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Extending Pop Music Copyrights 709

Posted by Hemos
from the but-of-course dept.
InklingBooks writes "According to TimesOnLine, the UK is considering doubling the copyright term for popular music to 100 years. That means the Beatles' "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me," scheduled to to go into the public domain in 2013, would earn royalties for record companies until 2063."
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Extending Pop Music Copyrights

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  • Bzzzzt.... wrong (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:53AM (#12745262)
    The copyright they are talking about is on the performance. So, if you could find a Beatles recording of some old song by someone who died 75 years ago, then that would be affected. Please, Please Me doesn't count.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:53AM (#12745264) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that people have to pay land taxes but they don't have to pay copyright taxes? If you own land you are required to pay a tax on it because the state spends a heck of a lot of public resources on protecting that land for you. The same goes for copyright (especially now that copyright violation has become a criminal act in some countries) so why don't the copyright holders have to pay a tax?
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FinchWorld (845331) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:56AM (#12745270) Homepage
    Just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean its fair.

    Infact, if alot of the larger publishers are pushing for it, it most likely means its not fair.

  • Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JimDabell (42870) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:56AM (#12745275) Homepage

    ...everyone knows that unless the Beatles continue to make money from recordings made fifty years ago, they'll have to quit music and get day jobs. Then society won't get any new Beatles music, and then where will we be?

    It seems to me that copyrights are turning from a temporary privilege into an actual property right, despite all indications that only a self-interested minority of our society wants that. So when are copyright holders going to pay property tax on their holdings?

  • Pure Genius (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:57AM (#12745288) Journal
    That changes everything - it'll stop illegal downloading at a stroke!
  • by otter42 (190544) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:57AM (#12745289) Homepage Journal
    "Bands like Coldplay will make enough money for their company to help them discover around 50 or 100 bands."

    Excuse me? EXCUSE ME??? The point of a band is to make money for its label???

    What about the label paying its bands living wages? Or does that just not count?

    What about using the internet to develop and promote new bands? That doesn't count either?

    Thank god I live in France where my right to download CDs and movies is now protected by "activist judges".
  • Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bobbis.u (703273) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:58AM (#12745295)
    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the record industry? Its primary business model is clearly doomed in the long run, so why delay the inevitable?

    Let's face it, unless the indsutry starts embracing the future and changing the way they do business, it's only a matter of time before they are rendered obsolete by self-publication and internet distribution by artists themselves.

  • Why retroactive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RPoet (20693) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:58AM (#12745296) Journal
    Why must copyright extensions always be retroactive? Are we afrad that The Beatles won't write Love Me Do in 1963 if he didn't expect royalties for a hundred years? Wait, that doesn't even make sense. The copyright deal back then was given, and works were created as intended; the incentive worked. So why would we need to give a guy in 1963 more incentive to create?
  • What the? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobintetley (643462) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:58AM (#12745297)
    I am FUCKING furious.

    If this goes into force, anything you hear today is unlikely to be returned to the public domain within the lifetime of your GRANDCHILDREN. This is completely fucking unacceptable.

    Copyright is already 30 years too long. These media cartels have stolen our public domain and culture, and are renting it back to us in perpetuity.

    I'm off to write to my MP.

    GRRRRRR
  • by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:59AM (#12745304)
    ...except the record companies, of course. 100 years is more than likely beyond the lifespan of any given musician, so they can't exactly hide behind the 'it's about the poor artists' on this one. Heck, the Beatles are already halfway there, any bets on whether McCartney will see 2063?
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:00AM (#12745306)
    Artistic protection! For artists that compose their first evergreen in the womb, write it down immediately after being dried and live to a hundred.

    What a load of manure. Like record companies don't have enough money already. And as if classical music is easier to compose and hence needs merely 50 years.
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:00AM (#12745308)
    so why don't the copyright holders have to pay a tax

    Simply because that would be insane. For if you ever wrote a poem you'd have to pay for it, which sounds just crap. If you go to a publisher, and sell those poems by twelve a dozen, then he's got income, you've got income, and hey, if you don't live on the moon's dark side, you have to pay taxes after all that, don't you.

  • by surprise_audit (575743) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:00AM (#12745312)
    That'll never happen - the RIAA/MPAA (and their clones in other countries) have bought legislation to protect "their" IP. They'd never let anyone actually tax them on it as well. And if somehow such a tax *did* get passed, the copyright holders would simply pass it on to the consumers in the form of raised prices and ever-increasing lawsuits.
  • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:02AM (#12745321)
    Copyright was intended to temporarily reward the artist, to encourage them to produce art.

    (s/innovator/innovations/ but it's all the same).

    Artists do not commonly live for 100 years. Especially not 100 years from when they produce the work that gets them the most praise.

    Even if the artist got 100% of the royalties from the copyright, extending it past the artist's natural lifetime is meaningless.

    In addition, even compensating the artist for their entire natural lifetime is counter-productive, since it removes the driving force (according to traditional wisdom, above) behind their production or art. If you're singing to eat, then giving you all the money you'll ever need reduces your need to sing. This is the exact opposite of what copyright is intended for.

    Finally, artists commonly don't even get 10% of the profits from their work. Why? Because the copyright is usually owned by a large corporation, which had no hand whatsoever in the creative, artistic work. They simply publicise the artist and distribute the art, and reap 90%+ of the profits from it.

    Given this state of affairs, extending copyright does nothing but feed more money to already overcompensated multinationals, while either shutting out the originating artist or (if they own their own copyright and get all the profits) discouraging them from producing further art.

    This is fucking obvious. Why don't people see it?

    Or are they just blinded by all those dollar bills the entertainment industry keeps piling over their heads?
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SeventyBang (858415) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:02AM (#12745326)
    yup. More Mickey Mouse legislation.

    Why limit it to 100 years?

    Let's just make it permanent.

    Microsoft gets patents for anything[1] whenever they apply for it. Someone cries because Mickey Mouse might fall into public domain. Now, the Beatles might end up in a freeforall.

    Does Jacko still own a substantial portion of the Fab Four? If so, it would be better for the Beatles' music to be available to all. It's better than lining the pockets of a pervert.

    __________________________________
    [1]"Someday, we'll find Microsoft has patented the alphabet and we'll find ourselves paying royalties every time we sit down at the keyboard." -phil paxton
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Only Druid (587299) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:05AM (#12745347)
    Actually, it does mean it's fair. It just doesn't mean it's right. To be fair (there are at least 8 or 9 seperate meanings, but only one for this context) is to be even-handed in the administration of rules. If we're allowing one sector of the copyright industry to have these extensions, there's an obligation (if we want to be fair) to allow the other sectors that same obligation.

    I don't think this is the right course of action, since I think these extensions are problematic at best, but I do think it's fair.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gvc (167165) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:08AM (#12745366)
    "Disney" is metaphor/synecdoche/sarcasm referring to the American business-dominated legislature.
  • by CleverNickedName (644160) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:08AM (#12745371) Journal
    There seem to be more and more of this style of funny post appearing on Slashdot.

    No matter how hilarious they are (and they are hilarious), they never crack me up as much as the serious, gullible responses they always provoke.
  • Wise move... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mscheid (318333) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:09AM (#12745373)
    considering all the big english hits are at least 30 years old by now ]:)
  • by BJH (11355) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:13AM (#12745398)
    The most practical form of this proposal is to reduce the automatic copyright period (i.e. the initial period of protection for all copyrightable works) to something like 10 years, and then charge the copyright owner a certain amount to renew the copyright after the initial period. Variations include increasing the renewal cost for every renewal (so that it costs more to renew the copyight for something that's been copyrighted for 50 years than to renew the copyright for something that's been copyrighted for 20 years).

    It's a good idea, as it ensures that all works that the owner didn't consider worthwhile renewing the copyright for automatically go into the public domain after a reasonable period of time - which is what copyright was originally intended to be.
  • Re:What the? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peeteriz (821290) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:13AM (#12745399)
    Your music is yours forever, nothing short of amnesia can take it from you.

    Granting a hundred year monopoly on having others performing derivative works is a completely different thing, and there should be a good reason for requiring the goverment police to forbid others to sing a song (written by you) that they like.

    Copyright protection does not equal 'owning'. And why should someone be able to forbid others to use his ideas ? Should Newton be able to restrict how his ideas on calculating gravity be used ?
  • > This is fucking obvious. Why don't people see it?

    They *DO* see it, however they don't have billions of dollars to lobby with.
  • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ssj_195 (827847) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:19AM (#12745438)
    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the record industry?
    Kickbacks.
  • by smchris (464899) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:20AM (#12745443)
    This post reads seriously in the style of an RIAA agit-prop feed. I give it 90-10 it's astroturf.

    But anyway, banning someone from ever buying another CD (however you would do that) would be one way to assure that a person pirates for the rest of his life. Heightened aggression is just useless and sadly ignorant of history. When the British were flooding China with opium, China tried cruxifying dealers on the docks. Didn't stop it. Think of the literature and engravings about pickpickots at the pickpockot's hanging.

    But, yes. What does this have to do with copyright _duration_? Economists are familiar with the concept of the "speed of money". With the new-found "speed of information" copyrights should be halved (at least), not doubled. And, yes, the example of Disney and the U.S. is to blame.
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:21AM (#12745458)
    the record companies will whine to the government that they are entitled to an additional 200 years of protection.
  • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:23AM (#12745476)
    Good troll, but you could tighten it up a bit:

    You'd get more respect and sympathy if you hadn't claimed to have bought a successful niche business, abandoned your regular clientele, decided to compete with enormous multinational store-chains, stocked shitty Christian Rock that nobody (relatively speaking) wants to listen to, and run the company into the ground. You're clearly the fuckwit here, so you're less likely to garner that empathy so essential to a successful troll.

    Nice attempt at igniting side-fires by disparaging and stereotyping controversial bands though, but it's been done to death. Oh, and you'd be better off targeting Eminem and the like - scapegoating Marilyn Manson and "cop-killer" rappers is soooo 90s...

    Oh, and you'd be better to do some more hand-waving when blaming your store's decline on filesharing - the unsupported non-sequiteur stands out like a sore thumb, especially after you've just finished telling us how you personally ran the company into the ground.

    The whole scene in the store is too badly-written. No-one's stupid enough to plan piracy out-loud in front of the store owner, and 99.999% of people who share music don't plan it as a premeditated act either - they rip the songs, then "might as well" share them. The dialogue is also truly awful - get some writing skills, for Christ's sake... and nobody would admit to the fucking owner they were planning to pirate music, even if they were

    Nice mis-spelling of "'Leet" though - it suggests you only overheard it, although you go an blow it by adding a [sic] afterwards.

    Full marks for advocating a National Register Of Pirates - it's completely useless (since you'd never be able to administrate the millions of filesharers and would in effect be banning a large proportion of the population), but sounds feasible, so it's exactly the type of stupid, half-arsed idea that's liable to be seriously promoted by someone at some point.

    Lastly, lose the whole maudlin part about your poor shoeless children - it's cheap tacky sentimentalism, and doesn't fool anyone.

    I'd give this troll a C-... Lots of good ideas, but ultimately let down by a poor execution...
  • Re:What the? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mykdavies (1369) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:29AM (#12745509)
    So am I.

    The man is obviously an idiot if he thinks:

    1) Increasing the potential profitability of their existing back-catalogues will encourage the record companies to invest in new acts.

    2) Record companies will change their current investment in new acts based on potential extra revenue in FIFTY YEARS TIME.

    I gritted my teeth and voted Labour last month, but with this and the renewed push for ID cards, they've lost my support within a month.

    Idiots.
  • Modern times? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:31AM (#12745517) Homepage
    First Mickey, now this.

    Why is this happening? Surely half a century ago artists/companies had copyrights, and they didn't last 100 years. Did any of those companies fold or artists starve because they couldn't get longer copyrights?

    It seems to me that there is a lot of proof out there that prolonged copyrights are not needed for the copyright-owners to survive.

    Perhaps somebody with a better historical view of copyrights can shed some light on the matter; is there any evidence in history that prolonged copyrights have such value as to warrant them?

    I can understand that a copyright of just 1 year would be a bit too short for the artist to get his "morally right" compensation, but surely after 50 years it should have been enough?
  • by 3StrangeAllies (691081) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:34AM (#12745539) Homepage

    The folks in the governments (be it US, EU or UK) seem to have lost sight of why there's been "copy rights" for the past 200 years...

    The constitutional basis (at least in the US) is to "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" - US Const. art. 1, 8, cl. 8. And thus gave the exclusive right to the rightholder (ideally, the artist himself, even though this is unlikely nowadays):

    • To produce copies
    • To import / export the work
    • To create derivative works
    • To perform / display the work publicly
    • To sell / assign rights to others
    But since copyright provides a monopoly, there is a limitation in time for it. The main reason is that copyright creates two main incentive -- to create and to diffuse the creative works. If there was no protection provided, creative people might just keep their creations for themselves in fear of being ripped off by other people.

    Hence, there is no real fear to have about a "unlimited duration" copyright... in theory. Following the Sonny Bono act, the Supreme COurt printed this wonderful opinion where they basically said that even if the copyright duration was set to a million year, it would be constitutional since it was "limited". With such arguments from the highest ranking source of legal authority, I cannot help but feeling hopeless...

    Copyright is not a bad system, just like the Communist Republics' constitutions were great civil liberties manifestos...

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:35AM (#12745544)
    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the record industry?

    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the car industry?

    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the airline industry?

    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the textile industry?

    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up the agriculture industry?

    Why do governments feel the need to continually prop up any industry?

  • by malkavian (9512) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:39AM (#12745579) Homepage
    More like it being a case of giving the record companies more money, so they don't have to find new talent for the next 50 years.
    Every other business out there needs to stay competitive by creating new products, and actually use their brains to work out how to do this.
    The recording industry just says "We once got someone to make a good product, took it over and made a killing from it. We need you to keep giving us money for it so we don't have to think about how to make another decent product in the future. That's too much like hard work.".
    Being in business used to mean you needed to be able to think quickly and make things people wanted, and adapt to the market place. These days it's more like a case of not wanting to adapt, so create laws to stop a market changing.
    Hell, they've had over 50 years of distributing music etc. when it cost FAR more to produce and distribute than it does now. You'd think that they'd know what they were doing by now.
  • Re:FFS... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eccles (932) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:39AM (#12745580) Journal
    Given that this Supreme Court just ruled that someone growing their own marijuana for treating their own medical condition can be "regulated" under the interstate commerce clause, I have little faith that the justices will be receptive to logical Constitutional arguments.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:42AM (#12745594) Homepage
    7. Being in accordance with relative merit or significance: She wanted to receive her fair share of the proceeds.

    Copyright is meant to divide the proceeds between the public (e.g. the public domain) and the copyright holders. Except the copyright holders take all their input from society, and want to give none in return. In that context, it is not fair.
  • Actually, thats not true. A lot of copyrights are maintained, even though they aren't commercialized at all, either because the copyright holder just wants to be a jerk about it or because it would cost them more to monetize the copyright than it's worth to them. Because copyright is practically eternal and requires no effort to maintain, all these works are lost to the public commons, some of them forever. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what copyright is supposed to do. The taxation system provides incentive to release works when they're no longer profitable. By your argument we could replace *all* taxes with income tax, which is stupid - not everything that the public provides results in income which can be taxed - and a more logical thread of the same idea is to abolish income tax and tax all ownership. Which is actually a very logical and straightforward idea - you owe the commons a tax on anything you can restrict the access of others to - but the idea actually causes libertarians to shrivel and die, like salt on a slug.
  • Pervert? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:10AM (#12745802) Homepage
    It's better than lining the pockets of a pervert.

    Now, now. Let's wait to pass judgment until, y'know, the trial's over. I, for one, hope he is guilty, because if he's innocent, he'll have gone through hell and a half for no reason other than being really, really weird. And that shouldn't be a crime in America.

    --grendel drago
  • Re:What the? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ircharlie (317640) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:18AM (#12745849)
    Yup - I already sent an email to my MP to complain about this. Artists knew exactly what the rules of the game were when they created their music fifty years ago. I dare say that some artists, like John Lennon, would look forward to sharing their music freely with the world. But now that music is being privatised without my permission and without John Lennon's permission. I think we're both a bit pissed off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:21AM (#12745876)
    I do think copyrights should survive the creators lifetime, or 50 years, whichever is longer, but no more than that.

    I don't. I think that's counter-productive. Copyright is supposed to provide an incentive to be creative. But if your copyright is guaranteed to last longer than you do, then all you have to produce is one really successful work, and then you can sit back and live off the royalties without ever writing another book, or singing another song, or making another movie.

    If copyright lasted 20 years, period, then there would be a greater incentive for even the most successful artists to continue to produce new works.
  • by the_unknown_soldier (675161) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:25AM (#12745913)
    Its different people everytime. Its satirical. A JOKE. and it gets funnier every time it gets posted. I might post it sometime. Hilarious stuff. I wish i had mod points
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnapShot (171582) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:31AM (#12745953)
    I've fought this battle many times as well. Patents are not trademarks are not copyright.

    However, the general problem is similar. Large corporations have co-opted all forms of legal intellectual property protection to the detriment of personal rights. Whether we are talking about Angus McDonald's pub being sued by McDonalds Inc., effectively infinite copyright terms, or patent arsenals designed to forstall competition there is a general trend of those with the money and power abusing the IP laws to expand their power and increase their money.

    Now, no one honestly expects the corporations and their governments to do anything else, but we don't have to like it and, hopefully in the long run, we won't have to accept it.
  • by DrSbaitso (93553) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:33AM (#12745973)
    As Stephen Breyer pointed out during oral argument for the challenge brought to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act a few years ago, then-current (i.e. pre-Bono Act) copyright terms already convey 99.7% of the present value of the future earnings stream from a work to the copyright holder, assuming a historical average discount rate. No economist seriously believes that the current round of term extensions are anything but government kowtowing to media companies. It's a shame that the SCOTUS didn't overturn the Sonny Bono Act.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:36AM (#12745994) Homepage
    Of course this is in the U.K. but we have similar issues in the U.S. however, in the U.S. our foundation on such matters is somewhat different.

    And that's why I have no problem with downloading music....if the royalty holders are going to steal from the people of the United States. Than I have no problem stealing back what is rightfully ours.
  • by Rick.C (626083) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:36AM (#12745996)
    "...then he's got income, you've got income..."

    There! There it is!

    You've just sussed it.

    If songs pass into public domain, no money changes hands, so there is nothing to tax.

    It is in each government's self-interest to to force people to pay for things so the transactions can be taxed. Extending the copyrights to "forever" will guarantee a future tax base.
  • by thisissilly (676875) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:37AM (#12746000)
    Exactly. If we could hold the government of the US to the promises it made to the public in 1948 (copyright lasted 28 years, with one renewal for 28 years) *everything* pre-1949 would now be in the public domain.

    Think of the wonder that would be: all of WWII era, all that music, books, films, now legally downloadedable and shareable online.

    Instead, thanks to the copyright acts of 1976 and 1998, we are stuck in stasis, with 1923's material not scheduled to enter the public domain until 2019, if we can avoid having any more extensions.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:46AM (#12746080) Homepage
    I think it would be horrible if any artist could say what was to be done with his/her work for no better reason than that they created it.

    Copyright, incidentally, is about money. Having a copyright provides a potential source of income, which hopefully will have provided an incentive for the artist to create the work in question, where otherwise he would not have. So it is all about commercial ventures.

    If you would have created something anyway, then it's actually quite stupid to grant a copyright on it, as the artist didn't need the incentive. We generally can't tell on a case-by-case basis, but it's perfectly appropriate to make applying for and keeping copyrights a business matter, which artists would need to treat seriously, much like they do with their taxes, business structures (if any), etc.

    It's not for total amateurs.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:50AM (#12746114)
    "Synecdoche"? Holy shit. What are you doing posting on /.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#12746125)
    Why should copyright holders continue to earn money for work done 100 years ago? Or even 20 years ago for that matter. I don't earn money for work I did 20 years ago, or even 1 month ago. This idea that copyright holders get to earn money indefinitely on work done years and years ago is a corruption of reality imposed on us by goverment. No one else gets the right to earn money for years old work. Why should copyright holders? We should return to the 14 years plus 14 years copyright of the original constitution. The idea that we have to reward artists with these obscenely long copyright terms so they'll keep on producing art is nonsense. Bach and Mozart produced far more music and worked far harder then the Beatles ever did, for basically nothing by todays standards.
  • by HermanAB (661181) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#12746130)
    The music industry tries to protect its old music, since the new music is so bad. If there were good musicians today, raking in mountains of cash, then they would not have cared about the old stuff.

    My teenage son and his friends all listen to 1970s and 1980s rock music. When I was his age, I would not have been caught dead listening to my dad's ragtime...

  • Re:Pervert? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DrinkingIllini (842502) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:57AM (#12746184)
    Wow, you have a lot of faith in the justice system. Just because the jury finds him not guilty doesn't mean he didn't commit a crime, especially given his celebrity status. OJ anyone?
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:02AM (#12746229) Homepage Journal
    "If everybody jumped off a cliff, would you do it?!!!" /mom


    I have a simple reform to copyright terms that will solve all the worlds' problems. See, it doesn't make sense to retain copyright to something once it has been absorbed into the great gestalt of common culture. I say once a song loses all relevancy, copyright should be retired. A simple litmus test would be when the song is used to advertize beer or automobiles. Maybe sneakers, too.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antiMStroll (664213) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:07AM (#12746280)
    It's not fair. Had these rules been in place for the full lifetimes of all involved there is a sense in which the term 'fair' can be applied, though it's still wrong, stupid and damaging to society. This mid-stream change to existing copyright is anything but fair.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:13AM (#12746331)
    When the work is published, it's OURS. The originator and the listener.
  • Re:Because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:13AM (#12746333)
    For example, I doubt many people here know who actually wrote the "Happy Birthday" song, but everyone knows it, everyone sings it at a birthday party, and yet it's still under copyright.

    God bless Time Warner. :P

  • Re:Because... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MartinG (52587) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:19AM (#12746402) Homepage Journal
    Aw screw it, I guess I'm sounding like a big old commie now

    Quite the opposite. You are arguing in favor of a free market. Your ideas are closer to capitailst principles and I very strongly agree with you.

    Don't forget that copyright is just a form of government intervention in a market. There is nothing commie about dislike of government intervention where it is not welcome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:23AM (#12746435)

    Once you publish it, it is no longer truly "yours." If you yell something out in public, you have no natural right to prevent other people from repeating what they heard. Copyright makes an exception to this to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," but this is a far cry from natural property.

  • by bdmarti (620266) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:23AM (#12746441)
    Who get's to determine what the peak annual revenue for a given work is? The accountants? Worldwide sales or just domestic? Do royalties count or just physical media? Do we fill out an IRS form for each work we publish? Do singles need a different form from albums? What about compiliations?

    I think this would be a needlessly cumbersome method of implementing copyright fees.

    Let's consider the origial intent of copyright:
    Clause 8: 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;

    It is intended that a limited monopoly will allow the markets to act as an economic incentive and promote progress in science and the arts.

    Does it cost the government money to provide the limited monoply protection? Yes!

    Since the government is using it's supposed exclusive use of force to insure that you have a monopoly such that you can use the markets to gain a profit that is supposedly your incentive, does it seem more reasonable that the people should pay for you to get rich via taxes or that you should pay a fee to the government for the privelege of using a limited monopoly?

    To me, it seems quite reasonable that an individual using the government to enforce monopoly and supposedly recieve monetary compensation should pay.

    If you don't want this monoploy, or it isn't economically viable, then too bad, no monopoly for you.

    What would be a reasonable amount to pay? How about one share of the cost of running the copyright office and copyright courts? Take the total budget of the copyright office, add to it the percentage of the budgets of the DA and law enforcement that goes to enforce copyright, divide this by the number of copyrights and like magic you have an appropriate amount to charge.

    Let's assume that we also want to ensure that our copyrights are actually "limited" like the clause says. We could choose an arbitrary number of years to allow a person to hold a copyright, but it seems like having the limitation be based off the supposed economic incentive might be a better way to go.

    How about we add an arbitrary multiple to your copyright fee each year? Two seems like a nice number. Let's double your fee every year.

    Further, let's force all copyrights to be buyable by the government such that they are released into the public domain. The government, and only the government, can exercise the buyout clause of a given copyright, and only for the purpose of realese to the public domain. The author can assign an arbitrary buyout value to their piece when they file for their initial copyright. They would then pay a fee based upon the buyout value...let's just say they would pay a fee of 1/10th of 1% of their buyout value, any arbitrary but proportional value will do.

    With a system like this in place, the copyright office would be profitable. It would make extra revenue from buyout fees, and from the doubling of renual fees.

    With this extra money, I suggest that they pay the buyout fees of longstanding copyrights.

    In this way, no copyright can last forever, but very valueable copyrights can be very valuable to their holders.

    It would be impossible for a copyright holder to always be able to pay a fee that increases at an exponential rate as they would eventually owe more money than there is wealth in the world. Thus all copyrights would come to an end. And should the owner want to pay huge sums of money for another year of exclusivity, who are we the people to argue with that? We'll take their money and buy thousands of other works into the public domain, thank you very much.

    What does this system achieve?
    No taxpayer money required
    copyright exists for a limited time
    copyright maintanence is inherently linked to the enonomic viability of the copyright
    there are no orphaned works
    copyrights of economically non-viable works will rapidly fall to the public domain, where they should be

    and once we have this in place for copyrights, let's use a similar system for patents.

    thank you
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by null etc. (524767) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:28AM (#12746486)
    I don't earn money for work I did 20 years ago, or even 1 month ago.

    That's probably because you don't create works of intellectual property for a living.

    No one else gets the right to earn money for years old work.

    What about investors, who invest in companies and real estate? The whole idea of retirement is to make money off "years old work".

    Bach and Mozart produced far more music and worked far harder then the Beatles ever did, for basically nothing by todays standards.

    Yes, but compared against the standards of 2,000 years ago, they lived much more comfortably. Are you saying we should base contemporary laws on arbitrary standards of the past?

  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 'nother poster (700681) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:31AM (#12746521)
    One of the main differences is that patents have something resembling realistic expiration terms. 20 years from application, the last I remember seeing. That means that IBM, or Microsoft, or whomever can only monopolize the information for 20 years, then anyone can use it to produce an item. That means that if I invent something at 30 that pays well, and I want to continue getting income after I turn 50, I need to invent something new. Thus adding to society. If I write a book or song, my grandchildren will still make money off it with them making no contribution to society. That's the problem as I see it.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:32AM (#12746533)
    Wow, you have a lot of faith in the justice system. Just because the jury finds him not guilty doesn't mean he didn't commit a crime, especially given his celebrity status. OJ anyone?

    As far as you know, OJ is innocent too. Sounds like you'd prefer the US justice system to be based on trial by media. Clearly you don't believe in innocent until proven guilty.

    OJ was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. If you know some reason why he should be convicted, perhaps you should have stepped up during the trial.

    And if Michael Jackson is innocent, then he has been taken to trial BECAUSE of his celebrity status. You think anybody would have taken this kind of time and effort - millions of dollars worth - to prosecute a nobody?
  • Re:What the? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jamie Lokier (104820) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:34AM (#12746554) Homepage

    I gritted my teeth and voted Labour last month, but with this and the renewed push for ID cards, they've lost my support within a month.

    Idiots.

    They got exactly what they wanted, so they were smart. They were honest, too. Labour made it quite clear they were going to push strongly for ID cards; if you don't like that policy, then you were stupid to vote for them. They also made it clear (by their actions in the patent debate) that they support strong IP in favour of big cartels. Again, voting for them was a stupid thing to do if you don't support that.

    And now you're surprised!

    Sadly, millions of people thought like you did - that is, with your brain switched off - now we have to deal with the consequences.

    Please locate the "on" switch and give it a try.

    Thanks,
    -- Jamie

  • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mac Degger (576336) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:37AM (#12746591) Journal
    You know what's not fair? Unlimited copyright. Copyright was always meant to fall into the public domain in a reasonable amount of time. But now it has gotten to the point that many things which where written before I was born will not fall into the public domain within my lifetime!

    IOW, something which has (possibly) permeated my entire life I can't incorporate in any way in my own creative work (black/white/grey album is a great example why this is a dumb situation)!

    No matter what the legislative wankers say, copyright has effectively become infinite, for all intents and purposes, if during my lifetime I can't use something which was written before I was born.
  • by BSDevil (301159) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:41AM (#12746625) Journal
    Yuo do know that by doing that, you'd be pretty much ending the existence of most corporations, right? Assuming that's not what you were going for, I think you missa few key steps in your logic.

    Let's look at movies, for a start. If there are (say) 100 people invilved in the creative side of a movie, then by your system all revenues from the movie in question would be split 100 ways. Make a blockbuster movie, each of the 100 people get four million dollars a head, and they're happy. So what about the 990 other people involved in the process? The lighting guys, the sound guys, the editors, the makeup guys? So let's add them in, and now each person gets $400K. So now that we've given all the profits out to the individual people, who's going to pay for the next movie? If a movie made $400 million in profits, wh paid for the development of the movie? Who put of the initial cash to pay for the production, until the revenues started coming in? And who's going to do it for the next one? It sure ain't gonna be the movie company, as they (as a company) made no money off the first movie, since it all went to the people involved in it.

    Now let's think even more generally - about widgets. WidgetCo spends 12 engineer-years (12 engineers for a year of work) developing the Widget2. Where did the company get the money to pay these engineers? Unless you grant that a corporation (WidgetCo) can be one of the creators of the product - and hence deserving of some of the profits from Widget1 - there would be no product, as there would be no one to pay the developers while they made it. There would be no one to stake the millions on R&D in the bet that a widget may work out.

    Explain to me how a company could get any money and get anything done under your plan, and then I'll listen. Until then, it's ridiculous.
  • by morethanapapercert (749527) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:43AM (#12746641)
    This reminds me of a science fiction short story I read once. (I *think* it may have been written by Larry Niven, or may have been in an anthology that he was associated with) The basic plot was of a activist woman, a widow of a incredibly popular recording artist, who attempts to persuade a very powerful politician to vote *against* an upcoming bill that would extend copyright in perpetuity. As far as the back-room pol was concerned, the bill was a done deal, there was too much money behind it, besides, he'd already been bought and concerned it a point of repuattion to stay bought. In the end, the woman was successful and he even offered to nominate her as his political heir. The womans basic argument was that must have a degree of artistic amnesia in order to allow continual creativity. In an era of digital media, any artistic creation can live "forever". In the story, the widow relates how, in the last years before his death, her husband failed to release any new works. The reason for that was that as a standard anti-lawsuit practice, his works would be compared to a huge database of existing musical works. All of his later works, entirely his own, created entirely in ignorance of prior art, ended up being close enough to some older work that it *seemed* derivative. He was a wealthy artist, paying royalties wasn't the issue, maintaining his sense of creativity *as an artist* was. I am not a legal historian, but as far as I know, the basic concept of copyright was intended to protect the artist, allow an artist to benefit from the fruits of that art. It seems to me the problem here is not an artist claiming protection for too long. I think the problem is based on the concept of corporation as a legal person under the law. An individual artist is mortal, and I seriously doubt George Harrison really cares what is done with the Beatles catalog 50 years after he is dead. A corporation on the other hand, can be effectively immortal and as long as it exists, it will seek to make money in any way it can. The problem therefore is in allowing an immortal creation own intellectual property it did not create. My suggestion would be to vest copyright in only the creator, publication rights can be signed over, but not the copyright itself. Allow the copyright expire a set period after the creators death. The basic copyright remains with the creator no matter what, and only the original creator and/or heirs can decide who gets to publish his/her materials until the copyright expires. Any new artists anti-lawsuit check would be then be confined to a finite body of modern work.
  • by Soybean47 (885009) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:45AM (#12746664)
    I don't think you quite got it.

    "First of all, what if you have a minor work? My father published a book, and made about £10 on it, if you take away the cost of printing etc. It would cost more in administrative costs for the government to collect the 10p tax on that." So, either they take the 10p tax as a matter of principle and make up their loss on the bigger IP, or they put a minimum on it, like they do with other taxes.

    "Second of all, what about compilations? If an anthology of work is published, do you have to tax every individual who owns some IP within the book?" Yes. But not on the profits of the anthology... on the money the individuals make. It's not that hard. They'd be taxed on that money anyway with income tax.

    "What about books that are in the public interest to be in print. Imagine if Darwin had been subject to a '1% of peak annual profit' copyright tax. Initially, a large profit would have come in, as there was a great deal of interest in the work. However, after about a decade or so, he (or his estate) would have to pay a very large amount of copyright tax. If they couldn't afford this, "On the Origin of Species" would have had to go out of print. Somehow, I doubt this would have been a benefitial outcome for anyone." No... it wouldn't have to go out of print, it would have to become public domain. That would be beneficial. In your example, Darwin has already made lots of money, and isn't making money from the book any more, so what he's losing is worth very little to him. And, with the book in the public domain, people with their own printing presses at home can make copies of the book for their friends, distributing Darwin's knowledge more widely than would otherwise have happened.

    I'm not saying that this "copyright tax" will necessarily work, but your counter-arguments seem a bit confused.
  • Re:Pervert? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StrongAxe (713301) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:11AM (#12746952)
    I, for one, hope he is guilty, because if he's innocent, he'll have gone through hell and a half for no reason other than being really, really weird. And that shouldn't be a crime in America.

    Hoping someone is guilty just to salve society's conscience is a bit like robbing someone at gunpoint, and then afterwards hoping he was a criminal because then he would deserve it.

    Much like the rationale for the Conquistadores raping and pillaging the Americas, because, after all, the natives were merely heathens, which made it "all right".
  • by PetriBORG (518266) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:21AM (#12747054) Homepage

    Its an interesting idea, but there seems to be some flaws.

    For example: Now suppose your million dollar seller isn't selling anymore, and you decide to take it out of print. Then you'd have to decide whether it was worth it to you to keep paying the annual ten grand or to let the work go public domain. By your rules they wouldn't be paying anything, because 1% of zero is still zero. So unless you took the maximum of the entire period, or something like that, you'd loose your reason for authors to allow their matterial to become public domain.

    The other issue is that what happens to the GPL under a system like this? Now since there are many authors, and many people possibly making money of your copyright you've got a horrible mess. In fact, this is the primary problem with a lot of suggested copyright fixes posted to slashdot, they often would break the GPL pretty badly.

    Of course some people might like seeing the GPL go down in a ball of flame, but I'm not one of them.

  • Re:Because... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:24AM (#12747097)
    Copyright should last at most 10-20 years.

    I agree. I also believe that it should be renewable by the copyright owner until the owner dies, and that the copyright is not transferable to anyone else.

    When you hear about the great grandchildren suing over "their" rights that their dead great grandmother's work (dead over 50 years mind you), something is wrong. I'm thinking of the recent "Gone with the wind" lawsuit.

    So, can I sue the government for Social Security from my dead grandparents and great grandparents? Or their employers? Hey, you guys owe me money because my great grandfather worked for you over 50 years ago, plus pain and suffering to boot! WTF?

    Now things of physical value that can be physically transfered from one individual to another is another story. If I had my great grandparent's original transcript for a work they did when they are alive, I'm entitled to sell it and deprive myself of ownership of that property, but I don't see where I have any right to rent the arrangement of words indefinitely.

    I doubt many people here know who actually wrote the "Happy Birthday" song, but everyone knows it, everyone sings it at a birthday party, and yet it's still under copyright.

    Yup. Some rich fuck "owns" it and gladly collects about $2 mil a year for it. Its an interesting read, find it here: http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/birthday.htm [snopes.com].

    I will say that Mickey Mouse is a little different because it is almost synonymous with the Disney corporation. I believe that it can and should be trademarked and protected, but Steam Boat Willy copies (if anyone really wants them) should be in the public domain by now. Disney can sell original film cells for $10 billion a frame, but the story and singing and whistling is done.

    This whole copyright debate is basically almost like any extremist's position. Like the NRA, MADD, or any other fanatical group. Their views are absurd and rigid, and its up to their opponents to bring them down a little and we meet somewhere in the middle.

    One thing that is different about copyrights, is to ask "Who is being benefitted by having these absurdly long copyrights?" Is it your average Joe Smoe that creates the copyrighted material?

    Nope.

    Does it benefit society in general?

    Nope.

    It only benefits already rich people and corporations. It does little to nothing for the creators, and it deprives your average citizen, and adds one more thing to their lives that could be a criminal act. Citizen rights as we know it are becoming less and less every day in favor of the government and corporations (basically the same thing). This will continue until people get pissed off enough and start a riot or revolution. The thing that kills me is that we average folk way outnumber these assholes, but I guess we are too poorly organized and busy taking care of ourselves to do much of anything.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @12:13PM (#12747791)
    "Gee, that's my point. Why should people who create intellectual property get this special privledge when people who work day in and day out producing our food, building our houses etc. for a living don't?"

    Very good reason. Intellectual property usually isn't valued right away. Siegel and Schuster made Superman and got a daily wage. Twenty years later, DC was making millions off their work. Ignoring whether it's fair for DC to get the money, it's important to note that the work they produced was worth much more than any reasonable person would initially have paid them to do it.

    That's the way intellectual work is. The true value of it doesn't show up for years and years. If people were only paid based on how valuable art seemed on the day it was made, nobody could ever make art.

    "But precopyright artists worked harder and produced more art then modern artists do. Therefore the arguement for copyrights if flawed. Show me a pop artist that can match the output of Bach or Moazart? I've got news for you. There aren't any."

    That's a straw-man. You're selecting out the greatest geniuses of over five hundred years of modern European music and putting it up against an image of the worst music produced in the last twenty. Bach didn't create so much brilliant music because he had the dogs of poverty nipping at his heels, he did it because he could sit down at a harpsichord and improvise a six-part fugue effortlessly.

    In fact, if Mozart had had a better way to get paid for his work, we might have a lot more of it. He wouldn't have died penniless.

    You're also completely ignoring more important factors in reducing musical output. Radio requires shorter songs which are repeated more often, regardless of copyright. People don't have four hours to sit down and listen to a symphony anymore, which means an artist can't milk a musical theme the same way. In today's world, Beethoven's nine symphonies would be eighteen three-minute songs, just about enough for one album.

    Even once all *that* is said, judging an artist by the amount of work they finished is moronic. Steven King's set of work is much larger than Dostoevsky's.

    "Well, the same thing would apply to them in many cases. I have this strange belief that people who actally work and contribute to society should make more then people that don't. Of course, in modern capitalism its often the opposite."

    This isn't an argument against intellectual property as such. Intellectual property is a scheme by which people who do hard work can get paid something like the actual value of the work.

    What's bothering you so much about American capitalism is the concept of "freedom of contract." We set out pleasant and fair rights for artists to have over a lifetime of work. If a song like "Yesterday" is worth $400 million dollars, if people are willing to pay that over fifty years, it's probably fair that McCartney get the money. However, because of freedom of contract, an artist who makes a song like this can sell his rights to that $400 million early on, when he doesn't know what he's selling.

    It seems enormously unfair that people who have a lot of money can go around buying things from people who don't have money just on the wild hope that one of the pieces might turn out to be far more valuable. It's as if lottery winners could afford to go out and buy all the lottery tickets, so they kept winning.

    This is the problem with American capitalism. The people who are good at knowing what things are worth spend a lot of time making money off the people who are actually good at things. It isn't intellectual property specific. It happens with real property too. You think your field is worthless, they know it has uranium, they pay you much less than it's worth and pocket the difference.

    In the end, though, no system would be completely fair. You just have to try to get ahead in whatever system is in place.
  • Biased description (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stankatz (846709) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:28PM (#12748877)
    That means the Beatles' "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me," scheduled to to go into the public domain in 2013, would earn royalties for record companies until 2063. (Emphasis added.)

    In many cases, it would also earn money for the families of the artists. If you produced some hugely popular music like The Beatles, wouldn't you want your children to benefit financially from it? Just a thought.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EpsCylonB (307640) <[eps] [at] [epscylonb.com]> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @01:47PM (#12749148) Homepage
    Its worse than that, imagine your children having to pay to learn about their country's culture. It would a bit like still having shakespeare copyrighted.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @02:31PM (#12749775)
    That's probably because you don't create works of intellectual property for a living.

    I am not the person you responded to, but I write code for a living. This is generally considered to be an "intellectual property"-creating job.

    I get paid for the service of creating code. I don't expect to get paid over and over every time someone uses my code - I expect to get paid only for the one-time effort that I put forth to create the code. I want to keep getting paid, I keep providing service - just like every other hardworking craftperson on the planet.

    People should expect to be compensated when they provide desired goods or services. To expect anything more is just an expression of greed.

    "Intellectual property" laws are just a way to make people pay more for a product than a free market would decide that it was worth.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @03:17PM (#12750421)
    You're making the assumption that you actually own something which the government is taking away. There is no property being taken.

    There is as much property being taken from the public domain by the extension of copyright as there is money lost by someone copying something he never would have paid for in the first place.

    For the copyright holders, piracy is loss of potential profit (loss of something they could have had). For us, extension of copyright is loss of potential public domain works (loss of something we could have had).
  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shalda (560388) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @03:48PM (#12750735) Homepage Journal
    This is absolutely a property right. When I buy a copyrighted good, part of the value of it is that at some point the copyright will end and I will receive full public domain rights to the object. Changing the copyright duration arbitrarily changes the social contract and devalues (from my perspective) the value of the product. On the other hand, under the doctrine of first sale, some people might argue that a copyright extension enhances the value of the product. I would not be one of those people. :) In any event, it changes the social contract in a rather capricious and arbitrary manner. The value of some people's property goes up and the value of others' property goes down.
  • by Lost Race (681080) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @04:12PM (#12751022)
    I like the buyout clause but why limit it to the government? Why not let anyone "buy" the work into the public domain?

    I might also suggest a limited guaranteed monopoly period with no buyout and no tax, say 10 years, after which the owner must declare the buyout value and pay the annual tax. It's hard to figure out the value of a new, untested work.

    Ah, screw it, just limit copyrights to 10 years with one renewal, then it's public domain. Isn't that what we originally had, and it worked fine?

  • by Carbonite (183181) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @10:29AM (#12757331)
    OK, I agree that my property tax should support local services. However, why should the tax be based on the value of my house and land? If I spend a lot of time and money improving my home, am I somehow consuming more community services? Why should a family with a small house and 8 kids in public schools pay less in property taxes than a family with one child and a larger home?

    The value of a person's home often doesn't correspond with their ability to pay property tax. For example, here in Massachusetts, homeowners have seen the value of their property rise dramatically over the past decade. My parents are both retired teachers and their rather small house is valued at over $450K. The increase in property tax has really been a strain on their financial situation. They don't consume any more services than they did ten years ago, but they pay far more for them.

    It certainly seems like they're paying an annual fee simply to maintain ownership of the house.

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