Boing Boing 

Why copyright should not be infinite, in a nutshell

copyright-trademark-logoWell-funded arguments are often made that copyright should last forever, replacing its original purpose (encouraging the creation of new works) with a plainly proprietary system of cultural ownership. Eric Crampton explains why this is a bad idea.

Even from the perspective of a profit-seeking artist, copyright is a double-edged sword. Stronger copyright both increases the rewards from having produced a piece of work and increases the cost of creating new works.

Too weak of copyright can mean that too few works are created, although artists have gotten far better at working out alternative ways of earning a living when, regardless of the letter of copyright law, enforcement has become difficult. Further, at standard time discounting rates, a 20-year extension to copyright’s term might provide only about a two percent increase in the value of any earned royalties. It is not particularly plausible that many new works would come into existence because of that slight increase.

On the other side, too strong of copyright can surely kill new creation. Artistic works feed off each other. New works build on older traditions, reinterpreting old folk tales and old folk tunes for new generations. The Brothers Grimm collected and published older folk tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in the 1800s. In the 1900s, Walt Disney brought those stories to life in a new form. In the 2000s, well, it is hard for new innovation to occur because copyright law, at least in the United States, has frozen the usage of most important works produced since 1923. An extension of copyright’s duration does far more to reward those who own the rights to existing works than it does to encourage new creation.

Darren Dutton's weird comedy remix masterpiece: Badgers

Darren Dutton outdoes himself with a very funny pastoral pastiche, handmade from 100% recycled materials.

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Anti-piracy dolts gobble up content with "pixels" DMCA takedowns

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Several Vimeo members whose videos had "pixels" in the title are victims of the latest overly broad DMCA takedown request by Entura International, working on behalf of Sony's summer schlockbuster Pixels.

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The twisted history of the Happy Birthday song—and the copyright shenanigans that keep it profitable

I've obtained the 1922 book that demonstrates this classic song should rest in the public domain.Read the rest

Stop the Music

A chilling piece of science fiction projects the future of our most frightening tech-law trends: what will the mission-creep for memory erasure look like?Read the rest

Lawsuit claims Conan O'Brien stole jokes from Twitter

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In a lawsuit against Conan O'Brien, San Diego resident Robert Kaseberg says his lulzy tweets about Tom Brady, Caitlyn Jenner, airlines, and the Washington Monument all made it into the late night host's monologue.

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Twitter joke thieves are getting DMCA takedowns

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Among professional comedians, joke theft is no joke. Now Twitter is allowing members to use DMCA notices to take down tweets posted by accounts that copy and paste them without attribution. PlagiarismBad's name-and-shame campaign has already netted a few celebrities.

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Reddit's going to remove "copyrighted material?" As if.

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Reddit's proposed new policies continue its principled ideological commitment to ignoring problems. But it also wants to do something about copyright infringement. Perhaps Reddit can brush its white supremacy and rape advice subreddits under the rug! But can it live without copyrighted material? Get real, Reddit!

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Fair Use App: a guide to fair use for online video creators

Art from New Media Rights writes, "We spend our time working with online video creators on fair use, so we created The Fair Use App. We filtered down our experiences working with video creators to create an app that can help them better understand:"

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Hakim, the Masked Coder of Minneapolis

Internet madness, Gamergate, and the special happiness of farewells.Read the rest

EFF asks US Copyright Office for your right to fix your car


It's that time again: every three years, the Copyright Office allows the public to ask for exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on "circumvention," which prevents you from unlocking devices you own.

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Harvard's amazing Copyright X online course taking applications


Nathaniel from Harvard's Berkman Center writes, "Copyright X -- AKA 'The MOOC the New Yorker actually liked' and 'the butt-kickingest free copyright class you didn't even know you'd love' -- is gearing up and taking applications for its third run."

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"Copy Me" episode 3: "Early Copyright History"

Alex writes, "It features censorship, hangings, dissent and criticism, a whole bunch of state and church control, angry queens, sad Stationers, and, of course, our terrible culprit: the printing press."

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The Clown Egg Register


Our friends at Futility Closet (hosts of Boing Boing's wonderful Futility Closet podcast) have a short item about The Clown Egg Register. Apparently, a clown's face can't be copyrighted, but if you decorate an egg with the clown's face, you can copyright that, which stops unscrupulous clowns in their tracks.

Interview with the creators of Stripped, feature-length doc about comic strips [New Disruptors Podcast #68]

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Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder created the movie Stripped about the past, present, and future of comic strips and their creators. Dave is the creator and cartoonist of two webcomics titles, Sheldon and Drive, and the co-author of How To Make Webcomics. He is one of a small but growing group of webcomics artists who are self-sufficient. Fred is a veteran cinemographer, nominated for Best Cinematography at Sundance for his work on Four Sheets to the Wind. He has been shooting commercials for much of his career.

Together, they matched Fred's filmmaking skills with Dave's personal knowledge of the field and his contacts to create the first feature-length documentary on the topic, funded in part through two Kickstarter campaigns. They don't pull punches about the difficulties of being a comic-strip artist, but they show all the joy and love that goes into the work along with many potential bright lights already illuminating parts of the field and shining on the horizon.

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UK consultation on orphan works

The UK's Intellectual Property Office has opened a consultation into orphan works -- works that are still in copyright but whose copyright holder can't be ascertained or located. The US Supreme Court case Eldred v Ashcroft heard that 98 percent of the works in copyright are orphans, and this problem will only get worse as the duration of copyright keeps on getting extended.

Parliament enacted the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which set out a plan for letting people buy and use orphan works with an escrow fund for absentee rightsholders. Now, the IPO is seeking opinions on how that system should run.

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Copyright Week: the law shouldn't be copyrighted


The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to publish its excellent series of Copyright Week posts (here's yesterday's installment). Today, Corynne McSherry describes the fight over copyrighted laws. Not copyright laws -- laws about copyright -- but, rather, laws that are copyrighted, and that can't be read without paying hefty fees.

This odd situation crops up often in the realm of public safety standards (the last kind of law you'd want to hide away from the public, really): lawmakers commission private standards bodies to write these standards, then write a law that reads, "In order to comply with the law, you must follow standard such-and-such." So now you've got this weird situation where the law is a secret, it is proprietary, it cannot be published, and you can't see it or know what it says unless you're willing to pay the standards body.

But that's just the beginning:

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