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

[dvd-discuss] Re: [dvd-discuss digest 2003] V #207

>The Berne Convention is a bad idea. The USA spent 100 years avoiding it 
>and the
>wisdom of that is evident to anyone without a vested interest.

If anything the copyright reform movement is setting its sights
too low. The ultimate goal of copyright reform in the United States
should be to have the U.S. repudiate and withdraw from the Berne
Convention, or lobby for changes in the structure of the Berne
Convention itself, in exchange for the U.S. not withdrawing from the
Berne Convention.

That said, there are a few good ideas in the Berne Convention,
which I would keep.

My ideal structure would be:

1)  Automatic copyright on all fixated creative expression, for a period of (X)
years, with no registration or notice required.  Essentially leave the current
system intact for the vast majority of the economic lifetime of most work,
preventing works from immediately lapsing into the public domain due to 
error, and giving copyright holders (X) years to figure out which of their 
were of lasting value, and worth the trouble of obtaining and maintaining 
extensions on.

2)  Any copyright holder wanting the copyright on a work to extend past (X)
years must register the work with the copyright office before the expiration
of the initial (X) year term, and  renew the copyright every (Y) years, up 
to a
fixed maximum of  (Z) years from the year of initial creation.

3)  Any copyright holder wanting the copyright on a work to extend past (X)
years must offer, for a reasonable cost, non-copy-protected copies of the work
to the public for at least a one year period following the registration of 
This provision is designed to ensure that copies of the work end up in private
hands, where they stand the best possible chance of being preserved and made
available after the copyright expires.  This provision also prevents the
re-registration of lost works by copyright holders who can no longer produce a
copy of the work.

4)  Once a work is registered with the copyright office, all newly published
copies must, from that moment forward, carry a proper copyright notice.

I would personally set X=20, Y=5, Z=75.

>I'm not adverse to using this to provide a tax base for works well into their
>term  with increasing fees (exponentially) as time gets extremly large. Maybe
>the higher fees will increase creativity and progress in the science and arts
>before they go bankrupt? Faced with that proposition some may elect to start
>over and that's good too.

I think that exponential fees are a bad idea.   The goal of the fee system
is to force copyright holders to assert their continuing interest in the
copyright on individual works by forcing them to exert a minimum amount of
effort periodically to maintain the copyright.

1)  Large fees strongly favor large media corporations over small
publishers, which is fundamentally unfair.  The goal is to identify
abandoned copyrights, not to force the abandonment of
copyrights by means of financial hardship.  That would be mission creep.

2)  Large fees will encourage copyright registration consolidation, thus 
the granularity of the copyright pool.  If I'm a professional photographer, I
might *want* to copyright the results of each commission separately.
However, faced with high fees, I would actively seek to lump as much as
I could into a single copyright registration.  This is bad, because I might 
one really good photograph that becomes famous and valuable, and it is 
for the copyright on that one photograph to "drag along" as little 
unrelated work
as possible.

Granularity is an issue that I haven't seen addressed.  There must be some
incentive devised to promote and favor copyright granularity, as opposed to
creating incentives to pool works to minimize the number of copyright 
required -- and the amount of fees -- required.

>Or make the fee contingent upon demonstrating progress. A work which is 
>out of
>print may be given a notice that the renewal is void in 5 years if not in 
>or general distribution

I don't support this.

Some copyrighted works, in particular works of art, derive much of  their 
from their limited edition status.  Such a policy would directly harm 
artists by
reducing the initial market value of their works.  The public would essentially
know in advance that the artist would be "forced" to reissue their work at
some point in the future to avoid losing the copyright, and value the works
less accordingly.

What if the copyright is on a unique painting, or a sculpture?

Such a requirement would also pose logistical hardships on very prolific
copyright holders.  Do you really want newspapers to be forced, under
penalty of loss of copyright, to keep every daily issue perpetually in print?
Do you want every radio and television station to be forced to maintain
and offer to the public every second of audiotaped and videotaped broadcast
in order to avoid losing copyright?

What if you change your web site?  Do you lose copyright on your old
web site because it is no longer available in its original form?

There appear to be too many problems with an "in-print" requirement, but
I think that in general the proposals are moving in the right direction.