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

I'm afraid I'm too tired and it's too late to go too deeply into detail on
this, but I have a few comments to and questions for the author of this.

On Thu, 5 Jun 2003, John Schulien wrote:
> 4)  Once a work is registered with the copyright office, all newly
> published copies must, from that moment forward, carry a proper
> copyright notice.

Part of the registration fee should surely be a reproduction, facscimile,
copy, or absolute description of the work copyrighted.  If we, as the
public, are going to stem the natural proliferation of expressions for
someone, that someone owes us at least one good copy.

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

Whoah.  I would personally set X=4, Y=8, Z=40.  And I think that's being
frickin' generous.

A low X value means work that has no real commercial value but perhaps
high historical or anecdotal value (like old newspaper articles or weblog
entries) are likely to become public while they're still somewhat

I give a longer Y just to decrease the (mild) burden on the author and
give a slightly greater chance for a sleeper hit.

Z should be within the productive lifetime of the average person.  The
opportunity should arise for a person who remembers the context in which
an original work was created to recreate or modify that work with the
benefit of hindsight and share that recreation or modification with the

Also, I think it's absolutely vital to abolish the notion of "copyright
holder" and limit copyrights to authors if we are to value human
productivity over conglomeration and consolidation.  If the case arises
that a work is authored by so many people that it is impractical or
impossible for the work to be copyrighted as a whole, then it can be
considered a work of the public and, therefore, public domain from its
creation.  This also adds to the principle of granularity in the case of
works of group authorship should the authors choose to copyright their
contributions to the larger separately.

> >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 print or general distribution
> I don't support this.
> Some copyrighted works, in particular works of art, derive much of their
> value 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.

Well, I think this kind of "value" (market value of human expression) is
not at all inherent in copyright and at best demeaning and at worst

The value of a work of authorship can include uniqueness as a factor, but
the uniqueness should be due to the great effort, skill, or rare materials
used to create the work, not some artificial scarcity based on the
author's desire to simply allow few copies to be produced.

Said differently, that which CAN be reproduced and is desired by people
SHOULD be reproduced for those people.

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

Copyright is not what prevents great paintings from being copied.  The
uniqueness of the author's touch is what prevents that.  This is why
recorded music has become a valueless commodity.  It is infinitely
reproducable and (almost) freely redistributable, so there is no market
value.  However, a musical performance can still demand high economic
price because it is a unique work that can only be created by the

I would argue further, of course, that there is no place for copyright on
fine art, but I've conceded that point as part of the overall compromise
that even allows me to discuss copyright reform at this level.

> 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?

They can do this with web publishing at very low cost.  But I ask the
question right back:  Do we really care about preserving the ability of
newspapers to easily keep copyrights on daily editions?

The economic value of reproducing yesterday's paper is very low.  The
value in the work is in its production and distribution immediately.
Sure, we've developed a secondary market for collected newspaper articles
and file photos, but that is more an artifact of the copyright system than
a necessary or desirable element of the societal machine.

> 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?

Again, why not?  Either they go through the trouble to make it available
to the public or it becomes public domain.

If it's not available, why should we, the people, protect the author's
claim to exclusive rights?

> 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?

If it can be copied by others rather than being lost forever, why not?  Is
that not the goal of copyright in the first place?

If I thought my website was valuable, why would I change it?  I REMOVED
the information that I thought was valuable after offering it to the
public for a time.

> 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.

I don't see any problems with an "in-print" requirement.

Remember that copyright is something that we, the public, offer to authors
in exchange for a public benefit (the work).  There is no reason at all
for the public to offer this to authors if it only benefits the author.
Ultimately, this is a tool for increasing the public good by enriching the
public domain in discrete steps, not gradually by increasing the private
good one author at a time.

     Jeme A Brelin
 [cc] counter-copyright