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  1. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    The issue of copyright

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Islander, Jul 30, 2010.

    So, what are your opinions on copyright? Does it last long enough, or too long? Is it the best way to protect artists and writers, and to ensure the production of high-quality literary and artistic works?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I think while the intentions behind it are probably good, its a little misguided. Protecting your work, as in stopping other people claiming it as theirs, is fine, and artists should have a legal way to do that. But stopping other people from referencing, quoting, parodying, cutting from, remixing, sampling or interacting in any other way with your work is something I disagree with. As far as I'm concerned, if you deliberately and willingly put your work into the hands of the public, you have no right to say what they can and can't do with it (so long as what they do doesn't constitute fraud or outright theft or anything like that).

    Sadly, as copyright laws become more and more prohibitive in the West, it doesn't look like much is gonna change.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The copyright laws are very fair and well thought out.

    They protect creators of original works from theft of their intellectual property, and are really not that constraining.

    No system of laws is perfect. There will always be some who will exploit the gray areas to their advantage at the expense of others, but the majority of creative works are well-protected by these laws.
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    As for myself, I think copyright terms are absurdly long (normally, 50 to 90 years after the creator's death). A more reasonable copyright term would be ten years after the date of publication, or even less. The vast majority of works have earned most of their revenue by that time.

    Possibly literature would need a longer term, since books sometimes become popular long after their initial publication, but I doubt it is so common as to warrant it.

    The right to attribution is a different matter. It should probably last much longer, like the lifetime of the creator.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pardon me, but who are you to demand that my ownership of my own creation should be limited to a decade or so? Why should someone else be able to freely carve up my work for their own profit within a couple decades?

    I find that attitude rather presumptuous, and offensive.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm wholeheartedly with cog on this... in re both of his posts!
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I agree with Cog. What you're essentially saying is that you don't want to have to pay to use other people's work.
     
  8. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    If I do essentially all the work, why shouldn't you have to quote me, or credit me for my work?
     
  9. becca
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    becca New Member Contributor

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    Copyrights are there for a reason. Mostly for the protection and consideration of the creator. They protect your work from being hacked and stollen.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sampling and remixing someone else's work and selling it as your own is outright theft. Putting your work up for sale is not the same thing as putting it in the public domain. Buying a book from a bookstore does not grant you ownership of the intellectual property in it, it only grants you ownership of that one single copy of it that you bought. You can't copy it, put your own name on it, and resell it. Sorry. When you buy a copy, you buy the right to read it, not the right to make money off it.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a very large body of works which are still in copyright, but where the copyright holder is unknown. That means they can't be published by anyone, and, worse, they run the risk of being lost forever since no new copies can be made.

    Currently, we run the risk of losing a very large portion of our cultural heritage. The last copies of books are thrown into the recycling bins. The last nitrate films of movies self-disintegrate in the vaults of movie studios. With more sensible copyright terms, it would be possible to scan old books and movies and preserve them electronically.

    Author Cory Doctorow writes about the problem here.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Name one.

    Bull. Copyright does not prevent restoration for archiving.

    Oh. Well. It's on the Internet, so it must be true.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Europe, the moral rights (like the right to attribution) are separate from the commercial rights (like the right to manufacture copies). The latter can be sold or leased; the former cannot.

    As the Berne Convention puts it:
    Film directors, for example, have exercised their moral rights when their films have been hacked up by commercial breaks in inappropriate places. The Monty Python cast exercised them to stop their shows from being re-edited when aired in the US.

    There is no reason the moral rights should expire when the commercial do.
     
  14. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    The European Commission estimates there are about 3 million orphaned books within the EU. (EC)

    Another report conservatively estimates that there are around 25 million orphaned works in public sector organisations in the UK alone (JISC). Besides books, this figure includes photographs, newspapers, sound recordings and other media.

    Section 108 of the US Copyright Act only allows the creation of backup copies for unpublished works. For published works, the archive or library may only make a copy to replace a destroyed copy. If the destroyed copy happened to be the only one they could find - tough luck.

    Please be polite.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The work you cited has a definite political agenda. Even they cover themselves with this disclaimer on page 4:
    And how would a change in copyright law make a difference in this instance?

    It's a moot point if there is no copy in sufficiently good condition for restoration.

    The comment about truth on the Internet was because an opinion piece in the form of someone's Internet article is not exactly compelling evidence of anything.

    These are absurd arguments for limiting author's/artist's rights of ownership under copyright law. And it is not at all relevant whether the copyright holder has made a registered claim of ownership. He or she still deserves the protection from exploitation regardless of whether he or she chooses to exercise it immediately.

    Keep the vultures at bay. If they didn't create it, they have no right to claim it for their own benefit. Nor should they.
     
  16. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pray tell, what political agenda does the European Commission have?

    3 million books is a conservative estimate. Any report of this kind can be criticised because it doesn't give exact numbers, but we have to work with the best numbers we have. If you doubt there are orphaned books, why don't you supply a report which supports your contention?

    With more lenient copyright laws, they could have made backup copies before their only copy was destroyed.

    I think Doctorow's point is that a lot of works are unnecessarily protected by copyright. They have long since gone out of print, there is no commercial value in them, and many of the authors would probably be happier to have their books copied than not read at all.

    If we take that principle to the extreme, we would not be able to publish the works of Shakespeare or Homer without tracking down their descendants and obtaining their respective permissions. We have to draw a line somewhere for where ownership of literary works end.
     
  17. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'm surprised at how aggressive this debate is (at least on one side). Breaking copyright is very, very rarely done in order to make money from a work, so describing people who seek to change copyright laws or simply to break them to a certain extent as "vultures" is grossly inaccurate and really speaks to your being quite ill-informed about the issue.

    No one who disputes copyright laws seeks to dispute the issue of ownership. No one will ever claim that your work is not your work or that you shouldn't be rewarded from it. What is objected to are the creative restrictions that are imposed by copyright laws that prevent a creative dialogue from taking place by insisting that your creation cannot be used in any context other than the original.

    The extension of copyright was the result of extensive lobbying by Disney, who sought to ensure that their creations like Mickey Mouse would remain their property. The primary reason behind this was that a cartoon series depicting a version of Mickey Mouse as a very adult character was gaining popularity and, despite threats of legal action the cartoonists would not stop. As a result, the Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse Protection Act was signed into law and Disney once more had a legal basis for stopping the work of any and all creative people who tried to use Mickey in their own works. And there's the problem. For many people, Mickey Mouse has come to represent much more than just a Disney character--he is loaded with American ideology, which is why he was beginning to appear in these politically and socially motivated cartoons. By enforcing the law, Disney isn't just staking a claim in their ownership of a character, they're reshaping these ideologies, and, it would seem, exercising corporate control within the public sphere.

    The irony is that Steamboat Willie, Mickey's third movie appearance (as well as most iconic) is in fact in the public domain, though for the past decade Disney has been threatening to sue any lawyers who confirm this.

    Then there are more recent examples. Shepherd Fairey's iconic Obama poster shaped the candidate's campaign and was replicated over and over again (without anyone being sued for copyright infringement, who'd have thought?). Fairey, a well known and very well reputed street artist, has a history of producing political images, and his work (including the Obama poster) is represented in museums all over the world. The poster in question is a stencil-portrait based on a photograph of Obama. The owner of the original portrait sued, and Fairey couter-sued: his work is fair use, he claims, and I agree. The resemblance to the original image is superficial...it's Barrack Obama's face, probably one of the most recognisable in the world. Fairey abstracted, redesigned, recoloured and, most importantly, recontextualised the image in the process of making his poster. The original photo is linked only by a passing similarity, and yet the person who took the photograph believes they have a right to enforce their ownership over Fairey's work simply because he used their image as a starting point. The issue of fair use is what's at stake here. Fairey never claimed to own the original photo, he merely used it as inspiration. If he loses the case, it sets a precedent that threatens to disrupt the entire creative community, writers included. When a passing resemblance is all it takes to have your work deemed invalid, how can any creative dialogue occur?

    A third instance worthy of note is the work of musician Greg Gillis. Of course, I say musician, Minstrel says criminal. Gillis creates original songs by sampling dozens of songs per track and recombining them to make a wholly original piece. No clip exceeds 30 seconds, and no clip is ever isolated. Instead, short bursts of songs (drum beats, guitar riffs, vocals) are recontextualised and reexplored in a new musical situation. Anyone who has heard his music will know that it shows a high level of creativity, skill and originality. New York Times call him a lawsuit waiting to happen. Again, the issue of fair use is at stake. Gillis makes no claim to ownership of the samples, and he is, as anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the history of music will know, far from the first to sample music (a tradition that goes back to the beginning of modern music and the creation of rock and roll). So is he a criminal for what he does? The answer to that question, I think, will decide on which side of the line any person falls. In favor of copyright laws that simulataneously encourage innovation and creativity as an open society and a social cause, rather than as a route to personal wealth, or in favor of restrictive copyright laws that creates a dichotomy that will not last the next decade. We no longer live in a world where the producer/consumer binary can operate--this is the (perhaps futile) insistence of my generation. As a result, the idea of the autonomy of any work of art must be rendered invalid. Your work is, and always will be, your work, but I demand the right to be able to creatively respond to it without my artistry being restricted. This is my vision for ideal copyright laws, and after reading this thread, I'm disappointed to say I doubt it will ever see reality.
     
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