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Old 07-12-2013, 02:16 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by usuallee View Post
[...]I do feel the current terms are ludicrously long.[...]
I tend to agree that life+70 is too long. Corporate and rich personal estates may be able to manage things this long, but they are already in a position to have made the most out of their rights before this time. The more common situation of small personal estates are the ones that are likely to run into problems with management for 70 years, and where they have probably seen most of what they are likely to see (financially) well before this time. For the practical purposes already noted I think the "life+" aspect of copyright needs to remain, but my own inclination is that somewhere in the 30..50 year range after that would be a more appropriate compromise between serving the personal and public interests.

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I'm not sure that the problem is recordkeeping. It might be that it has to do with legal issues, and that these haven't changed, or at least haven't gotten less common.

I don't have an internet age example of an eBook becoming unavailable, but I do have one for music. Everything here was once available at record stores throughout the US, and, for all I know, the world:

http://www.showmusic.com/showmusic/P.../pscds.htm#TOP

Ben Bagley, the leading personality and apparent owner of Painted Smiles Records, died in 1998. His star-studded, often rave-reviewed, product line is (despite my misleading link) now unavailable, except, sometimes, for used LP's and CD's. No iTunes, no Spotify, no Amazon MP3.

Why? I don't really know. But I can't believe demand is zero.*

I wonder what would have happened if Bagley had lived a few years longer, and made an agreement for his line to go on iTunes. Then, one day, perhaps shortly after Bagley died, Apple would presumably have gotten a royalty check returned as undeliverable. Would they have pulled the products, or still sell them?

____________
* Someone may check and see that iTunes does sell one Bagley recording, apparently because it is distributed by a still-existing record company.
The merging of production and creation in this case could be seen as a useful parallel to self-publishing a book. Lose the one person that does both and you increase the chances of losing access - at least for a time.

The works, as far as I could see, are not orphaned as such, merely not available at the moment. With sufficient demand someone managing the estate may decide to accept offers to change that. As you noted, had he lived a bit longer he may well have come to the point where these albums were published in electronic form - and that would have made it much easier for his estate to decide to keep them available. It doesn't guarantee it would happen, but if there is demand for the albums then it would have to improve the chances I would think - even if the estate simply decided to sell off the rights to someone that was willing to keep it going. And that's largely my point, with transaction costs on the Internet being so low, it doesn't take much interest to keep electronically published items available.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:01 AM   #62
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If you really want to solve the "copyright problem", tax copyrights. Why not? We tax all other forms of real property...
That's an interesting idea, but it's hard to see how it would work in practice, both in terms of what would be taxed (the holding of copyrights, or the income generated from them) and how much.

The income is already taxed by other means, and, at least in jurisdictions where the Berne Convention applies, copyright is automatic and does not require registration, so taxing holding of copyrights seems problematic. How do the authorities determine what copyrights you hold? Also, everything you or I have created, every letter we've written, every photo we've taken etc., is copyright. Should we be taxed on them?

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Old 07-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #63
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That's an interesting idea, but it's hard to see how it would work in practice, both in terms of what would be taxed (the holding of copyrights, or the income generated from them) and how much.

The income is already taxed by other means, and, at least in jurisdictions where the Berne Convention applies, copyright is automatic and does not require registration, so taxing holding of copyrights seems problematic. How do the authorities determine what copyrights you hold? Also, everything you or I have created, every letter we've written, every photo we've taken etc., is copyright. Should we be taxed on them?

/JB
I took his meaning as a "tax", rather than a true tax. e.g. something along the lines of the old renewable copyrights, where you might get 20 years of copyright automatically, after which you can elect to renew the copyright by paying a fee. A relatively modest renewal fee of $1,000 every 10-20 years would cover the government's cost of maintaining a database of extended copyright works. This would allow popular works to continue to accrue benefit to the author, while encouraging the rest of works to enter the public domain and avoiding an orphan-limbo.

Unfortunately, you would probably need to revise or withdraw from the Berne Convention to bring something like that into effect.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:45 PM   #64
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what they should do is make copyright more like patents where they have to be continuously renewed that way they allow authors to make the initial profits but encourage authors to release to public domain faster by making it costly to renew copyright on material that is older no longer popular.

this also applies to a genre of older software called abandonware. still technically copyrighted but distributed freely because the company that made it is out of business or has abandoned it therefor there is noone left to enforce it

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Old 07-12-2013, 06:26 PM   #65
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If books, movies, music were taxed like property at an assessed value this would in my mind be fair. The argument against this would be the rightsholders would say they already paid taxes on the profits. But owners of a property that generates an income pay both property and income tax so it seems right. And just like so called real property where people let their property be repossessed to pay back taxes, unprofitable works would be let go into the public domain.

Of course this would lead to perpetual copyright for profitable works, but I doubt it would stifle creativity by making the books unavailable, as no one sane would price themselves completely out of the market.

As an aside, the argument about stifling creativity does not hold much water for me. Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, even Charles Dickens did not have millions of free books to stimulate their creativity and they along with thousands of others seemed to manage okay.

Taxing an intellectual property like physical property is probably not going to happen as one can only imagine what Disney et. al, would have to say but it might be nice if it happened and kept the tax collectors so busy that they forget I exist.

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Old 07-13-2013, 11:00 AM   #66
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Apparently I misunderstood the bet, I assumes it was one zinc penny to one zinc penny. (Fluribus willing to bet at lower stakes). However, like a character in a Damon Runyon story, never let it be said I welshed on a bet. Perhaps Fluribus can clarify.
I think that a penny bet at evens is more what was intended. Updated.

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Old 07-13-2013, 03:17 PM   #67
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I think that a penny bet at evens is more what was intended. Updated.
Thank you, Grand Mouse. Personally, I would <LOVE> to lose this bet, at either price!!!!

RSE
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:00 PM   #68
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That's an interesting idea, but it's hard to see how it would work in practice, both in terms of what would be taxed (the holding of copyrights, or the income generated from them) and how much.

The income is already taxed by other means, and, at least in jurisdictions where the Berne Convention applies, copyright is automatic and does not require registration, so taxing holding of copyrights seems problematic. How do the authorities determine what copyrights you hold? Also, everything you or I have created, every letter we've written, every photo we've taken etc., is copyright. Should we be taxed on them?

/JB
A proper copyright tax...

(If I were King of The Forrrest!)

The purpose of this tax would be to discourage excessive copyright length. So how to do it.

First it can't contravene the Berne Treaty. (Life Plus 50, fixed length for anonymous works and corporate works).

Second it must discourage copyright extension, but not forbid them. So here goes,

Set length of Corporate copyright to 100 years flat. Set free period of copyright for individuals to Life + 50.

To maintain length beyond those terms, a tax must be paid. Said tax to consist of the initial cost of producing the work. Said cost to be: for books, the initial advance plus any royalties paid on the work for the first 5 years. Said cost for movies to be cost producing the movie, by the most expensive method used for valuation, whether for accounts or payment of residuals, including such post-production costs ascribed to the movie for the first 5 years. For audio recording, the advance to the musicians plus all costs ascribed to the record and marketing process, for the first 5 years. (I am not going to try to ascribe value to computer programs, too tough.)

So if the Disney wants to keep the copyright going on Bambi, when the time comes, they'll be paying several million every 10 years to keep it. Casablanca would be around $700,000 every 10 years. A studio will be willing to pay for those copyrights. But not for a MovieTone short or Leon Carrol short. Or a not well known movie from 1937. Same for books and music.

You may disagree with the details, but this is the structure. It should shut up the mouse house demands for perpetual copyright and deal with orphan works.

RSE
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:30 PM   #69
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The problem with all these copyright tax ideas is who gets to collect, and who has to enforce? Or are the taxes expected to be paid in every country?
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:55 AM   #70
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You may disagree with the details, but this is the structure. It should shut up the mouse house demands for perpetual copyright and deal with orphan works.
Wouldn't it just lead to new kinds of tax avoidance & evasion?
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:01 AM   #71
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As an aside, the argument about stifling creativity does not hold much water for me. Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, even Charles Dickens did not have millions of free books to stimulate their creativity and they along with thousands of others seemed to manage okay.
Shakespeare was a massive pirate by today's standards. Take a look at the Wikipedia article on Romeo and Juliet, for instance, and see how heavily it borrows from other recent works.

Imagine if copyright law had stopped us getting Romeo and Juliet.
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:33 AM   #72
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A proper copyright tax...
I see what you mean, now - your suggestion involves taxing the *extension* of copyrights, not the initial free period. That seems to answer the objections I raised.

I wouldn't really have thought of that as a "tax", more as a fee for extending copyrights, but that's just quibbling over the wording - I like your idea.

It would have to be carefully thought through, however - it feels like there might be a lot of opportunity for devious tax avoidance!

/JB
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Old 07-14-2013, 09:47 AM   #73
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Shrug - Every system gets gamed...

Tax is per country. I'm looking at the US, Hollyweird is the driving force behind copyright extension. Shut them up and the problem goes away.

Far too many old movies have their costs known, hard to cheat on them. One could put a minimum tax in, as well. Say for any movie a minimum of $100,000, sound recording $10,000, or book at $1,000.

I mention this because in the next few years, the mouse house will be madly lobbying for copyright extension, and a counter offer is need for the politicians...
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:32 PM   #74
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honestly there should be no copyright extension beyond the death of the author. that in and of it'sself is where the exploitation takes place. when a person dies their collective works should be remembered not kept in a corporate vault.

if i ever developed a book or piece of software i wouldn't want some faceless corporation to continue profiting after i died i would want that work distributed
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:33 AM   #75
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honestly there should be no copyright extension beyond the death of the author. that in and of it'sself is where the exploitation takes place. when a person dies their collective works should be remembered not kept in a corporate vault.

if i ever developed a book or piece of software i wouldn't want some faceless corporation to continue profiting after i died i would want that work distributed
As you presumably know, if you write the software under the employ of that faceless corporation you have no choice, the copyright is theirs.

Software is quite a different beast to something like a novel. Software only stops evolving when there is no more demand for it (some may still use it, perhaps even for a long time, but very few new participants come to play). It is almost a living thing, it must constantly grow and adapt to survive - when development stops the end is not far away.

Whereas a novel is something that you can actually finish - indeed you are expected to finish, readers don't appreciate you coming back and constantly tweaking the story after they've read it. I think one of the reasons why I like writing is that it makes a very nice change to actually finish something (in software development I have a project that's been going for more than 20 years, and still with no end in sight).

Literature is more on topic for this forum, for obvious reasons. Copyright for literature has a purpose that would not be well served by stopping it at a person's death. That purpose is to provide incentive to artists - and after death, their estates - to make their work available. Publishing literature takes time, effort and money*. Estates may not bother to expend the cost of publishing an artist's work if there was no chance of having those costs recovered (it would be quicker, easier and cost nothing just to toss it in the trash). Publishers would start looking at an author's age and health before accepting works (they invest thousands to publish a book). Artists themselves may decide they are too old or ill to consider the cost of publication worthwhile. Copyright continuing after death can provide the incentive to make works available that might otherwise be lost.

* Publishing software also takes time, effort and money, but there are differences (for example: the iterative nature of software development) that make direct comparison less than ideal.

Last edited by gmw; 07-20-2013 at 11:36 AM.
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