Is copyright in need of reform?

Discussion in 'World News, Current Events & Politics' started by Subtle Demise, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. Subtle Demise

    Subtle Demise h

    Sep 17, 2009
    United States
    Do you think copyright is in need of serious reform? Do you think it's fine the way it is? What would you change if you could?

    I personally believe that it is way too overbearing, lasts for too long, stagnates creativity, and allows for far too much overreach from both government and big business. As it stands right now, in the US, copyright has been extended from lasting a mere 28 (later increased to 56, both requiring manual extension of copyright) years to either 100 years after creator's death, or 75 years from creation date in the case of things made by corporations. Why is this necessary? Why hundreds of years? I feel there is no good reason for it.

    Keep in mind, I am no lawmaker or lawyer or by any means an expert on any of these topics, but I just want to give my plan for a better copyright system that benefits both consumers and businesses. It will also free up the civil courts from frivolous legal battles, allowing them to better serve people who actually need the restitution. This will also aid in preservation. I will probably use games as examples, as that seems most relevant here.

    Anyway, my idea was a flat 15-20 years from the day that sales of a particular work cease to be in an official fashion (meaning once Nintendo stops officially manufacturing and selling Switch cartridges of Mario Odyssey and the digital storefront shuts down, they have 15-20 years where the copyright on Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch is still valid). Don't panic just yet! Only the copyright for a specific work as a whole expires, the creator gets to keep their rights to things like characters, assets, code, etc, and other items. This way no one can, for example, make their own Mario games and try to make profit off of them, or rip assets to do asset-flip knock-off shit. All this means is that in like 2050, you wouldn't be able to get in trouble for distributing or downloading Switch games. An exception to this would be something like BIOS files or system software for game consoles, those would be fair game after the console stopped being manufactured and sold in an official manner and the 15-20 years have elapsed (meaning something like Playstation BIOS files would be a few years from being legal now).

    Now, what happens when say Nintendo loses their copyright on something like Super Mario Bros. on NES and they decide they want to put it on Virtual Console? Well, the NES version of SMB will still be free to distribute as a ROM, but the copyright is renewed for the VC version, if that makes sense. What about things that are distributed for free, but the author doesn't want people trying to make derivitave works of it? Those probably wouldn't hit the public domain until let's say 30 years from date of creation? In today's digital world, that work would be so archaic that no one would really benefit from "stealing" it for profit.

    That's all I can think of right now. Any thoughts or opinions? Am I crazy for thinking something like this can work? Obviously it would need a lot of fine-tuning and certain situations would have to be judged on a case-by-case basis, but overall I think it would really keep consumers out of the cross-hairs, and businesses would see us as customers again, instead of potential criminals. Free flow of information would be a thing again, and artworks would be less likely lost to time.
  2. Attacker3

    Attacker3 GBAtemp Fan

    Mar 24, 2015
    Underground, in my mother's basement.
    It's a terrible, terrible thing. You can't own ideas. With drugs, if one company found a cancer treatment, they could copyright that information. Why do we as a society accept that people can own facts? "X does this" or "If you arrange X in a certain way, you get X result". To say that some billionaire owns a fact is bullshit.

    Not to mention we're going to lose thousands and thousands of books that are "orphaned" where the copyright holders can't be found. Copyright is anti-competitive and anti-knowledge practice that benefits big corporations more than it hurts the small ones.
    JSMastah and Subtle Demise like this.
  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    Do they copyright it or do they patent it? It is a very different thing. Society wise it was noted that developing medicines is fucking expensive both on an individual and collective level (this will change with increasing computing power but not for a decade or two yet). Allowing people to reasonably be able to make a return on the investment is a good thing (if you have to spend billions on research and testing and recoup that as well as manufacture the stuff, and I just have to invest about the price of a house in a chemistry lab and some food/medicine grade chemicals... guess who can sell things cheaper).

    Copyright other than term lengths I am fairly OK with. Length wise I will start with 50 years as a thing I would go for -- life + however long is way too much. Some of the music and similarity stuff I am a bit iffy with. Following from that some of the approaches used with copyright for protections and workarounds I am also not a fan of.

    Orphaned works (in computers you might have met it as abandonware) is a tricky one from where I sit and for the most part a term limit change to said 50 mark would solve it for me. I am not a fan of most of the proposed solutions from those that make it their big talking point.

    Patents if we are talking about the US*. Absolutely. Software patents are an abomination and a lot of the biological patents are terrible too, furthermore the US patent office's approach to obviousness and prior art is not good. I am also not a fan of having to shoot down every claim -- much rather go for the house of cards approach wherein the fundamental claims are taken out and the ones that follow fall too.
    Back to biology the thing where they try to prevent farmers from harvesting seeds from modified plants is abhorrent to me, and not much better being them going after people that had fields next to fields growing modified crops because they cross pollinated each other. Patenting DNA strands/locations is equally troubling -- while you are faced with a similar problem to medicine trade secrets can probably suffice there, at least for a few more years before sequencing becomes as easy as it is. Some kind of quasi patent affair where someone can show research to a judge (a suitably trained one of course) that they have simultaneously arrived at it might be worth contemplating.

    *nice long form overview

    Back on copyright some look for a more radical thing along the lines of what we see in computers with attribution (think creative commons) and registered works, with a underlying preference for the remix. There are aspects that appeal but it might be a bit too techno utopian even for me.

    While I am linking videos
    Subtle Demise likes this.