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Re: [dvd-discuss] Constitutional amendment

Tim Neu wrote:
> Ok.  Now I'm pissed.   Heck with reversing Sony Bono, lets go for a
> constitutional amendment.

So am I!

After reading Lawrence Lessig's pessimistic view of a new
constitutional amendment to restore reasonable terms to copyright,
I began to think what it would take to pursue the state legislature
path.  Obviously, it's not an easy path.  Here are some of my thoughts.

The new amendment "The Intellectual Property Right Amendment" (TIPRA)
(stolen from .002's 10/17/02 posting with a different year, dropping
the s on rights, a new name, and only the first section):

   "The 'limited times' for 'exclusive right' granted to
    authors and inventors shall not exceed 28 years."

I changed the year to 28 for two reasons.  First, 28 years has some
historical precedence from the first congress.  Second, it just so
happens that the next amendment to the constitution will be the 28th.
A coincidence that can only bolster the "marketing value" of the cause.
Finally, and most important, 28 years is reasonable.

I only kept the first section because an amendment should be simple.
The number and complexity of sections in .002's original post is too
much and overly complicated to keep a large grass roots effort
focused.  The only real question - is 28 years the right number?

TIPRA?  Well, let's just concede this "Intellectual Property" name and
put a limit on it!  Besides, who would be against a property right?

For reference, here is .002's message:

The organization championing the cause needs a name.  I favor the
"'28 is Great' Property Proponents" both for the number of
years and number of the next amendment.  I also considered "'28 is
Great' Amendment Society".  Any other good names out there?

The structure of the "'28 is Great' Property Proponents" should
support organizing between one and two million Americans for
petitioning their state legislatures.  A strong national office
directing and coordinating the efforts in each state.  It would be
the responsibility of the national office to standardize the education
of and present a consistent message to the public.  The hierarchy
at the state level would be focused on the following: finding and
educating volunteers; educating the public at the local level; and
organizing the many many petitioners (the vast majority of the one
to two million).

A timeline for this effort may take years.

Some dangers and obstacles in this plan.  Joshua Stratton wrote that
.002's amendment is overkill, a weird issue, and invites sabotage.
As Lessig points out in his blog today,
the cause may be derided as "anti-property" and therefore
"anti-American".  Another consideration is could Congress bypass TIPRA
with a treaty.

After seeing the SCOTUS Eldred decision, a TIPRA amendment is clearly
no longer "overkill" and even takes some of the weirdness out of the
need for this amendment.  Sabotage is a real possibility.  A clear and
simple worded amendment should minimize or make obvious any sabotage

I think the strongest opposition would come from anti-property
sentiment.  This is where education and framing the arguments in a
more property friendly way is necessary.

Some possible unexpected proponents of the TIPRA amendment may be the
patent crowd.  With the strong history of Congress extending "limited
time" for copyrights I'm sure they feel left out.  They may feel
they can make a stronger case to "harmonize" the copyright and
patent limited time duration since they would be so close in duration
to each other.  If copyright is at the constitutional limit why not
patents?  Of course, congress would still need to pass legislation and
that would be another battle.

I think this is enough for now.