Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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

Thank you!

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

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

The Case For Perpetual Copyright

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the for-a-limited-time dept.

Books 547

Several readers sent in a link to an op-ed in the NYTimes by novelist Mark Halprin, who lays out the argument for what amounts to perpetual copyright. He says that anything less is essentially an unfair public taking of property: "No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind." This community can surely supply a plethora of arguments for the public domain, words which don't appear in the op-ed. In a similar vein, reader benesch sends us to the BBC for a tale of aging pop performers (virtually) serenading Parliament in favor of extending copyright for recording artists in the UK. Some performers are likely to outlive the current protections, now fixed at a mere 50 years.
Update: 05/20 22:50 GMT by KD : Podcaster writes to let us know that the copyright reform community is crafting a reply over at Lawrence Lessig's wiki.

cancel ×

547 comments

what are you wacked? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199745)

thats the stupidest fucking thing ive heard since i started at microsoft

Re:what are you wacked? (5, Informative)

bsane (148894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199807)

Actually, I think I get the joke!

This guy is known to write biting satire... Either that article is a fine example, or its one of the worst reasoned essays I've ever read.

Re:what are you wacked? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199913)

So you're saying he can keep if for perpetuity?

Re:what are you wacked? (3, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200013)

Satire needs to portray a specific position or attitude to be effective. This piece is just highly original rambling. No one else wants perpetual copyrights, least of all the biggest supporters of extensions of copyright, Walt Disney. What would they do if they had to start paying H. C. Andersen's family for their use of The Little Mermaid?

With perpetual copyrights, we would have perpetual heritage disputes (who owns the works of Aristotle these days?), and all important works locked away. This is just stupid.

Re:what are you wacked? (1)

hashcash (1104755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200031)

>> worst reasoned essays I've ever read Name-calling is never an effective way to argue. I fail to see any use of logic is your assertions.

Cease and Desist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200059)

It has come to my attention that you people are all using so-called "words." Words you did not invent, but which are the imaginary property of me and my ancestors. Every word you did not coin yourself is the embodiment of someone else's idea. Every word defined in terms of other words or explained in terms of other words is a derived work. Whether spoken or written, they do not belong to you.

As such, please quit writing them, using them and thinking them. If you must communicate, please talk to the inventors of languages like Esperanto or Taki Poni and get a license to think from them. But make damn sure you don't use the Latin alphabet (or Cyrillic, or any of the others you didn't invent), or you're taking other people's thoughts without compensation!

Damn pirates. Get off of my lawn!

Kill Disney (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199755)

Let's apply this principle retroactively to nearly every animation Disney has ever made.

Re:Kill Disney (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199817)

Speaking of Disney and copyrights, I found a nice movie about copyrights made from small parts of Disney cartoons on BoingBoing, here. [boingboing.net]

they will buy the public domain (4, Insightful)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199849)

Disney and the other corporations will simply buy the public domain. What was once a public resource will be auctioned off to the highest bidder and people will have to pay. Apparently, denying everyone access to something creates economic value (if you ignore the costs to the public). Sound familiar ? I wonder how long until we will have to pay for the privilege of merely existing in a particular space. All of those roads, sidewalks, and parks could be sold off, and we could implant chips in people to debit their bank accounts to the owners of that property. You already pay rent, isn't it just an extension of the same thing ?

Artists Have No Right to Permanent Copyright (2, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199761)

They *DO* have a right to paid holidays, paid weekends off, paid sick days, time-and-a-half over 45 hours weekly, free coffee, free Poland Spring Water, a dental plan, a pharmaceuticals plan, and a 401-K plan.

Don't they...?

Re:Artists Have No Right to Permanent Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199803)

They *DO* have a right to paid holidays, paid weekends off, paid sick days, time-and-a-half over 45 hours weekly, free coffee, free Poland Spring Water, a dental plan, a pharmaceuticals plan, and a 401-K plan.

You sound confused. Many artists have some or all of those things while others don't. Those are related to whetehr or not they're employed. Their status as artists is irrelevant. It's like asking whether people who can whistle through their teeth are entitled to paid sick days.

There is no intellectual property (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199765)

...except for secrets. If you tell me something, it is no longer yours. Everything protection beyond that is a deliberate incentive to create, not a right. Prolonging copyright does not provide a bigger incentive. In my opinion, copyright is already extended too long to work as an incentive: If you can milk old stuff without end, why should you create new stuff?

Capitalism takes care of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199949)

If the old stuff still sells, then the market spoke: they prefer old stuff over new stuff.

Re:There is no intellectual property (5, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200071)

I agree completely. I would just add a quote I heard some time ago...

"If I have an apple and and you have an apple and we swap we will each have one apple. If I have an idea and you have an idea and we swap we now each have two ideas."

Surely this is how intellectual "property" should work.

Re:There is no intellectual property (1, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200137)

But if your idea is better than my idea, I lose.

Why? Wouldn't we both come out richer, each having both ideas?

No, because the idea in and of itself is not worth anything. It just kinda sits there. But ideas can turn into real things: a hardback book you can read, a machine that makes it easier to harvest corn, a medication that saves your life. Ultimately, you can sell that thing to somebody, and they'll swap you money (or something else valuable.)

If I'm a big manufacturing corporation, I'm only to happy to swap my idea for using two crayons at the same time to write my name for your idea that saves me a lot of money on each widget I manufacture. We both now have to ideas. But I also have widgets I can sell you, and you have some pretty pieces of paper.

The point is that ultimately intellectual property and real property are not quite as different as your quote would have us believe. They both have economic value, and "giving away" your idea is in fact an economic benefit to somebody else at a loss to yourself.

Some of us produce stuff; others produce ideas. To claim that the ideas have no economic value is to put those who make ideas for a living out of work.

Don't forget his other flaw. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200077)

WHAT if, after you had paid the taxes on earnings with which you built a house, sales taxes on the materials, real estate taxes during your life, and inheritance taxes at your death, the government would eventually commandeer it entirely? This does not happen in our society ... to houses. Or to businesses. Were you to have ushered through the many gates of taxation a flour mill, travel agency or newspaper, they would not suffer total confiscation.

Go ahead and skip paying the property taxes (unless you're a church) and see how long it takes the government to take those away.

If you want to treat "intellectual property" the same as physical property, then let's start with taxing it. Even if it doesn't make a profit for you. If you've released it, it goes into Public Domain unless you keep paying the taxes on it.

I actually believe that this would be the best "middle ground" between the the two sides. 99.999% of the stuff published would NOT be valuable enough to keep paying taxes on, year after year after year. Say $5 per item (single song, single story, single program, etc).

The items that ARE that valuable are so valuable that the owners (not necessarily the original producers of the work) can BUY legislation that extends copyright indefinitely for EVERYTHING. Even the 99.999% of stuff that isn't worth it.

Re:There is no intellectual property (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200113)

If you can milk old stuff without end, why should you create new stuff?


Perhaps, because artists create for the joy of creating?

Also, the assumption that just because we "force" an artist to produce more, we will be better off, is faulty. Some authors can write books almost as fast as they can type them. Others are notorious for missing deadlines. Should we really value the churn-em-out author more?

I wonder... (3, Interesting)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199769)

Is this one of the ways a culture can commit suicide?

Re:I wonder... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199869)

I think it's more than just a culture committing suicide; perhaps all of humanity is trying to destroy its own free will in favor of a strict rulebook governing what happens and when.

Unlike physical property, "intellectual property" actually infringes upon others' right to think.

Imagine the future. It is clear that some day, maybe soon or maybe distant, we will know how to interface computers directly with the mind. We will quite literally expand our own minds. What is the difference between a book stored in your digital memory and a book stored in someone's birth-given photographic memory? What is the difference between DRM in a computer and DRM in a mind? How can you have preemptive systems that stop the transfer of information without affecting the computers connected to our brains? This is, literally, the path to third-party mind control.

Are we going to have "intellectual" laws that make it illegal to remember something for too long, or too precisely? Will we have laws that make it illegal to communicate something you know? Because, at its base, this is what intellectual property is. It will become more and more evident as humans gain physical control over their own minds.

Re:I wonder... (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199921)

Add to all that that genetic sequences have been patented already... just wait until someone is executed for patent violation...

I do wonder what the next culture will be like... and how long it'll take until it reaches this point again...

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200025)

"just wait until someone is executed for patent violation..."

Maybe they won't need to be executed, if the law treats them as property.

This man, unlawfully possessed by himself since birth, is hereby declared the property of DOW Chemical.

Re:I wonder... (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200169)

Unlike physical property, "intellectual property" actually infringes upon others' right to think.

But real property infringes on the right to travel freely. I'm not saying I have a right to build a highway through your house. But nobody has a right to control huge swaths of land to restrict access to the other side. For instance the US doesn't not have the right(though they do have the might) to prohibit me from traveling through from Mexico to Canada, by air or land. And they really don't have the right to prohibit me from stopping to take a pee either. Property rights should only serve to protect the person and his/hers effects. And corporations should not in any way be given the same types of property rights as a person. Regardless of what the supreme court said about corporations being people. We should not allow it.

So much insanity in that article I don't know wher (2, Insightful)

bsane (148894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199771)

So much insanity in that article I don't know where to start, but lets try:

"Freeing" a literary work into the public domain is less a public benefit than a transfer of wealth from the families of American writers to the executives and stockholders of various businesses who will continue to profit from, for example, "The Garden Party," while the descendants of Katherine Mansfield will not.

Has this guy heard of the internet? Where anyone can 'publish' for almost no cost.

Re:So much insanity in that article I don't know w (3, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199877)

"So much insanity in that article I don't know where to start"

The insanity starts where it usually does; the Mr. Helprin confuses a monopoly with property (which, of course, is the entire point of calling it intellectual 'property').

What if the maker of the chair had the perpetual monopoly right? Nobody else would be allowed to make chairs. What if the maker of the house had a perpetual monopoly on building houses? Well, Mr Helprin wouldn't have a problem with the government taking his house when he died; he wouldn't have a house.

Property is the right to own what you make or buy. Monopoly rights is the right to prevent anyone else from making the same (or sufficiently similar) thing. Wether the copy is made by hand, or by machines makes no difference to the essence.

Re:So much insanity in that article I don't know w (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200157)

The insanity starts where it usually does; the Mr. Helprin confuses a monopoly with property (which, of course, is the entire point of calling it intellectual 'property').
What if the maker of the chair had the perpetual monopoly right? Nobody else would be allowed to make chairs.


Most likely the Wood Workers Association of America would be insisting that everyone paid a fee everytime they sat on a chair. Probably also cursing pet owners who's dogs and cats sat on chairs.

Re:So much insanity in that article I don't know w (3, Insightful)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200167)

Not to mention the virtual impossibility of tracking whose property is in whose in perpetuity. Can you imagine the maker of the chair owning the "intellectual property" for chairs forever? Imagine the legal minefield absolutely everything would become if the estate of the guy who made the first chair started suing eachother. Imagine how ingenuity would grind to a halt as everything become wrapped up in the barbed wire of protection.

This is why I'm in favour of the public domain, and in favour of it sooner rather than later. When your idea, or you implementation, or your song, or your algorithm, or your sheet music go into the public domain, it fosters innovation. The short-term monopoly you are given fosters the actual creation, but when it enters the public domain the real innovation hits. Look, for instance, how hiphop artists are sampling old public domain records. Look at code that's free to be changed. The examples are endless.

But at the end of the day the real challenge is not people extending copyright and treating patents like warheads and trademarking the "Apple". The real challenge is, instead, educating the masses why what you create isn't yours naturally. It's ours. It's the way it's always been: what humanity creates belongs to humanity. You can try to stop it, of course. But you'll fail.

Re:So much insanity in that article I don't know w (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200045)

He has a valid point. Whilst those of us in the "know" could obtain materials for free legally under a short-term copyright system, most of the average-joe consumption of public domain material would be in the form of dodgy chinese pirate copies sold from the back of a van, and for books, publishers like "penguin classics" no longer paying license fees. Make no mistake, many companies would spring up to exploit the hell out of materials people want, which could now be legally bootlegged.

I had a discussion about this a few nights ago - I know we all have this magic utopia of lack of copyright in our heads, but let's be pragmatic. Consider copyright that expires only when a book/movie/game is out of print, such that anyone who wants to try and buy a copy could only do so second-hand. The lifespan of a created work usually ends with it being sold for a flat fee into some "classics" collection, a la sold-out software. Let's replace that phase of a work's life with public domain. This also has the advantage of not treading on disney's toes.

People should be paid but.... (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199773)

I really don't like the idea of a perpetual copyright. Basically, when a an artist creates a song for example, copyright gives them a limited time to commercially exploit their material. That seems fair to me. It rewards their creativity and the fact that they created the material first. However, to say that for example, John Lennon and Paul McCartney "own" forever the exact combination of musical pitches played at a certain rythmn which we recognize when played as "Let it Be," is taking things too far.

Re:People should be paid but.... (2, Insightful)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199925)

Lets continue the argument of perpetual copyright compared to ownership of physical objects... physical objects become damaged, obsolete and eventually disposed of. Works of art aside, physical objects have very much finite existences.

Also, even if copyrights were perpetual, it is very likely that descendants would eventually get rid or forget about their rights to their ancestors's work.

IMO, life (up to the last living actor/director/writer/etc. involved in a team production) + 25 years should be plenty sufficient... or maybe a flat 100 years from initial publications.

Re:People should be paid but.... (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199973)

However, to say that for example, John Lennon and Paul McCartney "own" forever the exact combination of musical pitches played at a certain rythmn which we recognize when played as "Let it Be," is taking things too far.

I don't really see how. At least in McCartney's case. Lennon can't "own" anything at the moment.

I think that copyright should end when the creator expires. When they can no longer benefit from their work then the work should enter the public domain.

However, as an artist and software developer I like the idea of being able to control what happens to something that I worked hard on. It has nothing to do with incentive or profit, specifically. I would still create if I were unable to profit from it (I've written tons of songs that I couldn't pay people to listen to let alone get them to pay me lol). It's more about control and freedom. My work is a part of me. Just as you wouldn't want someone to cut you open and remove a redundant organ and profit from it on the black market I wouldn't want someone to take something that I worked hard on and profit from it without my permission.

I'm all for open licenses and public domain. I've released a lot of my work in open licenses. But the idea that I could some day see other people profiting from my work while I'm still alive and have absolutely no say in the matter what-so-ever bothers me greatly.

Conversely, the idea of certain work being under copyright long after the creator has deceased bothers me too. When I die my body becomes the property of "mother earth" and any work that I created society can have to do whatever they want with since I'm not going to be around to care.

Re:People should be paid but.... (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200021)

"Basically, when a an artist creates a song for example, copyright gives them a limited time to commercially exploit their material."

No, they still have unlimited time to 'commercially exploit their material'. The limit is only on the time that the ability is solely theirs.

When the copyright expires on Madonna's stupid Bananas song, she doesn't lose the ability to make money from it. She can still sing in it concerts, sell CDs/MP3s/whatever, and anything else she wants. Others will be able to sell CDs/MP3s of it, but they will still be completely unable to BE her and sing it live in concert.

And for her to stop making money on the CDs requires the assumption that nobody will pay for the official CD. Collectors, fans, and others who simply enjoy the music will continue to buy the original to support the artist.

What removing lengthy copyrights DOES do it remove the bullshit from the system. No more price-gouging for CDs. They can't pay the artist $.07 a song and sell them for $1.30 anymore. They'll have to actually have reasonable rates because someone else WILL sell it for a reasonable rate.

(My apologies to those of you who actually like the Bananas song. All 3 of you.)

OMG (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199779)

I feel a sudden disturbance in the force, as if a N00B is about to get PWNED

Copyright is Public Protection (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199783)

In exchange for you making your creations public. Society has to benefit, but it was also recognized that without copyright there would be less incentive to work on certain things.

So society promised authors/creators/artist a limited time monopoly as incentive and society gets the benefit of the artwork/creation and later having it in public domain.

Don't forget, having copyright in the first place causes a strain on society. IP is not a natural right. Copyright is a mutually beneficial contract between creators and society. The article's author wants to subvert the contract completely in the favor of one side. In U.S. contract law, for contracts to be valid, both sides have to have had a clear benefit for the contract to be considered valid.

Copyright already has been subverted to the one side so often (copyright extensions) without any clear benefits given for the other side, I would have to start arguing that the contract is not valid anymore. I don't believe anybody is owed rights that place an undue burden on society unless society also benefits in some way. This is not the case here.

If you want your thing protected forever, lock it in a vault, don't let it see the light of day, and don't tell anybody about it. Let it die, along with you eventually.

SHUT UP, HIPPY (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199815)

Listen to your father [youtube.com] .

Re:Copyright is Public Protection (5, Insightful)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199831)

Mod the parent up.

What everyone is forgetting is that society agrees to enforce copyright but it has costs. I agree to let you and only you sell your work (without taking it, just copying it or doing whatever I would wish with it) because then you have an incentive but there is no reason for me to spend lots of resources to ensure that you keep all the gain if there is no give back.

The cost on enforcing copyright is paid for by society with the idea that it gains. If there is no gain, why spend enormous resources protecting copyright?

Copyright is not some inherent right and I keep thinking everyone keeps forgetting this.

Re:Copyright is Public Protection (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200003)

The article's author wants to subvert the contract completely in the favor of one side.

I had to stop and think about whether this statement referred to the article or the summary. From the summary:

This community can surely supply a plethora of arguments for the public domain

I resent the implication that the only alternative to a copyright extension is an outright abolishment of copyright. The biggest piece of common sense I've heard for ages on the subject of copyright reform was from the Gowers report: no extensions, no reductions. Leave it as it is.

Re:Copyright is Public Protection (1)

BootNinja (743040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200085)

The summary wasn't necessarily advocating the abolishment of copyright. However, if we do NOT have perpetual copyright, then we WILL have some sort of public domain. which is right and good. the line you quoted, This community can surely supply a plethora of arguments for the public domain, says just that, that there are reasons to maintain a public domain. It nowhere implied that abolishment of copyright is a good or bad thing. In point of fact, it didn't mention that at all.

As to your suggestion to leave it alone, I'm afraid that's not really practical. Copyright, as it stands today is badly broken. Everybody agrees on that. The thing nobody agrees on is exactly how to fix it.

Re:Copyright is Public Protection (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200081)

In exchange for you making your creations public. Society has to benefit, but it was also recognized that without copyright there would be less incentive to work on certain things.

Actually this is completly unproven. Indeed it's hard to find any way of actually testing if this is actually the case.

So society promised authors/creators/artist a limited time monopoly as incentive and society gets the benefit of the artwork/creation and later having it in public domain.

Of course life of author plus the average human life span is hardly "limited" for all practical purposes.

Don't forget, having copyright in the first place causes a strain on society.

Using the "life plus X years metric" also places a strain on the actual mechanics of copyright (as do retroactive extensions of term) in that it is impossible to know when something will enter the public domain. There is also a very good possibility that copyright will persist long after no copies still exist. (Especially for works which are not deposited in Copyright Libraries, even quite a few which are since such libraries are currently faced with the inability to actually store everything which is published. Possibly not even being able to store all unpopular works...)

IP is not a natural right. Copyright is a mutually beneficial contract between creators and society.

It isn't even that, IP is the fiction that pretending ideas are like physical objects is a sensible idea.

Re:Copyright is Public Protection (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200163)

If you want your thing protected forever, lock it in a vault, don't let it see the light of day, and don't tell anybody about it. Let it die, along with you eventually.

And we're all *really wishing* that's what Cliff Richard had done. He only has himself to blame; he'd already perpetual copyright now.

Strange (5, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199791)

Strange, in his article Helprin doesn't mention anything about HIM paying royalties to Shakespeare's descendants for his use of the title Winter's Tale [wikipedia.org] for his novel (it is the name of, and a reference to a Shakespeare play). Presumably he should cough up something for the use of a similar plot device too.

No mention either of what he should be paying the descendants of every innovator in printing technology.

Re:Strange (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199897)

Titles are not copyrightable [copyright.gov] , so he's not a hypocrite in that regard. However, if a writer is indebted to Shakespeare and printing technology, then every writer in the Western hemisphere owes God a pretty penny for the Bible that provided all the moral themes that appear in many stories and being one of the most published book of the ages.

Re:Strange (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199961)

to state that the bible is the source source of those moral themes is extremely arrogant.

Re:Strange (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200035)

Name one other book with moral themes that has influenced Western literature? Chicken Soup books don't count. :)

Re:Strange (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200095)

I did think of mentioning the 'titles are not copyrightable' thing... but I think that's just a quirk of current law. If you're going to argue that IP is just like physical property then why shouldn't titles be property too, and subject to the same ownership?

Re:Strange (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200159)

In many instances, titles can be protected as trademarks. I think J.K. Rowling would have a good claim if somebody were to name their book "Harry Potter and the . . . ". But, trademark has very different boundaries than copyright.

Titles, by themselves, are not copyrightable because they generally do not evidence enough of the creative expression that copyright is supposed to protect. Plus, as a practical matter, you don't want to put a copyright on short phrases. Should Stephen King have a copyright on the word "It," Shakespeare on "Hamlet," Coben on "The Woods," or Grisham on "The Firm"?

Re:Strange (0)

hashcash (1104755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199929)

That's a well known logical fallacy called an ad hominem argument. Attack his ideas, not him. I'll probably be modded-down for disagreeing with the Slashdot status quo.

Re:Strange (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200049)

Yeah, you'll probably get modded down ;) But really I wasn't trying to attack the guy, just to illustrate what would follow from his plan, with examples he should understand.

Re:Strange (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200065)

Actually, he didn't attack Helprin about anything that wasn't in the discussion. Helprin's use of the title (and the idea) goes against the very thing that he is trying to promote. "Do as I say, not as I do" never did work very well, especially on adults. If he can't even follow his own ideas, how could he possibly convince others to?

While it is still technically an 'ad hominem' attack, It pertains to the matter at hand.

Now, whether of not using a title and idea of another writer is actually against copyright is a whole other issue.

Re:Strange (2, Informative)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200073)

Why don't you explain to us mere mortals why that IS an ad hominem argument? Seems to me that TFA claims that he should have perpetual copyright; if that applied to Shakespeare, this author would have been in trouble. That's relevant and not a personal attack.

Ad hominem, in my understanding, would have been to claim the author has smelly feet or gave his fiancee a blood diamond, or some equally irrelevant argument.

In history (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199977)

there are two theories about the alphabet, and alphabets in general. There is the gradual theory, where we assume that it came about gradually, with contributions of many people and time. And there is the theory that one man suddenly made it. Chinese and Japanese Kanji are probably an example of the gradual theory (but they are not really alphabets, like Japanese Katakana/Hiragana can be argued to be).

But the English Alphabet, or the direct ancestors, there is an argument which theory applies.

Anyway, I was wondering how the article's author would react if he took his argument to heart, and had to pay royalties are every letter he writes and for every word he utters. Regardless of theory, SOMEONE had to create them before him, no? And their hard work isn't being compensated, apparently.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200161)

sounds like you should write a letter to the times ;)

Authors (4, Interesting)

guinsu (198732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199795)

Why is it always authors who come down as the hardest advocates of strict copyrights? I'm not trolling, it just seems that among musicians (classical and pop), painters, photographers, etc there is way less of this mentality of locking everything down and severely punishing anyone who steps out of line. It is especially disappointing among sci-fi authors. For instance we had Harlan Ellison suing AOL for the contents of the newsgroups and dragging that out for like 5 years (it could still be going on now for all I know). Then I believe it was SM Stirling (I could have the author wrong) ranting that people who upload his novels to newsgroups deserve to be anally raped in prison. It is sad since these people are supposed to have, you know, a bit of vision. My only guess is authors are so used to getting screwed by their publishers and don't get to interact with their fan base the way a musician might they are led down this RIAA-like path where they feel the only way to protect themselves is to lock things down entirely. Either that or its just all about the money for an author.

Obviously there are exceptions, people like Neil Stephenson have certainly embraced the future (well more like the present).

This never made any sense to me either (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199845)

Out of all content creators (well, with the exception of painters), their work is least susceptible to copying. Don't release your stuff in ebook format if you don't want it to get copied. It's far more convenient to have actual physical books than to sit there and read something on your laptop, so they really shouldn't be worrying that much.

Re:Authors (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199863)

It's probably because a famous musician and painter have revenue streams other then the sale of their work and photographers usually get paid without necessarily having to sell their photos. Musicians have concerts. photographers can do weddings, portraits, nudes and sell on internet, and magazines and news papers. Painters can be commissioned by cities to make murals and so on. A writer can just sell his book. His book is likely to take a long time as well. A song can be written in a day, A photography session rarely spans more then a day, and a painter can do one up in a week. Novels take a year or more.

Re:Authors (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200027)

Novels take a year or more.

Not always true.. all it took JKRowling to create the Harry Potter books as a large dose of fibre and a heavy bowel movement.

Re:Authors (2, Insightful)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199907)

Think about it for a minute. The vast majority of a musician's work is OUTSIDE the recording studio, performing live. It's easy to be cavalier about the fruits of one afternoon in the studio when you can still go out and make a boatload of money touring. (Remember, as recently as the 70's albums were often considered promotional material for live concerts, the real money-makers.)

Compare this to a novelist, who often spends YEARS of his life on a single novel. Can't exactly sell out football stadiums full of fans to watch you carefully develop characters and fine-tune the same passages over a period of months. If a novelist isn't making money from the sales of his novel, he's probably not making money off it, period.

Re:Authors (2, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200055)

As a webmaster who runs sites that make money via ad revenue, I've often wondered why authors don't exploit the Internet, and the whole "piracy" thing for that matter, more.

You could write a novel or an instructional booklet and release the entire thing online for free in HTML format and use adwords on the site that hosts it. You don't need to "sell a single copy". Just put it up, set up an adwords account and then spend a bit of time promoting / advertising it. If it's any good and people like it then the Internet's very nature will kick in and drive traffic.

To combat "piracy" you could even get creative and include the URL to your site that hosts it throughout the story. If your "book-site" offers more content than just the story/novel/whatever then any type-in traffic generated would probably result in some bookmarks and then more traffic via word of mouth etc.

Also since the "book-site" is going to be extremely keyword dense you should get some very broad yet targeted ads which could generate clicks and sales that you wouldn't really think about. This could actually create problems on the other hand but you don't have to go with a PPC system. You could advertise other books in a similar genre through affiliate programs etc.

Heck I might just try this myself. I've always wanted to write a book.

Re:Authors (1)

eht (8912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199993)

Don't worry, there is at least one publishing house allowing an encouraging its authors to release stuff for free, Baen [baen.com] . They have their Free Library [baen.com] and in a number of their hardbound books they include a CD that states "This disk and its contents may be copied and shared but not sold" , an archive of these CDs may be found here [thefifthimperium.com] .

Re:Authors (1)

AgNO3 (878843) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200083)

WHAT?? Photographers have 2 of the strongest copyright advocacy groups on the planet. The APA and the ASMP.

Perpetual copyright? No way! (1)

jxliv7 (512531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199797)

question 1: What if the copyright holder dies intestate?

question 2: Won't that kill off sequels?

question 3: Who's going to find offenders?

question 4: As the body of copyright material grows and grows, doesn't that mean that creativity becomes more and more impossible?

question 5: If creativity is stifled, then won't less and less people get involved in the arts?

question 6: If perpetual motion is impossible, what makes anyone think that a perpetual copyright is?

question 7: This kind of craziness is exactly why public flogging needs to return, right?

jon

Re:Perpetual copyright? No way! (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199979)

question 2: Won't that kill off sequels?
So no more sequels written by mediocre authors or relatives years after the original author's death... explain why this is a bad thing.

question 4: As the body of copyright material grows and grows, doesn't that mean that creativity becomes more and more impossible?
What? Are you saying that the only way to be "creative" is to blatantly plagiarize existing works?

question 6: If perpetual motion is impossible, what makes anyone think that a perpetual copyright is?
So anything with the word "perpetual" in it is a logical impossibility now?

How about copyright just lasts until the end of life on Earth? Hardly perpetual on the cosmological scale. Does that solve your conundrum?

Re:Perpetual copyright? No way! (1)

jxliv7 (512531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200165)

question 2: Won't that kill off sequels?
So no more sequels written by mediocre authors or relatives years after the original author's death... explain why this is a bad thing.

actually, it isn't.

question 4: As the body of copyright material grows and grows, doesn't that mean that creativity becomes more and more impossible?
What? Are you saying that the only way to be "creative" is to blatantly plagiarize existing works?

no, what i'm saying is that as more and more work is copyright -- words, art, music, etc. -- the task to find something that doesn't infringe on prior work becomes harder and harder.

question 6: If perpetual motion is impossible, what makes anyone think that a perpetual copyright is?
So anything with the word "perpetual" in it is a logical impossibility now?

How about copyright just lasts until the end of life on Earth? Hardly perpetual on the cosmological scale. Does that solve your conundrum?

i don't have a conundrum. i am merely suggesting that perpetual copyright is a nightmare, a hinderance to creativity, and a mess to enforce.

two words: "Property Taxes" (5, Interesting)

stabiesoft (733417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199805)

The author forgets that tangible objects are taxed at their current valuation. Copyrighted objects rarely are. Another minor fact the author missed is even property can be eminent domain'ed away, or if a govt collapses completely, the new govt will likely re-distribute the land. Ask the indians.

Re:two words: "Property Taxes" (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199935)

You just hit the nail on the head. If they want copyrights in perpetuity, I say we should also tax that property of theirs. Owning a masterpiece of artwork is owning an asset and applicable taxes are then applied. Same should go for copyright holders and patent holders. After a very limited time of tax relief on their 'property' it becomes a taxable asset unless they release it to the public domain. That should balance out the benefit to public vs. royalty issues on things that have gone past any verifiable value of private ownership of such 'intellectual properties' as are currently under debate.

Re:two words: "Property Taxes" (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200023)

Indeed.

Also, virtually everything that is a subject to copyright is very easy to reproduce/copy. Of course you can own your car, but if your neighbour forges 100% identical one in his garage, you do not sue him for copyright infringement, or do you? Of course if "real" objects could be copyrightable...

Our civilisation got so far only because the idea was free. What if the ancient guys patented the math? Would you be reading /. now?

Information wants to be free, this is its nature and nobody'll change that.

The right? (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199813)

So, they were given this ability by technology now it becomes a right? I rather think what technology giveth, technology taketh away.

Copyright only exists because technology made it relatively simple to replicate a work and sell it many times over.

 

Sure, why not? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199821)

Its not like the current system is abused at all. Why would extending it hurt any?

geesh.

The funny thing is... (3, Insightful)

cunamara (937584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199829)

... so-called "intellectual property" already is far more protected than real property.

A few years ago I decided to play devil's advocate in a discussion about copyright and promoted the concept of "permanent copyright" in which the material never passed into the public domain. It was a fascinating thing to try to promote, because quite rapidly it becomes clear that the permanent copyright is simply untenable.

20 years' copyright protection is enough. I'm not an author or an artist, and like most people I get paid for today's work once rather than getting paid over and over and over for the rest of my life. The position that someone should work once and get paid perpetually for doing so is not workable.

Copyright "property" taxes (1)

soundhack (179543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199839)

To follow the guy's logic, if we are to treat creative works like property, the federal/state governments should be able to tax the hell out of them for the public good. Like property taxes are often used to shore up deficits, or pay for public education, we should tax copyright holders on any income or royalty they make, in addition to the income taxes they pay now.

If his reduces taxes on the rest of us, I'm all for it! Following this author's ridiculous logic to its natural conclusion, we will kill all innovation, but hey, so long as we stop this "unfair inequality" he whines about.

Sounds like a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199853)

Let's charge intellectual property tax as well, and allow eminent domain of works in the public interest.

no good case for degrading the spirit and mind. (4, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199859)

no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind

I agree entirely, there is no good reason to put physical limitations on ideas and doing so degrades them. Good ideas can be immortal, a story is retold, a song is sung, inventions are shared and implemented long after the death of the person who conceived the original. As one candle lights another, ideas flow between people and enrich all. A society that would put unreasonable restrictions on these things will extinguish them. The ultimate reward for any author is recognition and imitation.

Perpetual copyrights will be used to crush people with new stories, songs and ideas. "What is yours next to our collection, which [contains tens of thousands | spans the entire history of recorded music | includes the work of Einstein]?" they can ask before dismissing you. Every day we come closer to losing the right to read [gnu.org] .

Give and take (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199861)

It's not a bad idea, really. If I spend my adult life creating a rich fantasy world, my heirs will not see a single cent of profit once I've been dead for seventy years and a day -- even if there's still profit to be had. If on the other hand I spend my adult life making a popular soft drink, my heirs can milk that until the end of time.

(anyone on /. knows at least one counter-argument to this. Let's assume you've made those already, and move on.)

The correct answer to these problems is to refine copyright -- add a requirement of mandatory licensing to any copywritten work, exclude software from copyright*, eliminate copyright on "mere publication or collection" of public domain works, and push all works into the public domain after a five year period where they are not "in print."

(*: software deserves either its own IP model, or none at all.)

Re:Give and take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200093)

Seeing as how I'm "Anonymous Coward", I've not been on Slashdot that long (or, in a meta-sense, I've been here for a long, long time, but I digress), so please explain the counter-argument:

Why _can_ the heirs of the soda-creator profit until the end of time from his idea, whereas the heirs of a writer cannot?

Copyright (1)

BMojo (315620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199867)

No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property
How about the fact that physical property is naturally valuable because you cant acquire it by thought. Its not an idea. Its not information. If Mark Halprin wants to play it his way, why dont we see how far he gets when there is no protection at all in place. Piracy is so simple to accomplish in our age. You push the public with stupid crap like owning an idea forever and you will no longer have our support.

Sure, but no restrictions on "license" then (3, Insightful)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199871)

If we really want to treat copyright as "physical property" then once you sell me a CD/Book/Movie you can't claim you only sold me "limited license". We're dealing with physical thing now, so I can disassemble, sell and re-sell, rent it out, share it with anybody I want.
Because if someone tries to sell you a horse that you can ONLY ride on your lawn you call that person nuts.

a better question? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199873)

why is linux still for fags?

NIGGa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199879)

sh0rt of a Miracle

Same term (1)

larien (5608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199915)

"We have not heard a convincing reason why a composer and his or her heirs should benefit from a term of copyright which extends for lifetime and beyond, but a performer should not," the report said.
You know, you're right. Reduce the composer's copyright to 50 years as well.

Also, this is akin to me turning round to an ex employer and saying "you're still using that script I wrote, pay me more money for doing that". It's a bullshit argument, they've had 50 years to rake it in and that should be enough.

Rubbish (0, Flamebait)

ZwJGR (1014973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199941)

That article reads like a cross between the bible and a badly written lawyer's speech.

Does this fool really think that anybody should be given right to own an idea, a sequence of letters, etc. for eternity... The idea that you can pass on the rights to make profit from the mere existence an idea you thought up to your grandchildren is laughable.

The problem is:
Author writes book.
Author becomes fabulously rich.
Author has child.
Author dies.
Descendant makes money off of parent's book, by doing zilch and being a drain on society.
Rake in cash, reproduce and repeat...

If you haven't made enough money off your IP in 50 years, it can't have been all that good can it.

Furthermore, one should not envy the perpetrators of sensationalist trash, but rather admire them
Are you an idiot?

American citizens, get it into your excuses for brains.
Money Isn't Everything.

There is more to life than the $dollar$.
You can only buy so much, for not doing very much...
Society as a whole benefits from a balanced distribution of resources, with mutually beneficial input from all sides.

Owning culture (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199953)

I think the simplest argument against perpetual copyright runs roughly as follows: ultimately our culture is the sum total of ideas and stories that have been told and retold down through the ages; the very idea that culture is something that should be owned by individuals or companies is bizarre -- it is a recipe for cultural stagnation and failure. Ideas are of limited value when isolated, it is only with other people to understand and share ideas that they begin to take on the true value that has bootstrapped mankind to the stage we are at now. It is through language, and the ability to easily proliferate ideas, to see that they are passed down from one generation to the next and expanded upon, that mankind came to be what it is today. It seems a terribly backward step to try and isolate ideas once again.

Note that I am not proposing a complete "information wants to be free" approach, but the ultimate value of an idea is realised when it becomes freely available to a society, thus any copyright law should include provision to see that this eventually happens. Rewarding the creators of new ideas is a worthy goal, and I cna see a place for some sort of copyright law. That must always strike a balance, however, with the need for ideas to reach their full potential by being released to society to remember and expand it, or forget it completely, as they see fit.

Re:Owning culture (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200131)

Agreed. Arguments for perpetual copyright always smell like "I'm not making enough dough" or "I want to work less for more money". Little attention is paid by its proponents to the societal cost of a perpetual copyright, or to the benefits that come from releasing an idea or an abstract into the public domain. Interestingly, it also seems that the same proponents fail to see how much they benefited from ideas and works in the public domain.

Retroactive copyright extensions (1)

Knetzar (698216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199955)

I've never understood to legal logic behind retroactive copyright extensions. My understanding is that copyright is supposed to grant a limited monopoly to a content creator in order to encourage the creation of content. After the content has been created, extending the monopoly period retroactively does nothing to encourage new content.

IP can't be stolen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19199965)

No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property

On the contrary - real property can only be owned/held/used by only one person/corporation/entity at a time - it cannot be used by other people without its value getting diluted. The value of intellectual property, on the other hand, does generally not dilute with its dissemination - I can appreciate a beautiful poem, regardless of whether or not my neighbor knows it. I can make fire using the knowledge of how to do so, regardless of whether or not everyone else knows how to make fire. (there are obvious exceptions, such as national secrets, a particularly effective algorithm for trading stocks, etc., but I think that you see the point I am trying to make)

Intellectual property cannot be stolen in the same sense that real property can - if I take your real property, you don't have it any more. If I learn your idea by heart, you still have your knowledge left intact. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between intellectual and real property, and also the reason that they should not be considered equal - they are, intrinsically, of two very different natures.

"If I have an apple and you have an apple, and we exchange them, we each have one apple. But if I have an idea and you have an idea, and we exchange them, we each have two ideas." --someone whose name escapes me at the moment

It's a bargain, not a right (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199969)

You have the right to anything you can defend, e.g. your person, your real property, your car, the things you carry around with you. You don't have a right to control something I own, e.g. a CD with your music on it. You have to bargain with me to get that right. In exchange for being allowed to control copying for A LIMITED TIME (that's what the Constitution says, "limited time"), we allow you to control OUR PROPERTY (a CD or book that we own).

Physical properties DO disappear (1)

hashcash (1104755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199987)

In his article he states that physical properties are permanent while intellectual properties eventually disappears. This is not true. Consider a house worth X dollars. If the government collects Y dollars in taxes, eventually the total amount collected would be greater than X. Thus, intellectual property is not being discriminated against.

But what about the commons? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#19199991)

Disney gets to raid the public domain for material, but nothing ever returns to the public domain?

And it's not all Disney with Pinnochio. Every author does this. Think: Love Triangle. Fish out of Water. Coming of Age. Ticking Time Bomb. Quest.

Creativity is not something that springs, like Athena, from the brows of authors. It's more like a conversation they have with the public imagination.

People who want a strong grounding on these issues should read Macaulay's Second Speech on Copyright Extension to Parliament, dated 29 January 1841. In it he lays out the basic theoretical framework for modern copyright, which is purely utilitarian. A purely deontological argument would argue against copyrights altogether.

People who borrow from the literary lumber room stocked by past generations have no right to lock that room to future generations.

No property rights are forever (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200011)

Real property right only lasts until your ruler succumb to the new overlord so you *will* loose your real property.

The King of England once owned the land now called the US of A.

Intellectual property is harder to protect and defend, and stand to be lost easier.

What body should protect the copyright of Publius Vergilius Maro? The roman empire?
No law can change this.

Hey Mr Halprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200015)

If writing is such an unfair job, why don't you just find another one? I bet culture will survive just fine without your input.

I guess IQs DID drop sharply while I was away ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200017)

If he really wants to find out what copyright is all about, why we have it, what it was intended to accomplish, and why the current incarnation no longer serves that purpose, he should read some of Thomas Jefferson's writings on the subject. If that is too difficult for him, a quick review of the Constitution might grant him a clue.

The guy is either ignorant or self-serving (or both), and frankly I don't like either.

Greed is unsurprising (4, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200019)

Greed, however dispicable, is unsurprising.

The copyright is already too long by about 50 years (in the US). I can imagine detailed arguments over the fine details, but 10-20 years is the right range. And corporations should not be allowed to own copyrights, only to license them from the owners for a limited period of time. Also copyrights should die immediately when the owner of the copyright dies. Families don't have any respect for the artistic integrity of the works of authors, so why should they be allowed to control it. (Sometimes I don't like what an author does, and prefer an earlier version of his work, but I respect his right to alter it. I don't respect the grant of that right to the works of dead authors for people who don't bother to read and understand the original. Here I'm thinking of Eric Flint and the incongruous prequels to the Dune series. E.E. Smith, OTOH, did have the right to write "Skylark DuQuesne", however much it mutilated the world of the previous Skylark books.)

I will grant that this will mean that families won't be able to protect the integrity of the works of their ancestors. They don't anyway. They usually don't appear to even understand them. (Christopher Tolkien may understand, but he's not the writer his father was.)

Also, neither Cinderella nor "The Beauty and the Beast" were Walt Disney originals. Finding the original sources, however, has become a challenge. Or try a somewhat tougher one: What were the traditional words and tune to "Geordie" (not the Joan Baez version). The indefinitely extended copyright has caused it to be VERY dangerous to attempt to create music on a traditional basis. Somebody is likely to have copyrighted a part of any variation of it that you can make (which also sounds good). Actually, they're quite likely to have copyrighted the traditional version as their own. Proving this, however, is difficult. A copyright that expires in a reasonable amount of time minimizes this problem (and it's quite reasonable that ressurecting a traditional favorite DOES deserve SOME reward...but not an unending copyright.)

Why should artists get paid in perpetuity? (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200041)

Besides the numerous reasons why a permanent copyright is completely untenable, counterproductive and idiotic, I'm always curious why some artists think that they deserve to be paid forever for something they did once. Write Happy Birthday? Get paid forever. Yes, yes, it's a nifty little dilly. But why should that piece of work allow someone to sit on his/her fat ass for the rest of their lives? The reason that everybody else works is that physical stuff is either consumed or breaks down. As a result, if you create some bread, you need to make more, and since it is an arduous process, you're actually doing something that has value. Just copying an idea involves very little work and very little cost these days. Not only that, but the original creator generally is not involved in the copy process.

So again - why do some artists think they ought to do work once, then collect checks in perpetuity? I have an answer for that, but I would love to hear from someone who thinks it doesn't involve "cheap lazy selfish narcissistic assholes who don't understand that their work is not nearly as original as they think it is."

I think this is a great idea... (1)

throup (325558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200043)

... providing that entitlement to payment for something you did more than 50 years ago is applied equally. So, for example, I expect that Jane Waddle who worked for a 30 day period in a Disney Store back in 2001, will be entitled to a month's salary every month for the rest of her life from the Disney corporation. That's fair, isn't it?

taxes on death? (1)

marcovje (205102) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200057)


When you transfer assets to your heirs you have to pay a fairly hefty tax, usually in the 10% magnitude. Same for other forms of property tax. And note that these taxes are on the value of the property, not on the revenue you generate with it.

It could be that equating copyright with property might benefit the IRS the most, and make that perpetual copyright might not be worthwhile because of tax pressure except for the 0.001% of all-time classics.

Melancholy Elephants (1)

Ogre-On (696676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200097)

They say elephants never forget... and have you ever seen an elephant who looked happy?

In Spider Robinson's short story "Melancholy Elephants," he points out a huge problem with perpetual (or even lengthy) copyright, coupled with perpetual storage (memory). It stifles innovation, and worse, leads to stagnation in the arts.

There are a finite number of aesthetically pleasing ways to arrange a finite number of notes, a finite number of colored pigments, or a finite number of words. Remember the monkeys and Shakespeare? Without intending to -- without ever having been exposed to an earlier work -- it is quite possible that portions of a new creative work will substantially resemble portions of an earlier work. And that's enough to qualify as plagiarism.

Shakespeare's work was "substantially similar" to other, already-existing creative works... suppose he'd been subject to litigation for that?

We need to be able to forget.

As a published writer (4, Insightful)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200107)

I find this suggestion outrageous. My earliest [technical-professional] articles etc came out in 1980, when I was 30. As things stand now, if I die when I'm 70 (i.e. 2020, the copyright won't expire until 2090, 110 years after they were written! That in itself is preposterous. The original term was 17 years with an optional 17 year extension. I have no problem with that stuff being in the public domain now. the purpose of writing it was to communicate information in the first place. If it's not, why bother? Doh.

I'm inclined to suspect that this is a trial balloon floated by the big publishers & Disney-oids to complete the rape of the pubic domain. How long before things like Shakespeare, the Illiad, the Bible, Darwin's work are auctioned off to big money (in return for big campaign contributions) and stolen from the public. Hey Halprin, if you don't like finite copyright, DON'T PUBLISH! Shove it up your ass, instead. That'll fix us. Who are you, anyway, your stuff seems to be almost invisible to Google. One unrated listing on Amazon. Not the next Shakespeare or Toynbee.

Real vs imagined property (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200109)

Why is 'real' property protected? By saying that you cannot a piece of land because I 'own' it, am I not infringing on your freedom?
The justification is that if I let you share my land, I lose the use of the land. Both of us cannot use the same piece of land at the same time.

Now, if I plant crop A on my land and you decide to copy me, I have no right to stop you. Your planting of A does not take away anything from me, except potential profits that I could've made if I had a monopoly. And that is exactly what intellectual property is.

If you are worried that someone might steal the drug that you invested a billion dollars in, or the new song you came up with, thereby causing loss of profits, then distribute your product only to those people who will sign a contract where they agree not to copy your invention. The potential purchaser can then decide if signing the contract is worth the benefits he gets from the product.
The practicalities of such arrangements are *your* problem as an inventor/artist/distributor - it should not be the responsibility of society to solve these issues to make your life easier.

The current mess is because some people overestimated the ability of the state to make decisions that it cannot make :
- what is novel and what is obvious,
- whether 'invention A' is worthy of more protection than B, etc.

Extending copyright not playing by the rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200121)

Perptual copyright is daft. The whole copyright thing is merely an agreement for a government to give your good IP an exclusive protected period. During this you are meant to make your money on it, etc. But in return for government upholding your right to your copyright (because on your own you could not do it) at the end the IP then becomes public.
If anything, extending copyright indefinately robs people of the chance to improve a design or extend it. Since many inventions are built upon others this would just stop inovation.

US Patent Number 1 (1)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200123)

I need to travel back in time and file the following patents:

"Abstract: A method for generating heat by rubbing two small pieces of wood against one another"
"Abstract: A method for gathering food by growing it in a field"
"Abstract: A method for easily transporting goods by means of a rounded rock"

All kidding aside, what would have happened to human society if such key advances as fire, agriculture, and the wheel had become jealously and perpetually guarded properties? I see no problem with allowing a limited monopoly on an idea as our copyright and patent systems do, but an idea is too powerful a thing to keep it bound up for eternity.

So sorry for the terrible things society has done! (5, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19200125)

I'm so sorry that he feels he doesn't owe society anything for his "great" works. That without a stable society with culture and intelligence, people wouldn't be buying books or listening to music. Does he gather inspiration for his works of the "spirit and mind" from nothingness? What role does society play in the creative arts?

If you can't stand the thought of society getting something after you are dead, after you so clearly benefited from society. then you are simply an arrogant spoiled human being. Being selfish and having an obsession with ownership are not exactly redeeming qualities.

Profit from your toil while you are alive, then pass that profit on to your children if you wish. But a baker cannot make a loaf of bread and sell it many times over on into many generations. But she can certainly create wealth around baking and establish a business that can sustain her children into old age as long as her children can be smart enough and work hard enough to maintain this means of production.

Copyright for every profession? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19200139)

He seems to believe that product of his labor is property to own forever, but how can that be if he wishes to profit from it by selling it? How does one intend to sell something, yet at the same time still own it? If I am a craftsman, and I made beautiful coffee tables, how exactly can I cash in on the whole copyright thing? I would most certainty like to make only one coffee table and sell it to multiply buyers and still enjoy having it sit in my living room. But, alas, I am a mere craftsman; only my moral and intellectual superior, the writer, can enjoy that privilege. Right! Excuse me sir! Right, I meant RIGHT. Forgive me, I am lowly wretch; a mere craftsman.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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

Loading...