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

Woopps...time out! The argument was not why 100yrs is good, 
that's what we've got now.The argument was 28 vs 50. <strawman 
argument> THere's a big difference between 50 and 100 yrs and 
that one might advocate 50 yrs does not mean that they would also 
advocate an even longer term of 100yrs. 

Also, the public domain is not comprised of all classics it is
comprised of everything. Yes those are exceptions but those and 
many other exceptions are the reason the public domain is there.-
to provide a rich set of good works freely available. But only 
classics in the public domain...that's not what the original 
argument was. If you want to learn Electromagnetics, Jackson 3rd 
ed is over $100 (I paid $18 in 1978 for 2ed!). Stratton (which should 
be in in the PD even after 50yrs but is not) would be out in a cheap 
dover edition. It's a better book with more deep insights into E&M. 
Also, Maxwells work in governors was rediscovered in the 80s - 
chaotic. Despite not having the topological tools of today, his 
insight is worth reading. 

Furthermore, do you think writing a book, a good book, is done in a
few months. Novels possibly but in the case of technical books no. 
My advanced calculus professor has a book now in second edition. 
I was in the first class in 1978 that he taught from a set of lecture 
notes. It was over a decade before the first edition came out. 23 yrs 
after my class there is a second edition. I can still see those 
lecture notes in the second edition. Rather than churning over 
works into the public domain in a few decades, give the creators a 
reward-a good and long one. Macauley thought 42yrs was a good 
figure for 1841. THe congress thought 50yrs was more than enough 
in 1909(?). The issue is to provide a long enough time for gain yet 
get things into the public domain is what enters the public domain 
is contemporary enough to be of use. At 120yrs the answer is 
obvious NFW. . Nothing much has changed since 1909 . Was 42 
or 50 yrs a bribe rather than a perceived optimal solution - it sure 
was and is. 

BTW Jack London was primarily a 20th century writer. I just picked 
up a book of his Sci Fi short stories. He has one describing the 
conquest of China using bacteriological warfare. I read it shortly 
after the anthrax "outbreak" last month. It's not contemporary but is 
in the public domain yet still provided me with quite a chill as I read 
it. It's value may have increased considerably after recent events. 
Do you want to read something chilling about going to war - read 
Mark Twains "A War Prayer"..of course one has to transcend the 
few references to the spanish american war..but greatness is not 
easy to understand..... Nowhere the value of today? A simple text 
substitution would change that.  Is Jacqueline Suzanne's Valley of 
the Dolls even in print?
OK you stated " 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. " Qualify and quantify.

Unfortunately we can debate what is a good time but getting it 
changed is another matter. The problem with many is that after 
doing a precarious balancing act on the edge of a cliff, they begin 
to believe that's the way things are and should be. Copyright has 
become one of those.

"John Zulauf" <johnzu@ia.nsc.com>
Sent by: owner-dvd-discuss@eon.law.harvard.edu
11/09/01 01:10 PM
Please respond to dvd-discuss

        To:     dvd-discuss@eon.law.harvard.edu
        Subject:        Re: [dvd-discuss] Must Copyright terms be

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 
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 
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

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, 
stop at 100 years.  As you point out there are execptional works 
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 
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

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 
> 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 
> 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 
> 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

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