to encourage individual creativity, the requirements for them vis-a-vis "copyright registration" requirements, would be much more lax.

The unintended consequence of such a regime would (I think) be the artificial inflation of ECDs (notwithstanding your next point). Noone would have the appropriate incentive to report true costs - you'd need an extremely rigorous copyright equivalent of the SEC and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Given the enormous privileges endowed to copyright holders to overrule normal market forces, this does not seem to me to be an unreasoanble tradeoff. A side benefit would be - by requirement - more transparency and accountability in corporate accounting practices.

Note that the money has to be documented going somewhere, particularly in publically traded corporations.

The reason I would insist the punishments be so harsh, is to discourage any serious attempts at fraud. Things like popular movies and music, for example, that make such phenomenally large amounts of money, will go out of copyright relatively quickly (as they should), even if the development cost is dramatically overstated. Additionally, one or two successfully prosecuted cases in a field where works are expensive to create (ie: where it's actually worth trying to fudge the figures) should result in sufficiently devestating losses for that period that any further attempts will be extremely unlikely.

The problem here is determining what is a fraudulent assessment of a works costs.

Well, the objective is only to stop trully outrageous inflations, which should be relatively easy to spot.

If everyone has an incentive to maximise their costs, then how does the appropriate copyright authority determine that they are all out of line - and by how much?

Ah, ok, I see where you're going...

The objective is not to assess whether or not, say, $500 million is an appropriate cost to make Mission Impossible 15, the objective is to make sure that if the studio says it cost that much, then the rest of their legally required accounting for the stated time period says that number is a reasonable amount - ie: that their reported expenses for goods, services, wages, etc in the (reported) timeframe the movies was being made, adds up to about the right number. In other words, that they're not just making up numbers and alleged expenses are disappearing off into the creative accounting ether.

So if, say, a studio reports it makes three movies in a year for a combined cost of $250 million, then their annual taxation report should show they spent $250 million on salaries, services and depreciating assets. If it says they only spent, say, $50 million, then it's time for some questions to be asked.

As I said, this sort of information would be rolled into the legally required accounting practices, making fraud (ie: money disappearing) much more difficult.

[0] I would expect this value to be calculated as some fixed multiplier of the average wage.

Re:My views (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16289339)

I can tell you're not someone who intends to make a living from producing anything creative.

If you write a song, or a book, or a piece of software, and people want to hear/read/use it, then you should have the right to sell it. If it makes you millions, then good for you.
The idea that once you've recovered your production costs, people can legally file-share it for free is ludicrous. Who would buy a copy? Most people would just wait for it to go public.

Intellectual Property does have value. Being a musician or a writer is a trade. If you think that the creative arts will flourish under your system, think again. No one will be a professional artist, they will just be well-intentioned amateurs doing stuff in their spare time.
If you cheapen artistic endeavour, you cheapen society.

Yes, DRM is unfairly prohibitive. Yes, the record companies take too big a cut. But don't take away the artist's rights to make a living from their skill.

DRM overriding statutory rights? (1)

Cicero382 (913621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289343)

That's what it says in the summary; I think they're referring to the phrase "exceed the statutory exceptions for fair dealing access." in TFA. Not quite the same thing, still...

IANAL, but I thought statutory rights override *anything* that a company can put in a contract. Or, to put it another way, you can't legally contract someone to break the law.

A ridiculous example to illustrate the point:

EULA: "...and before using this software, the user agrees to sacrifice their first-born to the company."
User: "No way, AND I'm going to use the software, anyway"
Company: "We're going to sue you for breach of contract."
Courts: "Errr.. we don't think so" (except where the RIAA is involved, apparently)

I see these attempts at extortion (and that's *just* what they are) in all sorts s/w related EULAs. I just ignore them.

How on earth do they get away with this. Or (sudden horrible thought) am I missing something?

Re:DRM overriding statutory rights? (1)

Cicero382 (913621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16289347)

EULA: "...and before using this software, the user agrees to sacrifice their first-born to the company."

I stand corrected. I quoted this as a ridiculous and hypothetical example but apparently it's a direct quote from the Windows EULA.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
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