Copyright isn’t just for music and movies.

Avatar

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

Related Post Roulette

No Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    In having a conversation with Maribou about copyright and whatnot, she pointed out that copyright is now for the life of the creator plus 95 years after the creator’s death.

    So I figured that I’d look up the Sonny Bono act.

    Here’s what it is:

    Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The Act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier. Copyright protection for works published prior to January 1, 1978, was increased by 20 years to a total of 95 years from their publication date. 

    This strikes me as excessive.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      The deed to the land your house stands on lasts *forever*, so long as you pay the taxes on it. Is that excessive too?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Land strikes me as significantly different from slashfic.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

          Why? Smashers is an infringement on the rights of a creator to control the distribution and reuse of their creation. Trespassing, for example, infringes on the rights of a property owner to control the use of their land.

          Note that if people trespass on your land every day for ten years and you don’t say “boo” then you can lose the right to legally force them to stop.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

            In the case of my land, I can put a chair in the backyard and watch the harm being done by trespassers. This flower gets stepped on, that grass gets trampled, another stick gets broken.

            I can *SEE* the harm done.

            If someone uses an instrumental version of a song from 1923 and uses it in a modern movie trailer and I do not get a piece of that? (Given my great-grandfather’s song is the one being used?)

            It’s much more difficult to document the harm that has been done.

            Were I to make an analogy, the right to not have folks trespass is similar to rights to free speech while the rights to songs are more like the rights to health care.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

          “Land strikes me as significantly different from slashfic.”

          Maybe if they’re huge tracts of land?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      If you want a picture of the future, imagine having to pay to sing I Got You, Babe — forever.Report

  2. Avatar Jeff Eaton says:

    “What if you find out the rights to this Eddie Adams photo belong to his widow and it’s her sole source of income?”

    Then we’ve failed as a civilization. If the families of artists die in the streets because their works enter the public domain, it’s a sign that something other than copyright law is fundamentally broken. Securing a perpetual trust for the descendants of artistic lottery winners was not the intent of copyright law.Report

    • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

      We’ll leave aside for a moment that this post has nothing to do with length of copyright (or fair use, or transformation.)

      If I understand you, you’re arguing for a 100% inheritance tax, even on spousal survivors. Am I reading you correctly?Report

      • Avatar Ziggy Freud and Carl Jung in reply to David Ryan says:

        David, an extraordinary resume–I’m in total awe.   A true Renaissance Man you are, sir. I’d love to cross the Atlantic in a boat about the size of a bath tub–could I hire you to make something like that?  I’d also like to cross the Pacific in something very similar only a Yellow Submarine.  Again, do you build anything similar.  The USCG saved my life about a month ago–boat motor blew up in flames and 16 gallons of gas was just seconds from igniting and exploding.   Thanks!Report

      • Avatar Jeff Eaton in reply to David Ryan says:

        If I understand you, you’re arguing for a 100% inheritance tax, even on spousal survivors. Am I reading you correctly?

        No. I’m not suggesting that copyright be abolished, or anything dramatic like that, either. I’m just pointing out that your post has a baked-in assumption about the moral obviousness of post-death copyright. Copyrights, like patents, are a mechanism for granting temporary duplication monopolies to the original creators of new works. Their purpose is to encourage the creation of new works and the eventual expansion of public domain knowledge. If we’re concerned about the fate of widows, we should ensure an adequate social safety net rather than twisting the intent of copyright law.

        There’s also a bit of confusion in comparing inheritance taxes to familial copyright retention: an inheritance tax would confiscate profits made on a copyrighted work by an artist during their own lifetime. If, for example, I were to sell a book and make a million dollars, then die, the money I would pass on to my family would be actual money. The copyright on that book, and the right to exclusive reproduction rights, would be something else entirely. Muddling the two does the complexities of our evolving media landscape a disservice.

        Unless you’re proposing that copyright should never expire, ever ever ever, there will always be the chance of an impoverished ancestor who might have been saved by a royalty check. And if you are proposing that, it’s important to realize that the main beneficiaries of eternal copyright extension are not artists’ families but media conglomerates who acquire copyrights like tech companies acquire patent portfolios.Report

        • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

          As I said before, this post is not about the terms or inheritablity of copyright, but since you seem fixated:

          “[A]n inheritance tax would confiscate profits made on a copyrighted work by an artist during their own lifetime. If, for example, I were to sell a book and make a million dollars, then die, the money I would pass on to my family would be actual money. The copyright on that book, and the right to exclusive reproduction rights, would be something else entirely. Muddling the two does the complexities of our evolving media landscape a disservice.”

          I would invite you to examine the treatment of farms, rental properties, stocks, and any other revenue-generating assets upon the death of their owner, and transfer to family members, most especially spouses. The extinguishment of copyright upon the death of the creator argues that the general good of such extinguishment outweighs the general good served by allowing the easy transfer of assets between a deceased spouse and the deceased’s survivor.

          If you that’s the argument you’re making, fine. But please, recognize it for what it is. You are arguing that intellectual property be treated with an abrupt, confiscatory regime that is radically different from any other asset, rent-producing or elsewise.

          But like I said, I’m not really care to engage in small arguments about whether copyright should be for a year after creation, a year after death, or in perpetuity. It’s no longer my concern.

           Report

          • Avatar Fnord in reply to David Ryan says:

            Contrawise, I’d invite you to consider the treatment of patents.  They last only 20 years from the date of filing, not even necessarily to the death of the inventor.  And patents are surely at least as analogous to copyrights as physical assets are.

            Intellectual property is not like actual property, and proposing that it be treated the same way is the radical conception.Report

          • Avatar Jeff Eaton in reply to David Ryan says:

            I’m not particularly fixated; I think the majority of your post is pretty solid, but closing with an emotional appeal to an objectionable edge-case in copyright law weakened the overall point.

            As other posters have noted, copyright is not a physical asset to be owned. It is a promise by the government to prevent other people from doing something with THEIR own property if it resembles your own creations too closely.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

              Describing it as “an emotional appeal to an edge case” is itself an emotional appeal. If property rights are to mean anything then they need to apply to distasteful edge cases just like all the rest.

              Again: You call for a 100% confiscatory death tax on certain types of property. Why wait until death? Why not just a short renewable term? (oh silly me! That’s how we *did* do it right up until we had to sign the Berne Convention to get the Europeans to actually start enforcing US copyrights.)Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    There are often lengthy debates in the defense-contractor world over whether the customer is going to get the source code for a particular system. It’s the same thing; do you buy the boat, or do you buy the ability to make an infinite number of that exact type of boat?Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

      what a stupid debate. You may have the current version of the code, which you may copy as many times as you want. So long as you use it, the code will continue to morph into new code — which you can also copy, IF you want to trust that it hasn’t gone bonkers in the meantime.

      … self-modifying code. now making headaches go away! (seriously, I think you kinda have to give the code to your user, if its self-modifying… Of course, that doesn’t say you can’t just give it in machine language.)Report

  4. Avatar Jeff Eaton says:

    “Describing it as “an emotional appeal to an edge case” is itself an emotional appeal.”

    On the contrary, it’s simply an observation. “There’s a starving widow, and only infinitely extending copyrights can save her” is an emotional appeal that ignores the underlying issue of copyrights. One might just as easily say that a functional social safety net would save her, or more private charity would save her, or the elimination of taxation would save her. It is the “Think of the children!” of intellectual property discussions.

    “Again: You call for a 100% confiscatory death tax on certain types of property.”

    This is absurd. Intellectual property is nothing more than an agreement between a creator and the surrounding civilization designed to encourage the sharing of ideas. In return for open sharing of ideas and creative works, we promise creators that anyone who creates something similar without permission will be punished.

    The removal of a state-sponsored monopoly on producing items that match a certain pattern is not “confiscation of property,” no matter how many times you repeat it.

    “Why wait until death? Why not just a short renewable term? (oh silly me! That’s how we *did* do it right up until we had to sign the Berne Convention to get the Europeans to actually start enforcing US copyrights.)”

    On the flip side, why should intellectual property ever “expire?” Buildings don’t expire. Money doesn’t expire. It’s almost as if state-sponsored production monopolies are different than physical goods…Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

      “The removal of a state-sponsored monopoly on producing items that match a certain pattern…”

      That’s not what copyright is, and using loaded terms like “monopoly” is an emotional appeal.

      If you insist on using the “state-sponsored monopoly” formulation, then you have a “state-sponsored monopoly” on the use of everything you own, including the land. Property rights of any kind are an inherently abstract concept, unless you want to reduce everything to the Biggest Meanest Monkey theory of property (which is that you own what you can chase everyone else away from, and therefore the richest ones are the big mean ones who are the best at chasing.)Report

      • There’s nothing emotional about explaining how intellectual property differs from other kinds of property: I think that “a temporary, state-granted monopoly” is a perfectly fine way of solving the problem of rewarding creators.

        The difference is that physical property comes with a “natural monopoly.” There is only one of your car, or your breakfast, or your wedding ring. The particular shares of stock you own, and the money in your mattress, cannot be simultaneously owned by many people — or at least, if they were, your own ownership would be diluted. If I own a guitar, however, and I play “Let it be,” I have violated the law even though no one’s existing copy of “Let it be” was touched and no other performances of “Let it be” were interrupted. If someone owns a computer and types in every word of the book I wrote and prints it out for their friend, they have violated copyright even though every copy of my book is untouched.

        All the RIAA’s PSAs notwithstanding, “you took my thing,” is different than “you made an exact replica of my thing without asking me.”

        This difference is not justification for ignoring the issue of intellectual property — I’m not one of the burn-it-all-down open society people who things IP should be abolished. Given the challenges our current system faces, and the growing tension of a physical-duplication-and-distribution-focused compensation system, pretending that this difference doesn’t exist helps no one. It doesn’t help solve problems for creators who need a means of compensation for their work; it doesn’t help solve problems for the existing middlemen, who are simply encouraged to double down on their current business models despite changing times; and it doesn’t do anything to change the minds of people who are currently illegally copying works.

        Rather, intellectual property is a promise by the government to prevent other people from doing something with their own physical, tangible property. It’s worthwhile, because it encourages creators to create things; pretending it is simply a natural extension of physical property is silly, though.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

          “All the RIAA’s PSAs notwithstanding, “you took my thing,” is different than “you made an exact replica of my thing without asking me.” ”

          Except that, in the latter case, someone did “take your thing”–that thing vein “permission to copy”. The aspect of IP that allows creators to derive income from it is the act of copying it, not the thing itself.

          If you want to say “this is an artificial scarcity that only existed due to limitations of insufficiently advanced technology” then that’s fine, but remember that attitude when you wonder why the only books are by John Grisham an the only music is either Top 40 pop or Christian Rock.Report

          • Except that, in the latter case, someone did “take your thing”–that thing vein “permission to copy”. The aspect of IP that allows creators to derive income from it is the act of copying it, not the thing itself.

            Yes, and that’s the ugly hack. We want to reward the creative process, but for quite some time that required the relatively hit or miss patronage model. Instead we tied the reward to the separate (but measurable and trackable and tangible) act of physical duplication. That worked for a long time; not perfectly, as new technologies always caused heated fights, but it worked reasonably well until the physical scarcity element hit. Then, types of things that were illegal but everyone did guiltlessly anyways — taping off the radio, making mixtapes for friends — became the norm.

            That’s a problem, because unless we can dissect the problems and figure out how to make it work, creators will be out of luck. I say this not as a serial movie torrenter or something like that, but as someone who makes his living creating and selling training videos, bespoke software, books, articles, and original teaching materials. I have skin in the game, although it’s not in areas as badly hit as music or film.

            If you want to say “this is an artificial scarcity that only existed due to limitations of insufficiently advanced technology” then that’s fine, but remember that attitude when you wonder why the only books are by John Grisham an the only music is either Top 40 pop or Christian Rock.

            I’m utterly baffled by that comment. How does recognizing the difficulties of a post-scarcity transition for an existing business model cause the creation of an artistic monoculture? That’s not snark: I’m really interested to hear what you mean.Report

          • Except that, in the latter case, someone did “take your thing”–that thing vein “permission to copy”.

            Also, to reiterate the point: no one took your right to copy something. They violated your exclusivity arrangement, but they did not take it and make it their own. Post-scarcity models are confusing, eh?

            Just wait until 3D printers are broadly installed. Then things are going to get really interesting…Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jeff Eaton says:

              You’re right that things will get interesting, because people who insist that physical property deserves more stringent protections than IP because of its nonduplicability will have a harder time making that argument.

              “How does recognizing the difficulties of a post-scarcity transition for an existing business model cause the creation of an artistic monoculture?”

              Well, yeah, I guess if your attitude is “guess it just sucks to be an artist, too bad so sad bye bye,” then you probably wouldn’t be concered by the thought of artistic monoculture.

              If you’re still reading: Imagine a world where every career musician is a session musician. If being a musician was like being a computer programmer, where you spend eight hours a day writing the code that someone else wants.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

                *yawn* the important distinction is that artists go back to having patrons, which is the way it’s always been.

                Sides, any anime nerd can tell you how much l00t and shinies they’ve bought from Anime companies. Even if the anime company isn’t getting a dime for the fansubs or scanlations, they’re getting tons of money off those EVA full body pillows (or what have you)

                 Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *