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Why don't the copyright laws change?

The debate over copyrights are ongoing and often times are very heated. My question is that in reference to a free market why haven't producers better adapted. If another individual can produce a product of equal quality for a lower price than I believe competition should dictate a downturn in price. For instance it has been claimed that movie piracy fuels terrorism. If a terrorist cell produces DVDs in the United States for less money than our companies, shouldn't we take a good look at ourselves and wonder where we have gone wrong. What exactly is the profit margin on the DVD's we sell, maybe greed plays a bigger role in this debate than copyright infringement.

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    Apr 26 2012: Popular figures with a following lend their support to a particular political party for a reason...more often than not, these actors, singers and writers want to guarantee their earnings for years to come and so demand the enforcement of copyright laws in exchange for their support. This is quite blatant. Meanwhile, the general public has inferior goods foisted upon it at elevated prices, such as CDs and DVDs which are ruined forever with a single scratch. It is criminal the way Disney is charging 25 euros for DVDs of Snow White...why do the prices never drop? Everyone who worked on Snow White must be dead who's getting the money? Inherited copyright? What's that all about? As a teacher I have had 6 years of Higher Education and still have to constantly keep up-to-date with training. Why are my services worth so much less than Javier Bardem's? Why are we charged down by riot police if we demonstrate against low wages, long hours and bad conditions? It's all quite protects itself. It keeps itself important, it keeps you unimportant and it makes damn sure you keep your mitts off it.
  • Apr 25 2012: The notion of protecting jobs and careers for the sole purpose of preserving an industry and ipso facto an economy has always seemed absurd to me. If a product - any product - is being produced and distributed at anything above the absolute minimum resource consumption required then that whole system is fundamentally flawed and cannot be justified. I personally believe that copyrights only really make sense as a means of protecting an original author from having their works presented as something other than what they'd intended for them to be. That and giving credit where credit is due. Everything else is pure selfishness and greed and, even though I don't consider either of these to be morally objectionable in any way, I do not agree with them in the slightest. But these are just my opinions. The facts are these:

    Copyright laws don't change because they are still the most efficient way of making sure that those who have much can have more and needn't worry about sharing.
  • Apr 25 2012: Ryan,
    There are people who depend on job and career income from producing materials---art, music, books, sculpture and other created works and therefore they are the same as other people who work. Is greed involved? Maybe to some degree, but it seems right to protect the creative works from abuse through stealing and unfair market sales. Think of yourself as an author or painter depending on sales and income to feed family and save for retirement.

    Maybe we do need adjustments, but I do not have suggestions. I do feel it important to offer some protection for personal income gained from copyrighted materials or services.

    Take the question to one additional concept: registered marks. In the USA we have law to protect brand and identity marks which are registered with the US Government. Such marks are protected from unauthorized use for identity and or other gain. Use any registered mark in an abusing way and you may expect to hear from an attorney. Do persons or companies deserve protection from damaging abuse?

    It is one of the freedoms enjoyed in this country---to be create and enjoy the fruits of one's labors. Anything you write is automatically copyrighted under USA law, but if you want to protect what you write, you can register works, such as books under US law. What would be your reaction if someone stole what you wrote and used it badly?

    What condition, situation, or agreement would you suggest that would be fair to all? You would change what?

    Others are welcome in to offer what adjustments could be mutually satisfactory.

    Offered with intended friendship.
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    May 1 2012: Bob, Do you see any difference between restricting the use of intellectual property created by others and restricting the use of physical property created by others?

    For example, X makes violins in order to make a living selling them. If Y wants to use a violin, should Y be able to walk away with one of X's violins without paying?

    X makes recordings of himself playing the violin and sells the recordings in order to make a living. Is Y wants to listen to a recording, should Y be able to walk away with one of X's recordings without paying?

    If you regard those two situations as different, why is that?
    • May 5 2012: My father told me once that, theoretically, the difference between practice and theory is very small, but practically the difference is very big. Arguing that there is no difference between intellectual and physical products is simply not valid and I doubt that needs elaborating.

      My argument is that it is the very idea of property and ownership that desperately needs to be re-imagined. A practical stepping-stone on the path to the ideal is what Creative Commons is doing. As things stand, the most adverse and practically notable effect of copyright restrictions is that they directly oppose progress while promoting inefficiency and waste, all in the name of furthering a global system of ever increasing economic disparity. Property and ownership laws, as they are today, are simply incompatible with sustainable human existence on this planet unless we collectively drop all pretense and officially revert to a centralized state of global feudalism.

      The specific examples you give makes the above sound unreasonably harsh as you've skillfully made them dependent on the moral debate of theft but I would reply to them thus:

      If X makes the "best" (i.e. most desirable) violins around, those who need violins will find a way of maintaining their supply, the most efficient and sustainable way of doing which is coming to a mutually beneficial agreement (e.g. "You keep making us violins and we'll make sure you don't go hungry").

      Same applies to the recording. If X makes a recording of themselves playing the violin then I think it reasonable that those who want more such recordings and/or those who deem it worth a reward will find a way to allow for this to happen (i.e. reimburse the violinist).

      I suppose this is bare-bone capitalism and free market theory (though, honestly, I wouldn't know) but I honestly can't see it being justifiable to have a law against biting the hand that feeds you.
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        May 5 2012: " the most adverse and practically notable effect of copyright restrictions is that they directly oppose progress"

        most notable might be, but most adverse i'm not sure. there is another effect, which is moral. namely that people get accustomed to the tactic to side with the state, and try to suppress competition instead of competing with it. patent is a government granted and enforced monopoly. this thinking permeates our lives, and appears in the form of tariffs, trade barriers, minimum wage and all sort of red tape. all of these are immoral, as they hinder or prevent perfectly moral behavior, thus rob me the right to freely use my life and property as i see fit.
        • May 5 2012: We're saying the same thing here but with different labels. I don't think morality has any place in this kind of debate as it is far too subjective and, ultimately, abstract. Your reasoning, though sound, isn't valid. All the red tape and the propagation of complacency you mention are key factors of the inefficiency I talk about but calling them immoral? Why? We don't know each other here, we haven't agreed upon any collective notion of what is and is not moral - in the context of this conversation calling something immoral is a completely empty statement, signifying nothing.
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        May 5 2012: suppose you have a car, and i steal it. why is it immoral? there are many takes on this question, but mine is that it is immoral, because it is your property, a fruit of your life, or at least a part of it, and i have no right to take it away.

        suppose you have a car, and i destroy it. why is it immoral? in my book it is the same action. whether i took it or destroyed it does not matter. the only thing that matters is that you have no car anymore.

        the next example is this. you have a car, and i don't let you use it. not because you want to cross my land or something, but without any good reason. i'm not in danger of any loss. how to judge that event? i see it as absolutely the same as the previous too. because in fact you don't own the physical object, but the potential to use it. if you can't use it, it does not matter if you have it. i robbed you of the ability to use your property.

        what if you have a chemical factory, and you decide to transform benzene and sulphuric acid and other stuff into a molecule? your factory, your chemicals. is it immoral for me to say to you: no, you can not manufacture that molecule, because i have a so called "patent" on it? if i do that, did i not rob you from the ability to use your property?

        in my book, using a patent to prevent an activity is the same act as stealing a car.
        • May 6 2012: That's all fine and well. Again, your reasoning is sound. It's just not valid. You have offered no proposition from which it follows that any of the actions described above are immoral. I'm not saying that they aren't, I'm saying that claiming them to be has little-to-no bearing on the issue at hand.
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        May 6 2012: i don't know how can something be sound but not valid.

        i'm not going to give a rationale why stealing a car is immoral. i'd like to let that debate to those that interested. for me, it is obvious, and i'm not interested in debating that.

        however, it really has much to do with the topic at hand. i would say, it directly answers the opening question. why don't the copyright laws change. because people don't understand that copyright is not preventing stealing, it *is* stealing.
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        May 8 2012: Re reimbursing the creator of an artistic item, experience of the web has shown that the provision of free content has led to an expectation that content will be free, in other words a reluctance to pay for content. It might be reasonable for people who want the content to reimburse the creator but that's not what happens in practice.
  • Apr 29 2012: I do clearly understand the purposes of the copyright and I get the fact that intellectual property should be protected. This is in fact supposed to be the driving force to produce such material in the first place. Some people posted along this same idea.
    The key is that prices appear to be driven furiously high. During a time before the internet record sales and movie sales seem fair. Today it cost next to nothing to reproduce and circulate quality produce. Excellent apps circulate at a dollar a piece, and surely the creator still earn substantial amounts of money. Further more how is it that a digital copy of a CD ordered over I-Tunes costs the same as a hard copy at the store. I cannot believe that the production cost are equal for both.

    As a proposed change to current practices, have a site much like Netflix where you buy the rights to stream individual movies, books, music. Never actually give the consumer the actual product just the right to see it. The purpose of this would be to further limit the ability to reproduce the produce. Finally the most important part of this would be that the price for viewing each product is fair.

    We already have the capabilities to stream to any device in our home so why not take advantage of this. And make prices fair.

    In regards to existing jobs, some jobs fall by the wayside. When is the last time you went to visit your local cobbler. Maybe everyone working at DVD/CD plants should change professions.
    • May 1 2012: I still contend that, as a species, we strand to benefit much more from completely abolishing copyright laws. Initially it would probably lead to a lot of people suffering and feeling wronged (but that's going to happen very soon anyway so we might as well get it over with) but it would ultimately streamline society.
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        May 1 2012: we see the immediate effect and the effect on the IP holders.

        we neglect the effects of long term, and on the people who can't afford patents, or just want to use a protected idea.
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    Apr 26 2012: Don't forget that breach of copyright is not about preventing someone producing a product at a lower price, it's about preventing the low-price producer from stealing something which doesn't belong to them. How would you distinguish between the value of the intellection property component (the song, the story etc) and the value / convenience of having that intellectual property delivered to you in the form of a CD or DVD or download, along with the distribution and advertising which make it accessible to you?

    As regards changing practices, the internet has enabled self-publishing of film, music, books, apps, games. This has given the intellectual property owners the option of selling without the overhead of going through a major publisher. Do you think that profits on material sold like this is too high?
    • Apr 26 2012: I think your first sentence misrepresents the purpose of copyright laws, casting them in a light of institutionalized moral conviction and ideology rather than the pragmatic function they exist to fill; a way of making sure that nobody can benefit from a product/idea, in any way what so ever, without the copyright holder's go-ahead.
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        Apr 26 2012: Are you suggesting then that someone who puts the effort into creating a pice of intellectual property has no right to benefit from it? We have laws to prevent someone taking another's personal possessions without permission and selling them. Why should it be different for a piece of intellectual property?

        In fact copyright laws are less rigorous since they allow ownership to expire after a period of time.
        • May 1 2012: I am questioning the moral validity of a system whose core function is to restrict how and by whom new products may be used.
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    Apr 26 2012: The idea of Intellectual Property, and money, is a big factor here. People that create something unique, want to keep control over it. Take Mickey Mouse for example. Walt Disney wanted tight control over his creation so that people in other countries (or even in the U.S.) could not alter his character or the ideals ascribed to that character by his creator. Sure, animators in China could have produced a cheaper Micky Mouse cartoon strip or cartoon, but will they stick to the artist's vision? What is they made Mickey Mouse a booze guzzling, heroin shooting, bandit or did worse? Walt would have no control over his character without tight copyright laws. Besides, the Chinese animators would make all of the money off the character that he developed and he woud probably not see a dime from his creation.

    So...we have the issues of control and money (maybe greed). What I think would be a good fix for the copyright problem is if we went back to the old idea that you had like 50 or 75 years of control and residuals from your creation and after that, the original concept becomes public domain. Unfortunately, it was the Disney company that paid HUGE money into changing our old copyright laws into what we have now where the time limit has been extended even further back to protect the interests of one company...the Disney company.

    The laws need to be changed, but they will not be changed because of the dollar factor. People who create things do so for profit. 99.9% of businesses are not altruistic by nature and really do not care about creating a cheaper product. They all try to see what everyone else is charging and maybe try to undercut by a nickel to make sales, but most companies are created for profit and in America (a capitalist society)....we are all about the mighty dollar. Our societies ideals woudl have to change for any dramatic change in copyright laws.
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    R H

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    Apr 25 2012: Well, if we want to live in mud huts, no education, no health care, no paved highways and interstate commerce, and no investments because we 'don't believe' in progress - just in blowing up those who do, we could probably make the DVD's cheaper than they can and retain our copyright protection.
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      Apr 25 2012: you forgot to mention that the sky will fall.

      we only need to answer one question. how mankind survived before copyright laws?
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        Apr 25 2012: Ha! Sorry. I don't think I was clear. My somewhat sarcastic comment was in reference to 'terrorists' being able to make DVDs cheaper. Regarding your question, I don't think intellectual property was recognized before copyright laws, was it?
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          Apr 26 2012: depends on what do you mean by IP. authorship was respected, and plagiarism was looked down on. but the author had no claim on the work in any sense. everyone used it and altered it as they pleased. before printing and tapes, drama was stage act. music was concert and poems were sang with a lyre in hand. and nobody asked for permit from the author.