ARCHIVED — Gary R. Young
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COPYRIGHT REFORM PROCESS
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
Documents received have been posted in the official language in which they were submitted. All are posted as received by the departments, however all address information has been removed.
Submission from Gary R. Young received on September 14, 2001 via e-mail
Subject: Comments on proposed changes to the copyright lawComments on the copyright reform process, and various proposals contained in "A Framework for Copyright Reform" June 22, 2001 and "Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues" June 22, 2001.
1. Access Issues
I believe that it would be beneficial to clearly define "exceptions" in any new act. For example, I believe that as the purchaser of an electronic book, I have the right to make as many back-up copies of that book as I feel are appropriate, to print out the book on paper, to convert the book to other formats so that I can read it on different hardware, and to sell it, provided I delete any copies I may have produced.
At present, most of these uses are blocked by copy protection software. I believe, however, that these are valid uses of copyright works, and should not be prohibited by law.
In any case, what is legal should be defined in the law, as well as what is not legal.
I do not believe that databases should be protected by copyright.
It is not a creative activity to take the work of other persons, and to arrange those works in a way to simplify their retrieval.
Protection of this type of work should be covered under the criminal code as theft; the taking of valuable property and converting it to your own use.
3. Government as Owner of Copyrighted Works
I believe that the government should put all works created by government employees into the public domain, as soon as they are published.
All such works were created using public funds, and are supposedly to the benefit of the public.
Where is the benefit of making the public pay for them twice, once to create the work, and once to view it?
4. Term of Copyright Protection
At present, Copyright endures for the life of the author plus 50 years.
In my opinion, the term of protection should not be extended.
If we seek to balance the right of the creator of a work, to benefit from that work, and the right of the public to use and enjoy that work, an arbitrary line has to be drawn to define when the work will enter the public domain. At this time the line is set at 'life plus 50 years.' I have not seen any argument to indicate that more, or better, works will be created if the term of protection are increased. I have not seen any argument that life plus 50 years is too short a term to allow the creator of a work to reap a significant return from his or her efforts.
I believe that the benefits of such an extension will primarily accrue to corporate entities, which buy up the rights to a work soon after it is created, and then continue to reap rewards long after the creator is dead. I doubt that an author in a life +70 country is offered a significantly better deal than he is offered in a life +50 country.
The extension of copyright, however, has negative effects on the public. Only a minute fraction of all works are still available for purchase 50 years after the death of the creator. Extending the copyright term, therefore, will allow a very small number of works to remain in publication, to the benefit of the rights holder, but it will deny the public access to a vastly larger body of material, which is no longer offered for sale. A second negative effect is that extending the copyright term will allow rights holders to continue to suppress the publication of works which they do not want to see published.
I hope that the term of copyright is not extended. If, however, it is extended, I hope that some offsetting provisions could be added to address my concerns described above. That is, provide for a standard term of copyright at life +50, with an extension for an additional 20 years on request. Such requests should be required to be made in the last 5 years of the standard term, should be required to clearly identify the work, and should be required to provide proof that the work is readily available for purchase.
5. Traditional Knowledge / Folklore
I do not believe that any special provisions should be applied to traditional knowledge or folklore.
Any person who knows the folklore in question should be free to create a personal interpretation of the work, based on the tradition.
Once it is created, however, that particular interpretation is, in itself, a new work which should be protected by the copyright act.
This should apply even if the work is not 'published.'
If, for example, a traditional dancer performs a dance in a public venue, any recording of that dance should be copyright to the dancer, not to the camera operator who filmed the performance. This would be a 'performer's right' which I would support, although I have not specifically discussed this topic.
6. Transitional Period for Unpublished Works
The proposal is to allow a longer period for the transition in rules on how to handle unpublished works by authors who died more than 50 years ago. The question is how changing this transition period this would be beneficial to creators and users.
There is no benefit to the creators of the works in question; they are dead.
There is no benefit to users of a slower phase in. Users want the work to be available as soon as possible, and in the public domain.
The only advantage to extending the 'phase in' period is to people who have a valuable, unpublished work in their possession, and who are declining to publish it.
To hell with them.
7. Copyright Protection in the Digital Age
Proposals to make it illegal under the copyright act to own, for example, decryption or cracking software, are an attempt by publishers to extend the criminal sanctions of the copyright act far beyond their proper boundaries, and into areas where they should not apply. This is not justified and should not be included in the copyright act.
As I stated above, I believe that I have the right to print out a paper copy of an electronic book, for my personal use. The present copy protection software on commercial e-books does not allow me to make such a paper copy. If I have this right, and if I download a software program from the Internet and use it to print a paper copy of an e-book, then I may have violated the terms and conditions of sale of that e-book, but I have not violated the copyright law.
Stated more generally, the use of shoddy and inadequate copy protection software by rights owners, should not be used as an excuse to deny me the right to make fair use of a work I have bought and paid for.
8. Copyright on Works Converted to a Different Medium
I do not believe that converting a work from one format, to a different format, is a creative act. Therefore, I do not believe that such efforts should be protected by copyright.
This principle should be strengthened and clarified in the new act.
For example, new editions of public domain literary works should be required to clearly state which portion of the new edition is covered by a claim of copyright. Photographs of public domain images are not new works and should be protected under the copyright law.
Gary R. Young
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