Free State Project Forum

FSP Community => Miscellaneous => Topic started by: Sylvain Poirier on September 26, 2002, 06:24:18 pm

Title: Intellectual Property
Post by: Sylvain Poirier on September 26, 2002, 06:24:18 pm
Suppose the Free State project succeeds and obtains autonomy. 8)
Then a new company opens in the Free State a business like Napster.  ;D
The RIAA makes a trial against it and wins in terms of the federal US legislation. :-X
What will happen ? ???
Title: Re:Intellectual Property
Post by: JasonPSorens on September 27, 2002, 09:28:43 am
Very good question.  If this happens within the first few years, there's nothing we can do.  In fact, the Constitution gives the federal government the right to issue patents.  In other words, we won't be able to deal with intellectual property issues unless we seek independence or can pass a constitutional amendment giving that power to the states.  The best we can do till then is to use our free state's representatives in Congress to try to get federal legislation passed that is more reasonable on patent & copyright protections.  At least we will have some representation in Congress on this hypothetical scenario.  (And we will have some allies too, not every congressman is in the pocket of the RIAA.)
Title: Patents in the free state
Post by: Mr. Roboto on October 20, 2002, 07:36:59 pm
In a truly free state, would there be patents.  If not, wouldn't  the profit motives which drive R&D be seriously reduced.
I'm specifically thinking about the development of new medications
Title: Re:Patents in the free state
Post by: Jeffersonian Democrat on October 20, 2002, 08:44:29 pm
Patent are addressed in the constitution.  They are handled at the federal level by the Patent Office and it is done in accordance with the our constitution, hence wouldn't be subject to change.
Title: Re:Patents in the free state
Post by: admin on October 21, 2002, 11:31:54 am
While I haven't come to a firm conclusion in my own mind, I'm afraid the deal with patents isn't as simple as you present it Joe.  Patents are granted like crazy to people who have no intention of ever making anything, as well as for things that are extremely obvious.  In these cases, the patent holder just waits for someone else to come along who actually wants to build something, and parasites royalties off of them for no reason.  

From what I've read, being first to market is the overriding concern in most industries.  Patents are needed sometimes to keep someone else from blocking you out in the future.  The exception seems to be in medicine, where patents are claimed to be necessary for profitability.  The thing I haven't figured out is, is it really that easy to reverse engineer a drug just from some pills?  I don't know the answer.

A number of people who have thought about this more than me are opposed to patents but in favor of copyright.  I haven't figured it all out yet myself.

Charles
Title: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: Sk1llz on October 22, 2002, 01:45:11 pm
It has always interested me that the term "copyright" no longer means what the actual words in the term mean, literally "the right to copy". When did it change to "prevent copying until a century after my death?"

Apparantly it was the will of the people that my descendants would be able to profit from my idea almost a century afterwards. Perhaps longer since congress can continue lengthening the terms.

Is this what the framers had in mind? Were they not attempting to protect our "RIGHT" to copy information, while still supplying a motivator for innovation? When did it flip to "protect my right to make money with my creation, while denying someone elses RIGHT to copy it".

Seem like a conflict between the last two major "rights", liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Personally I have always ordered things in such a way that "life" is the foremost important right, liberty second and the pursuit of happiness third.

Thus, I have the right to live. I have liberty so long as it does not interfere with the lives of others. And I have the right to pursue happiness, be it through artistic or business endeavours so long as it does not interfere with other peoples liberties or lives.

Does this make sense? Or am I nuts. Just throwing it out there for discussion.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: JasonPSorens on October 22, 2002, 02:27:31 pm
I think you're right.  Patent and copyright law needs to be recalibrated in the interests of consumers.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 22, 2002, 04:17:24 pm
Can you explain why you think you ever have the right to get for free, or profit from, the unique creations of someone else?

I'm not saying I have a strong position on this at this point, but it's certainly not obvious in what way your liberties are being violated if you are disallowed from copying unique music, or even hearing it at all for that matter.

This is far different, in my mind, from patents, which frequently grant a monopoly to "inventors" of trivial/obvious contraptions that someone else will likely come up with on their own.

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: JasonPSorens on October 23, 2002, 10:12:00 am
I don't believe the original poster was claiming that there should be no such thing as copyright, only that the term should be cut back.  But I'll let him speak for himself - that's my position anyway.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 23, 2002, 06:14:44 pm

Can you explain why you think you ever have the right to get for free, or profit from, the unique creations of someone else?

I'm not saying I have a strong position on this at this point, but it's certainly not obvious in what way your liberties are being violated if you are disallowed from copying unique music, or even hearing it at all for that matter.

This is far different, in my mind, from patents, which frequently grant a monopoly to "inventors" of trivial/obvious contraptions that someone else will likely come up with on their own.

Charles


Ideas, in the form of copyright-able works and patent-able devices, are by nature an item of public domain.  This is implied by the constitution and detailed more specifically by other documents of the founding fathers, if I'm not mistaken.  The entirety of human culture and technology is based upon ideas that would have been copyrightable or patentable at one time.  

The laws were written to restrict our rights to use ideas _for a brief time_ in order that those ideas might generate profit, and therefore incentive to create, for the creators.  As such, extending copyright is a further restriction to my rights to use ideas freely, and thus must be justified as being better than _not_ restricting my rights.  

As such, the burden of proof is upon the person who wishes to restrict my rights, and not upon myself who merely wish to defend my rights.  
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 23, 2002, 07:12:00 pm
Speaking as another creator (although a lesser one than a pure artist) you know as well as I, that the majority of creative work is derivative from older works.  Without that older work being freely usable, culture and technology would be stagnant.  

Beyond that, there is no inherent or natural right to possess an idea as there is to possess material goods.  

You are free to profit off your creative work, but so is anyone else.  The only thing that binds this is an unnatural, but useful set of laws that grants a short-term monopoly on that use.  
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 23, 2002, 08:06:49 pm

Speaking as another creator (although a lesser one than a pure artist) you know as well as I, that the majority of creative work is derivative from older works.  Without that older work being freely usable, culture and technology would be stagnant.  

Beyond that, there is no inherent or natural right to possess an idea as there is to possess material goods.  

You are free to profit off your creative work, but so is anyone else.  The only thing that binds this is an unnatural, but useful set of laws that grants a short-term monopoly on that use.  


Can you be more specific?  What "right" of yours is being violated?  You can certainly be influenced by prior music or art, or reference prior intellectual works.  This does not require you to violate a copyright or even to compensate the previous author/artist.  All you can't do is flat out copy their work verbatim for your own benefit.  I fail to see how your rights are being violated.

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: JasonPSorens on October 23, 2002, 08:16:46 pm
When an author dies but his works are still copyrighted, it can often be very difficult to get them reprinted.  Sometimes copyright is transferred to large corporations (especially with music) and they intentionally restrict supply to garner monopoly profits.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 23, 2002, 09:52:04 pm


Speaking as another creator (although a lesser one than a pure artist) you know as well as I, that the majority of creative work is derivative from older works.  Without that older work being freely usable, culture and technology would be stagnant.  

Beyond that, there is no inherent or natural right to possess an idea as there is to possess material goods.  

You are free to profit off your creative work, but so is anyone else.  The only thing that binds this is an unnatural, but useful set of laws that grants a short-term monopoly on that use.  


Can you be more specific?  What "right" of yours is being violated?  You can certainly be influenced by prior music or art, or reference prior intellectual works.  This does not require you to violate a copyright or even to compensate the previous author/artist.  All you can't do is flat out copy their work verbatim for your own benefit.  I fail to see how your rights are being violated.

Charles


I retain the right to do anything not specifically forbidden by the constitution.  As copying intellectual works directly harms none (IP is not _real_ property as viewed by the constitution, partially because it cannot be stolen), I have an inherent right to do so.  This right is counter-balanced by a specific constitutional law which restricts copyright for a brief period explicitly for the purpose of furthering the production of intellectual works.  Once that period is over, as per the agreement, I recover that right to do as I will with any intellectual work, or idea within.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 23, 2002, 09:59:25 pm
I have been discussing this based on the premises described in the constitution.
On the more general question of the cost and benefits of copyright, there's an amazing pair of speeches that explain it far better than I ever could.

http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm (http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm)
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 23, 2002, 10:08:16 pm

When an author dies but his works are still copyrighted, it can often be very difficult to get them reprinted.  Sometimes copyright is transferred to large corporations (especially with music) and they intentionally restrict supply to garner monopoly profits.


Doesn't the artist or his agent always get monopoly price on artistic works?  How else could it possibly be, except free?
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 23, 2002, 10:12:16 pm

I have been discussing this based on the premises described in the constitution.
On the more general question of the cost and benefits of copyright, there's an amazing pair of speeches that explain it far better than I ever could.

http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm (http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm)


I was going to say, the constitution is one thing, but I thought around here we were debating how things should be.  I have not read these speeches yet, but it strikes me funny that a libertarian would speak of rights in terms of "costs and benefits", costs to whom?  benefits to whom?

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 23, 2002, 11:39:12 pm

Doesn't the artist or his agent always get monopoly price on artistic works?  How else could it possibly be, except free?


Exactly.  According to nature, there would be no monopoly on art.  In fact there wasn't until 1710.  Property law is based on natural principles of ownership, but ideas cannot be owned in the normal sense of the word.  

While art and technology existed without copyright, there has been a significant boost in the advance of culture and technology since the creation of copyright.  As such, we agree as a society to exchange our natural right of copying for the benefit of having more ideas available in the long run.

You really should read the essays.  They're amazing works.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: Sk1llz on October 24, 2002, 11:57:52 am
From the monologue posted above:
Quote

The principle of copyright is this. It is a tax on readers for the purpose of giving a bounty to writers. The tax is an exceedingly bad one; it is a tax on one of the most innocent and most salutary of human pleasures; and never let us forget, that a tax on innocent pleasures is a premium on vicious pleasures. I admit, however, the necessity of giving a bounty to genius and learning. In order to give such a bounty, I willingly submit even to this severe and burdensome tax. Nay, I am ready to increase the tax, if it can be shown that by so doing I should proportionally increase the bounty. My complaint is, that my honourable and learned friend doubles, triples, quadruples, the tax, and makes scarcely any perceptible addition to the bounty. Why, Sir, what is the additional amount of taxation which would have been levied on the public for Dr Johnson's works alone, if my honourable and learned friend's bill had been the law of the land? I have not data sufficient to form an opinion. But I am confident that the taxation on his Dictionary alone would have amounted to many thousands of pounds. In reckoning the whole additional sum which the holders of his copyrights would have taken out of the pockets of the public during the last half century at twenty thousand pounds, I feel satisfied that I very greatly underrate it. Now, I again say that I think it but fair that we should pay twenty thousand pounds in consideration of twenty thousand pounds' worth of pleasure and encouragement received by Dr Johnson. But I think it very hard that we should pay twenty thousand pounds for what he would not have valued at five shillings.


Basically, one should value your 'right to liberty' over your 'right to pursue happiness'. However, as the esteemed Thomas Macauley pointed out, in order to allow encourage progress we must 'put up with' a lessening in our right to use information as we see fit.

I for one agree. So long as it is kept in line. Which I feel it hasn't. It all comes down to this. What benefit, what encouragement to create do I, the creator, gain from the current copyright laws. The constitution had already given provisions for me to monopolize on my creation for a period of time, preventing people from rightfully using my creative works in thier own. I gain absolutely nothing when the length of copyright is extended beyond my life.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 26, 2002, 10:27:35 am

The constitution had already given provisions for me to monopolize on my creation for a period of time, preventing people from rightfully using my creative works in thier own.


This is where you guys are losing me.  What do you mean "rightfully"?  Give me a specific example of how copyright law is preventing you from doing anything other than being a lowlife parasite.  

Quote
I gain absolutely nothing when the length of copyright is extended beyond my life.


If you say this, then you must also agree that inheritance should be taxed 100%, because you gain nothing by maintaining any of your earthly posessions beyond your life either.  That is, except your right pass them to your heirs.

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: catsRus on October 26, 2002, 11:02:05 am
Charles

Look at the Napster case the judge said no napster unless they could guarentee 100% no copyright violation. Would Xerox have been allowed to make copiers if held to the same standards? The advent of 100% accurate copying technology has led to the infringement of my fair use rights. If i paid for a copy of your work i should be able do do with it as i choose as long as it doesnt profit me.

Another point would be the profits Disney has made from public domain works, why is it ok for them to do it but to keep
'bribing" elected officials to keep their monopoly on works that others could use to do the same as Disney did?

The original term for copyright was 14 years i believe,  Is there any persuasive arguement that it needs to be longer?
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 26, 2002, 01:29:29 pm

Look at the Napster case the judge said no napster unless they could guarentee 100% no copyright violation. Would Xerox have been allowed to make copiers if held to the same standards?


What do you mean?  I make hundreds of copies a month at work, and none of it is ever of copyrighted material.  I don't think copiers are generally used to copy books in their entirety.

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The advent of 100% accurate copying technology has led to the infringement of my fair use rights. If i paid for a copy of your work i should be able do do with it as i choose as long as it doesnt profit me.


And you can without violating copyright law.  This doesn't include giving it away to your friends, or electronically on the internet though.  

Quote
Another point would be the profits Disney has made from public domain works, why is it ok for them to do it but to keep 'bribing" elected officials to keep their monopoly on works that others could use to do the same as Disney did?


I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you mean that they spoof pop culture stuff?  Can you be more specific?

Quote

The original term for copyright was 14 years i believe,  Is there any persuasive arguement that it needs to be longer?


Well, either your artistic works belong to you, or they don't.  To be consistent, doesn't it seem like it should either be 0 years, or forever (or maybe lifetime)?

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: catsRus on October 26, 2002, 03:51:50 pm
Quote
What do you mean?  I make hundreds of copies a month at work, and none of it is ever of copyrighted material.  I don't think copiers are generally used to copy books in their entirety.


Charles look into the judges decision on the napster case, he  said it can beused to violate copyright, so it must be 100% not allowed to-- alas guilty until proven innocent shall we ban pens? i can copy with it, copiers? cameras? VCR's--on VCR's the court said there was a large enough legitimate use to allow them, copyright holders are always fighting technology. IF we applied the same logic to inventions 20 years ago we wouldnt be where we are today.

Quote
And you can without violating copyright law.  This doesn't include giving it away to your friends, or electronically on the internet though.  

Are you farmilliar with the DMCA, SSSCA, or the new DRM hardware initiative? They infringe on fair use, if i have to side on this issue it is for fair use.

Quote
I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you mean that they spoof pop culture stuff?  Can you be more specific

A huge majority of Disneys stuff is derived from public domain works. ie. the brothers grimm, why is it ok for them to use public works to make a profit but to hold their works in copyright for ever?

Quote
Well, either your artistic works belong to you, or they don't.  To be consistent, doesn't it seem like it should either be 0 years, or forever (or maybe lifetime)?

Lets just pick something and stick with it, i am not anti copyright I am against monopolies created by abusing goverment power at the detriment of fair use! Just because it can be done should not make it a crime to invent new technology that might violate ones copyright. The real issue is the ever expanding copyright term and the way copyright is being used to quell innovation-- it was supposed to expand creativity and innovation.

Hope that is clearer  ;)
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 26, 2002, 05:13:34 pm

Charles look into the judges decision on the napster case, he  said it can beused to violate copyright, so it must be 100% not allowed to-- alas guilty until proven innocent shall we ban pens? i can copy with it, copiers? cameras? VCR's--on VCR's the court said there was a large enough legitimate use to allow them, copyright holders are always fighting technology. IF we applied the same logic to inventions 20 years ago we wouldnt be where we are today.


I agree with you here.  Just because a technology can be used to violate copyright does not mean that the technology should be banned.  That's not what I thought we were talking about.  I was only talking about copyright itself.

As far as napster goes though, I don't feel so bad about that.  My impression is that 99.99% of the traffic on that site was people basically ripping off copyrighted music.  Claiming that it's just a technology that could possibly also be used for legit purposes seems like a strained defense by the lawyers.  An analogy might be a bookstore with an attached copy shop that allowed customers to walk in and copy books from the bookstore.  It's hard for them to claim neutrality if virtually all of their customers only use the copiers to copy books that they don't buy.

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 26, 2002, 09:43:37 pm

I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you mean that they spoof pop culture stuff?  Can you be more specific?


Almost all of Disney's summer animated movies have been copies of public domain works.  And funny how you should mention pop culture.  Pop culture won't exist if the copyright is extended in duration and effect as is being currently attempted.

Quote

Well, either your artistic works belong to you, or they don't.  To be consistent, doesn't it seem like it should either be 0 years, or forever (or maybe lifetime)?


The ideas behind your artistic works does not belong to you.  The physical form of the work belongs to you and that's all.  The constitution provided an incentive to increase art and technology by providing a temporary form of ownership where none previously existed.  It is a specific exception to the natural rule.  That exception is being heavily abused now, by extending the temporary ownership and even attempting to make it a permanent one.  It should be obvious that permanent ownership of ideas is dangerous.  If you don't see this, examine the essays posted above for a particularly good example about Milton's work, "Paradise Lost."
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 26, 2002, 10:30:14 pm

It should be obvious that permanent ownership of ideas is dangerous.  If you don't see this, examine the essays posted above for a particularly good example about Milton's work, "Paradise Lost."


Can you really copyright ideas?  As far as I know, I can read Rothbard's books and then write my own libertarian manifestos that are complete ripoffs of all his ideas and never violate a copyright.  It's only a violation if I copy his words verbatim.  No?

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 26, 2002, 10:41:31 pm


It should be obvious that permanent ownership of ideas is dangerous.  If you don't see this, examine the essays posted above for a particularly good example about Milton's work, "Paradise Lost."


Can you really copyright ideas?  As far as I know, I can read Rothbard's books and then write my own libertarian manifestos that are complete ripoffs of all his ideas and never violate a copyright.  It's only a violation if I copy his words verbatim.  No?

Charles


Here's the critical problem.  If you hold the copyright of Rothbard's books, and you are a socialist activist, you have the right to make sure that no one ever reads them.  Even if it was once printed, you can refuse to reprint, and thus restrict the exposure of the public to those ideas.  We see this much more often with movies from before 1950 and video games from before 1995.  These disappear not due to malevolence, but due to a lack of (apparent) continued profit motive.  Eventually the material disappears due to one thing or another and the ideas and content within is removed from existence permanently.  This is bad and cannot occur if the public domain is properly maintained with short copyrights and patents.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on October 27, 2002, 09:59:27 am

Here's the critical problem.  If you hold the copyright of Rothbard's books, and you are a socialist activist, you have the right to make sure that no one ever reads them.  Even if it was once printed, you can refuse to reprint, and thus restrict the exposure of the public to those ideas.  We see this much more often with movies from before 1950 and video games from before 1995.  These disappear not due to malevolence, but due to a lack of (apparent) continued profit motive.  Eventually the material disappears due to one thing or another and the ideas and content within is removed from existence permanently.  This is bad and cannot occur if the public domain is properly maintained with short copyrights and patents.


I understand this argument.  But again, how do you maintain a principled argument?  If you think the creation of an artist or writer is not his own, then you should oppose any copyright at all.  If you think it is, then it should be forever.  Picking 10 years is purely arbitrary.  You seem to be making a utilitarian argument - that we want to entice Rothbard to put his ideas on paper so we, as society, can have them for ourselves later.  If we didn't give him copyright, we risk him just keeping them in his head.

Besides all that, how is the loss of these ideas, by society, a legitimate problem.  Someone could own a museum, for example, full of artistic/historical/archaeological (sp?) items.  At will, can't the owner just close the door and remove from the public the ability to see these very important bits of history?  Should these items be forced into the public domain by the government?

Charles
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on October 27, 2002, 04:23:29 pm

I understand this argument.  But again, how do you maintain a principled argument?  If you think the creation of an artist or writer is not his own, then you should oppose any copyright at all.  If you think it is, then it should be forever.  Picking 10 years is purely arbitrary.  You seem to be making a utilitarian argument - that we want to entice Rothbard to put his ideas on paper so we, as society, can have them for ourselves later.  If we didn't give him copyright, we risk him just keeping them in his head.


It _is_ a utilitarial argument.  The principle is that one cannot own an idea.  However, as incentive to have those ideas put to paper (or canvas, or whatever) we will put aside these rights for a brief period, and allow the creator to have monopoly over the ideas in question.  If we do _not_ permit copyright and patents, we will not be a prosperous nation.  As such we must choose an arbitrary brief period.  My problem is not necessarily with the length of the period (which is a separate and very difficult argument) but the repeated retroactive extension of copyright with such timing as to maintain some works in perpetual copyright.

Quote

Besides all that, how is the loss of these ideas, by society, a legitimate problem.  Someone could own a museum, for example, full of artistic/historical/archaeological (sp?) items.  At will, can't the owner just close the door and remove from the public the ability to see these very important bits of history?  Should these items be forced into the public domain by the government?


As I said before, the creator owns the physical manifestation of his idea, but if that idea is copyable, he has no inherent rights to that copy.  Property is governed by natural property rights.  These rights exist because the taking of property leaves the original owner with nothing.  The copying of ideas deprives the original thinker of nothing.  

Having said that, if a museum owner locked down his collection, it would probably be decried but tolerated.  If he attempted to destroy that collection, it would not surprise me if the owner was stopped legally or not, and I would not convict in court.  The destruction of even physical items of culture is a despicable act, even if legal.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: catsRus on October 28, 2002, 12:47:35 am
On the subject of lifetime, what is a company or corporations lifetime?

Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: Sk1llz on November 05, 2002, 10:05:40 am
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On the subject of lifetime, what is a company or corporations lifetime?

As far as I am aware copyright still has a limited time while the author is still "alive". In the case of a corporate entity the copyright would only last a period of time (which eludes me at this moment). Patents, from what I understand, can only be awarded to individuals. I could be wrong and how I've heard it reported in news articles would make me believe otherwise. If someone could clarify I would be most appreciative.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: admin on November 05, 2002, 04:46:58 pm
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On the subject of lifetime, what is a company or corporations lifetime?

As far as I am aware copyright still has a limited time while the author is still "alive". In the case of a corporate entity the copyright would only last a period of time (which eludes me at this moment). Patents, from what I understand, can only be awarded to individuals. I could be wrong and how I've heard it reported in news articles would make me believe otherwise. If someone could clarify I would be most appreciative.


Corporations can own patents.  Places like IBM have thousands.  When you sign up to work for someplace like IBM, you agree that anything you patent while working there becomes their property.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on November 05, 2002, 05:10:22 pm
If I'm not mistaken, corporations cannot file patents, but an employee of a company must assign patents that are filed under their name, based on the employment contract they signed.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: StMarc on November 06, 2002, 10:42:06 am
Quote
On the subject of lifetime, what is a company or corporations lifetime?

As far as I am aware copyright still has a limited time while the author is still "alive". In the case of a corporate entity the copyright would only last a period of time (which eludes me at this moment). Patents, from what I understand, can only be awarded to individuals. I could be wrong and how I've heard it reported in news articles would make me believe otherwise. If someone could clarify I would be most appreciative.


Amongst my many unsavory habits is that I am an intellectual property lawyer, and so I happen to know this off the top of my head. Anyone may learn for themselves at the USPTO's excellent website (http://www.uspto.gov) or the equally excellent Library of Congress copyright website (http://www.loc.gov/copyright).

1) Only individuals can be inventors of record for patents or authors of record for copyrights. However, patents can be assigned to corporations, and works for hire can likewise belong to corporations. The main difference is that a patent must be explicitly assigned to a corporation either directly or under the terms of an employment agreement. A copyright can be a "work for hire" and belongs to the person or entity who hired its creation, at the moment of creation, with no explicit assignment being necessary.

The only entity which cannot create copyrighted material is the US Government, although it can recieve the assignment of copyrights. US Government scientists can apply for patents, which are usually licensed back to an academic entity (or simply retained by their inventors!)

European copyright law (and possibly American law, sometimes - see Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Corporation) includes a separate right, called the "moral right," which is much harder to alienate and basically gives an artist the right to see that their creations are not tampered with so as to negatively affect their artistic vision. It's very complicated. All good IP attorneys *ahem* include language in licenses which purports to transfer the moral rights as well, but these are as yet largely untested.

2) The term of copyright for a work created by an individual was recently extented from "life of the author plus fifty years" to "life of the author plus seventy years." This was done by Disney's pet congresscritters as the copyright on the original Mickey Mouse was about to expire, which would have put Mickey in the public domain - an unspeakable horror. In the case of joint works, the last author to die starts the clock ticking.

3) For works made for hire, or anyonymous/psuedonymous works, the term of copyright is 95 years from date of publication, or 120 years from date of creation, whichever is shorter. This is in line with past terms, which have always worked on the assumption that the average author lives 25 years after creating a copyright, and therefore it is reasonable to give an "immortal" entity like a corporation roughly the same protection. Why 25 years, I don't know.

St. Marc
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on November 06, 2002, 01:11:32 pm
Amongst my many unsavory habits is that I am an intellectual property lawyer

Back! Back!  Thou demon from hell!  

But seriously, I'd like to know your opinion on the document (A speech by a english lord on the subject of copyright extension) that I referenced earlier in this thread, and your own opinion on what a reasonable level of protection would be.  And how you would suggest lowering protection _to_ that level if, it were possible. without severe ecnomic and judicial problems.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: StMarc on November 07, 2002, 09:21:01 am
Amongst my many unsavory habits is that I am an intellectual property lawyer

Back! Back!  Thou demon from hell!  

Aw, shucks. You're embarassing me.

Quote
But seriously, I'd like to know your opinion on the document (A speech by a english lord on the subject of copyright extension) that I referenced earlier in this thread,
I think he's right on the money. A limited time doesn't necessarily imply a fixed time, but the world is quite complicated enough without a variable term of copyright. You create it, you own it, for a limited time. I would say that his suggestion (forty-two years) is more than generous.
Quote
and your own opinion on what a reasonable level of protection would be.  And how you would suggest lowering protection _to_ that level if, it were possible. without severe ecnomic and judicial problems.
Like the t-shirt says, "Just do it." What problems? Other than the economic "problems" caused by people who think they should own lucrative artistic creations forever - which maybe they should and maybe they shouldn't, but in any event, the postulate of our discussion is what is a reasonable limit - I don't understand what you think the problems would be.

St. Marc
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on November 07, 2002, 10:33:18 am
Here's what I see as the biggest problem.  If a company purchases license for 50 years to use a copyright, and the copyright owner loses access to that copyright due to change in law in only 25 years (for example) then the original company has paid money for nothing.  

In a second example, a company takes out a business loan and creates a business plan to take advantage of a copyright or product that has 10 years of life left in its copyright or patent.  A law is passed that cuts the patent and copyright time by 10 years.  suddenly this business plan is invalid, the company folds or takes a large loss, and the bank loses its loan.

These kinds of issues make me think that any shortening of copyright should be done progressively, such that patents and copyrights are not shortened drastically in one blow, and few contract issues will come to the courts.
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: StMarc on November 07, 2002, 12:14:20 pm
Here's what I see as the biggest problem.  ...
These kinds of issues make me think that any shortening of copyright should be done progressively, such that patents and copyrights are not shortened drastically in one blow, and few contract issues will come to the courts.
Already taken care of:

"No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

Article I, Section 9.

"No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."

Article I, Section 10.

Extending or decreasing the term of an issued copyright or patent is an ex post facto law. Doing so to a patent or copyright which is the subject of a contract is a law impairing the obligation of contracts. The rule simply needs to be, whatever the term is when you get the patent or copyright, that's the term. No extensions, no reductions.

St. Marc
Title: Re:Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness & Copyright
Post by: maestro on November 07, 2002, 12:40:06 pm
however we've already seen retroactive extensions passed.  So presumably, we could pass retroactive shortenings.  Whether or not we should is another issue though, and I think I agree with you on it, even though it is rather painful for the next 70-90 years