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Copyright Amendments for the 21st Century

posted Oct 18, 2019, 11:20 PM by Tomas Svoboda   [ updated Oct 23, 2019, 6:43 AM ]
Starting points:
The Information and Knowledge based industries have been frustratedf or decades by the fact that within our reach there are millions of books, thousands of movies and other products of human creativity whose contents must not be publicized due to obstacles in outdated copyright legislations.
That is in marked contrast against contemporary technological powers that enable us to immediately access information anywhere in the world.
Copyright laws in their current form forbid most free usage of a work until its author has been dead for 70 years (so called „securely dead“).
That applies even to cases where the identity of the author is unclear or when they were ignoring their own work. That gives rise to desperate situations and works laying forgotten in libraries and archives.
This dismal situation requires substantial improvements of almost a revolutionary nature.
The public frustration from the inadequacies of copyright laws is so immense that it may even create a risk of non-systemic solutions similar to Marxism. It is in everyone's interest to achieve improvement by traditional means and avoid any radical disruptive revolutions.

Solution in One Sentence: 

If the author has not been taking care of their work or  or is unreachable then free distribution of their work should be allowed.

Foundations

Author resp. The copyright owner has the right to determine how his or her work will be treated
The public has the natural right of easy access to works that have been published in the past
The ease and fidelity of copying in the digital world make it possible to distribute works without much effort from the owner

Definition

Information content of a permanent nature (as opposed to current news) including
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Digital photo
  • Music recordings
  • Sheet music
  • Magazines (and similar collections) which have expired from their immediate meaning
  • ...
Examples
  • Out of print on Google Books - searchable but not viewable
  • Magazine digitized in library without online access
  • Movie once aired on television but otherwise unavailable

Target Status

From the Consumer's Point of View
When I am interested in a certain work of which I know the title and author, I find it with the usual search engine and get:
A link where the copyright owner permanently sells the work in digital form, such as an Online Bookstore. I'll gladly pay him.
It is easy to arrange permanent digital distribution - for example, as an e-book on Amazon. As well as easy paper distribution, offered by print-on-demand services.
If the owner does not offer the work or is unfindable, I get a link to a library or business that has taken advantage of the owner's inactivity to distribute a digital copy of the work by their own diligence - for money or for free This is the case when the owner ignores their work, for example, because they are dead without heirs or does not want to deal with the work anymore.


From the Author's Point of View

I had written a book. No publisher was interested in it, so I placed it on Amazon as a self-published e-book and print-on-demand.
Anyone in the world can buy it because I have no geographical or other restrictions.
This has ensured that it would be available for a long time if someone showed interest in it.



Solution


Assumption:
The publisher has already offered the work for public distribution commercially or free of charge.

If the copyright owner of the work has not taken any action controlling the distribution of his work for a period of N years, anyone is permitted to freely distribute digital copies of the work. This would bring us closer to patent protection, where the owner has to do some - even marginal - actions to continue his ownership.

By digital copy we mean something that can still be freely copied, not a controlled consumption approach. (This is to prevent anyone from making their own walled garden.)
An "action" means:
  • Keeping one's work available with a commercial or free offer
  • Publicly ordered or prohibited by the owner to distribute the work
  • ….
The ideal technical solution would be a compulsory registration with an authority, as is the case with patents, but this is not realistic because of the European principle that a work and its protection arise through creation, not registration.
An owner whose work has been released for free due to a prior reason may return the control of their work by
  • Executing one of the previous actions
  • Adequately informing those who freely distributed the work in good faith

Up to time given by the current regulations, ie 70 years after the author's death.



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