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Fair Use Worth More Than Copyright To Economy 274

Posted by samzenpus
from the make-more-money dept.
Dotnaught writes "The Computer and Communications Industry Association — a trade group representing Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, among others — has issued a report (PDF) that finds fair use exceptions add more than $4.5 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy and add more value to the U.S. economy than copyright industries contribute. "Recent studies indicate that the value added to the U.S. economy by copyright industries amounts to $1.3 trillion.", said CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. The value added to the U.S. economy by the fair use amounts to $2.2 trillion."
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Fair Use Worth More Than Copyright To Economy

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  • by Eugenia Loli (250395) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:50PM (#20581665) Homepage Journal
    I wrote an article [gnomefiles.org] about the lack of fair use being a consumer right last week. In particular, I mentioned that even 90% Creative Commons licensed music is very restrictive for videographers -- which was a surprise to me when I found out. Unless you only use the CC-BY license (only 60 albums exist in that license), you can't "sync" audio and video legally for free for your own projects. And that's for the CC music we are talking about (and two of the Board of Directors of CC agreed with my conclusions). I don't even want to start thinking how bad it will become if RIAA starts suing the actual users on youtube who sync their HOME videos with their music. In other words, IMO, fair use should be expanded to become a consumer right, at least for personal pre-specified usage (I am not endorsing piracy here and I do believe that commercial vendors should continue licensing for professional usage).
    • Nothing as far as I can tell.

      It isn't a "fair use" right to be able to make a derivative work.
      • It all depends if you define "derivative work" as the syncing of audio and video --even if the audio was unchanged over the original recording--, or not. I don't. I dual license my videos in fact. Some of my videos are pretty much public domain, but the songs used are CC-BY and unchanged over the original recording (e.g. no remixes). So, it all depends on your and the law's definition of "derivative work". I don't think it should be named as such.
        • There is a difference between using someones audio work in another audio work and using someones audio work in another audio-visual work?

          I agree there is a difference, but don't see how one of them is necessarily "fair use" and the other isn't. If "fair use" were to allow combination of audio and video why not audio and audio? If the author wanted that they wouldn't have chosen an no derivative licence.
          Nor am I sure how you could account for the difference in a generic licence without specifically ment
          • >using someones audio work in another audio-visual work

            Yes, because at least for me, while music is part of the overall work, it is not MY work, and therefore, I don't even modify it, I simply use it. I do not consider it part of MY work. This is why I want to DUAL license my works, one license for the video and one for the music's license. They go together, but I consider them distinct entities. At least, as a videographer who can't write music.

            >If the author wanted that they wouldn't have chosen an
      • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:23PM (#20581943) Journal
        It isn't a "fair use" right to be able to make a derivative work.

        I think in part that is what the GP was unhappy about. Derivative work should really only apply to commercial ventures. If I want to make a slide show DVD of my cousin's wedding pictures and set it to their favorite love song and give it to them for an anniversary present, is that really a "derivative work" or is it just something that has added value to some of my family and doesn't mean jackshit to the rest of the world? Or to make it more public, if I sync clips of The Muppet Show with a Snoop Dog song and post it to YouTube, am I somehow depriving Snoop Dog and Jim Henson of income they would have otherwise had or am I simply freely contributing some humor into the world and adding slightly to the value of YouTube? If a work would not exist if I were required to pay someone for the right to make it, then copyright is depriving the world of the value of that work.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by HelloKitty (71619)
          i'm totally with you.

          but regarding snoopdog/henson. there's also the idea that it could degrade their IP... having muppets associated with snoopdog may not be what henson wants (nor may it be what snoop wants, think about it :) )

          otherwise, you're totally right. there's certain cases where each side may be opposed to such things though... but, i could see a situation where, for fair use, if you use copyright stuff, you must use attribution, AND, state that you are doing this on your own - so it is ve
        • If I sync clips of The Muppet Show with a Snoop Dog song ..... then copyright is depriving the world of the value of that work

          Perhaps not the best example but I take your point ;)

          I guess that counter argument is that if you (and others) had those rights then the financial incentive that allows/gives incentive for the Muppet Show to be produced and Snoop to produce his songs may be diminished and they may not exist in the first place, denying the world both the originals and your hypothetical derived wo

      • Sometimes it is. Any kind of otherwise-infringing use can be a fair use, given the right circumstances. There's nothing special about the derivative right. For example, reviews of other works which employ quotes, condensations of the plot, annotations, etc. are typically derivative works which benefit from fair use, and are often commercial to boot!
        • Good to know.

          BTW, do you know if I can license my home videos and combined music separately? For example, can I publish my video on youtube under the CC-BY license, while the music used in the video to be licensed under the CC-BY-SA (which I used under permission from the artist)? So this way, if someone wants to license my footage, he will have to get a separate license for the audio?
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:15PM (#20581883)
      A problem that will become more and more obvious as internet multimedia pick speed, is that there will be less and less difference between "personal use" and "commercial business use".

      If I host a YouTube video for my relatives with personal photos synched to some commercial track, it's supposed to be ok. But what if I have a cut from the ads since I signed a deal with YouTube.

      Even worse, what if YouTube automate the process, and I get a cut if my video becomes popular automatically. Then I can wake up one day to see the video popularity rise and I'm suddenly a criminal.

      I really wish the industry representatives would sit down and rethink copyright, DMCA and fair use (while following the same basic rules), but I know if they do, they'll tilt it further away from fair use rights, versus recognizing them better.

      We'll need some screwed up revolution again after sitting through hundreds of frivolous suits, since greed on both sides (consumers and the industry) overshadows their reasoning.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Eugenia Loli (250395)
        >If I host a YouTube video for my relatives with personal photos
        >synced to some commercial track, it's supposed to be ok

        Nope, it's not. It is copyright infringement. YouTube STILL makes money, even if you don't. And even if they weren't, you are still not licensed to use music that way.

        Agreed with the rest of your points.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        A problem that will become more and more obvious as internet multimedia pick speed, is that there will be less and less difference between "personal use" and "commercial business use".


        No problem at all. RIAA or MPAA will send DCMA take down notices and will, through the handy help of Congress, steal your content by declaring it as their own.

        Welcome to America, land of political whores.
      • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:13AM (#20585027)
        I really wish the industry representatives would sit down and rethink copyright, DMCA and fair use

        They did, that's the problem, that's how we got the DMCA in the first place.

        I really wish the people's representatives would sit down and rethink copyright, DMCA and fair use. And remember while doing so whose representatives they are.

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:09PM (#20582303) Homepage

      Unless you only use the CC-BY license (only 60 albums exist in that license), you can't "sync" audio and video legally for free for your own projects. And that's for the CC music we are talking about

      This isn't really a comment on your thesis here, but you got me thinking ... is there a CC license that basically says, "NO, you cannot distribute my work ... you may only distribute derivative works?" In other words, sure, sync my music with your video, put it up on YouTube... make a remix of it... but if folks just want an MP3 of it, they need to download it from me. Might be kinda interesting.

      • by Eugenia Loli (250395) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:13PM (#20582335) Homepage Journal
        Not that I know of. It would indeed create a new kind of business model... which is "advertise my work by using it any way you want in your derivative works, but to download the original you gotta pay me". Although there is a danger with this idea: that a derivative is better than the original. :D
        • That is exactly the point of the copyright regime -- promote the progress of the arts by promoting the creation of new works. The question today is whether we promote more and better new works by letting people freely copy bits of old works and incorporate them into new ones, or whether we promote them by allowing an artist to retain a monopoly on their creation and sue others for trying to use it. (this point stands whether or not the resulting work is actually "derivative" -- that's another whole debate
  • ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:53PM (#20581691)
    When the MPAA and RIAA quote ridiculous figures for the damage they suffer from copyright infringement, people here react with ridicule. How much you want to bet the slashdot crowd will accept these figures uncritically because it supports their ideology?
    • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

      by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:05PM (#20581817) Journal
      I'm sure plenty of folks will accept the figures uncritically, but at least in this report there is a detailed outline of the methodology used to produce those figures. They don't appear to be pulled out of thin air.
    • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:19PM (#20581919) Homepage
      How much you want to bet the slashdot crowd will accept these figures uncritically because it supports their ideology?

      If only they could give the true value of Fair Use rights in this report: priceless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dcollins (135727)
      You can certainly bet that we'll use this report as a counter every time the RIAA makes up ridiculous numbers in the future. In fact, rhetorically and politically, you absolutely must do that. And if they inflate their figures upward, we should definitely be willing to up these figures to some trillion number of dollars. Do you want to win, or do you want to lose, fair use rights?

    • I did not read the report, but how exactly does it support their ideology? Copyrights contribute trillions to the economy. The fair use of these same copyrights contribute trillions more. It seems the interpretation would be that both are important and good for the economy. Fair use is an important part of existing copyright law; fair use does not mean that you can share all your songs on the internet to whoever wants a copy.
    • by mce (509)

      I know what you mean. And not having read the article (yet) I'm also tempted to suspect such a bias in reception, but that would be wrong of me: maybe these new numbers really do have a better foundation than those of the MPAA or the RIAA.

      But you know what: it doesn't matter that much whether we on /. accept these numbers more only because they suit us. It matters a lot more that the companies involved (esp. "evil" Microsoft as the produced of a ton of DRM software and "do no evil" Google as the owner o

    • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jafac (1449) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:33AM (#20583573) Homepage
      hm. fair-use value of 50,000 copies of a P2P-shared $1.20 Britney Spears single.

      versus:

      fair-use value of 50,000 copies of a P2P-shared $120 Physics Textbook.

      Calculate the benefit to us all from the outcome of such unrestricted sharing.
      In the first case, Britney Spears doesn't get paid, and perhaps stops producing music.
      In the second, 50,000 kids learn physics, maybe grow up and write their own textbooks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PhxBlue (562201)

        Calculate the benefit to us all from the outcome of such unrestricted sharing. In the first case, Britney Spears doesn't get paid, and perhaps stops producing music.

        Kids learning physics, allowing America to stay competitive: $90.2 billion
        Britney Spears getting out of the music business: Priceless

  • The difference (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nate nice (672391) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:54PM (#20581709) Journal
    Fair use generates some money to a lot of people.

    Copyright generates a lot of money to some people.

    So the real question is what does our society value? Many people getting a slice of the the pie, or a few people getting all the pie?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Arceliar (895609)
      It's not a few people getting a slice of the pie. One group rapes the pie, then tells us they've eaten it all.

      There's still plenty to slice there, I just wouldn't want to eat it.
    • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:14PM (#20581879)
      Fair use generates some money to a lot of people.

      Fair use generates vast sums of money for some people (hardware manufacturers, for one) that completely dwarfs the income generated by copyright on materials played or viewed by that equipment. Furthermore, if it were not for widespread exercise of fair use, a hell of a lot of technology (home audio recording, VCRS, CD & DVD burners, MP3 players, and so forth) would never have seen the light of day. People would have had much less use for such things if it were not for fair use. Furthermore, the content creators and copyright holders themselves have benefited from fair use, to the tune of many billions of dollars in sales they would otherwise never have made.

      Copyright generates a lot of money to some people.

      A lot fewer people, many of whom (unlike the hardware manufacturers) provide no creative or other useful contributions to society, and in fact have historically stood in the way of progress.

      So the real question is what does our society value? Many people getting a slice of the the pie, or a few people getting all the pie?

      You have it wrong, it's not zero-sum. What society values (and is the underlying goal of the specific legal environment originally crafted by the Founders) is a bigger pie! Copyright no longer serves that purpose in many areas, and is in need of serious repair (or reversion.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Watson Ladd (955755)
        And how do we cut that bigger pie comrade? The economy might not be zero-sum, but at some point you need to think about how the benefits are being handed out. What good is that giant pie in the sky if all I get are a few crumbs?
        • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:02AM (#20584169)
          You missed the point. You're concerned about pigging your share of the goodies that result from creative works being packaged, protected and sold, including those to which no valid copyright even exists. That's not what the Founders were trying to achieve: revenue-enhancement for massive copyright holders was not the primary function of copyright, so far as they were concerned..

          What I'm talking about is what copyright law was originally designed to promote ... a "bigger pie", in that context, means more creative works in the public domain, not more wealth being transferred from the buying public. Copyright, as currently implemented in the United States, is no longer about "advancing the useful arts and sciences" but about enhancing the private domain at the direct expense of the public. In other words, about limiting ownership of that pie to a few powerful corporations, where no benefits are being handed out, where the pie doesn't belong to the many but to the few.

          If Thomas Jefferson isn't turning over in his grave he will be, once somebody tells him what's going on.
    • by metlin (258108)
      How about both?

      Extremes of both kinds are bad - the middle ground usually tends to be better.
    • Fair use generates some money to a lot of people.
      Copyright generates a lot of money to some people.

      The difference, is those very same 'some people' contributes a lot to the congresscritters' re-election funds while the 'a lot of people' do not. Take a wild guess which way the IP laws tilt for.
      • by Tackhead (54550)
        > The difference, is those very same 'some people' contributes a lot to the congresscritters' re-election funds while the 'a lot of people' do not. Take a wild guess which way the IP laws tilt for.

        It used to be RIAA over CCIA, because pop starlets were generally hotter than technology geeks, even if technology was a bigger industry than recorded music.

        On the upside, after seeing Britney Spears' comeback attempt this week (ironically, on YouTube, and under fair use)... maybe snorting one's cocaine fr

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Fair use generates some money to a lot of people.

      Copyright generates a lot of money to some people.

      So the real question is what does our society value?

      The answer is money.

      If someone comes up with a cure for cancer, the reaction won't be "Great, how many lives can we save?", but "Great, how many billions can we make?".
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:57PM (#20581729) Homepage
    ...how much would you pay for your fair use rights?
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @08:59PM (#20581749)
    Companies work for themselves, not for the benefit of the economy at large. Look at all the negative effort that MS puts into body-slamming competition. How can that really be good for the economy as a whole? Sure, if they just competed by making better products that would be a Good Thing.

    Even within many companies, different business units will compete for the same cusomers and make competing products (wasting company resources in duplicated efforts). Rather than try improve the whole company's position, business unit managers will crush eachother to get ahead.

    Basically it is the old story: you get what you reward. Competitors get rewarded (directly or via Wall St) by beating eachother up, not by their contribution to the economy at large.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt&lynx,bc,ca> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:00PM (#20581761) Journal
    Since without one, the other either doesn't exist or else is superfluous.
    • by langelgjm (860756)
      I don't think the point is really to show which one is 'better' or 'worth more'. The point is to provide an argument against those would would support stricter copyright control. They may try to say that if some control makes some money, then more control will make more money. This report attempts to show that there is more at stake.
      • More control is more expensive to enforce and creates more technical issues, both of which cost money and pathetically fail at preventing minimally determined pirates from pirating. Everybody loses.

        I would have liked to see online music stores try to enforce stricter and more intrusive DRM schemes: I hoped to see a day where DRM schemes fouled up and caused massive outrage so even the tamest customers would become very aware and extremely critical of any DRM. But with many online music shops jumping off the
  • by drabgah (1150633) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:01PM (#20581769)
    I believe fair use rights should be greatly expanded, and defended against incursion from DRM technologies and bad laws like the DMCA. Unfortunately, this study is a good example of using meaningless statistics to prove a point. The statistics are based on studying what are referred to as "Fair Use Industries" such as education and software, but there is no meaningful way to quantify (for instance) exactly how much the relatively lax enforcement of copyright law against educational photocopies really contributes to the economic value of the education industry. I believe that this study does demonstrate just how important the free flow of information is to many important industries, but the leap from that well-supported assertion to a statement claiming a particular dollar amount benefit from fair use rights is not justified.
  • Advertising $$$ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Runesabre (732910) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:02PM (#20581787) Homepage
    My guess is "fair use exception" revenue generation is largely a result of websites using other people's content to generate ad revenue. Without fair use exceptions, 80% of the Internet "content" would disappear. When our economy gets past websites and Internet "companies" relying on a business model of profiting from the aggregation of other people's original efforts, I'm betting revenue generated from "fair use exceptions" will drop accordingly.

    An economy can only sustain itself so long from re-packaging other people's work before it runs out of gas. Rewarding original creation is what is needed more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wordsnyc (956034)
      I write a syndicated newspaper column that I also post online (a couple of thousand at last count). I give blanket permission to any educator that wants to use my stuff in a classroom, and I have heard from hundreds who do. I also have a Google email alert set up on my web site title (www.word-detective.com), and I get 6-7 alerts per day from people reproducing my columns on their websites. If it's just one column at a time, once in a while, I don't care, especially if I get a link. Usually it's just a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      My guess is "fair use exception" revenue generation is largely a result of websites using other people's content to generate ad revenue.

      That's probably true. "Fair use exception" rarely allows for commercial content, as to do otherwise would crush an original author's ability to make any profit for an original idea. The exception tends to lie in reviews and criticisms. And in that field, review sites, online newspapers, and online magazines rather fit the bill.

      Without fair use exceptions, 80% of the I

  • finds fair use exceptions add more than $4.5 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy ... The value added to the U.S. economy by the fair use amounts to $2.2 trillion.
    Is $4.5t a different number than $2.2t, or am I stupid?
  • by downix (84795) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:08PM (#20581847) Homepage
    I've long suspected that the congressional attempt to limit fair use, or to create draconian IP laws, was causing more damage than not to the global economy. These numbers seem to reinforce that, and hopefully the fools on the hill will pay attention.
  • Trillion??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacDork (560499) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:10PM (#20581859) Journal
    Making backups of my CDs contributes $4.5 Trillion to the US economy? That greater than one third of the US GDP. Sorry if I'm a skeptic.
    • by Surt (22457)
      How much did the cd blanks cost you (yearly)? Oh, and the cd writer too. Multiply by 150 million people.
      Of course that's just the beginning. There's lots of other places money is made from this stuff.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:28PM (#20581987)
    This is a great start to estimating the contribution of fair use to the economy, but it misses two issues. First, fair use will only occur if original works are created and original works will only be created if people have some chance of earning a living from them. Saying that the contribution of fair use exceeds that of copyright should imply more fair use and less copyright is like saying we don't need to pay Boeing and Airbus, because flying (not making planes) contributes more to the economy. The larger point is that the value of fair use is a multiplier on the value of copyrighted material and that's what makes the analysis so hard. By this study's numbers, each dollar of copyrighted material generates another $2 or $3. So anything that leads to another $1 of paid copyright material should add even more fair use value.

    Second, the real model needs to consider the trade-off (not the relative numbers). That is, if a given avenue of fair use is curtained by x% (e.g., add another year to copyright protection or prohibit consumer copying of music beyond device shifting) how much does the economic contribution by fair use drop and how much does the contribution of copyright increase? I'll be the first to say that I don't know the answer to that and that this study doesn't answer it.

    In looking at the trade-off we need a model that reflects how added fair-use may increases the value multiplier, but may decrease the incentive to create copyrighted material and the pool of copyrighted material. This might vary according to both the nature of the work and the nature of the fair use restriction. For example, I'd argue that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft wouldn't lose much if copyright terms were extended by a hundred years -- that aspect of copyright does not effect them much. And would Microsoft lose money if music sharing were impossible? Internet companies might even make more money if all music copying involved some payment (handled by an internet company). The Fair Use multiplier would not change by much even if some types of fair use were curtailed. On the other hand, these companies would lose a great deal if strict interpretations of copyright meant that every transient copy of a piece of text (e.g., copies in RAM, server caches, and internet routers) had to be subject to some copyright fee paid to a MAFIAA-like organization.

    This study is a great start, but we need a better model of the marginal effects of the change in total economic value created as a function of more or less fair use. At the very least, this study proves we need some fair use but it does not prove whether we have enough fair use or too little fair use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)
      "original works will only be created if people have some chance of earning a living from them"

      And how exactly do the RIAA and their paid-for laws contribute to this goal?

      The web is full of articles where musicians end up owing money to the record companies. Very few of them get rich thanks to the RIAA (in fact some of them get poorer).

      Things like the DMCA are detrimental to the economy outside the music biz and you can thank the RIAA for that one.

      If the RIAA is having problems it's because their product sti
    • by Jeremy_Bee (1064620) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:02PM (#20582251)

      This is a great start to estimating the contribution of fair use to the economy, but it misses two issues. First, fair use will only occur if original works are created and original works will only be created if people have some chance of earning a living from them. Saying that the contribution of fair use exceeds that of copyright should imply more fair use and less copyright is like saying we don't need to pay Boeing and Airbus, because flying (not making planes) contributes more to the economy.
      Some of your argument about the model is very interesting, but this part is really a classic straw-man argument isn't it?

      Nowhere do the authors suggest (or even intimate IMO), that copyright should be eliminated or that fair use is "better" than copyright. Their argument is that fair use *does* add significant value to the economy and should not be denigrated the way it often is lately, or worse, eliminated altogether.

      I think they may also be arguing that if we merely restored the (old) status quo, where fair use was perfectly legal again, and the length of copyright was returned to a more reasonable length of time that we would all be better off economically.

      At least that's the most reasonable inference to make from this study IMO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vga_init (589198)

      First, fair use will only occur if original works are created and original works will only be created if people have some chance of earning a living from them.

      Wrong, try again. Motivation for profit is not what makes people do everything all the time, thank God.

      • No, but it's what does it for the vast bulk of the time. He's not wrong because you can find a few meager exceptions. And, since the article is about fair use and public domain works may be used freely and don't fall under fair use, the article itself argues against you.
        • by asuffield (111848)

          No, but it's what does it for the vast bulk of the time. He's not wrong because you can find a few meager exceptions.


          Where's your study to back up that claim? Where are your numbers? Can you prove that the vast bulk of creative works would not be created without copyright law, or is it just what you've been told by large corporations who benefit from increasing copyright laws?

          It looks to me like you're just begging the question.
        • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:16PM (#20582939) Homepage
          Actually, you've got it backwards, but first we'll have to be clearer about what we're looking at.

          The economic value which can be exploited from a work by means of copyright compromises one incentive for creating works. There are other incentives, however, which are unrelated to copyright. For example, fine artists typically make money selling a specific copy of art, rather than just any copy of art (e.g. a Picasso painting may be worth millions; a print of a Picasso painting may be worth $10. Picasso dealt with the former.).

          Presently, copyrights are granted to all copyrightable works upon creation, whether the possibility of getting a copyright actually incentivized the author or not. However, prior to 1978, in the US we granted copyrights only to authors who undertook extremely modest steps to indicate their desire for those rights. The idea is that if an author doesn't care to the point where he won't even so much as put a copyright notice on his work, then he probably wasn't incentivized by copyright to begin with; some other incentive or combination of incentives sufficed for him. They may still have involved money, but not money that required a copyright in order to be made.

          As it happens, the vast majority of works created were of this latter type, where copyright appears to not have been a factor. The posts here on /. are a good example. With a few exceptions, each post here is copyrightable. But if the law was (sensibly) changed so that /. posts couldn't be copyrighted without the poster taking a few simple extra steps, I bet that there would be no decline in posting attributable to that reform, because no one here cares about or is incentivized copyrights on their posts. Instead, we just want to have a discussion, gain karma, etc. and that's our incentive.

          As for the article, while it claims that fair uses provide more value for the economy than the creation of the underlying works does, remember that those uses would create the same value if they were made with regard to a public domain work. Indeed, the use of public domain works would surely be even better for the economy than if that work was copyrighted, since only a small subset of all possible uses actually turn out to be fair uses after looking at them. (Though any use may potentially be fair, mind you)
          • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @08:11AM (#20585909) Homepage Journal
            The situation gets even worse than what you are suggesting here.

            In the past, you could clearly identify not only who or what was copyrighted, but you could also get a reasonable expectation of being able to get some identifying information about the copyright registrant to be able to track down the original author or publisher to be able to see "permission" to reproduce the content. Such information was made available in a public forum (the Library of Congress) in a central "database"... even if it was only in a stack of boxes in some government warehouse.

            To use the /. example here, you have millions of postings from the nearly 1 million registered users (plus the anonymous cowards). It would be very difficult to be able to track down to actual individuals more than a very small percentage of those registered users.... and that is just to get their actual names. To be able to independently contact them asking for copyright permission to use their comments would be much harder yet. And postings by anonymous cowards are still considered under copyright even though absolutely nobody can be traced to those postings directly.

            I've tried (unsuccessfully I might add) to take Wikipedia and other Wikimedia project content and attempt to formally register the material with the Library of Congress as registered copyrighted content. To do so requires those contributing the written content to formally declare some basic information, most notably their nationality (what country they are eligible to get a passport from) and where they are currently living (not necessarily the same thing). Part of this is due to the fact that your nationality actually determines what laws can be applied to content which you write. You are also required to disclose a date of first publication, if it is a work for hire, and if somebody involved with the content has died.

            What I discovered is that nearly unanimously the attitude among nearly all participants was that the formal copyright registration was not only unnecessary, but even providing these basic personal details (aka your actual name if you want to claim copyright) is considered a "privacy violation". And keep in mind all I was seeking was a voluntary disclosure of this information where those involved would be very much informed as to why the information was collected, and "anonymous" contributions were still allowed. Even being able to provide a mechanism to disclose this information was met with incredible hostility, and is only now being done on an ad hoc basis.... with repeated policy discussions to completely eliminate these pages where this kind of information has been disclosed.

            Basically, under current copyright law, it is nearly impossible to determine what is or is not actually copyrighted, or even to whom it has been copyrighted. This is particularly difficult in "open source" projects like Linux or Wikipedia.
    • Yes... so we should definitely continue to protect copyright long after the creators are dead. Because it will motivate them to create new works!

      Reasonable copyright, sure! When writers are making a billion dollars, musicians are becoming millionaires 50 times over, we do not have reasonable copyright. Even worse- many of the creative works rights are owned by corporations bent on making copyright forever.

    • In looking at the trade-off we need a model that reflects how added fair-use may increases the value multiplier, but may decrease the incentive to create copyrighted material and the pool of copyrighted material.

      Great post. A few additional words of caution to those smelling blood and circling in hopes that copyright will fall of its own weight...

      Fair use used to be something easy for people to do on their own, and it was a heavy burden on a publisher to show that someone was violating the copyright

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:32PM (#20582021) Homepage Journal
    If that fair use money were pumping bribes back to Congress as much as the much tinier copyright money were, we'd have a lot more fair use protection, and a lot less abusive copyright.

    The copyright industry just lost its great, politically powerful champion in Jack Valenti [wikipedia.org]. Valenti was completely tight with fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson (who was called "Master of the Senate" before becoming Kennedy's VP, then president by assassination), handling the press for him. Until Valenti left the White House in 1966, with Johnson's endorsement, to become head of the MPAA, just as Hollywood's products got a copyright venue in the TV explosion. Valenti just died this past Spring.

    This is the time for the copying industries that really "promote the progress of science and useful arts" [cornell.edu] to push back the copyright monopoly industry. Let's finally get our First Amendment rights to free expression to trump the synthetic government monopolies on content that are holding us all back.
  • by LOTHAR, of the Hill (14645) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @09:32PM (#20582025)
    The value of Shakespeare alone to the US economy is in the gazillions. How many school plays & textbooks, theaters, community centers, and even Hollywood studios would disappear if Shakespeare's works went into the private domain with no fair use provision.
    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:01AM (#20584157) Homepage
      I'm guessing the ability for High Schools to freely perform Shakespeare adds a whole lot less than $4.5 trillion dollars to the US economy. By comparison, the GDP of France is $1.8 trillion dollars.

      This study suggests that about 35% of the $13.1 trillion US economy comes from Fair Use. Despite the immense economic import of High School Drama Productions, I'm a bit suspicious.

  • What about the value of putting previously copyrighted works in the public domain? That's the criteria we really need to get our hands on to convince the legislators to reduce copyright terms.
  • Close (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts (660957)

    They're on the right track but if anything have grossly underestimated the financial impact. Everything we say, do and even think flows from the work of our predecessors, long since peering out from the public domain. All the benefits - financial and otherwise - are profound, incalculable. Still the attempt is greatly appreciated.

    - js

  • But now patents are abused by big companies so little ones don't start.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      Might I add that I'm applying for my first patent :P Maybe my puppy company can quickly mature.
  • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:13PM (#20582331) Journal

    Sadly human beings are given to profound fits of primate behavior

    If you've ever spent a minute watching Nova or the Science Channel when a show was on demonstrating said behavior, there is a tremendous drive for primated (most mammals) to take as much as they can possibly get away with. With a monkey, it's fill you cheek pouches with friut, cram fuit under your arms, between your legs, as much as you can carry and more!

    In fact more than you can eat before it spoils. Because you're packing it away while the good times last, and you're biology tells you the good times won't. So you cram it in, into you can cram no further. That, and if another monkey tries to take what you've laid claim to... well heaven help that monkey.

    It's like the Malay Monkee trap... people will actually try to control, lock up, take, and destroy if they can't use it personally, anything they can, because the very same biological imparative is calling the shots. They will actually hurt their long term profits, to have some sense of control, and to lock others out in the cold. All because they want all the goodies. They want to control all the goodies. Some is not enough, they want them all, and thay want to control them.

    This is not subtle form of social insanity, and huge sectors of our population are in the grip. WAKE UP PEOPLE, you hunger to control, is being perpetrated on the world to your own detriment. STOP FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, and please begin living. The two mentalities are mutually exclusive, because the first leaves no room for the second.

    Here's the real threat... some bright child will discover the inherent value of fair use, then it's going to be all over. The rest will cave in, or go the way of the Dodo bird.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pipingguy (566974) *
      there is a tremendous drive for primated (most mammals) to take as much as they can possibly get away with

      I'd have replied sooner (and I'm typing this slowly) but I can't get my other hand out of this damn jar.
  • What it really shows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:21PM (#20582417) Journal
    is that our forefathers knew best. Most argued for LIMITED TIME copyrights, that would prevent building of empires and allow true capitalism to take place. It is those that push increased copyrights and try to limit fair use who have more in common with USSR and Communist China, than any other group.
  • by scruge (977853) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @10:25PM (#20582457)
    If these soft-products, art, music, video are as valuable as the owners say they are, then why aren't they paying the approriate property taxes on them. I think if RIAA members were been taxed on true value of their product then a lot of this crap would be released to public domain in order to minimize tax expense. This BS with life time rights, when others just as creative are confined 12-15 year patient laws, has got to go. Heck you can't even own a home unless you pay property taxes. Its like renting house from the government. So why are artist exempted ??? I'll bet Micheal Jackson didn't pay shit for property taxes on Beetle music ownership, yet he made millions selling licenses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adelord (816991)
      I'm not an economist. Why is a tax based on income preferred to a tax based on amount of assets? Like 5%. Corporate entities would be taxed the same way.
  • And in A Market Economy prices are driven by supply and demand.
    1. There's lots of "Copyright Industry" usage
    2. Only the (few) MegaCorps actually want it
    3. There's relatively very little "Fair Use Exceptions" (if the MPAA/RIAA/**AA had there choice, there'd be literally zero)
    4. Most of The Public want it (at least, those that have an opinion on the subject)
    5. ?? Profit ...... er, I mean - therefore obviously Fair Use is Worth More
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is actually an argument in favor of copyright at least as much against it.

    Seriously; this is not a troll.

    Fair use is often a side-benefit of copyright. Someone creates a work, hoping to get paid directly or by a publisher or whatever. Other people benefit for free from this system, through the fair use rights.

    How much do they benefit? If the study is correct, about $5 trillion in 'value added' works are created, and of that revenue only about 30% is paid to the various copyright holders. That would
  • Uh...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391)
    "Recent studies indicate that the value added to the U.S. economy by copyright industries amounts to $1.3 trillion.", said CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. The value added to the U.S. economy by the fair use amounts to $2.2 trillion."

    This sounds very interesting until you realize that without copyright industry there's no fair use industry too.

    In fact, if I blindly accept the given numbers for canonical (just for a moment), then 1.3 trillion is the money, PART of which the *content producers* will receive f
  • RIAA and MPAA lobby congress for stricter copyright restrictions. Representatives noted that "studies show that intellectual property thieves have deprived media producers of over $1.6 trillion in revenues through so-called 'fair use' of protected material."
  • Compromise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @11:29PM (#20583033)
    We'll share the technical and scientific literature and leave all the Britteny Spears garbage as the exclusive domain of the RIAA.
  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @06:21AM (#20585347) Homepage Journal
    ...but how does doing anything non-productive ADD value to an economy? Look at it this way:

    Joe spends $1000 a year on media
    Therefore $1000 of his money re-enters the economy, going the the record labels and the stores he bought his music from

    Joe spends $500 a year on media, and copies $500 "worth" of media from friends, etc
    Therefore $500 of his money re-enters the economy, going the the record labels and the stores he bought his music from. The $500 he WOULD have spent does not vanish from the economy - it'll be spent on somethign else instead. Joe now has $500 of disposable income that'll only be "lost" to the economy if he takes his Benjamins and burns them.

    Joe spends $0 a year on media and is a prolific internet pirate. $300 dollars a year goes to his ISP for a fast internet connection, $200 a year go to hard drive and DVD-R manufacturers, and yet again we have an "extra" $500 that Joe will spend on something other than a media cartel. Perhaps he'll buy an Xbox, or enroll on a mechanics course. Perhaps he'll blow it on beer. But at no point is him not spending money on $a_product destroying his ability to spend it on $b_product instead.

    The only difference between any of these scenarios is the amount of money that goes to any particular industry (Joe's pyromaniac tendencies notwithstanding). All of these arguments that $activity will [add|subtract] $dollars from the economy are specious.

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