# The right to copy

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Is the notion of copyright, of exclusive authorship and ownership (especially of any financial benefit), an anachronism? Is this idea doomed to the scrap-heap of publishing history?

Who hasn't 'helped themselves' (a legally proscribed action) to 'copyrighted' material that you know, you know?

[mod note: moved out of medical to general discussion]

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the copyright laws only exist because the authorities only prosecute the more severe cases and the public tolerate this.

i read a paper on ars technica(EDIT: no, it was slashdot) the other day that concluded that in a year the average person would rack up a few billion dollars worth of copyright violations. if they started prosecuting on this the public wouldn't tolerate it and the laws would be repealed.

EDIT: here is the link http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/11/law_review_arti.html

That seems very artificial though. They are including things like replying to an email and including the original email in your reply (to the tune of $150,000 a pop). I don't see how sending material back to the original sender can in any way be regarded as infringement of copyright. Most of the examples are also similarly ludicrous, such as taking a photograph for private use where a painting can be seen in the background. Argeing that things like that are copyright infringement is like charging someone for assault if they give you a hug or a handshake. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Isn't stealing someones work exercising a "right to copy", then, you would say? No, there is no right to copy. 17 USC 106 Exclusive rights in copyrighted works Subject to sections 107 through 122' date=' the owner of copyright under this title has the [b']exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following[/b]: 1. to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords; 2. to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; 3. to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; 4. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly; 5. in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and 6. in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. 17 USC 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A' date=' the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. [b']In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include[/b] — 1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2. the nature of the copyrighted work; 3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. Notice that all 4 factors must be included in a test by the court to determine Fair Use, not just some of the factors. Where a copyrighted work is copied in its entirety factor 3 fails and anywhere that the copied portion decreases the potential market value. No where can you point out that someone that does not own the copyright has a "right to copy". They may steal someone's work but its not because they have a "right" to do so. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I think copyrights should expire earlyer than they do, possibly with extentions if it can be proven that the company/person has not reclaimed their expenses yet, if it's part of an ongoing series that the author is continuously contributing to, or if it gets really popular towards the end of it's copyright lifetime (bit unfair otherwize). people owning copyrights to works they never even created for decades upon decades isn't a good situation. the intent was to guarantee authors financial reward for their work -- and thus to stimulate the creation of new work -- which then ends up in the public domain. it was never to stimulate new work which then ends up feeding the coffers of some company decades after the author has died. severian: both a handshake and a hug could count as assault and battery. people have, in the uk, been charged with assault via post and via telephone, with at least one case of assault via telephone when the assaulter didn't actually say anything. [/ot] ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites severian: both a handshake and a hug could count as assault and battery. people have, in the uk, been charged with assault via post and via telephone, with at least one case of assault via telephone when the assaulter didn't actually say anything. But that is equally ridiculous. I presume these instances were thrown out of court, but I do think that the authorities who made the charge should be punished for such blatant misuse. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites That seems very artificial though. They are including things like replying to an email and including the original email in your reply (to the tune of$150,000 a pop). I don't see how sending material back to the original sender can in any way be regarded as infringement of copyright.

Most of the examples are also similarly ludicrous, such as taking a photograph for private use where a painting can be seen in the background.

Argeing that things like that are copyright infringement is like charging someone for assault if they give you a hug or a handshake.

i know it seems ridiculous but under US copyright law(which the article is about) those are all valid copyright violations as everything produced by anyone is automatically fully copyrighted unless stated otherwise.

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But that is equally ridiculous. I presume these instances were thrown out of court, but I do think that the authorities who made the charge should be punished for such blatant misuse.

Such a charge would only be brought if the officers in the case had consulted with CPS and agreed that the 'points to prove' could be met with the available evidence. Of course, it is still likely to be thrown out of court, but if the points to prove are met in some way the likelihood of it being thrown out depends on the skill of the legal representatives rather than how ridiculous it seems to an outside observer.

I strongly suspect however that in the cases of phonecalls and postal communication, the charges brought against the suspect would not have been assault, but Alarm/Harassment/Distress. I would be interested in hearing the specifics of some postal or telecomms assaults.

There is of course the added consideration that a very small number of 'ridiculous' charges are made while chasing targets, such as criminal damage for schoolchildren throwing cream buns at buses, or that little girl who was charged with crim dam for drawing on the pavement with chalk.

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But that is equally ridiculous. I presume these instances were thrown out of court, but I do think that the authorities who made the charge should be punished for such blatant misuse.

yes, they do seem daft at first glance. however, on closer inspection (see below) they actually make sence (tho i'm not sure wether 'assault via post/telephone' hasn't been replaced with something else now).

Kinda like the stupider instances of copyright law -- they seem daft, but people would, no doubt, break the spirit of the law without breaking the letter if these things weren't technically illegal. i can't see anyone actually being charged with ©-infringement for simply accidentally catching a ©'d painting in a photo, any more than i could see me being charged with assault if i sent you an arsey PM (intentionally taking/selling photos with ©'d pictures in them, or a sustained PM storm, otoh...)

Such a charge would only be brought if the officers in the case had consulted with CPS and agreed that the 'points to prove' could be met with the available evidence. Of course, it is still likely to be thrown out of court, but if the points to prove are met in some way the likelihood of it being thrown out depends on the skill of the legal representatives rather than how ridiculous it seems to an outside observer.

I strongly suspect however that in the cases of phonecalls and postal communication, the charges brought against the suspect would not have been assault, but Alarm/Harassment/Distress. I would be interested in hearing the specifics of some postal or telecomms assaults.

I'll IM my sister and ask. she's studying law, and i read them from one of her books, where they were given as test-case examples of 'odd' assault, tho it looks as if the law may have changed since these cases.

IIRC: In the postal case, it was established that phisical presence was not required: it was enough that someone 'solicit an undesireable psycologically-induced phisical responce' or something; essentially, someone was sending cut-and-paste harassing letters which scared someone, hence assault.

in the telephone case, it was established that you need not even say anything -- the person kept phoning someone up and 'breathing at them', again scaring them and thus committing assault:

House of Lords discussion about it (the case is 'R(egina) v. Ireland')

here

[...]In Ireland the appellant was convicted on his plea of guilty of three offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contrary to section 47 of the Act of 1861. The judgment of the Court of Appeal dismissing his appeal is reported: Reg. v. Ireland [1997] Q.B. 114. The case against Ireland was that during a period of three months in 1994 covered by the indictment he harassed three women by making repeated telephone calls to them during which he remain silent. Sometimes, he resorted to heavy breathing. The calls were mostly made at night. The case against him, which was accepted by the judge and the Court of Appeal, was that he caused his victim to suffer psychiatric illness. Ireland had a substantial record of making offensive telephone calls to women. The judge sentenced him to a total of three years imprisonment.

btw, i was looking for 'R v Ireland' 'cos i thought it was the case wherein someone was charged with assault for failing to do something (vis: move his car, which he had accidentally parked on a policeman's foot ).

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No, there is no right to copy. ...They may steal someone's work but its not because they have a "right" to do so.

Not legally speaking, sure. But tens or hundreds of thousands of people exercise this "right" every day --call it "stealing" if you like (I do this too because I understand that's what it is, and that everyone else also understands it's "wrong").

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Not legally speaking, sure. But tens or hundreds of thousands of people exercise this "right" every day --

That's quite an oxymoron there since, legally speaking, it is not a "right" or it would be protected by law.....

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That's quite an oxymoron there since, legally speaking, it is not a "right" or it would be protected by law.....

It depends how you define "rights". Certainly the founding fathers stated that the rights existed despite the law. Although I'd use 'rights' for this kind of thing and '"rights"' for things given by law, that's an individual convention and we can't be sure it applies here.

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Certainly the founding fathers stated that the rights existed despite the law.

Certainly the founding fathers did not believe in a right to steal.

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Certainly the founding fathers stated that the rights existed despite the law.

They also passed the Copyright Act of 1790. It was passed during the second session of Congress and Signed by George Washington. It was modeled after the 1710 Statute of Anne, the copyright law in effect when the founding fathers left England. Note also that this is dated before the Bill of Rights where the founding fathers stated in the 9th Amendment that there were rights other than those enumerated in the Constitution.

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They also passed the Copyright Act of 1790. It was passed during the second session of Congress and Signed by George Washington. It was modeled after the 1710 Statute of Anne, the copyright law in effect when the founding fathers left England. Note also that this is dated before the Bill of Rights where the founding fathers stated in the 9th Amendment that there were rights other than those enumerated in the Constitution.

Article I, section 8 of the US Constitution

"The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

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Certainly the founding fathers did not believe in a right to steal.

Who gives a shit what they thought? They didn't even regard the right to live wihtout slavery as a "right".

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They also passed the Copyright Act of 1790. It was passed during the second session of Congress and Signed by George Washington. It was modeled after the 1710 Statute of Anne, the copyright law in effect when the founding fathers left England. Note also that this is dated before the Bill of Rights where the founding fathers stated in the 9th Amendment that there were rights other than those enumerated in the Constitution.

I should have used "rights", not "the rights". It doesn't matter what the law is, if someone thinks it's a right then they think it's a right.

Certainly the founding fathers did not believe in a right to steal.

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When it decreases the market value of the copyrighted work it is effectively theft...

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"Waiter, there's an oxy in my moron"

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When it decreases the market value of the copyrighted work it is effectively theft...

It's semantics, at some level, but it's technically not theft. One reason why there are separate laws for intellectual property than for tangible property.

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