April 2005

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December 14, 2004


Copyright registrations need to be automated.

More importantly, those registrations need to be on-line so that applications can know whether or not a work is re-distributable...

This seems like a good idea, but i dont agree necessarily that unlimited renewals conflicts with the "limited times" provision in the copyright clause. I'm sure there's some con law argument that I dont know about, but this clause secures this exclusive right to "authors and inventors." As far as I can see it, there's an inherent limitation - you die, you cant renew. This obviously isnt a perfect answer, and i realize that the RIAA/MPAA wouldnt want to take on this risk (there's an increased risk to signing someone, i.e. 50 Cent if copyright terms were reduced to 5 years). It just seems that the critics of Posner's proposal focus on the precise wording, "indefinite" while ignoring the reality. Indefinite does conflict with "limited", but truth be told there is a limit that nobody can get around.

Tommy - I don't agree with you. As I wrote in one of my earlier posts:

"The most famous and lucrative works are mainly owned by multimillion dollar corporations, and their owners will undoubtedly continue to give notice of their rights. As long as the work is of considerable commercial value, someone will claim their copyright, if it is possible to continue to do so."

A work is not necessarily owned by a person. Most of the very lucrative works are owned by large corporations that don't "die". If they make money, they can go on for a lot longer than a lifetime - maybe hundreds of years. That can hardly be called a "limited time".

Trine, I agree that companies purchase the exclusive rights to authors works. However, if anyone is going to interpret the copyright clause from a literal standpoint it cannot be ignored that the right is granted to "authors and inventors." This isnt to say that the transferability of the rights afforded by copyrights should be eliminated, but perhaps the workable position to take is that this transferred right should coincide with the life of the author/inventor and not exist in perpetuity. I realize there are still problems with this (i.e. situation where "inventor" applies to several different people), but its just a thought.

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