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Old 02-25-2010, 02:43 PM   #16
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Excellent letter, Ralph Sir Edward!
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:05 PM   #17
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Inspired by Ralph Sir Edward, I have sent my own letter which adds little to his and is not as good as his. But I felt that Ms. Espinel should hear the message from more than one person.

Dear Ms. Espinel,

The US Constitution calls for copyright to be for a limited time only. With the expiration of a copyright term, the work of art belongs to the general public, known as the public domain.

I am in favor of an author making as much money as he can from his work. Not only is compensation just, but the reward of compensation will encourage the author to create more art, which is in the public interest.

However, when the author dies, there will be no further creation by him. For that reason, I believe that the term of a copyright should expire with the death of the author.

You have requested publishers to provide you with evidence supporting their claim that they lose revenue from the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material over the internet.

I would like to point out that relatively recent changes in US copyright law have greatly extended the length of time the publishers may claim ownership. These extensions have come at the expense of the general public.

I therefore suggest that the publishers also be required to distinguish in their estimates of lost profits the figures regarding the sale of books of dead authors.

The publishing industry has to my knowledge always taken the position that violation of copyright is an immoral act. (For example, today the word used is "piracy".) In my view the publishers have no moral grounds to justify the existence of copyright beyond the death of the author.

Sincerely,

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Old 02-25-2010, 03:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by GA Russell View Post
However, when the author dies, there will be no further creation by him. For that reason, I believe that the term of a copyright should expire with the death of the author.
I just made the same statement in another thread, but Elfwreck made some good points that made me rethink that.

If it expires immediately at death:

1. It discourages creating work late in life since they and their family will see little to nothing out of it if they die right as it comes out etc.

2. It discourages the family for publishing works posthumously if the copyright died with the creator as they'll see nothing out of it.

So I do think the copyright does need to go beyond death--but maybe it can apply to works that have been out for 10 years or less (late life works) and only last for 15-25 years past death rather than 50 or 75 as a compromise.

That way you don't have books written when they were 20 still under copy right 100+ years later as they lived to 100 and the copyright carries on etc.

Last edited by dmaul1114; 02-25-2010 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:37 PM   #19
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Well said Bremen Cole!

All too often Government has shown that they are much more interested in what big business can do for them rather than protecting the average person.

Excellent letter SirEdward. Bravo sir
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:54 PM   #20
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dmaul, it is my understanding that very few books are sold after they have been out more than three years.

(I read not long ago that in regard to music, 80% of a compact disc's sales occur within eight weeks of its release.)

Instead of a "life plus fifty" rule, I would support a "five plus life" rule.

This would give the publisher and the heirs five years to make their money, which is almost always all they ever get anyway, in the event of either an author's death shortly after publication or a posthumous work.

If you will agree to my concept, I won't quibble with you whether the minimum term should be five or ten years. But for nearly all books, it will be the life of the author.
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:01 PM   #21
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Yep, I do agree with the concept. I'm not picky on years can be 5-15 years etc. Maybe tie it to sales? So you don't have some super famous book that will sell a lot for years to come etc. get cut off from the family 5 years after they die if it's still selling big numbers?

As sales are front heavy, but some thing sell pretty much continuously--i.e. Beatles CDs etc. Which makes it harder to just base the law on the typical band that sales a bunch for a year or two then goes away until the next album etc.
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:05 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by dmaul1114 View Post
I just made the same statement in another thread, but Elfwreck made some good points that made me rethink that.

If it expires immediately at death:

1. It discourages creating work late in life since they and their family will see little to nothing out of it if they die right as it comes out etc.

2. It discourages the family for publishing works posthumously if the copyright died with the creator as they'll see nothing out of it.

So I do think the copyright does need to go beyond death--but maybe it can apply to works that have been out for 10 years or less (late life works) and only last for 15-25 years past death rather than 50 or 75 as a compromise.

That way you don't have books written when they were 20 still under copy right 100+ years later as they lived to 100 and the copyright carries on etc.

These are quibbling on details. The important part is to remind that "Copyright Czar" that extending the copyright lengths is as much "stealing" as copyright infringement, and that the needs of the public should be taken in account every bit as much as the lobbyists of the copyright holders.

If you want to claim costs, we, the public, request an economic accounting of just how much we have been robbed of by the law changes. Cost BOTH sides of the issue...

I recommend that other people write in. Believe it or not, it's Your government (assuming you're a US citizen. No offense to the non-US readers here.).

Just don't get angry or real specific (You can use a specific example or two to estimate by, like the fact that under the law at the time that Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz were released, they would have gone PD in 1996. Therefore the entire DVD/BluRay revenue would be a sample of monies taken out of the public's pocket.) Merely point out that the public loses every time the copyright has been (or will be) extended. You don't have to be as good a writer as I am, but I suspect that quantity counts....
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:38 PM   #23
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Alright, here's my letter to Ms. Espinel. I focused a bit more on enforcement as the link seemed to imply that's what they were interested in--and I care just as much about protecting content creators as I do the rights of users/the public.

Quote:
Ms. Espinel,


I applaud the administration's efforts to create your position and look into the growing concerns around intellectual property. This is becoming a huge issue, and will continue to become more prominent, as we move into a digital era where eventually most books, movies, albums etc. will be sold and bought in digital formats rather than the physical formats to which we've been long accustomed.

As such, copyright laws will have to evolve as the main threat shifts from losing physical copies of these items, to authors, musicians, directors (and their publishers, labels and studies) main risk becomes losing sales to illegal downloads and illegal copying of their copyrighted material. I fully support going after piracy hard, even moving it to a criminal rather than civil matter, as long as the punishments are in proportion to the crime. For instance, the illegal download of a book or album should not be hit with the huge settlements that have been given out in RIAA lawsuits against people who have illegally downloaded music. The illegal download of an album should be treated as a misdemeanor, and the penalties no more severe than what one would get for stealing the actual CD. A system of fines is probably appropriate, but they must be proportionate to the crime. Perhaps fines can be the value of the digital content (how much it current sells for) plus an added 25% penalty. The specifics are not so important--what is crucial is that illegal downloads are huge threat to the publishing, print and film (among other) industries, and laws and enforcement need to evolve to keep pace with the move into the fully digital era--while also making sure punishments aren't so disproportionate to the harm done to be in violation to constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishments.

However, at the same time it is important to protect the rights of consumers and the public. In many areas--for example electronic books on devices like the Amazon Kindle--the rights of legitimate users who are buying the books they download are being challenged. DRM schemes tie the book to one device and make it less useful than the print copy of the book which often costs the same or less than the electronic version. Rightful owners of a book cannot loan it to friends or family members. They cannot sell their copy or donate it to the library etc. In short, just like copyright laws and enforcement need updating, so do Fair Use laws. The current Fair Use laws are woefully inadequate even for print materials. For instance, the university at which I teach is currently being sued about Fair Use issues relating to using copyrighted materials in the classroom, providing students with access to journal articles, chapters of books not available in the library for course readings and so forth. As inadequate as Fair Use laws in their current form are for print material, they're even less adequate for digital content. Should consumers be able to sell their copy of an e-book (while not keeping a copy for themselves)? Should there be a system to loan e-books for limited amounts of time? Fair Use laws need to be expanded to clarify how legitimate owners who bought digital content can use that content without being in violation of copyright laws.

Finally, the last crucial issue I wish to address is when copyrighted material should enter the public domain. While content producers, publishers etc. absolutely need to have their rights protected, so does the public. Currently copyrights are extended well beyond the death of the author--70 years beyond currently for most materials. This is excessive. Content creators need their material and profits protected, and it should extend beyond their death. Having it end at death would cause a disincentive for people to continue working late in life, knowing their family will see little from the work. It also gives no incentive for surviving family to publish works posthumously. To protect the interest of the public, copyrights should expire 5-10 years after death of the creator of the material, with perhaps some stipulations that it can be extended for works still selling in high volume beyond that point (as most works sell only for a year or two after publication, but many have popularity and sales that carry on). Such a system would protect the rights of authors, musicians, artists etc., while also allowing for social progress in the arts as material enters the public domain in a more timely manner. In any case, the laws regarding when works enter the public domain are currently not in the public interest. Most material stops selling well before the creator has passed on, yet the works aren't available to the public domain for 70 years or after their death.

Thank you for your time and consideration in reading my thoughts on intellectual property and enforcing copyright laws. I applaud the efforts you and your office are putting forth to deal with the complex issues surrounding these issues in the digital age.

Sincerely,

*name etc. deleted*
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:45 PM   #24
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The 'Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator' doesn't want to hear from us (consumers), just publishers who would send her a bunch of disgracefully inflated numbers which come from calculations with a lot of assumptions involved.

They would make calculations like 'it was downloaded via the pirate bay 100'000 times so that is $900'000 million in lost income'. When in reality a lot of people download in a haphazard fashion, collecting things simply because they are free and with some vague notion that they might read it at some date 'in the future'. Those people would have never paid for the book in question and many would have no interest in it if there was a price tag attached. They only collect the item because they like the idea of having that book in their virtual (unread) library. Gathering the numbers for those kinds of users is difficult because the % probably varies between books. When there is genuine piracy of e-books by people who actually read the book, I am willing to bet many (if not most) of those people do so to avoid DRM in the paid product or because it is simply ot available in the format they desire.

Content holders love gathering huge inflated numbers from the Internet and showing those numbers to the government, so they can push for harsher penalties. This will be more of that.
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:18 PM   #25
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The 'Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator' doesn't want to hear from us (consumers), just publishers who would send her a bunch of disgracefully inflated numbers which come from calculations with a lot of assumptions involved.

They would make calculations like 'it was downloaded via the pirate bay 100'000 times so that is $900'000 million in lost income'. When in reality a lot of people download in a haphazard fashion, collecting things simply because they are free and with some vague notion that they might read it at some date 'in the future'. Those people would have never paid for the book in question and many would have no interest in it if there was a price tag attached. They only collect the item because they like the idea of having that book in their virtual (unread) library. Gathering the numbers for those kinds of users is difficult because the % probably varies between books. When there is genuine piracy of e-books by people who actually read the book, I am willing to bet many (if not most) of those people do so to avoid DRM in the paid product or because it is simply ot available in the format they desire.

Content holders love gathering huge inflated numbers from the Internet and showing those numbers to the government, so they can push for harsher penalties. This will be more of that.

Perhaps so, Fugalized. But remember,"all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". Canada thought that it the public didn't care about copyright issues when they had their "town hall" meetings earlier this year. Boy were they suprised! This may be useless, but.....


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Poppin' out a letter to a bureaucrat makes me feel better....

Last edited by Ralph Sir Edward; 02-25-2010 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:18 PM   #26
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Excellent letter, dmaul114
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:54 PM   #27
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The same lies they've always put on the table, which will continue to be believed by the same people that believe them now.
You're still ahead of the game. Why should it be assumed, in a proper study, that harm exists at all? (Again, obscurity is the major issue for the mid/low list...)
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:18 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmaul1114 View Post
I just made the same statement in another thread, but Elfwreck made some good points that made me rethink that.

If it expires immediately at death:

1. It discourages creating work late in life since they and their family will see little to nothing out of it if they die right as it comes out etc.

2. It discourages the family for publishing works posthumously if the copyright died with the creator as they'll see nothing out of it.

So I do think the copyright does need to go beyond death--but maybe it can apply to works that have been out for 10 years or less (late life works) and only last for 15-25 years past death rather than 50 or 75 as a compromise.

That way you don't have books written when they were 20 still under copy right 100+ years later as they lived to 100 and the copyright carries on etc.
valid point. there is now a good example with The Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan who died before he had concluded it. he left substantial notes and partially written chapters in addition to having discussed it at length with his wife. the series will be written to the conclusion under his name along with the new co-author. I know there have been quite a few other examples of this sort of situation. what happens to these books then?
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:31 AM   #29
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what happens to these books then?
If things went straight to the public domain upon death, then the family would have no control of the series.

Anyone could have started writing new books in the series.

Now the same books would probably come out in this case as it's a famous serious and the publisher knows that it would sell best if they publish it based on Jordan's notes and with his name on it. So it probably wouldn't have mattered in this case much.

But it would for less prominent situations not involving a huge selling series/author etc.
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