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Author Topic: How long should copyright, etc. be?  (Read 941 times)

Pelorus

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 05:15:42 pm »
The copyright on HGWells means that his stuff is still under copyright even though the man died in 1946.

It's certainly stopped work on my War of the Worlds RPG (mainly because for a fee I can license the work but am obliged to use Jeff Wayne's rendition (plot, characters and art) as the primary source and not the book).

And I don't want to do that.

My vote is lifetime. If the estate doesn't bring anything to his heirs during his life, then why should it provide for them in perpetuity.

Copyrights and Patents were designed to allow people to create and innovate further while living off the proceeds of their last creation. They were not designed to stifle creativity or keep someone's great grandchildren in Gucci.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2008, 05:19:51 pm by Pelorus »
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Kyle Aaron

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2008, 05:24:53 pm »
Bill, you're shifting the goalposts. You began by talking about simple ripping off.
Quote from: HinterWelt
Say Tolkein takes 20 years to get his magnus opus out. But the Hobbit was wildly popular and a slew of derivative works cropped up in the 5 year lapse. Perhaps the LoTR would just be anothe rHobbit book amongst a sea of other Hobbit books. In five years, perhaps a popular base has arisen around Tommy Finn's Lord of the Elves. Now, LotE is a strong brand and LotR has little space next to all of Finns volumes I-XXX. The brand, because the author took too long, is taken from him.
That's why I gave the example of Bjorn Again, which is a "slew of derivative works" - not overshadowing the original, but popular in itself.

Now you're talking about exact copies only.

This is one of those definitional things. If you narrow your area of focus enough you can reasonably argue anything. But for a useful conversation about the basic principles underlying the things, we have to have a wider focus - and we have to keep the same width of focus throughout the conversation. Otherwise it just goes nowhere, you say X, I say what about Y, you say well I didn't mean X but x, and so on.
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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2008, 05:43:46 pm »
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;273474
Why should copyright last longer than patents?
You started this in response to my original statement. I then gave you the reasons for it to last longer. Guarding against derivative work is not the biggest point, copyright is the biggest point. So, yeah, you might call it shifting goal posts, I would call it refining my point in response to what you are saying.
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;273516
Bill, you're shifting the goalposts. You began by talking about simple ripping off.

That's why I gave the example of Bjorn Again, which is a "slew of derivative works" - not overshadowing the original, but popular in itself.

Now you're talking about exact copies only.
No, I am emphasizing exact copies because it is the easiest and most clear execution of copyright law. Suing for derivative IP infringement is a tough game and very expensive. That is what I said up thread. To me, it is easiest to say if you cut copyright down to 15 years, the easier to prove and far more devastating effect will be distribution of your work. The effect of derivative works may or may not be devastating (I gave an example of how it could be) and arguably could be done anyway under current laws. That is why I dropped it and moved to the more pertinent aspect of copyright laws.

Both would come up and be relevant in cutting down to a 15 year length so both are pertinent but I feel the distribution aspect to be much more relevant to the point you are trying to make;i.e. 15 year copyright would be a good thing.

If you would prefer to concede the point feel free but please stop squirming.
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;273516
This is one of those definitional things. If you narrow your area of focus enough you can reasonably argue anything. But for a useful conversation about the basic principles underlying the things, we have to have a wider focus - and we have to keep the same width of focus throughout the conversation. Otherwise it just goes nowhere, you say X, I say what about Y, you say well I didn't mean X but x, and so on.

No, it is an opinion issue. It is something that, if you believe it will make the market stronger or stimulate the artists to do more work and you feel it is your job to do so then you will feel you are right. I believe my opinion is correct in that there are plenty of examples of artists who continue to profit after a short 15 year period, some for all their life. Since they are opinions they are, by definition, arguable. I can present the merits of my point of view and so can you. If I understand it, your POV can be summed with "I believe they can earn enough money in 15 years" and "There will be more creative endeavors". Mine could be summed as "The artist should be able to profit from his work for his entire life if he can" and "Artists should determine the distribution of their work".

Now, I don't believe copyright should extend beyond their life but I can understand the argument.

ETA: Also, derivative works usually have more issues with trade marks.
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Warthur

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2008, 03:21:55 am »
Quote from: Pelorus;273514
My vote is lifetime. If the estate doesn't bring anything to his heirs during his life, then why should it provide for them in perpetuity.


What about a situation where a poor, struggling author manages to create a masterpiece which sells millions, but the guy dies before the first wheelbarrow full of royalties comes in? Under the system you propose, the author's impoverished spouse and kids get jack and shit, which seems wildly unjust.
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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2008, 03:23:46 am »
What about posthumous works?

A lot of people in this thread are advocating that copyright should, in essence, expire immediately at the point of death. But that makes it much more difficult to profitably publish works that an artist/author/musician/whatever may have completed before they died but didn't get around to publishing - which makes it, in turn, more unlikely that the material will be published at all.
I am no longer posting here or reading this forum because Pundit has regularly claimed credit for keeping this community active. I am sick of his bullshit for reasons I explain here and I don't want to contribute to anything he considers to be a personal success on his part.

I recommend The RPG Pub as a friendly place where RPGs can be discussed and where the guiding principles of moderation are "be kind to each other" and "no politics". It's pretty chill so far.

Pelorus

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2008, 03:30:25 am »
Quote from: Warthur;273570
What about a situation where a poor, struggling author manages to create a masterpiece which sells millions, but the guy dies before the first wheelbarrow full of royalties comes in? Under the system you propose, the author's impoverished spouse and kids get jack and shit, which seems wildly unjust.


Um, that's not how the system works. If he's secured a publishing contract and the cheque just wasn't printed then his family gets it. Contracts are contracts.

If he was never published in life, then that's one of those hard knocks. Then everyone has the chance to publish - not a case that the family gets nothing, they have the same chance as everyone else.

Remember what copyright and patents are for - to earn the creator a living so that they may invent more. Not to keep their families in Bentleys for perpetuity. Once a creator is dead, why should the copyright system continue to work?
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Pelorus

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2008, 03:36:54 am »
Quote from: Warthur;273571
What about posthumous works?

A lot of people in this thread are advocating that copyright should, in essence, expire immediately at the point of death. But that makes it much more difficult to profitably publish works that an artist/author/musician/whatever may have completed before they died but didn't get around to publishing - which makes it, in turn, more unlikely that the material will be published at all.


Assuming the work has no intrinsic value, that's true.

The alternative is - why let it expire at all?

Consider the work of two brothers. One a writer, the other a builder. A certain number of years (depending on country) after the writers death, his copyright expires and his body of his life's work becomes open season. The builder, on the other hand, passes his life's work from family member to family member and they stay wealthy forever.
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estar

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2008, 01:06:09 pm »
Quote from: Pelorus;273573

The alternative is - why let it expire at all?


Because it has the same effect of censorship. Yes copyright was originally developed as a means for the crown to control printed material and used as form of censorship. Too long of a copyright you stifle innovation. In the United States intellectual property is allowed by the US constitution to ENCOURAGE innovation.

Morally it is because none of truly create original works. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us as we recast old ideas into new works. It is only fair that at some point that it is contributed back into the general pool that is heritage of all humanity.

So far the length of time for various form of IPs has been deemed a political question by the Supreme Court, to be determined by Congress. As long as Congress puts some kind of limit on the time the Supreme Court is likely not to rule on the matter.

One of the many ways around this is to go the Creative Commons route and build a repository of creative works that is freely shared. Of course another is to contact your representative to let him know your views.

jhkim

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« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2008, 01:45:25 pm »
Quote from: Pelorus;273573
The alternative is - why let it expire at all?

Consider the work of two brothers. One a writer, the other a builder. A certain number of years (depending on country) after the writers death, his copyright expires and his body of his life's work becomes open season. The builder, on the other hand, passes his life's work from family member to family member and they stay wealthy forever.

Intellectual property can stifle innovation by making it difficult to develop without potentially infringing.  If someone still controlled the patent on the transistor or the airplane, then any new development would require threading a legal minefield.  The only inventors would be a handful who worked in conjunction with a legal team.  This isn't the same as a house-builder, because the "property" spans over the whole world and potentially interferes with anyone's work in the field.

The same is true for writers and other artists.  They do not create from a vacuum -- they always draw from and build on prior works.  Our intellectual landscape is less rich when people have to go back and edit out distinctive features and/or tread legal minefields in order to write what they imagine.

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« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2008, 05:58:27 pm »
50 years from date of publication.

That's enough time for you and your kids and your grandkids to profit from your creation.   But it's finite enough that the work enters the public domain within 3 generations of its publication.

I don't buy the "artists are stifled" argument.   Star Wars is directly inspired by many works that were under copyright in 1976 and that didn't stop Lucas for one moment.   Matrix owes so much to the whole cyberpunk literary field, but none of those copyrights had the slightest effect on Warners.   And the list goes on and on.

The bigger problem lies in the patent world where technology can be locked away and technology that is inspired by other patents can be shut down by the patent holder.    If you make an epic space fantasy that has space ships and mystic heroes, Lucas can't do shit unless you actually thread on his copyrights, but the same doesn't hold true with many patent issues unfortunately.

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« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2008, 06:28:37 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;273711

I don't buy the "artists are stifled" argument.   Star Wars is directly inspired by many works that were under copyright in 1976 and that didn't stop Lucas for one moment.   Matrix owes so much to the whole cyberpunk literary field, but none of those copyrights had the slightest effect on Warners.   And the list goes on and on.


+1 to this.

  Creativity isn't stifled by a copyright. It is stimulated by it.

  Yes we stand on the shoulders of others - but to stand out you have to present the material in a new, fresh, interesting, or innovative ways. Like Star Wars or The Matrix. If people were just able to directly copy someones stuff shortly after they create it - where's the incentive to be creative?
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jhkim

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« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2008, 07:18:42 pm »
Quote from: Jaeger;273716
Yes we stand on the shoulders of others - but to stand out you have to present the material in a new, fresh, interesting, or innovative ways. Like Star Wars or The Matrix. If people were just able to directly copy someones stuff shortly after they create it - where's the incentive to be creative?

Well, but Star Wars was subject to lawsuit back and forth with Universal.  After 20th Century Fox sued Universal for copyright infringement related to Battlestar Galactica, Universal counter-sued over theft of ideas from 1972 film Silent Running (notably the robot "drones") and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1940s.  I am certain that if The Hidden Fortress had been an American studio film, then the creators of it would have sued immediately, and probably with more success.  Standing out and having a good product is not sufficient to protect yourself from lawsuit over copyright.  

Now, you might dismiss these lawsuits as inconsequential, because they were small in comparison to a huge phenomenon like Star Wars, backed by a studio with deep pockets like 20th Century Fox.  However, these lawsuits have a major chilling effect on smaller producers.  

I don't think anyone is arguing that no intellectual property should exist -- just that there are negative consequences to eternally and stringently enforcing intellectual property.

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2008, 10:03:14 pm »
I think that life+15 years was very fair.  I think that the current system, which (if the big corporations get their way) is essentially FOREVER is something that is disastrously bad for our culture.

And all that said, I think that the realities of the internet mean that the whole concept of copyright will need to be rethought; having laws in theory that don't actually work in practice are never a good idea, and lead to the kind of travesties of justice we've seen going on around filesharing at this current time, where file-sharers who download the latest metallica single can get hit with bigger fines than drunk drivers who kill people can get, or can be threatened with prison sentences longer than those of rapists.

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How long should copyright, etc. be?
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2008, 10:05:05 pm »
Also, given that this isn't really about roleplaying games, I'm moving the thread to Off Topic.

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« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2008, 05:57:26 pm »
Quote from: jhkim;273720
However, these lawsuits have a major chilling effect on smaller producers.


Tell that to the guys who made "Snakes on a Train" or "Zombies on a Plane" or the other gazillion "XYZ with the serial numbers taped over" productions.  

They be chilling.   Not chilled.