I see no Reason for granting a further Term now, which will not hold as well for granting it again and again, as often as the Old ones Expire; so that should this Bill pass, it will in Effect be establishing a perpetual Monopoly, a Thing deservedly odious in the Eye of the Law; it will be a great Cramp to Trade, a Discouragement to Learning, no Benefit to the Authors, but a general Tax on the Publick; and all this only to increase the private Gain of the Booksellers.
c.1735 letter to an MP, discussing the impending decision over whether or not to grant copyright holders who, up until 21 years prior, had effective permanent monopolies an extension. One bookseller still had works of Shakespeare copyrighted; Richard III was written in 1592, the law granting only 21 more years was established in 1710.
The entire reason copyright was ecked out to only have a limited term (even in our own constitution, written far after this) was a revolt against permanent intellectual property monopoly.
To keep extending it, generation after generation, is an affront not only to the following generations but to the very creative ability of the current generation who have been robbed of the opportunity to benefit from reasonable contributions to the Public Domain.
(note; the amazon link as the source is not a referral link)
Copyright should be shorter in duration, more balanced, more comprehensible, and normatively closer to what members of the public think that it means or should mean.
I’ve said it before - copyright registration should happen every four years, and cost $2^n to register, where n is the number of times it’s been renewed. This makes initial copyright nearly free, long-term copyright possible albeit expensive, and a much needed source of revenue for, say, patent oversight. This also reduces the number of orphaned works (as each time it’s renewed, the ownership status is confirmed). And by registering, with a full copy of the work, once it is out of copyright it can be made available digitally for free to anyone who wants it.
As an alternative, of course, to initiatives like Creative Commons - of which I am also a big fan.
The Supreme Court will soon hear a case that will affect whether you can sell your iPad — or almost anything else — without needing to get permission from a dozen “copyright holders.” Here are some things you might have recently done that will be rendered illegal if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision:
1. Sold your first-generation iPad on Craigslist to a willing buyer, even if you bought the iPad lawfully at the Apple Store.
2. Sold your dad’s used Omega watch on eBay to buy him a fancier (used or new) Rolex at a local jewelry store.
3. Sold an “import CD” of your favorite band that was only released abroad but legally purchased there. Ditto for a copy of a French or Spanish novel not released in the U.S.
4. Sold your house to a willing buyer, so long as you sell your house along with the fixtures manufactured in China, a chandelier made in Thailand or Paris, support beams produced in Canada that carry the imprint of a copyrighted logo, or a bricks or a marble countertop made in Italy with any copyrighted features or insignia.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Basis for the lawsuit and upcoming decision concerns this:
John Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher, sells expensive versions of the textbooks here and less expensive versions abroad. Supap Kirtsaeng, a foreign graduate student at University of Southern California, decided to help pay for his schooling by having relatives buy him copies of the foreign versions abroad, send them to him, whereupon he’d sell those books on eBay to willing students. He’d make money, the students would save money, but Wiley might have fewer sales of its pricey American versions. The case is styled Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons.
Sounds like market arbitrage to me. Globalization at work. Copyright law shouldn’t come into effect, imho.
The constitutional clause that enables our congress to enact copyright laws reads:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
It’s pretty arguable, given the graph of books available from Amazon’s warehouse grouped by year published, that current long-term copyright laws directly violate this clause - in fact, they work to dampen the progress of art.
How can we balance damage that extreme copyright terms do to the progress of art with financial incentives to generate said art? Obviously, most copyrighted material is only profitable at the very beginning of its term. We know more books were probably published in 1930 than in 1910. But the distinct availability of books from 1930 shows that most of them aren’t profitable now - they are out of print. Not only are they out of print, they are also still under copyright (of potentially unknown status) - so even if you wanted a copy, you would have to find a rare surviving copy. Is profitable art the only art worth preserving? I find that concept revolting. I would hope you do too.
So, long-term copyright is bad for works that do not continue to be profitable, by keeping them out of the public domain resource. By proxy, this is bad for the progress of art. But what about works of art that continue to be profitable decades, maybe even a century later? How do we allow for the same kinds of indefinite copyright we have now, while also allowing unprofitable works to fall into the public domain?
We could go back to the original copyright term. 14 years with an optional renewal for another 14 years. But that doesn’t cover Mickey Mouse (1928, Steamboat Willie). So Disney would hate that. It was great in 1790 when it was enacted, but it has no bearing on modern society.
What if we went a little radical with this, though? Especially now that we have computers to help us with some calculations. Let’s say after an initial 10 year time period, you could renew indefinitely every four years. Each time you renew, the cost is $2^n, where n is number of times you have renewed - first one is free. If, after 14 years, your work isn’t worth $2 to renew, it falls into public domain. After 18 years, $4. And so on: 22 - $8. 26 - $16. 30 - $32. 34 - $64. You see where this is going.
After 84 years, it would cost a little over $2,097,152 to renew the copyright on Steamboat Willie (and, by proxy, Mickey Mouse). I’m pretty certain Disney wouldn’t like that either, but they’d like it a lot better than no copyright at all. After all, I’m fairly certain Mickey Mouse is more profitable than $2 million dollars. But in 2016, that would go up to $4m. 2020, $8m. When cost to renew exceeds the profitability, the work falls into public domain.
And enriches all of our lives.
This would allow unprofitable works to fall into the public domain quicker. It enables us to know absolutely the copyright status and ownership of a particular work. It allows for out of print books/works of art/films/animated gifs to be profitable on the long tail (just like 19th century literature is). It balances the public good of creative works generation with the public destruction of indefinite copyright.
It enables everything to once again, legally, be a remix.
In other words, just to spell it out, the copyright lobby is spending millions and millions pushing for legislation that explicitly hides egregious crimes against children just so they can restrict freedom of speech and introduce censorship to protect their neomercantilistic monopolies. There are no words that meet my level of contempt for this.
Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party.
Top-ranking Obama administration officials, including the U.S. copyright czar, played an active role in secret negotiations between Hollywood, the recording industry and ISPs to disrupt internet access for users suspected of violating copyright law, according to internal White House e-mails.
It’s telling that there wasn’t a representative from the EFF to these negotiations.