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Sonny Bono Copyright Extension

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M. Ted (inactive) 28 Feb 00 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 06 Mar 00 - 09:58 AM
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T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 26 Oct 00 - 10:45 PM
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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 01:33 PM

A great article!!


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 06 Mar 00 - 09:58 AM

Here is a column by Dan Gillmore which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. It is a good treatment of problems with the CTEA and DMCA, though I disagree with him that the recent extension is the least serious problem in copyright.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 10:10 AM

Here is a "Toad5five" comment on the CTEA.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 20 Mar 00 - 10:05 PM

Here is a letter to the editor of Performing Songwriter magazine which was posted to a Slashdot forum. Performing Songwriter doesn't have a letters column, (at least, I looked at the latest issue's table of contents this evening and didn't see one) so the Slashdot post may be the only place you can see it.

I don't know anything about the letter to the editor's author except what is revealed in the Slashdot post itself.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 08 May 00 - 02:10 PM

An appeal of Eldred v. Reno is being prepared. Here is a draft amicus curiae brief which seems to argue (though it never quite explcitly states) that the dictrict court's perfunctory finding that the CTEA is constitutional is not well-grounded. The author, Prof. Waltershied, does state explicitly, in his "Conclusions" section, that "the ultimate purpose of copyright is to place the copyrighted work in the public domain."

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 11:14 AM

Here is a New York Times article about the recent appeal of the case. Read it while the link lasts!


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 12:35 PM

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Jacob B
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 04:10 PM

The New York Times article basically says that Eldred v. Reno was dismissed in October 1999, but an appeal of the dismissal was argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on October 5, 2000.

The article was dated October 5, 2000, and did not say anything about the court having made any decision.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 10:45 PM

Jacob B, thanks for posting that pithy summary against the day when the link might fail.

The October 5 court date was for oral arguments. A decision might take weeks or months.

Here is a comment by Eric Eldred, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The "Judge Ginsburg" referred to is Douglas H. Ginsburg.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 06:26 PM

There is much wrong with ASCAP - particularly with the way that songwriters do not get their money while big corporations do, adn the way they pursue places where music not the property of ASCAP members is performed - but on cafes they are right, right, right. THe cafe plays the music to attract and keep customers. THey are adding value to thier businesses. THe creators of that added value deserve some too. Same goes for shops and muzak (generically, not as in trade name)


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 07:38 PM

Richard Bridge, if a surgeon saves my life with his scalpel, I "owe" my entire life to the surgeon. With every breath I take I "profit" from the surgeon's work. Yet I don't think you would interpret your principle to mean that the surgeon should be allowed to enslave me and all heirs I might have subsequent to the lifesaving surgery, on the theory that all my "profits" should be diverted to the surgeon. The whole point of living in a society is so that we can all profit somewhat from each other's labor, as well as each by his own.

So with the public performance right. Just because the tavernkeepers benefit from musical performance it doesn't <automatically follow that the rightsholders (who may or may not be the authors) must have a share. The law creates a public performance right as a gimmick, in order to make the copyright monopoly reasonably effective. But the law can define the boundaries of the gimmickry in many different ways. It's an arbitrary policy choice.

As it happens I think that the exemption for smaller taverns (if that is what the final version of the act contained) was not well thought out. What is truly needed is a revision of the applicable law governing ASCAP and BMI. That may be a long time in coming, though.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 07:12 PM

A transcript of the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has been posted here.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 08:55 PM

Nearly all cafe performers do their own arrangements--and, especially if the performance is jazz, much, if not most of the performed material has actually been created by the performer, and the song, as originally written, may, literally, have not have been played at all--In this sense, their performances are newly created works--in essence, they are doing their work for free, and others, who have done nothing, are collecting revenues--


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 12:37 AM

I regret to inform all lovers of freedom that the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, by a vote of 2-1, has, in the case of Eldred v. Reno, ruled effectively in favor of the U.S. government's contemptuous degradation (made at the request of the entertainment industry) of the entire concept of the public domain. For more information check here or here.

The plaintiffs are weighing the question of whether to ask for en banc rehearing, or to go straight to the top and ask the Supreme Court go hear the case.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Wotcha
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 09:39 AM

Okie,
You raised an interesting question about European law affecting US law/practices. In cyberspace, the US is finding out that, despite the fact it developed the Internet, its rules don't apply everywhere.
US business may have to conform to the EU Privacy Directive when each EU nation enacts enabling legislation (fat chance anytime soon of course). When that happens, a good number of US businesses could be shut out of the EU since the US fails to meet EU standards for protecting personal data.
The recent modifications to the Copyright Act were partly enacted to conform to international copyright regimes. Note that US law now includes Moral Rights in visual arts (i.e., you just cannot tear down and scrap a sculpture ... gotta have a plan to preserve it).
Cheers,
Brian


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Cobble
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 06:58 PM

One word, for these people on this bandwagon, GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED. Why dont they find a new way to up there profits.

Cobble.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 07:07 PM

That the CTEA was intended to "harmonize" U.S. law with that of western Europe is the Bright Shining Lie that seems to have carried the day so far for the public domain's enemies. But if this were the true reason, the act would have contained either (1) a single provision, extending the term of post-1977 (or post-1998) author copyrights, and leaving corporate copyrights and pre-1978 copyrights alone; or (2) a comprehensive re-alignment of copyright terms for various classes of works. Sound recordings, for example, (as distinguished from the music or other content on them) are protected in Europe for 50 years. This European protection isn't copyright protection, at least not in all countries; it comes under the 1961 Rome Convention, and a 1971 agreement signed at Geneva, not the Berne Convention. In the U.S., records are protected by copyright as works of authorship for 75 years for all recordings fixed from sometime in 1972 until 1978, and for foreign recordings fixed from 1922 until 1972 if certain paperwork was timely filed by the claimant; and for life+50 or 75 years for post-1977 records, depending on their work-for-hire status. A true harmonization bill would have reduced the term of copyright for all sound recordings, or at least all post-1998 sound recordings, to 50 years.

Furthermore, some European countries have a public performance right for sound recordings (as distinguished from the public performance rights in the recorded content). In the U.S., the public performance right extends only to digital recordings in certain circumstances. I think the U.S. should not follow Europe in establishing a public performance right in all sound recordings, but if "harmonization" were the true reason for the CTEA, its backers would have at least tried to include one.

Indeed, the rationale for term extension within Europe has been deemed "almost entirely bogus" by at least one commentator (click here). Another has noted that "Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal voted against [the extension] and Ireland abstained The...extension...from 50 to 70 years was opposed by the Economic and Social Committee....The Committee accepted the need for harmonisation but laid emhasis on the fact that the basic copyright term in ten of the Member States was life of the author and 50 years in common with 90 percent of the Berne signatory states." (N. Dawson, "Copyright in the European Union--Plundering the Public Domain", 45 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, pp. 193-209, at 202.) The EU has indeed an interest in achieving the sort of internal economic integration that is achieved in the U.S. by the Constitution's commerce clause. But if harmonization had been the true and only reason for the EU extension, the EU directive would have included a phase-out provision, so that the copyrights of all authors dying in, say, the years 2001 to 2020 would expire on January 1, 2071. Or they could have pressured Germany and Spain to phase out their anomalous terms (Spain had already begun to do so.) Approaches like these would have provided the necessary internal European harmonization without sacrificing harmony with the rest of the world. The weakness of the "harmonization" rationale is a partial explanation for why the EU bureaucrats felt they needed to pad their directive with other, equally flimsy, excuses for extending the term.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 08:46 PM

The plaintiffs in Eldred v. Ashcroft (formerly Eldred v. Reno) have petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for rehearing en banc. The petition can be found here.. (A pdf version is here.) I especially like the opening line:

"The Framers of our Constitution imposed only one real obligation on Congress with respect to what we now call "intellectual property":  that there shall be, at the federal level, a public domain supported by creative works."

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 28 Apr 01 - 12:53 PM

In a recent column, Dan Gillmor of the San José Mercury News noted that, if the copyright in Gone with the Wind had expired after 56 years, as was originally agreed, the we would all now be enjoying The Wind done Gone as well as Gone with the Wind. But the extensions of 1978 and 1998 mean that the author of The Wind done Gone must either wait until 2032, or find a judge who agrees that her use of the earlier work qualifies as a "fair use."

Since the author has her publisher's money backing her, she might eventually argue fair use successfully. But this is small comfort for the many other authors who don't have deep pockets to draw on, or whose re-workings of in-term older works can't qualify as fair uses.

If Eldred v. Ashcroft succeeds, The Wind done Gone will be able to be published in 2012 even if it doesn't qualify as a fair use of Gone with the Wind.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST,dar@dragonflower.com
Date: 28 Apr 01 - 02:16 PM

I wish to clarify something about the Sono Bono Copyright Extension, or any copyright law, for that matter.

The copyright amendment only affects works that have not ALREADY fallen into public domain. Once a work becomes public domain, it stays that way and cannot be 'resurrected'. There has been some misinformation posted on this subject.

Basically, any work that was published before 1923 had fallen into public domain by 1998, based on the old 75-year copyright term. The 1998 Sono Bono law cannot affect these works. (There are a few exceptions, but I don't want to delve into them here.)

I am a member of ASCAP and was NOT in favor of this copyright extension act. Copyright terms are getting longer and longer, primarily due to the arrogance of a few descendants of famous composers who can't bear to see their royalties end and organizations like ASCAP and BMI who protect the interest of the big publishers such as Warner Bros. I wish they'd get a life.

Darhon


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 01 - 10:27 AM

click here for an op-ed by Lawrence Lessig


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: DougR
Date: 01 May 01 - 08:39 PM

T: I would think films could go either way. If a producer hires a writer to write or adapt a screenplay, then I would think it would be "work for hire," and the copyright owned by the producer.

A screenwriter that writes a spec screenplay, and sells it to a production company, might well retain the copyright.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: jcdevildog
Date: 01 May 01 - 11:05 PM

A couple of points that don't appear to be addressed so far:

1) The existence of a copyright doesn't keep anyone from playing, performing, or otherwise using the copyrighted material. It does mean that when they do so in a commercial venue, they have an obligation to pay the appropriate royalty. How much the total royalty is depends on the parties involved in the copyrighted material, but as I recall, the composer/author's royalty is something on the order of 12 cents per use. So far as live performances and the playing of recorded music in restaurants and similar venues are concerned, the author is never going to collect more than a tiny fraction of the royalties due, so they're largely irrelevant. And anyway, these uses were scaled back in the most recent legislation: the extension of copyright dates was a trade-off for more free usage of material. There are also quite a few exceptions to copyright--circumstances where royalties need not be paid.

2)Many songwriters make (or hope to make) their living from their music. I don't see anything wrong or selfish about this, do you? Very few songwriters amass millions to pass down to their heirs: the vast majority just struggle along, and their copyrights may well be all they have to leave. I don't think allowing children to benefit from their parents' creative work is unreasonable. They will only benefit to the extent the work remains (or becomes) popular: and if it IS popular, you can bet that SOMEONE is going to make money off it. Shorter copyright periods will not make recordings, sheet music, etc. any cheaper to purchase: they'll just cut the songwriter and his/her heirs out of the loop.

3)One of the best things, from a songwriter's point of view, about new technology--including the Internet--is that it makes it cheaper and easier to release independent recordings and to publicize the work of independent musicians. Now, I'm sure one motivation for longer copyrights on the part of large music corporations is to make sure they continue to make money off music they already own, in case more and more musicians and writers go the do-it-yourself route, or refuse to tie themselves into long-term contracts. Instead of attacking the author's copyright, why not support independent music? That would show that your opposition is genuinely to corporate control of the music world, as opposed to simply feeling you have the right to something (another person's original music) for nothing.

4) I can't see how extending copyright would "stifle creativity". Are you suggesting that no one would write or publish any new songs if they could continue to make money off the old ones? It just doesn't work that way: our culture always wants something new, or a new version at least. However, not being able to collect royalties for their work could sure stifle a lot of creative people, at least to the extent that they'd have to spend most of their time making a living at something else.

5) Finally, I have to say I was shocked to see the overwhelming opposition to copyright extension on this site. I'm fairly new to Mudcat, but I thought its focus was traditional music and, to a lesser extent, contemporary singer/songwriters. You've got centuries of music already in the public domain available to you: why do you begrudge those of us who drive from town to town playing $50 bar gigs, or work in offices during the day and try to write and play open mics at night--and keep hoping we might someday actually see a royalty check with more than three digits--because we prefer not to give our work away?

Just for the record, yes, I'm a singer/songwriter; I have a day job--and it ain't in the music industry; and so far I haven't collected a penny in royalties. But I'm still hoping.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 01 - 09:53 AM

So, if a copyright lasts for 50 years after you die, you are "giving your work away"--but not if it lasts for 70 years ?


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 03 May 01 - 12:08 AM

At 11:05 PM 01-May-2001 jcdevildog wrote:

> The existence of a copyright doesn't keep anyone from
> playing, performing, or otherwise using the copyrighted
> material.

The existence of copyright in Gone with the Wind has kept The Wind done Gone from being published. This is a fact, and will remain a fact even if the injunction is later lifted on appeal. It has happened.

The existence of copyright in Finnegans Wake kept a songwriter from publishing a song employing 18 words from that book. (click here).

The existence of copyright in Beckett's Footfalls led to the supression of a production of the play in 1994. (click here).

The existence of copyright in some of Elvis Presley's work forced a ballet about Elvis to be re-written hurriedly into a so-so ballet about an Elvis impersonator. (click here).

The presumed existence of copyright in Martha Graham's works led to the cancellation of all of Graham's dances that had been planned for a dance workshop at Frostburg State University (click here).

John Nicoll, managing director of the Yale University Press, is quoted here as saying, "We've more or less given up publishing anything on Picasso or Matisse. The fees DACS asks for reproducing their work mean that no book could ever make a profit." (emphasis added.)

These are a few of the cases we know about. How many cases like them never get into the newspapers ? How many works are stillborn because the author knows in advance that copyright clearance will be out of reach ?

> Many songwriters make (or hope to make)
> their living from their music. I don't see anything
> wrong or selfish about this, do you? Very few songwriters
> amass millions to pass down to their heirs: the vast majority
> just struggle along, and their copyrights may well be all they
> have to leave.

Of course monopolists don't like giving up their monopolies. That is irrelevant. Copyrights are created to serve a public interest. The only valid question is whether they serve that interest.

> Shorter copyright periods will not make
> recordings, sheet music, etc. any cheaper to
> purchase: they'll just cut the songwriter and his/her
> heirs out of the loop.

This sweeping statement contradicts ordinary supply/demand analysis and known facts.

When Prokofyev's Peter and the Wolf was in the U.S. public domain, it cost $70 to buy the orchestral score. One could buy one and copy forever. Now that Peter and the Wolf has been restored to copyright by a GATT-related law known as the URAA (passed in 1995 or thereabouts), an orchestra must rent the score, rather than buy it, and pay performance royalties. A conservative estimate of the cost is $600 for two performances. This doesn't include the "grand rights" fees that must be paid if the performers wish to dramatize the work. (Letter of Radolph P. Luck dated March 31, 1998. An earlier version of this letter can be found here. This earlier version doesn't use the example of Peter and the Wolf, but still contains many examples of how copyright expiration lowers the price of orchestral sheet music).

The 1989-1990 Books in Print, Volume 5 (Titles G-O), page 4038, lists under "My Antonia" four stand-alone editions (i.e. not bound with any other title) of Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia, priced $5.95 to $21.95. This was before the expiration of the book's copyright. The 1998-1999 Books in Print (after copyright expired), Volume 7 (Titles L-Q) lists under the entry "My Antonia" twenty-two stand-alone editions, priced $2.00 to $108.00. After the expiration of the copyright bookbuyers had more choices and (if they wished) lower prices.

> Instead of attacking the author's copyright,
> why not support independent music? That would show
> that your opposition is genuinely to corporate control of
> the music world, as opposed to simply feeling you have
> the right to something (another person's original music)
> for nothing.

It is a common maximalist trick to accuse those who raise questions about the proper scope and duration of copyright of "attacking the author's copyright" or some such.

"Something for nothing" was an idea that was used by the entertainment industry to promote the CTEA. The NMPA claimed that the copyright term could be extended "without causing harm to the interest of any person or entity" (NMPA Comment, Sept 22, 1993, Copyright Office Docket # RM 93-8). A group called the "Coalition of Creators and Copyright Owners" stated that "we can obtain 20 years of protection in the EC at virtually no cost to ourselves." (The same source.) "Something for nothing" is what the Mitchell estate is getting. Margaret Mitchell hasn't written a single additional word since she died. The Mitchell estate, so far as I know, has never written anything at all. In exchange for nothing, they got 19 extra years of copyright in 1978, and then another 20 additional years in 1998. Anyone who feels that no one, under any circumstances whatsoever, should get "something for nothing", should have opposed the CTEA.

> You've got centuries of music already in
> the public domain available to you: why do you
> begrudge those of us who drive from town to town
> playing $50 bar gigs, or work in offices during the
> day and try to write and play open mics at night--and
> keep hoping we might someday actually see a royalty
> check with more than three digits--because we prefer
> not to give our work away?

It is a common maximalist trick to evade the question of how long copyright should last by simpy restating the case for some copyright as opposed to no copyright. The question is not whether we should have some copyright at all. The question is why 56 years, or 75 years, was not enough. And why, as in the case of Gone with the Wind, the term had to be extended even though, when those old works were published, 56 years was enough. One doesn't ordinarily owe the former owner of one's house additional payments, regardless of changed circumstances, once one has agreed on a reasonable price. Why should the public pay and pay and pay again for something it has already bought at the agreed price ?

The public domain in literary expression, like freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, is the public's right. The public need not justify wanting to preserve its rights. It is up to those who wish the public to give up its rights to justify their wish.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 10:46 PM

I regret to inform all lovers of freedom that the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has denied the Eldred v. Ashcroft plaintiffs' petition for rehearing en banc. More information can be found at http://eon.law.harvard.edu.openlaw/eldredvreno

Watch this thread for further developments

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 12:54 AM

T, thanks for keeping us posted on this. The thread is fascinating, but the information is frustrating.

Jcdevildog is surprised that most of us are opposed to the copyright extension. I think most of us are in favor of a songwriter's rights, but there has to be a reasonable limit. A copyright that lasts over a hundred years isn't reasonable. Let's say I wrote a song - I collect royalties on it for a while, but then it's time for me to retire and set up a secure source of income for myself. I can sell my rights to a company, but what company is going to buy my rights if there's only five years left on the copyright?
I have a friend who worked as a freelance photographer in the 1960's and 1970's, traveling with Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. Now he's 60 years old and his income is limited, but he still has rights to those photos, and he gets four or five thousand bucks a year for use of those 35-yr-old photographs. If his copyrights expired five years from now, who would buy them? Those photos are a substantial part of his retirement income.
On the other hand, there is a point when photos and songs and literature become part of our culture. That's not legally "public domain," but it certainly seems from a moral standpoint that certain things should belong to the public. Isn't it time for the works of Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Rogers and Hammerstein to belong to the public? What about the works of Woody Guthrie - would Woody want people to have to pay for his work after all these years? What about the works of lesser-known composers and writers - if their work isn't saleable, will copyright doom them to oblivion?
I believe in compensation for writers and artists - but a copyright of over a hundred years is downright unreasonable.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 10:34 AM

Joe, your friend has copyrights for his lifetime, and did before the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension.

"Peter and the Wolf" was a a favorite children's program for many community orchestras, and I am sure it is no longer used as much, due to costs. The irony with the Martha Graham copyright issues is that if many of her choreographies are not recreated now, they may actually be lost forever because they are not definitatively notated, and, with the passage of time, it will become impossible to reconstruct them--

Another "thank you" to "T" for keeping us up to date on this, as depressing as the news is.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 18 Aug 01 - 09:19 AM

A Washington Post editorial, "Copyright Craziness", can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/A22911-2001Aug16.html. The Post suggests that the Eldred v. Ashcroft (formerly Eldred v. Reno) case is fit to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. At the same time the writer hints that the easiest solution would be for Congress to repeal the law.

I think the editorial will be freely available only for a few days, so read it while the link lasts!

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Aug 01 - 12:09 PM

Figured I ought to post it here, so we can preserve it for future examination:

Copyright Craziness

Friday, August 17, 2001; Page A22

THE U.S. COURT of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last month declined to reconsider an earlier ruling that Congress has essentially unchecked authority to extend copyright protections. The Constitution gives Congress the power "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Over the nation's life, the phrase "limited times" has proved almost infinitely elastic. Copyrights were initially granted for 28-year periods, but Congress has serially extended protection so that it now extends 70 years beyond the life of the author.

This degree of protection -- under which works from 1923 are still owned privately -- does little to promote science or art, but it does protect copyright holders who make big campaign contributions. Unfortunately, it also serves to keep material out of the public domain long after the public's interest in its free exchange outweighs any value served by continued protection. This problem was dramatically illustrated earlier this year when a court blocked the publication of a parody of "Gone With the Wind," whose author had died more than 50 years ago. The decision was later reversed and the parody was published, though the estate's copyright on the original work was undisputed.

The case before the D.C. Circuit challenged the constitutionality of the latest extension of copyright protection -- an additional 20-year gimme Congress doled out in 1998. The plaintiffs, a group of companies and individuals who distribute public domain materials, argued that the latest extension burdened free speech and offended the Constitution's requirement that copyrights be valid only for limited periods. A three-judge panel of the court earlier this year disagreed. And, more recently, the full court declined to reconsider.

Dissenting Judges David Sentelle and David Tatel, however, argued that there had to be some bounds to Congress's ability to extend protection. The judges all agreed that Congress could not create permanent copyright protections, but if Congress can create endless extensions, then there is no way to make sure that protection is, in fact, of limited duration. The case is difficult legally, because the Constitution so clearly and sweepingly gives Congress, not the courts, power over copyrights. As a policy matter, however, it isn't difficult at all. Vast quantities of creative material shouldn't be perpetually owned privately, and Congress's repeated extensions of protection to copyright holders have shredded any meaningful limit. The plaintiffs plan to ask the Supreme Court to examine the issue. It would be well worth the justices' time.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 07:51 PM

The plaintiffs in the Eldred v. Ashcroft case (formerly Eldred v. Reno) have filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

HTML version here

PDF version here

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 07:52 PM

The plaintiffs in the Eldred v. Ashcroft case (formerly Eldred v. Reno) have filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

HTML version here

PDF version here

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 09 Nov 01 - 08:07 PM

Another constitutional challenge to the CTEA, and to a 1994 law called the URAA, has been filed in the federal district court for the District of Colorado. It is called Golan v. Ashcroft. The plaintiffs in this new case include orchestra conductors whose performance plans were disrupted by one or both of the new laws.

The complaint in Golan v. Ashcroft can be found here (PDF)

A newspaper article about the new case can be found here. The newspaper article, however, fails to note the distinction between the CTEA (which added 20 years to all extant copyrights) and the URAA (which took some foreign works out of the U.S. public domain and placed them back in copyright, thereby creating a class of "undead copyrights"). It is this latter law, not the Bono act itself, that took Peter and the Wolf out of the public domain. The Bono Act, of course, means that Peter and the Wolf will now be too expensive for many orchestras to perform for 20 years longer than would have been the case under the URAA alone.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 09:21 PM

Here is a February 11 article at law.com about Eldred's case.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 03:54 AM

Thanks to all contributors to this thread, especially OkieMockBird, who shines a bright light on the notion of legal fictions. I'm happy that so many folk think that the copyright laws in the US and elsewhere) need amending - but I'm sad that no-one (let me not "swear" to no-one: I've read the whole thread but I might have missed a key phrase), no-one, I say, has argued for an end to the notion of "intellectual property". The words are a classic oxymoron (like "military justice"). Property, as Okie said early in the thread, is not God-given (insert any God you like). It's a notion created by people, people who "own" things. My toothbrush remains my toothbrush all the while I have possession, and if you wrest it out of my hand, fairly or fouly, it's now your toothbrush. But what if I borrowed your toothbrush, made an exact copy of it, and gave it back? What has happened to the "property" in it? (I'm going to ignore the original maker of "my toothbrush"). When you copy my toothbrush, you make it more difficult for me to sell my toothbrush because the supply has increased. You've brought the "price" of toothbrushes down, and thus you've impoverished me to the extent that the price has come down. This is a property right. If I own a scarce resource (gas for cars, a first folio of Shakespeare) and you copy it, regardless of who the original maker is ("God" for the first, and Shakespeare for the second), you've taken away my "right" to make the extra buck because what I own is scarce.

I want to argue that we cannot continue to run the world this way. Two toothbrushes are in this instance better than one toothbrush: the public right should outweigh the private right. When I speak, or write, or sing, or make songs, I release my little creations, for bad or good, on the evening tide, and they are carried off over the sea. They don't belong to me any more. They don't belong to anyone. Anyone can do what they will with them: that's my contribution to the world. Ownership, particularly of things that can be replicated for nothing, is a tarbaby: once you allow people to own a little bit (a copyright rule for 1 year, 10 years, 100 years, 1,000 years) you've yielded the principle, as I believe Pete Seeger has done, through his own copyrighting of folk material.

I respect all contributors to this debate, and all of their points of view.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 08:03 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted Eldred's petition for writ of certiorari. No date has been set yet for argument.

More information is at Openlaw's Eldred v. Ashcroft web site.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 11:20 PM

Here is a Salon inverview with Eric Eldred and Laura Bjorklund, two of the plaintiffs in Eldred v. Ashcroft.

The interviewees make two errors in their statements. First, there were criminal provisions in the copyright act prior to the passage of the DMCA, though the DMCA added some additional ones. Also, in 1950 the duration of copyright was 56 years maximum, not 50 years.

T.


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Subject: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 28 Mar 02 - 07:40 PM

Background information can be found at Opposing Copyright Extension

Information of the constitutional challenge to the Copyright Term Extension Act is here. The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, probably sometime next term. The outcome is far from certain. Maybe the Court will strike the law down; maybe it will affirm the lower courts' finding of constitutionality, but on other grounds (the grounds on which the lower court found the law valid were pretty silly, and avoided deciding the case on its merits). Or they may send the case back down to the lower courts to be argued on the merits. Or maybe we will see some other outcome. Then there is the question of the breadth of their ruling; a very broad ruling against the Act might have implications for earlier extensions of the term of copyright. A more narrowly-focused ruling might effectively short-circuit a challenge to the 1976 law, or leave open the question of the 1976 law's validity.

A brief and insightful discussion of this case is Chris Sprigman's The Mouse that ate the Public Domain.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 May 02 - 07:06 PM

Some interesting briefs have been filed on behalf of the petitioners (i.e., on behalf of the public domain), including:

Art historians and art teachers: ("Retrospective term extension suppresses and distorts many speakers' messages...inhibits the creation of new works based on old ones and deprives the public of access to older works of historical and cultural interest.")

Economists, including 5 Nobel prizewinners: (The CTEA reduces economic efficiency and consumer welfare.)

Constitutional law professors: (The CTEA should be sent back to the lower courts to be evaluated for its constitutionality under the first amendment.)

Librarians: (Congress did not properly consider the burdens imposed by the CTEA and exaggerated the CTEA's supposed benefits: benefits that are in fact "largely illusory.")

Writers and programmers: ("The CTEA stifles creativity that draws upon existing works and denies society the benefits of a vibrant public domain".) This brief may be of special interest to the Mudcat because it contains a reference to the blues.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 01:50 PM

Eldred's case has been scheduled for oral argument on October 9th, 2002.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 07:12 AM

The petitioners' reply brief (in which petitioner replies to the respondents' brief) is a href=here (PDF file).


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: Jacob B
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 09:46 AM

The link for the petitioner's reply brief is here (PDF file).


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: Jacob B
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 09:49 AM

One more try. here (PDF file).


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 08:21 AM

At http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.10/lessig.html is an article about Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law professor who will be arguing Eldred's case next term.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 11:23 AM

A Financial Times comment on Eldred v. Ashcroft, by Richard Epstein: (click)

The maintainer of eldred.cc states, "While I have great respect for Professor Epstein, we don't agree upon much -- except this case."


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 08:33 AM

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times Magazine's Cover Article discusses Eldred's case.

If the link doesn't work, try going to lessig.org and following the link from there.

T.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 11:42 AM

Two new articles:

Business week: A case to define the digital age

SFGate: Free Mickey--Stanford Law Professor seeks to overturn the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- 2
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 10:00 PM

Here's another article:

Key Copyright Case going to High Court, Marsha Stopa, Oakland (Michigan) Press, Sept 21, 2002.

This article focuses mainly on plaintiff Randy Luck, who sells orchestral music scores, and who wrote This 1996 letter to Senator Spencer Abraham opposing the CTEA because of the burden it would place on small orchestras.

T.
Since people with slow computers can now split threads on their own, there is no longer a need for continuation threads. I combined parts 1 and 2 of this thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 02 - 10:54 AM

Here is a basic (and humorous) walk-through of one of the briefs for petitioners, i.e. the good guys, the forces of truth, justice, and the public domain.


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Subject: RE: Sonny Bono Copyright Extension
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 01:27 PM

Good for the Taiwanese. If Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and other important U.S. trade partners will draw the line at life+50, maybe the ridiculous U.S./E.U. term can be brought back into line with the rest of the world.


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