Subject: Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 06:49:43 +0000

Ben_Tilly@trepp.com wrote:
> 
> Craig Brozefsky wrote:
> > [...] Outside of the US, IP regimes may have
> > different purposes and justifications, and may very well be geared
> > towards the protection of "inventor's rights" (what a lame-ass
> > trope).
> 
> I strongly doubt that any (Western) country is different.

The basis for copyright in the US is general seen as the rights of the
public ("to promote the Sciences and Useful Arts").  In Europe,
copyright is often couched in terms of "droit d'auteur" -- the rights of
the author.  EU-centric copyright polemics are often very difficult for
me to parse.

> Anyone who doubts this should compare the time-frame of
> protections on copyright (meant to protect the author's rights)
> with the protections on patents.  The first is roughly a human
> life-time.  The second is much shorter.

Original duration of copyright protection in the US was far shorter than
todays life + 70 years.  I believe original copyright grants in England
under the Statute of Anne were on the order of 14 years.  In the US the
term was for most of this century 28 years, with one extension
possible.  The current term (previously adopted by many other Berne
treaty signatories) is commonly seen as serving commercial interests
(Disney features heavily in this dicusssion) who are concerned with the
possibility of lapsing copyright on still-valuable, but aged, works,
rather than sufficient incentive to create new ones.  IMO a fair
argument could be made that a term exceeding the lifespan of an author
is blatently unconstitutional ("to authors..., for limited terms").  The
additional present value cost of an additional ten, twenty, or fifty
years of copyright revenue to an author contemplating publication is
virtually nil.

Interestingly, the original modern copyright law, the Statute of Anne,
was created in England in 1710 in part as a response to an insufferable
copyright monopoly on the part of publishers.  Interesting parallels.

-- 
Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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