mfioretti: public domain* + copyright madness*

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  1. The Authors Guild -- notorious for advancing extremely broad, censorious theories of copyright -- told Lee that the Guild "does not support extending the copyright term, especially since many of our members benefit from having access to a thriving and substantial public domain of older works,If anything, we would likely support a rollback to a term of life-plus-50 if it were politically feasible." It will be very difficult to sell term extension as a measure to benefit artists if prominent artists' groups are speaking out against it.

    The other factor is that Congress is a total shambles, its calendar dominated by shutdowns and chaotic attempts to ram through the extreme agenda of the GOP electoral majority that represents a numeric minority of Americans, and the chances of any laws getting passed are slim.

    But there's always the possibility that copyright term extension would be slipped into must-pass legislation, a budget or a key appropriation. That's a risky game, given the possibility that this would spark a public uprising to kill it (there's plenty of Conservative animus for the entertainment industry, after all, and the 1998 term extension was counted as a major achievement by Bill Clinton and his acolytes, so this could be painted as greedy, corporate-money-fattened Republicans helping to preserve the hated legacy of the Clintons).
    https://boingboing.net/2018/01/08/sonny-bono-is-dead.html
    Voting 0
  2. The case raises the issue of which elements of the Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain, and which may remain under the protection of copyright law. Copyright can sometimes, but not always, protect characters and plot. Recognition of copyright protection for fictional characters goes back to Judge Learned Hand, who suggested that characters might be protected, independent from the plot of a story. He wrote “It follows that the less developed the characters, the less they can be copyrighted; that is the penalty an author must bear for making them too indistinct.” So, while a writer cannot secure a monopoly on hard-boiled private eyes, one could protect a finely drawn character like Sam Spade.

    While plots can be protected, stock scenes cannot. The doctrine of scènes à faire excludes from copyright protection scenes that flow from common unprotectable ideas. These would include “thematic concepts or scenes which necessarily follow certain similar plot situations” and ordinary literary incidents and settings which are customary for the genre. Thus, a writer cannot preclude others from using such common devices as a car chase or cattle drive in their stories.
    http://www.ifp.org/resources/sherlock...mes-and-the-case-of-the-public-domain
    Voting 0
  3. What works were at issue in Golan? As Breyer described, “foreign works published abroad after 1923, of which there are many millions, including films, works of art, innumerable photographs, and, of course, books – books that (in the absence of the statute) would assume their rightful places in computer-accessible databases, spreading knowledge throughout the world.” Moreover, many of these were obscure orphan works (works with no locatable rightsholder) that are now effectively off limits to educators, film collectors, community orchestras, and database compilers who previously had the right to use them for free.

    What are the limits on this decision? Could Congress recall the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Mozart and Melville from the public domain, and create new legalized monopolies over them? It is hard to imagine anything more contrary to the First Amendment – would privatizing Shakespeare by government decree abridge freedom of speech? – or to the attitudes of those who penned the Copyright Clause that limits Congress’s power to create new exclusive rights. Yet if one reads Golan, one searches in vain for any limiting principle on Congress’s actions. In this decision, Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion effectively denies the public domain any meaningful Constitutional protection. Under the U.S. Constitution, says this case, the public domain is “public” only by sufferance. It may be privatized at any moment, at the whim of the Congress and without violating the Bill of Rights.
    http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2013/shrinking
    Voting 0

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