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Old 08-29-2013, 08:49 PM   #31
speakingtohe
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By the way, I would love for copyright to be based on some of the schemes that are discussed on MobileRead, e.g. 20 years with fee-based renewals. Still arbitrary, but it benefits me more.
Please expand on this and tell us how or why it benefits you more.

Are there a lot of books that were published 20-30 years ago and that were unpopular enough that the copyright was not worth renewing that you really want to read? Are most of these books not available or priced way too high? If they are priced too high for you, chances are the copyright would be renewed. If they are not worth renewing the copyright on would they be made available in a timely manner by a PD source?

I read a lot of books published in this era or earlier, but they are mainly works easily available today or I would not be able to read them. For my reading tastes which are very eclectic, it is difficult for me to find a book that is not published today that I want to read above all others. Sometimes not as ebooks, but pretty much all in paper.

Perhaps you have very a limited selection of books that you especially want to read published 20 years ago and many of them are not available in any form. Or so expensive that you can't afford them, the library doesn't carry them or arbitrarily out of print with no second hand paper copies available, and nothing else will do.

Me I am lucky. I have had books that I wanted badly (non-fiction) that were out of print and on an uncommon subject. I have always managed to get them even if they cost a couple of weeks income or more. Perhaps the universe smiled on me.

My point is that if a books is financially viable the copyright holder will continue to renew the copyright forever. If it isn't then it will no more likely be available to the select few who want it even through piracy. And more so, if no existing copies are available or are in an exclusive collection, how would they be made available. Do we break into the collectors house and steal the book to make copies?

Sorry for rabbiting on. I am interested though in your answer.

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Old 08-30-2013, 03:06 AM   #32
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I've wanted to read the unabridged version of Winston S. Churchill's history of World War I, The World Crisis, for years. I would now have to obtain it, volume by heavy volume, on interlibrary loan, and each volume is so long that I'd risk not being able to finish it by the non-renewable due date.

I could read a reference copy at a university library, spending dozens of hours there. But, selfish me, I would find that highly inconvenient.

Within a year after The World Crisis goes out of copyright in the US (not that I'll live so long!), it will likely be available as a free eBook from Project Gutenberg or successor.
Do you really think that your convenience is a sufficient reason to be able to obtain this book for free, Steve?
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:42 AM   #33
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But, would it be right for us to prematurely remove their revenue stream from a profitable book in order to (in effect) coerce them to be more prolific, even if it did create more value for the rest of us? I would argue no, even if it did create more value for society as a whole.

All copyright terms are arbitrary in nature. You can argue that one term is "better" than another, but there isn't any that is uniformly better, and there will be winners and losers from any change. And the "best" length is entirely dependent on how you measure it. That's practically the definition of arbitrary.
Saying it would be wrong to remove an author's income stream is: (i) a straw man; and (ii) ridiculous on its face. It's a straw man because very few people are arguing that copyright should be reduced to less than the author's life time, so there would be no impact on his or her personal income stream. It is also ridiculous on its face because it suggests that authors have some right to income from their works that is outside of those rights created by copyright, and that's not the case - copyright is providing rights (a time limited monopoly) where they wouldn't exist otherwise.

Also, you're right that their will be winners and losers, but generally you want to have more winners than losers. War is never bad for everybody, but you still want to see less of it. And again, a reduction in copyright doesn't have to be "arbitrary" if your goal is to determine what creates the most economic benefit generally, not just for a few very prolific authors.

Your post also makes the incorrect assumption that authors get no benefit from the works of others. Infinite copyright would harm consumers and writers equally as it would prevent consumers from accessing many works and would prevent writers from reusing expressions or remixing ideas of decades past (or I guess centuries past if we go with infinite copyright).

The idea of infinite copyright is so bizarre that I feel like I'm arguing an Onion article.

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Old 08-30-2013, 09:36 AM   #34
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Do you really think that your convenience is a sufficient reason to be able to obtain this book for free, Steve?
I could be wrong but I don't think Steve was implying that at all. If so, he wouldn't be wasting his time lamenting the inconvenient and/or expensive choices at his disposal for reading the book he mentioned. He wouldn't be talking about waiting for it to enter the public domain. He would simply go and find a copy online somewhere.

I think the point was the book he cited is really old, its author is long since deceased, it would be nice if it was in the public domain. And as someone whose interest in history is burgeoning, i agree.

Harry man, you've rather pointedly taken people to task for putting words in your mouth in at least one recent post. Steve never said anything about getting the book free except in terms of its eventual entrance into the PD. Practice what you preach brother.
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:48 AM   #35
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Do you really think that your convenience is a sufficient reason to be able to obtain this book for free, Steve?
Steve's response was in the context of someone suggesting that any work (or at least most) can be acquired quickly, easily and for a nominal fee. Speaking of strawman arguments...

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Old 08-30-2013, 10:03 AM   #36
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Please expand on this and tell us how or why it benefits you more.

Are there a lot of books that were published 20-30 years ago and that were unpopular enough that the copyright was not worth renewing that you really want to read? Are most of these books not available or priced way too high? If they are priced too high for you, chances are the copyright would be renewed. If they are not worth renewing the copyright on would they be made available in a timely manner by a PD source?
...
My point is that if a books is financially viable the copyright holder will continue to renew the copyright forever. If it isn't then it will no more likely be available to the select few who want it even through piracy. And more so, if no existing copies are available or are in an exclusive collection, how would they be made available. Do we break into the collectors house and steal the book to make copies?

Sorry for rabbiting on. I am interested though in your answer.

Helen
Well, let me preface this by saying that I was speaking from the assumption that the replacement copyright was strictly shorter than the existing. e.g. 25 years renewable 3 times, not 25 years renewable indefinitely.

So, quite briefly, it benefits me more because it increases the availability of books, and it particularly increases the availability of free books. If a book is free, rather than $5.99, that benefits me, regardless of how easily available it is under the current scheme.

Similarly, probably half of what I read isn't new fiction. I read lots of science fiction that is 20-50 years old. Most of it isn't currently in print, so at a minimum I have to hunt for a used copy somewhere, and possible pay an inflated price. If copyright were renewable for a fee, these books would either be in the public domain and almost certainly available online, or they would be currently for sale new at a reasonable price. Both of those options benefit me.
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Me I am lucky. I have had books that I wanted badly (non-fiction) that were out of print and on an uncommon subject. I have always managed to get them even if they cost a couple of weeks income or more. Perhaps the universe smiled on me.
Sure. But I am not willing to spend a week's salary on a book, and since I won't pirate it, either, I will regretfully read something else.

If you could have gotten those books at a cost based on the worth of the book, rather than on its scarcity, that would have benefited you, too.

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Old 08-30-2013, 10:26 AM   #37
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Saying it would be wrong to remove an author's income stream is: (i) a straw man; and (ii) ridiculous on its face. It's a straw man because very few people are arguing that copyright should be reduced to less than the author's life time, so there would be no impact on his or her personal income stream. It is also ridiculous on its face because it suggests that authors have some right to income from their works that is outside of those rights created by copyright, and that's not the case - copyright is providing rights (a time limited monopoly) where they wouldn't exist otherwise.

Also, you're right that their will be winners and losers, but generally you want to have more winners than losers. War is never bad for everybody, but you still want to see less of it. And again, a reduction in copyright doesn't have to be "arbitrary" if your goal is to determine what creates the most economic benefit generally, not just for a few very prolific authors.

Your post also makes the incorrect assumption that authors get no benefit from the works of others. Infinite copyright would harm consumers and writers equally as it would prevent consumers from accessing many works and would prevent writers from reusing expressions or remixing ideas of decades past (or I guess centuries past if we go with infinite copyright).

The idea of infinite copyright is so bizarre that I feel like I'm arguing an Onion article.
I'm not arguing for infinite copyright. All I ever argued was that any copyright law is arbitrary. 20 years, 28+28, Life+50, Life+75. They are all arbitrary lines drawn in the sand for what we will protect. Jeesh.

And it is arbitrary. You even bring that out in your statement "..if your goal is to determine what creates the most economic benefit generally". The U.S. Constitution doesn't say "To promote the Greatest Possible Economic Benefit Generally, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." And yet, you would use that as the basis for selecting the copyright term. Any measure is arbitrary. Sure, we can select a measure, and we can build models that intend to maximize that value. But the measure itself is arbitrary. There's simply no way around that.

And I would say that there are plenty of people that argue for something less than life. Somebody posted a paper earlier that argued that the optimal copyright term was only 15 years. That definitely cuts into the income of many popular writers. And once you get that short, it's just a sliding continuum of impact.

Sometimes I hate getting into discussions on the internet. I comment on an aspect of an argument that I believe is flawed, and then in the course of supporting my statement, I get sucked into a side of an argument that I really don't have a stake in. I'm going to attempt to resist commenting further.
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:36 AM   #38
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Saying it would be wrong to remove an author's income stream is: (i) a straw man; and (ii) ridiculous on its face. It's a straw man because very few people are arguing that copyright should be reduced to less than the author's life time, so there would be no impact on his or her personal income stream. It is also ridiculous on its face because it suggests that authors have some right to income from their works that is outside of those rights created by copyright, and that's not the case - copyright is providing rights (a time limited monopoly) where they wouldn't exist otherwise.

Also, you're right that their will be winners and losers, but generally you want to have more winners than losers. War is never bad for everybody, but you still want to see less of it. And again, a reduction in copyright doesn't have to be "arbitrary" if your goal is to determine what creates the most economic benefit generally, not just for a few very prolific authors.

Your post also makes the incorrect assumption that authors get no benefit from the works of others. Infinite copyright would harm consumers and writers equally as it would prevent consumers from accessing many works and would prevent writers from reusing expressions or remixing ideas of decades past (or I guess centuries past if we go with infinite copyright).

The idea of infinite copyright is so bizarre that I feel like I'm arguing an Onion article.
I guess that I'm one of the few who believes it should be shorter then the life of the author. The original intent of copyright was not to ensure that the author was compensated for their lifetime or that they gain all potential value out of the works. If the author is still alive there would be nothing stopping them from releasing a new edition of the book with additional content and selling it again.

I believe that there is a very small percentage of books that are earning money 20 years after they were first published and that the few that are the authors have been very well compensated. I don't understand why our legal system needs to be burdened with attempting to enforce or arbitrate disputes over those privileged few. I believe that laws should be targeted for the benefit of society as a whole and not made to cover the most extreme exceptions. I've heard people throw out examples of authors struggling for 40 years and then become famous but they don't get revenue for their old books. Well the original intent was that they would continue to write new books.

I believe the problem is that we have one copyright term that covers music, movies, books, software etc... I think there needs to be different time limits for each because they each have their own needs.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:44 PM   #39
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Well, let me preface this by saying that I was speaking from the assumption that the replacement copyright was strictly shorter than the existing. e.g. 25 years renewable 3 times, not 25 years renewable indefinitely.

So, quite briefly, it benefits me more because it increases the availability of books, and it particularly increases the availability of free books. If a book is free, rather than $5.99, that benefits me, regardless of how easily available it is under the current scheme.

Similarly, probably half of what I read isn't new fiction. I read lots of science fiction that is 20-50 years old. Most of it isn't currently in print, so at a minimum I have to hunt for a used copy somewhere, and possible pay an inflated price. If copyright were renewable for a fee, these books would either be in the public domain and almost certainly available online, or they would be currently for sale new at a reasonable price. Both of those options benefit me.

Sure. But I am not willing to spend a week's salary on a book, and since I won't pirate it, either, I will regretfully read something else.

If you could have gotten those books at a cost based on the worth of the book, rather than on its scarcity, that would have benefited you, too.
The books were worth it to me or I wouldn't have spent the money. I spent a fair chunk of money on Knuth's books and various statistical analysis books. Hobby related, not for school or work. A far larger impact for me was spending almost $20 on a book as a teenager instead of the exceptionally elegant dress I wanted. I was making $0.40 cents an hour then and that really was a tough decision at that age I can still remember the emotions that were going through me at the time.

I am under the impression that much, probably most of the science fiction of 20-50 years ago is available still and that a lot of the authors are still alive. And vast amounts are available used at a pretty cheap price and available in libraries. You must have very specific and esoteric tastes.

I am not against lowering copyright and I am not an author so have nothing to lose. I probably read more older books than new, so I would not be sorely bereft personally if all the authors went on strike.

I am inclined to agree with suggestions of life plus 20-30 with a minimum term of maybe 40-50 years after publication.

Anything less IMO would be unfair to the majority of creators who make very little annually from sales. And a person who makes a lot of money, author or not, either by luck or talent? I may envy them slightly, but that is no reason they should not benefit as well.

I have the unpopular opinion that money made from intellectual property is just as deserved as money made from real property. My heirs could rent my property, which they did nothing to earn, for as long as they live and their heirs after them. Perhaps the world might benefit more if that situation was changed to life plus

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Old 08-30-2013, 08:31 PM   #40
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It was. It was created for their benefit, so that we can benefit.
I benefit from copyright and can honestly say I've not been hurt by its length as a reader or a writer. With electronic forms there's really no worry about something going out of print or being lost. For those who still have copyright and don't want to go digital, there are still print versions/reprints that can be found of any work I've ever been interested in. I am amazed at the number of people who actually do care and perceive a great public interest in the matter. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with caring, but I am not certain that the general public -- even the general reading public -- cares very much. I don't really see anything or anyone being harmed either. I'm sure there are individuals who want access to some book/work or other in some form that they can't get it, but I'm not really sure it harms any public good.

I've commented on the topic before and I'm sure the arguments are the same, but I have never seen any real harm to the reading public at large. There's plenty to read. There are plenty of classics. Libraries worldwide have copies. Poor kids/adults can have access to just about anything they want via lending libraries or online sources. Books are one of the cheapest things going and they are easier to access than any other form of entertainment barring a backyard and a swing (assuming said kid has such a thing--and books are still cheaper).
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:43 PM   #41
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And every time this argument comes up, I wish I could point out how little most authors make. Many assume that an author makes the majority cost of a paperback book (7 dollars) or a hardback book (25 to 35). That is not true. The author makes the least money in the chain. For a traditionally published author, she might make 35 cents per mass market book sold. For larger trade books, the author might make a dollar. For a 25 dollar hardback book, the standard contract pays the author in the neighborhood of 3.00 to 3.50.

It was a big deal when Stephen King was finally able to negotiation up to 50 percent of the cover price be paid to him. And only an author of his stature is able to do that. The rest of us take a standard contract and hope the book sells enough for a second printing.

The average traditionally published book sells 10,000 copies or less (print). This means that an author has to write many, many books to come close to making a living. That money might stretch longer now that a book doesn't go out of print (digital). But honestly. So few authors are making a living from writing fiction there is no need to shorten copyright to less than their lifespan. They aren't living off of a single song/book/series. While the famous names make a living at writing, most other authors hold down a day job and the writing side of life is barely supplemental.

And as someone said, I value IP just as much as physical goods. I come from a background at a company that was constantly inventing. A lot of time and training and pain goes into invention. A lot of WORK. A lot of bugs, fixes, redoing. A lot of yelling, reworking, negotiating. IP is huge effort and it deserves to be rewarded.

Just my thoughts. I know I won't change anyone's mind.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:46 PM   #42
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Do you really think that your convenience is a sufficient reason to be able to obtain this book for free, Steve?
As already stated, I was responding to a factual claim by Rob Lister, rather than making an argument.

But to make an argument: The fact that you can get eBooks for almost everything by now-obscure Nobel Prize in Literature winners that was published before 1923, while there are big post-1922-published eBook gaps -- besides works being out of print -- for the gentleman who probably is the most famous Nobel Prize in Literature winner of all time, provides a wee bit of evidence that copyright in Europe and the US is now too long.

If free market incentives were working well at the current copyright length, books published shortly after 1922, when the profit motive comes into play, should be more likely to be available as eBooks than those published before 1923, where the financial incentive doesn't exist.

It may be that this problem will go away when we get to the point where every book still under copyright originally came out as an eBook. But that will be a very long time. And I think Life + 70 (or longer in the US) will still lead to a lot of orphaned works because of legal difficulties, after several generations, in determining who owns the rights.

The works of Winston S. Churchill go out of copyright, in half the world, in 28 months. That includes Canada, where we sometimes visit. I'm a fairly patient person, so no big problem for me.
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