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Old 04-06-2011, 05:02 AM   #1
pdurrant
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Will there be another US copyright extension?

We're now over 12 years into the 20 year copyright extension provided by the Copyright Term Extension Act in the US.

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon is set to enter the public domain (if it's not already public domain because of a flawed copyright notice) on 1st January 2024, less than 13 years away.

Since Congress has already pulled some public domain works back into copyright (and the Supreme Court is soon to decide whether that's constitutional), perhaps we will see an attempt to simplify the current terribly complicated US copyright length rules, and impose a simple lifetime+70 rule for everything? That would give Mickey another 13 years to 1st January 2037.

Or even, to harmonise with Mexico, lifetime+100? That would lock Mickey away safely until 1st January 2067.

It will be interesting to see if anything is brought forward in the next few years.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:53 AM   #2
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:09 AM   #3
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Since copyright terms are fairly arbitrary, how about some of these?
  • When authors have already made an obscene amount of money for a book or series of books (Harry Potter), ebook versions should be public domain.
  • Copyright should last forever. Just suck it up and buy it.
  • 50 years from publication or death of author; whichever comes last.
  • Death of author plus 50 years or 70 years or 100 years or 200 years, etc.
others???
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:21 AM   #4
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50 years from publication or death of author; whichever comes last.
I'm quite fond of this one, but perhaps a straightforward "70 years from publication" would be better.

I'm much in favour of increasing the certain length of copyright, and decreasing the variable length, even taking the variable amount to zero.

But with the Berne Convention in place, it would take an enormous amount of international effort to get copyright length changed to this extent.

I think the absolute best we could hope for would be a return to the Berne minimums. And realistically, I see no no chance of that happening in the US or in Europe.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:46 AM   #5
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I would vote for "50 years from publication or death of author; whichever comes last." myself.

The way it is now, at least in the US, you can learn so much about the early 20th Century up until 1923.

Then you just hit a wall (with a few exceptions). But there is so much history in the 30s and 40s that I think society as a whole is missing out on. The Great Depression, WW2, early days of racial equality movements.

Yeah, maybe .001% of that material is still commercially viable. But most of it isn't.

I understand wanting to protect the rights of authors. But most of them are doomed to obscurity. If anything, having free material (their older stuff) might actually boost sales of newer work.

Or they could issue authorized editions (Louis L'amour did this, many his early stories were PD, so he put out authorized collections with notes about the stories)
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Old 04-06-2011, 08:52 AM   #6
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Copyright should enable authors to make a living, not enable people who were born after the author and everyone who knew him has died to get rich. Although, realistically, they don't do the latter; they allow a small number of corporations to get rich (see: Disney) and, by and large, do nothing much for authors' descendants, because few but the bibliophiles care all that much about a book a hundred years or more old; most people would rather buy the latest Tom Clancy.

Look at the discussion elsewhere of William Faulkner ebooks. Faulkner is considered one of the greatest writers in English of the 20th century, and has been called the greatest writer ever to live. His writing won him a Nobel prize, his books are standards in schools, and so on. Yet how many people, realistically, are going to buy ebooks of his works? How many who are not forced to (i.e., for reading lists) buy pbooks of his works? For an actual author, as opposed to a corporation, there's a "shelf life" for their writing after which it fades off into obscurity, even for a Faulkner or a Hemingway. The people who make the money aren't the authors, or their children, or their great-great-grandchildren, because even if their ancestor was someone like Faulkner, the market isn't there; if their ancestor was Joe Schmoe, the market probably wasn't there even when he was alive and actively selling his books. The people who make the money are companies like Disney, which can keep updating and re-using that mouse and marketing the results, essentially forever. (comments about Zombie Mickey can go in the chat box....) The entire market for writing, which was good enough in its previous form for Shakespeare and Twain, has been subverted to meet the desires of a few companies like Disney who make enormous profits from Mickey Mouse clocks and pillowcases. There's no benefit, and often net harm, to the public (whom the whole "promotion of Science and the useful Arts" was meant to benefit), no benefit to the authors (they're dead), but a whopping benefit to Disney. And guess who has the money?
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:30 AM   #7
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Disney will probably start actively lobbying congress for a copyright extension a few years prior to their copyrights expiration. The way things look, they might even try for perpetual copyright.

So we've got about 8 years to convince people that copyright needs to be abolished.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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Disney will probably start actively lobbying congress for a copyright extension a few years prior to their copyrights expiration. The way things look, they might even try for perpetual copyright.
All copyrights should be perpetual.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:46 AM   #9
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:49 AM   #10
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All copyrights should be perpetual.
You've said that before, and, when challenged, backed down to a 'perpetual so long as it's eventually registered and a series of renewals are kept up'.

It would help discussion if, when stating your position, you state your full position, and not one that you don't actually hold.

Unless, of course, I got the wrong idea in previous discussions, and you actually think that copyrights ought to be automatic and perpetual, with no registration or renewal required.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:51 AM   #11
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So we've got about 8 years to convince people that copyright needs to be abolished.
I'd be satisfied merely to keep the status quo, and prevent any further extension of copyright terms.

I think abolition of copyright is both improbably, and would be harmful.

My preferred option would be a reduction in the variable length of copyright terms.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:52 AM   #12
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You've said that before, and, when challenged, backed down to a 'perpetual so long as it's eventually registered and a series of renewals are kept up'.
Maybe I'm not wording it right, but I fail to see a difference.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:55 AM   #13
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Maybe I'm not wording it right, but I fail to see a difference.
The difference is this:

Perpetual copyright: No works ever enter the public domain. All reproduction must be authorised by the copyright holders. Copyright holders are hard to find for older works.

Perpetual copyright but requiring registration and periodic renewals: Most works enter the public domain by not being registered or renewed. A simple check with the registry will determine copyright status, and give contact details for the copyright holder if still in copyright.

There is a very big difference.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:02 AM   #14
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The difference is this:

Perpetual copyright: No works ever enter the public domain. All reproduction must be authorised by the copyright holders. Copyright holders are hard to find for older works.

Perpetual copyright but requiring registration and periodic renewals: Most works enter the public domain by not being registered or renewed. A simple check with the registry will determine copyright status, and give contact details for the copyright holder if still in copyright.

There is a very big difference.
Then I'll change my statement to all copyrights should be perpetual after registration and periodic renewals.

I've never favored copyright for works that aren't registered. At some point, one needs to claim legal ownership of one's works.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:08 AM   #15
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Then I'll change my statement to all copyrights should be perpetual after registration and periodic renewals.

I've never favored copyright for works that aren't registered. At some point, one needs to claim legal ownership of one's works.
Many thanks.

I think I prefer automatic initial copyright.

Although perhaps a registration (say after about 20 years) and renewal system wouldn't be too hard a burden, provided it didn't have the excessively strict limits on exactly when renewal was required that appeared in the old US system.

Shame it will never happen.
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