Partners In Design


Copyrights: Do more bad than good?

I just finished reading a short blurb on copyrights and all the subsequent comments resulting from the blurb on the Drawn! blog. Basically, this guy named Pollock (ironically his name is the same as the famous abstract expressionist's) says the optimum time for a copyright to last is 14 years (based on his calculations).

It’s easy enough to find out how long copyrights last, but much harder to decide how long they should last—but that didn’t stop Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock from using economics formulas to answer the question. In a newly-released paper, Pollock pegs the “optimal level for copyright” at only 14 years.

Pollock’s work is based on the promise that the optimal level of copyright drops as the costs of producing creative work go down. As it has grown simpler to print books, record music, and edit films using new digital tools, the production and reproduction costs for creative work in have dropped substantially, but actual copyright law has only increased.

Here is more of that article. Now... as an artist, I think 14 years for a copyright is a ridiculously short amount of time. It's unfair that an individual creator cannot hold the rights to his or her intellectual property for at least the length of his or her lifetime. Once I die, you can do whatever you want (besides acknowledging it's based off my original work). To be fair, Pollock does mention that under his system, you can re-apply for an extension on your copyright. And I agree that it's odd for companies to be considered "legal entities" and own copyrights of cartoon mice and bunny rabbits for eternity. But someone did create those cartoons. I think once you die, it should fall into public domain. I wanted to make a graphic novel based on this story called the Martian Odyssey, but it's not public domain yet, so I'd have to find the author's estate and not only ask for permission (not that I would claim the story as my own so that would be fine in and of itself) but I most likely have to pay royalties, as his copyright isn't over for another few years.... with his family holding the rights it might even be longer. So I was forced to drop that project. So I can see the issue on both sides, but I also think short copyright periods aren't beneficial to artists who want to make money off their own work. What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Paul said...

The copyright system in the United States is hopelessly broken and archaic. There's been very little in the way of addressing changes as the result of digital media.

It's because of this, we get groups like the RIAA and MPAA "representing" artists, and manhandeling the public, all in the name of 'protecting copyright'. It's unbalanced and painful to deal with.

Perhaps the best hope we have is Creative Commons. CC is a far more flexable and user-friendly copyrighting system. It allows for all sorts of variables, and rather than being dependant on time, or being alive, it gives you different levels of basic rights, which are explained in each individual license. Sites like deviantART have adopted CC as an option when uploading work.

If that sounds complicated, don't worry- when you create something and want to license it under CC, just visit their website, and answer a few short questions, and they'll tell you exactly which CC license to use.

Here are a few of them:

This means if you want to 'use' something that has this license, you have to attribute it to the original author, not use it for commercial means, and not create an derivitive works. This is the most like current copyright

Still have to give credit, still has to be non-commercial, but you're allowed to be derivitive work, as long as you give that derivitive the same rights.

Same as above, but dont have to share the same license as the original

Must be attributed, Allows for commercial, but no derivitive works

Do whatever you want (commercial, too) as long as you give credit and use the same license as the original

All you have to do is give credit