Tildes, what is your take on current terms of copyright?
copyright terms in general are quite variable, but unless you live in the marshall islands, somalia, or a few scattered places where things usually aren't the best, chances are your copyright term is at least author's life + 50 years, and most likely author's life +70 years. my question, tildes, is: are terms like that too long? just right? too short? should there perhaps be something with copyright that isn't the case currently, like a difference in term between copyrights owned by individuals and copyrights owned by corporations? what would your optimal term of copyright be, tildes?
Way too long. I think the 28 year period the United States originally used was decent. As is, works only enter the public domain long after they're really culturally relevant. If it were 28 years, authors would have a long time to make money off of their work, but that work would still be able to be enjoyed, remixed, and reimagined by its original audience, whereas the entire fan fiction and edit scene as it exists right now is at best in a legal grey area and at worst actually illegal.
And with the speed and ease of publication and distribution these days, I think you'd have a hard time arguing we need decades longer copyright than in the era of print books distributed by sailing ships and horseback.
There is no reason why copyright should extend beyond an author's lifespan other than to provide a rent seeking ability for their descendants. Why should descendants be able to inherit that copyright? Perhaps they're children and this is income for a trust that provides for the children while they grow up without the parent. Life+20 years would be sufficient for that.
A video on YouTube created by a 20 year old today with a life expectancy of 80 years would have a copyright term of 130 years and expire in 2149.
That makes corporate copyright term of 95 years look short by comparison.
I think both personal and corporate copyright terms should be shorter in general, and perhaps have different terms depending on the nature of the work.
Software, for example becomes either incredibly ingrained and useful or obsolete the longer it ages. If it is obsolete, it should be in the public domain to allow archiving. If it becomes too important then it is also too important to be subject to copyright licensing restrictions.
(Previously posted here but still relevant to the discussion.)
I think there's something to be said for copyright extending to the lifetime of the creator if they're the holder of the copyright. Take Game of Thrones (the book) for example: it was published in 1996 and the first episode of the phenomenally popular Game of Thrones series was aired almost 15 years later in early 2011. It's not only luck that it became popular; GRRM had a good series that had had many offers to make movies of it, but he was holding out until he found someone who could do his series justice. With a shorter copyright time the pressure would have been on him to sell early (and probably for less) since any media corporations would have known they only had to wait out the copyright, and they weren't so much paying him for the rights as they were paying him for an early exclusive before everyone else got their hands on the story.
For smaller authors there's also the idea that many of them live off the modest royalties from their backlist, and it can take years or decades before they're making enough to 'quit their day job' and become full-time authors. With short copyright periods an author couldn't depend on being supported by their lifetime output. This would especially hurt when they're older and perhaps can't work because of health problems, and just when they need their royalties the most they'd see their copyrights slowly disappear. There's also the fact that many authors only have real success in one series which they have to keep putting out books in to support themselves while still trying to branch out artistically with other, less popular works. These series can run for decades (e.g. though hardly a small-time author, Pratchett's Discworld had 47 books and short stories over 32 years) and losing early copyrights would not only cost them royalties on those books, but they could lose control of their branding (and the ability to profit from new books) when others move in on their IP.
I get the idea of wanting shorter copyright periods and I support that. The situation we have now is ridiculous and it hurts our culture only to benefit a few gate-keeping corporations. But, I also think we need to be careful to protect the ability of the people who make our art to make a living from it, both for practical reasons of our culture getting the full benefit of their output, and for moral reasons of wanting to lessen the financial hardship of those who give the rest of us so much.
(Also, an addendum: it's probably worth extending the copyright a bit beyond the author's lifetime, say by a decade or two, as a bit of a life insurance policy for their dependents.)
We could have a tiered copyright system, with a few simple tiers.
Full protection, first X years after publication (maybe 10 years?). Similar to today (except made more sensible).
Reduced protection, from year 10 to perhaps year 50 (regardless of author lifetime). All commercial works falls under forced mechanical licensing, making everything available to license for commercial use without complicated negotiations. Non-commercial use exceptions are much wider and more lenient.
Moral rights / attribution only, from year 50+ to X years after author's death (whichever comes first). Everything is free to use, with correct attribution.
Branding is a trademark issue, and thus unrelated.
Great question. Thanks to Disney, copyright terms are wayyyyy too long nowadays. Copyright should make sure that an inventor/creator can profit off of their work for a reasonable amount of time. Death + 70 years is not reasonable, it's absurd. Something like 10-15 years after release would be more like it. I'm thinking of things like films, btw. After 10-15 years everyone should be free to copy films, games, software, photographs,... without repercussions. Things like brand names should stay in copyright for longer. So everyone would be able to copy Star Wars films, but not every studio would be able to make new films called Star Wars. Everyone could copy Windows XP but not everyone would be allowed to call their OS Windows. However, everyone would be allowed to use the same code for their original creations, and every film studio would be allowed to use shots from Star Wars. Beyond that, I think trademarked things like "lightsabers" should leave copyright sooner than later.
I realize that I have no idea what I'm talking about and it probably opens some hilarious loopholes, like what if Disney just makes a very low budget PRODUCT called lightsaber, would it become illegal for other film makers to use lightsabers until this longer period of brand copyright runs out? Who even knows! But I think you get the gist of where I stand.
Brands are trademarks which only expire if left unused and have other conditions such as defending against others attempting to use it and proving that your trademark is unique to you (ie: not generic).
Good. I think we should keep it that way. This means that everyone could create knock-offs but only the original creator could make "certified as the real thing" products for a longer time.
Yeah that's the point. Trademarks have both a property right function for the brand owner and a consumer protection function. It means that people can ensure that Foo™ Popcorn is the same popcorn that they are expecting (well, unless the brand owner changes their manufacturing process, I guess).
You have companies like Nokia selling licenses to their brand and credibility to small phone designer HMD Global to make phones branded as Nokia.
In reality it might not be very meaningful, especially when things like smartphone manufacturers are literally the same across competitors. But as a right, I don't see any benefit to society to strip the creator of the brand name, while I do see the benefit to the creator to keep the brand name.
I wonder how /u/Sahasrahla's example would go if G. R. R. Martin would have kept the right to call products Game of Thrones while the story and everything else about it went into public domain... would some film studio have jumped right in to create a knock-off Tame of Groans? Would people care which film makers GRRM finally approves of? I wonder how in general the knock-off industry which would inevitably exist would be viewed. Would it have a "made in China" ring to it?
What do you think about "secondary" trademarks like lightsabers? In many cases, specific elements in it give life to a story like no others could, and if everything about the story except those trademarked elements goes into public domain, how meaningful would that even be?
Two decades should be long enough. The purpose of a copyright is to allow the creator enough time to profit off of their creation before it falls into the public domain and is free for all. No copyright doesn't make sense as it encourages people who not create/share. But these long term copyrights make no sense either because they stifle copying, which is a good and natural thing and enables further creation and improvement --for all parties.
The creator is encouraged to continue creating. The consumer is encouraged to create and improve on the initial creations, and is incentivized by being allowed to make money off of their own work.
I think a cap of 20 years is a good balance. It allows you a very solid period of time in which to profit off of a creation, enjoy --perhaps-- a period of time in which to rest upon your laurels and then encourages further creation while that content is still somewhat relevant.
I think the best system would be a hard twenty-year term, but would budge and say lifetime + 20 years would be a great term, at least where people are concerned. Commercial works, produced by companies rather than individuals, because of their increased cultural relevance, should be locked into a 20-year term so they can fall into the public domain.
~20 years is the longest copyright really should last for in my opinion.
Copyright needs to encourage creativity and use of copyrighted content in fair and creative ways without allowing knockoffs. I know im being a bit vague here.
And on the topic of copyright, scrap DRM. It really gets in the way of using and owning your own content.