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Dec. 18th, 2013 @ 05:17 pm Public Domain enriches our culture
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I'm all for copyright -- people should get paid for the things they created. Part of my salary is paid because people pay for the software we sell, and that's because of copyright. Copyright was instated to encourage content creators to contribute to culture: they could exclusively profit from their work for a short period, and then that work was added to the melting pot of culture.

But I do think it's ridiculous to expect the children of authors to profit of their parents' work after the author's death. Most people don't get to collect royalties for the work their parents did: are you paying a fee to the children of the person who built your house? Personally, I think cultural artefacts should be protected for twenty years or until the death of the creator -- whichever is shortest.

If the purpose of copyright is to enrich culture, then the ever increasing periods of exclusivity are very, very contra-productive. For instance, there are very few books that were new in the 1980's now available on Amazon. That's certainly not enriching the culture -- it actually makes the selection poorer. And as an author, wouldn't you want your work to be out there, so that others may enjoy it? So that they might buy your stuff?

A good example of a great way to 're-mix' cultural artefacts was given by today's Wondermark strip. Today's strip makes exclusive use of images released in the public domain by the British Library. Because the copyright ran out, the creator was free to re-imagine the images into another setting, and enrich our culture in that way.
Why do we have to wait so long before our culture becomes 'ours' again?
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From:andrewducker
Date:December 18th, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Yup. I'm all for copyright, but I think that 20 years is plenty, to be honest.

(And then, I'd be happy for it to be "until death" of other people making money off of it. Make all the Fanfic you like, but no charging for it without permission or death!)
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From:fub
Date:December 19th, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
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What about software copyright? I've been thinking about that since writing this entry. There, too, I think 20 years is more than enough! In the case of business software, running a 20-year old, unsupported version of anything is not going to work for very long -- so there's no reason to keep the software in copyright.
For consumer software, it might be different. Games from 20 years ago or even older are still for sale, for instance at gog.com -- but then again, that means these cultural artefacts are still desirable after all that time. That would support putting those games in the public domain, because there are people whose lives are enriched by having access to these things. (And as much as I like gog.com, I don't think protecting their business model should be the overriding concern here.)
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From:andrewducker
Date:December 25th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
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20 years for software seems reasonable - although lots of modern software is built on code that old.

The problem with games is usually the art - Quake was open-sourced, but the art still belonged to id Software.
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From:fub
Date:December 28th, 2013 03:56 pm (UTC)
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lots of modern software is built on code that old
The fact that you can copy the software and use it for free (as in: beer) does not mean you suddenly have access to the source code! Unless you wish to use a decompiler, but that doesn't really result in code that you'd want to maintain further...

The problem with games is usually the art
But the copyright on that would expire in 20 years too, so there's be no problem in our proposed scheme.
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From:andrewducker
Date:December 28th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
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True on both counts!

And it's not like there are enough people playing the original versions of games 20-years-old to make it a massive market. It's almost invariably updated re-releases that hit the market.
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