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Copyright Cutback Proposed As RIAA Solution

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the things-that-would-help-but-are-impossible dept.

Music 709

An anonymous reader writes "InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe proposes a novel solution to the ongoing spate of RIAA lawsuits over alleged music copying. He suggests legislation which cuts back corporate copyrights from 120 years to 5 years. 'We should do what we do to children who misbehave,' he writes. 'Take away their privileges.' Wolfe says this is regardless of the misunderstanding surrounding the latest case, which apparently isn't about ripping CDs to one's own computer. As to those who say copyrights are a right: "That's simply a misunderstanding of their purpose. Copyrights, like patents, weren't implemented to protect their owners in perpetuity. They are part of a dance which attempts to balance off societal benefits against incentives for writers and inventors. You want to incentivize people to push the state of the creative and technical arts, but you don't want give those folks such overbearing protections that future advances by other innovators are stifled." What do you think; is it time to cut off the record industry?"

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Preaching to the choir (4, Insightful)

jon787 (512497) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882728)

What do you think; is it time to cut off the record industry?
This is /., do you really have to ask that?

Re:Preaching to the choir (5, Insightful)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882784)

i'm afraid to ask the voting public what they think on the issue, most of them (think boomers) would vote to extend it because that's what Sony Bono would have wanted us to do.

Re:Preaching to the choir (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882950)

That and they're still hoping to hit it big with their songwriting career, maybe tour the country in a beat up old vanagon... and still be able to provide for the grankids.

Re:Preaching to the choir (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883118)

I'm 55 you insensitive clod.

What's more there are guys here even more geezerly than me.

Now get off my lawn!

PS- My incarcerated friend Linda wrote me a letter [slashdot.org]. How many friends do YOU have in maximum security prison? How many prostitues [slashdot.org] do you know? How many have drinking buddies who get killed by jail guards? [slashdot.org] You have a lifetime of wierd experiences in front of you, you lucky bastards! Happy new year, young fellows.

Re:Preaching to the choir (4, Funny)

rnturn (11092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883114)

"Sony Bono"?

I think you meant to type "Sonny Bono" but, then again, maybe you really weren't that far from being right.

Re:Preaching to the choir (5, Insightful)

conlaw (983784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883132)

As one of the early boomers, I respectfully disagree with your analysis. If Sonny Bono--or Elvis or all of the Bobby's--didn't provide for their heirs while they were making the money, too bad, so sad. And, IMHO, calling it the "Sonny Bono Law" was just a way to keep everyone from realizing that the point was really to extend the Disney Corporation's copyrights. In other words, the Congress-critters didn't really care about Chastity, they wanted to protect Mickey Mouse (f/k/a Steamboat Willie).

Flaming to get hits. (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883062)

This is just a dumb idea.
1. It really couldn't happen because it would violate more than a few international agreements.
2. corporate vs personal copyrights? A lot of artists when they start make money incorperate. Where do there works fit in?

It is a non solution to a real problem. But lots of people will click on the blog and read the ads and they will make money off it.
Thank you for playing and paying.

Ideas don't have to be free... (4, Interesting)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882738)

120 years is INSANE.

Everything should go into the public domain after a period long enough to have allowed the creator to profit under most circumstances.
Copyright should also last at least long enough that it discourages companies from just waiting it out.

I figure 10-15 years for most things.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882776)

And I would have said 20-50 years. Twenty is plenty for most things; books probably should get 50.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (5, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882832)

For corporate copyrights, 5 years is fine. Maybe a fee to continue the copyright for 5 year increments beyond that (to encourage continue publication of the media as long as it is copyrighted, and public-domaining as soon as it isn't profitable). Corporations are too abusive to give long copyrights too.

Individual copyrights for 10-20 years are fine, IMO. It forces the corporations to answer to the artists if they want to save on copyright fees, and the artists will probably be more considerate to the consumers.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (5, Insightful)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882886)

For corporate copyrights, 5 years is fine. Maybe a fee to continue the copyright for 5 year increments beyond that (to encourage continue publication of the media as long as it is copyrighted, and public-domaining as soon as it isn't profitable). Corporations are too abusive to give long copyrights too.

Individual copyrights for 10-20 years are fine, IMO. It forces the corporations to answer to the artists if they want to save on copyright fees, and the artists will probably be more considerate to the consumers.

I'm all for an extension fee but make it non-trivial in cost for corporations AND make it geometrically progressive so that they can't just keep paying the fee forever.

Because you know as long as they can pay a small amount to retain their stranglehold they will do so.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883194)

Ahh, yes, I didn't put that, but I agree.

I would say it would vary by media, but some base amount, multiplied by inflation, and then multiplied by the number of times it had already been renewed (i.e. '$10k * inflation_10_years_after_law_passed * 1' for the first renewal, '$10k * inflation_15_years_after_law_passed * 2' for the second, etc.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (5, Insightful)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882924)

For corporate copyrights, 5 years is fine. Maybe a fee to continue the copyright for 5 year increments beyond that (to encourage continue publication of the media as long as it is copyrighted, and public-domaining as soon as it isn't profitable). Corporations are too abusive to give long copyrights too. Individual copyrights for 10-20 years are fine, IMO. It forces the corporations to answer to the artists if they want to save on copyright fees, and the artists will probably be more considerate to the consumers.

The distinction between corporate and individuals wouldn't be effective. Some company exec will just hold the copyright personally, and license it exclusively to the corporation for the full 20 years.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883088)

Quite, but if you want to play to the gallery a bit of corporation bashing's as good a way to do it as any.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883112)

Would the shareholders really allow that though. What you have with this idea, is that a single person could hold almost all the assets of a company. If you have a music/movie/tv production company, then one person would hold all the assets. You could never really ensure against that person leaving the company with all your copyrights. They could extort a lot of money out of the company by threatening to leave, and bring all the copyrights to some other competitor.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883164)

Would there be any problems in making individual, 20 year copyright non-transferable from the creator? None spring to mind immediately, and it would mean anyone who purchases the copyright would then be classed as 'corporate' for those purposes and have the term dropped to five years. If the creator wants the full 20 then they hold on to it themselves and license it to others.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

10sball (80009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883038)

Most content [books both fiction and non-], movies, music, blog posts, online tutorials, photographs, games - basically anything with a copyright are still highly relevant, have real value, and in fairly good circulation 5 or 10 years out. Too short, even for 'corporate copyright' and you create other problems of 3rd parties using the works to their advantage [think clear channel wit h access to free 5 year old content,]

something like 40-50 years to me would be a much more reasonable cut back - either in retaliation or just a more general sanity check. on the system. sure 40 years out money can still be made on works, but there's a much more significant drop off then there is in the shorter timeframe and if they are more valuable the creator is generally seeing that value in their own reputation, franchise or other ways besides just on individual works alone.

I say the above with a few caveats in mind, not the least of which being my views are based on the current 'culture' and trends and I think we've been running on "everything before the 60s is irrelevant' and valuable in many ways for 10 or 20 years now - so ask me in 20 years if I think 40 years is right, or not long enough

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882934)

INSANE, WACKY, PERVERTED, and generally a conspiracy. 5 years, brilliant plan!

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882970)

What I'd like to see is current copyright durations be cut down to ranges like 10-15yrs etc for monopolistic control over it, but then it goes into a partial public domain (Let's call it a Protected Domain) for the rest of the life+yrs of the artist. In this Protected Domain period, it would be protected from commercial exploitation by other companies. So if anyone is to make any money off of it, it would still be the original copyright holder - but non-profit use would be perfectly ok. (Sorta like it would downgrade into a form of Creative Commons or something.)

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882984)

"I figure 10-15 years for most things."

The problem is they will always fight for extensions, I think this is where democracy fails big time, there should be an absolute law to prevent infection of greedy capitalists into knowledge that will stifle and hold back innovation.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883022)

I figure 10-15 years for most things.

Precisely the way the people who conceived the idea figured it. But we handed our government over to big business in a big way. And we certainly can't let Disney characters be endlessly parodied and used in an unsavory manner, which I believe is where the true madness started.

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883026)

120 years is INSANE.

Everything should go into the public domain after a period long enough to have allowed the creator to profit under most circumstances.
Copyright should also last at least long enough that it discourages companies from just waiting it out.

I figure 10-15 years for most things.
Although I'm all for shortening patent and copyright protections, I still get annoyed when people suggest a specific number of years "because it seems reasonable". It just seems so arbitrary and so... inelegant. Here's a much more beautiful solution: 0

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883060)

My proposal would be different than just capping Copyrights at 5 years (or 10, or 120).

Similar to trademarks, and to a lesser extend patent continuations, I think copyrights should last as long as the work is being actively revised, promoted, and/or otherwise used commercially. But if the work languishes or has had no creative augmentation, the copyright should expire in 5-10 years. That leaves Disney in the clear to keep their copyrights while at the same time allowing the zillions of obscure books, songs, and material to enter the public domain instead of being lost forever.

It's not a perfect solution, but one I think that's substantially better than what we have now AND could actually make it through Congress (after all, Disney would suddenly get the perpetual copyright they've been lobbying for so long-- except that it wouldn't ruin it for everyone else).

Re:Ideas don't have to be free... (1)

KhazaamWham (1211230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883172)

I agree, 10-15 years is completely reasonable, even a little too generous when it comes to something like a song. Beyond that is pretty ridiculous IMO. I can't even imagine profiting off of something, in my line of work, that I did 10 years ago! If I don't produce 'new' results/developments every year or two, then I'd completely expect to be toast. When it comes to meaningful contributions to society, why should some areas receive special privileges? Specifically, why should people be able to live off a 'hit' album for decades?!?

Rainbows and Unicorns for everyone! (2, Insightful)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882750)

Seriously? Follow the money in US politics. This will not happen.

Re:Rainbows and Unicorns for everyone! (1)

Stripe7 (571267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882828)

What I find strange, the money for the politicians come from the RIAA suing the people. The people are the ones that vote these politicians in! If we just vote them out, i.e. keep reminding everyone which politicians are RIAA stooges and to remind them that voting for them is voting for the RIAA to sue them it should be a fairly straight forward way of cleaning up the mess.

Re:Rainbows and Unicorns for everyone! (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883052)

It's a gross oversimplification, but, in a general way, modern politics works like this: Whoever buys the most ad time wins. Thus, barring a killer issue like gay marriage, whoever has the richest supporters wins.

Re:Rainbows and Unicorns for everyone! (2, Insightful)

Sigismundo (192183) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883148)

It's a nice idea, but "just" voting them out is easier said than done. In mainstream media, copyright issues like these get little coverage. Here on Slashdot there is quite an uproar over RIAA shenanigans, but for most voters, I don't think that these issues really register as relevant. This is especially on the national stage where the war in Iraq, abortion, immigration and so on get so much attention.

That isn't to say that there's no point in trying to change anything. It's just that it would be nigh impossible to influence national elections based on these issues. I think it would be better to encourage people who DO feel strongly about the RIAA's actions and copyright law to make their feelings known to their own senators and congresspeople. In addition, folks who are so inclined can donate money to organizations like the EFF, so we can challenge the RIAA's actions in court based on fair-use laws.

Re:Rainbows and Unicorns for everyone! (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883152)

I really don't think the U.S. is about to withdraw from the Berne Convention (which is what this would require) and put the overseas copyright protection of U.S.-created works in jeopardy.

yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882754)

but keep dreaming

Yes (1)

filbranden (1168407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882756)

Cut back corporate copyrights from 120 to 5 years makes complete sense. Copyrights should be used to protect, but these days they're being used to exploit.

Maybe 5 years is a little too short, it's a little radical, but in general I agree to the argument that cutting back this much should be done to punish the misbehaving kid. Cutting back to 5 years would bring more benefits than drawbacks.

Re:Yes (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883130)

I believe I'm not the only one who would appreciate this if only for the old Lucasarts/Sierra games get released from copyright's Cold, Dead hands, putting the community to work making the old games stable on current systems. (Of course, I know they are out there scattershot across the "internets", but the condition they are in, or run in, is laughable in most cases.)

I do agree with a time limitation... (1)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882760)

But five years is far too short. Twenty years would make a good compromise I believe. Good food for thought here...

Re:I do agree with a time limitation... (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882788)

Twenty is too long, but I agree that five is way too short. I'd go to seven with an optional seven-year extension (for a total of fourteen) much like the original copyright scheme used in the US.

Re:I do agree with a time limitation... (5, Informative)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882904)

Traditionally, copyright was for the life of the author + some reasonably large number. The optimal lifetime has been studied under economic maximization theory. The result was ~ 14 years, which is rather closer to the 20 year patent life time than the proposed 5 years. The link is: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070712-research-optimal-copyright-term-is-14-years.html [arstechnica.com]

That sounds reasonable (1)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882930)

I don't hold out hope that these sensible suggestions will go over well with the apparently money-mad accountants at the various mega-media representative organisations, but at least we have people talking. I do believe that this year will see even more erosion of support for the **AA mafia by big media, as it becomes increasingly clear through discussion like this that they are doing far more to sow negative publicity than good. And indeed, I envision a day when bands actually shy away from big record contracts because they see association with the big labels as negative.

Re:I do agree with a time limitation... (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883012)

how about 5 year copyright, where an unlimited number of extentions can be purchased, and the price is determined using some simple exponential growth.

after your initial 5 year copyright term expires, you can renew it for anther year for $1
the next extension will only cost you $2
in 15 years, your extension will set you back $512, which is still quite affordable.
by year 20, your extension will set you back $16,384
after 25 years, your extension cost is up to $524,288.

I think this method would be quite fair. for the independent artist, they can easily afford a few extensions if they are still making money off their work, but once the cost of maintaining copyright exceeds the profits generated, they can simple stop renewing.

and the big media companies can keep on purchasing extensions for all their pop as long as they want, only it will cost them big time.

and the money generated from this scheme will all go to support independent artists.

i would like to point out that I am an independent artist. honestly, after 5 years, why should i expect to profit from my work? how does that encourage me to make new work?

ha! I think that should be done anyway (1, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882770)

corporations abuse the copyrights too much, and they don't do more than distribute really. So, they abuse the people giving them money (the consumer), and the artist as well. Something like this seems more reasonable:

Corporation owned copyrights should be 5 years (with possibly an expensive continuation fee to add another 5 years).
Individual copyrights should stay 15-20 years (again with the possibility of a continuation fee). If any of my books get published, I think 75-120 years, whatever it is now, is absurd in terms of amount of time to keep it copyrighted. 15-20 is a good amount to make it worth publishing. Too many books don't get second prints anyway.

The continuation fees are basically to say "Well, people still find it worth buying, so you can continue to hold the copyright, but not long after that it enters the public domain".

What about the artists? (3, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882778)

Anyone know how this would affect the artists? I mean, I know that most of them make their money off of merch and concerts anyway - but I'm just trying to understand who this would really end up hurting. Obviously older bands that still have reasonably good record sales (Led Zeppelin) aren't going on a lot of tours. I'm all for giving RIAA a good gut punch, I just don't want to screw over the musicians I love in the process. I'm no IP / copyright lawyer so I'm looking for some insight here!

Re:What about the artists? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883146)

The artists make so little off of each CD sale that the effect of this would be quite minimal. If you are concerned about the artists, taking power away from the RIAA in ANY way possible is a good thing. The less copyright protection they have, the less of a monopoly they will have on the production industry, and artists will in turn have more choices when they go shopping for a label.

Re:What about the artists? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883162)

Indeed this might hurt older bands, but honestly, why should they keep getting paid over and over for stuff they did DECADES ago? Nobody else gets that arrangement. A few did with pension plans, but those have largely been eliminated these days. You want money to survive on when you're older? You stick aside a lil bit of all your earnings until you get old and then live off your stockpile. Artists should be no different.

Profits forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882782)

RIAA is right. Perpetual copyrights, perpetual profits. Suckers. Learn to be creative.

Also, frist p0stage is mine.

Seems fitting (0, Troll)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882786)

The majority of the garbage the music industry is spewing out these days doesn't last longer than 5 years anyway.

Corporate Copyrights - Not Just Entertainment (2, Interesting)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882798)

Corporate Copyrights are not just Music and Videos produced by Evil Inc. They also include a lot of software, which is the livelihood of many slashdot posters. Are you sure we can live without commercial software development?

Re:Corporate Copyrights - Not Just Entertainment (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882864)

The lifespan of software is pretty short anyway. A 5-year protection cycle is a huge motivator to get a new product out the door on a regular basis and keep the programmers employed.

Re:Corporate Copyrights - Not Just Entertainment (1)

Quietust (205670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882942)

The lifespan of software is pretty short anyway. A 5-year protection cycle is a huge motivator to get a new product out the door on a regular basis and keep the programmers employed.
...unless it's a 30+ year old COBOL program running on a mainframe - while today's software may not last longer than 5 years, software from many decades ago most certainly did.

Re:Corporate Copyrights - Not Just Entertainment (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883066)

A 30 year old cobol program running on a mainframe is the ABSOLUTE LAST thing that should be entangled in copyright shenanigans. This is THE perfect example of something for which the owner of the copy should have the ability to fix and maintain the program. Quite likely, the individual or company that original wrote or sold the program is gone, LONG GONE.

Re:Corporate Copyrights - Not Just Entertainment (3, Interesting)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883122)

Yes but software like that is generally business software that is held internally by some business and hence not copied at all(commercial in confidence protect it etc). The only bits of the industry that would have to worry would be things like games and other shrink wrapped software. Personally Id feel fine is say MS office feel out of copyright every five years as I dont think it would really affect anyone... MS would simply release a new version(Is office 95 really worth anything to anyone these days)?

Games could be a problem as they seem to like to release platinum editions of older games and I honest have no idea how much that brings in for the games industry... its probably a nice little earner they wouldnt like to lose. But on the other hand it could solve the problem of abandonware... games Id still like to play but cant because I cant physically purchase it anywhere.

For other sectors like niche vertical market sector software developers(Ive worked in such and industry) they are generally doing pretty bespoke stuff and being used as a service provider to their clients.

Id be honestly interested if anyone has any examples of really bad things happening in any sector of the software development world. Settop boxes for sat and cable TV perhaps? If you argue that the software on the sim code falls out of copyright every five years then whats to stop you duping a bunch for your friends.

Quite a jump there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883102)

Are you sure we can live without commercial software development?

How did we get from a 5 year copyright term to the non-existence of commercial software development?

I don't think A necessarily leads to B here.

What's the point? (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882800)

It's not as if anyone in Congress is inclined to reign in one of their most prolific lobbyists. What is the point of such musings?

and then some... (1)

KoshClassic (325934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882802)

I don't know if 5 years is the right number, but 120 is ridiculously high. If I invent something, it should be protected for generations and the protection should extend beyond my own lifespan? That's absurd. Currently, a work is protected for 70 years after the author dies. WTF?

As a good first step, the copyright laws should be changed to at least limit the protections that a work can receive to the protection that was in place when that work was created - so we can at least do away with this business of magically extending the copyright protection period every time the copyrights on Mickey Mouse are about to expire [wikipedia.org].

As a second step, companies that can be objectively identified as abusers of copyright law - such as those who insist that there is no fair use of the works they own copyrights on, or those who attempt to circumvent fair use by encrypting the works and then declaring any attempt to break said encryption to be illegal - should loose their copyrights or have their terms severly restricted.

Re:and then some... (1)

TehZorroness (1104427) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882890)

5 years is fine. A movie or album will make all the money it is going to make in that time. After that, it should be completely free. Software companies (like microsoft) might not like this, but bah.

Also, I agree, there should be a punishment for using any sort of tactic to try to restrict creativity (DRM, closed standards and systems, patents, ect.)

Re:and then some... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882898)

I don't know if 5 years is the right number, but 120 is ridiculously high.

On the contrary, it makes perfect sense once you realize the ruling principle of US copyright law: Mickey Mouse will never become public domain. Look for another extension around 2040.

Chris Mattern

Re:and then some... (1)

Cecil (37810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883174)

I don't understand how a character concept can be copyrighted anyway, isn't that more of a job for trademarking? In my understanding, copyright should only apply to specific individual representations of the mouse. A specific drawing of him I can't copy outright, for example.

One little problem ... (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882806)

Doing so would only, at most, affect the copyrights on future works since reducing the coverage for existing copyright falls afoul of the Constitution's Takings clause.

In other words, the copyright ratchet is built right into the Constitution.

Re:One little problem ... (2, Informative)

KoshClassic (325934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882922)

I just read the wikipedia article on the Takings clause of the Constitution and don't see how it applies, since it seems to be limitted to real property?

However, I note that somehow it doesn't seem to be illegal to extend copyrights every time some special interest, like Disney [wikipedia.org] wants them extended. How is it that copyright owners get to have their cake and eat it too?

The takings clause (2, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883042)

I just read the wikipedia article on the Takings clause of the Constitution and don't see how it applies, since it seems to be limitted to real property?
I trust you don't mean "real property" in the sense of land.

However, the USSC has held that the takings clause applies to anything of value, such as water rights, income streams, etc. Copyright is, IIRC, one specific example explicitly addressed.

Re:One little problem ... (2, Interesting)

Tangent128 (1112197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883034)

IANAL, but a lot of this depends on how you define "private property". One could possibly argue that copyrights are protection granted by the government, and supported by taxpayers, making copyrights a form of public, not private, property. One could also argue that several decades worth of profits constitute "just compensation", though that would be harder to justify.

There is probably no hope (2, Interesting)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882818)

If copyright is limited then every creative product will be accompanied by a license that specifies draconian limitations to be visited on the first and all subsequent buyers. Copyright already has fair use provisions that the media giants wish would disappear. In a contract the media companies can probably visit plagues upon the buyer's progeny unto the seventh generation. The only problem for media companies would be decriminalization of copyright infringements but the RIAA doesn't seem to try to jail people, just destroy their lives. It is better to have the wounded walking around as a reminder to others. If they are jailed, they might be forgotten.

Whoah (1)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882822)

If this passes (And I seriously doubt it, knowing the power of The Almighty Dollar), I'll literally shit myself from happiness. All this awesome art of the 80's and early 90's will finally be public domain for us to listen/watch and build upon as we please.

MacGuyver, A-Team, Miami Vice - once again, we will be reunited! :,)

Re:Whoah (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882958)

All this awesome art of the 80's and early 90's will finally be public domain
That's my problem with this idea. If it's 5 years after artist death, that's one thing; if it's 5 years across the board from date of creation that's another. Some artists live off of a hit single from 10-20 years back. Also, it gives them incentive to NOT make their best works at the beginning, but to hold out as long as they can to make sure they don't lose the protections for their art at the peek of their popularity.

I don't agree with how they're using their protection now, it's not protecting the artist at all. But, if you make it 5 years from the creation of the song they know they'll lose protection after they stop being relevant (for most) and their hard work will become worthless to them.

Independent musicians cry "foul!" (3, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883110)

And if independent artists are also limited to 5 years' copyright, what's to prevent a label from discovering them, liking their songs, but leaving them in obscurity for 5 years until they can take their songs and get some pretty boy band to record them?

Sounds to me like you'd be handing the industry a gold mine of free songs and screwing the little guy. After all, which one has the marketing and payola to make sure something is an instant hit? Which one has to struggle for a decade to become an "overnight" success?

Interesting (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882824)

A suggestion like this might solve a lot of the *IAA problems that people have been having.

Maybe if copyright is re-defined as being attributable to individuals only, not corporate entities, as well as reducing the length of the term back to what it originally was, rather than the Mickey Mouse 125 number that it currently is....

Re:Interesting (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883168)

...if copyright is re-defined as being attributable to individuals only, not corporate entities...

IANAL, but it's my understanding that a corporation is legally considered to be an individual under current US law.

From wikipedia:

"A corporation is a legal entity (technically, a juristic person) which has a separate legal personality from its members."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation [wikipedia.org]

"A juristic or juridical person is a legal entity through which the law allows a group of natural persons to act as if it were a single composite individual for certain purposes, or in some jurisdictions, for a single person to have a separate legal personality other than their own."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juristic_person [wikipedia.org]

This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (5, Insightful)

Goldenhawk (242867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882826)

... but I do write music. Sorry, I have a real problem with Congress taking away my own rights to my own music after just five years. That's a flash in the pan, in terms of my life; for crying out loud, I don't even get some of my own music finished in that short a time. I don't sell my music (or at least, nobody's bothered to buy it yet), but I have a problem with someone saying they can appropriate my own creative works that quickly.

There are other solutions than this that have NOT been tried yet, because the lobby is too big for Congress to act. And this would suffer the same fate.

Re:This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (1)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882850)

Ahh, but these are CORPORATE copyrights. Personal copyright isn't mentioned, so I think it is still lifetime+50 years.

Re:This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883054)

Five years on corporate copyrights still puts a strong constraint on the profitability though, because that constrains the distribution lifetime, and I think a limit of five years significantly reduces the value of a distribution contract.

Re:This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (2, Insightful)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882944)

The media companies should lose all rights after a period of 5 years, then all rights should fall back to the artists themselves for a period of 20 to 25 years, renewable for another 15 by the artists themselves, and only the artists. not the estate of, not another media company.
  if the artist dies during the origninal copyright term, the estate receives the remainder original 20 to 25 years, non-renewable. if the term has been renewed by the artist for the extended term, the estate gets half of that.

Re:This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882946)

I agree with your statement about 5 years being too short, but your argument is wrong.

If Congress cut back copyright, it wouldn't be removing your rights, it would be reducing rights that it had granted to you in the first place. It's entirely up to you whether you agree to distribute your music or video based on those rights.

Even for corporate copyright, I agree 5 years is much too short, but equally the current US period (70 years + life?) is much too long. Some figure around 15-20 years, as for example in patents, would be a much more reasonable balance between making it worth your while to produce and not overly restricting the rights of the general public to enjoy and reuse your concepts after a reasonable time.

Re:This guy obviously doesn't write his own music (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883002)

Well, how about this:

The original creator maintains copyright. S/He can sell rights but after 5 years they revert back to the original creator. Copyrights expire at death of creator, regardless of who holds the rights.

That would satisfy the artists (and I agree, 5 years would be punitive for individual artists) but would not allow corporations to amass huge catalogs of copyrights and use those to bludgeon both artists and customers.

Not a snow-ball's chance of getting that reform either....

Re: "No one has bought my music yet" (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883154)

Give us some contact procedures so we can check you out!

Let's do the Alternate Distribution thing for real, right here.

Interesting Theory (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882836)

So what would it take to enact such a measure? My guess would be a multi-billion-dollar industry of our very own, much like the constituent organizations of the RIAA already have. Without that, this is simply wishful thinking. Are there any ideas to the contrary?

Any ideas on how such a reduction in copyright could be bad?

Artists should sue, not RIAA (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882840)

If any lawsuit takes place, the individual artist or songwriter should be required to take the stand in each and every case, to present their tale of sorrow and woe about the money they are personally losing. This is who the RIAA is representing, right? Shouldn't the true plantiff take the stand?

Honestly, yes. (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882866)

But you're never going to see it happen.

Too many Congress-critters are, for all intents and purposes, owned by the lobbying organizations that benefit from prolonged copyright limits. The entertainment industries would shit a collective brick, and you'd never see big Pharma get behind this either, as they would consider five years far too little time to make back the costs of R&D (or supposed costs, really, as a number of drugs are minor variations of previous drugs anyway.)

I mean, it would be nice, but let's wish for something that actually stands a chance of happening.

Like a season of Lost making sense.

Universal copyright cutback is not the answer. (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882884)

How about two classes of copyright -- because it would be hard to say that anyone but the Disney Corp. should have rights to Mickey Mouse. But that doesn't mean that Disney Corp. should have the right to every last dime from every last project they ever spent a nickel on. Similarly, the creators of content such as music -- why not let them retain copyright on their work for a longer period of time -- but take away the corporate interest in it. Why should the fact that Sony et. al marketed a particular piece of music twenty years ago give them copyright interest in it?

Secondarily, a straight copyright cutback isn't exactly the answer for unpublished works either -- I can copyright something this year to protect it, and still not have it published for years and years. Do I lose the right to my own work after that?

So how about a discussion about what individual and corporate copyrights should look like, and how to regulate both -- perhaps leading to fair and effective legislation for the public interest and the artists for a change?

Correct me if I'm wrong (3, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882926)

But are they actually suggesting that they reduce an artist's ownership to just 5 years?

I'm no fan of the RIAA, but there are plenty of other ways to nail them to the wall with less collateral damage. It's the method of enforcing copyright that's been so despicable, not the duration of the copyright(for music that is).

It's 95 years after publication NOT 120 (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882940)

The 120 years only applies to corporate works created more than 25 years prior to first publication.

An example might be a movie that was made but not published until a generation later.

cutbacks needed to ensure corepirate nazi regime (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21882948)

most of US will have to do with less; our homes, health care, a consistent atmosphere, privacy, etc... a small price to pay so that yOUR corepirate nazi overlords can rule the 'free' world.

if you have any difficulty making the required sacrifices, just follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in.

for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it?

we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster.

meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com] [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Short periods = more draconian RIAA (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882952)

If RIAA knows it can only profit from the first 5 years of a song's existence, it will be even more draconian in protecting that asset for the first few years. To reap all it can before the copyright expires, RIAA will become even more aggressive at fighting unauthorized copying of music. DRM and lawsuits will increase. Moreover, shorter copyright durations will push music publishers/distributors more toward the blockbuster mentality of only signing/marketing/supporting artists that will generate high sales the instant the music comes out. Artists that take more than a few years to accumulate fans and a backlist will be worth less to publishers. With no way to monetize the long-tail, the music industry will focus on pushing stars.

As satisfying as "punishing" RIAA might be, I think the plan has unintended consequences that would worsen the usability and enjoyability of music.

Re:Short periods = more draconian RIAA (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883040)

You know what? I wouldn't mind the RIAA protecting upto 5 year-old music. I can see that everyone has to make money somehow. However if after 5 years we can do what we like with that is a fair compromise to all.

This would hurt more than the RIAA (1)

dingleberrie (545813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882960)

If this were in place, it would say that any books, movies, and music written before 2003 would be free to duplicate and sell today.

I don't see how the book industry should be 'punished' because of the RIAA.

It seems more reasonable to put it at, say 20 years, and then each advancing year shorten the history in a linear way down to some agreed-upon target duration. This would give companies with catalogs of copywrited material enough time to adjust their business model without causing such a shock to all businesses that have infrastructure depending in part on this royalty income. So many companies own media that this would impact the US market as a whole. Of course, that is the same reason why legislation like this would not even pass.

Does Congress think the RIAA is behaving badly? (3, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21882976)

In order for Congress to pass such a law, they'd have to be angry at the RIAA for behaving badly.

In order for them to perceive the RIAA as behaving badly, they'd have to have the same sort of world view as I, Lawrence Lessig, probably most Slashdot readers, and probably most Americans who have any awareness of what's going on with (so-called) intellectual property.

But if they had that sort of world view, they would never have passed the DMCA and the various copyright extensions in the first place.

So, what's the point here? Unless it's a tongue-in-cheek Swiftian "modest proposal."

As a serious proposal, it makes about as much sense as suggesting that Congress pass a law allowing unrestricted legal immigration in order to increase the numbers of young workers and thus solve the demographic problems of Medicare and Social Security.

Limited Times (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883018)

Patents and copyrights are constitutionally defined as...

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

Securing for LIMITED times is the key. Not "unlimited," which a 120-year copyright effectivly is. Where's the motivation to keep up progress if you can make one work and milk it for 120 years while blocking anyone else from building on it? It's too long by an order of magnitude.

Cut the length of the term to 5 - 12 years or so, and we will see a major burst of creativity on the scene.

The whole point of the system is to give authors and inventors a chance to make money for a while but to still have things go into the public domain for others to use later, and to keep the protection period short enough that they keep working and putting out new stuff constantly.

Right now, the motivation is to come up with a huge "blockbuster hit" that can be milked forever, instead of lots of "good" works. So, the net result is that progress is now retarded, not promoted.

Seriously, who is even going to remember who Britney Spears was in 120 years?

Huh? (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883028)

Do I actually have to RTFA? Congress isn't about to punish any corporation for anything.

And limiting copyright to half of what it was (IINM) in 1900 is hardly punishment. I think it would be a GOOD thing to limit it to at least 20 years; the present incredibly long copyrights last longer than all non-acid-free paper and longer than any file format or encryption sceme. The present lengths insure that little copyrighted today will ever be seen by anyone after its copyright expires.


Expand fair use and mandatory licensing (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883044)

First off, 95 years is too long even without abuse-of-copyright.

However, a better solution than reducing it to 5 years is to expand fair use and provide for mandatory licensing at "reasonable" rates. A "reasonable" rate might be something like:

If I create something that infringes on one or more copyrights and it's not fair use, I must pay $x plus y% of the gross revenue I get from selling my work to a fund. This money is divvied up among known copyright holders in proportion to my use and the value it adds to my work. The portion allocated to orphan works is held in escrow for a period of time, probably 5-10 years, then returned to me.

The devil will be in the details, but it's a good starting point.

Fair use should be more liberal for works distributed for free or for cost-of-publication than for works published for profit. For not-for-profit works, the standard should be "does this significantly dilute the copyright" or "does it deprive the copyright holder of significant revenue." The former applies more to limited-edition works. The latter applies to works where customers will go for the free copies as a substitute for a paid copy. Copyright-holders are entitled to not have their pocketbook impacted.

Cut back to 50 years (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883080)

The TRIPS agreement, the international agreement on copyrights pushed through via the WTO at US insistence, requires participating countries to provide copyright for at least 50 years. The US goes beyond that. Let's start by trimming that back. We need a "Copyright Term Harmonization Act", which cuts US copyrights back to the minimum requirements of the TRIPS treaty.

Britain has 50 year copyright today. There was a big push from the record industry recently to extend that to 95 years, but the record industry lost. It stays at 50 years. Four years from now, the first Beatles song goes public domain. The world will not end.

This is a reasonable political goal for the US. Five years is probably asking too much, but fifty would work. A big chunk of the history of jazz and blues would go public domain. Early Elvis would come out. Over the next two decades, the early days of rock would be freed.

14 years + 14 year extension (1)

GottMitUns (1012191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883084)

Maybe US should go back to the original as defined by Jefferson? 14 years copyright upon registration with the Library of Congress(mandatory) and 14 year extension if copyright owner is still interested in keeping copyright nad willing to pay a fee. It was like this until 1920's I believe.

The Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883092)

It bears repeating the Solution to the problem:

The artist must register the copyright with a governmental registrar. Filing fee: $1. Copyright duration: one year.

The copyright holder has a right to extend the copyright protection indefinitely. The second year filing fee is $2, the third year fee is $4 and so on exponentially.

Thus 10-year protection costs you $1,023. Twenty years is a million dollars. And if you hit a Mickey Mouse, a billion dollars wouldn't be too much to ask for 30 years, would it now?

The system is perfect: any artist can shell out $15 for four years of exclusive rights. The system finances itself. Those that hit the jackpot can keep the exclusive benefit as long as they like -- for the benefit of everybody! Last but not least: we can easily determine who holds the copyright to the work; if it's not registered, it's in the public domain.

And while your at it, I want a Pony... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883100)

Although I believe copyright should be much shorter (15-50 years, rather than "forever on the Installment Plan"), this reeks of "I Want A Pony". It will NEVER happen. Never. Ever. Ever.

Here's what really bothers me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883108)

What bothers me is that they have copyright on these materials and can then just sit on them, not making them available to the public. For example, there are many films that are copyrighted but are not available on any home video format.

Because copyright is about enriching the arts, I personally believe that a copyright holder should have two choices after five years:

1) Publish the material for as long as you have copyright on it in the preferred format for exchange. For books, this would be hardback or softcover, for moview it would be DVD or VHS, for audio this would be CD, and so forth. A reasonable price ceiling ($1,000 and less) should be established so that publishers wouldn't be able to price materials they didn't really want to publish at an absurd price.

2) Not publish the material and be subject to a rapidly-rising "unavailable materials" rate. Perhaps something geometrically increasing and levied every year that the material is not published and not reset when the material is eventually published. Non-payment would result in the copyright being voided and the material entering the public domain.

Overlooking the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883124)

Think about it: suppose the law were changed. Corporations, who are very good at making money, would find a way to make money in the new legal environment, probably by thwarting the individual artists until the copyright expired. Sure, I agree, corporate copyrights needs to be shortened to a finite term, and individual copyrights should cease at some reasonable time after the artist's death; however, what we need are reasonable fair-use laws and stiff consequences for abuse of the legal process.

One other idea: shorten the copyright time period, but don't start the clock until "successful commercialization" occurs (assuming a good faith effort, of course, to keep people from hoarding)

I challenge the /. community to come up with ways the corps could make money from shorter copyright periods.

120 years, far too long, 5 years, too short (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883158)

I'd say either 14 years as I've read was originally the caase, 40 years (a generation) or the lifetime of an author, which would be 77.8 years these days. However, perhaps there would be a different copyright for a corporate entity and another one for the author, with the author having a lifetime copyright, but a corporation only one sabbath year - 7 years, allowing the author to renegotiate.

If that were the case now... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21883170)

Windows XP would no longer be copyrighted...

Say what we may about it, generally forcing some software companies to release more often to avoid a 5 year expiration date may not be a good thing for the industry at large.

failzvors (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21883178)

of FrreBSD Usenet PhiLosophies must enjoy the loud
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