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UK Think Tank Calls For Fair Use Of Your Own CDs 241

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fair-use-i-think-it's-called dept.
jweatherley writes "The BBC reports that a UK think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, has called for the legalization of format shifting. In a report commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, they state that copyright laws are out of date, and that people should have a 'private right to copy' which would allow them to legally copy their own CDs and DVDs on to home computers, laptops and phones. The report goes on to say that: 'it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.' The report also argues that there is no evidence the current 50-year copyright term is insufficient. The UK music industry is campaigning to extend the copyright term in sound recordings to 95 years."
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UK Think Tank Calls For Fair Use Of Your Own CDs

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  • by growse (928427) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:20AM (#16632088) Homepage
    The only problem with think-tanks is that they're constantly coming up with common sense and good ideas like this, but no one in actual real grown-up government will give a rats ass. They commission a study to show that they care about the issue and then ignore the results. That's politics!
    • by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe@joe[ ]ldwin.net ['-ba' in gap]> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:23AM (#16632106) Homepage Journal
      The IPPR is very very close to the governing Labour party, a fact which was in the submission of this exact same story which I made a few hours ago. :)
      • by eosp (885380) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:24PM (#16632586) Homepage
        We should see it in a couple hours.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by multisync (218450)
        Give it a couple of weeks. Some right wing, music industry friendly "think tank" will release a report concluding that copying CDs for private use is bad, and 95 years is nowhere near long enough for a copyright term.
        • by jabuzz (182671) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @04:58PM (#16635202) Homepage
          Except the BPA has already said that they think it should be made legal. The problem the music industry in the U.K. has created is the "in for a penny in for a pound" scenario. If copying the music from my legally purchased CD to my iPod is illegal, why should I bother buying the CD in the first place. Why not just download it from the internet for free? Yes this is illegal as well and is not morally defensible like the copying your own CD's. However if trying to do the morally right thing is illegal as well why bother.

          It will be a long climb back out of this particular hole for the media content generators.
    • by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:50AM (#16632314) Homepage Journal
      You may underestimate the power of an organization saying something. Granted them saying it doesn't do much, unless the politician reads or hears someone else pointing to the study/policy saying "why don't we do that?" The RIAA/Phonograph idiots have positioned themselves as the "experts" on copyright policy, and it's time for people to create consumer friendly organizations that talk about common sense, and the Commons.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``The only problem with think-tanks is that they're constantly coming up with common sense and good ideas like this, but no one in actual real grown-up government will give a rats ass.''

      Contrary to the think tanks that come up with evil and outrageous ideas; those the government always listens to. Or could it be that the accept and reject ideas from both, at their own judgment, but we just notice and remember more when things don't happen the way we want them to happen?
    • by tomhudson (43916)
      I see a different problem - why didn't they seriously consider REDUCING the term of copyright to, say, 20 years. If its good enough for patents, it should be good enough for literature.
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:57PM (#16632834) Homepage Journal

        Why? The two things aren't remotely comparable.

        Patents are relatively damaging, they're a net removal of a technology from the public domain in the hope that the existance of the patent system itself will encourage invention over-all. Copyright only rewards actual creation with monopolies. If someone chooses not to make use of a copyrighted item, they're not restricted in any way.

        Lifetime or X years, whichever is longer, strikes me as a reasonable copyright term length. Patents, on the other hand... I'd like to see them even further restricted, or abolished altogether in favour of a system of grants and prizes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Trillan (597339)
          They're not that different. Just as there are a finite number of ways to do something, there are also a finite number of melodies that any human ear would consider music.
        • Lifetime or X years, whichever is longer, strikes me as a reasonable copyright term length

          Good idea! Then, if someone made something we really want, we could always kill the creator and *bang*! public domain ;)

          Personally, I feel 30 years is plenty long. Most don't earn any significant amounts by copyrights after the first 30 years. Nice and easy to administer, too, unlike lifelengths, especially when the copyrights are divided between a lot of individuals.

          • That only works if they copyrighted it more than 50 years ago...

            (it was "50 years or longer whichever is the greater")

            Simon.
        • by swillden (191260) *

          Patents are relatively damaging, they're a net removal of a technology from the public domain in the hope that the existance of the patent system itself will encourage invention over-all.

          That's incorrect. Patents (theoretically) exist to foster innovation by giving inventors an incentive to publish the details of their inventions, so that others can build upon their ideas. In the absence of patents, inventors would have to try to keep the inner workings of their inventions secret.

          I've been pointing o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomhudson (43916)

          If the patent is truly inventive - not one of the "it should never have been granted to the patent troll in the first place" patents, its not a removal of technology from the public domain, since it did involve unique creation that never existed before and wasn't obvious.

          But literature or music or art - give me a million monkeys and enough time and I'll recreate ALL literature. As for art, a lot of it could be improved by an attack of killer monkeys - on the fawning art critics who glorify drek.

          The sam

        • by Charcharodon (611187) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @05:12PM (#16635358)
          I agree that a copyright for 10-20 years after it was created by a person , but transfering that copyright to a corporation or any other person be illegal. The problem is when you have something that has the legal rights of a person, but is more or less immortal like a corp there is aways going to be a big push every ten years or so to extend the copyright for another ten years. Look at Disney they've singlehandedly push US copyright far beyond what it was ever intended to do. The funny thing is Disney has made an absolute killing off of public domain material for the last 60 years (Peter Pan, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty etc etc.) It's time they give back some of what they have proffited from.

          If copyright is supposed to be about protecting the artists then fine let's protect the artist. Corporations are not artists and that copyright should never be something they could own.

  • Oooh, so close! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:30AM (#16632158)
    They almost got it right:

    'it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.'

    There I was thinking it was the job of society (i.e. the people themselves) to decide what rights people should have, and the job of the government to put into place laws describing and safeguarding (and where appropriate, limiting) those rights.

    Guess I'm just getting old.
    • Re:Oooh, so close! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Winckle (870180) <mark@[ ]ckle.co.uk ['win' in gap]> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:39AM (#16632240) Homepage
      In a democracy society elects representative officials, so in theory you are both correct.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        I see the definition of Democracy has been stretched to fit the US. What you describe is actually a Republic.

        In a democracy, the people ARE the government, and so they would both be correct. In a republic, the government is doing the law making, and the decisions for it. You may have elected them, but that's not the same as making the decisions.

        http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?gwp=13&s=democ racy [answers.com]

        http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?gwp=13&s=repub lic [answers.com]
        • Re:Oooh, so close! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Winckle (870180) <mark@[ ]ckle.co.uk ['win' in gap]> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:53AM (#16632336) Homepage
          Well, I'm British, you probably guessed that from my URL. And the first definition of democracy: 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
        • Did you even read the links you posted to?

          Republicanism and democracy are overlapping. The US is (theoretically) both a republic and a democracy; the UK is a democracy but not a republic, since the Queen is the head of state. Generally speaking, democracies are better places to live than non-democracies, but the same can't really be said of republics vs. non-republics -- would you rather live in the UK, or Denmark (another non-republican democracy) or in, say, Cuba, which is a republic but emphatically no
          • At this point, I think the UK is a de facto republic: British citizens are, in fact, citizens and not subjects now, contrary to popular belief. (Check your UK passport if you have one.) The non-republican elements are vestigial.
            • Hmm. In practice I agree with you - for all intents and purposes, the UK is a republic.

              In theory however, there is a difference - until the ruling monarch signs a law, it is not a law (ironically enough, by UK law :-). Now for the Queen *not* to sign a law would provoke a constitutional crisis that (unless there was a *very* good reason not to) would probably abolish the monarchy in favour of the PM. It is a last check-and-balance though.

              For the monarch to take such a step, it would have to be a pretty hein
        • Yes, the USA is a Democratic Republic. Webster defines democracy thus:

          1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

          This actually fits with the first definition at answers.com that you sited:

          1 Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. In a

      • I'm bored of the old Democracy/Republic debate here on /. Why don't we address the term: Representative. Maybe if society had a person on the ballot that was actually representative of the people, the actual values and interestes of the people would be protected. We usually have the wealthy elite on the ballot, guess who's interests are protected?
    • by Simonetta (207550)
      There I was thinking it was the job of society (i.e. the people themselves) to decide what rights people should have, and the job of the government to put into place laws describing and safeguarding (and where appropriate, limiting) those rights.

      Guess I'm just getting old.


      No... you're just beginning to understand why the Americans chose to seperate themselves from the British 230 years ago.

      The Americans have a completely different view of what constitues basic human liberty tha
      • by Tim C (15259)
        That's a wonderful theory, except for two things:

        1) If anything, it's worse in the US - PATRIOT Act, the DMCA, the repeal of habeus corpus, Guantanamo, etc.

        2) I'm a Brit.
      • Isn't it interesting to see what happens, once one assumes that government and the people are not synonymous. As a casual observer, it appears that money counts for more than human rights and big industry runs the country. I'm not sure it's what those early Americans were hoping to build.
    • Re:Oooh, so close! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:59AM (#16632378) Homepage Journal
      In Europe, there is a sentiment that, since the government is chosen by the people, it represents the people, and government and people can effectively be identified. The sentiment, common in the USA, that the government and the people are in an adversary relationship, is much weaker in Europe. It's more like the government has been contracted to rule the country, so that the people don't have to. This explains many things, such as the fact that Europeans often want the government to set strict rules for things and to watch everyone to ensure safety and social security, whereas in the USA, there is a strong feeling that the government should be restrained and leave people to figure things out for themselves.

      Of course, these are not absolutes. All generalizations are false.
      • Re:Oooh, so close! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:12PM (#16632486)
        That's as may be, but the UK is much closer in attitude to the US than it is to continental Europe. Also, at any given time, at least half the population think the government is a bunch of idiots, as political support tends to be very polarised here - if you vote Labour, you generally can't stand the Tories, and vice versa (despite the differences now being next to insignificant).

        Personally, I like (at least the idea of) the NHS and social security; it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to think that at least part of my taxes are going to help those less fortunate than myself. A couple of friends have had serious illnesses that they probably would not have survived if not for the NHS (who, at 20, expects to develop cancer?). I see those who oppose such state-provided facilities funded through taxes as short-sighted and selfish. Opinions differ, of course.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Shemmie (909181)
          I'd argue that the view is much less polarized over here in Britain, than say what I've seen of Americans. Example: Over here, we vote depending on what's put on the table by the parties. If Labour's got a better manifesto, go Labour. Next election, maybe Lib Dem, or whatever. There are die-cast Lab and Tory voters, but the floating voter is in the majority. From what I've seen on the net, Americans seem to live and die by their party. You're either die cast Dem, die cast Rep, and a very small number are wh
    • by siwelwerd (869956)
      There I was thinking it was the job of society (i.e. the people themselves) to decide what rights people should have, and the job of the government to put into place laws describing and safeguarding (and where appropriate, limiting) those rights.

      And here I was, thinking that people were endowed with certain inalienable rights nautrally. I guess I'm just getting old with this "natural rights" voodoo.

      • by badfish99 (826052)
        That's all it is... voodoo.

        If people had "inalienable natural rights" then they wouldn't be forever making a fuss about their rights. They wouldn't need to. The reason that we have to be so careful to preserve our rights is precisely because they are *not* inalienable.

        All that happens "naturally" is that the person with the biggest gun wins.
      • by drsmithy (35869)

        And here I was, thinking that people were endowed with certain inalienable rights nautrally. I guess I'm just getting old with this "natural rights" voodoo.

        "Natural rights" sounds nice in a speech, but out in the real world there ain't no such thing.

      • Yes, perhaps, maybe.

        But (at least our) inalienable rights were "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". Note that this is a modification of Locke's "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property". Therefor, in the historical beginnings of the USA, property rights were excluded for the inclusion of pursuit of happiness. Of course, this is Britian we are talking about, so Pursuit of Property would (perhaps?) be a fundamental right; unlike here, where all these "damn hippies" keep pursuing happiness. ;
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dylan_- (1661)
      They're talking about consumer rights, not human rights...like getting a refund from the retailer on something that breaks after 2 days use. Not something Amnesty is going to be counting any time soon.

      Oops, shouldn't have posted that, now maybe I won't get to hear any more Americans educating me on the safeguarding of human tort^H^H^H^Hrights.
    • by thelost (808451)
      In my eyes the Government - for good or bad - represents the will of the people. So if we are talking about the amendment of certain laws then I do expect the Government to decide what is correct, but form the basis for what it does on what we, the people recommend.
      • Agreed, with just this one exception. We need rule of law, in terms of a constitution, to safeguard the rights of individuals from the majority. If it were voted upon, and a law passed that all left-handed (or otherwise miniority defining, arbitrary criteria) were to have their property seized and redistributed for the betterment of right-handed people, that should be prevented even if the majority would benefit and strive to steal from the left-handed people. Now where it gets really interesting is prog
    • by djmurdoch (306849)

      it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.'

      There I was thinking it was the job of society (i.e. the people themselves) to decide what rights people should have,


      You sound very American, equating "consumers" and "people". Please see this very clear posting [slashdot.org] discussing the difference.
  • In a report commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, they state ...

    I'm not sure how accurate the above line from the summary is, since the article seems to contradict it:

    Chancellor Gordon Brown has asked chairman Sir Andrew Gowers to report his findings back ahead of the pre-budget report in November. The IPPR is hoping to influence this with its report, entitled Public Innovation: Intellectual property in a digital age.

    It sounds to me as if this report is independent of the Gover

    • Yep, I think you're right. The Gowers Review is the official government review, which is due to report to various Secretaries of State shortly. (I was asked for permission to publish my submission on their web site around a month ago now, so they're obviously in the process of preparing the material they've produced for publication.)

      The British Library tried a similar stunt a few weeks ago, basically publishing their own "manifesto" document to preempt Gowers. How much effect these things will have, given

  • by NevDull (170554) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:32AM (#16632178) Homepage Journal
    It's not the job of government to decide what rights people have, but to determine what rights they don't have, as by default, if freedom is the natural state of man, it is limitation of the rights of man that must be negotiated and/or dictated.
  • 95 year protection? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CatWrangler (622292) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:35AM (#16632202) Journal
    A drug company spends several hundred million to develop, test, and market a drug, and they get less than 20 years until generics can replace them. Milli Vanilli is supposed to get 95 years now? That's fair.
    • by julesh (229690) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:40AM (#16632246)
      License-free drugs are substantially more important to the public good than license-free Milli Vanilli.
    • It does seem unfair to extend copyrights for so long, but I don't certainly want longer patent rights. Twenty years is fine, and for technology, I think it should be shorter.

      Personally, 20 years would be great for copyrights. One compromise I might accept is that it can be extended at the end of the term by registering it with an appropriate filing fee, otherwise it goes public domain. At the very least, it would mean that copyright owners that go MIA aren't such a rights headache in trying to deal with
    • by Dausha (546002)
      "A drug company spends several hundred million to develop, test, and market a drug, and they get less than 20 years until generics can replace them. Milli Vanilli is supposed to get 95 years now? That's fair."

      In the U.S., that's life of the author plus 70---which can commonly outstretch 95 years (which is limited to corporations).

      I believe the British industry is pushing for a de facto compliance with the Berne Convention.
    • by kraut (2788)
      No, the artists get the copyright - so if you compose, sing, or play an instrument you may get some form of copyright. Prancing around and miming does not qualify you ;)

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:37AM (#16632224) Homepage Journal
    Rights aren't given to anyone by society, government or any corporations -- rights are inherent and they're only protected when we use them even in the face of those who wish to stop us.

    Government can jail me, society can tell me to get lost, corporations can sue me -- but I will still use these hands and these ears and this voice as God gave them to me (yes, a religious slashdotter). No one can take them away, and no one can tell me what to do with them. I don't use them to hurt anyone. If I spend time making copies of something, it is my time I am wasting. I could use my hands to make a copy of a mechanical design that is patented -- it might take me thousands of hours, or I could just go and buy it. Some things are difficult to copy, so my time preference says it is better to buy it. I could make a copy of a CD -- it might take me 30 seconds, or I could just go buy it. Time preference works in my favor in this case.

    I pay the plumber to fix the toilet -- his current action in front of me is worth my money. I pay the band to perform live for me -- their current action is worth my money. Recording their music on a CD is a great way for them to advertise their abilities to get me to come to their live show, but the CD is worthless. Supply and demand, people. The supply is near infinite (for the recorded music), so the price goes to zero. But the supply of the live band is limited, so the price goes up to meet demand.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      It's not the physical disc you're paying for, though. That's just a cheap bit of plastic. You're paying for the work that went into creating the music recorded on the disc. If I spend a month recording music, then it's a month I haven't spent bolting antennas to buildings, and therefore it's a month I've worked that I haven't been paid for. Then I have to buy things like tape stock, and guitar strings, and I have to pay the electric bill for my studio. All these things cost money. That is where the ca
      • by drsmithy (35869)

        If I spend a month recording music, then it's a month I haven't spent bolting antennas to buildings, and therefore it's a month I've worked that I haven't been paid for.

        On the flipside, you (or your estate) can now charge anyone for the result of that one month of work until 95 years after your death. So, if it's popular, one month of work could quite conceivably mean you'll never have to work again. How is that fair to everyone else ?

        I can understand why people riding the copyright gravy train don't w

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)
          On the flipside, you (or your estate) can now charge anyone for the result of that one month of work until 95 years after your death

          Do you know how much money artists make from recordings? It's in the order of a few pennies in the pound. The rest goes to the record companies.
          • by drsmithy (35869)

            Do you know how much money artists make from recordings? It's in the order of a few pennies in the pound. The rest goes to the record companies.

            That's why I wrote "content creators". Note the ""s.

            My argument (and point) does not change simply because of who happens to "own" the copyright.

          • by swillden (191260) *

            Do you know how much money artists make from recordings? It's in the order of a few pennies in the pound. The rest goes to the record companies.

            And the only reason artists sit still for such exploitation is the fact that copyright law ensures that the public is soaked thoroughly enough that the tiny fraction paid to the artists is still enough to live very well on. Get rid of the CD profits and you've destroyed the bloodsucking labels, and put the musicians back in control of their own music.

      • You assume your conclusion. Notice that logical there is no difference to my stating, "but if I go out and dig holes in my backyard for 2 years, I've done *work* and its work I haven't been paid for." I could go on to say, "if you want me to stand behind this cash register and sell fries, you've got to pay for what made me what I am today, the digging of those holes." Wouldn't go very far, would it?
      • by Sique (173459)
        No. The cash value comes from the fact, that other people want to pay something to get it. What you are talking about is the effort that went into it. This has nothing to do with the value of a single copy.

        If someone designs a new car, and someone else is constructing the engine to run it and a third one is inventing the machines to build it, then the effort necessary to do this surely goes into the billions of dollars (about 3 billion for a new midclass car), but that has nothing to do with the price you c
    • The assertion that you have intrinsic rights by virtue of being a human, or a christian, or whatever, is groundless, so it cannot be used to build policy. I could say, with as much basis, that I have the basic irrevocable right to murder anyone I wish. Since accepting that people can decide their own rights would lead to criminals doing as they please, it makes more sense to have a collective decision based on, for example, society.
    • by cliffski (65094)
      Your analysis is simplistic. you dont pay the plumber to fix the toilet. You pay him to fix the toilet and you pay for him to have spent years studying as an apprentice for him to learn how to do this.

      You may only wish to pay the musician to play for 2 hours on stage, but they may have had to practice music and songwriting for 20 years to get good enough to perform for you. The fact that you are only interested in their *current action* should not render valueless the fact that there are many years of work
  • by Control Group (105494) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:37AM (#16632226) Homepage
    'it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.'

    I wholeheartedly support the things they're trying to achieve, but...I would be hard-pressed to find a statement that could be more fundamentally wrong than the above. It's that sort of thinking that's got us in the mess we're in.

    The government, in no way whatsoever decides what rights people have. The function of legitimate government is no more or less than to recognize and to protect the rights people have*. The government doesn't grant rights, people have rights because they're people. The government, if anything, limits exercise of rights in the name of social order (don't read anything into this statement that isn't there - I'm not advocating anarchy, this is a legitimate function of government and necessary for society to function).

    By ceding the power to government to decide what rights people have, we've opened the door for exactly the kind of abuse that now runs rampant. Government is controlled by money, and huge quantities of money are controlled by the pseudo-citizens we refer to as "corporations." Granting power to government is granting power to corporations.

    It would be easy to say that the quote is just verbal shorthand, but I think there's a fundamental difference between the mindset "we have rights, and we delegate some authority to government" and the mindset "the government has authority, and delegates some rights to us" that is exhibited by such a statement.

    *To demonstrate this to yourself, consider this: if government grants rights to people rather than people having rights and granting authority to government, then this means that there can be no such thing as a government abuse of rights. After all, if government can legitimately decide what your rights are, then you have no legitimate complaints about government trampling them. And I don't think you really need to look too far from home or too far in the past to find examples that, to me, pretty clearly indicate that the government can trample rights.
    • by Ngwenya (147097) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:21PM (#16632552)
      'it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.'


      I wholeheartedly support the things they're trying to achieve, but...I would be hard-pressed to find a statement that could be more fundamentally wrong than the above. It's that sort of thinking that's got us in the mess we're in.


      Note: the speaker did not say which rights the people (ie, the citizens of the state) have, it was which rights consumers have. We're not talking about fundamental rights of the citizen, we're talking about the rights of the consumer within a marketplace scenario. Generally, consumer protection is delegated to government as a power to ensure that vendors are not allowed to market falsely, exercise unconscionable contracts, etc. It's usually accepted in most European states that those possessing capital (the vendors) are in a stronger position than those parting with it (the consumers). The people have a right to expect that government will act as a shield for the weaker party, in order to ensure a fair marketplace. In other words, whether we're talking about a European model of liberty, or an American one, the point remains: consumer protection is generally a power which government has been given popular authority to exercise.

      Remember the context: copyright legislation. At the moment, we have copyright legislation that's almost exclusively to the advantage of rightsholders, ignoring the basic truth that the fruits of knowledge can be shared almost trivially today. The IPPR are saying that it is the government's right and duty to reassert that ideas and their expressions are not primarily commercial quantities. That the right for consumers to copy their own possessions is not one which should have been ceded in the 300 years of copyright legislation.

      Your point was addressing the nature and rights of the citizen in the modern state: a far more general and differently rooted argument than the point at hand. Some here will consider that those rights are natural rights (ie, they stem from our being human), others will consider that rights are essentially civil (ie, they are reserved/ceded as part of a social contract); in either case, the power of government to act as a fair market arbiter tends to be accepted by either construction. (Yes, I'm aware that some libertarians do not accept that such a role of government is legitimate; however, the libertarian constructs of Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia would accept such a power as proper).

      --Ng
  • Uh, Dude... (Score:5, Funny)

    by creimer (824291) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:38AM (#16632232) Homepage
    What's a CD? Is that like a "record" that my great-great-grandma threw at my great-great-grandpa when she was drunk?
  • Progress (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:12PM (#16632484) Homepage Journal
    "It is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government."

    It's not the government's job to decide our rights. We have rights, they are inalienable. It's the government's job to protect our rights. Protect our rights from corporations which would ignore or destroy them for a buck, or the power to make a buck. And we create our government to protect our rights. Our job is creating and perpetuating that government.

    When the founders of the US specified the rights we have that the government would protect, they also made a compromise with the existing economy. The government would promote "the progress of science and useful arts" [usconstitution.net] by granting temporary monopolies - exclusive rights - to authors and inventors of their writings and discoveries. This limitation on freedom of others to copy and use writings and inventions was necessary in the late 1700s, and for many years after. But as the centuries have progressed, those writings and inventions have changed the economy so that "the progress of science and useful arts" is better promoted by more copying, not less. Even if temporary monopolies like copyrights and patents are still necessary, they are necessary for much less time than before. Instead, those monopolies are now extended for much more time, totally unjustified by any necessity to "promote progress".

    The original time set in the 1790s was 17 years, a human generation. The next generation that grew up with the writings and inventions could, by the time they became adults and likely started having their own children, use those writings and inventions freely. Writings and inventions passed into the folk art, the folk consciousness, the folk wisdom, the folk heritage, for everyone to use. By which time, most of the value, especially of the writings, was delivered not by the author, but by the audience, the consumers, the people using it and perpetuating it. And any honest author will tell you that the process of adoption of their writings by their people is the most powerful promotion of their useful art.

    Maybe the Internet has changed things, along with the rest of communications, manufacturing and distribution tech over the past 200 years. If anything, the lifecycle of content is much shorter before it's "old", either folklore or just obsolete. Likewise with most inventions. The length of copyright and patent exclusion should be, if anything, shorter - maybe 8-10 years, maybe 2-5. Maybe different for different kinds of "writing", whether a news article or an opera. But certainly promotion of progress is much more hurt now by these monopolies.

    We still have control over our governments. Except when we ignore that control, and corporations and other greedy monopolists move into the power vacuum. If we don't create governments to protect our rights, we're creating ones to destroy them.
  • Schoolyard ahoy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by garyok (218493) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:30PM (#16632644)
    Goddamnit, why does every discussion that involves the word 'rights' and a non-US country always have to devolve into an our-constitution-is-bigger-than-your- sucky-parliament-and-can-kick-its-head-in polarised slagging match? If this leads to UK government policy that bars corporations from imposing their DRM bullshit on the UK, then it's a good thing. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. Can we wait and see before jumping down each other throats over who's form of government has the biggest swinging dick?
  • Copyright owner's job (not RIAA) is to decide how a person can use a product. If one decides that the CDs of "New Brave World Records" are going to be listened only on CD-players, then let it be written explicitly on every CD they sell. If "New Brave World Records" is entering a monopolistic agreement with "Clueless Sound" and "Sheep Music" to enforce the same rules on all customers, then the government should interfere and break this monopolistic cartel.
  • by i)ave (716746) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:40PM (#16633228)
    The US system and UK system are entirely different. In the UK, there is parliamentary sovereignty and no written constitution. There are no courts with the power to overrule any law passed by parliament (no uk version of the supreme court). There are no REAL powers to curb the parliament's will. The House of Lords is mostly symbolic and if it ever stood in parliament's way by making a serious nuisance of itself, parliament could legally abolish it or curb its power further (as they have done throughout the twentieth century). Technically, the crown is supposed to sign off on any legislation passed by parliament (royal ascent), yet they never challenge parliament because if they did, this would probably spell the death-knell of the monarchy. Royal-Ascent is a rubber-stamp. Thus, parliament is entirely sovereign. Any law they pass automatically becomes part of their ever-evolving and expanding constitution. Think of every single law as a constitutional amendment without requiring anyone's review or permission -- except that of the current parliament. They do not require a super-majority, just a simple majority will do. There is no written Bill of Rights. Tony Blair's government recently removed the right-to-remain silent without so much as a public debate and did so in a single afternoon with the stroke of a pen. The right-to-remain silent is now not a right and parliament was entirely within their own rights to do this.

    In the Lockean philosophy of the United States constitution, and Declaration of Independence, Parliamentary Sovereignty is a crime and I agree with that view. This is why we fought to free ourselves from the authority of Britain. However, it is naive for people to make such bold assertions as, "It is NOT the role of the government to grant rights", when in fact, it IS the role of government (in the UK) to grant rights and take them away. It is important to accept this reality to better understand such things as why Britain has such high voter-turnout (wouldn't we have high voter turnout if the Pres was chosen by the House, the Senate was only symbolic, There was no Supreme Court and anything a new House passed was part of the constitution?), and important for understanding why there is a movement in Britain to pass a Bill of Rights, Create a codified Constitution, and other issues that pose sticky questions: "Parliament has been ceding its authority to the EU, what happens when the EU asserts its authority over Parliament and Parliament tries to take it's authority back?" Who is sovereign in that situation?. By actually trying to understand the realities of systems of government in other countries, some people might have a better appreciation for what we have in the United States. Here, it is not the role of government to determine our rights, in Britain it is. -- Dave
    • Actually we do have a written Bill of Rights [wikipedia.org]. We also have courts which are capable of overruling Parliament, as happened recently with control orders [guardian.co.uk]. There was also a recent instance, although I can't recall details, in which a court construed an Act as meaning the opposite of its plain reading. However, it's rare for legislation to be struck down except on the grounds of incompatibility with the Human Rights Act.
      • The 1689 Bill of Rights is about protecting Parliament from the Crown. It primarily limits the Crown's interference with Parliament and is the document that essentially set the stage for Parliamentary Supremecy. It is not a Bill of Rights of the people, in the US sense, that lays out the individual rights of citizens and establishes their permanent protections from all forms of government. What the British lack is a Bill of Rights that sets boundaries on the supremacy of Parliament and holds individual libe
        • by Ngwenya (147097) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @02:45PM (#16633932)
          Furthermore, this was an "Act of Parliament". Under parliamentary sovereignty no previous act of parliament can trump a future act of parliament. This can be overturned by another Act of Parliament until the British establish a Bill of Rights of the people which limits Parliament's sovereignty and binds all future parliament's to its provisions.

          Actually, that's not quite correct. The courts (which are independent of the executive. Well, as independent as any judiciary can be) have long held that there are "ordinary statutes" and "constitutional statutes". And only a new constitutional statute can overturn an existing one. In other words, things like the Human Rights Act, the Representation fo the Peoples Act and the Bill of Rights (along with the Acts of Union, Settlement, etc, etc) must be purposefully overturned. You cannot just stick a rider onto a Fisheries Bill abolishing the right of appeal, or fling in a statutory instrument asserting the right of the executive to have detention without trial. It must be specifically brought forth and voted in by Parliament (all of Parliament, not just the House of Commons).

          Afterall, the right to remain silent was sustained for 300 years based on tradition and self-restraint, yet Blair's government tossed both out the window and now that long-held right that was taken for granted is now gone.

          Actually, that was the last Conservative government, with Home Secretary Michael Howard introducing the legislation.

          In the end, the strength of the US Constitution is only as great as those charged with its defence, and the desire of the US population to see its strictures adhered to. It didn't stop the abomination of slavery - although its power was shown when that institution was finally abolished via constitutional amendment. Similarly, the desire of the US population to refrain from state torture seems to be somewhat ambivalent right now (And we can probably thank "24" for that... :-)). This is not to decry the magnificence of the US Bill of Rights or the US Constitution. Merely to say that a written constitution has certain advantages, and certain disadvantages, and that a constitution in itself is no guarantor of liberty.

          At the moment, liberty is taking a bit of a pounding either side of the Atlantic. But it will reassert itself, and when it does, the centuries of British conventions, traditions and personal desire for liberty will prove just as powerful a force as the US's instruments of state. The British method of government and preservation of liberty isn't as capricious or fragile as one might think from your posting.

          --Ng
    • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:02PM (#16634078) Journal
      Well...

      1) In the UK, there is parliamentary sovereignty and no written constitution

      There is no *single* written constitution, but there is Magna Carta (1215) [wikipedia.org], the Bill of rights (1689) [wikipedia.org], the act of settlement (1701) [wikipedia.org], and the Parliament acts (1911, 1949) [wikipedia.org]. These collectively form the constitution [wikipedia.org] of the United Kingdom.

      As for parliamentary sovereignty, that was effectively removed when the UK joined the EU - the European courts can trump UK law, and people do take cases there. Even without that step, there are cases where UK courts have ordered an act of parliament to be changed, and it has happened.

      2) There are no courts with the power to overrule any law passed by parliament (no uk version of the supreme court).

      Oh yes there is [wikipedia.org] although they're still readying the building...

      3) There are no REAL powers to curb the parliament's will. The House of Lords is mostly symbolic...

      To abuse Pauli: "that's not even wrong". The House of Lords has been a critical part of UK parliamentary infrastructure. It has sent bill after bill back to the government for adjustment, and ironically enough is *far* more protective of the "common man" than the government of the day (whichever party is in power). As an overseer of an elected government body, they could do no better.

      Of course, the House of Commons can ram legislation through if the Lords reject a bill 3 times, but this causes an immense, very public row. The Lords will quite happily eloquently state their case, or write op-ed pieces for the media saying why they rejected XXX, and since they're usually for very good reasons, politicians have to squirm on live TV interviews; they don't like that, which is why it happens rarely - usually a compromise is struck, or the Lords get their way. For an organisation with seemingly no power, they have a huge impact on UK law.

      4) Royal assent (it's "assent" by the way, she's not climbing anywhere)

      I'll just point out that just like life-insurance, past-performance is no guarantee of future success - just because royal-assent is only very rarely refused (the last time was 1708), it is still a requirement for any law. It is still a final check-and-balance within the judicial system. It is still very much *not* a rubber-stamp. Reserve powers like these *are* important during times of crisis [wikipedia.org], eg: the hung parliament example in the link.

      If I go on like this, the reply will be miles long. Shortening things a little bit:

      5) There is no written Bill of Rights

      Yes there is. See above.

      6) Tony Blair's government recently removed the right-to-remain silent without so much as a public debate

      Apart from the massive public outcry, the weeks of TV coverage, and the end result being that in fact {you can remain silent, but the court is now told that you did} being the result of it all, you mean ?

      Most of what you have written in the first paragraph (I'm not going to bother with the second, this reply is long enough, and it seems to be mainly based on the assumptions in the first paragraph anyway) is wrong and/or you've misunderstood the facts. That's not too surprising I guess - it certainly would be a lot easier if everything was collected in one place, and FWIW I'd like a constitution that placed limits on the UK government, but you can't use the above arguments to get there...

      Simon
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @02:02PM (#16633482) Homepage Journal
    The British Phonographic Industry Association (Our RIAA) are lobbying for a disney-style extension of copyright, citing artists like Sir Cliff Richard who are about to have their early works go into the public domain (BBC story with details here [bbc.co.uk])

    Guess where our Prime Minister Tony Blair went for a free summer holiday? That's right, Cliff Richard's private island in Barbados (another BBC story [bbc.co.uk])

    Does anyone want to bet that sanity and common sense will triumph over bribery?
  • Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swill01 (1019912) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @02:07PM (#16633532)
    It's about time. The music industry has no problem changing formats. I can look back at my 45's, FP's, 8-tracks, cassettes, CD, minidisks, etc...... Why do I have to re-buy my music due to the industry changing formats? I can't disagree that I could maintain all my old equipment (8-tracks, cassettes), but why would I want to? Why should I have to? The movie industry is going down the same path... beta, VHS, laserdisk, dvd's, now HD-dvd's. 'bout time!
  • From TFA:

    The so-called knowledge economy is growing fast as the traditional manufacturing of goods is replaced by more intangible assets.

    In my opinion, if its intangible, then it shouldn't really be part of the economy in the first place. What is _actually_ happening is a portion of the economy is beginning show signs of no longer being relevant. With so much quality content out there for free, people are starting to wonder why they're continuing to shovel money to deified pop stars.

    These are not "intangi

  • The people of the U.S. have pretty much divorced themselves away from the politics of the U.K.; In a more simple statement, "It is none of our business anymore." But there appears to be a universality of common interests when it applies to forms of saved communications. Weather these saved communications are books, CD's, tapes, etc.; They were purchased because of a legal act, and one of the rights of ownership that was transfered is the right to keep, and maintain that ownership. To state, "Do not save,
  • by dryriver (1010635) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @02:27PM (#16633736)
    Anybody remember how Digital Media started out? It was all "create your own website, make your own music, shoot and edit your own films, bring your creative vision to life". Sort of like DTP applied to all things audiovisual, multimedia and creative. Where is industry taking us now? Pay $$$ for a DRM locked audioplayer, $$$$ for DRM locked HD viewing gear, then lots of $$s for each little chunk of hour long or two hour long formulaic audiovisual content. You can view but you cannot copy. You can view but you cannot modify. You can view but you cannot share. That explains, in my opinion, why the internet landscape is so impoverished of quality audiovisual content today that people hang around viewing junk like what's on Youtube in their millions. P2P has been killed with fear of lawsuits. Indy film/music/games crushed by billion dollar commercial content marketing. What's left, really, is an impoverished landscape of non-participatory, formulaic view-but-don't touch content that is basically just there to pull another two 10 dollar bills out of your pocket.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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