[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [dvd-discuss] Must Copyright terms be uniform?

There an old saying "hard cases make for bad law (or medicine)" -- what
you are pointing out is the exceptions.  

Further I'm not arguing that there is nothing valid over that period
(the first 3/4's of the century), I'm claiming that the period 1905-1973
contains the most valuable content to us.  You could claim that I'm
saying that the body of public domain works from the 19th century is not
"valid, contemporary, and relevant" and I'd be will to accept and defend
that statement.  19th century works have nowhere near the value, either
to the same extent as a whole as the works in the 1905-1973 period.  The
difference IMHO is a factor of 10 difference.  

Clearly there are culturally signicant "classic" works from that period
(and before) -- but classic are works which by definition retain their
relevance desptie the lack of contemporariness (is that a word?) and
futher are by their very nature rare and exceptional.  On could argue
for a public domain comprising only classic works, but I claim this is
poor subset of the sort of public domain with a value matching the grant
of monopoly and restrictions on speech.  Further once you define a
public domain comprising only classic works, why stop at 100 years.  As
you point out there are execptional works from the 19th century that the
great-grandchildren and other heirs would love to profit from.  By your
arguement since a vital public domain can consist wholly of
non-contemporary works -- why limit yourself to just one or to
centuries.  If we allow copyrights back to the fall of Rome, there are
still the Greek classics and the Bible -- clearly a non-trivial
collection of culturally meaningful works in their own right.

With only slight hyperbolic intent,


Michael A Rolenz wrote:
> It's interesting that you state that "public domain must contain valid, contemporary, and relevant works or it
> is of little value to the public. " Then what you are saying is that the public domain for the first 3/4 of
> the 20th century contained nothing valid, contemporary or relevant
> including the works of Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London,
> O'Henry. So consider the last 3/4. Why does the Gershwin estate fight to
> keep, Rhapsody in Blue out of the public domain. Why do publishing houses
> want to keep Hemingway, Hammit, Chandler, Mitchell out of the public
> domain? Why does Disney fight to keep Mickey Mouse? Why does TWI rejoice
> that Casablanca is safe for a few more years? Stratton's Electromagnetic
> Theory is 60yrs old.  Dirac's lectures on Quantum Mechanics are 70. Are
> they irrelevant today?These works are such that evidently the publishers
> do not want to relinquish copyright even after 50yrs. The argument that
> works must enter into the public domain at 28yrs to be valid contemporay
> or relevant does not hold. There is no question that a short term is
> valuable for some of the things you discuss. The things you discuss are
> all what the author can do for society but NOT what society can do for the
> author that has enriched it so well. What reward are they deserving? Is
> 50yrs such a burden on society? No more so than 28yrs. 50yrs gives the
> author the chance of some long term income and the possibility of
> providing some for his spouse and for a few years for his children. Does
> 28? Not really. Does 35? maybe. Does 40? Possibly Does 50 most probably!
> "John Zulauf" <johnzu@ia.nsc.com>
> Sent by: owner-dvd-discuss@eon.law.harvard.edu
> 11/09/01 08:22 AM
> Please respond to dvd-discuss
>         To:     dvd-discuss@eon.law.harvard.edu
>         cc:
>         Subject:        Re: [dvd-discuss] Must Copyright terms be uniform?
> microlenz@earthlink.net wrote:
> >
> > What are the reasons for 7yrs, 14 yrs, or 28? What purpose would
> > be achieved by those terms rather than 50 from publication?
> I believe I outlined why a 20-30 year maximum is of value
> Earlier John Zulauf wrote:
> > > the inspiration of youths imagination should be availabe as
> > > the grist of maturity's production ==> 20-30years,
> this is another revision of the statement others and I have made that a
> public domain must contain valid, contemporary, and relevant works or it
> is of little value to the public.  Whatever we demand as the public's
> side of the copyright bargain, one cannot
> As for the "to extend or not to extend" -- this useful as it promotes a
> "shorter is better than longer" model and mind set in the law.  A
> requirement for active publication or promotion of the work over the
> full course of the initial term as a prerequisites would function as a
> balance the public's desire for the shortest possible term, and the
> copyright holders desire to continue earn profit from
> still-valuable-at-14-years works (which I would argue are the vast
> minority).
> Finally I utterly disagree about supporting the "one hit sinecure" model
> of copyright (which is what we have today) as:
> (a) it guarantees that the most significant (or at least popular) works
> of our time will only be available for further creative developement by
> the highest bidder.  Effectively guaranteeing the corporatization of
> those most important works.  When you think of the havoc hollywood has
> consistantly played with great literature (and poor) the highest bidder
> should not have the artistic control of our cultural "crown jewels."
> (b) it disincentivises successful authors motivated by gain.  Copyright
> is all about encouraging authors motivated by gain.  If authors cared
> nothing for gain, the copyright would be unneeded as it would serve
> motivate noone and yet cost the public their freedom to copy.  Though we
> might establish some means of patronage to support these authors
> voluntarily to enrich our culture (as have gov't and private grants to
> the unprofitable art for years).   However if gain did not promote
> progress by encouraging works, the copyright clause would be invalid, as
> no exclusive right could meet the "promote progress" test.
> .002