Six more years until Steamboat Willie
January 13, 2018 9:05 PM   Subscribe

 
The whole "the Internet will stop it!" take seems excessively optimistic. But the fact that the big content companies haven't started pushing it yet is somewhat more promising. Or it could just be that they don't see any need to spend the money on any grassroots stuff this time around. The Republican party will pass whatever it is paid to pass, and it's highly unlikely that the Dems would choose it as a hill to die (or filibuster) on, given where a good chunk of their own money comes from.
posted by tavella at 9:39 PM on January 13 [10 favorites]


This is the thing, right. Not every piece of content needs to be compensated for. This comment? Not even worth two god damn cents. But by writing it, I've got copyright on it automatically because that's what the Berne convention says that US law has to say. Which is pretty much the dumbest thing ever as far as expanding the public domain.

If I was dictator and wanted to reform copyright it would be registration mandatory, three months grace, pay a fee, fee goes up geometrically each year. If it's no longer economically viable and nobody wants to pay the fee, into the PD it goes. There's no longer any concept of orphan works (a HUGE problem in gaming archives) because the USPTO holds the registration paid up by somebody or it's in the PD. Compulsory licensing prior to registration being filed but have a retroactive registration period of 3 months. Content networks can link in to the USPTO, handle fee payments for their content creators, and register automatically.

There's no reason to have every stupid thing ever written by humanity copyrighted.
posted by Talez at 9:57 PM on January 13 [24 favorites]


I'm so excited that more things might be in the public domain!
posted by overglow at 10:02 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


> Talez:
"This is the thing, right. Not every piece of content needs to be compensated for. This comment? Not even worth two god damn cents. But by writing it, I've got copyright on it automatically because that's what the Berne convention says that US law has to say. Which is pretty much the dumbest thing ever as far as expanding the public domain.

If I was dictator and wanted to reform copyright it would be registration mandatory, three months grace, pay a fee, fee goes up geometrically each year. If it's no longer economically viable and nobody wants to pay the fee, into the PD it goes. There's no longer any concept of orphan works (a HUGE problem in gaming archives) because the USPTO holds the registration paid up by somebody or it's in the PD. Compulsory licensing prior to registration being filed but have a retroactive registration period of 3 months. Content networks can link in to the USPTO, handle fee payments for their content creators, and register automatically.

There's no reason to have every stupid thing ever written by humanity copyrighted."


See, I said this back in, ohhhh, thread number 3 or something. So, by posting this, you have violated my copyright. As such, we can settle out of court for 50% of your favorites, or my attorney, Big Guido, will be contacting you.
posted by Samizdata at 10:08 PM on January 13 [16 favorites]


If I was dictator and wanted to reform copyright it would be registration mandatory, three months grace, pay a fee, fee goes up geometrically each year.

Congratulations, you just told poor creators that they can go fuck themselves! The reason that we have automatic registration is because the vast majority of the people benefitting from copyright aren't wealthy corporations, and a system that requires manual registration benefits those corporations over creators.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:32 PM on January 13 [65 favorites]


Ugh the main link is white text on black background. I know right? Expired. This was such a debate in 1998 and now we are all ???.

The hottest Mickey Mouse IMHO is “Plane Crazy” (kinda rapey if you watch close) and I’m curious if it is included here but probably that’s a few years down the line.

We’ve really fallen far.
posted by notyou at 10:47 PM on January 13


How about this? PEOPLE'S copyrights are for life. They can sell it to a company anytime, up to disbursing it in a will.

Once an Artificial Legal Entity gets it, a 26 year clock starts. After that, Public Domain.

Seems to balance the needs of individual creators, The People who give out these copyrights in the first place, and companies, who can then exploit it for a generation, and then it's out there for everyone?
posted by mikelieman at 11:35 PM on January 13 [14 favorites]


Copyright is almost useless if you don't have money at the moment anyway, given the cost of defending it. I think a period of automatic copyright is generally okay, but I definitely thing people should have to pay to register for a period longer than e.g. 25 years. Heck, I wouldn't necessarily even be against perpetual copyright if the copyright holder paid something approaching the actual value they're removing from the public domain (like a minimum $XXXXX fee or %25 of revenue from the copyrighted work per 5 year extension, whichever is greater).
posted by Aleyn at 11:43 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


I have a different solution to copyrights and patents. Only human individuals may claim a copyright or patent, non-transferable, void on death. If that individual wishes to license to a corporation, that's fine, but once they die, that's it.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:44 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


it would be registration mandatory,

If you want to pare things down I’d rather try to define categories that would never get get copyright: prose commentary less than 1000 words? Text published in ephemeral media? Not easy to get it right, but at least you could tell what was PD without having to ask the registry.
posted by Segundus at 11:48 PM on January 13


Actually, the vox populi MIGHT have a say in this sort of thing. With the increasing amount of material being utilized under fair use, the growth of mashup culture, the abuse of DMCA takedowns, and the growth of open source and free courses/courseware from colleges, I might argue the average person is more aware of copyright (rightly or wrongly) than ever before.
posted by Samizdata at 12:02 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Only human individuals may claim a copyright or patent, non-transferable, void on death. If that individual wishes to license to a corporation, that's fine, but once they die, that's it.

So, if you toil away for years at something copyrightable to support your family, and you die soon after you finish, or before it's published, there is no copyright and anyone can publish it, leaving your family with nothing for the fruits of your labor?

And if it's acceptable for corporations to hold copyrights, there's nothing preventing the creation of family corporations that only exist to hold copyrights.
posted by ShooBoo at 12:15 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]


I think that yes, the general public has a much better understanding of copyright, and of copyright abuse than they did 20 years ago. Also, the GOP is in full culture-war mode, and copyright extensions are a handout for those liberal coastal elites. The Democrats have better things to worry about (although I suppose "better things to worry about" is not how they have historically decided legislative priorities).
posted by ckape at 12:20 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


The crux of the idea is that corporations are barred from holding either copyrights or patents, at all.

And the edge case you are proposing would be sad, but not as sad as allowing corporations to continue to abuse this system. Making room for individuals to continue to have access to copyright and patents is a compromise to eliminating them completely.

My scheme would provide for collaborations where the collaborators can choose one of them to claim the copyright, so if you're afraid of dying, collaborate with one of your children and name them lead author.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 12:21 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Maybe non-transferability and life terms aren't necessary. Let's make it as simple as possible. Under no circumstances should corporations ever be allowed to hold either copyright or patent claims. That's it. We can't have life-termed copyrights that way, but barring corporations is good enough.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 12:40 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


And while we're at it, ban corporations from lobbying Congress, cause that's the root of all evil. Laws don't matter when Congress is for sale.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 12:51 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Turns out even a song written in the 18th century might not yet be free of copyright problems. Pretty Polly's legal poser.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:24 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


With this government this seems wildly optimistic. After all the only major legislation they've managed to pass is a tax bill and give away to the 1% opposed by practically everyone but super rich assholes.

I-Write-Essays: "I have a different solution to copyrights and patents. Only human individuals may claim a copyright or patent, non-transferable, void on death. If that individual wishes to license to a corporation, that's fine, but once they die, that's it."

That's fine for individual works. How would that play out for works encompassing the work of hundreds of people like a movie?

Also it kind of strongly encourages crazy people and corporations to knock off copyright holders.

Personally I'd keep everything the way it is but roll back the period to 20ish years. Then I'd add a continuing progressive registration fee to prevent reversion to public domain. $100 for year 21; $200 for year 22; $400 for year 23; $800 for year 24; $1600 for year 25; etc. Somewhere around year 35 even Disney is being selective on what works to protect. I may consider a smaller ratio on the geometric progression.

This does a few things:
  1. it restores a relevant public domain.
  2. Practically all works enter the public domain while still culturally relevant
  3. Those that don't fund the system and even they become public domain much faster
  4. Drastically reduces the orphaned work problem by curtailing the default period to something reasonable
Yes a tiny, microscopic number of works that currently only make money (and not in the hollywood sense) in year 20+ wouldn't compensate their creators. On the other hand the public domain would enrich many more creators.

PS: I'm really surprised more creators don't name their children and grandchildren as co-creators. Name a 2 year old today as the co-creator of a work and the work can realistically not enter the public domain until 2170. If they are lucky enough to be a centenarian? 2200.
posted by Mitheral at 3:42 AM on January 14 [12 favorites]


How about this? PEOPLE'S copyrights are for life. They can sell it to a company anytime, up to disbursing it in a will.

Once an Artificial Legal Entity gets it, a 26 year clock starts. After that, Public Domain.


Plenty of "people," especially if they are independent content creators, conduct their business via an "Artificial Legal Entity," such as an LLC or S-corporation, because of the legal protections they afford, so I don't think making that distinction would be helpful.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 4:29 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


but once they die, that's it

Corporations would jump so fast on lobby for redefining Death™, Disney would Resurrect Spontaneously™.
posted by filtergik at 4:30 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I'm really surprised more creators don't name their children and grandchildren as co-creators.

Huh. This seems like such an obvious loophole. Surely someone has thought of this, though I can't imagine how you'd draft that law.
I suppose one argument against it would be Brian Herbert's dune books, not that it's stopped him much.

Hmm, in fact copyright against continuing universes is a complicated issue isn't it?
Like if copyright on Original Series Startrek expires does that mean I can do my own Next Generation story (using original ships and characters and do on, but in the same universe?)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:43 AM on January 14


Just to point out a further misfit between copyright and reality - all the above only refers to US law. In the EU, it's basically life of the creator plus seventy years, so stuff created by people who died before 1948 should be in the public domain (I think that means that Doctor Dolittle will see you now - Hugh Lofting having died in September 1947). Movies are messier, as there are a group of people who are considered creators, so the director's copyright can lapse before the screenwriter's.

Differing copyright regimes by region makes little sense with the Internet. Which means, in effect, that public domain works are frequently unavailable by services who fear that their availability in more restrictive areas will result in legal action.
posted by Devonian at 4:43 AM on January 14


My scheme would provide for collaborations where the collaborators can choose one of them to claim the copyright, so if you're afraid of dying, collaborate with one of your children and name them lead author.

I don't know about you, but I consider almost daily that today could be it for me. Maybe I'm just morbid. But death isn't something most of us get to schedule to work around our copyright concerns.

Some of us creative types haven't bothered to reproduce. We have no children, let alone grandchildren, to nudge nudge, wink wink claim as collaborators. Not that there's any reason a court should allow a two-year-old to be considered a co-creator. Or what if we do have children, but they've all gone into swimming pool construction and don't want to collaborate on the next Great American Novel? And for anything we create after we marry, why shouldn't our surviving spouse have the financial benefits of our work? I'm all for opening up the public domain, and I'll believe The Mouse has gone benign on this point when I see it, but let creatives provide for themselves and whatever sort of immediate families they may have.
posted by bryon at 5:12 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


So, if you toil away for years at something copyrightable to support your family, and you die soon after you finish, or before it's published, there is no copyright and anyone can publish it, leaving your family with nothing for the fruits of your labor?

I really don't see the problem with this - the "what about the family?" argument always seems flawed. Why do we assume creative work in particular needs to make money for people other than the creator, even after they're dead?
posted by Drexen at 5:18 AM on January 14 [18 favorites]


Corporations would jump so fast on lobby for redefining Death™, Disney would Resurrect Spontaneously™.

Why else would they have kept his head on ice so long?
posted by radwolf76 at 6:02 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


And I was thinking that, with the public getting cynical about the 20-year-copyright-extension-every-20-years pattern, they'd quietly find some way to make copyright perpetual, perhaps by leveraging the idea that it is now “intellectual property”, and it is un-American to confiscate somebody's property for the “common good”. Perhaps that'd be enough to get around Constitutional stipulations about copyright being a limited monopoly, or perhaps they'd need to come up with some piece of sophistry that makes this not technically violate that (who was it that suggested that copyright terms be set at “forever minus one day”?)
posted by acb at 6:03 AM on January 14


This makes me think there’s some super shitty DRM policy play about to be made.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:26 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


If that individual wishes to license to a corporation, that's fine, but once they die, that's it.

And in the special clinic deep under DisneyMultiVerse(tm) tens of thousands of "living" copyright holders will live in perpetuity hooked to the most advanced pumps and medical devices.
posted by sammyo at 6:31 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I really don't see the problem with this - the "what about the family?" argument always seems flawed. Why do we assume creative work in particular needs to make money for people other than the creator, even after they're dead?

If I spend ten years of my life working to build up a small business, my family can keep it running or sell it after I die and benefit from my effort. But if I spend ten years writing a novel in my spare time and then die just as it’s published then get nothing? Seems less than optimal. Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that no one in my family has any spare money, and that scenario could really harm us.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:43 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]


Plenty of "people," especially if they are independent content creators, conduct their business via an "Artificial Legal Entity," such as an LLC or S-corporation, because of the legal protections they afford, so I don't think making that distinction would be helpful.

That's not a problem. The Artificial Legal Entity gets 26 years. But I'm having trouble conceiving of a situation where the CREATOR ( a person ) would need to transfer their copyright to their LLC. They can just license it.


Or, and if you work for a COMPANY, and you create something. or Hire creatives, You get 26 years to exclusively profit from it.

The goal here is to compensate CREATORS, not COMPANIES and end the issue of copyrights being long enough to render the Public Domain a laughable joke.

But I am behind an amendement saying, "If you don't have a vote, you don't get a voice".
posted by mikelieman at 6:48 AM on January 14


Congratulations, you just told poor creators that they can go fuck themselves! The reason that we have automatic registration is because the vast majority of the people benefitting from copyright aren't wealthy corporations, and a system that requires manual registration benefits those corporations over creators.

The first few years would be a token fee like a dollar, then two dollars, then three, then five. Then you include retroactive registration so that if a work does catch on fire and goes viral you can register the copyright and sell it.

Right now, everything being a de facto orphan work just turns copyright into a trap.
posted by Talez at 7:09 AM on January 14


But instant registration means that I can be (more) confident that my youtube channel won't be co-opted by someone without my consent. If I produce a video per week (not a very fast pace) the cost to actively copyright the content will escalate very quickly even at one or two dollars per video per year. $50 the first year, $150 the second, $300 the third, $500 the fourth, etc. for a hobbyist that is a meaningful amount of money.

Effectively you'd be forcing creators like me pick and choose which copyrights we want to preserve. If, by chance, a video I thought wasn't very good catches fire, I'm screwed out of my money.

The problem of what is copyrighted is different from the problem of length of copy protection. Amending the former to fight the latter is going to lead to unintended consequences. (Note the number of objections popping up in casual consideration just in this thread.)
posted by oddman at 7:23 AM on January 14 [8 favorites]


Would it even be such a big deal for Disney if “Steamboat Willie” fell off a cliff? My understanding is that the old Disney shorts that nobody but film historians watch would be in the public domain, but Disney would retain trademark rights to the Mickey Mouse character, ensuring their continued monopoly on merchandise and works featuring the character.
posted by chrchr at 7:43 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


IMHO the public's "increased understanding" of copyright amounts to little more than "it is a weapon wielded by the evil RIAA/MPAA/Disney/RobinThicke" and "it suppresses remix culture." I'm happy that the term likely won't be extended - it is far, far too long - but its value for independent artists and content creators viz being exploited by large corps, media outlets, advertisers and other unscrupulous artists cannot be overstated.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:43 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]


but its value for independent artists and content creators viz being exploited by large corps, media outlets, advertisers and other unscrupulous artists cannot be overstated.

Yep - there's been a (in my opinion rather intentional) campaign to mislead the public about exactly what copyright does and who benefits from it. When people tell me "well, tech companies like Google think copyright is bad," I want to shake them by the shoulders while saying "Yes, a multi-billion dollar corporation primarily in the business of content distribution is opposed to copyright. Why do you think that is?"
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:58 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


but once they die, that's it.

... Some patents are worth murder. Why'd we bring the disaster that the patent system is into the conversation about the disaster that the copyright system is?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:46 AM on January 14


Also it kind of strongly encourages crazy people and corporations to knock off copyright holders.

Unlikely to be a problem in real life, I think. Could be the premise for an interesting new mystery novel, though ...
posted by Paul Slade at 10:02 AM on January 14


Now that it’s clear that industry and manufacturing is bust in the states but IP is still viable, well it’s only a couple of decades too late to make copyright law sane, navagable, or useful to anyone who isn’t already rich. Oh well. We’ll probably get em next cycle when the economy shifts towards organ farming.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:27 AM on January 14


Copyright *is* useful to people who aren't rich. A nobody songwriter who belongs to a PRO like ASCAP and gets a song placed on a show will see income - sometimes substantial income - because of copyright. YouTubers can monetize their content with minimal fear of rebroadcasting bots because of copyright. It is a tool that *literally anyone* can use to protect their creations.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:35 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


Effectively you'd be forcing creators like me pick and choose which copyrights we want to preserve. If, by chance, a video I thought wasn't very good catches fire, I'm screwed out of my money.

Yes. That's why you have compulsory licensing prior to copyright filing and the ability to file up to half a year past the publication date. The people using your content don't get slapped with a retroactive copyright suit but they're forced to pay something if it does catch on fire and you file for the copyright.
posted by Talez at 11:03 AM on January 14


Yes. That's why you have compulsory licensing prior to copyright filing and the ability to file up to half a year past the publication date. The people using your content don't get slapped with a retroactive copyright suit but they're forced to pay something if it does catch on fire and you file for the copyright.

Again, as people are pointing out, this would still fuck over poor creators. You seem a lot more worried for the people who would use the work in their own over the original creator.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:15 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Now that it’s clear that industry and manufacturing is bust in the states but IP is still viable, well it’s only a couple of decades too late to make copyright law sane, navagable, or useful to anyone who isn’t already rich.

This is a perfect example of the sort of copyright misinformation that we see. As grumpybear69 pointed out. copyright does in fact serve creators of all economic levels, and allows them to deal with more wealthy groups in a more fair manner. And yet we have people who believe that copyright is a tool only used by the wealthy - a belief pushed in good part by a multi-billion dollar corporation that specializes in content distribution (and would benefit significantly from copyright being weakened, because it would mean they could pay less for the content they distribute.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:23 AM on January 14


The first few years would be a token fee like a dollar, then two dollars, then three, then five

Following a Fibonacci series then?
posted by acb at 11:29 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Well, right now copyright IS a tool that primarily benefits some content distribution companies over others. What's the term now? Life plus 50-90 years depending on jurisdiction? That's insane.

The terms need to be drastically limited.
posted by jonnay at 12:07 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


chrchr: "Would it even be such a big deal for Disney if “Steamboat Willie” fell off a cliff? My understanding is that the old Disney shorts that nobody but film historians watch would be in the public domain, but Disney would retain trademark rights to the Mickey Mouse character, ensuring their continued monopoly on merchandise and works featuring the character."

Steamboat Willie isn't a problem; Disney is probably more worried about crap like Song of the South.
posted by Mitheral at 12:17 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Copyright holders need some sort of automatic protection that lasts for a reasonable period (say, 25 years, or so). Beyond that, copyright should only extend to registered works that pay a (significant) fee and even that should sunset after, say, 75 years from creation. The status quo of virtually unlimited copyright is nuts and stifles the creative arts, and by extension industry at large, in untold numbers of ways.

Unfortunately, the status quo advantages existing owners of copyrighted works, who are able to effectively capture the lawmakers to side with their interests.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:44 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


I make a scant living as a writer. I would be happy with the old system of 28 years plus an optional 28-year extension.

But you people spitballing smaller periods or exponential fees, you know, what is wrong with you? I guarantee I make less than you. Going out to eat is a fucking luxury. But somehow you're intent on ending my income and squeezing me for fees.

Tell you what, whatever the hell your job is, let's make it so no one pays you a dime for it.
posted by zompist at 1:00 PM on January 14 [16 favorites]


Really, the problem is not copyright law. The problem is that no matter what the law is, as long as money buys policy, policy will inevitably drift to disproportionately favor moneyed interests. There's no point daydreaming about alternate policies as long as this remains the case. And the kicker is that money buying policy is itself a policy that isn't going to change while it remains a policy.

The voting system doesn't appear to be an effective check on the power of campaign finance and corporate lobby.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:29 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I don't get the point of dropping automatic registration. It just makes it easier to fuck up, NoTLD style, and fees for extension seem to emphasize the worst parts of IP. The public domain isn't for the things that the creator cared the least about or couldn't afford to hold on to - it's for everything in due time. When I think about what copyright is good for and bad for it seems straightforward enough that everything should be protected automatically and equally, for a fixed term - life, or somewhere in the vicinity of seventy years total seems plenty fair.
posted by atoxyl at 1:44 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


To begin with, it's too easy to sway public opinion if your advertising budget is big enough. But it certainly doesn't end there.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:44 PM on January 14


(To which I'd add a substantially wider definition of fair use, you know, if it were up to me!)
posted by atoxyl at 1:46 PM on January 14


Even if you can come up with a fair way to reform copyright law that takes away the power of media giants to suck up all the intellectual property, without eliminating the ability of independent writers to make money, and convince congress to debate on it, the proposal will be perverted when policymakers ask their captains of industry to draft legislation to implement it.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:51 PM on January 14


I think zompist is right to point out that a lot of the folks who need copyright protection are making absurdly small amounts of money off of it.

I'm a playwright. A play takes me about a year or two to write. I've been produced, but there often is a huge span of time (multiple years) from the first public reading of a play and the first production. If there's a copyright model where I have to pay increasing amounts of money each year, I'm in a terrible spot financially.

I get wanting shorter terms and to break up the stranglehold on the public domain by major level corporations. But a lot of us are using copyright to protect incredibly tiny incomes, so there has to be a solution that doesn't give Disney everything it wants in perpetuity and protects the majority of the artists on the fringes.

The other thing is for a lot of folks in the creation industry -- it isn't only about money. In my field, a lot of the rights cases aren't about theatres doing unlicensed productions (though that definitely happens), but when theatres are doing productions that violate the intent of the work. For example, a production of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop about had a white actor playing Martin Luther King Jr.. She found out about it after the show closed so she couldn't take action on that specific production. However, she now has a clause in her rights agreement that both characters must be played by black actors. I also know of multiple cases where entire songs or characters have been cut from productions. Getting the work done as intended sometimes means just as much as the payment for the work, partly because the payment is so small.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 1:53 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


If I ever met Bill Clinton, I'd consider punching him in the face for signing the second extension into law, but he'd probably turn into the Hulk.
posted by BiggerJ at 4:57 PM on January 14


This comment ©benzenedream and Henrietta Lacks
posted by benzenedream at 5:18 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


> sammyo:
"If that individual wishes to license to a corporation, that's fine, but once they die, that's it.

And in the special clinic deep under DisneyMultiVerse(tm) tens of thousands of "living" copyright holders will live in perpetuity hooked to the most advanced pumps and medical devices."


Look, they don't have to do that. If you're not Sheeple, you KNOW Disney has mastered cloning...
posted by Samizdata at 7:01 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


> grumpybear69:
"IMHO the public's "increased understanding" of copyright amounts to little more than "it is a weapon wielded by the evil RIAA/MPAA/Disney/RobinThicke" and "it suppresses remix culture." I'm happy that the term likely won't be extended - it is far, far too long - but its value for independent artists and content creators viz being exploited by large corps, media outlets, advertisers and other unscrupulous artists cannot be overstated."

Yeah, but it is an improvement over where it was not very long ago. Every change takes time, just like it appears copyright reform is.
posted by Samizdata at 7:03 PM on January 14


> NoxAeternum:
"Yes. That's why you have compulsory licensing prior to copyright filing and the ability to file up to half a year past the publication date. The people using your content don't get slapped with a retroactive copyright suit but they're forced to pay something if it does catch on fire and you file for the copyright.

Again, as people are pointing out, this would still fuck over poor creators. You seem a lot more worried for the people who would use the work in their own over the original creator."


And you completely forget the worst impact on small/poor creators corporations don't have - The coffers to be able to fund IP violation lawsuits.
posted by Samizdata at 7:05 PM on January 14


> zompist:
"I make a scant living as a writer. I would be happy with the old system of 28 years plus an optional 28-year extension.

But you people spitballing smaller periods or exponential fees, you know, what is wrong with you? I guarantee I make less than you. Going out to eat is a fucking luxury. But somehow you're intent on ending my income and squeezing me for fees.

Tell you what, whatever the hell your job is, let's make it so no one pays you a dime for it."


Bring it on (on the salary challenge). #NotAllPoorPeople
posted by Samizdata at 7:06 PM on January 14


So, by posting this, you have violated my copyright. As such, we can settle out of court for 50% of your favorites, or my attorney, Big Guido, will be contacting you.

Listen, pal, I'm only favoriting this comment because I can't afford the court fees and also where the hell do you find so many lawyers in that resemble refrigerators, anyway?

I'm really surprised more creators don't name their children and grandchildren as co-creators.

What, and like, just give them a cut? Are you out of your mind, commie?


Anyway, regardless of what happens, the sooner a lot of these sacred pop culture copyright holds expire the better.

What I'm saying is the world direly needs bizarro exploitation flicks that lampoon the dickens (DickensTM?) out of corporate culture icons like Disney if only to make them deeply uncomfortable.
posted by loquacious at 7:21 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


(To which I'd add a substantially wider definition of fair use, you know, if it were up to me!)

I've always liked the late Kim Thompson's rule of thumb on fair use: "Don't be a dick".
posted by Paul Slade at 4:25 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


But you people spitballing smaller periods or exponential fees, you know, what is wrong with you? I guarantee I make less than you.

Maybe, just maybe the problem isn't us? How many 28+ yearold works do you make money from?

Every day mountains of our collective culture rots away because Warner Brothers, or Disney or whoever doesn't want a 0.1% of it to enter into the public domain.

Hopefully we find a better way to put food on a creatives table.
posted by jonnay at 6:13 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Steamboat Willie isn't a problem; Disney is probably more worried about crap like Song of the South.

AKA. What the hell is "Splash Mountain" and why are we here?
posted by mikelieman at 7:30 AM on January 15


Look, they don't have to do that. If you're not Sheeple, you KNOW Disney has mastered cloning...

Cloning is too messy. Disney bought the rights to LMDs recently ( Life Model Decoys. AKA "Animatronics" )
posted by mikelieman at 7:36 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


To maybe help some of you visualize this a little better, let’s take this to the realm of basement woodworking. You’re good with tools and like to make cabinets. You keep your awards and wedding photos and children’s toys and family photos on them. In Scenario One, a couple of guys from the government show up. “You made four of those cabinets 28 years ago. You’ve had them long enough, so we’ll be taking them now. We’ll give them to anyone who wants them. They can do whatever they want to with them and even sell them after that. They can invite people from the neighborhood to keep stuff on the shelves. They can leave them outside in all kinds of weather. Doesn’t matter. You’ve gotten your use out of them. That’s it.”

In Scenario Two, you finish one of your cabinets and fall down dead. A couple of guys from the government show up the next day to talk to your survivors. “Our condolences. He obviously has no use for any of those cabinets anymore, so we’ll be taking them now. Etc.”

Like all metaphors, this one isn’t perfect, and we can take that as read. But can you see the least bit better now the points some of us are making? These things we create are ours. We put our blood, our sweat, our tears, our creativity into them. We don’t see that we’re being unreasonable when we insist on controlling them for however long we live, and allowing our next of kin to do so for a while after we’re gone. This is our legacy. This is the important work we did on Earth. Don’t dismiss it so readily, and don’t punish us for Disney’s sins.
posted by bryon at 8:17 AM on January 15


While we're in the realm of bad metaphors, how about this one:

Scenario Three: You just got done making those cabinets, but some guy from the government show up and tell you you've violated Disney's copyright on cabinetmaking. They take your cabinets, and force you to pay Disney all your money. When you plead that cabinetmaking isn't even a valid thing to copyright, they tell you to hire a lawyer and deal with it in court. Of course, you no longer have any money, and Disney's lawyers are look on eagerly from the government guy's limo as they drink cocktails.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 8:34 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Scenario Four: You invent cabinets. You license the design to Oracle. They make a cabinet, and then their automated drones notice you have cabinets in your house, and cabinets exist in Oracle's inventory, so they blow up your house for violating Oracle's copyright. When you protest, the government doesn't care, and Oracle refuses to acknowledge there's any error with their automated drones. No, you can't see the code.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 8:51 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


> mikelieman:
"Look, they don't have to do that. If you're not Sheeple, you KNOW Disney has mastered cloning...

Cloning is too messy. Disney bought the rights to LMDs recently ( Life Model Decoys. AKA "Animatronics" )"


Don't think that will work well. Despite your opinion of him, did you see the Trump one?
posted by Samizdata at 8:51 AM on January 15


bryon The thing is, your metaphors are flawed because copyright isn't about the government taking anything away, it's about the government giving you something.

The government agrees to expend resources criminalizing people who make copies of your work without your permission **for a limited time** because that's how you can make money off your creativity.

The thing is though, creativity feeds on what went before. Disney, to pick an example, is most famous for the stuff it adapted from public domain works (Snow White, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, the list goes on and on and on).

There's value in things entering the public domain after a while so that creative people can chew them up and make good use of them again.

To serve that interest the government doesn't take anything from you at all. It simply stops deciding to expend resources making it a crime to produce unlicensed copies of your work.

From a practical standpoint, there's also the question of whether its worth the effort to enforce copyright and try to track down pirates on older stuff.

You can make a legitimate argument for eternal copyright, but I think only if that includes the provision that the work in question be available for sale at a price comparable to similar works and that the copyright ownership be clear and unquestioned. Otherwise copyright acts like a tool of censorship (see, for example, Disney's use of copyright to try and bury Song of the South).

I'm thinking in part of the horrible mess of copyright with regards to computer games here. There's a lot of material out there that is no longer legally available to purchase anywhere, the actual ownership is either literally unknowable or totally muddled beyond any comprehension, and legally speaking the work is just fading away and there's nothing anyone can do (legally) to save it.

Maybe I'm just weird. Pretty much everything I've ever created has either been the property of someone else (my employers when I was coding) or I've released anonymously and have no interest in even trying to monetize. Seeing what I've created as a legacy I demand legal protection for seems strange to me.
posted by sotonohito at 5:18 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]


sotonohito: I like the idea of an intellectual property tax which increases over time, where works enter the public domain on failure to pay. Let Disney pay to keep their hits locked up forever but it’d free up a ton of back-catalog which isn’t commercially significant and the need to pay annually would ensure that every work has current contact information.
posted by adamsc at 6:14 PM on January 15


The central flaw with your metaphor is that a cabinet is a thing that requires skill, plans and materials to duplicate.

Books, songs, art, software and media in general are relatively painless to duplicate. This is because they are more than their physical item. they are primarily their ideas. In some cases it is the actual object that holds the value (the Mona Lisa) but most of the time it's the content "inside" (Jonnay's massive acid techno banger, your latest book.)

You say the things you make are done with your own blood sweat and tears, but no man is an island. You didn't just come up with the ideas on your own. You were influenced and shaped, likely unconsciously, by the culture you grew up in.

If you want the things you make to be yours all yours then the only surest way to go is to never share it.

(That said, I wonder if there is a market for a bespoke novel...? How cool would that be.)
posted by jonnay at 6:35 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


You were influenced and shaped, likely unconsciously, by the culture you grew up in.

So was everyone else in the culture, but I don't see you crusading to take their income away.

Yes, writing books is a little different from being paid a salary. The actual work is done in our garrets, completely unpaid for however many years it takes. So a system has been devised where people can pay for copies of our books (or songs or plays). We get to eat, and you get to pay something if you want a copy of your own, just like when you buy anything else. There are even libraries if you wish to completely, totally avoid the danger of giving the author money.

Warner Brothers, or Disney

Maybe if your problem is with large corporations, work for a law that restrains large corporations, rather than taking it out on small creators.
posted by zompist at 9:54 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]


Books, songs, art, software and media in general are relatively painless to duplicate. This is because they are more than their physical item. they are primarily their ideas.

And creating that work (and no, it is not an idea, and this equation of creative labor with ideas is a load of bullshit that needs to be beat down every time it rears its ugly head) is labor - genuine hard work and effort put in by the creator to bring their work to fruition. Creating copies may be "effortless", but creating the master took real, genuine effort. And to dismiss that effort would require a rationalization...

You say the things you make are done with your own blood sweat and tears, but no man is an island. You didn't just come up with the ideas on your own. You were influenced and shaped, likely unconsciously, by the culture you grew up in.

And there it is. See, the creative labor of creators isn't theirs, they're just standing on the shoulders of giants, and as such, they don't really have a claim to the fruits of their labor.

Let's be blunt - this is a lack of respect for creative labor. If there was actual respect for it, creative labor wouldn't be equated with ideas, because there would be an understanding of how different the two are, and how much effort goes into the former.

Maybe if your problem is with large corporations, work for a law that restrains large corporations, rather than taking it out on small creators.

One of the things I've repeatedly seen with anti-copyright arguments is that much of them are at their heart anti-corporate arguments - and when you pull them out of that context, they fall apart because the lack of respect for creative labor become readily apparent.

Also while we're on the topic of big corporations (and this is a point I've made a few times above and have seen little response to), the anti-copyright movement gets a good deal of support from Google - a multibillion dollar corporation that is primarily in the buisiness of content distribution, and not creation. Weakening copyright benefits their bottom line, because the content they distribute they have to pay for - and weak copyright means they get to pay less.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:38 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Maybe I'm just weird. Pretty much everything I've ever created has either been the property of someone else (my employers when I was coding) or I've released anonymously and have no interest in even trying to monetize. Seeing what I've created as a legacy I demand legal protection for seems strange to me.

This POV - the "I'm not trying to make a living from my art, so why should anyone else" refrain - drives me up a wall. It isn't uncommon, and usually is presented as an ethical justification for an anti-copyright stance. The thing is, all it represents is a personal choice - a choice you would not have if there were no protections for creative works. It is, IMHO, a morally neutral decision to give away your creations for free - I've done that, and I've also sold stuff and licensed it for television. Having those options, thanks to copyright, allows me to make the most effective choice vis expanding the reach of my art and/or extracting value from it.

Especially and particularly because tying my art to a physical medium (like a record or CD) is no longer an effective monetization strategy, it is critical that creators retain exclusive replication and distribution rights for a period of time. And while very strong arguments can be made that iconic cultural artifacts like Mickey Mouse which have been under copyright for close to a century should be released into the public domain as a matter of public good, the same argument cannot be made for Jonnay's Massive Acid Techno Banger, the cultural weight of which is zero. The value of JMATB is clearly weighted in favor of Jonnay, for whom there is potential value to be extracted from the labor expended in its creation which has yet to be monetized (unlike a contractor who is paid upon completion of a project), vs the public who could GAF about JMATB and to whom the absence of said project would have no impact whatsoever.

For tangible goods, the value is determined by the price at the time of sale. For intangible goods, the value is determined by the amount of revenue that can be generated over the lifetime of the copyright. Without copyright, intangible goods have no value, and by extension neither do the people who create them.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:24 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


And just to be clear, economic value and cultural weight are distinct metrics, and only a tiny sliver of a fraction of creative works - such as Mickey Mouse or The Joshua Tree - have any cultural weight. Lots and lots of works you've never heard of and don't care about have economic value, though - like the cues I wrote for Bad Girls Club and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There are so many cues like those - hundreds of thousands, by tens of thousands of composers - sitting in libraries, waiting to be placed so they can generate some revenue. See also: stock photos, stock footage, clip art. This is a valid and useful mechanism to enable the material participation of artists in the economy that is not based on patronage or work-for-hire and which does no harm to anyone.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:57 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


grumpybear69 This POV - the "I'm not trying to make a living from my art, so why should anyone else" refrain - drives me up a wall. I'm not arguing against copyright, merely arguing against eternal copyright, nor was that my viewpoint. I was merely saying that due to my own lived experience I didn't get the visceral **MINE!!!!** reaction that some people on the thread were expressing. Some comments seemed less focused on the economic argument you're making and more focused on a hatred of the concept of their stuff ever hitting the public domain even long after they'd died.

Tell me, what's your ideal copyright setup? Eternal? Just 100 or 200 years? Life of creator + X years? Something else?

How would you like to see things like old games, where the copyright situation is so muddled that it isn't economically worth it for anyone to buy the lawyer time to figure out who actually owns the rights and buy them up to sell the games legally, settled? I'm assuming you don't prefer a setup where we are forced by law to just let them vanish into entropy.

What about Disney's use of copyright to flush things they find embarrassing (Song of the South, for example) down the memory hole? To me that seems like an inherently illegitimate use of copyright, they aren't profiting from the work they are suppressing which completely undermines the economic argument for copyright. Do you think I'm wrong on that?
posted by sotonohito at 8:52 AM on January 16


Tell me, what's your ideal copyright setup? Eternal? Just 100 or 200 years? Life of creator + X years? Something else?

20-30 years feels reasonable to me.

What about Disney's use of copyright to flush things they find embarrassing (Song of the South, for example) down the memory hole? To me that seems like an inherently illegitimate use of copyright, they aren't profiting from the work they are suppressing which completely undermines the economic argument for copyright. Do you think I'm wrong on that?

I mean, presumably they're suppressing it because of the negative economic impact it would have on them if they didn't. But copyright by nature exclusive, so it is their prerogative for the term of the copyright, after which it will become public domain. So, no, I don't think it is an illegitimate exercise of copyright, though clearly it (legitimately) angers people because it (temporarily) obfuscates Disney's racist history.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:06 AM on January 16


I'm not arguing against copyright, merely arguing against eternal copyright, nor was that my viewpoint. I was merely saying that due to my own lived experience I didn't get the visceral **MINE!!!!** reaction that some people on the thread were expressing.

I'm sorry, but the writing between the lines about the immorality of creators was pretty clear, because there's a bullshit mentality in our society that artists and other creators demean their art by even considering the commercial aspects. If that's not what you meant, then you should realize that you're dealing with that particular societal belief.

And being blunt again, the "eternal copyright" thing is a dodge. It's hard to take the argument that this is just about older copyrights when YouTube as policy attempts to shame creators for asserting their copyright through the abuse of the Chilling Effects database no matter how old the copyright, and the EFF lets them. That's not opposition to "eternal copyright", that's opposition to copyright, period.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:19 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


There is always tension between fair compensation to the creator and the public interest to disseminate information and ideas. What I think most people are saying is lifetime + X years is too long.

Which I tend to agree with. The system should be encouraging creators to make new works, not sitting on old ones.

If the creator wants to retain copyright after the initial period (whatever it may be), they should be paying a fee for that privilege and that fee needs to be high enough that entities can’t simply vacuum up any available copyrights and deny them to the public for 100+ years simply because they can.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:40 AM on January 16


There is always tension between fair compensation to the creator and the public interest to disseminate information and ideas. What I think most people are saying is lifetime + X years is too long.

Yes, that's what is said. But the actions we see, like YouTube's attempts to shame you for having the temerity to assert your copyright, show that the opposition is to copyright period. That's why it's a dodge.

Which I tend to agree with. The system should be encouraging creators to make new works, not sitting on old ones.

So, here's the thing - when creators point out that not being able to receive compensation for creative labor is going to curtail severely the ability of creators to create because of that pesky "need to make a living" thing, the response to that is routinely "that's not a problem, because creators are innately driven to create, and will do so even without renumeration, because that's what creators do."

(Do note the insinuation baked into that which notes that if you are concerned about money, then you're not a "real" creator.)

You can't have it both ways - either creators need external motivation (and taking money away removes that and is a problem), or they're intrinsically motivated (and thus the argument that the system needs to "encourage" them makes no sense.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:06 AM on January 16


I don’t know what to tell you. While I agree that content creators should be fairly compensated for their works (for a defined period, at least), the existing power structure has guaranteed that the vast majority of profiting off content is done not by the creators but the publishing houses, movie studios, and recording companies. Perhaps reducing copyright terms would weaken the grip they seem to have over content creation and ownership. Frankly, it strikes me as designed to inflict penury on the creator.

You seem to be arguing that changing the system would unduly harm the creator but the current system seems to be pretty good at harming the creator as-is.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:34 AM on January 16


Can someone explain to me why net neutrality is dead, but copyright extension is also dead? Is it just the difficulty of getting anything passed in the current Congress? As noted in the article, there's basically no big corporate lobby on the side of the public domain, whereas it seems like there are many companies who would benefit from net neutrality. I followed the Sonny Bono extension, and kind of figured another one was fait accompli at this point, so I was surprised to read that it's not considered likely.
posted by wnissen at 11:38 AM on January 16


So was everyone else in the culture, but I don't see you crusading to take their income away.

Again, I restate my question, how much income do you receive for works that are older than 28 years? It's like you're characterizing any sort of reasonable copyright reform as an anti-copyright zealots.

We get to eat, and you get to pay something if you want a copy of your own, just like when you buy anything else. There are even libraries if you wish to completely, totally avoid the danger of giving the author money.

Yes, but I can't go and copy a car. I can however easily copy an MP3. I choose not to because I want to support artists and creators, but I can't help but wonder... is there a better way?

Maybe if your problem is with large corporations, work for a law that restrains large corporations, rather than taking it out on small creators.

My problem is with overly broad copyright terms. There are a few big content distributors that have worked hard (and presumably still are) working very hard to make the terms even more broad and far-reaching.

And creating that work [...] is labor

Yes. I took pains to explicitly say duplication. The creation is labour and it's output can be easily duplicated. This is the reality we are currently in.

And there it is. See, the creative labor of creators isn't theirs, they're just standing on the shoulders of giants, and as such, they don't really have a claim to the fruits of their labor.

Let's be blunt - this is a lack of respect for creative labor. If there was actual respect for it, creative labor wouldn't be equated with ideas, because there would be an understanding of how different the two are, and how much effort goes into the former.


No it's not. It's a realistic evaluation behind the creative process. I'm not saying that artists don't get to have a claim to the fruits of their labour, rather, that the claim should be limited to a reasonable time period, and perhaps even with a reasonable extension.

You're right of course, a creation is so more than an idea. But like an idea it needs an audience to appreciate it, and that's why we're in this mess in the first place.

My arguments central thesis isn't about corporations, so of course this argument I haven't made is easy to knock down. My central thesis is that ideas, and creations, are not created in a vacuum; culture is a shared thing and in order for culture to be vibrant it must say a shared thing.

Alright. Fine. Google funds the "anti-copyright movement". But hang on a second, are you saying that Google funds the Pirate Bay? Or is it that anyone who argues against infinite copyright extension is immediately "anti-copyright"? Boy. Talk about framing. That seems like a very extreme position.
posted by jonnay at 12:17 PM on January 16


Nobody is advocating for infinite copyright. Literally nobody. So let's drop that.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:41 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


The creation is labour and it's output can be easily duplicated. This is the reality we are currently in.

And thus nothing can be done, and creators must learn to live in this brave new world.

...or, we can as a society respect creative labor, which in turn means acknowledging that creators deserve to be paid and creating a culture that respects that.

I tend to find that when people say that something is "reality", it usually winds up being an attempt to justify a position that is questionable by arguing that there is no choice. I'm sorry, but you have a choice.

Alright. Fine. Google funds the "anti-copyright movement". But hang on a second, are you saying that Google funds the Pirate Bay?

Does TPB have an AdWords account? (And before you argue that's irrelevant, do note that pirate sites including TPB fund through advertising.) More to the point, Google funds many groups that wind up on the anti-copyright side of the argument. If I'm going to get Disney waved in my face like a mouse-eared fetish in these arguments, it's only fair to point out that the anti-copyright side is supported by a major corporation that stands to benefit materially from weakened copyright.

Furthermore, Google's largess (as we saw last year with the New America fiasco) comes with strings. This is why the EFF allowed YouTube to destroy any value in the Chilling Effects database by turning it into a tool to attempt to morally scold creators who assert their copyright, and why their Who's Got Your Back report avoids discussing private data capture.

Or is it that anyone who argues against infinite copyright extension is immediately "anti-copyright"?

Again, this is a dodge. It's hard to argue that the real issue is copyright length when Google attempts to shame assertion of copyright of any sort as a matter of corporate policy with the tacit support of the EFF. If you're genuinely just concerned with the length of copyright, perhaps you should be telling your erstwhile compatriots to knock the bullshit off?
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:59 PM on January 16


And thus nothing can be done, and creators must learn to live in this brave new world.

Stop putting words in my mouth. In fact, I have said in this thread that there needs to be a better way to get creatives paid.

Creatives can get paid by other means beyond copyright. In an ideal world I'd like to see that explore

More to the point, Google funds many groups that wind up on the anti-copyright side of the argument.

Again with the brutal framing. Why is arguing for reasonable terms "Anti-copyright" or even the "Anti-copyright side of the argument"?

I'm not seeing Disney being explicitly waved if your face (unless you really are in favour of life + 70 year copyright terms).

Again, this is a dodge. Google attempts to shame assertion of copyright of any sort as a matter of corporate policy with the tacit support of the EFF.

Hmm. TIL.

If you're genuinely just concerned with the length of copyright, perhaps you should be telling your erstwhile compatriots to knock the bullshit off?

Because your erstwhile compatriots have been creating shite laws that stifle more creativity than they create for the last 20, 40, 100 years. Going back to piano rolls. If I'm getting lumped into the Anti-Copyright lobby...well, at least were finally fighting back!
posted by jonnay at 1:46 PM on January 16


Again, I restate my question, how much income do you receive for works that are older than 28 years?

Your question is impertinent. I don't owe a financial accounting to an internet stranger who wants to impoverish me further. I gave personal details at all only to emphasize that your crusade hurts real people who aren't making much money now.

But on a general level, let me introduce you to the concept of a mid-list book. Some books (and songs and plays) keep selling at a medium level for decades.

I assume, from your crusade against the horror of artists being able to eat, that you are a salaried worker. So, you assume it's natural and universal that you get paid as you work, and that your income rises over your career.

This doesn't hold for authors. The initial labor is unpaid. It may never be paid if it doesn't sell well. And it is front-loaded: if your major works are early in your career, as is the case for many creators, so is the income. A 56-year term (the pre-1977 law) means that money keeps coming at just the time in life when the creator needs it. For old works, maybe it's a trickle, but I assure you, when you don't have much money, an extra trickle can be key.

My problem is with overly broad copyright terms.

I guess it's nice that you've confirmed that it's creators you hate, rather than corporations.

I've had enough. If you have no moral sense left, I have no idea how to awaken it.
posted by zompist at 2:10 PM on January 16


jonnay: I'm not seeing Disney being explicitly waved if your face

jonnay (previously): Every day mountains of our collective culture rots away because Warner Brothers, or Disney or whoever doesn't want a 0.1% of it to enter into the public domain.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:13 PM on January 16


I don't want to impoverish you any further. What I want is reasonable copyright terms with registrable reasonable extensions.

You're the one who is deciding that I am now the enemy of creators everywhere launching crusades against artists that are able to eat.

I guess it's nice that you've confirmed that it's creators you hate, rather than corporations.

I've had enough. If you have no moral sense left, I have no idea how to awaken it.

Your the one who is making this a black and white issue of "You're either for copyright or you're against creators!". Now you question my morality because we differ in copyright terms? Are you kidding me? Again, I want artists to get paid. Hell. I want artists to get paid more than they are now, not less. Wanting a better copyright system and wanting artists to get paid are not mutually exclusive.
posted by jonnay at 2:39 PM on January 16


I dunno what to say grumpybear69, that's just what I call history. If you wanna take that as "waving in in your face" ... maybe grow a thicker skin?

I mean...shit...The topic of the post is "Six-more-years-until-Steamboat-Willie".
posted by jonnay at 2:41 PM on January 16


wnissen Can someone explain to me why net neutrality is dead, but copyright extension is also dead?

Killing net neutrality merely required Trump to appoint literally any Republican to the FCC board [1], he did, they voted, that was that.

I think the optimism (at least for some of us) that there won't be another copyright extension is a bit premature, but the general idea seems to be that the Republicans are utterly incompetent (as evidenced by their difficulty passing anything) and that Democrats who would normally be on the side of copyright extension are in resistance mode which further complicates matters.

There's also the fact that letting Steamboat Willie fall out of copyright won't, actually, open Mickey to the public domain so Disney may not feel like fighting this again and the other giants don't really have much of anything that old they're still making a huge profit on. OTOH, they might. Snow White still makes Disney a fair amount of money and it was made in 1937. If they don't get a copyright extension in the next 14 years then they lose Snow White. And it's not a huge moneymaker for them, but they've got to be pulling in a fair amount of profit considering that the production costs were made back decades ago and therefore any sale is 100% profit.

One possible explanation for the relative silence on the copyright front is that the big copyright holders believe they've got it all worked out and they can get a bill passed with no fuss. I think that's fairly unlikely, given the demonstrated inability of the Republicans to pass anything without fuss.

But I think the main reason why there's any question about copyright extension while net neutrality was quickly killed is simply that killing net neutrality was easy. Copyright extension is more difficult. Not anything like impossible, but more difficult.

[1] The FCC board has five members, three appointed from the President's party, two from the opposition party.
posted by sotonohito at 2:46 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


BTW, and net neutrality may not be fully dead. Not only are there ongoing lawsuits, but so far at least six states are in the process of passing state level net neutrality laws. And that'll be the subject of lawsuit by the FCC (which, much as I hate to say it, does have a good case that state level laws shouldn't be able to override federal regulations). Its quite possible that net neutrality will be tied up in lawsuits, counter suits, state laws, and so on until 2021 and the Republican President is (please!) out of office.
posted by sotonohito at 2:50 PM on January 16


I just found that to be a contradictory statement is all, jonnay. The only thing that irks me is efforts to dismantle the concept of copyright, for all of the economic reasons I stated in previous comments.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:30 PM on January 16


As for fees for copyright extensions, I'm not in favor, since that would just enable IP hoarding by wealthy institutions while leaving less moneyed creators in the dust. It should be a fixed term for all.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:41 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I love everyone's perspective on this. Sometime's I think you need to start with a clean sheet, and go back to the sources.
Article I Section 8. Clause 8 – Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “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.”
And I still think the solution is "Lifetime for PEOPLE, but when it hits an Artificial Legal Entity, the 30 year clock starts ticking, and when it's over it's in the P.D." because it gives the actual CREATIVE PEOPLE the upper hand ( Lifetime ) but still takes care of the corporations, by giving them some time.

So, the MAXIMUM copyright term , even if the copyright is disbursed as part of their estate: "Lifetime of the creator, + when it's sold to a company buying, 30 years for them."
posted by mikelieman at 5:33 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


> mikelieman:
"I love everyone's perspective on this. Sometime's I think you need to start with a clean sheet, and go back to the sources.


Article I Section 8. Clause 8 – Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “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.”


And I still think the solution is "Lifetime for PEOPLE, but when it hits an Artificial Legal Entity, the 30 year clock starts ticking, and when it's over it's in the P.D." because it gives the actual CREATIVE PEOPLE the upper hand ( Lifetime ) but still takes care of the corporations, by giving them some time.

So, the MAXIMUM copyright term , even if the copyright is disbursed as part of their estate: "Lifetime of the creator, + when it's sold to a company buying, 30 years for them.""


That's...erm...[punches calculator keys and says "hmmmmm" a lot]...say, 85 years? I guess that isn't too bad. Assuming the creation is made around age 25, with an 80 year life span and a corporate sale.
posted by Samizdata at 8:35 PM on January 18


American Theatre magazine just published an article about copyright and IP challenges among scenic designers and directors. All of the cases discussed are small creators vs. fellow small creators, so it provides a different perspective than what we've discussed so far.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 11:04 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


40 or so years fixed, independent of owner type, would be fine. Lifetime of creator only doesn't deal with 25 year old writers with kids who die after creation. Differentiating creates all kinds of perverse incentives to keep creators alive/kill them/license vs sell rights.
posted by benzenedream at 5:17 PM on January 20


Just had a bit of a revelation. Insomniac, so I decided to watch Big Hero 6. Geek heroes, what can I say?

Anyway, beginning of the movie. Mickey whistling from Steamboat Willie as the Walt Disney Animation Studios logo. Bit of a sticky wicket, that.

(Also, how did it take me 4 years to realize there's an after-credits scene?)
posted by Samizdata at 2:43 AM on January 23


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