For The Express Purpose of Pissing You Off

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 13 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

For as long as I can remember, corporations such as the NFL and MLB have always had very harshly worded copyright sanctions forbidding viewers for rebroadcasting games and such. The intent seems to be the result of some poor economists pet project gone horribly wrong. Take, for example, the latest round of NFL foolishness from the LA Times:

From www.latimes.com:

THE NATIONAL Football League is famously protective of its teams’ intellectual property, especially their lucrative television broadcasting rights.

Now the league is expanding its control beyond the gridiron. It’s limiting what news organizations can do on their websites with recordings made at team facilities between games. In exchange for credentials to cover the sport, newspapers, local TV stations and other media have to agree not to post more than 45 seconds of audio or video a day (or 90 seconds in markets with two pro teams). The snippets they offer online have to be removed within 24 hours, and they can’t combine the recordings with advertisements.

The NFL’s goal is to make midweek footage more valuable by making it scarce.

So it was pretty much music to my ears when I heard via the grapevine (i.e. BoingBoing) that The Computer and Communications Industry Association who is made of – get this – Microsoft, Red Hat, Google, Yahoo, et al “have filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that the copyright warnings in books, DVDs, movies, and sportscasts materially misrepresent the law, giving short shrift to fair use and other user rights in copyright” and are “…asking for an injunction banning rightsholders from using this kind of intimidating warning.”

To me, this is great. Some weight is finally getting thrown around the entire fair use thing. I think many people don’t actually realize the economic harm of locking down goods, both to themselves and to the world.

There was an article in Ars Technica a few weeks back that was reporting on the conclusions of Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock’s research on optimum copyright length. Ready for the answer?

14 years. Just 14.

Pollock designed “a set of equations focused specifically on the length of copyright and uses as much empirical data as possible to crunch the numbers. The result? An optimal copyright term of 14 years, which is designed to encourage the best balance of incentive to create new work and social welfare that comes from having work enter the public domain (where it often inspires new creative acts).”

For works created in the United States post 1977, the length of the copyright (which is granted automatically by the way) is 70 years post mortem auctoris. That’s a fancy (and legal) way of saying, the copyright lasts for the life of the originator plus an additional 70 years.

What does that mean? That paper I wrote in 2nd grade (in 1993) could be copyrighted until 2136 (assuming I live to be 80).

Kind of scary when you really think about it.

via BoingBoing

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