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Old 03-29-2009, 03:35 PM   #1
Ralph Sir Edward
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making a copyright offer the US Government can't Refuse...

Fellow copyright reformists - This is a serious lounge thread.

Many of us have felt that copyright, as it is currently implemented, is a travesty. No one had figured out, though, what could be done against the powerful copyright forces (and you can fill in your own blanks - I'm not courting a defamation lawsuit). I have finally figured out a way that might even get implemented, if the grassroots lobby enough.

One thing that is currently obvious, is that the US Gov't is spending a montrously humugous amount of money to counteract the recession, leading to a most amazing defict. I am not being partisan about this fact, I merely state it. Congress is considering placing a transfer tax on stock sales, for example, in order to raise more revenue. No stone is being left unturned in search for revenue....

So I propose a copyright tax. Yes, you heard right, this right wing libertarian is suggesting a New Tax. Property has been taxed in most states since they've existed, and this has been considered fair and obvious. Since corporate interests seem to want to treat copyright as property, let's tax it just like property.

I don't claim to have a final description of how it should be taxed, I open the floor for suggestion. I recommend the following base rules. If you want a copyright, you have to register it just like you used to in the pre-1976 days. After all, all other properties have to be registered, and their limits and location measured, so it can be properly described, copyright need the same requirements. I suggest that an initial copyright of 5 years be allowed, without registering, to allow initial protection. Anybody who wants further protection must register for it, just like registering a property transfer. Whenever the tax doesn't get paid, the work reverts to the public domain. To keep it in force, you have to pay. Just like to keep your real property, you have to pay your tax on it. If you don't, it revert to the state.

The revenue can be used for copyright enforcement, or for general purposes. Remember the old saw "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree." Just call it the "Rich Hollywood" tax and you've got a winner....
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Old 03-29-2009, 03:47 PM   #2
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hm, very interesting idea...

i like it, however i would propose the initial unregistered / untaxed period be lengthened to perhaps 20 years. this would allow smaller artists / writers / other copyright holders to profit from their work for a reasonable period, without putting any extra burden on those who can the least afford it. i do think the *original* spirit of copyright should be kept ; however, i completely agree with you that it has been perverted beyond all recognition lately.

by the way, since we're on the subject, much of my views about copyright have been informed by Eric Flint's excellent series of editorials on the subject. I highly recommend reading them to anyone at all interested in the subject. they're freely accessible on Baen's site (scroll down).
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Old 03-29-2009, 03:58 PM   #3
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I'd love to see copyright reformed, lessened to the life-span of the author, or even less, but I fear its too late to do anything now, and not just because of the copyright hoarding corporations and businesses who've perverted copyright's original intentions. The tide is rising, and a new generation, and those who follow, have little to no comprehension of monetary value attached to digital property. Everything is free to them, on-demand, and shared. How can you possibly enforce, or expect to enforce copyright in a culture that is reared upon sharing and instantaneous access? This attitude is and will make the idea of copyright meaningless within a couple of generations.

Where does that leave the creators? Well, as Blanche Dubois says in A Streetcar Named Desire -- "Whoever you are, I have always relied on the kindness of strangers."
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:06 PM   #4
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Where does that leave the creators?
Creators are consumers too. They have copyright expenses as well as copyright income - I wonder how many actually come out ahead.
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
Ralph Sir Edward
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
hm, very interesting idea...

i like it, however i would propose the initial unregistered / untaxed period be lengthened to perhaps 20 years. this would allow smaller artists / writers / other copyright holders to profit from their work for a reasonable period, without putting any extra burden on those who can the least afford it. i do think the *original* spirit of copyright should be kept ; however, i completely agree with you that it has been perverted beyond all recognition lately.

by the way, since we're on the subject, much of my views about copyright have been informed by Eric Flint's excellent series of editorials on the subject. I highly recommend reading them to anyone at all interested in the subject. they're freely accessible on Baen's site (scroll down).

I subscribe to baen's universe and read them as they come out.

There's lots of way to help out the "little guy". An original creator exemption, only available to the original creator of the work.
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:40 PM   #6
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Creators are consumers too. They have copyright expenses as well as copyright income - I wonder how many actually come out ahead.

I'm not advocating this position, but I think it might happen in the coming years. There is no copyright at all. It disappears completely. Creators just create, whether it's original work or the remixing of others, it will all be the same to the audience, who have no respect or even an idea of copyright in the first place.

Respect will be gained through popularity, much like the Karma on mobileread, but a global implementation. Money will not even factor into the creations as there will be very little chance of making profit from your work.

Might sound far fetched, but what would it really take to make this happen in a world that's accelerating at a pace that's never been seen before? We already have, or will have soonish, the technologies to get your creations out to everyone who is connected to the internet. The last bastion of physically produced entertainment products is crumbling in the face of digital distribution - the book.

So let's flip forward two generations. The last of the big companies are dying out in the face of a generation who would no more 'pay' for a product than they would drinking water from a public fountain. In this generation there are superstars of reputation and popularity. And these creators do it for the fans, the reaction of a populace and, being of that generation, have no concept of either 'owning' what they do or 'profiting' monetarily. As the mountain climber says when asked his reasons for climbing - because its there.

It's a hard thought to think being of a 'sandwich generation' too far removed from the purely analogue, but not close enough to the purely digital generation that's emerging now. But I wonder how it can go any other way? All we need look at is the popularity of 'Axxo' on the torrent sites. He takes copyrighted movies, compresses them digitally into 700mb for easy downloads and is a hero to a lot of kids growing up now. Not the content 'creator' but the content 'liberator'.
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:07 PM   #7
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The problem is the fact that the corporations would immediately attack such a tax in the courts, calling it un-constitutional (the 5 year limit not allowing them to profit from/protect their private property sufficiently etc)..

They are particularly adept at demonstrating that copyright laws be broadened and lengthened (eg. mickey mouse is not public domain), so the corporations would fight tooth and nail against such a tax. Personally I like the idea!
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:01 PM   #8
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The problem is the fact that the corporations would immediately attack such a tax in the courts, calling it un-constitutional (the 5 year limit not allowing them to profit from/protect their private property sufficiently etc)..

They are particularly adept at demonstrating that copyright laws be broadened and lengthened (eg. mickey mouse is not public domain), so the corporations would fight tooth and nail against such a tax. Personally I like the idea!

Ah, but that's the kicker. They can keep their copyright for the full length of time. They can even have Congress extend it. They just have to pay taxes on the privledge. With our Congress looking for anyway they can to get more tax revenue, that may outweight the corporations reach....
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