Subject: Re: Intellectual Property Reform
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 12:05:04 -0800
Mon, 14 Jan 2002 12:05:04 -0800
on Fri, Jan 11, 2002 at 06:37:44PM -0800, Kevin A. Burton ( wrote:
> "Karsten M. Self" <> writes:
> > on Fri, Jan 11, 2002 at 01:44:22AM -0800, Kevin A. Burton (

> > > I would have NO problem within having a system of copyright for
> > > software that expired after 3-5 years and required that the source
> > > code go back to the public.
> > 
> > For many proprietary software companies, their own old product, even
> > five year old product, is a substantial competitor.  It's no small
> > secret that Microsoft must cannibalize its own established base to
> > sell new product (they've exploited their ability to grow
> > marketshare, and there's little current growth in the overall
> > market).  Even sales of MS Windows 3.x remain surprisingly
> Microsoft is no longer selling Windows 3.x or 95.  Both of these were
> taken off the market a while back IIRC.  I think you might be
> referring to their market share.

I've been trying to track down references, can't seem to find what I had
in mind.  IIRC thet comment was attached to a recent (<60 days) news
item about legacy MS Windows XP sales.  While MS may not be selling
Win3x, there may be copies previously shipped to resellers still for
sale.  Point being that  any  sales would be peculiar.

Point two:  under your proposal, MSFT  couldn't  take the product off
the market.  With an expired copyright, the works would be public
domain, free for any to copy, distribute, or modify.

> > This creates a significant incentive to oppose such a revision.
> > Lessig proposes shortened copyright term, with extensions available
> > on a fee basis.
> Really?  Where would this fee go?  Is this talked about in 'Code and
> other laws...'?

More likely in  The Future of Ideas , though I haven't crossed it yet.
The Eldred case is covered later in the book though.  He also discussed
this briefly in his comments on the Diane Rehm show:

> > His term suggestion is on the order of 50 years, essentially rolling
> > the clock back to the situation in the early 1970s.
> 50 years is WAY too long for software.  The entire software industry
> is hardly older than 30 years.

Note that the GPL benefits from  stronger  traditional copyright (as
opposed to such non-copyright issues as the DMCA's 1201 ff or 512 ff
provisions).  It's judo IP, and most acts which strengthen copyright
 also  strengthen GPL.  I'd think that a 14-28 year term might be
appropriate.  Note that the early end of this would allow, say,
Microsoft to start incorporating GNU/Linux code into its base in another
three years, without need to heed the GPL.  Granted, a fourteen year old
version of GNU/Linux, but still.


Karsten M. Self <>
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