Column: Upside-Down Copyright

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legionera

like restricting entertainment content made BY people FOR people makes any sense.

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Eoraptor

Great idea...

it'll never happen. wayyy too many people with wayyy too much power have wayyy too much money invested in the system to allow it to be changed.

still, great idea.

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Typo91

The judge is right, the system doesn't make sense in this day and age.

You guys are right, its not fair to content creators, how are they suppose to get paid?

There has got to be a better way.

Personally I think its time the Vulcans land, shake hands with the folks at NASA, tell us we have about 200 years before the Klingons annex our solar system if we don't get our act together, and we can hurry up and eliminate the current 21st century economics.

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nesomumi

finally some one with half a brain.

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thematejka

The idea that there is nothing wrong with current copyright is BS. Quinn Norton highlighted an important aspect implied in her writing: How does copyright manifest itself in today's American culture and how did it manifest itself when it was first created? Think Michel Foucault.

When copyright was invented, there was not as big of a competition to sell your creations as there is now. This is partly because we are led to believe in today's American culture that we can sell anything we create as long as we market it in the right way. That is sadly true for the most part. Many people preach about 'multiple revenue streams' as the key to individual economic gain.

Copyright as it was originally intended hearkens not to profit and protection, but to sharing with your local/global community. Imagine copyright like this: once you invent/create and copyright something, you have 3/5 years of private ownership to perfect, mold, and manipulate your creation in a way that reflects what you want it to be or who you are. When that time is up, you are required to share it with the world for the benefit of all others. Some would say this would create chaos, but others would state the obvious - perhaps current copyright it is already chaos.

Copyright with a philosophy of growth through sharing - rather than coveting - would have the eventual effect of lessening the chaos inherent in the current copyright.

What I am presenting here is not what I think to be the solution in its totality, but merely a start to changing a very defunct system. Copyright law as it stands has some good aspects and addresses certain needs, but needs an overhaul. Restructuring it may require a whole societal shift. That would be amazing to witness.

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RaptorJohnson

There is nothing wrong with copyright.

Content creators and owners should have the sole ability to distribute and profit from their works.

Just because we have all decided we are above the law and don't need to pay for Game of Thrones, doesn't mean that HBO should produce shows for free. No none needs certain TV, video games, or songs and no one has a "right" to them.

Patents (especially patent trolls) are another matter.

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MaximumMike

>>There is nothing wrong with copyright.

Ok, but none of what follows this statement is relevant to what's wrong with copyright. No one is disputing that an artist is entitled to his/her content and the proceeds from the sale and distribution of that content. But copyright doesn't stop there. And that's the problem.

For instance, I have a friend who paid for and downloaded a popular song. He then used that song to put together a video of his 10 yr old son playing football and uploaded the video to his YouTube account. A total of maybe 20 people may have seen the video before it was taken down for copyright infringement.

But he paid for the song. He wasn't taking credit for it. He wasn't making any money off of it. All he did was use it in a football video. Furthermore, you couldn't even find the video by searching for the name of the song, because the name wasn't included in the title. So, its not even like millions of people would have foregone paying for the song because they could listen to it from his YouTube channel. This was merely a form of expression, of speech if you will. But copyright law says they can have his home video taken down. And he's one of the so many million who didn't complain, as someone else in the thread suggested all these people are blatantly stealing.

Do you see the problem with this? If not, let's look at another scenario. Three teenagers are huddled together in a group before their class begins and they are singing the lyrics to their favorite rap song verbatim. The teacher walks in and insists, "You must stop singing this song immediately. You didn't write it and you are not permitted to reproduce it in any way."

Now, most people would agree that in the case of the three singing teenagers no copyright infringement had occurred. But had it? Perhaps these three teenagers were rehearsing for a school lipsynch contest, where they were going to perform before the entire student body, faculty, and attending friends and family with the unaltered (but paid for) track from the original artist? Was that copyright infringement?

And what if a proud mother recorded the performance on her iPhone? And what if she sent it to a handful of relatives as a multi-media message? What if her phone was configured to automatically upload her videos to dropbox? What if they automatically uploaded to Google Drive and were shared on Google Plus? What if she posted it on Facebook? What if she, gasp, uploaded it to YouTube? Should Google really pull her video down? And if not, how is my friend's football video any different?

But you ignore the real problem with your short sighted generalizations about copyright. The problem is that artists and media distribution companies work very hard to make their work a part of popular culture. And then when it becomes a part of popular culture they are appalled that it is used in a popular manner and want to bully everyone around. I say you can't have it both ways. If you want complete control over your work, then you should only distribute it to a small number of privileged people and you should have a defined and known stance that your work is not intended for popular culture. But if that's not the case, then freedom of speech trumps any perceived rights you may think you have. That's the price you pay when you produce art that is intended to be part of popular culture.

And that's the beauty of the approach to copyright in this article. It realizes that copyright is old and broken and that it doesn't work with our current society. It seeks to find some law which allows artists to be fairly compensated for their work, without destroying our culture and way of life in the process. Furthermore, it seeks to create laws which are understandable, clearly defined, and actually enforceable. Current copyright law is none of those things.

But you say, "There is nothing wrong with copyright," ?

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pmgmr2

I never understood the connection between "content owners should get paid" and copyright law.

If you think Trent Reznor should be paid for his new album, then YOU CAN WRITE HIM A CHECK. This benefits you, too, because he can use that money to continue making music you like and other musicians know that there's a market for that type of music, which will encourage them.

Why do courts, jails, police, etc. have to be involved at all?

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MaximumMike

>>Why do courts, jails, police, etc. have to be involved at all?

Because that's the purpose of government. Didn't you know? People with money get to pay the government to point guns at people without money, for whatever reason they like.

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pmgmr2

I wish I could upvote you, but my gratitude is all you get.

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Renegade Knight

The idea of copyright is fine. It benefits society. However the term and depth of it is broken. They did a study on the term of copyright that would best serve the public and found it to be about 7 years.

As for your assertion about sole ability. Fair use requires certain concessions. If I want to give a book to my friend. I can do so. That's fair use. If I want to sell it at a garage sale. Fair use. If I want to quote it to make a point in a book report. Fair use.

Before copyright, everything was fair use. After it, it made fair use a legal concept and it was a needed concept.

I know the point you were making with your comment about nobody has a right to say, a game. But they do. If they pay they do. If they don't pay but report on it, they have a limited right.

Lastly. Most people think in terms of Music, TV, etc when they think copyright. I'm an Engineer. Roughly 70,000 people a day enjoy my work. By the time my career ends that will be more than doubled. Not quite blockbuster status. But if I had a nickel for everyone...I'd be rich. I get no royalties whatsoever because my work isn't used the same way as others. Nor am I allowed to benefit the same way. I make a good wage. But I won't get a blockbuster. Ever.

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Jimisawesome

Who did this study?

The problem with copyright is not the length of the term its the utter lack of enforcement. Fine make it 7 years it will not change a thing. The movies being stolen errr copyright infringed are 7 months old. The TV shows being copyright infringed are 7 days old. The music is again 7 months old.

Fair Use was until 1976 in the United States purely a privilege granted by the court. Even after congress passed the law its vagueness still puts it more towards privilege then right. The first sale doctrine is what you are referring too and this again is a privilege that the courts have granted and not a right. This is a limited privilege too in that you can sell a single copy of a distributed work to another entity under the theory you don't get access to it any longer.

Length and fair use are not the issue at all with copyright. Its the out and out theft err infringement at no cost. I am too lazy to bring up the article but google just recently said that less then 1 in a million of the take down notice did they have the person fight back.

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Hank Werner

Yes you are right there is nothing wrong with copyright law as is. That's why if i wanted to watch an episode of game of thrones for free, lets say a century from now. I would get sued for infringing on copyright laws even though it would be 100 years in the future. Which is more than enough time to make some money off of said show, or maybe i want to add another book to the lord of the rings trilogy i would also get sued for that, if i made any money off of it that is. Even though Mr. Tolkien has been dead for quite some time.

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FoulFoot

Gee, wonder how much the good Judge is receiving from Kim Dotcom.