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Old 10-26-2017, 08:53 PM   #121
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A book is nothing more than a string of words. Words are in the public domain, obviously. Therefore any combination of them, it stands to reason, is in the public domain. Public domain meaning, at least in this case, all of us own it.

Why do you "own" a book just because you wrote it? The simple reason is that what you own, according to the Constitution, is the right to control it's distribution for a limited time. You don't own combinations of words.

Copyright is set up because we all, or at least most of us, recognize that creators need a head start to get their stuff going. They need it and they deserve it and we need to allow them to have it. We need it as much as they do because we need to encourage people to be creative.

Even the ownership of your computer or car or home or the clothes your wearing can be questioned legitimately. You own it because we all agree that you own it. There's nothing in nature that says you own it.

Intel tried, unsuccessfully, thank the courts, to trademark the letter I. If they'd done so the Ipad would have become the Pad. We'd have to pay our blls. Spell checkers would go mad. There would be havoc.

Nobody can own a letter. Nobody can own a word. Nobody can own any combination of two words or 10 words or 100,000 words. But, for the benefit of us all we do give people who put together combinations of words the right to control their distribution for a limited time. Personally I'm glad we do, even though lobbyists have pushed Congress to extend that time to ridiculous lengths. Still, Congress has done so so there we are.

I do like the idea of having to register a copyright annually. I'm not sure why even a nominal fee should be attached although I don't see any real problem with that. The simple fact of annual registration of copyright seems an adequate solution. Don't register it this year and it expires. I like that idea.

Even better would be shorter copyright terms but I realize, sadly, that isn't likely.

Calling copyright ownership lends weight to the lobbyists arguments for longer terms. I find that pretty scary.

The original copyright term in the USA was 14 years, which could be extended once by registering it again. Personally I'd cut that in half but it's not really unreasonably long. It let's far more than 99% of all books go out of print before they become public domain.

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Old 10-26-2017, 09:50 PM   #122
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The simple reason is that what you own, according to the Constitution, is the right to control it's distribution for a limited time.
Until 1891, US copyright law, under said Constitution, had zero protections for new books by authors lacking American citizenship. So I don't generally see the early American copyright model as a good one.

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The original copyright term in the USA was 14 years, which could be extended once by registering it again. Personally I'd cut that in half but it's not really unreasonably long.
I think that 14 years, and probably even 28 years, is so short that it would majorly reduce sales of new titles.

Life + 50 seems to me a reasonable compromise, besides having the benefit of greatest consistency with international law. It's long enough not to depress current sales more than a smidgen. Once copyright is long enough for that, there's no justification for it being longer.

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How is $20 nominal?
To some people that would mean the difference between eating and starving.
When I endorsed the $20 renewal fee, I wasn't thinking about the amount, but the principle that if no one cares enough to renew, the benefit is almost all on the side of letting the title go to public domain. If it was possible to amend the Berne Convention to require renewal, what I'd really want was a renewal fee that just barely covered the administrative cost of an efficiently managed renewal system.

Besides making a payment to fund the renewal process, the copyright holder should also have to certify that the title is still marketed in every country with freedom to read. In the eBook era, that should be no problem. More of a problem is getting international consistency.
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Old 10-26-2017, 10:22 PM   #123
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Until 1891, US copyright law, under said Constitution, had zero protections for new books by authors lacking American citizenship. So I don't generally see the early American copyright model as a good one.


I think that 14 years, and probably even 28 years, is so short that it would majorly reduce sales of new titles.

Life + 50 seems to me a reasonable compromise, besides having the benefit of greatest consistency with international law. It's long enough not to depress current sales more than a smidgen. Once copyright is long enough for that, there's no justification for it being longer.


When I endorsed the $20 renewal fee, I wasn't thinking about the amount, but the principle that if no one cares enough to renew, the benefit is almost all on the side of letting the title go to public domain. If it was possible to amend the Berne Convention to require renewal, what I'd really want was a renewal fee that just barely covered the administrative cost of an efficiently managed renewal system.

Besides making a payment to fund the renewal process, the copyright holder should also have to certify that the title is still marketed in every country with freedom to read. In the eBook era, that should be no problem. More of a problem is getting international consistency.
Yes, $1 or $2 is usually nominal. But not $20.
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Old 10-26-2017, 11:41 PM   #124
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Sorry about the length of this post but I think there are a few things which it is worthwhile writing about.

Arguments about whether copyrights are "property" or not are beside the point. Intellectual property including copyrights are not "property" in the same sense as physical property, be it land or goods. However, copyright laws do confer upon copyrights some of the legal characteristics which define physical property, for instance, the ability to transfer it.

Modern copyright laws began their life as tools of censorship and control, though they now seek to serve the public good, as Ralph's quote from the US Constitution shows. The US Constitution is the basis of copyright law in the United States, and the effectiveness of the copyright law must be evaluated against the aims set out in the Constitution. So far as the United States are concerned, there is no defensible basis for copyright laws not aimed at achieving these aims.

These aims are very clearly set out, that is, to promote the progress of science and useful arts. The Constitution also sets out how this can be done, that is, by way of securing a monopoly to authors and inventors. But not a perpetual monopoly. Your founding fathers were very wise. It now seems to be generally accepted that a monopoly is against the public interest. I’m not sure if that was accepted at the time the US Constitution was drafted, though it was certainly recongnised generally that locking an asset up in perpetuity was undesirable. Any person with legal training in a common law country will recognise the “rule against perpetuities” which has a very general application. Wikipedia has a very succint summary as follows:

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The rule against perpetuities is a rule in the common law that forbids legal instruments from tying up property for too long a time beyond the lives of people living at the time the instrument was written.
So, in creating the US framework for a copyright and conferring upon it some of the characteristics of property, it is not surprising that the founding fathers specified that such right could only be for a limited time. Actual copyright laws seem to have borrowed from the framework of the rule, specifying time limits on the basis of a life plus a number of years.

The US Constitution is not about protecting authors or inventors and their descendants. It is not about creating a property right for authors and inventors. It is about promoting progress in useful arts and sciences. In a previous post I linked to a journal article on Roman influences on Copyright. But the Romans themselves did not have copyright. To quote from that article:

Quote:
First, let us be frank. As was mentioned, it seems to be quite clear that the ancient Romans did not develop a law of copyright. Ancient authors borrowed wholesale from one another to a degree that would easily be considered copyright infringement under modern copyright laws. Generally speaking, authors, painters, and sculptors were funded by wealthy patrons or worked on municipal projects funded by governments. Thus, authors and artists had no need to seek a financial reward through making multiple copies of their works.
Yet the Romans have left an enduring legacy in science and the arts. It is clear that there would still be progress in both without copyright. However, it seems intuitive that some incentive to authors and inventors will result in more “progress” in these fields. This is why copyright exists. Not to give authors and inventors a valuable property right, but to encourage “progress”, in the case of books, the writing of more of them. If a copyright law does not do this, then it is a failure.

Copyright is not property. It is a privilege, granted to creators and inventors to encourage them to create and invent for the greater benefit of society. It does this by giving them a limited monopoly in their own work. The starting point is that a monopoly is against the public interest. However, it is in the public interest to encourage progress in the arts and sciences by providing incentives. Copyright law balances these competing public interests by giving preference to the latter but for a limited time. As time passes the utility of the latter declines until it no longer prevails. This does not mean that there is no value in extending copyright beyond the life of the creator. Whilst a dead creator can not be encouraged to create, creators still alive can be encouraged by knowing that the rewards of their work will continue to flow to their descendants for a period after their death. But, of course, given that the law exists not to protect but to incentivize creators, how long a period can be justified?

Another interesting point is that the constitution makes no reference to the role of rights-holders. The theory, of course, is that it is pointless to grant a statutory monopoly as an incentive if many creators cannot effectively exploit that right. So to grant an effective incentive creators must have a market for their work. Hence they must be able to sell and licence their monopoly rights. And, of course, the price they can achieve is dependent upon the extent to which rights-holders are able to protect and exploit their rights. But we should not make the mistake of believing that a creator’s interests and the interests of a subsequent rights-holder are the same. For instance, it is difficult for me to see how the Disney extensions to copyright duration confer any further benefit on the public or encourage “progress” at all. If there is any such effect I suggest that it would be so minor that it does not justify the public harm caused by the monopoly continuing.

Intellectual property law is a minefield of balancing competing interests. My view is that intellectual property laws in general are now meeting their aims very poorly. In some cases they are not only not achieving their aims but are in fact hindering the very progress they seek to encourage. They have become far more about protecting the interests of largely large corporate rights-holders than encouraging progress in the arts and sciences. The aim of encouraging “progress” in the arts and sciences is a worthy one. We do need intellectual property laws to do this, but a wide-ranging and fundamental review is long overdue. Such a review should also consider whether a statutory monopoly is the best way to encourage progress in all cases. For example, take the development of life saving medications which a monopoly makes ruinously expensive, but which would never have been developed without the incentive of such a monopoly. Some countries have taken the step of compulsorily licensing such drugs at a statutory affordable royalty rather than allow their citizens to die needlessly. Surely we can and must do better.

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Old 10-27-2017, 07:16 AM   #125
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I totally misunderstood you then, but why should the author have to go to the trouble or expense to prove the copyright is still valid.
Not to mention the extra people that would need to be employed just for that purpose.

Excuse me if I don't think books as a whole are worth that thousands of dollars of expenses. You do realize there are at least 1 million books published a year.

Can someone name me one "orphaned book" that would be worth it?
I could probably make a case for a number of books published as works for hire by companies that have now gone bust so the rights are definitely orphaned. These would include old technical manuals etc and there is no reason (apart from copyright itself) not to release them to the public domain.
So these have a copyright term of 95 years from publication with absolutely zero chance of them being available legally until then.
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:48 AM   #126
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I could probably make a case for a number of books published as works for hire by companies that have now gone bust so the rights are definitely orphaned. These would include old technical manuals etc and there is no reason (apart from copyright itself) not to release them to the public domain.
So these have a copyright term of 95 years from publication with absolutely zero chance of them being available legally until then.
Your example is exactly what I am talking about. The question then becomes is that manual the only information available about that particular machine. Is the machine still around.
An example I am thinking would be like a car manual. I know Chilton used to be the best. I also know now there is plenty of information on the Web so except to a very few people would the tech manual be useful.
Oh and on that subject, where did I put the physical manual for my bread machine?
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:58 AM   #127
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Your example is exactly what I am talking about. The question then becomes is that manual the only information available about that particular machine.
You keep mentioning that and I'm not sure why. Only you seem worried about that as a standard.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:25 AM   #128
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You keep mentioning that and I'm not sure why. Only you seem worried about that as a standard.
Here is the why.
If the information is out there in another book, then why worry about orphaned books.
They are not that important to society which is what some people are trying to claim.

As to the fee idea to keep your work as your own, why should I have to pay to work or potentially keep getting an income? That flew all over me. Authors are not second class citizens and shouldn't have to pay money to create something for people that think they have a right to tell the person how long they can make money off the book and that the author's children are not entitled to an inheritance.

I knew of a company that was taking advantage of young women and charging them $25 a day to work at their clubs. Sometimes, the girls didn't even make that a night.
The club approached me. Even offered me a discount. My answer was not family friendly.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:38 AM   #129
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Here is the why.
If the information is out there in another book, then why worry about orphaned books.
Just because there are other histories of Julius Caesar does not make Shakespeare's play unimportant.


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They are not that important to society which is what some people are trying to claim.
You and I disagree. But if you really believe that so strongly, you should stop reading public domain books immediately. Just because it is legally available doesn't mean you should be treating Mark Twain's heirs as second class citizens and read his work for free.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:00 PM   #130
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Just because there are other histories of Julius Caesar does not make Shakespeare's play unimportant.




You and I disagree. But if you really believe that so strongly, you should stop reading public domain books immediately. Just because it is legally available doesn't mean you should be treating Mark Twain's heirs as second class citizens and read his work for free.
I never said anything about public domain books.
I am talking about out of print books which are still copyrighted.
The way I interpreted a couple of posts was either keep your book available or give up your rights or pay to keep it out of print.
That to me says if your memoirs are not that important to you, give up your rights so some other person can make money off of your hard work.

So life + 70 makes sense.

As per your Shakespeare reference, someone cared about his work to keep it going.
As to Twain's heirs, they can still make money off his books if they want to.

Now to all of you that want to make sure no book is ever orphaned again: contact the copyright holder and get permission to store a copy of their book so exactly 70 years after they die, you can make their work available.
Find the flaw in that logic.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:08 PM   #131
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Now to all of you that want to make sure no book is ever orphaned again: contact the copyright holder and get permission to store a copy of their book so exactly 70 years after they die, you can make their work available.
Find the flaw in that logic.
It's absurd. That's the flaw.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:17 PM   #132
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I never said anything about public domain books.
I am talking about out of print books which are still copyrighted.
The way I interpreted a couple of posts was either keep your book available or give up your rights or pay to keep it out of print.
That to me says if your memoirs are not that important to you, give up your rights so some other person can make money off of your hard work.

So life + 70 makes sense.

As per your Shakespeare reference, someone cared about his work to keep it going.
As to Twain's heirs, they can still make money off his books if they want to.

Now to all of you that want to make sure no book is ever orphaned again: contact the copyright holder and get permission to store a copy of their book so exactly 70 years after they die, you can make their work available.
Find the flaw in that logic.
There are a few flaws in that logic, the first being that I don't need the author's permission to store a book that is for sale right now.

Another flaw is that there are books out there right now that are orphaned, and nobody knows who has the rights. Because of the way that copyright is structured in the US, the copyright for some of these books won't be available until years after anyone who is interested in the books is dead.

Of course, there's also the issue that, unfortunately, a book written by any author alive right now will not go out of copyright until I am long dead, so I couldn't make it available when it's legal to do so anyway.

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Old 10-27-2017, 12:27 PM   #133
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There are a few flaws in that logic, the first being that I don't need the author's permission to store a book that is for sale right now.

Another flaw is that there are books out there right now that are orphaned, and nobody knows who has the rights. Because of the way that copyright is structured in the US, the copyright for some of these books won't be available until years after anyone who is interested in the books is dead.

Of course, there's also the issue that, unfortunately, a book written by any author alive right now will not go out of copyright until I am long dead, so I couldn't make it available when it's legal to do so anyway.

Shari
You nailed my argument on #2.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:46 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by Cinisajoy View Post
You nailed my argument on #2.
#2? "Another flaw is that there are books out there right now that are orphaned, and nobody knows who has the rights. Because of the way that copyright is structured in the US, the copyright for some of these books won't be available until years after anyone who is interested in the books is dead."

How does that nail your argument? Because of the "years after anyone who is interested in the books is dead." part? The point is that people won't be interested in the books because they won't know about them, and probably couldn't get a copy even if they did.

Again...If Shakespeare's works had been written now, (or even 75 years ago) they would probably be forgotten, since his last heir died about 50 years after Shakespeare himself did, and the works would still be in copyright with no way to distribute or perform them.

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Old 10-27-2017, 12:51 PM   #135
Ralph Sir Edward
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But why should a work, that was created under a 56 year copyright, have its length extended, and extended, over and over again.

The creator agreed to the terms when he/she created the work, why the retroactive bonus? I can't see any reason for it.

(And bye the bye, Mart Twain's last living descendant died at his Life + 56. . .)
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