Copyright law and ethics discussion

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GµårÐïåñ
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Copyright law and ethics discussion

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Wed May 23, 2012 3:25 am

(Split as being no longer a technical discussion, but rather a legal and ethical one, from Forum Flashgot Support, "Question about security" -- Tom T.)

Tom T. wrote:I'm referring to vids at YouTube, which you do *not* pay for.

What about them? Public domain for the most part. Even copyright crap can be put up under "educational"/"entertainment" sub-section and even the music/video companies can't force you to stop putting it up. Its all about loopholes, context, and intentions.

As far as paid stuff, if the site's TOS says it's X dollars to join and Y for each d/l, then you agreed to those terms when you joined.

Regardless of anything the TOS says, if I am paying for it, then if I want to download and keep a copy for MY OWN PERSONAL USE, then I am entitled and it doesn't violate the law. In fact you flaunt it in their face and they can't do crap. Trust me, just because someone puts it in the contract and just because you accept it, doesn't mean it will hold under the law.

Were you able to d/l and save the one in my link? If so, how? Maybe answer in PM or our private forum.

Of course, a cake walk.

Septic wrote:I thought of something. Isn't possible to extract the video from the internet/flashplayer cache?

Technically, YES, practically not that useful or reliable means.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Tom T. » Wed May 23, 2012 9:05 am

GµårÐïåñ wrote:
Tom T. wrote:I'm referring to vids at YouTube, which you do *not* pay for.

What about them? Public domain for the most part. Even copyright crap can be put up under "educational"/"entertainment" sub-section and even the music/video companies can't force you to stop putting it up. Its all about loopholes, context, and intentions.

Please check your facts, my friend.
Duration of copyright

Works created in or after 1978 are extended copyright protection for a term defined in 17 U.S.C. § 302. With the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, these works are granted copyright protection for a term ending 70 years after the death of the author. If the work was a work for hire (e.g., those created by a corporation) then copyright persists for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter.

Before 1972, sound recordings were not subject to federal copyright, but copying was nonetheless regulated under various state torts and statutes, some of which had no duration limit. The Sound Recording Amendment of 1971 extended federal copyright to recordings fixed on or after February 15, 1972 (the effective date of the act), and declared that recordings fixed before that date would remain subject to state or common law copyright.
The Copyright Act of 1976 maintained this until February 15, 2047, which was subsequently extended by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act to the same date in 2067.[36] As a result, no sound recording can reliably be considered in the public domain in the United States before that date, even if the recording was in existence before 1923 and even if it originated in another country where it has entered the public domain.

So all of those songs by The Beatles, Madonna, Justin Bieber, whoever, that are uploaded to YT are copyrighted, no way to deny that. If the copyright holder does not object, fine.

The "Fair Use" "loopholes" to which you refer pertain to an author adding *substantial" original critique, analysis, etc., where snippets of the original are discussed by the author, who must add substantially to the original, and the original must not constitute the bulk of the work.

Else, explain why George Harrison was SUCCESSFULLY sued for copyright infringement because "My Sweet Lord" used the melody of The Chiffons' 1963 hit "He's So Fine".

Social, political, and other satire and parody are recognized as Fair Use, provided that the user does not claim or imply that s/he created the original, but rather credits the original writer/composer, etc., and changes the work substantially. I speak as one who has published 435 copyrighted parodies, plus 102 more with a co-author, and has had seven of them commercially produced, recorded, and syndicated to about 700 radio stations across the US. The producer has allowed me to post four of his mp3 recordings now that they are outdated, but he still gets hits on three others, and he LICENSED the exclusive use of the lyrics FROM ME.

GµårÐïåñ wrote:
Tom T. wrote:As far as paid stuff, if the site's TOS says it's X dollars to join and Y for each d/l, then you agreed to those terms when you joined.
Regardless of anything the TOS says, if I am paying for it, then if I want to download and keep a copy for MY OWN PERSONAL USE, then I am entitled and it doesn't violate the law.

Most EULAs don't prohibit making a personal backup copy, since hard drives can die, etc. Any such prohibition probably would not stand up in court.
In fact you flaunt it in their face and they can't do crap. Trust me, just because someone puts it in the contract and just because you accept it, doesn't mean it will hold under the law.

Just because you can get away with it doesn't mean it's right. Whatever happened to the code of honor, "Semper Fidelis", Lieutenant Colonel USMC?
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Re: Question about security

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Wed May 23, 2012 11:02 pm

Tom, wouldn't say something unless I was sure about it. There are tons of precedence, but to make it easy just start here http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
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Re: Question about security

Post by Thrawn » Fri May 25, 2012 6:27 am

My $0.02: Tom is mostly right about what copyright law does and doesn't allow. I'm no expert on exactly what exceptions are carved out, but by default it is very restrictive, and it is practically eternal.

Breaking the law is wrong, and the current state of the law is also wrong. If copyright is economic, then it should just require (fixed rate?) royalties, rather than prohibiting the activity, or some such thing (and in some fields it does). If it's to reward authors for producing, and thus motivate them to keep producing, then it should only last as long as is actually needed for that (eg movies make their money back, or not, within weeks), rather than lasting for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. If it's about reputation, people's emotional attachment to their creations, then the moral rights (attribution, avoiding derogatory treatment, etc) can and should be separated from the economic ones. The law is wrong - but we should still obey it until we can change it.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Tom T. » Fri May 25, 2012 10:19 am

Thrawn wrote:... If it's to reward authors for producing, and thus motivate them to keep producing, then it should only last as long as is actually needed for that (eg movies make their money back, or not, within weeks),

So, they're only allowed to break even, and then it goes into the public domain? After risking $100,000,000 to make the movie?

Actually, there's a factual error there, too, though it doesn't change the argument: Many movies don't break even in their theatrical release, but make their profits on pay-per-view, then on free TV, then on DVD sales, etc.

I'm still collecting residual checks for a bit of movie work I did 20 years ago. Many movies and TV pilots flop, and the studios also need to make up for that with the ones that hit big. It's a high-risk, high-reward activity. (As is trying to make a career in show biz, LOL. Which is why the rewards are large for those who beat the high odds and succeed).

And if I create and OWN something, why do you have an automatic right to license it from me at some fixed rate? Do you have a right to lease (hire, in en-BR) my car from me, regardless of whether I want to lease it out? My home? My book that I spent years researching and writing?

These things should be negotiated, as all others are in one way or another, and free trade involves the voluntary agreement of *both* parties.

I don't think the law is wrong. It has evolved over many years, and is still evolving as new media come into play, like the Web.
He who does not own that original work which he himself created or invented is a slave.

(Before you say it, employees make use of capital investment by their employers. You don't own the hamburgers you flip at McDonald's, because you didn't invest a hundred thousand dollars in restaurant equipment, building, land, advertising... you voluntarily agreed to reproduce something invented by Ray Kroc, for a given wage and benefit package.--- says the MBA in Economics.)
rather than lasting for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

So, if the author keels over the day after the book is published, his/her heirs have no right to receive what would have become part of her estate, had she lived? And would have bequeathed to them had she lived long enough to make a goodly sum from it?

Won't this punish and discourage elderly and/or chronically-ill people (heart disease, e. g.) from taking the risks and effort to innovate, create, improve?


@ GµårÐïåñ: We can differ, but have you ever known *me* to make an authoritative (unhedged, no "IMHO") statement without being able to back it up also?

I'm very familiar with the Fair Use laws, and you seem to have overlooked Criterion #4:
The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

I don't care whether your copyright infringement is for "educational or non-profit purposes". If my work can be downloaded for free from YouTube, why would anyone buy it, beyond the first copy?

Pretending for the moment that classic works are still under copyright, I can charge for my detailed analysis and exegesis of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet", "MacBeth", "Julius Casear", etc., or Homer's "Iliad", or Dante's "inferno", citing each part as I analyze it. But I may not simply reprint them and sell them, or even give them away, because this hurts the original author's ability to earn the fruits of his labors.

I could point you to a discussion at a forum on this entire topic, but it seems that you're pretty set in your position, too...
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Re: Question about security

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Fri May 25, 2012 9:02 pm

All of the elements of copyright hinge on redistribution for profit that is not given to the owner their due, or redistribution to undermine that earning, such as posting it only for free download where they would otherwise buy it. Nothing in the law protects against or restricts the person to retain a copy for their own personal use if they have paid for it and are not redistributing it in any manner that undermines the owners' ability to earn. That's it.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Tom T. » Sat May 26, 2012 12:05 am

GµårÐïåñ wrote:All of the elements of copyright hinge on redistribution for profit that is not given to the owner their due, or redistribution to undermine that earning, such as posting it only for free download where they would otherwise buy it. Nothing in the law protects against or restricts the person to retain a copy for their own personal use if they have paid for it and are not redistributing it in any manner that undermines the owners' ability to earn. That's it.

I thought I already agreed with you on that... Sony Betamax copyright case, e. g. Time-shifting (saving a program to watch later, even several times) is not infringement per se. But any redistribution is. :)

Are we done here? :)
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Re: Question about security

Post by Thrawn » Sat May 26, 2012 1:34 am

Tom T. wrote:
Thrawn wrote:... If it's to reward authors for producing, and thus motivate them to keep producing, then it should only last as long as is actually needed for that (eg movies make their money back, or not, within weeks),

So, they're only allowed to break even, and then it goes into the public domain? After risking $100,000,000 to make the movie?

Not at all. Profits are fine. I just meant that the timescale needed is quite small compared to the current length of copyright.

Actually, there's a factual error there, too, though it doesn't change the argument: Many movies don't break even in their theatrical release, but make their profits on pay-per-view, then on free TV, then on DVD sales, etc.

I'm still collecting residual checks for a bit of movie work I did 20 years ago. Many movies and TV pilots flop, and the studios also need to make up for that with the ones that hit big. It's a high-risk, high-reward activity. (As is trying to make a career in show biz, LOL. Which is why the rewards are large for those who beat the high odds and succeed).

Haven't heard about too many movies flopping at first and succeeding later, but OK. Let's say that you get 20 years, like patents. That should be enough time for 99.9% of movies to make their money if they're going to. Yes, they might be able to continue to make money after that, but the point is, the incentive has already been amply given, but the work - movie, book, etc - is available to benefit all of society vastly earlier than the current life+70.

Would you have done that movie work if you knew that you would only get royalties for a maximum of 20 years? If so, would you have made money out of it? I suspect the answer to both is yes.
And if I create and OWN something, why do you have an automatic right to license it from me at some fixed rate? Do you have a right to lease (hire, in en-BR) my car from me, regardless of whether I want to lease it out? My home? My book that I spent years researching and writing?

No, but remember, we're talking about intangible property here; my having a copy doesn't have any impact on your copy. I can use your house or car in ways that don't affect your ownership, like taking a photo of them (there might be privacy issues, but it's not trespass). If I happen to see your book lying open, I can read a page without your permission. And if I admire your home, and choose to build one just like it, then since your home is real property instead of intellectual property, you can't demand royalties (unless I use the blueprints, which do involve intellectual property).

'Owning' an idea is very artificial, used by society to achieve a particular purpose. According to the US Constitution, that purpose is "to promote science and the useful arts". The natural state of affairs is for ideas, music, etc to spread freely; they can't be restrained. If I hear a tune and it sticks in my head, I might start whistling it, and no fence or lock can stop me. There are good reasons why artificial restrictions are imposed - to create a market and thus stimulate production - and it's good that you should be rewarded for what you work to produce, but there is nothing inherent or natural about restricting what may be done with duplicates of your work. Society gives you certain exclusive rights - a monopoly over all copies or adaptations of your work - in order to help you to be an author/artist, and what it wants in return is for what you produce to be available to benefit everyone. If it's not made available, then society is being cheated, and should never have given you the monopoly in the first place.
These things should be negotiated, as all others are in one way or another, and free trade involves the voluntary agreement of *both* parties.

In some cases, yes, but Is it reasonable to ask a small radio station to contact & negotiate individually with every artist for each song they ever play? It's just as well that there are collecting societies that do essentially turn this into "pay a fixed rate to use it freely". And some usages do have mandatory licensing schemes created by statute; I think cable TV is one.

You yourself rely on exceptions to copyright to produce your parodies, rather than having to negotiate and pay royalties, and I think that your ability to do that unrestrained is a good thing.
I don't think the law is wrong. It has evolved over many years, and is still evolving as new media come into play, like the Web.
He who does not own that original work which he himself created or invented is a slave.

You have a natural right to own the original work, the original manuscript or musical score or other source. If I take the original item from you, that's theft. But the right to control copies made by others is artificial. Real, but artificial, given for a specific purpose that needs to be time-limited to be fulfilled.

rather than lasting for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

So, if the author keels over the day after the book is published, his/her heirs have no right to receive what would have become part of her estate, had she lived? And would have bequeathed to them had she lived long enough to make a goodly sum from it?

Won't this punish and discourage elderly and/or chronically-ill people (heart disease, e. g.) from taking the risks and effort to innovate, create, improve?

That's a good argument for fixed terms, instead of life+amount. The abovementioned 20 years is one candidate. Even 70 years - entering the public domain in 3 generations - would be better than the current situation.

Pretending for the moment that classic works are still under copyright, I can charge for my detailed analysis and exegesis of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet", "MacBeth", "Julius Casear", etc., or Homer's "Iliad", or Dante's "inferno", citing each part as I analyze it. But I may not simply reprint them and sell them, or even give them away, because this hurts the original author's ability to earn the fruits of his labors.

But should society really have to give someone 400 years of fruits in return for a single labor of authorship? Isn't that pretty one-sided? Give someone credit forever, OK, but give them an economic monopoly? Remember, we're not talking about control of the original. Shakespeare's scripts can be forever owned by his descendants, fine. But controlling what the whole world may do with his work, forever? That's far too much power to give anyone.

I realise that copyright on Shakespeare and Homer has expired. But when it's feasible for a book published in 1900 to be still in copyright today, and likewise almost every movie and computer program and recorded song is still in copyright, and copyright terms are regularly - and restrospectively! - extended, may I put it out there that for all practical purposes, copyright as it now stands may as well last forever?

According to the US Constitution, copyright exists for the benefit of science and the arts - the public good. Rewarding authors is stated as a method of achieving that benefit. But unless the work is actually given back to the public, then that purpose is not being achieved, and copyright becomes, at least in spirit, unconstitutional.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Thrawn » Sat May 26, 2012 1:50 am

PS Had to remove your links before the spam filter would allow my reply...hope that's OK
PPS Should this move to Ragnarok, or is it still close enough to on-topic?
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Re: Question about security

Post by Tom T. » Sat May 26, 2012 3:39 am

Fine on the links. Mods aren't limited in number, but users are, as a spam-prevention measure. They're in my post, so no issue.
And yes, it's waay OT. Will split sometime -- spent so long composing the following reply that I got logged out, and I need a break anyway. :)

Thrawn wrote:
Tom T. wrote:
Thrawn wrote:... If it's to reward authors for producing, and thus motivate them to keep producing, then it should only last as long as is actually needed for that (eg movies make their money back, or not, within weeks),

So, they're only allowed to break even, and then it goes into the public domain? After risking $100,000,000 to make the movie?

Not at all. Profits are fine. I just meant that the timescale needed is quite small compared to the current length of copyright.

The timescale needed varies greatly and is unpredictable.

We have two conflicting core ideologies here.

You believe that everyone on Earth owns the rights to everything ever created or invented, subject to some limited rights granted by the King to the creator.

I believe that everyone on Earth owns anything original that they create, and the only reasons to limit this are that it becomes impractical, after some large number of years, for every auto-maker to pay royalties to the caveman who invented the wheel. Impractical, and hard to trace inherited ownership over many centuries, so we limit it to that which can be reasonably expected to be documentable and provable.

This is the same reason that there is a Statute of Limitations on, say, title claims for land.

The first belief is the core belief of those who accept any form of authoritarianism, be it a Monarchy, dictator, Communism, ... including the UK/CW nations, which still recognize a monarchy (even if said power isn't exercised very much).

The American Revolution was founded on the basis that these rights are inherent to humanity, and not to be "granted" by an autocrat. Who could also revoke them at any time.

The original phrase written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was to have included property:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident .... that all men are endowed by their Creator [1] with certain unalienable rights, ... among them, the rights to Life, Liberty, Property...."
He was urged to remove "Property", not because it isn't a human right, but because of the unfortunate institution of slavery that had been established by the colonizing monarchies: British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese... all countries that do not recognize inherent rights against a Crown.

The fear was that including "property" might be interpreted by slave-owners as supporting their right to own such property as slaves, contradictory as that sounds, but the monarchist colonizers had already established that sub-Saharan Africans were not human beings as such, mostly because they were heathens, or really, because the wimpy colonizers didn't want to pick their own cotton.

The idea of inherent rights was a radical idea then, and is still not accepted by much of the world. It's eroding badly in the US. The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.

[1] It's not necessary to believe in a Creator to embrace the doctrine of inherent rights as being right, proper, and necessary conditions for humans to live in a civilized society, rather than eating each other, or returning to the rule of the jungle, where theft, murder, etc. prevail. Ayn Rand has written extensively on this topic, in both her fiction and her non-fiction works.
Haven't heard about too many movies flopping at first and succeeding later,

Who said "flop"? It may do well, but not well enough to make back the ever-increasing costs of production, especially since the studio typically gets only half the "box office revenue" -- and must spend a lot of that on advertising. The revenue stream grows over time. An unpredictable time, so we allowed ample.

But you're dividing the right to copyright between "economic" reasons and "moral" reasons. False dichotomy. A proper economic system is a moral one.
The moral economic system is free-enterprise capitalism, which has existed only briefly, and died in the US at least a century ago, as politicians sought to regain the absolute authority of monarchs, by degrees, telling us what we could and couldn't drink, smoke, buy, sell, etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam.

but OK. Let's say that you get 20 years, like patents. That should be enough time for 99.9% of movies to make their money if they're going to. Yes, they might be able to continue to make money after that, but the point is, the incentive has already been amply given, but the work - movie, book, etc - is available to benefit all of society vastly earlier than the current life+70.

It's still available to benefit all of society. You just have to pay for it. Which is fair, because you didn't create it, and you don't own it.

Would you have done that movie work if you knew that you would only get royalties for a maximum of 20 years? If so, would you have made money out of it? I suspect the answer to both is yes.

The rationale for residual payments -- for actors, writers, directors, etc. -- is that if one's work can be reproduced (re-run) infinitely at ZERO cost, then there is less incentive to create new works, and new jobs for those persons (whose employment is always short-term), and more incentive to keep rerunning the old stuff for free. Also, that when you go home from your shift at the factory, no more value is gotten from your day's work than what you produced that day. When a movie/TV actor goes home, value is extracted from that performance hundreds or thousands or millions of times. So that value was inherent in the actor's work, who therefore is entitled to a (rather small) share for each rerun.

Whether I or any other individual would have chosen to accept a given job in a given situation is irrelevant to the point that 98% of the members of Screen Actors Guild (of which Yours Truly is a member on honorable withdrawal) earn less than $2,000/yr. It benefits producers to have a huge talent pool from which to select, with hundreds of actors often being auditioned for a single role. The thousands of people who get off the bus in Los Angeles every day are enticed by the chance of hitting the lottery, so to speak, and making the really big bucks -- with about as good a chance as buying a lottery ticket. No one is going to work nights as a food server for years if the maximum "success" for hitting the top is so strictly limited.

Again, higher risk deserves a higher reward for success -- versus a very steady job as a garbage collector, there being always garbage to collect.
The whole arts and entertainment industry is very much like the lottery: very high risk, very small chance of success, but it can pay off very well if you hit it.
And if I create and OWN something, why do you have an automatic right to license it from me at some fixed rate? Do you have a right to lease (hire, in en-BR) my car from me, regardless of whether I want to lease it out? My home? My book that I spent years researching and writing?

.... If I happen to see your book lying open, I can read a page without your permission.

No argument. But you can't photocopy all of the pages, publish 100,000 copies, and start selling them yourself.
You're distinguishing the products of the mind from the products of the hand (although a lot of minds went into inventing those cars, etc.), and I say that if it came from my mind, and did not exist before I created it, it's mine.
'Owning' an idea is very artificial,

Correct. You cannot patent or copyright an idea. However, you can patent the invention you create from your idea, and you can copyright the book in which you proclaim your idea to the world.
If I hear a tune and it sticks in my head, I might start whistling it, and no fence or lock can stop me.

How is that in any way like your creating many copies of that tune and distributing them? Lots of invalid analogies here.
There are good reasons why artificial restrictions are imposed - to create a market and thus stimulate production - and it's good that you should be rewarded for what you work to produce, but there is nothing inherent or natural about restricting what may be done with duplicates of your work.

The last clause of that statement directly contradicts the rest.
Society gives you certain exclusive rights - a monopoly over all copies or adaptations of your work - in order to help you to be an author/artist, and what it wants in return is for what you produce to be available to benefit everyone. If it's not made available, then society is being cheated, and should never have given you the monopoly in the first place.

Without me, the work would never have been created. How can society be cheated out of something that doesn't or wouldn't exist?

This is the basic principle of Socialism -- that "Society" owns everything, except for that which, in Its Infinite Mercy, it lets you keep.
This has never succeeded for very long, outside the level of very small, homogeneous, cohesive, primitive societies.
Prime example: USSR. Far richer in oil, gold, diamonds, platinum, and arable land than the US, but under this Marxist/Socialist concept, it was unable to feed its own people, whose per capita income was about a third of their US counterparts. (psst! -- it's called "incentives")

Greece went down the path of entitlements and cradle-to-grave welfare, and has been on the brink of bankruptcy for a long time, sustained only by borrowing more from other countries. Spain is close. Ireland and Italy are in trouble. Every day, the Euro makes new lows against the dollar.

And as the US proceeds down that same path, the results are showing: Massive and exploding public debt, currently about $50,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US; a prolonged recession and continued high unemployment unequaled since the Great Depression of the 1930s, which itself was caused by Government interference in the economy.
These things should be negotiated, as all others are in one way or another, and free trade involves the voluntary agreement of *both* parties.

In some cases, yes, but Is it reasonable to ask a small radio station to contact & negotiate individually with every artist for each song they ever play? It's just as well that there are collecting societies that do essentially turn this into "pay a fixed rate to use it freely". And some usages do have mandatory licensing schemes created by statute; I think cable TV is one.

Yes, I did think of ASCAP as a good example. But was it created by law, or by an individual?
And are all individuals forced to join and accept their terms, or is membership voluntary?

Those who choose to join, and to accept the *negotiated terms* (which have changed over time), do so because they believe that they will indeed be better off by being represented by such a group. Someone who thinks that they can negotiate a better price for their work is free not to join.

You yourself rely on exceptions to copyright to produce your parodies, rather than having to negotiate and pay royalties, and I think that your ability to do that unrestrained is a good thing.

I don't claim to have created the original, and much more importantly, I don't *sell copies of the original*, only of my own work.
It may well be that parodies of songs may increase interest in the original. Many readers have commented that they DKTOS (don't know the original song, or the group who did it), but become interested in them after seeing the parody.

The parody is totally my original work. The producer did in fact have to pay a licensing fee for the original melody, in order to market the new hybrid (existing melody, new lyrics).
I don't think the law is wrong. It has evolved over many years, and is still evolving as new media come into play, like the Web.
He who does not own that original work which he himself created or invented is a slave.

You have a natural right to own the original work, the original manuscript or musical score or other source. If I take the original item from you, that's theft. But the right to control copies made by others is artificial. Real, but artificial, given for a specific purpose that needs to be time-limited to be fulfilled.

What good does it do me to own the one manuscript that I spent years (or ten minutes; doesn't matter) preparing, if anyone on earth can copy and reproduce it at will, and give it away or undercut me on price -- as music and software pirates do?

If I become famous (perhaps posthumously), then yes, my original acquires collector value. But otherwise, the value is in the content itself, and when you illegally copy my work, you steal that value from me.

rather than lasting for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

So, if the author keels over the day after the book is published, his/her heirs have no right to receive what would have become part of her estate, had she lived? And would have bequeathed to them had she lived long enough to make a goodly sum from it?

Won't this punish and discourage elderly and/or chronically-ill people (heart disease, e. g.) from taking the risks and effort to innovate, create, improve?

That's a good argument for fixed terms, instead of life+amount. The abovementioned 20 years is one candidate. Even 70 years - entering the public domain in 3 generations - would be better than the current situation.

That was a compromise between the situation of an artist producing at age six, like Michael Jackson, who could have lived to be 90 or 100, plus the value of the estate to the heirs -- something else that I embrace and you reject -- versus the keel-over-the-next-day. And again, it all goes back to the ability to document these things. So long as the artist is alive, it's easy. And with modern record-keeping, it should be easy for some number of years after demise.

Pretending for the moment that classic works are still under copyright, I can charge for my detailed analysis and exegesis of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet", "MacBeth", "Julius Casear", etc., or Homer's "Iliad", or Dante's "inferno", citing each part as I analyze it. But I may not simply reprint them and sell them, or even give them away, because this hurts the original author's ability to earn the fruits of his labors.

But should society really have to give someone 400 years of fruits in return for a single labor of authorship? Isn't that pretty one-sided? Give someone credit forever, OK, but give them an economic monopoly? Remember, we're not talking about control of the original. Shakespeare's scripts can be forever owned by his descendants, fine. But controlling what the whole world may do with his work, forever? That's far too much power to give anyone.

What part of "Pretending for the moment that classic works are still under copyright," was not clear to you? :P

I guess I needed to add "for the sake of argument" (or "illustration"). I could have said, "My analysis of Stephen Hawking's published works", but there never will be such a thing ;) , whereas I actually have done exposition of the works in question. Sorry that the concept of assuming something (false) for the sake of argument, illustration, or analogy was lost on you.

I realise that copyright on Shakespeare and Homer has expired. But when it's feasible for a book published in 1900 to be still in copyright today, and likewise almost every movie and computer program and recorded song is still in copyright, and copyright terms are regularly - and restrospectively! - extended, may I put it out there that for all practical purposes, copyright as it now stands may as well last forever?

No, you may not. 100 years is not forever. See above, re: paying royalties to the caveman who invented the wheel.
According to the US Constitution, copyright exists for the benefit of science and the arts - the public good. Rewarding authors is stated as a method of achieving that benefit. But unless the work is actually given back to the public, then that purpose is not being achieved, and copyright becomes, at least in spirit, unconstitutional.

Not everyone, even in the revolutionary US, fully understood, much less embraced, this concept of "inherent rights". Many needed some concrete reason to accept that. There are other examples of that phenomenon, which is why the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been continually eroded.
given back to the public,

Now you're scaring me. How in heck can you say, "giving BACK" to an entity that didn't create it in the first place?

If that's your knowledge and standard of logic, remind me never to use any sw you create. :D (KIDDING!)
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Re: Question about security

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Sat May 26, 2012 6:40 am

I thought you had disagreed, my bad, yes we are done.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Thrawn » Sat May 26, 2012 7:34 am

Yes; definitely a topic worth agreeing to disagree on.
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Re: Question about security

Post by Tom T. » Sat May 26, 2012 8:03 am

Agreed.

Everyone has had their chance to speak their minds fully, and kudos to Giorgio Maone, one of the most ardent champions of free speech that it has ever been my privilege to know, for providing the resources for us to get on our respective soapboxes.

(Although he does ask that if O/T to the main forum, they be placed in the proper place for O/T discussions, which is the job of the loyal Moderators. Will do.)

Cheers all, and may all the world one day be free to think and speak freely.
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Re: Copyright law and ethics discussion

Post by Thrawn » Wed May 30, 2012 3:49 am

In the interests of promoting understanding, may I summarise (as objectively as possible) the debate between Tom and myself? Tom, please correct me if I misrepresent anything about your point of view.

Premise
  • Tom believes that copyright is an inherent and unalienable right, as much so as other property rights like owning a house or car.
  • I believe that copyright is not inherent, but is a deal that society makes with authors for mutual benefit, frequently renegotiated.
Authority
  • Tom believes that his premise is upheld by the original drafting of the Declaration of Independence, which was altered only due to concerns about slavery, not copyright:
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident .... that all men are endowed by their Creator [1] with certain unalienable rights, ... among them, the rights to Life, Liberty, Property...."
  • I believe that my premise is upheld by section 8 of the US Constitution, giving Congress power:
    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Conclusions
Tom's premise leads him to conclusions such as:
  • Copyright should last until it can be reasonably expected that the author and his/her estate will receive no further monetary value from the work, or until the author/estate chooses to give it up. The major obstacle to perpetual copyright is the lack of accurate records to show who should inherit which rights.
  • The current state of copyright law gets things about right, and is evolving in the right direction to address new issues such as the unprecedented level of copying made possible by digital technologies.
  • Usage of copyright-protected works should be negotiated individually with authors. Group bargaining, such as via collecting societies, is OK if the authors opt in and get a better deal that way. Fixed-rate statutory licensing schemes, on the other hand, compromise the free market and rob authors of the right to decide how they will deal with their property.
My premise leads me to conclusions such as:
  • Copyright should last long enough to amply reward authors and enable/motivate them to keep authoring, but should then end as early as possible, allowing the public to freely share the work, build on it, take it apart, learn from it, and in general "promote the progress of science and useful arts".
  • Copyright law in its current form is poorly suited to computers in general and the internet in particular. Recent legislative efforts seem to be focused on strengthening enforcement rather than addressing incompatibilities.
  • The widespread usage of creative works relies on licensing schemes with minimal negotiation. Statutory licensing is not appropriate in all contexts, but is a good balance between rewarding authors and enabling users. In contexts where such licensing is not appropriate, collecting societies are essential to make copyright practical on a large scale.

If I may extrapolate a bit more from what has been said in this thread:
  • Tom views widespread Internet-enabled piracy as a threat to the existence and viability of all creative industries. Society needs to stamp it out.
  • I view internet-enabled piracy as illegal and wrong, but also as a sign that society is dissatisfied with the return on investment that it gets from the copyright bargain. Society needs to renegotiate this bargain.
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Re: Copyright law and ethics discussion

Post by Tom T. » Wed May 30, 2012 6:33 am

Thrawn wrote:In the interests of promoting understanding, may I summarise (as objectively as possible) the debate between Tom and myself? Tom, please correct me if I misrepresent anything about your point of view.

Premise
  • Tom believes that copyright is an inherent and unalienable right, as much so as other property rights like owning a house or car.
  • I believe that copyright is not inherent, but is a deal that society makes with authors for mutual benefit, frequently renegotiated.

Agreed.
Authority
[list]
[*]Tom believes that his premise is upheld by the original drafting of the Declaration of Independence,

No.

I believe that property rights, like all human rights, are inherent in a civilized human society, as opposed to the rule of the Collective or of the Jungle. (The former soon becomes the latter.) Governments do not exist to "grant" rights; they exist to "protect" rights. The Constitution, at least for the first 100 years, was a document that *limited* the rights of the Federal Government, esp. via the 10th Amendment,
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

That's in very plain black-and-white.

Still, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are merely attempts to *codify* what is right. That which is right is still right, regardless of wording changes, errors, discrepancies, etc. in those documents that seek to codify it.

If there is a typo in the laws against murder, and I murder you, that does not mean that my act was right, or even that there is any ambiguity about it. It's *wrong*.

I've said this before, but since we have fundamentally-different core values
(Me: Enlightenment/John Locke/Libertarian; You: Socialist/Labour/Collectivism),
there is nothing further to discuss, as nothing can be achieved.

If I think I own my own life (car, original lyrics, etc.), and you think that they belong to Society, then no common ground is possible. Society may murder me, without cause, if it deems it in its own interest. (Or take my car, my original lyrics, 50% or more of everything I earn -- the top marginal tax rate in the UK was once 95%, as noted in The Beatles' song, "Taxman". See footnote #5, here, for how that fact affected George Harrison's writing.)

I thought the previous agreement to "agree to disagree" was just fine, and really don't understand spending any more time on the issue. I don't wish to, thanks.
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