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[dvd-discuss] Possible counterargument (was Re: Digital Rights Management... )

John Zulauf wrote: 
> Ron Gustavson wrote:
> > The public generally supports copyright as we have known it--even the longer
> > 95 year variant...


> I've finally understood the reason for long copyrights.  It's not so
> that content companies can profit from older works (they can't,
> meaningfully -- c.f. Eldred et. al.). It is because the absence of a
> viable, contemporary, public domain of works in the modern media would
> constitute a "substitute good" for their current products.

Not sure I agree with that. Teenagers will buy Britney Spears's music because
she's cool, they won't say "stuff that, we can have all this Perry Como
music instead for free".

> This monopoly hurts the public and the artists. The monopoly rents are
> coming right out of the public's pocket.

A lever against silly length copyrights might be to show the public and
(funnily enough) the media industries themselves how such copyrights hurt them.

The BBC has just started a series called "Micawber" featuring David Jason
playing the eponymious character from Charles Dickens's out-of-copyright
works. Dickens's estate gets no say in it, and no income of course. The BBC
profit by selling the series all over the place, their scriptwriters earn a
living writing it, David Jason and a cast of many Brit thesps get paid for
making it. And the public enjoy(?) watching it. None of this likely if
Dickens's work was still in copyright.

"Bridget Jones's Diary" is a direct steal from "Pride and Prejudice". The
guy who plays "Mr Darcy" in both this and the BBC's recent dramatisation
(Colin Firth) has managed to benefit *twice* from Jane Austin's works not
being in copyright.

"10 things I hate about you" is pinched from Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew".
So are many other TV and movie plots.

Granada Television (Britain again) were very successful with their "Adventures
of Sherlock Holmes" TV series starring Jeremy Brett. Some of the stories were
loosely based on Conan Doyle's stories, the rest were modern inventions.
Hollywierd's "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes's younger brother" would probably
have been disapproved-of had Conan Doyle's estate been able to have a say in
the matter, but hey, the copyright expired! Not to mention "Young Sherlock
Holmes", "Murder by Decree" and "Without a Clue". And that's just a few of the
ones *I've* seen!

How many millions has been made from these and all the other modern works that
directly "rip off" out-of-copyright material?

Is it possible to lobby the media industries to realise what they *lose* by
increased copyright terms?

If not, is is possible to show Joe Public what *he'd* lose?


Steve Hosgood                               |
steve@caederus.com                          | "A good plan today is better
Phone: +44 1792 203707 + ask for Steve      |   than a perfect plan tomorrow"
Fax:   +44 70922 70944                      |              - Conrad Brean
        http://tallyho.bc.nu/~steve         |  ( from the film "Wag the Dog" )