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Re: CLUEBAT: copyrights, infringement, violations, and legality

On Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 11:09:31PM -0800, Craig Dickson wrote:
> Paul Hampson wrote:
> > Copyright Act 1968 Section 31:
> > http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s31.html
> I'm not at all sure that copyright works the same in all countries. I
> suppose the related international conventions impose a fair degree of
> uniformity, but it may not be perfect. Anything I say about copyright
> law is based on my understanding of copyright law in the USA.

Well, to be honest, I'm the same, but substitute for 'the USA' with
'Australia, with fallback to the media :-)'

> > > > Is this comparable to "the right to bear arms"?
> > > 
> > > Legally speaking, I suppose so. The "right to bear arms" is guaranteed by
> > > the US Constitution (not that has much effect these days).
> > 
> > BTW, that 'Milita' rider on the clause seems to make it much more ambiguous
> > than I would otherwise expect.
> Not if you understand what a 'militia' is. The common definition of the
> word (in the USA, at least) is that the 'militia' is the entire set of
> able-bodied adult male citizens who are _not_ part of the regular
> military/paramilitary forces of the nation. (Presumably this definition
> is based on a traditional view that women do not engage in combat.) So
> I, as an able-bodied adult male citizen, am legally part of the
> 'militia' and so have the 'right to keep and bear arms'. In theory, at
> least. In practice, the Supreme Court doesn't seem too interested in the
> second amendment. Since things have changed a lot in the last 200 years,
> I don't really have a strong opinion on whether or not the second
> amendment is still a good idea, though in the interest of the rule of
> law, I think if we as a nation feel that there is no longer a need for
> the people to 'keep and bear arms', then we should repeal the amendment
> rather than just pretend it isn't there.

I didn't know what a Militia was. Now I do. Thankyou.

> > > > Copyright is the right to make copies. That's the morphology of the
> > > > word... The logical leap comes in that it is an exclusive right.

> > > Then ignore the word (which is misleading; it's just a word) and examine
> > > its definition and history in law.

> > Why? Are you saying it's always been a misnomer? Or that it's changed
> > significantly since whenever the word was introduced?
> I'm saying that you seem to be confused by the word. You're analyzing
> its etymology and deriving its meaning and properties based on that.
> This is the wrong way to analyze a legal term. Instead, you should be
> looking at how it actually works in law, and the history of that law.
> Given the same legislation, you could call it "football" and it would
> still behave the same: by printing and selling copies of my story, you
> are infringing on my football, and I can sue you and reasonably expect
> to win damages and an order that you cease distributing my story. The
> name 'copyright' is not important.

I'm saying the meaning drives the word, not the word drives the meaning.
I could call it "football", but it wouldn't provide a very clear idea of
what it represents. Wouldn't the obvious default assumption be that
people choose the right words for new concepts? (I'm aware this is quite
frequently not true, but as a default assumption....)

I'm saying that 'copyright' the word is evidence that we are discussing
rights here, not that 'copyright' the word is the cause of the concept
being a right.

At this point, I looked back at the original email, and I can't see
what you're suggest copyright is, if not a right... Neither 'privelege'
nor 'responsibility' seemed to appear in your email, and those are the
words I immediately associate with things that are not rights.... I
don't think they're appropriate, either.

> > Sorry, let me rephrase that so it makes sense, and is actually correct...
> > 
> > If I write a book, isn't it mine to control whether it is read?
> Only if you retain possession of the only copies. If you let someone
> else take it out of your sight to read it, you can't prevent them from
> letting someone else read it too. At least not with copyright law; you
> could make them sign a non-disclosure agreement, but that's a completely
> separate issue.

Here, I'm talking about just the one book, I've written. No copies, yet.
Once it's published (made public) then it's published and you can't ever
go back. (cf Trade Secrets)

> > > > >  If so, when did these
> > > > > copyrights expire, or have they?  If they haven't, who controls them
> > > > Of course they should. Once the author (or authors) are dead, then time
> > > > should run out. Copyright isn't an asset to be bought and sold, it's a
> > > > right.
> > > 
> > > Now you're really showing how little you understand the subject. Copyright
> > > can indeed be bought and sold; in fact, this is how freelance writers make
> > > their living. When you sell an article to a publication, you are selling
> > > the copyright.
> > 
> > Copyright can be assigned, in exchange for money or not. That changes
> > who has the right. In _that_ respect, it can be bought and sold.
> Exactly.
> > I guess I should have said it isn't a "perpetual asset, to be bought
> > and sold for all eternity".
> It isn't a "perpetual asset" at all, since it has a time limit. Of
> course, with a few more Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Acts, we may
> start to forget about that.

Are you agreeing with me here, but in the language of disagreement?
Otherwise, I don't see your point. The Copyright Extension Acts thing
_is_ a worry though. As was the 'Work for Hire' thing Courtney Love
expounded upon years ago.

> > Besdies, I personally feel that the idea of assigning
> > copyright to someone else is a poor idea, anyway. It should be vested in
> > the right person in the first place, the person who expressed the idea.
> Then you are in disagreement with copyright law. As far as I know,
> copyright law has always allowed for the sale of copyright.

That's what I said. If I wasn't in disagreement, I wouldn't need to
point out that in my opinion it is a poor idea.

> > Copyright is to protect the interests of the author. Once the author's
> > dead, what interests can he have?
> No, copyright is to protect the interests of the copyright holder.
> Originally that is the author, but we've already established that it can
> be sold. Also, the author's estate has an interest in any copyrights
> that the author held at the time of his death. It seems a little unfair
> that if an author dies just as his latest book is about to hit the
> best-seller lists, that his new book should instantly jump into the
> public domain, depriving his estate of any proceeds.

Fair point, for which we have the clause where copyright expires
'50 years after the death of the author or date of publication,
whichever is the latter'. Music recordings and films BTW, don't have a
'death of the author' clause, they're just '50 years after recording'.
(That's author in the real sense, not current entity who holds the

Australia's IP system seems to have more mechanisms (remaining?) in
place to prevent perpetual existance of IP.

Until such time as the current attempts by the US goverment to bring
Australia's copyright laws into line with the US have those expirations
deleted, as referenced by you above.

> > You can sub-let parts of Copyright, ie to a publisher, through a
> > license to make copies. That doesn't mean the publisher can prevent
> > you making copies, unless you've licensed exclusive access to that
> > right to the publisher (which is presumabley the common case).
> That is indeed a common case. Sometimes an author sells only first
> publication rights, or magazine rights, but quite often the entire
> copyright is sold, and the author has to get permission from the
> publisher to republish the work elsewhere (e.g., to publish a short
> story in an anthology after selling it to a magazine).
> > And it doesn't change who has the copyright.
> Sometimes it does. It depends whether you sell "all rights" or merely a
> subset of rights, such as first publication rights.

Hey, you dropped the other half of my example, where you _do_ assign the
rights. No fair selective quoting!
> > [And someone else pointed out]
> > > But if you publish it, you have no right to control who reads it.
> > 
> > Why not? People publish books all the time, sold 'on the condition it
> > is not offered for sale etc outside of countries X,Y and Z'.
> That's the publisher trying to cover his ass. If a publisher has only
> North American rights, for example, he would want to include a
> disclaimer that the book can only be sold in the USA and Canada. It
> has nothing at all to do with copyright.

Those 'North American' rights are granted by the copyright holder.

> > This may
> > be mainly true of academic textbooks, and it doesn't prevent people from
> > carrying them personally across national borders, but that's not an
> > issue of rights, it's an issue of enforcement.
> No, that's a matter of contractual enforcement, if anything. It isn't a
> matter of copyright, because transporting a book from one place to
> another is not making a copy of it. In any case, I highly doubt that a
> "This book is sold on the condition that..." statement is enforceable at
> all unless the bookseller gets his customers to read and agree to it
> before paying for each book. I'm pretty sure it just functions as a
> disclaimer.

Didn't I just say that?

> > As I said, I was making an extreme example. I don't seriously believe
> > that a house burning down is not as bad as illegally copying someone's
> > book. However, if the contents of my dorm room was burnt to the ground,
> > my sorriest loss would be the stuff on my computers that I have produced
> > myself and hold copyright in. Everything else in the room is (give or
> > take) replaceable in functionality, if not in form. I'm not saying I
> > wouldn't miss all my stuff, but I know what's important.
> You live in a dorm? Well, of course you don't care about the building
> itself; it's not yours. Compare that to my house, which (modulo the
> mortgage) I do own, and where I've redone the roof, replaced all the
> windows, had it painted inside and out to my liking, replaced carpets
> and refinished hardwood floors, redone the landscaping, replaced
> built-in lighting fixtures... there's a lot of creative thought that
> goes into doing all this, making choices among various alternatives,
> making the place into my home, not just some anonymous house that I and
> my family happen to be living in at the moment. This is a big deal. If
> it all burned down, I wouldn't just be upset about the loss of all my
> books and records, nor would the insurance money make everything okay.

I'm not talking about the books and records in your home, unless they're
ones _you_ have written/recorded but not yet benefitted from. Frankly,
I'd be terribly upset if this building burnt down, even if all my stuff had
already been moved to my car. Just 'cause I don't own the place doesn't
mean I don't have pride in my home. I think this part of the discussion
has lost my original point though.

Paul "TBBle" Hampson, MCSE
5th year CompSci/Asian Studies student, ANU
The Boss, Bubblesworth Pty Ltd (ABN: 51 095 284 361)

Of course Pacman didn't influence us as kids. If it did,
we'd be running around in darkened rooms, popping pills and
listening to repetitive music.

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