John McHarry wrote:
> I don't think copyright was intended as property as such, but since it
> can be bought and sold, it might as well be.
Legally, copyrights and patents are defined as a form of personal
> What galls me is that when the terms of copyrights were extended, they
> made that apply to unexpired rights granted for shorter terms. That is
> simply stealing from the public domain. The costs and risks to create
> such material were already assumed under the original terms, and most
> of the expected or hoped for rewards reaped. I don't find the
> "ownership rights" to such material legitimate at all.
I'm not comfortable when claims about made about "public domain".
Technically you are correct -- once work expired it becomes public
domain. However, it was private property to begin with. If the
copyright was still in force, I have no problem extending it.
I also don't agree with the concept "cost and risk were already
'assumed'". Again, technically that is true, but still the work was
private property. In many cases today, a work presumed to have little
value suddenly becomes valuable. I don't think it's fair that someone
else other than the original owner should profit from someone's work,
and that is what's happening. If laws change that add to the value of
land, we don't deny existing landowners from benefitting from that.
Another modern issue is material exploitation. I strongly doubt
Disney could make any money off of early Mickey Mouse cartoons. Other
than curiosity, they just aren't very interesting to today's market.
However, I can see Disney's legitimate interest from protecting Mickey
Mouse from exploitation. With it going into public domain, someone
could (and probably would) make some porn movie using Mickey or other
demeaning stuff. Keep in mind this is not an issue of free speech;
anyone could've always critiqued Mickey Mouse all they wanted.
(Further, Mickey Mouse is not an element of government, but a private
entity). If you want to make a porn movie, come up with your own
characters, don't steal someone else's.
Keep in mind not all copyright and patent holders are wealthy big
corporations. Many belong to individuals who welcome and need the
modest extra revenue. Further, many copyrights and patents, even when
developed at great expense, are worthless because of lack of interest.
> I think the current term for copyright is something like the life of
> the author plus 70 years, or 95 years for corporate works. Nobody
> determines whether to invest money or effort on expected returns that
> far out. This is closer to a perpetuity than a limited time.
I'm not sure what the current terms are. The previous term was 56
> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:
> But then, in the middle 1990's, along come the latest interlopers into
> our village, the music and video producers. _They_ seem to feel the
> rules should be different for them. _They_ feel we all have to play by
> their rules.
I'm not sure I understand. I don't think the producers seek to change
how public domain material is shared or how the older parts of the
Internet function. Rather, they merely seek to protect their own
works from illegal theft, and I don't have a problem with that.
I like to point out that when it comes to "changing the rules", the
Internet users themselves can be the most vocal. I used to get on via
an old BBS system, and I was flamed constantly visciously for posts
that didn't meet the "latest standards".
A heck of a lot of amateur websites require the use of the very latest
browser version and functionality. Those of us with older computers
can't get on. I blame the technies -- which are many Internet users
-- for constantly implementing new versions of stuff, forcing the rest
of us to upgrade. Indeed, it's almost impossible to use the Internet
with dial up because so many sites are so bloated that one needs high
speed to do anything in a reasonable period of time. On the rare
occassion I find a old style website I can get plenty of info at 14.4.
> We were here a long time prior, and had our own informal
> rules to play by; _they_ say forget all those rules, our rules will
> now apply.
Again, I don't understand what they're trying to do to existing public
domain stuff. Is someone trying to claim ownership of this Digest?
Unfortunately, life is full of changing rules. Everyone here knows I
strongly supported the old Bell System in its fight against MCI -- I
felt MCI was changing the rules to benefit itself while making the
Bell System keep with the old rules (cream skimming). But it appears
my views on this are very much in the minority.
Farmers get screwed when civiliation moves close to them. New
residents in new developments suddenly discover real life farming is
not antiseptic little TV cartoons. It is smelly, noisy 24/7, and
dirty, with slow tractors blocking roads. The new residents can
successfully sue in court to shut down the "nuisance" even though the
farm existed many years before they came. (Then when the farm is sold
to developers, the residents complain about that, wanting the farmland
to be left as open space, at someone else's expense.)