Conan copyright trolls censor fan-readings of public domain stories

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61 Responses to “Conan copyright trolls censor fan-readings of public domain stories”

  1. Jeff says:

    C.D., I’m trying to reduce this issue down to its most common psychological component, which I assume to be property rights, or the individual’s perception of ownership. If a culture such as The Powers That Be in Canada have agreed to a 50 yr limit on Intellectual property rights, that’s fine with me. I’m not saying that the culture needs to reward authors in perpetuity, but I’m sure a good legal argument could be made for such a case. I think digging into the public domain for material is great–I do it myself. But what happens when you are alive at 150 and want to continue receiving your royalty check for that one book of yours that never went out of print–that you wrote 50 years earlier? The idea that you will lose control of your book if you live long enough might not be a cultural norm in the near future. But if the culture still supports the idea that it goes into the public pot after 50 years, that’s fine too. You may not be able to leave a book to your children, but a corporation can own the rights. Isn’t that the case with Beatrix Potter’s work?

    And what happens when a digital scan of your brain can be used to re-create “you” inside a computer? But when the biological you dies who gets to control the digital you? Does the public get free dibs to use whatever parts of your “book” that they please? Or do we grant the “book” (which is in actuality your entire life), special rights? What if our books become so interactive that they are granted “nation” status and need to be treated as such? If want to partake in the book, you pay the book! Or the book could decide to give itself away for free.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I was just reading about this very issue in regards to H.P. Lovecraft’s work yesterday. Apparently the same sort of confusion has been sown in that case – Arkham House (the publishing company established by August Derleth after Lovecraft’s death) claims ownership of the copyright for much of his work. They have in the past routinely threatened lawsuits for infringement, even though by this time, about half of Lovecraft’s writings are in the public domain.

    It’s a real goddamned shame that fans of these old authors can’t share their work in new ways without being frivolously threatened by unscrupulous lawyers. I’m pretty sure both Howard and Lovecraft would simply be thrilled that anyone wanted to read their work AT ALL, considering how little they earned for it during their lifetimes.

  3. Darryl Moore says:

    (p.s. – how do you get those funky quote symbols as above?)

    Excellent question!

  4. DWittSF says:

    Canada Calling Mary Bono!

    Incidentally, here’s the Industry Sock Puppet View in action:

    Bono Mack was a leading proponent of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the so-called “Mickey Mouse Law”, which extended the terms of copyright. Giving a speech on the floor of Congress in favor of the bill,

    Bono said:
    Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. . . . As you know, there is also [Motion Picture Association of America president] Jack Valenti’s proposal for the term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Many of the Conan stories are in Public Domain because they were not properly extended after the initial 26 year term.

    Berkley books published a 3 volume set, edited by Karl Edward Wagner, containing all of the then Public domain conan stories.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conan_(books)#Berkley_editions.2C_1977

    The fact that ACE did not sue Berkley at a time when Ace was making A LOT OF MONEY on the Conan paperbacks suggests that the PD status of those stories was and is pretty tight… Berkely lawyers allowed the publication, and ACE did not sue. These are descicions made by conservative book publishers with Lots of money on the line.

    In the quoted text, Conan properties IMPLIES it owns those stories outside of new Zeland, but it never actual says so….. instead it grants that they may be public domain in New Zeland, but New Zeland is not all of the internet, so they MIGHT be subject to legal action, because conan properties protects its copyrights. But it never says WHERE it owns the copyright to those stories. These are Intimidation tactics that neatly avoid the issue that CONAN PROPERTIES HAS NO COPYRIGHT CLAIM TO THESE STORIES, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!

    Forget all the back and forth about what copyright law should or should not be. The fact is that CONAN Properties is using legal threats to scare people away from Public domain work that it clearly does not own, and has not owned since for over 30 years.

    Here’s a link to some project Gutenberg texts of Public domain Conan texts. http://aoconan.blogspot.com/2008/03/conan-book-list.html

    Grab the texts of the stories from the Berkley editions – as those are the ones that passed the scrutiny of both ACE and Berkeley legal departments, and post them far and wide… do audio recordings of them. Whatever. And reproduce this take down letter and bullshit intimidation tactics along side every story. When People Google search Conan, this take down letter should be the first thing they see.

  6. bukuman says:

    MAGICIAN @57

    Clearly they are making threats. These threats are all the more chilling (in the sense of coercing self censorship) for being veiled and also due to the lack of clarity in what the actual legal position is re who is making the copy and in which jurisdiction the distribution takes place etc. I don’t for example know for a fact that someone in Iceland downloading from New Zealand actually makes Broken Sea an infringer – but it sure makes them worry that they will be taken to court.

    Naturally BBC, NBC, Hulu, Pandora etc do geo limiting because they are owners / captives of owners of protected content – but that does not imply that a content distributor must take such action to be complying with copyright law.

    The perception that they should has the negative effect of raising the entry cost for people wishing to build on the public domain. Also it’s worth noting that in copyright works also often have an attached constellation of geographic rights where particular companies ‘own’ the right to distribute in particular areas – this certainly makes actors like BBC, NBC, etc do geo limiting.

  7. Ugly Canuck says:

    remmelt: Has any sovereign state recognized your little fanatsyland as a fellow sovereign state? No?

  8. Darryl Moore says:

    @26 No, not really. I got the intended humour, but all too often I see these terms used interchangeably and I find it irritating because it creates so much confusion for the public. even in a humourous context.

    The improper use of various simple IP terms is even more irritating than when I hear people say “I could care less” when what they really mean is “I COULDN’T care less”, or nails on a chalk board.

  9. dragonfrog says:

    I’m not arguing that the present copyright term of life+50 or 70 years is the right length. Life+25, as a few have proposed, seems perfectly reasonable. I just think it ought to be life+something.

    I also agreed with Lessig’s position that extending copyright for already existing work should be considered unconstitutional, as it doesn’t achieve the constitutionally given justification for copyright.

    @Darryl Moore – what you propose is sound in principle, but only if artists made enough money to support a family and save up for retirement. My impression (I am not a professional artist but my wife is, so apply salt as appropriate) has been that your scenario is by far the exception. Rather, I believe the majority of professional artists make just enough to live on and that’s it; if you kept count of hours it would just be depressing how much less than minimum wage you make.

    While written works tend to do best in the first couple of years of their release, other types of work have the reverse behaviour – paintings by artists who died in poverty become valuable sell for ridiculous sums at auction, prints and posters do brisk sales, etc. (Yes, I realize that the artist only benefits by the first sale of the original anyway, but royalties on prints go to the copyright holder)

  10. Darryl Moore says:

    @27 Jeff, as things currently are it is impossible for an author to outlive their copyright as the term of copyright us almost universally LIFE+(n) years. I wish it were possible for an author to outlive their copyright. The public would be much better served. See my post @24.

    Your question about downloading oneself from man into machine in a SciFi red herring. Frankly, in such a case I think it would depend entirely on whether that ‘download’ was sentient or not.

  11. dainel says:

    Copyrights should be registered, and should be for 25 years. 50 years is too long.

    If the original copyright holder dies, or sells the right, the new owner should register as the new owner.

    If the owner disappears and cannot be located, the work should be released to the public domain.

    There should be compulsory licensing. Copyright must not be a tool to squelch publication. Not used as a method to create an artificial shortage in order to drive up prices. If the owner refuses permission/license, the copyright office should determine a reasonable price.

  12. Darryl Moore says:

    It is interesting that your quote mentions Canada. Robert Howard died in 1936 and therefore his works have been in the public domain here since Jan 1 1987.

    It is unfortunate that the group has caved in to these intimidation tactics.

  13. tamahome says:

    They aren’t just readings, but full audio dramatizations with a cast, sound effects and music. Very professional sounding and highly recommended. :)

  14. jetfx says:

    This is really disappointing coming from Paradox Entertainment. I am a huge fan of their excellent strategy games (Europa Universalis, et al) and have made a scrupulous point of purchasing them to support the work they do. And compared to other companies, they are really responsive to their fan communities, often releasing expansions that are fan wishlists to improve the original. But to see them engage in copyright trolling leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.

  15. bukuman says:

    can it be so simple?

    Ha!

  16. Darryl Moore says:

    @31 There are serous problems with life+ terms. How do you determine when copyright has expired if you don’t know the authors whereabouts or if they are alive, or when they died? It treats works unequally. Those written by young authors will inherently be more valuable then these penned by older ones. It also makes it more difficult for those considering using particular works before the copyright has expired because they cannot accurately calculate the value of any license they acquire because they have no idea how long the work will remain in copyright for.

    I run my own business, and it is a struggle. I know other who do the same. Artists are not alone in this issue of affording RSPs. They are alone however in their belief that they should continue to benefit directly from their work after they are gone.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If Howard died in 1936, all of his works are public domain in the US right?
    NO. Under the copyright act of 1909, his works could have been copyrghted for a term of 26 years, and this could have been renewed for a further 26 (later this was extended to 67 years) Anything that he published before 1923 is in the public domain. Anything that he published after that might still be protected if he filed for an extension.

    I’m not a fan of life+N terms either (curse you Berne Treaty!) It begs the question, is the poetey of Sigfried Sasoon so much better than that of Wilfred Owen that he and his heirs should be granted years and years more royalties?

  18. Robert says:

    I am a big proponent of copywrong law. Copyright exists so that creators (and their descendants or assignees) can reap the rewards of their creativity benefitting the public.

    Copywrong is based on the notion that lawbreakers (and their descendants or assignees) can reap the penalties of their lawbreaking causing harm to the public.

    This means that a person getting a speeding ticket should have to pay in the US for life+70 for their harm to the public. Obviously after they die, their descendants or assignees have the obligation for paying.

    That being said, who wants to risk a lawsuit by reading a PD Conan story? Perhaps Larry Lessig will give us a reading.

  19. Jeff says:

    Darryl, although the author may have died, his estate may control the rights to his work. This is a sticky issue and depends on our culture’s ideas concerning property rights. If you can leave a house to your kids why can’t you leave a book, and all the rights normally associated with controlling that book? No one here is going to tell you that a home becomes public domain. It’s private for a reason. One day you can leave your home or book to a charitable organization that might be able to derive income from that property. I could come up with some examples.

  20. Peter says:

    I am also not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if Broken Sea Audio is indeed based in New Zealand, that’s where the stories ‘are’. They’re on the server there. If they are accessed by someone in the US, where they’re not public domain, the information is being copied by the person accessing it, and so it is them violating copyright, not Broken Sea, any more than the library would be if someone visited a library in New Zealand and photocopied a public domakin book then brought it back.

    Of course with New Zealand’s “repeated accusation is conviction” law, the point becomes moot.

  21. remmelt says:

    “Under this logic, any country could hijack public domain from the rest of the world”

    Or, the other way around, any country could provide a legal way out of copyright. In my new republic of Sealand, anything older than 3 weeks and 4 days will fall into public domain. If any publications reach my fair nation (and they will, because of the internet mainline) they will thus be Public Domained, because we don’t want those pesky other countries to hijack the copyright.

    Wow, that remark came out MUCH more devil’s advocate style than I intended. I think the copyright trolls in the story should be punishable, could they be?

  22. Darryl Moore says:

    #31 “Yes, I realize that the artist only benefits by the first sale of the original anyway, but royalties on prints go to the copyright holder”

    In my perfect copyright world. Copyright would reside with the original work itself. I.E. when you sell the painting, you would also be selling the copyright. In cases such as digital works where there is no physical original, then the author would keep the copyright.

    My reason for this is my strong belief that property rights should, where ever possible, take precedence over monopoly rights. Therefore if I buy an original painting from some artists. That original painting should be min, and mine alone.

  23. Cory Doctorow says:

    Jeff, you’re wrong. In Canada, all copyrights owned by individuals enter the public domain 50 years after the individual’s death. This is the law.

    As to “leaving houses to kids” — copyright is a temporary regulatory monopoly granted under law, not property. Emphasis on temporary. In your vision of perpetual copyright, who would own Shakespeare today? The Bible?

    Copyright is now life+50 in Canada, life+70 in the USA, and in that world, more than 98% of works in copyright are “orphaned” with no visible owner. They’re lost to history and can’t be rescued by reprinting until the copyright lapses (if any copies can be found by then). In your world of infinitely enduring copyright, do you just doom all those works to the scrapheap of history? Burn the lifeswork of every author whose family can’t be bothered to preserve it?

    What about Henry Kuttner, whose widow, CL Moore, married a man who resented her ex-husband and forced her to withdraw her own work and his work from print? When Moore died, her husband became the executor of both estates and did the best he could to erase it from history.

    Is this good for authors? For society? For knowledge?

    What about all the authors, from Heinlein to Ryan, from Joyce to Robinson, from Gaiman to Roddenberry, who’ve built careers by re-using the public domain? To hell with them, too?

    Is this good for authorship? For society? For knowledge?

  24. gtron says:

    I’m off on a bit of a tangent, so ignore me if you must. the line “reach countries” sets me off a bit, two reasons:
    1. I am in Canada, where I watched a CBC national tv show, that had a skit that got noticed elsewhere, and became a post on a site like this (it might have been this site?)… remembering the funny clip, I went to watch it again, and was notified that ‘this clip is not available in my territory’… but 300 million Americans right next door can watch it? and it originated in Canada. So the rights holder (CBC, the state run national broadcaster) denies me watching the re-run online (I guess that they haven’t re-run it on tv yet), but gives it away free to everyone else in the world – thereby negating me from ‘socializing’ with my online network.
    2. everytime I go to HuffPo or anywhere a clip/link to SNL or The Daily Show is, I press play, I get the pre-roll ad, then up comes a notification – “Comedy Central has the rights to this clip in your territory” – so in order to see it, I have to load a new tab, open the page, search ComCentral, and find the appropriate clip… really smooth segue to the clip, to be sure. I realize its still early days, but Canada is tech-savvy and I bet the percapita is as high or higher for online audience. these companies with content need to re-think the web again, they are defeating their own potential
    sorry if I shouldn’t post that here

  25. remmelt says:

    “As to “leaving houses to kids” — copyright is a temporary regulatory monopoly granted under law, not property. Emphasis on temporary.”

    What’s more, isn’t the point behind the temporary monopoly, the raison d’etre, an incentive for the creator to create more work, enriching culture as he goes?
    This is not rest-on-your-laurels money, this is good-job-now-create-some-more-money. There is a huge difference which is pretty much ignored these days.
    Now, your next question could be: “how is it that copyright extends after the creator’s death?” or: “how is it that copyright can be transferred, even to entities like corporations?” And you’d be right to ask.

  26. Flying_Monkey says:

    Couldn’t they just transfer their domain to a ‘.nz’ address and ignore the letters?

  27. Trace says:

    “If you can leave a house to your kids why can’t you leave a book..”

    No one is disputing you can’t leave a book. That is, you can leave the manuscripts of your books or any printed copies you may have. Hell, you can leave your entire library to your children. Inheriting a copyright is not the same as inheriting real property–it’s the inheritance of a monopoly, as others have pointed out.

    As an artist I am free to leave the objects of my production (typewriter, paints, musical instruments, studio, etc.) to my children. I am also free to leave the physical production of my labor (manuscripts, art objects, master tapes, etc.). Lastly, I am free to leave the earnings I made from the sale or licensing of my work to my children. These are assets that fit your analogy of passing along a house. Copyright is not a tangible asset.

  28. Ceronomus says:

    If Howard died in 1936, all of his works are public domain in the US right?

  29. bililoquy says:

    This is of interest here: The Copyright and Ownership Status of the Works of Robert E. Howard.

    The transnational enforcement effort is bull, for sure, but it appears that the works in question (Queen of the Black Coast, Red Nails, and Hour of the Dragon) are PD even in the US.

  30. airship says:

    Copyright law was originally written in recognition of the fact that creative works are not ‘property’ in the same sense that a house is. The idea of (C) is to give a work’s originator the chance to earn some money off of his creation before it becomes public domain. After that point, anyone can use it in any way they wish. The idea is to stimulate further creativity, thus enriching culture and encouraging the arts.

    The classic example of how this works is the way in which Walt Disney made piles of money by creating his own versions of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, etc., from public domain versions. The classic example of how this now doesn’t work is that Disney then set his lawyers to work extending copyright protections so that no one could do the same with his works.

  31. Victor Bogado says:

    If this content is forbidden in the US, then the Americans reading it are the criminals, not the site. Maybe they should persecute the 500 subscribers, instead of trying to bully people who are completely under the law on their countries.

    Of course we seen that RIAA have already tried that with very little success I heard.

  32. cinemajay says:

    This is REALLY disheartening. I love Conan stories and these people are douchebags-and-a-half.

  33. TheOceaneer says:

    Obligatory:

    “Conan Properties International LLC, what is best in life?”

    “To crush your fans, see them driven before you, and hear the litigations of the lawyers.”

  34. Anonymous says:

    Ceronomus: While all new works created in the United States are under a Life+70 copyright regime, anything created prior to 1998 is subject to different laws. If this is not extended again (at the time Howard wrote his works, copyright lasted 28 years, with a single 28 year extension, but it’s been retroactively extended twice, to 75 years and then to 95 years), any of his works written in 1923 will become public domain in the US in 2019, and all of his works will be public domain in the US in 2032. IANAL, but I believe that Howard’s work is in the public domain nearly everywhere except the US and Mexico (where it is life+100!).

  35. Daemon says:

    The same insane logic could be used in the other direction – once copyright expires one place, it expires everywhere.

  36. Anonymous says:

    IAAL. It is possible to sue in one jurisdiction based on a wrong occuring in another jurisdiction. Your suit is subject to dismissal on forum non conveniens or policy grounds (if brought in the United States, for example), but such a dismissal is not automatic or assured. Moreover, a judgment from a foreign jurisdiction can generally be entered in jurisdictions in the United States, subject to a few rules and some exceptions. These issues are all part of an area of law called, “Conflicts of Law.”

  37. error404 says:

    the world does seem to be bursting at the gunwales with copyright lawyers who know sweet FA about copyright law.

    If I was as bad at my job as they are at theirs I would be keeoing that info under my hat, not flaunting it.

  38. buddy66 says:

    #4 posted by remmelt:

    In my new republic of Sealand…

    How does one go about finding it and getting citizenship? Got a brochure?

  39. zuzu says:

    There are serous problems with life+ terms. How do you determine when copyright has expired if you don’t know the authors whereabouts or if they are alive, or when they died? It treats works unequally.

    When copyright used to be a matter of civil law, rather than criminal law, the premise would then be that if no one cares enough to keep track of the original author, no one is going to sue you for copyright infringement.

    But now that the MAFIAA have externalized the costs of their business to the government (i.e. tax payors) for enforcement, the uncertainty you cite creates a chilling effect.

    Copyright extending after an author’s death, I think, is an excellent idea. I’m pretty sure independent artists don’t tend to have pension plans with survivors’ benefits. If they can leave their widow(er)s and kids a number of copyrights in works that still earn royalties, that’s the equivalent.

    It is not the role of government to provide you with a successful business model on a silver platter. That’s called corporatism.

    Copyrights and patents are government-granted monopolies, not property (the Orwellian language of “intellectual property” not withstanding).

  40. Jeff says:

    Darryl, sorry, I just picked up the 50 yrs part, not the life + 50. Which eliminates my concern for the long-lifed author. To me it still boils down to the concept of ownership, which as I said, is going to be redefined as our intellectual property will be redefined to include such things as US. We better hope that our digital-uploaded selves have intellectual property rights (even though they are just 1s and 0s), because there might not be a lot of difference between an interactive book and a human mind. Not if it passes a Turing test. We need to plan for the future. And yes, I think the public is served better with free access and ability to use pulbic domain material. The real problem is money. Get rid of money and we won’t need to care about any of this.

  41. TheMadLibrarian says:

    This is a variant on the RIAA copyright-ad-nauseam that wants to charge people anytime they make a copy of music, even if it’s for their own use. Personally I like the idea of death + 25 years as a copyright. Although I’m ok with the idea that John Lennon’s kids should get some of the benefits from his prolific songwriting, I don’t like the way the rights to Lennon’s songs have become Sony’s perpetual motion cash machine (long live Emperor Sony!)

    The idea that a corporation can ‘squat’ on copyrights for bunches of ancient material, obscure or not, decades after the artist and all his family are dead and buried rankles me. It’s the equivalent of cybersquatting on hordes of domains that might eventually be useful to someone.

  42. dragonfrog says:

    Remmelt @7

    Copyright extending after an author’s death, I think, is an excellent idea.

    I’m pretty sure independent artists don’t tend to have pension plans with survivors’ benefits. If they can leave their widow(er)s and kids a number of copyrights in works that still earn royalties, that’s the equivalent.

    If this assurance of their families’ financial wellbeing were not available, probably a good number of artists who could be successful during their productive years, would have to leave off their art and take joe jobs just to make sure they won’t leave the family suddenly destitute the day after they die.

  43. TheMadLibrarian says:

    I personally like the death + 25 years for copyright, and would severely limit how corporations can massage extensions. For example, John Lennon’s kids should be able to benefit from his prolific songwriting, but instead, Lennon’s songs have become Sony’s perpetual motion cash machine (long live Emperor Sony!)

    Having a corporation own copyrights to material practically in perpetuity is the equivalent of cybersquatting. It makes it hard to use material that should be legitimately available as the original artist and all his family are long since dead and gone, whereas corporations are near immortal.

  44. zuzu says:

    All of your amenable to life+N copyright terms do remember that originally it was 14 years with the option to renew again for another 14, for a maximum of 28 years, right?

  45. dwiff says:

    There is a lot of faux copyright law getting tossed about above, as well as some mix-n-match to suit your argument but not the case. I encourage all, on both sides of the issue, to give their understanding of current copyright law and how it applies to older works a rethink – cuz some of you are just plain wrong.

    Furthermore, Paradox does NOT control the copyright on Howard’s works. Period. Look at any recent publication of Howard’s works, you know what you don’t see? “Conan Copyright Paradox Entertainment/Conan Properties”.

    Look at the licensed properties – like the comics – and you can clearly see the claim is to trademark, obfuscated under a claim of copyright for the new material.

    They control the licensing rights – IE trademark – but not the copyright. It’s a shell game.

    Those stories are in the public domain, even in the US, and all are free to adapt. Just don’t put “CONAN” on the cover or poster, cuz that is still under trademark. And find a great pro bono lawyer, because they will sue you anyway, in order to maintain this shell game.

    After all, they got millions from hollywood for the “rights” to a character whose stories are in the public domain,so who can blame them?

    The fault dear Brutus is not in the stars, but in us. In this case, our ignorance.

    The new IP enforcement bill creates the post of “Copyright Czar” – I say we create a shadow “Copyfight Czar” to counter the coming wave of misinformation (which used to be called lies, by the way) with real information.

    I nominate Cory. He’s got lots of free time I hear.

  46. TheMadLibrarian says:

    Oops! Darn that double post!

  47. zuzu says:

    The same insane logic could be used in the other direction – once copyright expires one place, it expires everywhere.

    Yeah, that was supposed to be the point with the exponential growth in popularity of The Internet.

    Jurisdictions are obsolete because no one can regulate cyberspace.

    c.f. Is Copyright Dead on the Net? by Lance Rose

    What can “copyright” possibly mean when millions of people can download the information they find on the Internet? So far, the idea of open access to these materials hasn’t slowed down the onslaught of new information flowing into the Net. But will information suppliers rebel against the status quo at some point? If they do clamp down, will the copyright laws be any help?

    Information wants to be free.”

  48. Blue_Mage says:

    @4:

    You may have to change the name of your new country. Not only is there already a micronation called Sealand, but I’d be willing to bet they copyrighted the name. :P

  49. Darryl Moore says:

    @40/41 “I personally like the death + 25 years for copyright, and would severely limit how corporations can massage extensions. For example, John Lennon’s kids should be able to benefit from his prolific songwriting, but instead, Lennon’s songs have become Sony’s perpetual motion cash machine (long live Emperor Sony!)”

    In a fixed term copyright world John Lennon’s kids would still benefit via the gobbs of money he made in his life. They, and other heirs may also benefit directly if the term of copyright outlived the author.

    Copyright terms must be as simple and straight forward as possible. Life+ terms add unnecessary confusion, and do not give authors equal opportunity to exploit their own works. They really benefit no one.

  50. magician says:

    It is a pity so few people nowadays have learned how to read…

    The bit quoted from the letter does not ask for the audio to be taken down, nor does it claim that it is illegal to download them in the US/Canada/UK.

    Though it hides it nicely behind veiled threats.

    It says that the audio is available worldwide, and demonstrates that by naming a number of countries which could access the audio. And then says that they will enforce the copyright in any territories where the stories are still in copyright.

    So if, say, Iceland allowed copyright for 100 years after an author’s death, then Broken Sea could be taken to Icelandic court for copyright infringement if someone in Iceland downloaded the audio files.

    Amazon, the BBC, NBC, Hulu, Pandora etc. all handle this by checking IP addresses and saying “sorry, this audio/video/book is not available to you because of where you live”. If Broken Sea does likewise, then the lawyers have no case.

  51. bukuman says:

    This has been bothering me. What really irks me is that Paradox Entertainment’s actions against an unsupported Broken Seas have the effect of stealing the public domain works from 6,400 million people in order to avoid the prospect of copyright infringements by at most 300 million people.

    I’m sure the same dynamic plays out over and over, the copyrighteous stealing from the public to protect the private. There was a guitar tabs site that closed (temporarily?) a while ago, I’m sure we don’t even see the tip of the iceberg.

    Each copyrighteous theft effects a few who are creating value but, not $ to defend themselves. The copy righteous use this dynamic to create and re-enforce the perception that the only good content is their content. In a copyrighteous world it’s natural for that 6.4 billion be robbed; ‘just think of the dead artists’.

    I happen to be listening to JFKs ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech and a big chunk of it can be translated to this domain:

    There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the public domain and the Copyrighteous world. Let them see the Public Domain. There are some who say that DRM is the wave of the future. Let them see the Public Domain. And there are some who say we can work with the Copyrighteous. Let them see the Public Domain. And there are even a few who say that it is true that copyright is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lassen Sie sich die Public Domain. Let them see the Public Domain. — Copyfight JFK

    ( the original http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/JFK+in+History/The+Cold+War+in+Berlin.htm)

    I’m sure others can do better, but it’s got potential.

    (p.s. – how do you get those funky quote symbols as above?)

  52. John Mark Ockerbloom says:

    Copyrights surviving an author for a period of time can be useful, yes. But if your goal is to support your widow(er) and kids, life plus 25 years should be quite sufficient. By then, any kids will have grown to adulthood, and should be capable of earning their own living. The widow(er), if still alive and not working, will have had 25 years worth of back royalties to invest in retirement funds.

    Life+70 is way, way more than needed. But in any case, that term has also passed in Howard’s case, so his published stories are now public domain pretty much everywhere *except* the US. I notice that Gutenberg Australia has an ample selection to choose from, and they’re not the only place that has them.

  53. Takuan says:

    see what comes of letting lawyers breed?

  54. bukuman says:

    I have not been able to find any good information on what the law actually is in these kinds of cases. I cannot find any case law where the various legal theories have been tested.

    Imagine a work that is out of copyright in Alicestan and in copyright in Bobstan. Alice serves a copy of the work from a server in Alicestan to Bob in Bobstan. Has an infringement occurred? Who has infringed? Is Alice distributing copyright material or public domain material? Is Bob making the copy or is Alice?

    Does anyone know of any case law?

    How do the safe havens provisions of DMCA come into play? If Eve runs a proxy in Alicestan and Bob’s traffic goes through Eve then is Alice protected because she is serving the work where it is PD to an entity where is is PD? Eve is protected as she is only serving transient copies. Is Bob still infringing?

    How can people like Broken Sea Audio protect themselves from litigious purported right holders? Is doing some geo-limiting of what they serve to whom sufficient to defuse the lawyers?

    It’s great to think about how to change the current copyright regime, but there are people providing great services that need to know how to operate safely under the current regime.

  55. Darryl Moore says:

    DRAGONFROG – “I’m pretty sure independent artists don’t tend to have pension plans with survivors’ benefits. If they can leave their widow(er)s and kids a number of copyrights in works that still earn royalties, that’s the equivalent.”

    Another alternative might be for them to take some of their earnings during their life time and invest them into a retirement savings plan. You know like the rest of us schmucks have to do.

    I don’t understand this sense of entitlement, and your argument is non-sequitor. Lots of people don’t automatically get RSPs as part of their job, yet they still have their job.

    Copyright should be short, for a fixed term, and need to be registered to be enforceable. Anything else is a disservice to society.

  56. Darryl Moore says:

    @19 you can’t copyright a name. As many people tend to do, you are confusing copyright and trademarks which are wholly different animals.

  57. zuzu says:

    So if, say, Iceland allowed copyright for 100 years after an author’s death, then Broken Sea could be taken to Icelandic court for copyright infringement if someone in Iceland downloaded the audio files.

    I think you misunderstand the point of jurisdiction. Anything outside of the jurisdiction you reside in does not apply to you. That’s why I’m not beheaded for drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad; Saudi law does not apply to me.

    c.f. the legal threats The Pirate Bay publishes.

    Naturally BBC, NBC, Hulu, Pandora etc do geo limiting because they are owners / captives of owners of protected content – but that does not imply that a content distributor must take such action to be complying with copyright law.

    Actually, geolocation is especially unnatural on the Internet. It’s also a kludge that’s prone to failure: both false-positives and false-negatives.

    Geolocation is causing the Balkanization of the Internet.

  58. Darryl Moore says:

    @20, I am adamantly opposed to all LIFE+(n) terms of copyright. Especially in this age we have to make it easy to both determine if a work is protected and find the author if it is. We also need to make it easy for neglected works to pass quickly into the public domain so that others may have the opportunity to use them if the original author can or will not.

    1) copyright should require registering (after short grace period) to be enforceable
    2) it should be short, possibly renewable once or twice for a fee
    3) the term should always be from the date of creation

  59. John Mark Ockerbloom says:

    @24: Your general proposal is the structure I favor as well, though it would be difficult to enact now with the current treaties in place.

    One interesting proposal I’ve heard combines both approaches: fairly short, renewable terms, with the first term “free” (that is, no sort of registration or formality required unless you want a renewal term), *but* you can’t renew past life+y (where y is 25 years or some similar number).

    It wouldn’t be easy to get from here to there, but if I got to design a copyright regime from scratch, I’d probably go for something like that (combined with a simple, global, freely-searchable registration/renewal system).

  60. Blue_Mage says:

    @23

    And unfortunately, I think you’re missing the point of a mildly amusing coincidence.

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