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Editorial

When Elephants Dance 207

One Michael Fraase has written an excellent piece on the battle between the entertainment industry and everyone else titled "When Elephants Dance." Well worth reading, and bookmarking, and referring newbies to in order to get them up to speed in the digital content wars. His solution is right on, too, IMHO.
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When Elephants Dance

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  • The Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phrogz ( 43803 ) <!@phrogz.net> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:06PM (#3244688) Homepage
    In case it gets /.-ed, the 'solution' referred to is:
    The solution is actually quite simple and requires only three steps:
    1. Revert the term of copyright to 14 years, immediately and retroactive to all existing works.
    2. Recognize moral rights in the works authors create, like every other civilized country on the planet. Make it immediate and retroactive to all existing works.
    3. Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing; they're consensual hallucinations and exist at our pleasure. I don't know about you, but I'm not much pleased any more.

    What I don't get, from reading the article, is: who is the second elephant? The technology companies like Philips or MS?

    • Re:The Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by meggito ( 516763 ) <npt23@drexel.edu> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:13PM (#3244747) Homepage
      The two elephants are the entertainment industry and the technology industry. Both Philips and Microsoft are part of the second elephant.
      • Re:The Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 56ker ( 566853 )
        Lets face it though - these things aren't going to happen! In fact the trend is for copyright to be extended rather than reduced (however it does vary from country to country).
      • Re:The Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Phrogz ( 43803 ) <!@phrogz.net> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:29PM (#3244872) Homepage

        OK, but the article starts off "when elephants dance, get out of the way". That's an amusing phrase, but is it supposed to mean anything for us?

        "Look out the elephants are dancing, hide behind the trees and see who comes out the winner!"

        This is advocating the wrong solution, IMO. The real saying should be "when two elephants fight, and the outcome is important to you, get your ass in there and start pounding on the enemy elephant!"

        • Re:The Solution (Score:5, Informative)

          by Raetsel ( 34442 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:43PM (#3244966)

          • "when two elephants fight, and the outcome is important to you, get your ass in there and start pounding on the enemy elephant!"
          BAD idea. They make elephant guns for a reason! Getting "in there" gets you squashed, as the article points out. We're supposed to be smarter than that -- we need to be encouraging lawyers (EFF, etc.), buying our own legislators, and educating other voters!!

          I did this experiment: I talked to some other customers in Best Buy once -- we were in front of the HDTVs.

          • "Do you know they're still fighting over the broadcast standard?"
          • "Do you know the broadcasters want to be able to stop you from recording HDTV programs?"
          • "Do you know where you can get HDTV content?"

            "Nope"
            "Nope"

            And...

            "I think our cable system carries it."

          It turned out the person I'd chosen was the vice-president of the local (about 300 person) Cigna office. Lawyer by education, manager by profession. Neither her, nor her husband, had heard a thing about the battles we flame about on a daily basis!

          Ouch.

          • Can you say catch 22 (Score:2, Interesting)

            by pennsol ( 317791 )
            The problem with this is easly explaned by going to www.cnn.com and doing a search for CBDTPA, guess what this "Big News" or as something that effects the world around you, get a "no matches found". and of course if you look up SSSCA you find one article and it's about Dmitry Sklyarov "ARRESTED HACKER". As you can clearly see the "Conetnt Owners" i.e. the "Big Media" don't want the average joe to find out what is going on... add to your mailing list of congress persons and senators ANY AND ALL media outlets that are not owned by AOL/TW or Disney.. some one has to let the masses know and you can bet your ass it's not going to be them....
            • by gilroy ( 155262 )
              But you can escape from a catch-22. All you have to do is refuse to play their game. Read the book -- that's Yossarian's answer, and it can be made to work here.



              Granted, the Content Cartel control most of the "traditional" media. But they worry about the Net precisely because it is so huge and so (potentially) shatteringly effective at getting a message out without the traditional media. They fear that the Net will give birth to a spark, an episode, a movement they cannot foresee and cannot control.


              Stop worrying about how we get the "traditional" media to cover this. Stop trying to figure out how to "get our message out" in all the ways that have been tried before. Get out and educate, whatever way you can... and make the Net part of it.


              If we get enough people talking about it, the fight will spill over into the nightly news. And then we win.

        • OK, but the article starts off "when elephants dance, get out of the way". That's an amusing phrase, but is it supposed to mean anything for us.
          It means: "send in the mice!"...
      • What elephant is Sony part of?
        They've got interests on both sides!

        I wish the article wasn't slashdotted.
    • The demand to restrict the copyright to 14 years is pretty naive. It's a well known fact that the US enlarges the duration of the copyright every 10 years or so just to make sure that Disney still has it's copyright on Micky Mouse & co.
      If they bend laws just for a single company, does he really expect that the copyright will be restricted to such a short period ?
      The entire US entertainment industry will be hurt.
      Making corporations unable to own a copyright is just nonsense. Some works are in fact created by corporations. Just take one of the bigger movies.
      • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:24PM (#3244842) Homepage Journal

        The demand to restrict the copyright to 14 years is pretty naive.

        The Copyright Act of 1790 provided for a 14-year copyright term, renewable for 14 additional years. I remember reading that life expectancy for five-year-olds (a statistic that ignores infant mortality but does include child prodigies) has not increased significantly in the 200-odd years since that act was passed.

      • Re:The Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

        by quonsar ( 61695 )

        Some works are in fact created by corporations.

        not possible. a corporation is an abstract construct. abstract constructs do not create. everything that has ever been created has been created either by living beings or natural forces or god if you so beleive, but nothing has ever been created by a corporation. what were you thinking?

        • Some works are in fact created by corporations.
          not possible. a corporation is an abstract construct. abstract constructs do not create. everything that has ever been created has been created either by living beings or natural forces or god if you so beleive, but nothing has ever been created by a corporation. what were you thinking?

          Yes, but corporations can pay their employees and vendors to create content on their behalf as "work for hire."

          If I create content on company time, I don't own it unless my employer and I have an explicit agreement that gives me ownership rights. This makes sense if you consider some analogies to more tangible products: Should UAW members demand to own the cars they assemble? No. They're getting paid to build them.
          • Re:The Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jgerman ( 106518 )
            That's a different story. It may seem like just semantics. However, in the first case, that of a corporation creating something the assumption is that the corporation is the copyright holder. Which is not entirely in line with the idea of a copyright. A corporation is not an author or an inventor, but this assumption grants them that status. If you look at it from the other angle, the actual creator of the work is the owner of the copyright and by participating in a work for hire they are bound by their contract to grant exclusive rights to the company that is paying them, but they still own the rights they should only legally be able to grant that exclusive license. This is more in line with the spirit of this country which should, as I'm sure most will agree, be protecting the individual against the corporations not the other way around.
        • Some works are in fact created by corporations.

          not possible. a corporation is an abstract construct. abstract constructs do not create. everything that has ever been created has been created either by living beings or natural forces or god if you so beleive, but nothing has ever been created by a corporation. what were you thinking?

          Living beings are what actually perform the cration, I'll agree, but when a large, comprehensive work is created, the collective whole own the work, as a corporation. Think of a movie, for example. Who owns the copyright on that strip of plastic, photos, sounds and all? Was it created by a living being, or a collection of living beings? A corporation is an abstract construct representing a collection of living beings. In the case of most movies, having every individual person who worked on it own a copyright on the little bit they worked on would make the overall production and distribution of movies prohibitively expensive, if not completely impossible. The corporation is a perfectly reasonable construct to hold the copyrights here, and if the corporation hired and paid a staff to come in and make a movie, then why shouldn't that same corporation hold the copyright?

          Personally, and I know I'll probably get modded down for it, I don't have a problem with corporations holding copyrights just like any other legal entity. I'd be happy with returning the copyright duration back to its original. 14 years, plus renewal if the entity holding the copyright desires and is capable of renewing it. I.e., if the human creator of a work dies, it can't get renewed. If the corporation owning a copyright folds, it can't get renewed.

      • What kills me is that most of Disney's lucre comes from - are you ready? - public domain works converted to their end and then copyright-protected until the heat-death of the universe.

        Why should they get to adapt fairy tales from long ago and then seek to stop thers from doing the same?

        Oh well, Disney parks suck anyway - Uni's Islands of Adventure 0wNz!

        GTRacer
        - Content Cartel: You can control "your" "content" when I choose to use it. Otherwise, stay the fuck off my PC.

    • by Redhawk ( 28794 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:26PM (#3244855)
      Ex post facto laws (making laws retroactive) are illegal as per the Constitution.

      Although, given the reparations for slavery case, maybe I'm mistaken.

      I support the solution that the original author cites, but making them retroactive is gonna be difficult.

      Redhawk

      • Ex post facto laws (making laws retroactive) are illegal as per the Constitution.

        Really? Well, then, I guess the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act is illegal. Of course, that doesn't stop it from being upheld, used, etc. Just thought I'd toss that little tidbit in for you.

      • the ban on ex post facto laws (per the const.) was designed with one particular idea in mind: you can't get punished for doing something 20 years ago that was only made illegal 10 years ago.

        This is still the case - the last big time it came into play, however, was when the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 by the states. I knew several teachers who used to talk about how they could buy beer at 19 but their friends couldn't simply because their birthday fell on the day that the law came into effect.

        Congress is (to the best of my knowledge) still afforded the right to make laws that do not *punish* crimes or the like that are retroactive.
      • by nathanm ( 12287 ) <nathanm AT engineer DOT com> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:35PM (#3245361)
        Ex post facto laws (making laws retroactive) are illegal as per the Constitution.
        Right, that's why there needs to be a lawsuit that overturns the copyright extensions, so they effectively never existed.

        The Copyright Act of 1790 set the copyright period as 14 years, with the opportunity to renew for 14 years if the author was still alive. Since the people that passed this law were essentially the same ones that wrote the Constitution, with its limited time for copyrights, I think this law was in line with the framers original intent.

        Like the article said, the 14 year period lasted for 100 years. Then it was extended 11 times in the the next 100 years! These extensions have absolutely nothing to do with the works' authors and inventors and everything to do with corporate subsidies.

        The solutions he presents are exactly what needs to happen.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        Ex post facto laws (making laws retroactive) are illegal as per the Constitution.

        I am far from being a lawyer but I believe the ban on ex post facto applies only to criminal law.
        • Ex post facto law - the one pertaining to the states (not Federal) was decided to be limited to criminal law. As the author of the article pointed out, mistakes happen. I believe that decision was one.

          On the other hand, if ex post facto laws are limited to criminal cases, there is absolutely no reason why copyright term could not be changed proactively AND retroactively to be only 5 years if Congress chose.

          My personal opinion in this matter is a proactive change to 20 year terms (the same term a patent enjoys) with either No option to renew or a single renewal for 10 additional years (if the creative individual who orchestrated the work is still alive.) And all previous retroactive terms ended at the point of their original term.

          Because I believe that ex post facto laws are wrong (in any context) I would allow the terms - even the ridiculous ones currently in effect - that were active when the work was published. Non-published material, material that has not been registered with the copyright office - those works shouldn't have a copyright at all.

      • Ex post facto laws (making laws retroactive) are illegal as per the Constitution.


        Ex post facto is a technical term in law, and does not have its literal meaning. Only particular kinds of retroactive laws are ex post facto laws. Neither extending or shrinking copyright terms retroactively would be ex post facto.

      • I don't think the author really meant "retroactive" in the sense that former copyright violaters would be freed. My reading of it was that the author meant all copyrights older than 14 years should be revoked.

        --Ben
    • If the music publishers are that concerned about CD's and pirating for perfect digital copies, they can go back to publishing on cassette (and maybe revive LP's ;-)

      If the movie publishers are that concerned about DVD's, they can choose to only publish movies on VHS tape. Or better yet, use physical security to protect their property, and only show the film in theaters.

      It's all about greed, my friends. It's all about greed.
    • Re:The Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:38PM (#3244928) Homepage Journal
      Probibiting corporations from owning a copyright is interesting. I don't know if it's practical, but it is interesting.

      Corporations may be legal entities, but they are not human beings. Neither are they citizens of any nation. A single one paragraph bill stating that copyrights will only be issued to citizens of the United States would do it. We would still have to recognize the Berne convention, and honor copyrights granted to corporations from other nations, but we don't have to perpetuate this myth that corporations are people.

      Corporations do not create works. Their employees do. Give the copyright to the employee that created the work. As part of the "standard" employee agreement, a work created by an employee on company time would be automatically licensed to the company free of charge for any use, but copyright still belongs to the employee.

      At the minimum, there is a seed for thought here.
      • But they are [adbusters.org] legal citizens.
        Read half-way down.

        Not that I don't agree with the intent of
        your idea, or that of the article.
        The problems is lawyers playing Mr. Orwell
        with the language, so that the Constitution means
        whatever they want it to mean, without changing
        a single word. Then again, as always, IANAL.

        (You know, with the increasingly large number of
        lawyers in the US, you'd think I'd see less 'IANAL', not more)

        -Slackergod
        • Re:Ah... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @09:23PM (#3245585) Homepage Journal
          Corporations are legal persons, not citizens. There is a difference. Citizens can vote. Corporations cannot. Citizens can get drivers licenses. Corporations cannot. Citizens can hold public office. Corporations cannot.

          Lest you think I'm sticking up for corporations, let me assure you that I am not. Citizens can be tried for crimes. Corporations cannot. That last point is crucial. Microsoft is not being tried for any felony.

          But the article you pointed me two has one very gross error amid its wealth of information. It tried to distinguish between the oppression of government and the oppression of corporations. They are one and the same. The East India Company, Massachusetts Bay Company, etc., were all chartered corporations. That meant that the power they wielded came directly from the British government. When independence was gained from the the British government, the corporations instantly ceased to have any power over the former colonists.

          If you rebel against corporations but ignore the government, you are accomplishing nothing. The only power they have over you is derived from the government. The RIAA and MCAA is not legislating any law. Congress is doing that. It is only because the people of the United States have elected spineless cowards and money grubbing opportunists that we face this current problem.

          If Disney and Sony suddenly disappeared tomorrow, our legal rights regarding digital content would still be in jeapardy. Stomp out Disney and another corporation will take its place. But if you take away the power of Congress to control your rights, then they won't have that power to sell to the highest bidder.

          I fear any government, of any political persuasion, that is so large that it has to power to tell what I can or cannot do with my CDs.

          • Corporations are legal persons, not citizens. There is a difference. Citizens can vote. Corporations cannot. Citizens can get drivers licenses. Corporations cannot. Citizens can hold public office. Corporations cannot.



            Could have fooled me, but I could have sworn that laws are being passed based on stronger voting practices than those granted to the average citizen at the ballots. In fact it appears to me that the only function of citizens is to choose which particular people get the privilege of getting paid to pass the laws that corporations want.

      • Thank you. Thank you. Protect employees who are work for hire. We need standard labor laws that allow the employee to revoke the license due to unfair treatment by the corporation, for instance termination without compensation, or warning. This cuts both ways, if an employee leaves he/she has no right to revoke the license, but how about protecting the little guy in the industry instead of facilitation corporate dominance.
      • Hey, I'm all for this, but a here's a question.

        IBM owns the most patents and is rewarded the most patents the past few years in the US. What happens if IBM employees have control of the patents? Wouldn't IBM be pretty screwed since they'd have to modify nearly all their products based on negoitiations with the (new) patent holders? How would such a company deal with suddenly being required to negoitate the use of thousands of patents simultaneously? Could a disgruntled (ex)employee withhold use merely out of spite making product recalls mandatory?

        Just curious as to how this would affect the companies with the largest amounts of patents.

    • His solution is the whole problem. It does not see copyrights as the seed of a vine who'se growth will never stop nickeling and diming freedoms to death untill it is cut off at the root. That's what got us here to begin with. As long as our society accepts that it's morally OK to derive value by restricting the copying practices of others we have doomed ourselves to follow a flawed concept that will always threaten freedom - corporations or not.
    • Re:The Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jag164 ( 309858 )
      1. Revert the term of copyright to 14 years, immediately and retroactive to all existing works.

      I don't think this is constitional. I may be wrong though.

      Recognize moral rights in the works authors create, like every other civilized country on the planet. Make it immediate and retroactive to all existing works.

      First part is excellent. Second part... see #1

      3. Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing.

      Phooey!! Corporations do create. Maybe this should read, "Prohibit corporations from purchasing whole pieces of work to claim as their own from being copyrighted." or something to the like. But this still has shades of grey as to define a 'complete piece of work'.

      I'm just thinking about my company. 50 plus developers + human resource turnover. This is counter productive for us all. Every line of code I right I have to copyright and keep track of? When I leave the company someday. The company has to rewrite or stop using the code I wrote or do they have to pay me to use it? They're already paying me to write it. Okay, I get hit by a car? Now my wife 'owns' the copyright for the remaining 14 years so she can get pestered left and right?

      Now on the other hand, I write a complete work. Publishers now-a-days won't talk to you if you don't sell all rights away for a check. #3 sounds much better. But what's to gain for a company to spend $$ on R&D and development if they can copyright their investments?

      There's a hundred ways to skin a cat, but 90% of those ways still leave fur on the little guy.
    • Re:The Solution (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by donutello ( 88309 )
      I'm probably wasting my breath by saying it here but I'll do so anyway.

      Revert the term of copyright to 14 years, immediately and retroactive to all existing works.

      I like this one. At least the first part. I have serious doubts about the ethicality of making it retroactive. Someone who created content (or bought it - but let's not delve into that) and released it under the assumption that it would be protected for whatever period copyrights were at the time would legitimately feel screwed by the country going back on its promise.

      Recognize moral rights in the works authors create, like every other civilized country on the planet. Make it immediate and retroactive to all existing works.

      Huhh? What laws in other countries does this reference? What's this "moral right"? Does the guy I paid to help build my house have a "moral right" to my house?

      Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing; they're consensual hallucinations and exist at our pleasure. I don't know about you, but I'm not much pleased any more.

      That's the point where I realize I should dismiss this as probably the ranting of someone with the intelligence of a pre-pubescent crack-addict.

      Corporations serve several purposes and are very crucial to our economy. It's amazing how few demagogues realize this. I, as an author want the ability to sell my copyrights for money - to corporations. When you take away my ability to do that you're taking away some of the value of my creation to me. The bottomline is that artists will get shittier contracts and compensations because they can give less away.

      Our economy thrives on separation of roles. Taking this away will force the author to be in the business, not only of creating content, but also that of distributing, marketing and promoting it. That is as much in societies interests as prohibiting anyone from getting a job and "giving away" the fruits of their labor is.
      • But a corporation DOES NOT need the privilege of being granted a copyright, the author(s) of the work can own it, but be required by law to give full exclusive rights to it, to the company that employed them in a "work for hire". With provisions that could cause the company to lose those rights. A better system can be worked out that's fair to all, actually I don't care that it's fair to a corporation, in fact I deny that the word fair can even apply to a corporation.
      • Re:The Solution (Score:3, Informative)

        by nathanm ( 12287 )
        Huhh? What laws in other countries does this reference? What's this "moral right"?
        If you's read the article you'd see the author's explanation of moral rights:
        • The right of integrity
        • The right of attribution
        • The right of disclosure
        • The right to withdraw or retract
        • The right to reply to criticism
        The first two are part of the Berne Convention, which the US has signed & ratified. He also gave a link [rbs2.com] to another article with a good, detailed explanation of moral rights.
    • 3. Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing; they're consensual hallucinations and exist at our pleasure.


      Certain works of art are only made possible through a collective effort rather than an individual's labor (e.g., motion pictures, television programs, orchestral recordings). Sometimes these collective efforts are organized as corporations.

      More important is the impact this would have on individual artists and writers: if a corporation can't hold a copyright there would be no reason for Miramax to option a book or buy a screenplay.

      I'm no fan of Disney, but why should Pixar be punished for Mickey Rat's actions?

      k.
      • More important is the impact this would have on individual artists and writers: if a corporation can't hold a copyright there would be no reason for Miramax to option a book or buy a screenplay.
        But optioning a book has nothing to do with copyright. They're just entering into a contract with the book's author which gives them the exclusive right to make the book into a movie. Personally, if I was an author, I'd give anyone that wanted to make the movie permission, but not exclusively.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    is that like an elephant walk [google.com]?
  • Of course it's slashdotted by now... Here's a copy out of google's cache... [google.com]
  • by DuckyExMachina ( 320160 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:09PM (#3244713) Homepage
    but they did it too. I was reading an article for my silent film class at lunch today, and it described a court case where for the first time filmmakers were forced to pay an author of a book for putting it on screen (apparently a film company had made an adaptation of 'Ben Hur' without crediting or paying the author of the book). This quote from the article struck me: "There was no copyright law to protect authors and I could, and did, infringe on everything", that was Gene Gauntier, who wrote the unauthorized adaptation of Ben Hur. talk about the pot calling the kettle black in this whole distribution-of-content mess. as soon as the technology shows up, people will infringe on copyrights. it happened in 1912, and it'll happen now.
    • Back in 1912 there was hardly an entertainment "industry"
      • Really? I must be imagining all those Books, Radio programs, Silent films, phonographs, and evening clubs.

        Entertainment has been an industry since before disposable income was a concept. It's only now with a larger middle class has it become a bigger industry.
    • "There was no copyright law to protect authors and I could, and did, infringe on everything"

      There may have been another explanation for this quote. The U.S. government was very slow to recognize foreign copyrights. I don't remember when this changed, but I do know that Charles Dickens never made a dime off of the millions of his books sold in the U.S.

      The Ben Hur screenwriter might have simply been saying that the book (whose origin I don't know) may have had no copyright protection in the U.S. at that time due to it having a non-American author or some other loophole that no longer exists.
    • Let's face it, Disney wouldn't exist as anything more than a memory, a name for one style of old cartoons, if it wasn't for one thing:

      Old enough material is no longer covered by copyright.

      Damn near every Disney success in the past 15 years (and even further back really, Snow White was 1939) is not only based on a previous work to a large degree, they make absolutely no bones about the fact that they're 'adapting' someone else's work.

      They want copyright extended indefinitely? They wouldn't f**king EXIST if copyrights didn't expire eventually!

  • I have a friend who is a drummer in a band just entering th professional scene. This is exactly what I was looking for to steer(sp?) him away from aiming at a big record contract toward alternative approaches to becoming a successful and widely heard musican.
    • Unfortunately there is virtually no recourse for musicians other than selling their souls.
      I mean yes, you can record and sell your own music, but it's a rare RARE band/talent who can actually make a decent living doing that.

      I'll not go into my personal music industry experiences, but suffice it to say that even very good bands have a LOT of trouble if they want to stay independant and don't have a lot of money to begin with.
  • Argh (Score:2, Insightful)

    The first sentence of this article really turned me off.

    When elephants dance, it's best to get out of the way.

    I resent this. When elephants dance (or try to stomp on everybody), I say take them out with a tranquilizer gun. And if that's not possible, be sure that if you go down, you go down fighting.

    We must not get out of the way as the media behemoths try to force law after law onto consumers. It's bad enough that they've had a monopoly on new music for the past ___ decades; now they're trying to control us even more.

    I say use P2P and don't buy CDs at all. The artists only get a few cents from every CD purchase anyway; the rest goes to the fat paychecks of the moron blue-blooded executives at Sony Music, BMG, etc.

    Instead, if you want to support your favorite artist, buy their concert tickets and fan merchandise from their online stores.

    I Personally Recommend This Site For Linux Geeks [monolinux.com]
  • by xtp ( 248706 )
    the arguments without the polemic; and perhaps my family
    will understand better why I no longer go to the movies with them and why I'm making mp3s from my ancient jazz LPs.

    Best quote: the RIAA/MPAA does not want you to have a computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They've got no rythym, can cause a lot of damage and get scared by mice...

    Eeek Eeek!
  • by Slashamatic ( 553801 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:25PM (#3244847)
    Artists generally keep on creating. Fourteen years is a long time for many of them. You are not obliged to spend your gains on coke, etc and can set aside money like the rest of us try to do.

    The corp is different, it doesn't create. It is just a very large self-perpetuating overhead. At the same time a corporation is a useful way that large projects get financed, allowing the risk and losses to be split. Companies started as ways of financing risky projects such as a ship of trade goods on a single return journey.

    Keep the corporate rights holder, after all we want films like LOTR financed, don't we? However, I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of limiting the length of the rights to 14 years.

    • Keep the corporate rights holder, after all we want films like LOTR financed, don't we?

      NO! Not if it means that I'll be shackeled to a MPAA/RIAA approved device to watch or listen to it. 14 years plus a 14 year extention that costs $'s to get that is all you need. The mega corps. don't have a "RIGHT" to exist, if they can fine, but "we don't need no stinkin' laws" to keep them in business.

      Sorry about that... I just finished reading about that dummy in congress. I've faxed and e-mailed my congress-bozos and let them know what I think. You can bet when my local guy comes by to ask for my vote this will be Mentioned.
    • If the copyright period is set to 14 years, and only renewable by the original individual, what would this do to the treatment of artists?

      IMHO artists would get a lot more money for their creations, and corps would have to 'court' them in order to keep them, and their art, as an asset. Of course this might lead to treating artists like professional athletes...hmmm.

      Oh sure, corps would still go after copyright violators, but more to stay on the artist's good side, not just to keep their own pockets lined.
      • IMHO artists would get a lot more money for their creations, and corps would have to 'court' them in order to keep them, and their art, as an asset. Of course this might lead to treating artists like professional athletes...hmmm.

        No, I think a more likely outcome would be for publishers and distributors to be more reluctant to sign up authors. Simple microeconomics predicts that if you diminish the publisher/distributor's upside potential, you will also diminish his tolerance for risk.

        So maybe the pro sports analogy holds true: The mega stars will get richer (Tom Clancy will do just fine, just as A-Rod does in baseball), while everyone else gets poorer.
    • [...]after all we want films like LOTR financed, don't we?

      I loved LOTR. But if I have to trade it for my right to running my computer as I see fit, I will do without, thanks.

    • LOTR paid back the whole series in the first few weeks the first movie was out. Everything to do with DVDs, product licenses, and so forth, not to mention the other 2/3 of the movies, is profit. As far as whether bootlegs are concerned, they'd made back their investment nicely before the bootlegs were even available.

      Having the copyright on the movies (and images from them) expire after 14 years is plenty long enough, provided that studios acquire a modicum of taste and try not to make movies that are obviously bad. Moving movies is a major risk only because they don't weed out movies which are not worth making, and because they sometimes throw a huge budget at a movie which has a limited appeal and should be done for what people will pay to see it (since the diehards who will see such a movie won't care much that the budget was low).

      Prohibiting corporations from holding copyrights wouldn't be so big a problem; you just let the artists retain the copyright, but finance them (and provide camera teams and such) for a license, with terms depending on what they want. Corporations don't create anything, but it's not like a corporation is founded with pre-existing works, which it then makes all of its money by licensing.

      The real issue, though, is what person gets the copyright for something collaborative like LOTR, if corporations can't hold copyrights. It would be like trying to get a non-GPL license to Linux: you contact every single person who did anything on the project and try to figure out what's going on. The editors own the particular cut, but the images in the cut are owned by the animators and camera crews (with the lighting owned by someone diffierent), but all of the acting in the images in the cut is owned by the actors, who also own the voices, except that the audio splicing is owned by the sound editors...

      In any case, the ownership of copyrights by corporations isn't much of a problem, if the copyright term isn't related to the lifetime of the original owner. Make it 14 years for any work, regardless of whether it was created by an individual or by a group collectively assigning copyright to a corporation.
  • by PeterClark ( 324270 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:25PM (#3244852) Journal
    I like to some extent what the author suggests, but in this day and age where corporations pull the puppet strings on the politicians, can we honestly expect this to happen? Perhaps I am cynical, but this doesn't sound like it has a snowball's chance in hell of ever seeing the light of day, short of a revolution. Feel free to delude me of my cynicism. :)

    :Peter

  • "And Donkeys Might Fly Out Of My Butt"
  • Damn good solution...damn good.
  • Working link (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kizzle ( 555439 )
    Since the link is /.-ed, you can see the page by using this link [google.com]

    enjoy
  • Tell me. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:38PM (#3244924) Homepage
    What the fuck to the MPAA and RIAA member companies think they're going to do when all computers are encumbered with this new copy-protection technology?

    Lucas wants to go 100% digital, from the lens to the screen.
    Disney wants to eliminate celluloid from the animation process, most animated features are done largely on computer.
    Tell me that all the digital toys the music industry has to play with could be dispensed with in the production of the latest BoyBand video?

    So - you're going to take all your creative professionals, encumber the fuck out of their equipment, you'll be increasing your OWN production costs by an order of magnitude - and more since you wont be able to use cheap commodity hardware anymore, because economy of scale will not apply to things that mainstream consumers aren't going to buy zillions of. And who's going to support your encumbered technology? Certainly not the $10/hr MCSE who learned NT and Linux on his homebrew Athalon running pirated software playing pirated MP3s.

    Eisner says he's tired of being finessed by the technology industry? I think he's too full of himself. Don't bite the hand that feeds you Mickey.
    • And that's the honest truth!

      If you left it up to the blood-sucking bean counters/executives, they're rather ignore all those uppity authors, and filmmakers, and actors, with their unions, and creative rights, and constant desire for new, expensive equipment, and just focus on milking every last penny from existing properties, and repackaged crap produced by what are essentially slaves, bound to personal service contracts.

      I doubt that they care that they're going to raise the price for their own equipment, because that section of the market has traditionally been smaller anyways. They're probably clapping with glee at the thought that independent producers and artists, without the deep pockets that the congolmerates have, will be the ones that are really affected by encumbered, more expensive equipment.

      Again, as with the RIAA and the DMCA, we see dinosaurs killing off the competition under the guise of defending copyright. Stupid, stupid, STUPID.
  • Simple solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vanyel ( 28049 )
    The simple solution is stop buying CDs from the large publishing houses that want total control. And the web radio stations should only play music by artists they've negotiated a license directly with. That's the whole point of this battle: with the Internet, we don't need the middle man any more, so let's just go around him. Are there no good artists who aren't locked up with these companies?

    I propose a website that hosts selections. Artists pay a small fee to have their content available and listeners rate it. There would, of course, have to be mechanisms to avoid artists artificially raising their ratings, just like ebay does. This web site could even negotiate deals to sell cd collections for the artists.

    Actually, this would be an awful lot like Atomfilms does for movies... (if only they used better formats!)

  • Theater owners have film projectors now which will work for 20 years and cost 1/50th the amount to maintain. Or they can shell out millions for technology that will cost 1/10th the current price in 3 years.

    Any theater chain or owner buying digital today instead of 2005 is obviously floating in money.

    End result - don't expect any growth in digital movie technology.

    Exception - film company owned theaters who can save the money on film production and get a chance to give "their" theaters the film 10 days before everyone else.

    [caveat - I'm a lifetime member of Cinema Seattle and have relatives and friends in the film industry]
    • I agree with your main point-- the thing that will stop even the film company owned theaters from putting movies out early only in their theaters is they will want the opening day/week end numbers.

      The paper here in PHX today ran an article on the whole digital film deal and specifically mentioned that some thought Star Wars II might come out early in digital theaters- but it wont because they want it to open in as many theaters as possible.

      But you are correct it isn't going anywhere soon. It is not worth it.

      .
    • Yes, you are partly correct, in that digital projection equipment is currently much more expensive than the current analog stuff. But IIRC the deal with the digital theater is in fact cost cutting. The movie reels are actually quite expensive, and their quality degrades quite fast. Ever seen a movie which has been running for a while? All those "blips" on the screen etc... At some point movie theaters might actually have broadband links, so they could just download the movies from the studios they have bought it from. This could also make things like worldwide releases possible. Ok they are possible today but you need a huge number of reels for that, i.e. it's very expensive.
      But anyway the infrastructure for digital delivery of movies is not in place today, and as you said it's pretty stupid to shell out for digital projection equipment today, as moviegoers wont notice any quality difference anyway... But maybe in 5 years, if the movie industry is still around by then. Not that I would feel sorry for them if they were to crash and burn. It's not like they have produced anything of value to society..
  • Personally, I'm just sick and tired of the antics of the entertainment industry. They have convinced members of our government that we're all criminals and the obvious solution is to shackle all of our computers and electronic devices as a precautionary measure. We all must pay the price for the sins of a few.

    The drivel being shoveled out by these corporations is by-and-large not worth my time. Gems in the rough occationally appear, but my disgust with the situation compels me to make some sacrifices. I've purchased my last CD produced by a major label. I've purchaced my last movie ticket and DVD for a major studio film. I'm not going to fuel the machine with my money.

    I cannot, in good faith, support an industry that has such contempt for me.

    I will continue to fight for the rebalancing of copyright laws.

    Join me if you'd like, but I'm not going to scream "Boycott" at the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen. There's plenty of entertainment to be had elsewhere, and I will quietly consume that instead.
  • by PolyDwarf ( 156355 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:59PM (#3245089)
    ... A mandate for Fair Use.
    IE something that reads along the lines of "Fair Use rights must be exercisable."
    Right now, we have the rights, but the industry is making it so we can't exercise them.
  • My copy says 14 years for copyright.

    I never voted for a rewrite.

    Maybe we should act like the founding fathers and revolt over this issue ...

    -
    • Umm, the Constitution does not specify 14 years. It gives Congress the mandate to specify the term of copyright, and Congress intially set it to 14 years. Now whether the Constitution allows them to extend the initial term is another matter....
  • by nrrrdboy ( 95022 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:11PM (#3245186)
    One of the most immediate ways you can help is to stop perpeutating the linguistic fraud.

    http://goatee.net/2002/03#_26tu [goatee.net]

    02.03.26.tu | propaganda (part 3)

    Honestly! I had not intended to return to the frustrating
    topic of copyright for some time but Michael Eisner's commentary in
    the Financial Times has provided an opportune example of the
    misleading usage of the "property".

    Abe Lincoln and the internet pirates: The great Emancipator's
    forthright defence of intellectual property rights holds true
    today.

    What was that forthright defense? The statement that the restriction
    of speech and ideas, "secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the
    exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest
    to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and
    useful things." I do not disagree with Abe Lincoln, but I do disagree
    with Eisner because while he may laud the principle he has distorted
    and abused its application. And those of us that get fed-up with
    Eisner and his ilk sometimes lash out at the whole artfully
    constructed facade. This is a dangerous position for us to be in; as I
    wrote two years ago, "... it's difficult to voice this opinion because
    the small encroachments of copyright and patent that led to the
    present system are largely unseen. It's a creeping heaviness, but to
    complain of the invisible weight is thought to be unreasonable."
    However, my own reason does begin to fray when presented with a
    continued discrepancy between noble principles and unprincipled
    action: the perpetual extension of the original 14 year copyright term
    , the censoring of research, the theft of authors works via an
    underhanded amendment making all recordings works-for-hire, the
    acquisition of mp3.com by Universal which then slashed artist pay by
    80%, the decreasing costs of producing CDs but the increasing price of
    purchase, the debt many artists are saddled with when producing an
    album, the likely destruction of small Internet radio feeds, and the
    royalties we all pay to the recording industry when we buy a blank
    CD-ROM (regardless of its use!). At times, in exasperation, I think
    that the likes of Eisner are not capable of honest argument: they
    mouth the words, "freedom, author, consumer, innovation", but their
    actions call out, "money and power." (In an ironic twist of naming
    duplicity, the law that I wrote my senator about a week ago was
    introduced this week as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television
    Promotion Act!) But I digress, I've said all this before, it'll
    probably get worse before it gets better, and my goal is to look at
    how Eisner effects his spin.

    In asserting the importance of physical and intellectual property
    rights in a democracy, Lincoln echoed the views of 17th-century
    thinkers such as John Locke, whose phrase "life, liberty and
    property" inspired the Founding Fathers.

    Sorry Mr. Eisner, our Founding Fathers did not equate these limited
    monopolies on thought to "property." They approached this topic with
    care and concern: a limited monopoly (a detriment) balanced against a
    requirement to "promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts"
    (a benefit). Evidence of that care can be found in our Declaration of
    Independence in which Jefferson wrote of, "Life, liberty, and the
    pursuit of happiness."

    It is as American as the apple pie that one may not take off a
    neighbour's kitchen ledge.

    But ideas are not apple pies. They are more like recipes that can be
    exchanged between friends and improved upon: "why fight over a slice
    of pie when through cooperation we can double its size?!"
  • by raresilk ( 100418 ) <raresilk@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:13PM (#3245199)
    I was looking at the end for the "next page" link, where the author explained how his conclusion would solve the problem. I'm forced to conclude that either: (1) the editor cut off the last half of the article, (2) the author never finished writing it, or (3) the second martini kicked in about the time he wrote the bizarre conclusion. I quote below, with my remarks in italics:

    The solution is actually quite simple and requires only three steps:

    Revert the term of copyright to 14 years, immediately and retroactive to all existing works.

    Oh, okay, we give the media companies 14 free years of screwing us every which way but loose. They can charge us rent, per play, per eardrum, for every time we listen to a song, sell us CDs of that song that vaporize after 3 plays and don't work at all unless your stereo has been inspected by the FBI, and break into our homes any time day or night to confiscate our computers and look for digital copies of the song. But only if the song is less than 14 years old. Whew, I feel better.

    Recognize moral rights in the works authors create, like every other civilized country on the planet. Make it immediate and retroactive to all existing works.

    Um, okay, so in addition to copyright holders treating us like criminals, we'll have the authors on our ass too, throwing us in jail if we quote a sentence or sample a riff, or anything else they feel insults the dignity of their work. This is supposed to be a solution? It sounds like a whole new can of worms to me. The reason that the USA does not recognize so-called "moral rights" for authors is quite simple -- we have something called Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment that allows us to quote or criticize authors, and engage in "fair use" of their works -- rights that were unquestioned until the DMCA power grab. Contrary to the suggestion that it would be liberating for consumers, the European "moral rights" regime is in rationale and practice rather similar to what the media companies are seeking to institute in the US.

    Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing; they're consensual hallucinations and exist at our pleasure. I don't know about you, but I'm not much pleased any more.

    The basis of the problem is found in a single court ruling: Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. In this 1886 dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a private corporation was a "natural person" under the Constitution and enjoyed the same protections as a citizen under the Bill of Rights. Corporations from that point forward were granted all of the rights and freedoms of a private citizen, yet none of the responsibilities. We made a mistake; hey, shit happens. It's not too late to fix it.

    Exactly where do you get your information about the law? Being a "natural person" is a two-way street -- contrary to this statement, corporations are subject to all the legal responsibilities that wetware persons have. In addition, they can have the fiction of their "personhood" revoked or legally disregarded if they misuse it - not so for individuals. True, large corporations are better equipped than the average "natural person" to push the envelope of legal rights and responsibilities, but that is by virtue of their superior economic resources, not their corporate status. Case in point: accused-criminal-come-lately accounting firm Arthur Andersen is huge, rich and powerful, but it is a partnership, not a corporation. Does that make their Enron document shredding less culpable?

    In sum, despite the article's cogent analysis of the problem (including the media companies' true goal of eliminating the personal computer, which I brought up a few weeks ago), none of the proposed solutions will do a thing about it, and I submit they would only make matters worse.

  • by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:18PM (#3245224) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the article:
    3. Prohibit any corporation from owning a copyright. Corporations create nothing; they?re consensual hallucinations and exist at our pleasure. I don?t know about you, but I?m not much pleased any more.
    Ok, who's the "author" of a movie? Is it the writer? The director? The editor? Or, maybe one of the major actors?

    I guess that the director can only go into business for himself. No company can own the copyright, so he has to use his personal budget for funding the film. If it flops, he has to declare personal bankruptcy, instead of letting some corporation absorb the hit. How is this supposed to make things better?

    I agree with the rest of the article. It's the first time I've seen this stated so well. I'm just curious about how he expects this last point to work.

    ps: He should run the Demoroniser [fourmilab.ch] over his MS-Word documents before publishing them to the web!

  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:33PM (#3245344)
    If you read this through you will see how history repeats itself ....

    During the early 1800's the rich plantation masters were so close to the rich industrialists that many people wondered how in the heck could people who had so many financial ties become so divided and eventually financed opposite sides of a civil war.

    The answer is this, in order for the plantation masters to get control of their slaves - they also had to control and regulate industries that relied on a mobile and skilled work force. (the industrialists) Those who didn't see this thought that the slave states could peacefully get along with the free states - they were idiots.

    Today the copyright industries, in order to get control of their copyrights, must regulate the computer and information technology industries that are carrying the economy. Some people also think that the solution is some sort of compromise, but they just don't understand that deriving value by restricting the copying practices of others is immoral and will never go away till we cut the problem off at the root - copyrights. This belief is very harmfull, because the longer we wait, the more costly it's going to be to cut the problem off at the root.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @09:01PM (#3245505) Homepage
    Moral-based copyrights are an extraordinarily bad idea. Fortunately no one had been so stupid as to come up with them when the Copyright Clause was established. (in fact, virtually no one had copyrights then either -- the first law having been enacted less than a century prior)

    The U.S. has a far superior utilitarian model. Essentially, it permits copyrights to be established if, and only to the extent that, they serve a public good. Moral rights are backwards, in that they promote the interests of the author as an end unto themselves. However, the genius of the framers was that authors should best be treated rather like cattle. (it's worth noting here that for several years I supported myself entirely as an artist)

    A dairy farmer is not interested in the well-being of his animals. He doesn't care if they're happy. He cares about milk yield and quality. If pampering the cows will produce sufficient quantities of good milk that it is worthwhile to do so, he will. If not, he won't. Thus the lack of solid gold cowbells.

    Likewise, where the public interest in having a body of works that is freely usable in all possible ways, and that concerns as many subjects as the human mind can imagine is served, copyright makes sense. Creating copyright to provide for artists is stupid -- it harms the public interest, and the public doesn't get anything out of it. Creating copyright to encourage artists so as to increase the number of distinct but comprehensible works, and limiting it so as to permit free use, is far better.

    If your intentions are to help artists, you'll do the former. (unless you really think about it, and remember that artists are members of the public too, and rely on existing works constantly) If your intentions are to help the public, you'll do the latter.

    Copyright's fine -- in moderation, and for the right aims. This is not a concept that meshes with the silly nonsense about moral rights, however. The author of the linked article is using about the worst means possible to try to serve a public interest, and it'll backfire spectacularly.
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @09:21PM (#3245572) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the article:

    Revert the term of copyright to 14 years, immediately and retroactive to all existing works.


    This would be a terrible idea to enact. As soon as this law was enacted, we'd have massive suits by content holders that it was a "taking". Either the government would have to overturn the law or it would have to "justly compensate" each and every holder of any copyright of any value. Bleh.


    On the other hand, saying that new copyrights last for only 14 years is not a taking, as a thing not yet created has no value. I think I could accept the tragic loss of public domain we've suffered, if I knew for sure it was a temporary aberration.

  • I don't see how shorter copyright terms help with any of the problems most people are complaining about.
  • I don't think this is an excellent piece at all. It is a one-sided view of the issue, with the author basically going off on a rant against everything that he doesn't like. Not only is the author extremely biased (an objective article would not have referred to "crappy music"), he is also plain wrong in some cases. For example, he says: "copying of copyrighted material is not just allowed, but mandated by the Constitution". What he says here is that it is mandatory (under the constitution, even!) to make copies of copyrighted material. Not optional, mandatory. As in: NOT making copies is unconstitutional. I have not made a copy of Windows XP yet. Am I violating the constitution? Clearly not.
  • Changed opinions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mizukami ( 141102 )
    I must say that when this "Dance" first started, I was somewhat sympathentic to the corporate copyright holders. They have a legal copyright on works, their copyright is being completely ignored, causing them (I thought) a great deal of financial loss. At first glance, they seemed to have a valid case...

    However, the more that I've read up on the background of this issue, the more the RIAA et. al. have pushed their bone-headed, intrusive, and greedy "solutions" to this "problem", the more I learn about the relationship between distribution corporations and artists, the less and less I care about their plight.

    I've actually come to the point where I hope that in the near future I see some of these companys jump into the giant grave they've been digging for themselves and start pulling the dirt in. While I used to have moral qualms about .MP3s that I downloaded and ended up not buying the CD for, I no longer do. While I used to think that the giant Hollywood studios and uber-rich recording studios were a necessary evil to bring me quality entertainment, I now think that they are holding down the level of quality that we can expect from artists. While a few years ago a situation like that described in Bruce Sterling's Distraction [amazon.com] (where China has destroyed the US economy by placing all English-language IP works in their public domain, available for free download), now I find myself perversely almost rooting for something like that happening.

    Maybe it's time to cut Mickey Mouse and PrettyBoy bands out of our economic picture, and let art be done for art's sake?
  • To complicate matters by at least an order of magnitude, the consumer electronics manufacturers--the companies that make stereos, VCRs, and DVD players--have aligned with the entertainment industry. At least some of them, and at least to some extent.

    And of course, some of them are both sides of the fence. Can you say Sony? AOL-Time Warner seems a likely candidate to follow along too.

  • Heads in the sand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Friday March 29, 2002 @03:58AM (#3246647)
    All these fights over copyrights and laws are distracting us from the real problem, which is staring us in the face:

    If information products can be shared for free via the net, it will be very difficult for the creators to make a profit. And that means that there won't be many people making new music, movies, books and other information goods.

    I think most people, deep down inside, understand this, but they don't like the consequences. They try to think of ways that artists could make money, like selling T shirts, or by private donations, but these can produce only tiny revenues. Or people distract themselves by demonizing the record companies, or the MPAA, or Hilary Rosen. It's more fun to hiss at a villain than to try to do something about the train that's bearing down on you.

    We are heading for a very bad situation. The tremendous production we have enjoyed of information goods is mortally threatened. I don't claim to know the solution, but I don't pretend the problem doesn't exist.

    Please, pull your heads out of the sand, and face the issue squarely. The problem is not the Hollings bill or the DMCA or the record companies. The problem is that the net may make it impossible to make money producing information goods. That's going to have a huge impact on society in the next few years, probably a very bad one no matter what the outcome. Let's face this reality squarely.
    • If information products can be shared for free via the net, it will be very difficult for the creators to make a profit. And that means that there won't be many people making new music, movies, books and other information goods.

      And so people will stop making music, movies, books or other information goods---such as Linux?

      Evidently not so. The reasons for creating are many, but pure profit doesn't always figure top of the list.

    • Most artists are not making more money as a result of copyrights then they would without them. Take musicians, for example. They make very little from record sales -- almost all of that money goes to the record companies. The musician makes most of their money from live performances, just as they would if there were no copyrights at all.
  • The article states
    customers certain rights with regard to While the Constitution grants copyrighted material, the entertainment industry very much wants to separate us from those rights.
    I'm not a lawyer (not even close), but here's my understanding of the situtation.

    Althought the entertainment industry might like us to believe this, it is backwards. The Constitution grants certain privileges to copyright holders, not rights to customers. In fact "customers" (i.e. citizens) have inalienable rights. The are not granted by the Constitution, citizens own their rights.

    The privilege granted to copyright holders is the exclusive use of their creations for a limited time. The reason the Constitution grants this privilege is to encourage people to invest the time creating useful or entertaining content. Ultimately this is for the benefit of everyone, copyright holder and consumer alike.

    The Entertainment industry consistently distorts this fact for their own use. They like to argue that copyrighted material is Intellectual Property, thereby distorting its true nature to resemble real property. They then continue to argue that distributing copyrighted material is equivalent to stealing. It isn't. Distributing copyrighted material is equivalent to breaking a contract; the contract the Constitution established with the Copyright holder.

    An important consequence of the fact that copyrights are a contract is that the contract can be re-negotiated. This is something the Entertainment Industry never addresses in their public arguments. They public agruments go something like "we own this material, we can do what we like with it, and you can't tell us what to do", when in fact the government signed a contract with the copyright holder, and the form of future contracts can be changed. In fact, recent changes to the contract have been in the copyright holder's favor, such as the "Sonny Bono" law, or whatever it was called.

    What needs to happen now is for the government to re-negotiate future copyright contracts (i.e. copyright law) in light of recent technological developments, and to strike a balance between the content producers and content consumers.

    I'm out of breath now.

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