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View Diary: Illegal to Show Landmark MLK Civil Rights Documentary (107 comments)

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  •  Thats (none)
    against the LAW.

    Copyright Law.

    •  Here is a perfect opportunity... (4.00)
      for some goddamned civil disobedience.

      Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

      by Maryscott OConnor on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 09:57:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Civil Disobedience (none)
        Damn Right !!!!

        Everyone should be able to copy anything they want and distribute it freely !!!

        Damn Hollywood Agents trying to supress freedom of Expression.

        Whoops, this sounds like hollywood bashing on KOS.

        Nevermind.....

    •  Fuck Copyright (3.77)

      Seriously. Fuck copyright.

      Copyright used to be a contract between the public and big corporations, that balanced the interests of society (having open, free access to works of art) with the interests of creators (eating and other such trifles). Unfortunately, the law has since been hijacked by big corporations. Now it protects neither the interests of the creator (work for hire laws and assorted other bullshit allows corporations to claim ownership of anything their employees do without compensation) nor the public (works have infinite term copyrights and criminal penalties for violating copyright law).

      Sure, it's the law. But it's not a moral law.

      Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

      by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 10:02:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I take a more middle-road approach (4.00)
        1. DOMA needs to be amended to define fair use through federal legislation, instead of leaving it up to the rights holder to go after every Trek fan site (for instance) in an effort to demonstrate they are protecting rights.

        2. Capitalism just don't work in some areas, and this is one.  There should be federal regulation on rates charged to different genre and different budgets.  Right now rates are determined on "what the market will bear", which skews unfairly against the small, independent filmmaker.

        3. The Sony Bono Act needs to be changed so that work for hire terms are concurrent with standard life of copyright (right now work for hire is a longer term, which also skews unfairly to mega-entertainment conglomerates).

        Just some initial thoughts...

        "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

        by grannyhelen on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 10:13:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Meant DMCA... (none)
          Sorry bout that - fingers slipped!

          "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

          by grannyhelen on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 10:21:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Copyright Approach (4.00)

          I'd have to agree with you there. I don't want to discard it entirely, but in it's current form, it's not just totally useless but actively harmful. And the Supreme Court hasn't shown any particular interest in forcing congress to follow the bloody Constitution, in this or anything else.

          The problem with defining fair use is that it was intended to be a very broad concept. As far as I can tell - and although I have done a lot of reading on this, I'm by no stretch of the imagination a historian or lawyer - it was basically intended as a "get out of jail free" card for non-commercial infringement that the courts judged to be non-hostile in nature. In other words, very cirumstance-dependent. More recently, it's been narrowed in a roundabout fashion to the point where it's almost meaningless.

          I agree about capitalism. One of the big problems is that copyright owners aren't required to charge the same license fees to everyone. So a lot of big corporations charge pennies to each other, while demanding thousands or millions from small artists for licensing fees.

          The Sonny Bono (amusing typo in your post, I think ;) ) Act needs to be thrown out the window entirely. The whole thing is a massive unconstitutional mess.

          The real problems right now are:

          • Criminalization of copyright infringement and the massive teams of lawyers large content cartels can deploy at a moment's notice have effectively destroyed fair use and the ability of small copyright holders to enforce copyright.
          • Copyright terms are, for all practical purposes, infinite. This means that only large content cartels can afford to create new works that draw on or are inspired by older works.
          • The DMCA has effectively outlawed fair use and the public domain. As long as there is some kind of electrionic copyright protection on a copyrighted work, you cannot legally break that protection, no matter what, even to take advantage of your fair use rights. You also can't legally break the protection on a public domain work as long as the same or a similar scheme is being used to protect at least one copyrighted work.

          Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

          by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 11:50:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  grannyhelen on fair use, 1st amend, etc (none)
            Not an atty, but I have some definite opinions on this:

            1. Largest violation in my opinion that has occured through arbitration process in WIPO, aided by the DMCA and case law, is the abrogation of the first amendment.  It should not be a violation of the rights of privacy of a living person to take a domain name out in their name and use it to criticize them.  In grannyhelen's humble opinion, this is wrong and the most egregious violation of the constitution happening right now.

            2. The Fair Use doctrine - in my opinion - was founded to balance the public good against the private interest.  The Founders realized that there was a direct relationship between the economic incentive granted to rights holders and the ability of rights holders to create.  The original term of copyright was - I believe - 15 years.  

            HOWEVER, this was before creative works took hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to create, in the example of motion pictures.  The intent of copyright is to provide an economic insentive for the creator to create, and if you just do away with copyright law, limit it to a 15 year term right now, or just allow folks willy-nilly to pirate materials you are not providing an adequate economic insentive to create, in my opinion.

            This does NOT mean that rights holders have the right to "hold someone over a barrel", as was stated above in the instance of a finished film needing additional clearances.  It also does not entitle the creator to use their rights as censorship of properties they don't agree with, or to maintain a monopoly over the development of the property, as I feel this abrogates the first amendment.

            This is why I am in favor of intense government regulation in the area of license fees and processes, because right now every rights holder has different rates and standards of clearance.  Take the responsibility of what to charge and what to clear and why out of the hands of the rights holders, but make sure that they still receive in economic insentive to create, and I think you'll fix most of these problems, including the rights holders criminalizing Bob the Student for downloading his favorite remix of "Done Broke My Heart".

            3. Fair Use and case law - ugh!  Problem with holding rights is you have to demonstrate that you have protected them, otherwise they literally start disappearing.  Part of demonstrating the protections is litigation of rights abuses.  This is where all of those nasty teams of lawyers get involved.

            The rights holder is incented under the current system to push the envelope on what is not fair use.  This mentality starts to erode the rule of law of the Fair Use Doctrine, as for many rights holders all they need to do is send a couple of nasty letters and they've scared off folks who may very well be engaging in activities protected by fair use, simply because these people can't afford to get sued.

            If there is clear, federal legislation - instead of a body of case law - surrounding the definition of Fair Use, you'll do away with the need of a lot of rights holders to engage in predatory litigation and you'll also protect the general public in their enjoyment of created works.

            That's about it...except I didn't catch the typo.  That IS funny - guess that's just my subconscience taking over.

            "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

            by grannyhelen on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 12:17:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Copyright Terms and Space Aliens (4.00)
              HOWEVER, this was before creative works took hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to create, in the example of motion pictures. The intent of copyright is to provide an economic insentive for the creator to create, and if you just do away with copyright law, limit it to a 15 year term right now,

              The original term was 20 years plus a 20 year extension that you had to ask for. (But which was always granted to anyone who asked) Even modern multi-million dollar production budget movies easily make back several times their cost of production in a 40-year time period. As I said in another comment, I believe the number of sales stays fairly constant for the first decade or so and then drops off abruptly. With occasional spikes for re-issues, retro fashions, etc.

              3. Fair Use and case law - ugh! Problem with holding rights is you have to demonstrate that you have protected them, otherwise they literally start disappearing.

              Why does this always come up when I'm debating copyright with someone? ;) IIRC, legally, this is not true! Trademarks can be diluted. If you don't aggressively pursue trademark violations, you can lose your trademark. The same is not true about copyrights. You can, I believe, selectively enforce them all you wish. If not, I think all you need is a verbal agreement, which can be made at any time. So past failure to prosecute copyright infringement of a work is not grounds to prevent future prosecution of copyright infringement of that work.

              The rights holder is incented under the current system to push the envelope on what is not fair use. This mentality starts to erode the rule of law of the Fair Use Doctrine, as for many rights holders all they need to do is send a couple of nasty letters and they've scared off folks who may very well be engaging in activities protected by fair use, simply because these people can't afford to get sued.

              I'd say this, plus the potential for criminal penalties for copyright infringement, is the primary reason why companies enforce their copyrights overzealously. Simply, the system lets them get away with it. In many cases, as you say, all they need is a cease and desist letter, and defending against one takes tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of time. And there's no legal requirement that the copyright holder be the one that sent the letter! It is, in fact, common practice for random legal firms to send cease and desist letters to try and land a contract by proving how tough they are. Often, you'll see ISPs and other service companies drop and ban customers the instant they receive a copyright-related C&D letter, no questions asked.

              That's about it...except I didn't catch the typo. That IS funny - guess that's just my subconscience taking over.

              As you may have noticed, I often miss typos in my posts.

              Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

              by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 01:15:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good post, a minor nit, and what I'd like (4.00)
                The original copyright duration was 14 years with the availablity of a renewal for an additional 14.

                A timeline of the changes is here

                Another very important change that was made relatively recently and has had unforseen consequences is that now everything is copyrighted as soon as it is put into a fixed form - so even this post I'm writing now is protected by copyright although only register copyrights allow suit for more than actual damages.

                This creates any number of issues in securing rights or accidentally infringing on someone elses copyright.




                Boiled down I think the best changes that could be made to the current copyright laws would be something along the lines of these three changes-

                1) Reduce the time of protection to something more reasonable, preferably with a renewal requirement to move things back into the public domain.  Even 50 years (which would be in concert with the Berne Convention) would be livable if it was agreed this would be the max and this slow inching up of the duration to protect a fraction of a fraction of the material produced 95 years ago under the protection of copyright.

                2)Require submission of a registration to protect a copyrighted work with requirement to update the holders of the rights if they change - this is important so that everyone knows where to go to see what is under protection - and who owns the rights to it.

                3)Create a system of compulsory licensing to allow people to incorporate existing works into the creation of new works for a set charge based on the revenue generated by the new work.

                Those three changes or things similar but better thought out would reform copyright back significantly toward its original principle - to promote progress in the sciences and useful arts.

                Then we can start making a few changes to patents and trademarks to stop them from being used as swords rather than shields.

                -------- This space intentionally left blank --------

                by puppet10 on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 01:57:25 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  An Excellent (Albeit Copyrighted) Post! (none)

                  (From the link) 1831: Revision of the Copyright Act

                  The term of protection of copyrighted works was extended to twenty-eight years with the possibility of a fourteen-year extension. Congress claimed that it extended the term in order to give American authors the same protection as those in Europe. The extension applied both to future works and those current works whose copyright had not expired.

                  Wow. I can't believe I'd never read about that before. Interesting - looks like retroactive copyright extensions justified by "Europe does it!" are a tradition of sorts. Not that that makes them any better. I know of a few newspapers who've had no end of trouble trying to put their archives online because the authors are dead and their families un-findable, and while the work should have become public domain by now, but is still copyrighted in the US.

                  Another very important change that was made relatively recently and has had unforseen consequences is that now everything is copyrighted as soon as it is put into a fixed form - so even this post I'm writing now is protected by copyright although only register copyrights allow suit for more than actual damages.

                  I can't believe I forgot to mention that. For software, this makes for a major headache, and it is one of the main reasons that a lot of the abusive work-for-hire agreements I mentioned above have never been struck down. For software, there is no reasonable standard of "fixed form" that I've ever seen mention of. Then again, I'm of the opinion that compiled software shouldn't be covered by copyright law - only the source code.

                  Even more troublesome is the fact that a lot of people aren't aware of this...

                  Even 50 years (which would be in concert with the Berne Convention) would be livable if it was agreed this would be the max and this slow inching up of the duration to protect a fraction of a fraction of the material produced 95 years ago under the protection of copyright.

                  50 years as an absolute max, I think, most would find acceptable. Though it might still be a bit much. Take the case of Germany around the turn of the last century. Their society was quite behind Britain, America, and France. They turned this around by simply ignoring foreign IP laws. Patents and copyrights in Germany expired so quickly that, if you started your apprenticeship when a patent or copyright was first filed, the protection would have expired (and thus, you'd be able to take full advantage of it in your own work) by the time you became a master. There's definite arguments for an arrangement like that.

                  2)Require submission of a registration to protect a copyrighted work with requirement to update the holders of the rights if they change - this is important so that everyone knows where to go to see what is under protection - and who owns the rights to it.

                  3)Create a system of compulsory licensing to allow people to incorporate existing works into the creation of new works for a set charge based on the revenue generated by the new work.

                  Definitely. Compulsory licensing is something that Lawrence Lessig has been tossing around for ages now, and he's got some very good arguments for it. And registration avoids a lot of strange problems.

                  BTW, thanks for the link. I've bookmarked it to review in detail later!

                  Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

                  by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 02:18:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The unequal application of law (none)
                    between different media is extremely exasperating.  

                    I would agree with the proposal for a system of compusory licensing along the lines of what exists for mechanical royalties in music publishing.  If you write a song and I want to record it I pay you a fixed fee for every unit pressed; you cannot stop me from recording your song as long as it has already been previously recorded so long as I pay you that fee.  You cannot demand more than the stipulated mechanical  license fee; you can, however, negotiate it down if you want to encourage use.

                    However, if I want to put your song in a film, you get to say whether or not you want to license it, and you are free to set whatever price you want for its use.  It not only gives the discretionary power of deciding what is appropriate use in film to large music publishers like Warner Chappell, Sony and Polygram, it also creates an expensive system of negotiations and legal paperwork that discourage use.

                    It was expressly to discourage such a stranglehold on creative expression in music recording that Congress established mechanical licenses in the first place.  If they were simply to extend that legal argument to other media, it would ameliorate many of the current abuses that created the problem with the documentary in the first place.

        •  Not capitalism (4.00)
          "Capitalism just don't work in some areas, and this is one."

          There's nothing capitalist about intellectual property rights laws.  They are explicitly a state enforced monopoly - originally created for the common good of society.  So they started out kind of communist in theory but have mostly become facist/corporatist now in practice - a way for corporate power to entrench itself with government regulation and prevent challenges to it's authority.  The industry is, quite literally, writing the laws into the books.  Elected representatives just sign their names and collect their checks.

          •  Interesting... (none)
            I'll have to think about that one.  You make a good point.

            "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

            by grannyhelen on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 01:02:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Libertarians (none)
              For what it's worth, you can find plenty of libertarians opposed to IP laws on principle too although it is a point of debate within the community from what little I know.
              •  Libertarians and Copyright (none)

                In my experience, a lot of traditional libertarians are against "intellectual property" laws, as they're government-imposed monopolies. Objectivist-type libertarians, the sort that virtually worship Ayn Rand, support them because they strengthen the concept of property. (And, with many of the Objectivist-type nutbars I've encountered, because they increase the power of corporations... Don't ask me how they reconcile that with Rand's supposed philosophy...)

                Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

                by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 01:20:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  That's a pretty good (none)
        description of how iti works.  People don't get too excited when they hear Disney is seeking to have its copyright on Mickey Mouse extended past the legal limits yet again, but they don't realize that the public has an interest in seeing things fall into the public domain, and this is what happens as a result.
      •  Sometimes copyright (none)
        Protects an individual.  My closest experience with it involves individual professional photographers who get screwed out of a good part of their living when copies are made without permission.  I realize that's not what this diary is about, but just wanted to chime in for the little guy/gal.
        •  That (none)
          is a very good point.  It's not a clear cut issue by any means.
        •  Fix Copyright (none)

          Yes. I definitely agree with you there. Copyright needs to be fixed, not discarded, but in order to do that, you have to get through to the "but it's the law" folks.

          Copyright terms need to be short, and the penalties for infringement and scope of fair use need to be reasonable. The original 20+20 is perfectly fine, especially since most of the profit on a work gets made in the first decade these days.

          Although I like a lot of Richard Stallman's arguments about copyright, I think he's wrong about one thing. Copyright is necessary. Copyright laws just need to be made with the balance I mentioned above in mind, instead of just with the interests of big corporations in mind.

          Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

          by RHunter on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 12:00:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  copyright reform (4.00)
          In this case, I support the founding fathers.  They specifically said that copyright should be of limited duration.  I think 25 years after the death of the author or artist is about right.  That way, even kids born just before their parent's death would be taken care of until they were adults.  

          After that, it should go into public domain.  Extending copyright to 90 years after the author's death is not necessary, and is harmful to society.

          Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

          by randym77 on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 01:31:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's a big problem with this (none)
            The author of "Steamboat Willie" is the Walt Disney Company, a corporation. In practical terms they're never going to die, so when is the cartoon going to fall into the public domain? Answer: never.

            I would support maybe 20-25 years of copyright if the Berne Convention could be modified for that to be the minimum. Even 50 years would be better than the current state of affairs. But it's detrimental to society to keep work out of the public domain forever. The most glaring example of that is Disney -- if it hadn't been for tales like The Little Mermaid, Snow White and Cinderella falling into the public domain, Disney would not have been able to build its successes on them.

            I've figured out how to know what the Republicans are up to. Just listen to what they accuse the Democrats of doing. -- Me

            by Our Man In Redmond on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 02:19:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  duh (none)
      Of COURSE it is.
    •  Yeah (none)
      So?

      "The true axis of evil in America is the brilliance of our marketing combined with the stupidity of our people." Bill Maher

      by incertus on Mon Jan 17, 2005 at 10:34:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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