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Re: Question

On Tuesday 27 December 2005 03:18 am, Katipo wrote:
> Hal Vaughan wrote:
> >On Monday 26 December 2005 10:22 pm, Katipo wrote:
> >>John Hasler wrote:
> >>>In any case, I don't think anything should stay in copyright for 50
> >>> years.
> >>
> >>Definitely not, and in some cases, it's 70 or 90!
> >>
> >>I'd like to see, dependent on case, an absolute maximum of 15, but in a
> >>lot of cases, 5.
> >
> >I wonder, how many copyrights or patents do you hold?
> >
> >If you're a drug company or a big hardware/software company, 5 years can
> > be enough time, but if you're an individual, it can take much longer.
> Then the individual needs to get off his backside.
> And a five year plan will give him the motivation to do it.
> Let's see...
> Creative process, terminating in basic prototype, for example.
> Five years begins here!!!
> O.K., you seem to be under the impression that you are only permitted to
> deal with one agent.
> Rubbish!

And, as a writer, how much experience do you have with agents?

Actually, it depends on the project.  Almost any agent will drop you if they 
find out you're shopping scripts through other agents.  Plus there's the 
contract you have with the agent.  Most writers can't even find it almost 
impossible to get even ONE agent that will give them enough time to get them 

Most of the time a writer will write a script and send it in, it ends up in 
the slush pile, and is read by people paid very little to read scripts and 
write a review.  If you allow only a 5 year copyright, then, as I pointed 
out, all the studio has to do for many scripts is sit on them 5 years, then 
produce it without paying the writer a cent.

> Approach six accountants with a coherent business plan, and if you're
> not up and running within twelve months, with your pick of viable
> financial investors, your product doesn't have a market.

Have you ever tried to start a business?  Seriously?  You speak of how easy 
this is, but it isn't.  For example, just try to get help from the Small 
Business Administration.  Try to get a loan from ANY bank.  The joke that you 
have to prove you don't need a loan in order to get one is not only true, it 
is optimistic.

> If it does, you have a partner who supplies the manufacturing process.

Partner.  Ahh.  Just like the ol' repeated Slashdot comment:

1. Get an idea
2. ?????
3. Profit!

Except you've just switched step 2 with having a partner that will finance 

It doesn't work that easily.  It'd be nice, but it's not the kind of comment 
I'd expect to hear from someone with experience.

> You perhaps handle the marketing between you.
> That's not hard.
> It's a field I know well.

You may know the marketing, but you make it quite clear you expect everyone to 
have magical connections that just fit together when you want to do 

Let me know when you're ready to discuss real life situations.

> >  I'm in my
> >40s and have stories and scripts I wrote in my early 20s that I
> > copyrighted.
> Anything, repeat, anything you write, you automatically own the
> copyright on.
> Even a basic letter home to Mum.

Yes, that is true.  So have you ever talked to a lawyer about how easy it is 
to prove that in court?  It's easier if you've actually copyrighted it 
through the Library of Congress.  From friends and others who I've talked to, 
if you're dealing with the movie industry, it is even easier to deal with 
them if you've registered your script with the WGA.

Common law copyright is a neat idea, but it is about as useful as someone who 
has written a patent and makes $75,000 a year realizing he has a law suit 
against Microsoft, who can basically afford to drag it out and bankrupt him 
and his lawyers long before he ever gets a judgement in court.  While the 
person just might get lucky, the reality of the situation is that he'll go 
broke before ever getting a chance to make some money.  (And I'm sure, since 
you want to show everything is wrong, without solid support, that you're 
going to bring up the one or two cases with Microsoft that were different -- 
I'm making a point, and you damn well know the point is that the chance of 
successfully defending a common law copyright in court is almost nil.  If you 
want to waste time picking at the analogy, have fun amusing yourself.)

> >I'll finally be in a position to produce them (with some re-writing) in
> > the next few years.  It can vary a lot.
> Then it's far from a full time project.

And you would know this because?

Actually, within the next 1-3 years, I will be in a position few writers ever 
reach: I'll be able to write my scripts and, within reason, produce what I 
write, without any networks, studios, notes, meetings, or other crap that 
keeps a writer or director from making the project they want to make.  While 
I won't be able to produce something as big as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ben 
Hur, or Dr. Zhivago, I'll be able to write MY scripts MY way, cast them with 
actors *I* pick, and either hire the director *I* pick or direct it *MY* way.

Getting to this point is NOT a part time project.

> >If I bust my rear and make an amusement park and own the land, I can make
> >money on it for my lifetime by charging admission, and my descendants or
> > the corporation can continue forever.  If I put the same effort into
> > busting my a$$ to write software or a movie, I should not be punished by
> > not being allowed much time to make money on it.
> Why should you be?
> You approach more than one party.
> You sincerely believe you have a viable product, yet you insist on
> selling to only one potential customer in an international market.

You approach more than one party with an amusement part, too.  While it is 
true that with something like a book or film you can create other marketing 
avenues, overall, you have to deal with one entity for the primary 

> I'm sure, that if Run Run Shaw got his hands on a hot script, he
> wouldn't screw around for five years waiting for the concept to become
> unfashionable, he'd get it out there making money. 

And by citing that example, you are doing a good job of saying, "Hey, I missed 
your entire argument, so I'll just set up a straw man I do understand so I 
can take it down -- and, even though I didn't hear what you said and 
substituted another argument, I've proven you wrong."

You're way off from my point.  I'm talking about people that DO NOT have all 
those resources.  Sure, if a director got a good script.  List all the 
directors you know that have any pull with studios.  Then go through the list 
and figure out which ones NO writers are trying to get a script to.

First, again, you're talking about someone with resources that can make such a 
choice, second, if you are NOT that person, but are trying to reach that 
person, you are fighting odds far greater than 10,000 to 1.  And even if you 
get through, things can still fall apart.

As to waiting: if you're in the 1980's and the script is about detectives in 
pastel colors, yes, you have to move quickly.  But if you're dealing with a 
script for a trilogy like Lord of the Rings, you can still do quite a bit 
with it before the 5 years is up, then market it.

> He'd do it in a lot 
> less than five years (how about five months, or a year for a mega
> production), and you're sitting back counting royalties.
> Call me when it happens, we'll party.

Boy, I wish I knew that little about reality, how the Hollywood game is played 
(including the backstabbing and the tricks to prove movies and TV shows make 
no money) and could live in a blissful unreality where the writer does not 
need protection.

> >With that having been said, there is a big difference for intellectual
> >property.  Stories, characters, and scenes from movies, for example, make
> >their way into the zeitgeist and public consciousness and should be
> > allowed to be integrated into other works after a time,
> It will be, and everything is.

No, not everyting.

> There is not one note in the sound spectrum that hasn't been played
> before, it's the individual musician that puts them all together, in an
> expression of individual past experience, that nobody else can quite
> emulate.
> Should we all be denied the sounds of Charlie Parker or Miles Davis,
> because somebody thinks he has some kind of ownership claim to the note
> of F#?

There is a big difference between an F# and an actual melody like "Stardust."  
But, again, you've dodged my point and set up a straw man of 
misunderstanding.  There's a big difference between the fair use of lines 
like "I'll be back," or "Isn't that special," and using 5-10 minute scenes 
from a movie.

> > but on the other hand, if
> >they are that well liked, shouldn't the creator be given as much reward as
> >possible for it?
> No.
> He should be able to earn enough, and maybe a bit (or even, a whole lot)
> more, dependent on individual levels of lethargy, business acumen (Yes,
> that's a talent too), and other aspects that may, or may not be, brought
> to bear.

Should, should, should.  That does not always happen.  It rarely happens.  
You've talked about marketing, but you have not shown that you have any 
experience in actually organizing a company or a production.  You've skipped 
over my points of the small guy and talked about big names.  IF you have the 
resources, you can jump and act.  If you don't, it is not easy to put them 
together.  If you're a writer trying to break into the business, it can take 
a long time to earn the money for a production.  If you write a book, it can 
take years to sell it.  For example, it took Madeline L'Engle years to sell 
"A Wrinkle in Time," dealing with many publishers.  And if you have an agent 
representing you, then you have to abide by the contract.

> >  Poe got $100 for The Raven, but it became popular.  While
> >he did sign away the rights (he needed the money), is it fair for the
> > creator of a work to sit back and watch while others reference their
> > work, over and over, in products which create a profit?
> That would give me a considerable amount of pleasure, if I happened to
> be the creator of the original work.

Okay, let's get to a raw question: just how many stories, scripts, poems, or 
other works have you written?  How many times have you created something by 
struggling with what words go together?  Do you have even a clue what it is 
like to deal with other professionals as a writer?  Or are you just talking 
about how you think things are or how you want them to be?

> No praise more sincere than that of emulation. And, if they can build on
> it, even better.

You can't eat emulation.  While there is a lot of speculation about causes, if 
you were Poe, would you rather have adulation, or would you rather have made 
enough money to pay for lodging and food that was warm enough and nutritious 
enough that your beloved wife didn't die when she was young?

> >>Whether copyright or patent, that gives the creator enough time to make
> >>money from his creation, even if he has the handicap of having to hunt
> >>around for a partner to supply the finance for a project.
> >
> >No, often it does not.  You've never dealt with an agent or producer.
> I wouldn't assume too much here.

Good.  You've assumed you knew everything about anything I've said so far.  
(You must be in marketing, as you claim -- you know how to make everything 
sound wonderful, whether you know the real situation or not!)

> >  Some
> >are honest, many are not.
> Yep, you've got to be street smart to survive.

Street smart != dishonest
For example, I found Ron Moore to be a truly nice person, very helpful when I 
dealt with him and truly sincere.  I hear he's doing well, but just because 
he's running Battlestar Galactica doesn't mean he survived.

> >  All they would have to do is sit on a good script
> >for 5 years (if you had your way), then produce it.
> No, only if you had your way.
> If I had mine, one of the other five would have actioned something,
> while your one off sat on his tod.

Oh wow!  Talking about if you or I had our ways.  Why are you wasting time on 
that?  What is is.  Most hit movies are written by known writers with a 
reputation.  Again, most of my points are about the small guy.  But you seem 
to skip over that.  You also don't seem to have heard of auctions and turn 
around.  Many hits take years before they are produced, due to re-writes, 
personality conflicts, and other problems.  Just look at the fabled "Superman 
vs. Batman" movie or the new "Superman" coming out soon and read their 
histories, or the history of "I, Robot."

And, while you're at it, look at how many movies that were based on good sf 
stories were made well more than 5 years after the book or story was 

It's not about my way or your way.  It's about people with resources using 
those without.  It's about how if you have the influence, you can get things 
done quickly.  If you are on your own or starting from scratch, you can't 
move that quickly and it can take years to bring a project to fruition.

> >  The writer, at that
> >point, is S.O.L.  Many big companies can make money in a short time, but
> > many individuals do not have the resources to make a profit that quickly.
> That's why you get a financial partner.

Oh, that easy, is it?  Just go out and *poof* there is someone who will give 
you the money to do it all.  Someone who has worked hard and has the money.  
And now you are in line, with all the other people who want *his* money to 
have to prove you have the one project that is his best investment.  If you 
want his, say, $100,000 (a very small startup amount), you have to prove he 
is better off giving you $100,000 than giving it to someone else (giving as 
in investing or loaning), putting it in a CD (poor return) investing in a 
blue chip stock, putting it in commodities, or anything else.

Once again, if you have resources or a track record, it can be easy, but in 
this day and age, it is not easy.  I've talked to loan managers at banks 
about financing -- and I don't mean just as an applicant.  One point that 
came up over and over is that small business are no longer started with 
loans.  Nobody except VC or angel investors wants to invest in a new company 
anymore.  A number of them said essentially the same thing: if you want to 
start a new company, count on doing it with family money or by maxing out 
credit cards (which now, if you miss a payment, will often jump to 28% 
interest APR).

> >>After that amount of time, if he's not far enough ahead of the rest of
> >>the market, that's business.
> >
> >That may work in software, but copyrights apply to a lot besides software.
> Every product, and I employ the terminology in its broadest sense, has
> its idiosyncracies, but business principle remains the same.

Yes, and that makes my point.  There are times one has resources and money and 
can make something happen quickly.  If one does not, and one is either 
starting from scratch, or is the "average guy", resources are scarce and it 
can take years to make something happen.


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