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Comment Re:That's, for better or worse, for a court to dec (Score 1) 219

I found a reference for this:

Interestingly, Humphrey Carter, in Tolkien’s official biography, noted that while Tolkien was displeased with the Ace editions, they at least sported covers that resembled their stories; by contrast, Tolkien was distressed at the cover art for the Ballantine editions, to which he noted: “What has it got to do with the story? Where is this place? Why emus? And what is the thing in the foreground with pink bulbs?”

Ace’s editions were a commercial success, selling over 100,000 copies, which angered Tolkien and his publishers. They complained, and as early as May 1965, Tolkien began to urge the fans who wrote to him to inform them that the American copies were pirated: "I am now inserting in every note of acknowledgement to readers in the U.S.A. a brief note informing them that Ace Books is a pirate, and asking them to inform others."

Competition to the Ace copies arrived at the same time, as Ballantine Books released their own ‘authorized’ The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers in October and Return of the King in November of 1966. While Ace’s editions were priced at $0.75 against Ballantine’s $0.95, the tide began to turn as the negative publicity mounted.

It’s interesting to see that Tolkien utilized the fanbase that he so abhorred to fight back against the unauthorized editions. He was also correct: The incredible publicity that the row received, which pulled in efforts from the Science Fiction Writers of America, helped to grow the fervent readership for the tales from Middle Earth. It’s also ironic that while Tolkien had resisted so “ ‘degenerate a form’ as the paperback book,” it was in that format which they first appeared and grew in popularity within the United States.

Bookstores and fans began to boycott the unauthorized edition, and by February 1966, Tolkien reported in a letter that he had reached an agreement with Wollheim to receive some royalties from their publication run, and a promise that they would let the edition sell out, with no further print runs. Ace was under no legal obligation to agree to such a deal, but considerable pressure from their rival publishers and readers forced them to the table. By March, Ace announced that they had reached an agreement with the author, and their edition fell out of print.

Comment Re:Nice analysis, but... (Score 1) 219

I didn't say it would be easy to roll back copyright terms to a sane length. Any serious proposal to do so would be met with the full lobbying force of the entire content industry. Then again, so would any proposal to abolish copyright entirely. Perhaps we could propose abolishing copyright and then "settling" for copyright terms of 28 years?

Comment Re:Why Use Linux? (Score 1) 109

And often it depends on the person behind the keyboard. If you have two computers with the same level of security, the computer with the insecure user will get hacked before (and more frequently than) the computer with the more secure user. Unfortunately, user education can only take you so far.

Comment Re:That's, for better or worse, for a court to dec (Score 1) 219

And they would be if copyright was 14 years + a one-time optional 14 year extension. If this were still the length of copyright, everything from 1988 and earlier would be in the public domain. Everything from 2002 and earlier that wasn't renewed would be in the public domain as well.

Comment Re:Is that all (Score 1) 652

My oldest son has Autism and, after his diagnosis, I realized I have Autism also. I went through a short phase where I blamed myself for "giving" him Autism. I got over it, though, when I realized that I have no control over which genes I pass on to him. It was just luck of the draw. (My youngest son is neurotypical.)

Comment Re:Trump 2016! (Score 1) 652

If not vaccinating only affected the stupid people who didn't vaccinate, I'd agree with you. However, not vaccinating puts people at risk who either can't be vaccinated (due to age or illness) or whose vaccines didn't "take" (vaccines are 99% effective but there's 1% who get vaccinated and aren't protected). Usually, those who can't be vaccinated or whose vaccines didn't prove effective are protected by everyone whose vaccines are working. This is called herd immunity. But if more and more people choose not to vaccinate, they weaken herd immunity and the at risk groups who didn't have a choice in the matter can get sick or die.

Comment Re:That's, for better or worse, for a court to dec (Score 1) 219

That is a good point. Without copyright, not only would you compete against yourself when selling your own book, it would annihilate any control directly related follow on work -- movies, book sequels, etc.

And, just in case people somehow think that individuals or small businesses would prosper without any copyright, who would be the ones to quickly churn out a movie or book sequel based on an authors (instantly copyright-less) book? Big media companies. So I publish my novel (Shameless Plug: The title is "Ghost Thief"). MGM somehow gets wind of it and decides to do a movie based on my book. They don't consult me or compensate me. In fact, they mangle my work entirely. I might be able to sue them, but without copyright protection I'll be an individual bringing a flimsy case against a large media powerhouse's army of high priced attorneys.

On the flip side, if someone made a fan film from a "previously copyrighted" work done by a big media company, the big would likely still threaten a massive lawsuit unless the fan took down his work. The lawsuit threats might be unfounded, but they would be able to bully people into settling out of court and/or taking down their derivative works.

In short, a world without copyright would be one that the big companies exploited even more. What we need is copyright to stick around, but to be limited in term.

Comment Re:That's, for better or worse, for a court to dec (Score 4, Insightful) 219

Lets say we do away with copyright tomorrow and all of my novels have that creator endorsed marking on them. The big question is whether the book buying public would even care. My novel sells for $7.99 (paperback). Suppose HarperCollins decides to publish an edition of my book without my approval. Thanks to copyright going away, there is no legal recourse for me to tell them to stop or to compensate me. Being a bigger publishing house, they might be able to undercut me on price. Now, my $7.99 paperback has to contend with their $4.99 paperback edition. Plus, they are able to get their version of my book into all the bookstores while mine is still limited in scope. (My book is only available from Amazon at the moment.)

The big question is: Would the buying public care that my book has the "Creator Endorsed" logo on it or would they flock to the cheaper copy to save some cash?

As much as I'd like to say people would go with Creator Endorsed, I think they'd go with the saved cash and I'd wind up losing sales. (This is the only time when I'd call "lost sales" an actual thing since the person actually bought a copy of the book but did so from someone who was selling their own version without getting approval/providing compensation.)

Comment Re:That's, for better or worse, for a court to dec (Score 5, Insightful) 219

I don't think copyright is totally bad. For example, I recently published my first novel. Without copyright law, someone else could grab my novel and start printing/selling their own copies of it. I'd wind up competing with my own novel. Then there are issues of film studios being able to take anyone's work and make movies based off of it without compensating the author at all. I'd have to spend a lot of time and money filing lawsuits to make them stop and, without copyright law, I might not be successful.

The big problem with copyright law isn't its existence. It's the length. Copyright was originally 14 years plus a one-time 14 year extension. This isn't so bad. The novel I just published would have until 2044 (assuming I renewed the copyright) to make me money. Then, the book transfers to the public domain for others to build on it. Very few works still make money after 28 years - and I'd wager most of the ones that still do (like Star Wars) partly keep making money because of new material being added.

However, over the years, copyright terms lengthened until now it's 70 years after the author's death. If I die at age 90, my novel will be protected by copyright until 2135. At that point, my youngest son (now 9) would be 128 - and likely deceased. If my youngest son had a child at 30, his child would be 98 when my copyright ran out. I don't need copyrights on my works lasting until my great-great-great grandchildren are born. That's not giving me incentive to create new works. 14 years + 14 years would be plenty.

If copyright law was reset back to 14 years plus an optional one-time 14 year extension, a lot of the problems with copyright would go away.

Comment Re:Overstepping Constitutional authority (Score 1) 169

The corresponding legislative check on this is Congressional oversight, which is similarly broad.

As others pointed out, Congress also has oversight capabilities by controlling the budget. The President could call for an army of super-intelligent killbots and a thousand rockets to launch them across the world, but everything would be just plans on paper if Congress didn't approve the funding.

At times, you might not need specific funding - for example, drafting plans for "what would we do if a space weather event knocked out power across the US" and small actions might be able to be swallowed by an agency's existing budget, but where major funding is needed Congress acts as a check against the President's plans. (As it should be.)

Comment Re:Non removable battery FTW (Score 1) 150

Yes, at this point I think there's something else wrong with the tablet. Replacing the battery let me get my son's game data backed up. He's on the autism spectrum and playing video games is one of his coping mechanisms. When he first faced the prospect of losing all of his game data, he melted down badly. Now, I'm looking into the possibility of replacing his tablet with a Chromebook since I heard that some of them can run Android apps. This way, he can still have his Android-based games, but also use the Chromebook for schoolwork.

Comment Re:Which is the bigger crime? (Score 1) 212

You're right. The IRS doesn't do phone calls to individuals. They send certified mail instead. Which is leads to another good point. Even if I (somehow) temporarily forgot that the IRS doesn't call people and even if I didn't think to contact my accountant, I'd demand that "the IRS" send me paperwork detailing exactly what I owed and why. My guess is that the call center scammer "IRS agents" might resort to threats to intimidate me into paying, but wouldn't be able to follow up their call with realistic looking papers.

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