Subject: Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 10:29:57 +0100

On Mon, Nov 01, 1999 at 06:49:43AM +0000, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> 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.

The difference between droit d'auteur and copyright is not that the
public is considered less important, but rather that the author is
considered an essential part of the work. The main practical
difference is that an author keeps the "moral rights" for ever... he
cannot sell them to publishers (so this is not a financial issue), and
he does not in theory lose them with time. The relation between the
author and the work is not ownership, but more organic (I am not sure
I can find the right word).
   For example the film "the hunchback of Notre-Dame" could have been
forbidden in France on the basis that it betrayed the views of Victor
Hugo, while obviously taking his scenario and setting and characters.

  Otherwise it is fairly similar to copyright w.r.t. copying,
disributing, etc...
  In my opinion it gives authors a much better protection against
publishers, without being in any way detrimental to the public.

> > 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.

Disney could argue that as an author, the company is still alive, and
intends to stay so. On the other hand, the film was planned for profit
on a much shorter life-span (what company can plan 50 years ahead).
And ther is not reason for the public to subsidize a structure
indefinitely.
  Another point is that I believe that non-human entities have less
rights, not more, than human entities. But that is a moral issue.

  Personnally, I strognly object to private companies giving money to
political parties. This is unsufferable meddling of non-humans in
human affairs. Companies have no citizenship ... and prove it everyday.

Bernard

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