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Comment Re:i don't get it (Score 1) 201

You are right, we can only speculate what a world without copyright would be like. But I think it would be a fairly boring place.

Well, copyright didn't exist until the 18th century, and then didn't become widespread until the 19th and 20th centuries (in many places, due to colonialism, rather than because the local population liked the idea).

So now you have a pretty good idea of what it would be like.

Of course, you'd have to factor in differences unrelated to copyrights: many places have less censorship than they once did; they have higher literacy rates; they have publishing technologies that are far more efficient than what was available when they adopted copyright laws, including the ability to publish sounds and moving pictures, which had not been possible; we have artificial lighting, inexpensive and widely available means of telecommunication, and data capture, editing, and storage technologies; improvements in agriculture, manufacturing, and labor law provide somewhat more leisure time than once may have been available; the population has increased (thus increasing the number of actual and potential authors); etc.

Wile I think that we're better off with some degree of copyright than none at all (though probably less than we've got now), I think that a world without copyright would be okay; not optimal, but okay.

I enjoy watch movies that were made on a $100 million dollar budget. They tend to be better than movies made on a $10,000 budget.

I think that what matters is the writing and the performance, not the budget. I saw the play version of Driving Miss Daisy before the movie came out. The play had three actors, and usually the third wasn't on stage. The set consisted of a couple of chairs and nothing else. The actor playing Hoke (the driver) had to hold his arms in front of him and pretend that he was steering the car. It worked fine, and everyone enjoyed it. The movie added real sets, real cars, location filming, a number of additional actors, and wa fine too, but it didn't need to. It would've been just as good had they filmed the black box stage performance, like the movie Dogville.

Also IIRC, there was a low budget (I mean really low budget: http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2008/12/19/star-wars-live-on-stage/ ) that went over well. While multi hundred million dollar movies with bad writing and bad acting like this year's The Lone Ranger, get to go directly to the trash. Big budgets are not necessary.

Comment Re:i don't get it (Score 1) 201

Well, I don't think that copyright infringement should be a crime; let it be a civil matter so that if copyright holders care, they can go to court, and if they don't care so much as to spend their own money on enforcement, the bill is not passed to taxpayers. A purely civil copyright system worked fine for a long time, as it did for trademarks, and still does afaik for patents.

(That said, if they were defrauding customers who thought they were getting legitimate copies, that might justify the involvement of law enforcement)

OTOH, I do think that commercial piracy of this sort ought to be illegal. Sure, there's plenty of currently infringing behavior that ought to be legalized, but this is too far. But I'm not surprised to see that copyright maximalism has gone so far as to sour many people on the whole idea, such that they call for the abolition of copyright, rather than simple reform. Had the publishing industries not acted greedily at every turn, they wouldn't have engendered so much opposition.

Comment Re:hopefully, it will be manufactured in the USA (Score 1) 185

what are you talking about? The federal government can't force states to engage in interstate commerce. All it can do is say that if interstate transactions occur, then they must comply with federal law. Good thing you aren't a lawyer, or maybe you are. That would explain much.

What the previous poster was talking about is called the Dormant (or Negative) Commerce Clause doctrine: That even in the absence of federal legislation regulating interstate commerce, the Constitution forbids states from improperly acting to impair or discriminate against interstate commerce, such as by trying to protect local businesses from out of state competition.

And in this case, a law that said that plates legal for use on cars registered in California must be made in California probably would be unconstitutional.

Comment Re:Lets talk legality (Score 2) 130

What should also be legal, is for publishers to say "you cannot sell my book for less than $X". Amazon can sell books for any price they like, down to $0, and the publisher cannot complain. Does that sound right to you? It means if a publisher irks Amazon, they can send book profits spiraling down.

No, it's fine. The publishers set a wholesale price they were happy with, and which they turned them a profit. Amazon paid it, then sold at a lower retail price than the publishers wanted. Ebook profits for publishers were never in jeopardy.

Comment Re:gamefly wins to lose (Score 1) 147

If you're in the US, yes.

The relevant part of 17 USC 109:

[T]he owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.

Of course, it might not be the best business plan. There aren't a lot of video rental stores left. But if you can make it work, go for it.

Comment Re:gamefly wins to lose (Score 1) 147

Well, in the US, at least, it's perfectly legal to rent ordinary retail DVDs. There are good reasons to go with a distributor, such as early access to copies so that they can be on shelves and ready to go ASAP, but if you're not getting prices lower than if you just got discs retail, and worse if you're locked into a requirements contract which precludes you from shopping around, I don't know if its worth it.

In any event, it seems to be a mostly moot point now.

Comment Re:posthumous copyright (Score 1) 344

Well why not go back to the old system of granting copyrights for a fixed term of years? Then the copyright lasts as long as it lasts, whether the author dies or not. This means that everyone knows when the work can be expected to be in the public domain straight away, and can plan for it; authors, publishers, and third parties all.

Comment Re:Oh for pete's sake (Score 1) 201

Well, this case is taking place in the UK, and I don't know anything about their law (other than that they have wigs, which seem neat). My analysis is more or less how it would work out in the US.

In the US, a derivative work is not the same thing as a compilation. (Although I suppose it is possible to have a compilation which is itself derivative of a preexisting compilation)

Here are the relevant bits of the statute:

17 USC 101

A âoecompilationâ is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term âoecompilationâ includes collective works.

A âoederivative workâ is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a âoederivative workâ.

17 USC 103

(a) The subject matter of copyright as specified by section 102 includes compilations and derivative works, but protection for a work employing preexisting material in which copyright subsists does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully.
(b) The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.

If the compiler has the right to make the compilations at all, which they apparently do (or is someone arguing that Ministry of Sound is itself a pirate?), then they'd automatically get a copyright on the compilation if the compilation meets the requirements for copyrightability, the main one for compilations typically being whether there was sufficient creativity in the selection and arrangement of the material compiled.

Now, it's possible that a condition for including a particular recording might be to assign the compilation copyright back to the licensor of the recording, so that they end up with the compilation copyright. But barring that, the law says that the copyright in the compilation automatically subsists in the author, i.e. the compiler. Permission is required to make the compilation, but that doesn't change the law.

Again, of course, that's how it would be in the US. In the UK, who knows?

Comment Re:Oh for pete's sake (Score 1) 201

No, in the US they have a good argument. The issue is whether there was sufficient creativity in the selection of which tracks to include, and which order to arrange them in, as to justify a copyright.

The white pages in a phone book could be copyrightable. But so long as the selection of information is merely the name of the telephone subscriber, their address, and their number, and the order is merely alphabetical, in last name order, it's not creative; all the white pages are like that, and the reason is to make them useful.

A phone book that only included certain people arbitrarily chosen by the compiler, and which arranged them in an arbitrary, creative way, could be protected. (The individual names, numbers, and addresses could still be copied; they're unprotectable facts, but they'd have to be rearranged, and ideally mixed with the information of people who were not included). But a phone book like this would be useless as a general purpose directory. A specialty directory, sure -- e.g. a phone book of places a tourist should see in a foreign city -- but this isn't usually what people want.

Here, unless the authorized compilation albums include everything (or everything that could be included subject to some non-creative constraint, such as all the recordings to which the issuer of the compilation has rights), and unless they're arranged in some uncreative order, such as chronological order, or alphabetical order, it sounds worthy of a copyright to me.

Comment Re:(c) grocery list (Score 2) 201

It also comes into play with "functional" items like relatively short blocks of computer code where there may be very little "flexibility" in how you code something. For example, if I come up with a 5-line sorting algorithm and describe it in text (not code) form, two readers may independently implement the algorithm in the same language, call the function "sort," and use "a, b, c, etc" or even "i, j, k, etc." as variable names, not do any comments, etc. and result in exactly the same implementation. Both have a copyright on the implementation, just as much as if they had named the variables after their children's pets and called the function "newsortireadinabooksomewhere()".

Assuming, that is, that it is copyrightable at all. This is the filtration step of the abstraction-filtration-comparison test from the Altai case. Copyrights don't protection functionality; only creative aspects of software. Actual usefulness has to go under patents instead. Thus, the algorithm used isn't copyrightable. If there are a limited number of ways to implement that algorithm, particularly if external constraints like efficiency are involved, the implementation merges with the noncopyrightable functionality, and both are uncopyrightable. Further, commonplace bits of code, especially if they're functionally necessary in order to make it work on a particular machine, fall under the scenes a faire doctrine, which allows the free use of stock elements (e.g. in a horror story, the wolves howling at the moon, the remote and spooky castle in Transylvania, the superstitious peasants who know what's going on, etc.).

Creativity for copyright purposes requires the ability to make creative choices. Strip away the ability to choose, and you lose the creativity required for a copyright to subsist.

Only once we've determined what is copyrightable in the first place, and whether the allegedly infringing work is substantively similar, can we then proceed to the question of copying or independent creation.

Comment Re:So the value of an ebook is $3? (Score 1) 135

But you know what the beauty is? If you think something isn't worth the price, you don't buy it. If enough people agree with you that it's overpriced, the price will go down.

And if even more people agree with you, you can modify copyright laws, impose price controls, and generally regulate the market. If authors think they're getting a raw deal, they can always wait tables. Of course it's unlikely authors will take their ball and go home; relatively few independent authors make a living solely from writing now -- lots of them have day jobs or rely on outside support. The money's nice to get, no question, but for many authors it is not the only reason to write and often not the most important reason.

Comment Re:Useless academic is useless. (Score 1) 462

It's worthwhile in the long run just to move heavy industry and mining off world. They're just not good things to do in our environment. It would take a long while and a lot of work to make it cost effective, but it's probably better that we do it instead of giving up right off the bat.

(Plus the more that we can make useful things in space, for use in space, without having to launch them from the Earth's surface, the lower the costs will be)

Comment Re:Is 'Fair Use' Unfair To Humans? (Score 1) 259

you know the reason it is only sometimes enforced or even pursued Justice is not Free in the USA. Some justice costs more then others depending on the lawyer or depending on how much money can be taken by said lawyer.

I take that to mean that you are upset that in the US, civil legal services are not provided free of cost to all parties that request them. And that instead, we have a system whereby if a party wants legal representation in a civil matter (which would generally be wise to have), they must find a way to pay for it, which or may not be difficult depending on the specific matter at hand, and the costs may vary considerably from one attorney to another.

I sympathize, but it's difficult to see a good solution to this.

Should we prohibit anyone from hiring legal counsel? Should the government subsidize lawyers in civil practice? Should lawyers be obligated to take any client that requests their services? (Currently, in the US, we don't have to as a general rule) Should we return to trial by combat, and build a series of municipal thunderdomes across the land?

The current system is far from ideal, but I don't know of any solutions that seem to be practical and which don't simply introduce new problems. If you've got an idea, please tell us.

Thomas Jefferson was a salve owner, hardly worthy of being quoted in this century as far as anything related to ownership.

Yes, I'm sure he owned many salves. Balms and ointments too. But the fact that he did some bad things does not invalidate his argument as made in the earlier post. You're actually making an ad hominem argument.

Your land argument is again Rubbish.

You've yet to say why.

The only people who can afford Copyright protection in the whole world is people with enough money to protect it.

This seems to be a tautology, but it doesn't seem out of place with the "rubbish" argument I was making earlier. I said that people have copyrights only to the extent that they can either personally defend them (which doesn't apply to published works, unless you start killing people) or can convince others to respect them and help in their defense. That some people might want to be paid before helping to defend them fits right in.

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