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Intellectual Property Manifesto for the UK 238

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the countdown-to-quashed-in-3-2-1 dept.
feepcreature writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the British Library has published a Manifesto calling for a balance in Intellectual Property rights between the interests of users, creators and publishers. There are 6 key recommendations, including: DRM should not override users' statutory rights; analogue rights should apply to digital media; and copyright terms should not be extended without evidence that this would be good for society. There is also part of the debate on the UK Government's Gowers review of Intellectual Property, due to report in the Autumn."
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Intellectual Property Manifesto for the UK

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  • DRM in the UK (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So who are the DRM pushing companies in the UK?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

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

      All this "sharing" stuff - don't you know that denying companies their deserved profit is stealing?! Think of those poor starving authors whose work you borrowed from the library instead of buying it! Thieving old gradmas, reading books for free! There should be a l
      • Re:DRM in the UK (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:41AM (#16288703)
        But it was a good question: the companies are the same companies as elsewhere, both US and multi-national. Sony, Disney, Samsung, and other companies interested in DRM protecting their digital investment help prevent what folks in the US call "fair rights" use.

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

        The libraries of the world are quite right to be concerned about this.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ngwenya (147097)

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

          Well, hold on a sec. Microsoft has a vision for its Windows system

          • Re:DRM in the UK (Score:4, Informative)

            by Shawn is an Asshole (845769) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @05:25AM (#16289457)
            Now, as for TC related activity - there's a lot of nonsense talked about this, and I don't have time to go into it right now. TPMs are neither good nor bad. They are simply a way for the owner of the platform to measure the integrity of his/her platform, and to attest that integrity to a remote verifier.


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

            TPM could be a good thing in the hands of, say, a Linux or *BSD developer. That would be nice on a server.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Whoah indeed. There are plenty of reasons not involving Microsoft for manufacturers to want DRM, and they've done it with non-Microsoft related technologies. I don't mean to cast it all on Microsoft.

            But the nature of the Trusted Computing reflects a very clear plan to use it for DRM: Microsft wants it both for protecting their own software from being used in pirate copies, and to mate Windows software to other Windows software that blocks competing products from accessing them. This is particularly true for
          • by malsdavis (542216) *
            Your ignoring all the signals that Microsoft are keen to themselves become a mainstream media content provider. They already are to some extent with MSNBC. But there are many signals that they want to expand more into the media producing content over the next decade (in a manner reminiscant of SONY), which will mean they have a direct incentive (let alone the ample indirect incentive already mentioned of wanting to appease current media companies) to place DRM over that of consumers' statutory rights.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mr2001 (90979)

            TPMs are neither good nor bad. They are simply a way for the owner of the platform to measure the integrity of his/her platform, and to attest that integrity to a remote verifier. That's all it can do. [...] But fundamentally, if you control the hardware, you also control the mechanism for verifying any result.

            Well, the thing is, the whole point of that attestation process is to prove to a third party that you're running the software they want you to be running. It doesn't help you at all, except for the fa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fred_A (10934)
        No, see this is a library taking the fight to the copyright industry preemptively. They've seen how the movie and music industry is going after P2P services, and they know that they're next.
        On a more serious note, should electronic books ever take off, they will likely be heavily DRM-ed, tied to a single machine, etc. Where will that leave the libraries ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LunaticTippy (872397)
          My library already "lends" out heavily DRM'd e-books. You have to use stupid reader apps, and after 30 days you can't open it anymore. They pay a fee to the publisher every time somebody "checks out" an e-book.
  • Life + 70 years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:48AM (#16288199)
    All that is well and good. We (the communal 'we', not the 'we' as in you Limeys) should of course be allowed to retain the same rights to content and media as was available before they became digital. Digital, as they say in their very first point, is not really different fundamentally than any other publishing medium, and therefore the rights extended to non-digital content should also be extended to digital content.

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

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

    What we need is an ool. Notice there's no 'p' in it.
    • Agree and disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dobeln (853794) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:59AM (#16288249)
      Agree: "The life+70 years term is ludicrous. "To believe that anything beyond lifetime copyright impacts the incentive structure of creators takes some serious suspension of disbelief.

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

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

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

      Depending on your preferences, it's very likely that you will be wanting to rebalance copyright, one way or the other (more lenient, more strict), due to the adoption of digital media.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

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

        Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of production.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by servognome (738846)
          That should read: "Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of reproduction."
          The cost to produce the first copy will still exist.
          • by QuantumG (50515)
            And as such is the only cost you need cover, so what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?
            • by Pofy (471469)
              >And as such is the only cost you need cover, so
              >what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?

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

              • by bky1701 (979071)
                I think he means, "What right do you have to complain you are not getting MORE then you put in".
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Pofy (471469)
                  Ohh, well, true. If you feel you get to little for what you pay the answer is of course to not buy at all. Of course, in some cases there are legal alternatives were you can pay less or even nothing at all. One such example is to buy second hand.
                • by Haeleth (414428)
                  I think he means, "What right do you have to complain you are not getting MORE then you put in".

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

                  He might have meant "what right do you have to complain that you are not getting a LOT more than you put in". The thing there is that these companies are putting a lot into a lot of products, and with many of those products they get out a lot LESS than they put in. So if they don't make significant profits on
              • by QuantumG (50515)
                Sure, you can charge anything you want.. for services that *you* offer.. but I'm the one making the copy here. Copyright gives you the power to discourage me from making that copy, forcing people to come to you to get copies. That's the bullshit.
                • by Pofy (471469)
                  >Sure, you can charge anything you want.. for services that *you* offer..

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

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

                  Ehh, so you are now talking about a case were the buyer is the one manufacturing the actual copy himself? What does that change? Nothing, the seller can still charge whatever they want. As a buyer you factor in the price you pay plus any extra cost you might have which might include many co
            • by Haeleth (414428)
              And as such is the only cost you need cover, so what gives you the right to charge $29.95 per copy?

              If the initial cost of production was $1m and you only expect to sell around 34,000 copies, how can you justify charging less than $29.95 per copy?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by richie2000 (159732)
          Don't forget the immense possible benefit to producers: zero cost of production.

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

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Tim C (15259)
            But drastically lowered cost of production

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

            zero cost of distribution

            Bandwidth is free now? Servers are free?

            Cost of distribution is much lower per
            • Bandwidth is free now? Servers are free?

              Yes!

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shmlco (594907)
          "zero cost of production"

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

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

          As far as that goes, I'd almost be willing to bet that once those costs are taken into
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by badfish99 (826052)
            According to this [postaudio.co.uk] cost breakdown, the production and marketing costs of a £12.99 CD total about £1.60. The retailer and wholesaler between them take £5.97. I couldn't find figures for a DVD but I should think they would be similar.
            On a million units, that would be nearly £6 million delivery costs. I can't believe that distribution via (say) bittorrent would be only one order of magnitude cheaper then this.
          • Let's take the iTMS move store, for example. I submit that the bandwidth needed to download a 1.2GB file has SOME cost, as does building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to ensure that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people can do so simultaneously.

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

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

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

        Anyone remember hearing that? I've heard it countless times. So the old rules no longer apply when the argument suits people who trade stuff the content owners don't want traded - but wait! The old rules should apply now because.... because this new stuff makes it harder to trade stuff the content owenrs dont want traded!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by truedfx (802492)

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

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

        • Oh, yes. The changes when the US eliminated the need to register copyrighted documents were quite sufficient. And given the amount and ease of creating new documents in this digital world, 20 years seems quite sufficient.
        • by drsmithy (35869)
          Hmm. Would we suddenly see all sorts of mysterious deaths of authors directly after they publish their works, if the copyright on their works would immediately end?

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

          • by truedfx (802492)
            Who would derive enough benefit to be willing to trade off the punishment for (and stigma of) a pre-meditated murder conviction ?

            Probably very few people, but there's no punishment if you don't get caught, and I would be very surprised if there is no person who thinks to be smart enough to get away with it.

        • I don't think mysterious deaths are likely to be a huge problem outside of detective stories. However, untimely death due to illness or accident is quite a concern, since any artist who was relying on income from their work to support a family would leave that family with much less if the works were immediately released to the public domain after their death.

      • by msobkow (48369)

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

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

      • Oh, agreed. That legislation in the US was aimed squarely at protecting the Mickey Mouse copyright: Disney is a huge sponsr of such legislation, as that darned mouse gets older and older and Disney's library of old movies grows in value. Librarians I've spoken with are amazed at the difficulties current US copyright law creates for them.
      • "To believe that anything beyond lifetime copyright impacts the incentive structure of creators takes some serious suspension of disbelief."

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

        Parents want to provide for their children.

        • by Pofy (471469)
          >Parents want to provide for their children.

          For most people in the world, that means they have to first work to make money that the children can then get. Why should for example artists be different? Why should they not have to work and make their money first? Should my employer or whoever buy my services (or whatever you like to take an example) have to continue to pay to my children AFTER I die? If one still want such a system, a fixed time not tied to ones death would of course be much better.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by old man moss (863461)
            "Why should for example artists be different?"

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

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

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

            • by Pofy (471469)
              I do agree with you that a fixed time would probably be much better. I don't see how the stockpiling would make any difference though, the time to get income would be the same, unless there is large taxes on money inherited as oposed to the copyright the difference would not be large since the children would instead inheret the money for non stockpiled work.

              The ultimately goal for copyright though is not to provide for the well being of future children but to make sure that works are created to start with.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773)
          I'm over 40 and have 2 children. I write but haven't made a penny at it. Much as I enjoy writing, there is definitely an incentive to "publish" in knowing that if my work becomes popular late in my life (or just after) then my kids will benefit.

          Parents want to provide for their children.


          Then you are a terribly irresponsible parent. As a copyright lawyer, let me point out to you that the odds of your work ever being even slightly valuable economically, are very very small. And then, the work typically is on
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869)
      Digital, as they say in their very first point, is not really different fundamentally than any other publishing medium, and therefore the rights extended to non-digital content should also be extended to digital content.

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

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

    • Re:Life + 70 years (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bersl2 (689221) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @01:43AM (#16288465) Journal
      Somebody on Ars [arstechnica.com] pointed out a post here on Slashdot that is, IMO, the most clear and succinct argument against life-plus copyright [slashdot.org] that I have ever seen, saying (in part):

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

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

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

      • Yea, aristocracy was the god-chosen elite who have had the right to hold life or death jurisdiction over the "common" people, and its highest rank was "the king", who held all other as "subjects".

        This was a social contract too. If people had listened to such nonsense ideas likewise your quotation points out, and thought of "long term benefits", there would be no french revolution and we would be still people subject to some "local lord" first, then the elite, then the king. Ah not to mention that all th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        Ask Joe who owns the copyright to Shakespeare's works and he's likely to think it's a reasonable question.

        There is an old rule that says a classic must be re-translated and re-intrepreted in each generation to remain attractive and readable to a modern audience. That is why Project Gutenberg is no threat to sales of the Penguin Classics.

        I think the reason people don't see infringement as immoral is because they don't understand the social contract that underlies copyright law...Joe Average isn't stupid..

    • by hey! (33014)
      The recommendation for life + 70 years is for unpublished works. The recommednations they make for published works is centered around the typical term in which works have commercial value -- much shorter in almost every case.

      First, with respect to unpublished works. IANAL but it's my understanding that in the common law, there is no "intellectual property" for published works. As soon as you inject it into the public mind, it becomes part of the commons. But unpublished works are a person's private prop
  • hmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:52AM (#16288213)
    well, i certainly like the looks of this, except for the support for the "life +70" copyright term, which is completely excessive IMO.
  • Copyrighted (Score:4, Funny)

    by dotslashdot (694478) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:54AM (#16288225)
    Was this manifesto copyrighted?
  • There are 6 key recommendations, including: DRM should not override users' statutory rights; analogue rights should apply to digital media; and copyright terms should not be extended without evidence that this would be good for society.

    The RIAA and MPAA have posted their official response: "....aaaaaaaAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"
    • by VJ42 (860241)
      The RIAA and MPAA have posted their official response: "....aaaaaaaAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

      Sitting here in the UK, my official reply to the RIAA & MPAA: So sue me. I remind you that despite our best efforts at being the 51st state, you still have no jurisdiction on this side of the Atlantic.
  • I can see some of their point, however I think they're trying to err on the side of the content creator/publisher.

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

    I think I'll just stick with m
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shawnmchorse (442605)
      Make sure you don't buy any DVDs either, what with region codes and encryption and such. Laserdiscs are where it's at, anyway. ;-)
    • Good for you! But please -- stop making an exception for Windows!

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``The only way the companies will learn is if you speak with your wallet, the Dollar (or Euro/Pound for you blokes on the other side of the pond) truely is the most basic and effective form of communication. :)''

      The problem is that one person "speaking with their wallet" is not going to be noticed by Big Media very much. Therefore, it's important to also speak in words, and do so publicly, both to educate the blissfully ignorant, and to make it clear why Big Media is losing sales (i.e. it's because they use
  • I would say that defending consumers' statutory rights is nice, but not sufficient. I don't believe any of the fair use rights are statutory. Fair use isn't a set of rights that we have, it is a defense against infringment.
    • As an aside, in the UK, the nearest equivalent to the US "fair use" concept is "fair dealing", but it's much more limited. Basic things like format-shifting and other copying for strictly personal use are not currently included, for example.

      It's an odd time for the British Library to publish this. The Gowers Review, mentioned in the Slashdot story, ran a call for evidence that closed back in April, and I imagine the BL submitted their comments to it. The official line is that the Review will publish the r

      • by VJ42 (860241)
        Basic things like format-shifting and other copying for strictly personal use are not currently included, for example.

        Are you sure about that, the official guidelines [intellectu...rty.gov.uk] don't seem to exclude them:

        Fair dealing has been interpreted by the courts on a number of occasions by looking at the economic impact on the copyright owner of the use; where the economic impact is not significant, the use may count as fair dealing.

        so whilst they may not be specifically included, I don't see a court prosecuting me, as I'm

        • IIRC, some of the media companies recently made a public statement saying they wouldn't prosecute people just for harmless format-shifting. This was probably a good move, because upsetting the entire MP3-player industry probably isn't a helpful thing to do if you rely on music sales to make money -- particularly if some of those MP3 players are made by another wing of your own parent company!

          Nevertheless, while the statement you cited is true, our fair dealing statutes certainly don't describe exemptions

          • by VJ42 (860241)
            Oh, I totally understand that our legislation is not as liberal as the American fair use doctrine, I was just pointing out that our courts (and hence case law) have tended to use some "common sense"* when it comes down to copyright. For example, I work in a children's library and we regularly photocopy images downloaded from the internet of popular cartoon characters and give them to kids to colour in. I don't see a British court prosecuting us for breech of copyright, as it's all non-profit, and dosn't imp
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @01:41AM (#16288453) Homepage
    Create more distance between politicians and money. After that, we will see more balance between public and private interests.
    • by walnutmon (988223)
      I think the only way to do this is to ban lobbying, which is pretty much the most obviously bad thing that happens in American government... It just happens to also be pretty much the most effective way to get things done in American government.

      Is that irony? I'm not really sure, but I know it sucks.
      • The problem is that somewhere along the way we all forgot that the government isn't supposed to get things done, but rather to do as little as possible.

    • kind of hard to do (Score:4, Insightful)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:00AM (#16288789) Homepage Journal
      money attracts power and power attracts money, inexorably

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

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

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

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

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

      i'm not saying it's a good thing, i'm just saying it's pretty formidable force of nature you are contending with rather lightly
      • you can't beat it even in glorious goody two shoes canada: look at their recent corruption scandal that recently swept the liberals out of power up there

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

  • British (Score:3, Funny)

    by wbren (682133) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @01:55AM (#16288499) Homepage
    This is destined to go nowhere! People won't take them seriously if they keep misspelling words. I mean, who's ever heard of words like "analogue" and "favourite"? Not this red-blooded American!
    • by tttonyyy (726776)
      This is destined to go nowhere! People won't take them seriously if they keep misspelling words. I mean, who's ever heard of words like "analogue" and "favourite"? Not this red-blooded American!

      You sir, are a cad and a bounder. Now, stand still while I whack your arse [wikipedia.org] with this piece of aluminium!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Haeleth (414428)
      So, why do you Americans write "favorite" but not "serios", and "sulfur" but not "fosforus", and "alfa" but not "alfabet", and "aluminum" but not "americum"?

      If there's one thing worse than archaic and illogical spellings, it's half-arsed spelling reform that leaves half the archaic and illogical spellings intact.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:23AM (#16288599)
    The British Library does take a fairly balanced view on this subject ("life+70" excepted), but there is one important area where their view is not balanced at all: they believe that libraries are somehow exceptional in their needs. Well they're not.

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

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

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

    So, while I support what the British Library is saying for the most part, their preoccupation with the needs of libraries sends the wrong message --- we are all in that same boat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

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

      Do you think they would be taken seriously if they went on an anti-DRM crusade? No - and neither do they want to. They actually use DRM themselves to allow them to publish copyrighted material on the internet. Without the protection it affords
    • by ray-auch (454705) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:33AM (#16288941)
      Libraries have many roles, but almost none of those roles are exclusive. The three most important ones are collecting, sharing, and archiving for posterity, but these roles are also performed within society as a whole

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

      This does make them exceptional. There is a huge difference between saying "DRM is stopping me doing Y" and saying "DRM is stopping me doing Y, which I am required to do by law".
      • Although what you say is reasonable, I'm not full of sympathy for organisations like the British Library. I live in Cambridge and studied here, and I can tell you plenty of stories about the University Library behaving atrociously towards those who rely on its special status to find source material for their research. The legal deposit libraries seem to act as laws unto themselves, very proud of their special authority, yet with little accountability and often offering a poor service to the people they are

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

    • Patents on software are like copyrights on individual words: they actively hinder development of new works, and add a serious burden to new software projects to guess whether or not some obscure patent will be held to be infringed by the new work.
  • My views (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:48AM (#16288999)

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

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

    So, my guidelines for a fair copyright regime:

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

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

    • Re:My views (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ngwenya (147097) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @04:34AM (#16289211)
      Length of copyright is linked to a works "ECD". When a work is registered as copyrighted, it must include an "Estimated Cost of Development". Once the owner of the copyright has recorded income from selling the copyrighted work that meets or exceeds the "ECD", the work is no longer subject to protection from non-profit copyright infringement (ie: filesharing and the like). Note that for-profit reproduction (ie: someone else *selling* a copyrighted work) is still a crime (and would be harshly punished).

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

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

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

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

      --Ng

      • by drsmithy (35869)

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

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

        An individual would be allowed to put forth a "reasonable estimate". This would be, in effect, the cost of raw materials + (a "reasonable wage" * time of development)[0]. Corporations, OTOH, would have these reports fol

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

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

    A ridiculous example to illustrate the point:

    EULA: "...and before using this software, the user agrees to sacrifice their first-born to the company."
    User: "No
    • by Cicero382 (913621)
      EULA: "...and before using this software, the user agrees to sacrifice their first-born to the company."

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

      Sorry for the misunderstanding.
  • and copyright terms should not be extended without evidence that this would be good for society.

    Roll on the 'independant' government/content provider appointed 'expert'...

  • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @07:44AM (#16290185) Journal
    Without creators, there would be no new expression, and without distributors, no one would learn from that expression and build on it. Thus, the traditional viewpoint has been that copyright should protect both creators and distributors.

    The term of the copyright doesn't upset this analysis. What does upset it is that with the advent and rapid development of the Internet, distribution is no longer a limiting factor. There is no longer a danger that one's work won't be distributed.[1] Society has solved this issue on its own, independent of copyright laws. We don't need to protect distributors with copyrights any more.

    Furthermore, the economic incentive that copyrights provide to distributors simply isn't justified. While the demand for copyrighted works has increased due to population growth and increased expressiveness, the 'supply' given to the people by increasing Internet bandwidth and ubiquity has exponentially outpaced it. Without artificial regulation (i.e., copyright law), these developments would ordinarily drive profit margins to nothing. Thus the distribution monopoly power becomes Yet Another Pointless Government Subsidy, benefiting a special interest group that isn't even contributing anything particularly worthwhile. Farm subsidies are one thing, they keep the price of bread low. Subsidizing an inefficient alternative to the Internet is pure waste.

    I say end copyright protection for distributors, with the trade-off of guaranteed Internet access for everyone as a new human right. Subsidize libraries and public kiosks for net access to ensure this right. Of course, this shifts the subsidy to ISPs and the 'backbones', but their worth to society is justifiable independent of copyright law.

    [1] One's work may not be watched or heard, but it will always be available for the watching. That's a demand problem, not a supply problem, and it's solved by artists competing for attention in the marketplace. This, in turn, naturally drives up the quality of the art in the eyes of the public, which is a good thing.

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