Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some of the ACTA's problems

In a post from a few months ago, Mike Masnick discusses one of the problems with the ACTA: It would require parties to punish "commercial scale" copyright infringement, which it then proceeds to define in an extremely vague and broad way. But the biggest problem is one he mentions here: It isn't that it would immediately change any U.S. laws or policies, but it would lock in the odious changes of 1998. Reducing the duration of copyright, or modifying the device and circumvention provisions of the DMCA, can be dismissed as "inconsistent with our international obligations" as long as we are a party to the ACTA.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bill Patry: Right, as usual.

In all the swirl about SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP, and C-11 and the technical issues these proposals raise, it is refreshing to see Bill Patry remind us that one of the most important things about copyrights is that they expire. (I have written about the same thing in a number of places, for example here and here). From the article:
When I was in private practice at a large law firm, a partner asked me to approach the estate of a famous playwright. My colleague was hoping to get permission to produce an abridged version of a play at his son's special education school.

The school was willing to pay the licensing fee, but the children were capable of only performing one act, not three. The production would be only before parents, not for any profit. After all this was explained to the estate, they subsequently refused permission and the money, insisting the children had to produce the play as written, or not at all.
I think that for published books, the 42-year term of copyright we enjoyed from the 1830s until 1909 was about right, but as noted in an earlier post, as a first step I would probably support a proposal to roll back the term of copyright in published books to a mere 75 years from publication, or 50 years from the death of the author, whichever is shorter.