back to article 'I think photographers get TOO MUCH copyright for their work'

Copyright is a basic property right. It's one of those fundamental things you just don't muck around with: if someone creates something and others want to use it, they should be paid. Everyone agrees with this - except for one Register reader... This week commentard JeffyPoooh caught a virtual packet from the rest of you for …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Copyright

    I challenge anyone who has their work taken without authorization not to get at least a bit angry.

    Notice that I say 'authorization'. If you release your work (or part of it) under say a Creative commons license then as long as the termes of that license are upheld then great for those who use that work.

    However if you have your work stolen and the thief then passes it off as their own and then sells it then should you just shrug your shoulders and ignore it? Really?

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Copyright

      Really depends on how much cash you can back your lawyer with... If it's Mom Corp, or President Business that pinched your work, you're won't see that commission payment. Don't hold your breath, the check is not in the mail. However, you might get a counter suit for bothering them.

    2. SDoradus

      Re: Copyright

      "I challenge anyone who has their work taken without authorization not to get at least a bit angry."

      You may well be a little angry, but so might the person you accuse of 'theft', especially since making a copy is not stealing under the law.

      Authorization didn't exist in a lot of early societies. The idea that ideas or expression could be 'owned' is not a cultural universal. In those societies the notion that people needed authorization to use what you wrote, spoke, or invented would have been offensive to the point of combat.

      Copyright dates from around 1714 in UK statutes and the idea of 'owning' expression is a lot older (cf. Colmcille) but it is not universally approved of even by creative individuals. Expect opposition.

      1. alwarming

        Slightly OT

        FWIW, Bushman didn't (/still don't?) have a concept of ownership for physical objects.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "TOO MUCH" does not imply a preference for zero in *all* cases

      "...if someone creates something and others want to use it, they should be paid. Everyone agrees with this - except for one Register reader..."

      Classic Strawman FAIL. 1) E.g. No disageement here that Ansel Adams deserves his copyright (an obvious counterexample exposing the strawman nature of your incorrect and overreaching 'summary' quoted above). 2) In the example under discussion, the payment might best be in bananas. The monkey literally created the work in question; the human is falsely claiming copyright and should be fined $10,000 for false claims.

      The point: It is trivial to create examples where a copyright might be legally claimed, in circumstances where there is zero moral basis. Or vice versa! The most interesting part is the part at the middle, where the arbitrary line is drawn. Where do we draw the line in a continuum? In this case, who pressed the button? Are you surprised when perceived injustices arise from such arbitrary dichotomies? Are you surprised that the perceived injustices must come in either polarity? Read that last sentence again. Dawkins recently wrote a bit on "Essentialism", mandatory reading for those confused by the subtler aspects of this argument.

      If photograpers want a copyright for what may include simply pressing the button, then they shouldn't be surprised if their copyright claim is rejected when they didn't even press the button. Injustice? No. Arbitrary? Yes, perfectly.

      Cheers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of people disagree with copyright

    There's nothing fundamental about it, its artificial, and a recent idea.

    There's a whole raft of opinions on this - from those who reject intellectual property completely, to those who would seek to reduce copyright (and patent) terms.

    There have been many creators who have refused to accept copyright - including Leo Tolstoy, and comparisons between copyright and non-copyright regimes has suggested greater readership and profits for writers where there have been no copyright laws.

    On philosophical grounds, who is deprived of anything actual (rather than hypothetical earnings) if a work is copied? Nobody. If you want to prevent copying, then use contracts with the purchaser and private law to enforce this.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

      If by recent you mean a couple of thousand years then sure?

      1. SDoradus

        Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

        An order of magnitude less than a couple of thousand years.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

          Not quite :) I was thinking of the dispute in the 550 's in Eire when the King ruled "Le gach boin a boinin, le gach lebhur a leabrán."

          Google Columcille and Finnian. It's not exactly a formal IP system but it is certainly a recognition of an authors rights.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

            This is a great paper on ancient thinking on intellectual property.

            local.droit.ulg.ac.be/sa/rida/file/2008/23.Selle.pdf

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

      Also more formal copyright has been around for at least 300 years.

      As for Tolstoy, you mean Count Leo Tolstoy born with an entire silver tea service in his mouth? He had the option to refuse copyright as most people do via releasing work under alternate licenses. Copyright remains as a protection to those who believe that they would be better served by a more restrictive license on their work. The freedom for those to choose the opposite is also there.

      Copyright may be too long in some cases but it does serve to protect investment. I invested in my career, copyright protects my investment. I extend an unlimited license to couples whose weddings I shoot (or in reality shot as I don't do that anymore) but that copyright also protects them from the shots being used elsewhere by other people (a model release is not always required). It is not cut and dried. There are definitely abuses of the system but there are clear to see in the contract when you hire a photographer. If you remove copyright then you can kiss goodbye to people investing hundreds of thousands in training and equipment. Enjoy having your kids wedding shot by a SMWAC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

        > Copyright may be too long in some cases but it does serve to protect investment. I invested in my career, copyright protects my investment.

        I cannot think of any worthwhile career that does not require investment - yet there are very few where there is a guaranteed return on the investment. There are even fewer careers which generate an income for 50-70 years after the worker's death.

        > If you remove copyright then you can kiss goodbye to people investing hundreds of thousands in training and equipment. Enjoy having your kids wedding shot by a SMWAC.

        You could probably become a Rocket Scientist for under a hundred grand. All I can say is - if it took an investment of 'hundreds of thousands' to enable you to take competent wedding photos, you must use a *really* up-market brand of snake oil.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

          Not really, two years lost wages plus 8 years of equipment.

          As for guaranteeing income, that isn't the car, it is about protecting what you are worth. If nobody wants to pay them you get nothing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

            > As for guaranteeing income, that isn't the car, it is about protecting what you are worth. If nobody wants to pay them you get nothing.

            Ultimately it's the market that decides your worth, not your sense of entitlement. It seems to me that you are using copyright to blackmail clients into paying inflated prices for your work.

            If someone engages you to photograph their wedding, it should be implicit that the rights to the photographs belongs to the client.

            To suggest that the work may turn up in a commercial setting if they don't pay a copyright fee smacks of gouging and sharp practice.

            1. Rampant Spaniel

              Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

              I think you have misread what I said. When I shot weddings the clients got an unlimited license covering all my work for them. They were free to do whatever they wanted with all the shots.

              Copyright in that sense just served as a protection for them and myself against 3rd parties using the images. I fail to see what you are getting so upset about. Copyright on stock work is more central to payment but it basically allows cost to be shared between clients and for a more survival of the best environment as opposed to the patron system which existed prior to copyright where works were commissioned by those rich enough to afford them to themselves and whilst copies were made normal people had very little ability to influence what was created (besides with playwrights).

              Copyright doesn't serve to force people to pay for something they don't want or blackmail them, it just ensures they pay for what they do want.

              The copyright doesn't tend to belong to the couple in a wedding but their rights over their own likeness does belong to them so a photographer cannot sell their images for use in an advert. He or she potentially could sell them as fine art although it would bury their career if they did so without the clients permission. Reputation is extremely important in event photography so screwing over clients is very rare these days. Costs are almost always upfront these days as well, digital made it a lot easier to control costs. I can't speak for others but when I did extra albums and prints ( above what was included in their package which was the same as the cost factored into their original package) it was cost plus 15% plus tax. I think you grossly misunderstand the situation here?

    3. Spleen

      Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

      The idea that people deserve to receive payment for the sweat of their labour, and that people don't deserve to receive payment for someone else's sweat without permission, is most certainly not recent. The simplest organism trying to rid itself of a parasitic amoeba is trying to achieve the same thing as an artist who asserts copyright over his work. Nothing fundamental indeed.

  3. Dave Bell

    There are some strong arguments that current copyright terms are over-extended. And different term rules for different media add to the confusion. Music recordings had a copyright life of fifty years, and one Beatles record did drop out of copyright before a change in the law took effect. But how many records from 1963 does anyone care about? (And the copyright on the music and lyrics is different.)

    It's complicated.

    And how many of these copyright extensions benefit the creators rather than some undying corporate entity?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      And how many of these copyright extensions benefit the creators rather than some undying corporate entity?

      This.

      I have friends who are musicians or artists. They rely on copyright for their living. These are the people that I want copyright to protect. The corporates just use their muscle to screw as much money as possible out of everyone. This shouldn't be surprising - it's what companies exist to do: Make money.

      Again, though, it's complicated. Corporates often take risks with new artists, and so want some reward for their risk taking. It's when corporates get lazy and would rather earn money from old work, rather than invest in new work that things get bad.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We should mix things up a bit - if someone takes a photo of a photo then they should have the final copyright until someone else does the same. That would keep lawyers and sellers of atomic clocks in business and that can only be a good thing

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      You raise a good point. So, I take a well known best selling book and take a "photograph" of each page, I can then sell that series of photographs since I own the copyright :-)

      A scanner is just a slightly different form factor camera after all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I missed the story about monkey photographer copyright discrimination but on the Apple animated sidewalls story I made a comment with this title

    'Patents and Copyright should be scrapped (Trademarks are ok though)'

    and gained 2 upvotes so there are at least 3 people who think the same.

    If three people come onto the register and say that 'Patents and Copyright should be scrapped' we got ourselves a movement.

    The Register anti-patent and copyright movement . . . and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.

    (sorry Arlo)

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      "If three people come onto the register and say that 'Patents and Copyright should be scrapped' we got ourselves a movement."

      A movement? In that case, please move yourselves onto the firing range. TIA.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm already in range

        Ok VinceH,

        I take it you are in favour of patents/copyright, fair enough.

        Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it.

        Any evidence will do, just provide me a link or two.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oh Vince

          A thumbs down is not evidence Vince

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Oh Vince

            "A thumbs down is not evidence Vince"

            I didn't give you that first thumbs down. But I have now added to it.

        2. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: I'm already in range

          Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it.

          Are you willing to invest £2 billion in the development of the next wonder drug when you won't get anything in return for that expenditure? Or $200 million on next summer's blockbuster film with no hope of ever even recouping that? Of course not: the various forms of IP protection make those kind of ventures viable. Even at the smaller scale end of things copyright is vital: it's even critical for open source to work.

          I'm a commercial programmer (in part at least) and my livelihood depends of the results of my labours having commercial value. If they don't ultimately I don't get paid. I also have a smallish open source project I developed a few years back - perhaps 150K source code but still at least a thousand hours work. That's BSD licensed so it can be widely copied, put into commercial products etc and of course I don't get any money from it.

          Copyright is still key - it is ultimately copyright that prevents my author attribution being removed, which is my real payback for the time I invested. That copyright notice bearing my name has real value when seeking new employment - it is an example of my work that is easy to cite to a prospective employer, and indeed has itself led to a couple of approaches regarding job opportunities. I don't get that without the protection copyright gives me.

          Yes, you can argue about the details such as whether terms are too long and so on, but to seriously argue that the ability to profit from your work does not encourage that work to be done is economically incoherent.

        3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: I'm already in range

          @ST7 Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it.

          Prior to the introduction of copyright in the 18th century, artists such as Hogarth suffered serious diminution of earnings because their engravings were pirated almost as oon as they were published. This at a time when the copying process was far more labour-intensive than it is today.

    2. Caesarius
      Joke

      Re: Arlo (@ downvoters)

      Oh come on: you can't possibly downvote a reference to father rapers just because ST7 forgot to fly the the JokeAlert flag!

  6. VinceH Silver badge

    "Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it."

    Given that I didn't say it did, let alone hint at it, I can only offer this link in response.

    The reason I am in favour of copyrights is because I write software, I write fiction, I write content for my websites, I take - admittedly mostly not very good - photographs (and some of my photographs I use in software and on websites).

    Without the protection offered to me by copyrights, why should I bother? What would be the point of creating something if some other fecker can just come along and use what I have put my time and effort into creating without compensating me in any way?

    My business celebrated its 25th birthday earlier this year. Without copyright protection, I doubt I would have ever bothered, and it would never even have been born. (So I suppose that counts as an answer to your straw man argument.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Without the protection offered to me by copyrights, why should I bother?

      For the advancement of society? For the love of the craft? For the money an employer pays you?

      People - especially creative types - can be motivated by more than just money. Otherwise there'd be no need for Creative Commons or Free software.

      > My business celebrated its 25th birthday earlier this year. Without copyright protection, I doubt I would have ever bothered, and it would never even have been born.

      But you would have done *something*, right? You started a business, so I guess you're not the kind of person to sit around and live off welfare. Perhaps the work you *could* have done would have been even more valuable to society?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        For the love of the craft? I'm not sure my kids school or the supermarket accept that as payment :) Would I shoot just for fun, sure its what I do now and its what I did before. Whilst I still have a fair amount of kit I do not have all the kit I had as a pro which limits my ability to create. Doing it for love rather than money also limits my ability to invest in creating situations. I think at best, unless I was like your beloved Tolstoy and born with a huge bank balance to fund my passion I would not have been in a position to shoot at the same level nor in the variety of situations.

        1. SDoradus

          There were many who wrote, drew, and photographed 'for the love of the craft' before copyright protected them, and still managed to pay the bills. It may be that the creator deserves payment. What usually happens is that some non-creator buys the rights and takes advantage to a far greater extent than your grocery bill.

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Hello! It seems you need clarification on the difference between "hobby" and "profession".

            I take photos for a hobby, because I enjoy it. It doesn't form any part of my income and I don't give a toss who copies them.

            My friends take photos for their profession. They work hard, buy expensive equipment and don't have any other form of income except payment for freelance work and the royalty sales from their previous photos. If someone publishes their photos and does not pay them, they go hungry and if this continues they will either a) die of hunger or b) abandon 30+ years of experience in a field in which they are experts and find a new field.

            Now I realise this happened with coal mining in the UK for example, and not every profession will last for ever, but if you're going to throw an entire industry on the fire then you had better have a very good reason, and a nebulous "information wants to be free" of the fact you can't be arsed tracking down or paying the owner of a photo you happen to like is arguably not enough justification.

      2. VinceH Silver badge

        "But you would have done *something*, right? You started a business, so I guess you're not the kind of person to sit around and live off welfare. Perhaps the work you *could* have done would have been even more valuable to society?"

        I would probably have remained in my first job and progressed from there, eventually becoming a fully qualified bean counter. Whether that would have been more valuable to society is another matter - and not something that can be realistically debated because it's impossible to know where things would have gone, and the exact type of bean counting I'd specialise in.

    2. SDoradus

      You didn't actually answer the guy's question. Straw man criticism or not, it deserved an answer. One review article referencing many studies purporting to establish that strong IP promotes invention is here:

      <http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/05/02/the-economic-case-for-strong-protection-for-intellectual-property/id=49376/>

      A certain amount of skepticism is in order respecting such studies, since rights-holders (and the important ones are hardly the most creative) have an economic incentive to make people think their way. "Cui bono"/"To whom the profit" is a maxim to bear in mind. For that reason, studies tending to show the opposite are fewer on the ground, but for those interested here are two which at least attempt not to prejudge the issue:

      A civilized discussion on Patents <http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6647/do-patents-boost-innovation>

      As to Copyright: For those who prefer to believe that if you did not found your business someone else would have done something similar, a report advocating the reverse proposition can be found here:

      <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090617/1138185267.shtml>

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VinceH - a fair point

    (who is the mystery thumbs downer then ?)

    I write software as well, I'm fairly sure that some of the assembler I write has been written before (and I've been doing it since the late 70's), just how many combinations of 0's and 1's can you get, jeez I just want the value on a pin.

    Do you carve your software from raw logic, deep in the mine where no one has been before, where unique logic conditions are there to be found and utilised by only those who can grab that monopoly first ?

    If you work for a company then they own all your output (even the stuff you do at home for fun), You work for yourself, you get to keep what you do plus all the stuff your employees create.

    Give us a clue then, how much of your stuff has been used (without your permission) by others ?

    How much of that stuff would have been used if the users had known that you could enforce payment ? How do you value the lost revenue ?

    I'm glad that you have been in business for more than 25 years, I assume that you have worked bloody hard to make it the success that it is and that rather than relying on the one idea you had 25 years ago to pay your pension, you have continued to innovate and improve your output, if so you rightly deserve the rewards of that hard work.

    I asked for evidence that copyright/patents encourage innovation/creativity/enterprise.

    'I doubt I would have ever bothered' isn't evidence, in fact I think you would have persevered (and succeeded) whatever obstacles were put in your way.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: VinceH - a fair point

      OK you got me thinking. Would I have left a well paid job as a corporate minion to be a photographer if copyright hadn't have protected my work?

      FWIW I started out wanting to work on landscapes with some sports work but ended up as a general events photographer. My commitment was a couple of years training and around 200k in cash in lost wages and equipment over my 'career'. Would I have been given approval by the lawn sprinkler of rules to do it? I think we all know that is a hell no.

      Looking at what copyright does is interesting. There are valid arguments against it, but in one sense it does liberalize media. If there were no copyright I would have to ensure I made all my income in a single sale of each image (in the stock \ commission market). This would mean that rather than selling 20 or 30 images of a landscape I would have to recoup that (minus additional production costs) in a single sale. In that sense copyright makes art cheaper to the end user. Copyright allows for the cost of production (which can run into the thousands for a single image) to be shared. In some instances there is only a single purchaser such as a company wanting a shot for an advert, but then their expenditure is protected from use by other companies.

      Some great works have come from photographers doing something off their own bat, touring somewhere and compiling a collection which then goes into a book and prints. This is frequently done using their own finances, this simply isn't going to happen for most normal folks who have kids to feed unless they know they have some chance of recouping their investment.

      My model for events was to charge an hourly rate which I was happy with and turn over all work to the client that met my standards with an unlimited license and the option to buy more prints \ albums at sensible prices. In this respect copyright served as an additional protection to the client. However many photographers base their model around a low hourly rate or set fee and then make their profit on print and album sales at increased markups. Copyright allows them to do that. It's not a con, it can work out better for the b&g because they can select only the shots they want and vary their cost. Nothing is hidden, it's all up front in the contracts.

      I am all for discussing the merits of extensions or duration of copyright. I respect the value of works being in the public domain, but there needs to be a balance between that and a free for all. There are some silly abuses over taking similar pictures which does need to be remedied. Abolishing copyright is just nuts. IP is what gave me the confidence to jump into that career, IP is what allowed the companies who made my tools to develop them. IP both allowed Canon and Nikon to develop in lens image stabilization technology but also (lawsuit pending?) allowed Nikon to deal with Sigma allegedly copying their implementation of it. Nikon and Canon both put the resources into developing their own technologies that did the same thing in a different manner, it would seem that Sigma decided it could short cut this and borrow Nikon's work to reduce their costs. IP seems to have worked sensibly there no?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: VinceH - a fair point

        To take it a little farther, compare countries with strong IP laws against those with weak or no IP laws. Tell me which set of countries has developed the most technology, drugs, software, etc over the past 300 years. Which countries have allowed the use of monopolies to encourage investment, has it worked? Which developed countries have shunned IP protection and thrived?

        Look around you, that technology, your phone, your computer, your router etc, all based on IP and frequently on standards backed by IP to allow inter operation. If it costs X to develop something but Y to manufacture it, and Y < X, what incentive does a company have to push forward in differentiating its products. It can just produce what everyone else produces. Money spent on r&d is wasted as any new feature can be copied freely by competitors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Rampant, It was convincing until 'Strong IP'

          Read your history, IP is only enforced once vested interests have established themselves.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Rampant, It was convincing until 'Strong IP'

            Which history in particular?

            I used the term strong to differentiate between countries where IP is open to everyone and those where it is ignored when convenient and generally only available to the state.

            As regards Canon \ Nikon and Sigma, I would love it if that we true but it doesn't work that way. Sigma are gaining ground, Sony are doing insanely well (relative latecomers) and Nikon is tanking in a quite spectacular fashion. Sony larger deserves to do well. It caught Canon sleeping (it still hasn't woken up), Nikon was a victim of its own foolish choices. Sigma allegedly copying Nikon's technology (which it is worth noting differs from Canons, same effect, different method independently created) allowed them to spend less on R&D and therefore sell products with comparable features (at least now their QC is up to scratch) for less. This took chunks out of all the big players bottom lines, especially as the profit in making cameras comes from the middle of the market not the top.

            Take drug companies, right now they face three markets. Pure capitalistic ones like the USA where they are pretty much free to charge what they like, regulated markets like Canada and the UK where they largely pay a single price which is either negotiated or forced and markets where their product can be copied at will. Eradicate even the first, let alone first and second, and where does the revenue to develop new drugs come from? It could come from government funding, the removal of copyright and IP in general would probably work better in a communist society. The problem then is our innate greed corrupting that society as we have seen from the history you mention.

            Van Gogh is an interesting example. From a middle class background, loads of talent, nuttier than squirrel excrement or just frustrated by constant illness and died, possibly murdered \ possibly suicide, broke. His business model was to sell single images but the market then differed and his success was hardly significant. It also put his work in limited hands. Now I am and never have been anywhere near his level of talent nor have my clients been as wealthy. Ask yourself is the value of a Van Gogh in its rarity or in it's beauty? With photography making a copy is cheap and easy. In photography even a decent forger and materials would cost far more money. Would the world be a better place if there were 1000 of each of his works gracing more museums and homes? IP allows for a medium that is easily copied to be widely distributed but controlled so that the price is not too high. Peter Lik is a great photographer, but of a twat but he has a good eye, some of his work is downright fantastic. Rather than charging a million for a shot (which he has done for one image which was a single print) he can charge $2k for a limited run print and 500 or 1000 people (I forget which) can own it. I personally prefer the latter but that is only my humble opinion. If he did it for free how would he be able to afford to travel, rent helicopters & boats etc. He could still work until he starved but he wouldn't be able to produce the variety of work he does. Prints produced after death, licensed or not don't really impact the artist financially. If the thought is that perhaps if he had that as a form of publicity prior to death he may have done better than perhaps, but then again we are talking about a print of a painting rather than an exact duplicate of a photo and he would only benefit if people actually paid for more originals. If people could make a totally identical copy of his work for free he would probably be very popular, and just as broke.

            Commerce may have thrived, commerce then was mostly direct trade of consumables. Technology tended to belong to a state or the state was the only person able to employ it in any significant fashion. If Egbert the Pisspoor invented something the state took that knowledge or cut off dangling parts until he turned it over to them. I think the world is a better place now. Most homes have a wealth of books, music, art etc or at least could have if they weren't spending all their money on i things. What did the average person have 4 or 5 hundred years ago? A proverbial pot. Medicine alone has advanced massively thanks to technology. Yes it is more expensive than eye of newt but it also works better. We are very close to a cure for AIDS, we have a cure for t2 diabetes and we can cure or treat a lot of cancers, not bad going when you consider the alternatives used to involve letting you die, trepanning or bleeding you.

            The acceleration in technology over the past 300 years has coincided with the introduction of formalized IP and has been notably more advanced in countries with IP law. As I mentioned before, a state without money could manage without IP, but that would require its citizens to be pretty darn amazing people, practical applications of this idea have seen many starve.

            Reforming IP and stopping the abuses that do occur is important. We shouldn't just say it's needed so it can stay as is, nor can we say that a book deserves longer or shorter protection than a song or randomly extend copyrights because we got bribes from that industry at the last election.

            When it came down to deciding to take that career path it was very simple, I needed to invest a significant amount, I had to be sure of a fair chance of a return. I would not have considered it otherwise. A private company doesn't build a road for free, they either sell it, build it under contract or contract a right for a toll.

            1. David Roberts Silver badge

              Re: Rampant, It was convincing until 'Strong IP'

              Cure for T2 diabetes?

              Really?

              What is it and where can I buy it???

              1. Rampant Spaniel

                Re: Rampant, It was convincing until 'Strong IP'

                Quite amusingly is free. It's not a drug. There's a paper out, I think by a team from Newcastle? They noticed that some obese patients who they had crash dieted (the lovely cabbage soup diet) prior to surgery had partial to full reversal of t2 diabetes. They carried out a trial of an extremely low calorie diet and got a great success rate. Iirc they are now working on a more bearable calorie diet over a longer term. This in no way constitutes medical advice! It would be insanity to try this without going to your doctor and discussing it.

                Just found the link. Not bad huh! A free cure. No doubt someone will be selling meal packs to make some money off it. Great science at work though.

                www.ncl.ac.uk/magres/research/diabetes/reversal.htm

            2. SDoradus

              Correlation is not causality

              While it is true that "The acceleration in technology over the past 300 years has coincided with the introduction of formalized IP and has been notably more advanced in countries with IP law," this correlation does not establish a causal link between IP and economic health of a nation. Such studies as have been done tend to disprove such causal links except in the case of pharmaceuticals. My impression is rather that those nations who industrialized rapidly did so because of comparatively liberal copyright and patent regimes (the US patent office required a working copy for any patent application till the end of the last century, for example, which stopped excessively broad claims dead). The current situation where rich nations have burdensome IP rules results from profit-seeking by entities which are usually not themselves terribly creative.

              You also assert that "a state without money could manage without IP, but that would require its citizens to be pretty darn amazing people, practical applications of this idea have seen many starve." We currently have a situation in China where the regime is turning from ignoring or subverting other peoples' intellectual property to profiting from their own, which means actually beginning to enforce the rules they signed up to in order to benefit from eg WTO membership. This predatory behaviour is entirely to be expected from a rational government. I would expect in two or three decades, when their demographics have changed their phenomenal workforce, that the Chinese will be complaining about piracy in nations poorer than themselves.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Rampant - good points

        You make some very good points, all of which should be subject to open and frank discussion.

        I will take the liberty of responding in reverse order cuz I keep scrolling up and down. (surely someone has a patent on keeping track of argument)

        Sigma. Nikon and Canon.

        Two big players developed a (possibly unique and wholly innovative) new system, it probably took them years and cost many $.

        Sigma (allegedly) ripped them off, except N & C had many years to develop their products and bring them to market, no doubt using the 'Nikon' or whatever brand to sell them, me as a professional photographer can't risk using some upstarts (Sigma) kit cuz my clients want to have the confidence that I know what I'm doing, they want Nikon or nothing. Sigma (whether they ripped off the tech or developed it independently) will always be at a disadvantage because they are second to market.

        So holding a patent is not the advantage, commercialising it first with a reputable brand is.

        Copyright isn't a con - I agree with that (surprisingly) I do question its usefulness, surely an album of Bailey prints is worth more if David signs each one individually in ink (or blood), is the unsigned one produced in the same printers worth less ? what about the one produced down the road, sold for half the price that doesn't have the 'official' stamp ? (where is the value, the print, the printer or the blood ?)

        'I would have to recoup that (minus additional production costs) in a single sale.'

        Isn't that how Van Gogh worked ?

        Isn't it true that the 'unlicenced' copies (because he died a long time ago) and prints produced by TD&H maximise his popularity which is reflected in the desirability of an original, withou this popularity would his paintings be worth any more than £30

        Would you have left the security of your job for the 'wild west' without copyright protection ? I don't know, would you still be subject to the lawnsprinkler if you hadn't. That is an individual decision.

        Would you still be in business if the rules were changed ?

        Before the rules were imposed (usually arbitrarily by a King in favour of an individual) there was a free for all yet commerce still thrived.

        Sorry for the long post but copyright and patent is a big issue.

        There are vested interests who wish to keep and stengthen IP

        There are vested interests who like the status quo

        There are vested interests who would like to weaken IP

        There are vested interests who would like to abolish IP altogether

        And there is someone who asks who really benefits from the IP system and where is the evidence.

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: VinceH - a fair point

      "I write software as well, I'm fairly sure that some of the assembler I write has been written before (and I've been doing it since the late 70's), just how many combinations of 0's and 1's can you get, jeez I just want the value on a pin."

      I think that's best answered with a well known quote from Aristotle: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

      "Give us a clue then, how much of your stuff has been used (without your permission) by others ?"

      There have been a few isolated instances, which have been resolved.

      One case with software was a result of a misunderstanding between me and two other parties.

      Another was with some photographs, and I had to get a bit threatening with the organisation involved, but faced with legal action they removed the pictures from their website. I could have pushed for some payment for the time they had them online, but I'm satisfied they were removed.

      The first example, though, which left me rather bemused at the time (1991/2ish?), involved some budget games I sold at the time - not realising I was the programmer, and person behind the software company selling them, someone actually offered to give me copies of the games that he had bought... from me! I was very restrained and polite, and we had a good laugh about it - but I've no way of knowing if he (or anyone else) ever copied them for others.

      "'I doubt I would have ever bothered' isn't evidence, in fact I think you would have persevered (and succeeded) whatever obstacles were put in your way."

      That's just an assumption, though, and not something either you or I can say with any certainty. It's possible, sure - but I think that for it to have been practical, there would need to be some way to legally protect what I've created, to ensure some means of making an income for it. Such as a legally protected right to copy and sell what I produce; a right that nobody else has unless I bestow such a right upon them. We could call this right to copy a copyright.

      If not that, there would need to be something else in place - and, right now, I can't imagine what that could possibly be. So as far as I'm concerned, if you want to argue against copyright, a part of that argument needs to include an alternative.

      I will add that I am not opposed to making the life of copyright protection much shorter than it currently is - because it is too long. And more protection needs to be given to individuals rather than corporate entities, because its the latter who take the piddle.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To the Mystery Thum Downer

    I offer this

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/280/5364/698.full

    show me yours

    1. J. R. Hartley

      The first rule about downvotes...

      Is we don't talk about downvotes.

  9. Oh Homer
    Headmaster

    Correction

    I think people get too much copyright for other people's work, given that all supposedly "creative" works are derivative, to at least some extent.

    The fact that the "other people" in this case happened to be a monkey, which doesn't actually qualify for copyright protection in the first place, only compounds the irony.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Oh Homer
      Headmaster

      Re: "Copyright is a basic property right."

      Exactly. Intellectual "property" is an artificially designated temporary privilege, not some inalienable right.

      If the state protection of knowledge and ideas were a basic property right then it would never expire, but it does expire, and with very good reason, because it's provided for dubiously pragmatic reasons that are morally indefensible (such is the nature of pragmatism).

      It's not really any form of property or right, it's just a time-limited inducement to the sort of people who are only motivated by the promise of being able to monopolise their derivatives of other people's pre-existent knowledge and ideas, in the perhaps vain hope of "promoting science and the useful arts".

      In the final analysis, however, the actual usefulness of anything "created" by their greed-driven target audience of monopolists is highly debateable.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bollocks

    As a teenager, I suffered* torsion of the testes

    I was told, if the worst case happened I might lose a bollock, and was shown a draw of ceramic implants - I can confirm they were a range of sizes, but they were labelled, IIRC, A through to H.

    Just so you know

    *that is entirely the correct word

    1. STGM

      Re: Bollocks

      Apple through to Hundredweight?

  13. markw:

    ARM

    ARM survives by selling IP.

    No copyright, no company.

    Leaves the market dominated by those with production facilities.

    Much as I love Intel ...

  14. itzman
    Linux

    Bemused as to why...

    anyone would think calling Linux boring because it just works means you aren't a fan?

    I love Linux precisely because it works, and goes on working.

  15. Jim 59

    Actual lol

    1/60s work

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Actual lol

      Example: Photographer is sitting on the front step taking pictures of architecture, when a flaming airliner enters the frame. {Click} Okay, granted, with reaction time it might be almost 1s of work. Copyrightable? Yes, of course. He/she pressed the button. Lifetime+ term? Seems a bit generous in this case, do you agree?

      No. That "1/60" tag is *not* referring to Ansel Adams humping his gear up Half Dome for six months. Nor is it referring to the years of effort spent by infinite numbers of weekend photographers taking snapshots of leaves reflected in puddles with $6,000 worth of gear. No. It's referring to the other end of the spectrum of possible examples.

      There are a near-infinite number of examples in the interesting middle bit, adjacent to the arbitrary line scribed into the continuum. The questionable-copyright area, with "1/60s" and Monkey Selfies as examples. Focus on the correct region of discussion please. There's nothing worth discussing at the other end.

      Lesson learned for Mr Monkey Man? Learn to lie: "I used a remote control to activate the shutter at the exact instant that the subject and camera were precisely aligned in accordance with my artistic vision, carefully replicating a 'Monkey Selfie'." He'd have his (US) copyright if he simply knew the rules and could produce a $5 RC from eBay.

  16. Stretch

    Important Point

    You must realise you have NO AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO BE PAID FOR ANYTHING EVER. If you think you can scam people into giving you money for a pretty picture or a nice tune then gratz, carry on, don't mention what a racket you are running.

    But you must, must, MUST realise that it is exactly that: a scam. You must be honest with yourselves. You are con artists. You produce nothing. You cannot eat a picture. You cannot take shelter in a house.

    Take a look a the current penchant for survivalist games. You must find Food! Warmth! At no point are you encouraged to develop a system for monetising humming or finger painting.

    So please, whinge all you like, but deep down, in the depth of your hearts, please, please, keep close to yourselves that you are worthless scum.

    1. DavidJB

      Re: Important Point

      I think you will find that you can take shelter in a house. That is pretty much what houses are for.

  17. DavidJB

    It would be quite possible in principle to achieve the aims of copyright entirely through contractual means. You just require a purchaser not to copy, and to impose an appropriate condition on any subsequent purchaser, setting up a potentially infinite chain of contractual obligations. (Think mathematical induction....) In practice, in a world where not everyone is honest, this approach would be unworkable, because it would be impossible to trace who was responsible for any break in the chain of contractual obligations. Hence the need for copyright statutes, to remedy the defects of a dishonest world.

    The practical difficulty is less applicable in certain cases, notably computer software, games, etc. The contractual conditions of purchase include a non-copying clause, and this gives the vendors a basis for action against infringers. The difference, as compared with more traditional copyright items like books, music, and films, is that computer software, games, etc, are not fully functional without at least occasional connection to the internet. This gives the vendors the opportunity to act against unauthorised copiers in various ways, loosely summarised as 'DRM'. And yet despite the contractual basis for DRM, the freetards hate it even more virulently than copyright. How odd.

  18. Truth4u

    Quite frankly

    I would ask for money every time I walk through Trafalgar square, everyone with a camera should stop and give me money if I appear in the photo, who cares about the scum who took it, I want my rights tooooooo0oo

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory XKCD

    'There's a whole raft of opinions on this'

    'There are some strong arguments'

    I'm interested in the question

    "would the absence of a patent/copyright system encourage or stifle creativity/innovation ?"

    Maybe Randall knows.

    Pint for the links to papers etc.

    local.droit.ulg.ac.be/sa/rida/file/2008/23.Selle.pdf

    <http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/05/02/the-economic-case-for-strong-protection-for-intellectual-property/id=49376/>

    <http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6647/do-patents-boost-innovation>

    <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090617/1138185267.shtml>

  20. steward
    Holmes

    The bill from the plumber

    Although I think copyright needs to be revised - in the US, it can last more than 100 years greater than the patent for a life-saving drug - I take issue with:

    "Me thinks photographers get too much copyright for what is often 1/60s work"

    There's a story of someone who had a clogged pipe and called a plumber. The plumber went to the pipe, hit it once with a hammer, and the pipe unclogged. He then presented the customer with a bill for $100. The customer said "That's ridiculous, you spent 10 seconds hitting a pipe with a hammer. I want an itemized bill." So he got one:

    Hitting pipe with hammer $1.00

    Knowing where to hit $99.00

  21. Adrian Midgley 1

    No it isn't...

    "Copyright is a basic property right."

    It isn't basic.

    It isn't applied to property here, but to information, which is different.

    Copyright is supported and enforced by States for benefits to the commonwealth. Where States get captured by companies the commonwealth gets a disbenefit from their extension of copyright.

    This thought is CC attribute, modify, commercial.

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