IP and copyright. What is your view?

As discussed in this thread, there is a determined group that believes that information should not be restricted in its dessimination and so they oppose copyright laws. I think they just don’t get that taking of intellectual property is every bit a violation as taking of tangible property. Stealing my car is the same as stealing my ideas.

So the poll will look at the correlation between ownership of IP and views on copyright.

As for me, my IP is a published article on academic dress in America. Took months of research, phone calls and a fair amount of editing. I also discovered a couple of things that was not known in the field of my fellow AD researchers.

I have IP and I do not support copyright laws.

I have been a musician for many years. I have performed on recordings, currently on sale, for other artists, and I have a significant amount of my own music freely available on the internet.

I am an author of a published article regarding patent law.

I am also an inventor on a patent that is currently pending with the USPTO.

No trademarks to speak of.

Here is what happens to me. I do research, write a paper, send it off to a journal and they want me to sign a conditional transfer of copyright before they even send it to a refer (conditioned on their eventually publishing it). Assuming it is accepted and published, they own the copyright. There are things I wrote more than 40 years ago that have been scanned by the publisher and are available online that I cannot see without paying their fee (of about $25, as I recall). Now it would be one thing had I been paid for the publication, but that never happens. In fact, the opposite used to happen; we would have to pay them a typesetting fee.

But suppose I own it (as I do for everything I have published since 1996, in a free online journal). Would I want to sell it? Not at all. I want to see it disseminated as widely as possible; that’s where I get my kicks. There is a book I cowrote and published about 1990. It sold out and the publisher reprinted it and that sold out. We got some small royalties for this, a few hundred dollars. After it went out of print, the publisher returned the copyright to us. We found another publisher that was interested in reprinting it and arranged that, negotiating that no royalties would be paid till half the 800 print run was sold and we would get 20% after that. Well, they sold the first 400 after a couple years and then paid royalties once. When I asked them a few months ago, they said they had lost my email address! Well that was a few months ago and they now have my email address but still no royalties. My attitude is that they violated the contract and the book is now posted on my web site as well as that of my coauthor. In addition, the free online journal is about to add it to their reprint series. I think authors ought to have more freedom after a reasonable time to put stuff into the public domain.

I am with Lawrence Lessig on these questions. The first US copyright law was for 14 years, renewable for another 14 (provided the copyright owner bothered). By the time I was growing up that had doubled. Still, most things went into the public domain after 28 years, since few cared to bother renewing. Now, it seems to go on forever. First place everything is automatically copyright. It used to be necessary to write © 2012 Hari Seldon to get something copyrighted. Now even that is unnecessary. Second copyrights continue even if no one cares. There was a book written in 1928 that I wanted to use in a course. It had reprinted by Dover in the 50s and I wrote to them to ask permission to photocopy it if they weren’t reprinting. They told me that the author’s widow owned the copyright and they had no idea how to find her. I doubt that either the author or his widow (who was probably not alive any more anyway) would have objected. In fact, I would be pleased that 60 years later someone wanted to use my book. But the copyright law says that that book still cannot be reprinted.

I understand that the original purpose of the copyright laws (and the section of the US constitution authorizing them) was that by encouraging authors to publish their works, they would eventually enter the public domain. The current copyright laws now have the purpose of keeping them out of the public domain and that is what I voted against.

Well, you do, if you want. Publish it under a Creative Commons license, or just type at the bottom that you’re releasing it into the public domain. The fact that you have a right to make money off your work does not mean you are obligated to. It’s yours, you can do whatever you want with it, whenever you want. You can release it into public domain immediately, if you want. Lots of people do that already, just look at the Wiki Media galleries. Editors will often upload their own photo and release copyright.

I support copyright, simply because I got tired, real fast, of people expecting me to work for free. This still happens on a regular basis, again just this week. (Someone asked permission – at least they asked – to use a photo of mine in a commercial product, an iPhone app. They changed their mind real quick when I quoted them a licensing fee.) Most people would never even consider asking their accountant to do their taxes for nothing, but the attitude is that it’s okay as long as it’s “art” instead of “real work.” The hours I work are just as long as that accountant. I have a right to earn a living from my work product too.

If I feel like working on a volunteer basis, I can, I have, and I do. But I want, and I have, the right to determine when and under what circumstances I do that. Because of copyright law, the aforementioned iPhone app can’t just use my photo anyway – they may want me to work for free, but they can’t make me do it.

It’s your poll: do as you wish; but there’s IMHO, a whole lot of nuance between, “I don’t want any copyright at all,” and, “The current copyright laws are hunky-dory.” My own opinion about the term and scope of U.S. copyright protection is closer to that articulated by Hari Seldon, but I still want there to be some form of copyright protection.

One problem is that the U.S. enacted the Berne Convention, in the interests of international comity, without also adopting the accompanying droit moral framework. Without the droit moral, and the idea that the artist/creator has some right in the work beyond the right to get paid for it, (again IMHO) the terms of protection in Berne being tied to the life of the author don’t make a whole lot of sense. Whether you agree with that logic or not, extending copyright terms from 14+14 to Life of the Author + 70, or 125 years total is one hell of an extension of authorial rights. And who doesn’t doubt that Disney, et al, will just shove through another term extension when Mickey approaches the public domain again?

Personally, I voted for “No IP and I like ©,” but I’d like to see some changes to at least U.S. IP law.

It may be that artists will have to go back to the patronage model, and I think I’d prefer that to the potential loss of consumers’ ability to consume art anonymously. Cory Doctorow writes much more eloquently on this subject than I. Well, he should, being a professional writer, but he’s written on the sort of surveillance you’d need in order to preserve copyright in the not-to-distant future, especially as the methods and means for making perfect copies get easier and easier.

Gray Ghost makes a good point. You left out the most reasonable positions, in my opinion. In particular, you left out, “I have IP, and I think IP laws have their place, but the current laws and the surrounding thicket of litigation have gone batshit insane and need to be pruned with a machete.”

I don’t have any IP to speak of, unless you count photoshops or short stories posted online under a pseudonym (which I don’t). None of it makes me money, I just do it for enjoyment. I’ve done some personal web hosting and paid for it all out of my own pocket… no biggie.

I am definitely opposed to current copyright laws. I don’t mind making money off of one’s work for a reasonable amount of time. But I believe the current laws on when IP becomes part of the public domain are *far *too restrictive. I believe making money off a single work for 5-10 years is reasonable. And if the work is still in high-demand after that, a single extension is allowed. After 20ish years, everything is public domain. Period. If content creators want to make more money, they need to create more IP.

5 years is *way *longer than people in non-creative fields get to coast on a single job. And there are already *so *many content creators out there who do stuff for free or next to nothing (amateur bands, authors, artists, etc) that it’s not like we’re going to run out of people who enjoy creating content. If you (general) refuse to sing because you won’t be able to coast the rest of your life on the proceeds of a single album, then fuck you utterly.

Oh, and the death of the creator of a work would mean it instantly goes into public domain. No more of this bullshit about people collecting money for century-old content they didn’t personally create (I’m looking at you, Warner).

I have some IP but it’s not how I intend to make a living. I also am involved in content creation but when your content is a theatrical performance, that’s pretty hard to violate. I suppose someone could sneak a camera into a performance space and record it but I honestly can’t imagine feeling anything but pleased that someone is so into what I’ve created that they’re willing to watch some jank-ass shaky flipcam version. That’s dedication.

I didn’t vote in the poll because none of the options really said how I feel which is that copyright should be used to give creators first bite at making money off their creations but not effectively eternal control.

But that was not the purpose of the poll. It is tied to the thread where people are claiming there should be no copyright law. Once something is released it should be public domain. Do not pass go and certainly do not collect $200.

I’m curious about Hari Seldon’s answer to the poll and like HoldenCaufield, Hari feels that since he wants his information disseminated as far as possible that he feels no one should have the right to limit distribution of their own work.

I’m against non-human “persons” having essentially unlimited copyright to an IP creator’s work; however I do think “life of author plus X years” is fair, as IP is a semi-tangible product and I think it’s fine to include such things in a person’s estate for the benefit of her heirs. I don’t think copyright should last forever and ever, but being able to pass on that value to heirs is not that different from handing down other assets, like a house (“real” property), investments, or whatever.

Basically, I don’t think corps should have the same copyright protections that real humans do, but I think this is true for most of the weirdo legal rights of corporate “personhood.” A corporation is not a person.

I’m going to agree that the poll choices are poorly worded. “I support copyright laws” sounds like you support the current implementation of them.

I’m a software developer. I have IP in (some of) the software I’ve written (my employer owns most of what I’ve written). I think having no copyright laws would be better than what we currently have. My ideal would be somewhere in the middle (much more limited-term copyrights, and more compulsory licensing).

I don’t own any IP of value. To be pedantic, most of us in the USA own material that is probably technically copyrighted but of little value, and copyrighted material is only a fraction of IP.

I’m pro-copyright, but not as US law stands now. Works need to be protected, but the laws need to be reformed.

The periods are entirely too long and have retroactively been extended. I’m not sure how extending copyright protection to existing works from the 1930s is promoting the creation new works. Nor do I think that 105 years of protection is necessary to insure that creators are fairly compensated.

The enforcement and penalties are too heavy handed by orders of magnitude. The potential penalty of over million dollars for copying a single album is completely out of proportion to the damage done. The penalty should not be more than the penalty for stealing a car worth 1000 times more than an album. If I own an album, I shouldn’t be penalized for downloading a copy (which is illegal) rather than going through the trouble of ripping it myself (which is legal).

Media agencies are far too heavy handed in threatening to go after what is obviously fair use or even licensed use, such as the recent take down of the Hugo awards presentation due to the inclusion of clips of the nominated shows [y]provided by the studios that own the copyright*. The penalties are horribly lopsided. If a person infringes, they are potentially liable for enough to drive the majority of the population into bankruptcy, but if the studios file a takedown notice against every other You Tube video, there is little recourse for action against the studio. (Yes, I know that DMCA takedown notices require that the filer be required to attest that it’s their material, I’ve never heard of somebody successfully going after a false filer.)

Enforcement efforts through DRM have been similarly alienating. Early efforts to prevent CD ripping (a legal practice) rendered some CDs unplayable. A more recent and particularly version of DRM introduced a rootkit if the CD was put in a computer.

Left Hand of Dorkness had a suggestion of shorter duration and less restriction on derivative works in the Pirate Bay Pit thread that I agreed with and I’m going to leave you with.

One change to IP law I’d like to make: software. Right now software is protected under copyright law as a creative work, and rightly so. But software seems to me to be a special case: the useful lifespan of computer software, compared to, say, the way a movie can continue to speak meaningfully to us decades after it was made, is incredibly short. And there’s lots of “abandonware” out there that no one could conceivably sell, yet 50 years after Steamboat Willy finally enters the public domain, it’ll still be under the shield of copyright.

Rather than collecting dust until long after such software could conceivably be of use or interest, I’d like to see computer software made a “special case” and protected under copyright for a term of no more than 20 years after release to the public for initial sale or use. After that, it becomes public domain.

I think you’re asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t set copyright terms based on how long the creative work has value. That would result in only effectively worthless things entering the public domain.

We should set copyright terms based on how long they need to be set to reasonably entice people to create works. You know, “To promote the progress of science and useful arts…” 20 years is plenty long for any work. The idea that we need to protect a work for 80+ years is absurd. The idea that we should retroactively extend the length of past copyrights is even more absurd.

I have IP (a few recordings and songwriting credits), and I support the concept of copyright laws, but not the current implementation.

My former bandmates and I made the decision to make our work freely available, but that was our choice. If I were trying to make a living at it (as many of my friends still do), I’d be pretty pissed if somebody made that choice for me.

I support copyright very strongly, though there are some minor changes I would like.

So what about legendary bands with members that are still alive but may not be touring or producing ?
They better produce more music, or tough their best work is free now ?

So you’re saying here that anyone should be able to reproduce and distribute the 34 Stephen King books published from Carrie, 1974, to Dolores Claiborne, 1992, as well as all the other short stories written more than 20 years ago without paying King a dime for them?


I support strong copyright laws.

You’re an inventor, applying for a patent, and you want to abolish patents?

How absurd is that?

Why do you put your works on sale? They should be free, right?

Man, you’re a hypocrite as well as not making any sense.

Under the current system if he doesn’t patent his work but someone else does, he could be drawn into expensive and time consuming litigation, and have to prove to a jury of non-experts that their patent shouldn’t have between granted because his invention is prior art. As in the Apple/Samsung case, there’s no guarantee that a bone headed jury won’t ignore the evidence and judge’s instructions and validate their bogus patent, leaving him unable to produce his own invention. A patent to protect yourself can be necessary even if you don’t support the patent system or want the protections it gives against other people using your idea. It protects you from other people stealing your idea and then preventing you from using it.