Is copyright for life fair?

From Slashdot | Image of Popeye Enters Public Domain In the EU

Re:Don’t worry, Olive! (Score:5, Insightful)

by zwei2stein (782480)
on Sunday January 04, @04:38PM (#26322963)

Its this simple: Why should anyone make money from one idea over again for rest of ther life?

Socienty does not benefit by encouraging certain people to parasite on it for rest of their life for less than days job. Society benefits from those people continuing to create.

If you, an artist and want to make money, keep producing art. That simple. Works for every other job, you are not superhuman deserving different treatment.

If someone can succesfully make cheapie knockoffs without your cooperation, then they deserve money and you don’t, because you had opportunity to be first, to be brand, to abuse new fad before it becomes old fad, to be The guy to come to when they want to make knockoffs and just missed it or werent good enough.

Socienty does not need institutionalized freeloaders.

Re:Don’t worry, Olive! (Score:5, Insightful)

by Korin43 (881732) on Sunday January 04, @05:14PM (#26323245)

This isn’t even someone profiting from it for their entire life. It’s about someone profiting from it 95 years after they die.

Re:Don’t worry, Olive! (Score:4, Insightful)

by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday January 04, @07:19PM (#26324369)

It is an asset of some sort. If copyright entered the public domain purely on merit that the owner is dead, you would have to also release his other properties freely to the public.

That’s not the basis of it, though. The copyright has a limited duration. It used to be 14 years, with the option to be renewed for another 14 years. Then 28+14; then 28+28. And then it was life+50.

A life term is just another span of time, after all. Of course, the duration ought to be whatever, in combination with the breadth of the grant of rights, best serves the public interest. This is probably best accomplished by not automatically granting copyrights, instead letting authors who want them step forward to get them (thus allowing many works to instantly enter the public domain because the authors don’t care), and by having short terms with multiple renewals, so that works whose authors at some point stop caring about copyright, can enter the public domain sooner than later. Term lengths might vary depending on the kind of work; a book probably gets more use out of a long copyright than a piece of software or a newspaper does.

On the whole, though, a term of 25 years maximum (i.e. 1-2 year terms, renewed periodically to get to the 25 year total) is probably more than enough for anything. After all, the point of copyright is to encourage authors to create and publish works, which are minimally protected for as short a time as possible. If an author is willing to create a work for a 25 year copyright, it is foolish, and a waste of public resources, to grant a longer copyright. It’s just like finding someone to paint your house for $1,000, and then insisting that they accept $10,000 instead.

Re:Don’t worry, Olive! (Score:4, Interesting)

by Jason Levine (196982) on Sunday January 04, @10:36PM (#26325755)

Fine. Let’s suppose you create a work today (book, song, whatever) that winds up being pretty successful. Thanks to copyright, you are motivated to create more works (maybe based off of the successful work, maybe not). Copyright law grants you copyright ownership over the idea for 70 years after your death, however. Assuming you happen to be 30 years old (since I don’t know your real age) and that you will die at the respectable age of 80, this means that the copyright will expire in the year 2129. Assuming that every 30 years, a new generation comes into the world, this means that the copyright on your work will expire when your great-great-great-grandkids are born. Exactly how is copyright supposed to motive you to create new works when you’re dead, your kids are dead, and your grandkids are likely dead also?

I definitely support copyright protections, but would like to see them significantly scaled back in length. I’d like to see them reverted back to what they were in the time of the Founders: 14 years initially with an optional one-time 14 year extension. I would probably support a 20+20 rule, but not much beyond that. There could be a phase in period for existing works starting with the oldest works and working forward. It would give artists plenty of time to make money off of the idea. Using the previous example, your work created today (when you are 30) would go into the public domain in the year 2037 when you are 58.

This would also solve the problem of abandoned works: They would either not be renewed after the first term or would naturally expire after the renewal term.

Re:Yes, worry! (Score:5, Informative)

by symbolic (11752) on Sunday January 04, @04:38PM (#26322965)

We’re not talking about “the artist” here, we’re talking about a huge media conglomerate. Here’s the irony with current copyright law: back when the 17-year copyright was first enacted, the means of production and distribution were far more limited than they are today. Because corporations have much easier access to potential customers, they can make far more money, far faster than they ever could in the past. And yet, there’s this insane belief that the copyright needed to be extended. If anything, it should have been shortened to take into account the benefits brought by advances in technology. I dare say those who initiated the idea of copyright ever envisioned multi-billion-dollar corporations creating a stranglehold on the sale and distribution of works that define our culture.

Re:Don’t worry, Olive! (Score:5, Interesting)

by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday January 04, @04:59PM (#26323141)

Why does the public have rights over and above the creator?

The creator enjoys the protection of the law that *stops* other people making copies of that character. You’re already operating from the assumption that an artist has the inherent moral right to stop anyone making copies of his or her work.

Let me make clear that I’m not one of Slashdot’s kneejerk anti-IPers. I strongly believe that the time and effort put into creating intellectual (as opposed to physical) works should have the same *opportunity* to be rewarded as physical work or service. Nor do I agree that no-one ever loses out from “piracy”. So copyright is (ideally) the protection of *potential* income from intellectual works.

Still, the assumption that the creator should enjoy the protection of the state forever and ever on their works is one some people could reasonably disagree with.

I understand if there is no remaining family but why shouldn’t the rights pass to the surviving family much as physical property does?

Regardless of whether some people call it intellectual property, the fact remains that it isn’t the same as physical property.

Our culture is built upon the works of previous cultures and their intellectual works. To impose copyright and similar intellectual protection for generations would ultimately have the effect of tying up our current and future popular culture and make it impossible to build upon it in the same way that previous generations have.

Can you imagine how hard it would have been for the creators of Popeye if they hadn’t been able to use *any* previous elements, even getting down to the basic structure of the story and the setup? (e.g. Two guys fighting over one girl; sorry, the Greeks have a copyright on that from 2000 years ago, etc.) And yes, IIRC, some people *were* wanting to copyright things down to that sort of level on modern creations.

You probably know (or ought to know) that many of Disney’s classic works are based on public domain material and characters that they never paid a cent for. The company is one of the arch-hypocrites when it comes to intellectual property.

My family home can still be in the family in 500 years but my work will belong to anyone that wants to reproduce it for a quick buck.

Your original artwork will still be in the family in 500 years, if they haven’t sold it off. You just won’t have the right to stop other people making copies of it.

And while you can hold on to the house, you can’t hold on to it *and* have the benefit of selling it. Sure, you can rent it out and stuff, so the edges are blurred; but as I said, physical and intellectual property aren’t the same thing and can’t always be compared. With IP, you can sell copies of it *and* retain the original rights.

I often wonder about releasing some work to the public because in the end the only true way in our society to control your work is to not publish it ever.

That’s your choice.

I no longer have the financial need so why not just keep my work for family and friends?

Ditto. Though I’d burn it before you die, as if it’s really as important as you seem to think, some descendant will probably release it anyway- likely before the copyright expires in order to make money as well.

It may seem straight forward to non artists but it’s an upsetting subject for many artists.

No-one ever said life was perfect. I agree that it’s sometimes unpleasant that some creatively bankrupt advertising f*****t can cheapen a piece of out-of-copyright classical music by using it for some lousy product, but that’s an unfortunate side effect of something that is desirable on the whole.

Upsetting? Perhaps, but they have to decide whether the trade-off of releasing their work is worth it; they already enjoy the better part of a lifetime’s protection in many cases, and that’s a lot more than many people have over their physical creations and/or labour.

I’ve largely decided to draw a line between commercial and personal work and what I deem personal will never be released to the public. It’s my choice and ultimately it is the only real control I have.

That’s your choice. Of course, your personal work will never have the benefit of being seen by and becoming a part of public culture and will (or should) vanish into obscurity, but that’s a tradeoff you have the right to make.

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