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      I work in a context that only exists because copyright laws protect creators and enable them to create on a professional and not hobby basis. So I’m in no way a believer that copyright is inherently evil.

      But archive.org is my only way of accessing the vast amount of literature (fiction and non-fiction!) between the end of the public domain (1920s) and, say about 2010. It is really disingenuous for publishers to claim that they are losing money from these works being available, because they are not publishing them themselves.

      I would like to share the books I read and loved as a child with my children. Often archive.org is the only way to do that.

      I would have a lot more sympathy for the publishers if they provided a blessed legal version of archive.org with their entire back catalog (unedited!). I would in all seriousness pay for access to that.

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        I used to work professionally as a musician. In theory, copyright law protected my livelihood; in practice, copyright was how various thugs would shakedown music venues for royalties, and often I would be told by venue owners/managers that we needed preapproval on every song we played.

        Copyright is inherently unfair; some artists will get lucky and their particular expression of a popular idea will be legally protected, while most artists will be ineligible for the same protection.

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          The law in this case only holds up if the person who owns the copyright has enough money and time to pursue enforcing it.

          When we talk laws and rules, I think that point gets glossed over. Lessig (1999) identifies four elements that regulate behavior (online): Laws, norms, markets, and technology.

          • Code/architecture – the physical or technical constraints on activities (e.g. locks on doors or firewalls on the Internet)
          • Market – economic forces
          • Law – explicit mandates that can be enforced by the government
          • Norms – social conventions that one often feels compelled to follow

          In the case of copyright I feel like the market piece dominates the rest as the major players have so much money invested in the system.

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            You probably want to preface that with IANAL.

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              Pretty sure that’s self evident from the post.

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        I would love to see an update to copyright law that requires publication (ideally with no DRM that in any way impedes fair use) to protect works. It annoys me immensely that companies can simultaneously refuse to sell something to potential customers at any price and claim lost revenue when those same people acquire copies elsewhere.

        It would be difficult to implement well. A publisher could easily withdraw something from publication long enough for copyright to lapse and then reintroduce it without having to pay the author, but I can imagine that, with sufficient safeguards, a rule that copyright lapsed three years after last in-copyright publication would be implementable.

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          I would rather see a reduction back to a more reasonable term for copyright length. 120 years is way too long in my opinion.

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            The original Queen Anne statute had a term of 14 years. I proposed life of author + 15 years a few months back and was blasted by a copyright abolitionist for my pains 😉

            Another, related issue is that once copyright is equated with property, it can be sold and signed away to entities with much wider powers than an author or a composer, and the work is no longer a cultural artifact but an investment item.

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              I don’t want to abolish copyright, but I wouldn’t even go as long as life+. Maybe the 28 years the US used for a long time. It seems to me that long copyrights lose their original purpose and just become a way to seek rents.

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              Just had an interesting idea for a novel. In a world where copyright is limited only by the lifetime of the author, building up a valuable enough body of work might put quite the price on one’s own head.

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              For books, at least, the vast majority of the revenue is made in the first 7 years (and more than half of that in the first two) typically. This changes a bit with things like TV or film adaptations, which take a long time to organise. I could imagine copyright permitting redistribution of an original work after 10 years and permitting derived works without a license after a bit longer.

              I think one of the big problems with copyright at the moment is that it isn’t tailored for domains. Software, for example, is completely obsolete when it comes out of copyright (the first ever copyrighted program is still under copyright). I doubt anyone benefits from, for example, Windows NT 4 or MacOS 9 still being under copyright, but the fact that they are makes (legally) emulating environments to run old software difficult.

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          That makes sense. To retain a trademark you have to use it and take efforts to defend it. It makes sense to me to have a “use it or lose it” to other intellectual properties.

          I think the major problem would be encoding that into a law that’s enforceable and not easilly gamed. We don’t want publishers doing 10 book runs every 5 years and throwing them in the landfill to retain their rights.

          Interesting enough one of the reason George Lucas got toy rights back for Star Wars was part of the license that was originally sold off said toy publishers had to make toys every year and they neglected to do that. (paraphrasing)

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          You could have full rights return to the author on the expiry of three years, who would then have three years to fulfill the publication requirement. And maybe a provision for an author to provide notice that they’re going to publish before the publisher’s three years are up.

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        I would like to share the books I read and loved as a child with my children. Often archive.org is the only way to do that.

        Just to add to that, re-issuing books is not always the straightforward affair it’s sometimes made to be.

        One of my favourite things in this world, which I’ve always carried with me when I moved, is an obscure children’s book I’ve had since I was a child. It has large, paged-sized illustrations scattered throughout it, like most children’s book have. Thing is, it was published at a time when things were… expensive where I’m from. So the illustrations aren’t coloured, they’re sort of in the style of 1940s Walt Disney newspaper comics. That was obviously not a problem for me, or most other children my age: we had crayons, so we all coloured our illustrations.

        I can’t quite describe how popular this was. 30+ years later we still ask “what colour did you make the balloon?” and we all remember what colour we made it. The book was a hit among children our age, it was fun and easy to follow along. And, while not a colouring book, and very much a “serious” book otherwise – it’s literally a novel! – the fact that we could “contribute” to it to some degree was a huge part of the experience. For many people my age, this book was the gateway into reading, the first “long” book they’d ever finished, the first book they’d read cover to cover more than once and so on.

        Anyway, this book was republished a few years ago, which I learned from a friend of mine who’d bought it for her child, along with a pack of crayons. However, in keeping with the times, the editor decided to republish the book with full-colour illustrations, which she only realized when they unwrapped the damn thing and her child flipped through it and asked what he was supposed to do with the crayons now. Presumably someone in marketing thought the children might get bored or whatever. The book is still fun but… it’s not quite the same book, you know?

        Thing is, an uncoloured copy of it is not easy to get these days. One pops up in used bookstores every once in a while, but precisely because it was so popular, and especially after it was reissued in a slightly different format, it’s crazy expensive.

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          But what is the book??

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          Can you share the title of this wonderful book?

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            @nickspoon’s question sent me down the Internet rabbit hole last evening. I had no idea it had ever been published in English, I could’ve sworn it was mostly an Eastern European thing!

            Given that’s the case, and based on how many people voted both your and nickspoon’s question, I think it’s worth sharing – the English translation was published as “The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends”. archive.org actually carries a 1980 English edition that’s very similar to mine, which is a local edition – it has a handful of full-colour illustrations but most of them is black and white. Some modern editions coloured some, or all of those black and white illustrations, too.

            I think it was published pretty much all over Eastern Europe; I know people from Albania, Poland, and the Czech Republic who’ve read it. I’m not sure if it was equally popular all over Europe and across all generations. It was hugely popular in my generation. Basically everyone I know in my age group (35-40) has read it.

            Two huge disclaimers: 1) this is a book from a very different era, and from a very foreign place. Some of it may have aged poorly, especially if read by someone who doesn’t know its original cultural context – not to the point where it’s offensive, I think, but nonetheless, 2) please don’t take this as my endorsing anything about it other than that it was fun for young kids to read back then.

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        I work in a context that only exists because copyright laws protect creators and enable them to create on a professional and not hobby basis.

        While I don’t disagree with at statement, I don’t think the inverse is true, that having no copyright would prevent a professional basis. Another facet to this is that copyright can certainly also prevent creators from the same thing in many different ways.

        I also think large parts of culture that creators rely on only even exist because copyright for some reason (time, waiving, etc.) didn’t exist or was broken.

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      The Internet Archive is a unique memory institution in our time. It aims to preserve parts of the vast digital world, digitize bits of the physical world [1], it doesn’t track anyone, you can access it freely (and conveniently, e.g. from the command line [2]) and it is used by millions every day.

      I hope people support their fight [3][4].

      [1] https://twitter.com/internetarchive/status/1589671252968734720 [2] https://github.com/jjjake/internetarchive [3] https://blog.archive.org/2023/03/25/the-fight-continues/ [4] https://mastodon.archive.org/@internetarchive/110081855742221604

      Disclaimer: I’m contributing to a few software projects at IA.

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        The Internet Archive is a unique memory institution in our time.

        Most people I’m reading who know about archiving and its importance are livid. Not at the court, at IA for doing something so mind-bogglingly risky that might end up bringing the whole project down.

        The best support the rest of us can offer might be to stand up a replacement with better leadership, get as much data copied over as possible, and then let IA collapse.

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      Isn’t this just going to push people towards shadow libraries, which are even worse for the publisher? People are already recommending a few over at the orange site.

      I don’t really see what’s in it for the publishers.

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        Shadow libraries are mostly cracked ebooks, so they mirror recent publications. They don’t have the mass of scanned 20th century printed books that Archive.org has.

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          While true, it’s fair to assume that shadow libraries will start hosting some of the content of archive.org with this new ruling….