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Egypt to Copyright Pyramids and Sphynx 393

Posted by timothy
from the and-for-my-next-trick dept.
empaler writes "We all know the usual pro-copyright arguments. Most of them hinge on the fact that the individual or company that has a copyright needs an incentive to make something that is copyrightable, and therefore ensure a revenue stream in a period after the copyright has been granted. In a never-surpassed move, Egypt is working on legislation to extend copyright well above 3000 years — they are going to start claiming royalties for using likenesses of the Sphynx and the Pyramids. It is still unclear whether the original intent of the Pyramids included 'making sure them bastards pay for a plastic copy in 3000 years' alongside 'securing a pathway to the heavens for the God King.' Speaking as a Greenlandic national, I want dibs on ice cubes." It sounds straight out of The Onion, but instead you can read another story on the BBC.
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Egypt to Copyright Pyramids and Sphynx

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  • by Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @09:53PM (#21818078)
    /_\
    Can't stop me from making pyramids!
  • Eh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ice cubes? We have prior art on that.

    -- Canada
    • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by penix1 (722987) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @02:18AM (#21819422) Homepage
      Prior art doesn't matter in copyright. You are thinking of patents. If I preform Hamlet on stage, my performance is copyrighted the moment I do it. If I don't want you to video tape it, then copyright would be on my side. Nothing stops you from performing it yourself though because Shakespeare's copyright on the play has expired. Of course it wouldn't be expired in Egypt if this law passes.
      • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @10:09AM (#21820896) Journal
        If I preform Hamlet on stage, my performance is copyrighted the moment I do it.

        In the US a performance must be "fixed in a tangible medium." It isn't copyrighted unless you film it, record it, or write it down.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheoMurpse (729043)

        If I preform Hamlet on stage, my performance is copyrighted the moment I do it. If I don't want you to video tape it, then copyright would be on my side.

        Not unless you also videotape the performance. 17 USC 102 [cornell.edu] requires that your performance (the "original work of authorship") be recorded ("fixed in a tangible medium of expression") before you can exercise any sort of copyrights against other filmers.

        Similarly, if a television show were broadcast over the airwaves but not stored by the filmer/broadcaster/w

  • by longacre (1090157) * on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @09:56PM (#21818092) Homepage
    How much are the royalties going to be for each dollar bill in circulation?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @09:57PM (#21818098)
    What will they call it? The Sun God Bono Copyright Term Extension Act?
  • Fuck! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @09:59PM (#21818108) Homepage
    There goes my plans to get rich quickly by making copies of pyramids and sphinxes and selling them on the street for way lower than the original pyramid and sphinx.
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @09:59PM (#21818112)
    ..and the rest of us can choose to ignore their absurdity.

    I want to make a point.. But.. how the fuck can I make an mp3 of the Sphinx?

    • by fm6 (162816)

      ..and the rest of us can choose to ignore their absurdity.
      You can try. Lawyers are hard to ignore. But since (I'm guessing) you don't own a casino, you probably don't care.

      I want to make a point.. But.. how the fuck can I make an mp3 of the Sphinx?
      I suggest a YouTube video of "Walk Like an Egyptian".
    • I want to make a point.. But.. how the fuck can I make an mp3 of the Sphinx?
      I don't know about the Sphinx, but you could probably violate the copyright on the Pyramids with four sawtooth waveforms [wikipedia.org] laid on top of one square wave. [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Davey McDave (926282)
      This isn't entirely stupid. First off, lots of people have already mentioned that it won't apply outside of Egypt, and secondly, it obviously isn't for the geometrical structure, just the obvious purpose of selling something that is a likeness of the ancient monument. Also, this is not an unusual thing to do. The illuminations on the Eiffel tower are copyrighted, it's illegal to take a picture of them and sell it, publish it, et cetera, without permission (of the company who put them up, I think, not sure t
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:00PM (#21818120) Homepage Journal
    This is how people start thinking when their old business model starts falling into pieces. Fewer and fewer people go to Egypt to see the pyramids, it is really not a surprise. Why not go to see the artificial islands in the United Arab Emirates instead? After all it should be safer and these 'wonders' are newer. It really is a more tourist friendly attraction for those going to the Middle East anyway.

    But this will not work, sure Egypt can come up with whatever ideas they want but who is going to care?
    • by jcr (53032)
      I'd like to see what Dubai could come up with if they got into the pyramid business... How about a kilometer high, with a ski slope and a zepplin mooring mast?

      -jcr

    • by dino213b (949816) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @11:27PM (#21818566)
      I agree with you that it may be a desperate move; but, lets face it - this is nothing out of the ordinary. This sort of thing has been done time and time again. In order to protect its own market from cheap foreign knockoff souvenirs, they are enacting these regulations. USA does it on a daily basis.

      Though, here is an amusing precedent for you. Look at the original Christian gospels; in Acts of the Apostles, Paul visits Ephesus so to try to convert the local heathens. The locals, who worship the (to us classical) Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses, don't reject Jesus and monotheism. They are just upset that by replacing their gods with a single God (and Jesus), the local silversmiths would lose out on their souvenir trade: selling statues of Diana. So religion and (nationalism) take back seat to economy.

      Sources for the interested:
      * http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/newtestament/section5.rhtml [sparknotes.com] (look for 'trade')
      * http://www.gospelhall.org/bible/bible.php?passage=acts+19&search=&ver1=kjv [gospelhall.org] (may need to look around for this Ephesus-trade section - I am a little rusty on the original)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hobo sapiens (893427)
        "cheap foreign knockoff souvenirs"
        Ironic thing is the souvenirs probably cost more than the original to build. Sweatshops may be cheap, but good ole fashioned slave labor wins hands down.

        Hey, it's all a big joke!
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @11:42PM (#21818648)

      Fewer and fewer people go to Egypt to see the pyramids
      There is a reason for that and it has nothing to do with copyright or newer monumental construction projects in neighboring Arab countries and that is the image that westerners in general and Americans in particular have about Arab countries from what they see in the terrorist beheading videos, the stonnings of women in the streets, and the unruley mobs chanting "death to America". Tourists are scared to death of visiting Arab countries and they should be. If the Eygptians want to attract more tourists to their country then they have to do something about the terrorist image that is being solidified in the west. Does anyone else remember the episode of 30 Days [wikipedia.org] where Morgan Spurlock asks people what is the first word that comes into their mind when he says the word "muslim"? The fact that Ayman Al-Zawahiri (aka the Eygtpian doctor and number 2 man of Osama) gets mentioned just about every time Al Qaeda gets mentioned in the news doesn't help. The Eygptians, the Saudis, the Jordanians and other Arab countries need to do more publically to counteract the negative PR moves being made by the terrorists or all but the most adventurous tourists might stay away permanently.
      • by Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @07:49AM (#21820350)
        None of which bothers me in the slightest - after all we lived with the IRA for thirty years in the UK. Egypt and the Middle East are perfectly safe and the media frenzy about the nasty terrorists is just that - on the ground by and large the people don't want to know where you are from. They want your money and will have it off any Western tourists by selling tat at overinflated prices, but that's true of any tourist place of course. Now the US - fingerprints on entry? Geez, I've not arrived and I'm considered a criminal. The protection offered citizens is not extended to guests, rude and overbearing officials, detention without trial, no thanks. I've been to both and the Middle East wins on general perceived safety.
  • Does this mean... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evil_Ether (1200695) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:07PM (#21818168)
    ...that they will ry and sue the Incas?
  • Wait, wait; (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NovaX81 (1136085) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:10PM (#21818186) Homepage
    Isn't copyrighting a geometrical figure [wikipedia.org] about the same as copyrighting a number? How exactly do they plan to go about doing this?
    • by Myopic (18616)
      Most jurisdictions allow the copyright of both geometrical shapes as well as numbers.
    • by Torodung (31985)
      I believe they would be copyrighting the "expression" of that shape, rather than the concept.

      You can't copyright a mouse, or even the idea of a "cartoon mouse," but you sure as heck can copyright Mickey Mouse.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      To be serious here, I think they'll narrow it down enough to exlude e.g. the Incas by including pyramid characteristics in more detail, and making it much more than a copyright of a geometric shape. There's a lot of more to the Egyptian pyramids than their shape, and even to the point of being clearly distinguished from Incan pyramids to one who know what they are more than from a vague history study memory. Having said that, it still comes across as strange to me. I think copyrighting any historic monement
    • No problem (Score:3, Informative)

      by TiggertheMad (556308)
      A pyramid is a geometrical figure, but they are copywriting 'The Pyramids, one of the wonders of the ancient world where pharos were buried', and not the geometrical figure. This is about the same as saying you can't copywrite the Death Star, because it is basically a sphere. There is a lot more to both than just their physical shape.
  • Wow, impressive. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:11PM (#21818192)
    "Zahi Hawass, who chairs Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the BBC the law would apply in all countries."

    That's pretty astounding arrogance right there. Since when do one country's laws apply anywhere outside their borders? Not to mention that they have no right to try to "copyright" stuff that was made 3000 years ago, by people long-since dead.

    • Tit for tat (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SamP2 (1097897)
      Egypt doesn't have the power to enforce copyright laws in other countries, but since international copyright is enforced via international treaties, it can take the following stance: "Respect our terms of copyright or we won't respect yours".

      For example, the U.S. might reject Egypt's indefinite copyright claim, but Egypt can in retaliation refuse to recognize or enforce US copyright on its territory, essentially legitimazing piracy of any US copyrighted property (including, of course, software).
      • Re:Tit for tat (Score:5, Informative)

        by david_anderson (896517) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:49PM (#21818408)
        No, international treaty means that your copyright will be honored under the laws of the other country in that country. To prosecute someone in the United States, you have to file a case in US District Court under Title 17, not under the Berne Convention.

        If Egypt retaliates for something like this, they would be viewed as violating the treaties by every other state, and be subject to significant sanctions. Not to mention, they are still trying to get back lots of antiquities from all those other countries.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by symbolic (11752)
        Don't forget the beloved WTO - no telling how it could make the situation even more absurd that it already is.
      • For example, the U.S. might reject Egypt's indefinite copyright claim, but Egypt can in retaliation refuse to recognize or enforce US copyright on its territory, essentially legitimazing piracy of any US copyrighted property (including, of course, software).

        When my girlfriend was in Cairo a couple of years ago she saw many, many places selling burned CDs and DVDs, all underground, of course. While Egypt is probably not on the radar of the RIAA/MPAA, there is plenty of pirating that indicates U.S. copyrig

        • >When my girlfriend was in Cairo a couple of years ago she saw many, many places selling burned CDs and DVDs, all underground, of course.

          Is it any different in the USA? The underground market is just that, underground. Different governments can apply different levels of pressure to try and enforce the law, which would depend on how willing they are to enforce it as well as budget, legal, and political popularity concerns, but tracking individual sellers of pirated CDs can be very hard both in Egypt and t
        • When my girlfriend was in Cairo a couple of years ago she saw many, many places selling burned CDs and DVDs, all underground, of course.
          Because of the RIAA and MPAA, people here usually think of music and movies. But go to virtually any bookstore in most non-European countries, and you'll find most popular titles from the US and Europe are "pirated". Travel books, popular fiction, technical titles...
      • by mckyj57 (116386)
        Egypt doesn't much enforce US copyrights anyway, with a software "piracy" rate of 65%, above the average for their region of the world.

        Of course since the 300 million Arabs translate fewer books than the 45 million people of Spain, they won't be doing much copyright violation in the printed area.
      • by Paktu (1103861)
        For example, the U.S. might reject Egypt's indefinite copyright claim, but Egypt can in retaliation refuse to recognize or enforce US copyright on its territory, essentially legitimazing piracy of any US copyrighted property (including, of course, software).

        You say that like it's a bad thing.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:28PM (#21818278)

      That's pretty astounding arrogance right there. Since when do one country's laws apply anywhere outside their borders?

      They learned from America, whose government has pretty much the same attitude in many areas.

      Not to mention that they have no right to try to "copyright" stuff that was made 3000 years ago, by people long-since dead.

      Ask Disney about the Grimm Brothers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kaenneth (82978)
        ......That's pretty astounding arrogance right there. Since when do one country's laws apply anywhere outside their borders? ...They learned from America, whose government has pretty much the same attitude in many areas.

        Unless the US Government dosn't want it to, such as in Gitmo, where our troops are enforcing the opposite of our national laws...

        Do as I say, not as I do.

    • That's pretty astounding arrogance right there. Since when do one country's laws apply anywhere outside their borders?
      You haven't been following The War on Terror here in the US, I take it.

      U.S. May Kidnap Wanted British Citizens [timesonline.co.uk]

    • I though other types of european countries held "artistic" copyrights for "historical" reasons... aren't most of the works of Bach, DiVincci, Michangelo.. etc, etc, under "historical" copyright? Even if you go visit those 300+ year old items, they still won't let you take pictures, even on the one in public spaces. This is isn't new, just over the top.
      • I thought the reason that you couldn't take pictures had nothing to do with copyright, and everything to do with flash harming the works of art (flash can be turned off, but better to prohibit photography altogether than deal with people who can't figure that out, I imagine).
  • This is... (Score:5, Funny)

    by UnCivil Liberty (786163) * on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:20PM (#21818236)
    a total pyramid scheme...
  • A sphynx is a type of hairless cat from North America. The correct spelling for the Egyptian thing is Sphinx. It's even spelled correctly in the linked-to article!
  • What's next? Is Germany going to "copyright" the swastika, so they can cash in on WW-II flicks?

    Modern day Egypt has little or nothing to do with those images, other than being the land mass upon which they sit. It's like they want to be an international laughing stock.

    As an American, I deem that we have international "copyright" on that, and they owe us royalties. I knew we were outsourcing our interrogations to Egypt. I had no idea the ties ran so deeply.

    Utter lunacy, if it's at all true.

    --
    Toro
  • I guess if they make problems, Egypt will just send in Spain to break up the place, again.
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @10:57PM (#21818448) Journal
    The original owners were the pharaoh era royalty. The present government does not derive directly from the royal line. Therefore to claim ownership rights on property not rightfully theirs is to deprive the original owners of their ownership.

    It's stealing. Lock the bastards up. Call the PIAA (Pyramid Industry Association of Assholes).
  • Vatican to copyright God, film at 11.
  • by mkcmkc (197982) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @11:37PM (#21818614)
    At first blush, this seems absurd, but once you think about it, it really isn't very different from what copyright (and IP in general) has become in recent decades. Disney, for example, is voting themselves eternal copyrights over their stuff, much of which is derivative. I think it's only a matter of time before each culture decides to lay claim to their corpus of work, from the beginning of time. It'd be an interesting battle, as arguably the creators of the English language contributed more to The Little Mermaid than Disney did...
  • I've got no problem with this, as long as the proceeds go to pay reparations to Jews and other descendants of the Pharaohs' slaves. Forty camels and a condo in Acre might be a good start.
  • Well, there goes the Luxor [luxor.com]. Huge copyright violation prominently displayed on the Las Vegas Strip!
  • Reminds me of the time I got a nice letter from California telling me that the use of the Hollywood sign in a video required royalties.

    I suppose all those pictures of lights in NY Times Square and Las Vegas fall into the same category.

    While I generally support IP and copyright, pushing it to these kinds of limits cause me to wonder where to draw a reasonable line.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @01:36AM (#21819222)
    Hmm, all the regular news staff are on leave and the editors are pulling stories out of their bottom drawers to fill newsprint. We used to call it 'cucumber time' - don't know why, but it does feel like a good description for this time of year.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday December 26, 2007 @06:26AM (#21820132) Homepage
    I think that they are taking the international legitimacy for this from the Berne convention [wipo.int] in partcular article 7 [wipo.int] which states:

    the term shall be governed by the legislation of the country where protection is claimed
    Thus their (Egyptian) legislation on the term is automatically accepted and enforced in all signatories to the Berne convention.

    Either:

    • Other countries will ignore it, or
    • Other countries will enforce it -- which I doubt, or
    • It will force a re-evaluation of the Berne convention.
    I hope that it is the last option, the Berne convention has been abused by the likes of Disney which has bought votes in the USA senate/... to extend copyright in the USA and thus giving it the ability to milk the rest of the world for things that should have fallen out of copyright, like Steamboat Willie [wikipedia.org]

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