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Journal Journal: Eldred petition 1

I recieved a pointer to this petition from the openlaw site. It asks for copyrights to expire by default after 50 years unless renewed by the owner. This would allow abandoned works into the public domain without threatening the likes of Mickey Mouse -- so it hopefully won't be blocked by the MPAA lobby.

The Supreme Court's decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft told us we'd have to take our case to Congress to reclaim for public use the vast quantity of art and literature under copyright but out of print. The draft Public Domain Enhancement Act would help do that by requiring copyright holders to pay a nominal fee 50 years after publication.

Under this proposed Act, copyright holders still commercially exploiting their copyrights could retain those copyrights, and would update the records telling others where to contact them for licensing. Works that copyright holders didn't value at even $1, however, would go into the public domain -- where others might find new ways to use them.

We think this Act would restore some of the public's copyright balance. If you agree, please consider signing the petition:

--- petition: ---

To: Members of the United States Congress

We, the undersigned, while believing in the importance of copyright, also believe in the importance of the public domain. We believe the public domain is crucial to the spread of knowledge and culture, and crucial in assuring access to our past. We therefore write to petition you to reconsider major changes that you have made to the copyright system. These changes unnecessarily threaten the public domain without any corresponding benefit to copyright holders.

In 1998, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA). That Act extended the term of all existing copyrights by 20 years. But as Justice Breyer calculated, only 2% of the work copyrighted during the initial 20 years affected by this statute has any continuing commercial value at all. The balance has disappeared from the commercial marketplace, and, we fear, could disappear from our culture generally.

For example: The vast majority of film created during the 1920s and 1930s is not commercially available. Because of the CTEA, much of it remains under copyright. Yet because it is often impossible to track down the copyright owners for these films, commercial and noncommercial preservationist and distributors cannot safely restore and distribute these films. And because these films were made from nitrate-based stock, by the time the copyright to these films expire, most of them will have dissolved.

The same is true with many other copyrighted works that are no longer commercially available. Though the Internet could facilitate the distribution of this work if the copyright owners could be identified, the costs of locating these copyright owners is wildly prohibitive. Schools and libraries are thus denied access to works that otherwise could be made available at a very low cost.

Such burdens on access to work that has no continuing commercial value serves no legitimate copyright purpose. It certainly does not "promote the Progress of Science" as the Constitution requires. We therefore ask Congress to consider changes to the current regime that would free unused content from continued regulation, while respecting the rights of existing copyright owners.

One solution in particular that we ask Congress to consider is the Public Domain Enhancement Act. See This statute would require American copyright owners to pay a very low fee (for example, $1) fifty years after a copyrighted work was published. If the owner pays the fee, the copyright will continue for whatever duration Congress sets. But if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then we believe the work should pass into the public domain.

This legislation would strengthen the public domain without burdening copyright owners. It would also help clarify rights over copyrighted material, which in turn would enable reuse of that material. The law could thus help restore balance to the protection of copyright, and support the public domain.

We therefore call upon Congress to introduce this legislation, and to hold hearings on the benefits that it might have to reviving a vibrant public domain.

When technologists have given us a tool that could spread knowledge universally, we should not allow the law to get in the way. The law does so now. This Congress should change it.


The Undersigned

More information
Wendy Seltzer -- wendy at || wendy at Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School Chilling Effects:

User Journal

Journal Journal: MS defence: It's all your fault for listening to us

But a service pack is _WAY_ different then a hotfix/patch. .... So sure, you have to reboot, but that's the only excuse for not installing a patch right away... but months later?

OK: Let's me get this straight:

  • MS publishes their hotfixes with a warning that they may break things and you should only install them if you're having problems;
  • Sysadmins are at fault for not ignoring MSs warning and blindly installing all hot-fixes immediately
  • If you'd blindly installed all MS hotfixes, you might break earlier hotfixes
  • Service Packs are mostly just rolled-together hotfixes, but they are known to wilfully break things;
  • Despite MS warnings to the contrary, Service Packs need regression testing but hot fixes don't.

A hotfix (...) has never (to my knowledge at lest) changed anything.

  • The hot fix that would have blocked code red was undone by a later hot fix.
  • The hotfix that would have blocked slammer was at risk of being, itself, slammed by a later hotfix installed in the 'normal' way.
  • MS's own servers were broken by the slammer virus.

Just how much knowledge do you have, anyways?

Microsoft's defence appears to be a maze of conflicting suggestions and practices.

  • If you install their hotfixes, you're ignoring their warnings, and anything that goes wrong is your fault.
  • If you don't install their hotfixes, you're ignoring their offered help and anything that goes on is your fault.
  • Service Packs, while consisting of mostly previously released hotfixes, have undergone better regression testing but also contain (previously unreleased?) 'fixes' that may break software.
  • It's a bad idea to install Service Packs without testing them thoroughly yourself.
  • Even if the hotfixes fail your regression testing, not installing them means that you're pretty much on your own. Worse than that, you're probably in violation of MS's latest EULA by not immediately un-installing your software.
  • If you manage to wind your way through this dead-end rat's maze, Microsoft claims to be protected by the standard disclaimer in their EULA

Thank you for your cheque. $-)


Journal Journal: Echoes of Hitler

I wasn't using Hitler as an example because he was incredibly nasty. I was using him because World War II is a reasonably well known example. To learn from history, and to avoid repeating (aspects of) it, we must be willing to examine it, and use it as a template against which to compare current events. To refuse to examine current events in the context of historical events because of the atrocities that followed the relevant historical events is to lose the entire benefit of that part of our history.

The events of the day (Iraq, Afghanistan, N. Korea) being similar to some of the similar events in Germany's early wars of conquest is not a smoking gun indicating that Bush is (or is going going to be) as evil as Hitler. It is simply an 'interesting event'. Analogous to something that, in a forensic investigation, would flagged by a little paper evidence-tent. It is something that is possibly worth further investigation.

When Hitler was first elected, he seemed a fine enough fellow. At the time Hitler invaded his first couple of countries, the people of Germany did not know what he was about to do. He had convinced them that those first invasions were completely necessary and appropriate. By the time the invasions had gotten more questionable, dissent had been pretty much expunged under cover of war fervor. The first to go were the Jews, followed by the Gypsies, Communists, Homosexuals, anybody complaining about the extinction of the former groups and then pretty much anybody who didn't just shut up and do what the government told them to do. Examining the situation in hindsight, it's pretty obvious that Hitler was an evil crazed despot. In 1938, however, the only real hints available to most people would have been strange anomalies of word and action.. Being dismissive of transgressions by one group, but going ballistic at similar (or milder) transgressions by another (read: target) group.

Ignore, for a moment, the infamous nastiness of Hitler's actions subsequent to the invasions of Poland, etc. Consider, instead the process by which he took over Germany by feeding on their fears.

If the invasion of Afghanistan had stood on it's own -- If The US had worked to install a full democracy in the country and had quietly walked out afterwards, I would have thought little more about it. Instead, the precognitive rumblings about invading Afghanistan, the pending invasion of Iraq and the contextually anomalous treatment of N. Korea gnaw at me and worry me.

I doubt that the world could ever grow another short, dark-haired, mustached, swastika-saluting, Jew-hating warmonger, but we could easily grow a well-disguised analogy. Hitler was an echo of Napoleon. Napoleon was the echo of Robspierre and the terror of the French revolution. The echoes go back a long way, each one variably more or less evil than the previous. Each one variously both different from and similar to the others. No incarnation of evil will be precisely like the other, but if you listen carefully, you may hear the echoes of it's predecessors.

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