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Old 01-18-2012, 03:54 PM   #1
taosaur
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Supreme Court Says Congress May Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/201...right-decision

While this case, bringing copyrights on foreign works into compliance with an international treaty, is not too objectionable, the decision does have unsettling ramifications as a precedent.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/201...right-decision

While this case, bringing copyrights on foreign works into compliance with an international treaty, is not too objectionable, the decision does have unsettling ramifications as a precedent.
Yup. It basically makes a mockery of both the copyright clause and the first amendment.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:16 PM   #3
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Sigh. Way to go, Supreme Court. Keep up the *good* work.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:44 PM   #4
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It's been a while since I've looked through copyright, but there's already a provision to re-copyright PD works if you use it often enough. I'll see if I can dig it up.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
Andrew H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spellbanisher View Post
Yup. It basically makes a mockery of both the copyright clause and the first amendment.
I don't see how. If extending copyright from life+50 to life+70 doesn't violate the copyright clause, I don't see how putting certain PD works in the life+70 category would violate it.

And this decision doesn't burden the 1st Amendment any more than the copyright clause already does.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:38 PM   #6
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grrrrrrr...
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:49 PM   #7
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It just sucks, that stuff that has been in public domain for decades, and have become part of the culture, are now going back to being copyrighted. Like, I've seen Peter and the Wolf performed so many times back in school, because it was good and the school could afford it (you know, since they didn't have to pay royalties).
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:46 PM   #8
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But hey, it's all necessary to retroactively give millions of dead artists an incentive to create the works they already created.

Here's a quote from Wired:

Quote:
In dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito said the legislation goes against the theory of copyright and “does not encourage anyone to produce a single new work.” Copyright, they noted, was part of the Constitution to promote the arts and sciences.

The legislation, Breyer wrote, “bestows monetary rewards only on owners of old works in the American public domain. At the same time, the statute inhibits the dissemination of those works, foreign works published abroad after 1923, of which there are many millions, including films, works of art, innumerable photographs, and, of course, books — books that (in the absence of the statute) would assume their rightful places in computer-accessible databases, spreading knowledge throughout the world.”
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:51 PM   #9
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I contend that abuse of copyright is the root cause of copyright violation. Copyright was intended to ensure the creator of IP a fair profit on their effort. When the right to a fair profit entends beyond the creator to an industry and spans generations, people feel justified in ignoring the law.
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:35 PM   #10
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Playing the Devil's Advocate here, I can understand the reasons given by the judges in this case. From the article (my emphasis):
Quote:
The court, however, was sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ argument. Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Ginsburg said “some restriction on expression is the inherent and intended effect of every grant of copyright.” But the top court, with Justice Elena Kagan recused, said Congress’ move to re-copyright the works to comport with an international treaty was more important.

For a variety of reasons, the works at issue, which are foreign and produced decades ago, became part of the public domain in the United States but were still copyrighted overseas. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.
While I would not be happy to see anything that was once in the public domain go back into copyright, I can see the usefulness of having an international standard. As it is, it's a major headache for sites like MobileRead that have their own public domain libraries to continually ensure the materials in their libraries don't run afoul of the laws of more than one country.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
I can see the usefulness of having an international standard.
True. But should those international standards aspire to adopt the most restrictive standards of signator nations?
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by wizwor View Post
I contend that abuse of copyright is the root cause of copyright violation. . . . When the right to a fair profit entends beyond the creator to an industry and spans generations, people feel justified in ignoring the law.
Then we'd be hearing that young people, interested in music of the past couple decades, respect copyright, while the elderly are known for massively downloading Deanna Durbin movies.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
While I would not be happy to see anything that was once in the public domain go back into copyright, I can see the usefulness of having an international standard. As it is, it's a major headache for sites like MobileRead that have their own public domain libraries to continually ensure the materials in their libraries don't run afoul of the laws of more than one country.
We don't have the exact terms of the piece of legislation, though. It could be just another attempt by Disney to stop their eventual loss of copyright over Mickey Mouse.

The other problem is, the Berne Convention seems to have been written to encourage bad-faith patents and copyrights. I've heard talk that someone in Australia managed to secure a patent on the wheel, for example, and might be demanding royalties in the not-too-distant future. If that's the case, then we need to be seriously re-examining what the real purpose of the treaty is.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizwor View Post
I contend that abuse of copyright is the root cause of copyright violation. Copyright was intended to ensure the creator of IP a fair profit on their effort. When the right to a fair profit entends beyond the creator to an industry and spans generations, people feel justified in ignoring the law.
Well, reading coments from every newspaper to even this forum catering to people who love to read or love to write confirms that.

You would have to be either pretty stupid or morally destitute to contend anything else, as there is no third option.
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:44 PM   #15
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So I'm curious if anyone here is going to get much more sophisticated than "copyright bad."

Generally speaking the Supreme Court takes the attitude that unless there really is a threat of perpetual copyright, then it's not their job to second-guess the acts of Congress on the question of copyright duration. They also rejected the idea that the First Amendment prevents a re-establishment of copyright, or that PD is "untouchable" by Congress. The requirement for copyright to perpetuate "arts and sciences" was already thoroughly reviewed and found to be non-binding in Eldred v Ashcroft.

Thus their job was to determine if there was a conflict between the Berne agreements (an international treaty) and existing US copyright law. They basically found there wasn't a conflict, and that protecting works that were not previously protected in order to meet treaty obligations was not an establishment of "perpetual copyrights."

The ruling is very complex, in-depth, thoroughly researched and received a 6-2 vote. Not that anyone here is a) well-versed in US or international copyright law (I'm not) or b) bothered to read the ruling (I might read the whole thing if I have time). No, what matters is that copyright is bad, and any attempts by anyone to support copyright is also bad.


On a side note, I find it slightly amusing that Mr Golan can't afford to pay licensing fees for Peter and the Wolf, but can afford to take the case all the way to the SCOTUS. Ah yes, lawyer logic. Anyway....


Quote:
Originally Posted by BWinmill
should those international standards aspire to adopt the most restrictive standards of signator nations?
That's not how it works.

It's based off of the copyright laws of the original nation, and is sometimes also subject to other agreements between individual nations.

E.g. Gone With the Wind is still under copyright in the US, but is in public domain in Australia, much to the irritation of the Mitchell estate.
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