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Old 03-02-2012, 10:20 AM   #91
nogle
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If your other half had signed a contract, why would his and his copyright's expiry annul it?
In every contract for intellectual property (IP) I have seen (although these are mostly for patents) there is a clause stating that the license ends when the IP expires; i.e. once it is in teh public domain, the contract has expired. Simialrly, there is also a clause granting rights to extensions and improvements that have not yet been developed.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:21 AM   #92
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...."does your family keep collecting money in perpetuity if you spent your life working in a warehouse? .."

Ummmm.... presumably said family might - if it's in a signed legal contract that they will.

And ....you'd need a lawyer, prob'ly, to fight off the company that realised what twit's they'd been.

[ P'raps a profitable opening here for Ninja ? ]
Ooooo, can I watch their heads go 'splodies when they realize???
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:55 AM   #93
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A very worthy thread. Kudos to Ninjalawyer; a nod to his sardonic style also.

If I were king (and I really should be) I would decree that copyright lasts 50 years. Just prior to the end of that period, the owner can apply for a 50 year renewal. At this point the LoC (or some such other entity) will hold a public auction for the work. After the winning bidder escrows his funds, the original owner has the right to repurchase the rights for 1/2 the bid price (or some other fraction as my whimsical and kingly whim dictates) . If the original owner declines, the new owner takes possession.

Proceeds go to me, the king. Or to the public library system. Whatever.
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:33 AM   #94
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's good to be the king.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:15 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by Belfaborac View Post
If a contract was signed, then yes. There are, presumably, laws in the US, including contract law. If they don't want to pay, then they can hand the manuscript back and the family is free to approach someone else.
Contract law is a two way street; there generally has to be a quid pro quo for it to be valid. If party A was suppose to deliver X, and failed, then party B will no longer be obligated to deliver Y.

In the specific example, in a publishing contract, the publisher agrees to pay the author (or the author's estate) for the exclusive use of a specific set of rights to the work (which could be all rights). If copyright expires at death, the author's estate is not able to grant those rights, therefore the contract immediately becomes void.

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Old 03-02-2012, 01:05 PM   #96
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I think that it would be a good idea that when Disney starts lobbying for the next copyright extension that we threaten to make copyright eternal and retroactive. Then we can sit back and watch them squeal.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:32 PM   #97
QuantumIguana
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I highly recommend James Boyle's book "The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind". The author makes a strong case for the public domain, and against eternal copyright. The book is available as a free download.

http://www.thepublicdomain.org/download/
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:01 PM   #98
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Perpetual right is wrong. And life+70 or even +50 is also too long...

I would say there is happy medium between different options. Life or minimum of 25 years would probably work for private owners for literature, I believe rights for other media should be 10-40 years, software at low end and movies/music at high end.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:28 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by Ekaros View Post
Perpetual right is wrong. And life+70 or even +50 is also too long...

I would say there is happy medium between different options. Life or minimum of 25 years would probably work for private owners for literature, I believe rights for other media should be 10-40 years, software at low end and movies/music at high end.

I have to say I personally prefer avoiding any life dependent copyright laws; then before you can be sure a work is in the public domain you have to make sure the author is dead (not always easy when we are talking about a book written 50 ago by an author who never wrote anything else). Also, a different set of rules apply if the copyright was created by a corporation (even if the book has a named author!)

Personally I think the whole thing would be easier for all concerned if a fixed term was established. That way anyone can easily determine if a book is still in copyright. Even a fixed term of 100 years would be better than the current system. Personally though I think 25 years should be sufficient. If you haven't made a decent profit on a work within 25 years, you likely are not going to in the next 25 years. If you have, then you have been amply rewarded for your efforts.

For unpublished works, it is a little bit more tricky. I would probably give the estate some reasonable period to discover the works and register them. Oh right and the term starts 25 years from the date of publication or registration, whichever comes first (to prevent people from sitting on a copyrighted book).

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Old 03-02-2012, 02:34 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by bill_mchale View Post
Contract law is a two way street; there generally has to be a quid pro quo for it to be valid. If party A was suppose to deliver X, and failed, then party B will no longer be obligated to deliver Y.

In the specific example, in a publishing contract, the publisher agrees to pay the author (or the author's estate) for the exclusive use of a specific set of rights to the work (which could be all rights). If copyright expires at death, the author's estate is not able to grant those rights, therefore the contract immediately becomes void.

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As a fun aside, I'd just like to point out that in contract law, the failure of one party to perform doesn't necessarily relieve the other from its obligation to perform. There's exceptions (fundamental breach or frustration as an e.g., if you're into that sort of thing). So in your example, the publisher may still have to pay whomever it agreed to pay, even though it can't get what it bargained for; the publisher's remedy would be to sue for damages in breach of contract.

This doesn't have anything to do with your argument, but I did spend 10 minutes thinking about your example (and almost reached for a contracts textbook), so felt compelled to post.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:42 PM   #101
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I do like life +50 better than life +70 (although I wish people would stop blaming that on Disney and start blaming it on Berne)...but I would like for there to be a provision allowing orphaned works to come off of copyright much sooner...maybe there is a $500 relicensing fee every 20 years or something.

But in general, I think that a life + X formulation is the best way of fixing a copyright date. A straightforward term of years could lead to a situation where the author is still alive and loses his rights to a body of work he might still be working on...or planning on working on. Ending copyright with the author's death will devalue the work of older authors substantially (particularly in the case of movie rights). But it adds a certain amount of risk in any case - no one will want to spend $50-$100 million making a film if the copyright will terminate if the author is in a car wreck.

So life+X protects the authors and gives people who buy the rights from the author (which also helps the author, obviously) some security. Just add a procedure to move orphaned works to the PD faster.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:55 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
As a fun aside, I'd just like to point out that in contract law, the failure of one party to perform doesn't necessarily relieve the other from its obligation to perform. There's exceptions (fundamental breach or frustration as an e.g., if you're into that sort of thing). So in your example, the publisher may still have to pay whomever it agreed to pay, even though it can't get what it bargained for; the publisher's remedy would be to sue for damages in breach of contract.

This doesn't have anything to do with your argument, but I did spend 10 minutes thinking about your example (and almost reached for a contracts textbook), so felt compelled to post.
Oh ok.. but I bet there will be a clause in any contract a publisher would be willing to sign with a stipulation like that.

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Old 03-02-2012, 04:02 PM   #103
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I just had a flash of a movie exec wanting to make a movie based on a book, but thinks the author is asking too much, so he orders a hit on the author, knowing if the author dies the book goes out of copyright. (yeah, still stuck on copyright ending at death idea)

Hey, if the copyright is for a short enough time after death he can just quietly do the early work until said amount of time passes then come out guns blazing and start casting.

I'm so demented, I know.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:05 PM   #104
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I do like life +50 better than life +70 (although I wish people would stop blaming that on Disney and start blaming it on Berne)...but I would like for there to be a provision allowing orphaned works to come off of copyright much sooner...maybe there is a $500 relicensing fee every 20 years or something.

But in general, I think that a life + X formulation is the best way of fixing a copyright date. A straightforward term of years could lead to a situation where the author is still alive and loses his rights to a body of work he might still be working on...or planning on working on. Ending copyright with the author's death will devalue the work of older authors substantially (particularly in the case of movie rights). But it adds a certain amount of risk in any case - no one will want to spend $50-$100 million making a film if the copyright will terminate if the author is in a car wreck.

So life+X protects the authors and gives people who buy the rights from the author (which also helps the author, obviously) some security. Just add a procedure to move orphaned works to the PD faster.
Blame where blame is due. The Berne convention only calls for Life + 50. All the extensions are from lobbying by large corporate copyright holders, in virtually every nation where copyright is respected. The Rodent House is the most vociferious about extensions.....(and thse same large copyright holders demand that the US not follow Berne when it suits them, hence no public domain day in the US since 1978 (with one year (1922) as an oops exception...)
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:07 PM   #105
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I'm so demented, I know.
No, not at all.
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