How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish (via @theatlantic, HT: jenny8lee)

I believe there are serious problems with modern copyright laws, problems that have been exacerbated by an inability to keep legislation up to date with modern technology. This report by Rebecca Rosen, however, discusses another effect of copyright:

[Paul J. Heald at the University of Illinois] has now finalized his research [...]: "Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability," Heald writes. "Shortly after works are created and proprietized, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners."

Read the whole article here, it's quite interesting (and disappointing and not entirely surprising):

And while we're on the topic, here is a discussion from the Columbia Journalism Review about whether copyright law works at all, with an interesting research finding:

In one experiment, [a] group of subjects write three-line haikus, to be entered in a contest with a prize of $50. These authors had the option of selling their poems (and the chance to win $50) to another group, the bidders. Both the authors and the bidders were asked to value how much a particular haiku was worth.

It turned out that, perhaps not surprisingly, the creators of these tiny works of art valued them more than the people who were thinking of buying them. “Our data revealed that Authors valued their work more than twice as high as Bidders ($20.05 versus $9.21),” Buccafusco and Sprigman wrote.

That doesn't surprise me at all, especially when we look at early eBook prices compared to what readers said they would pay for them.

The takeaway, for Buccafusco and Sprigman, is that markets for creative work are not nearly as efficient as IP law assumes—and that the argument that more protection is needed to ensure innovation might not be quite right. “The work I do with Chris suggests that we don’t know as much about IP as we think we do,” says Sprigman. “It’s been a faith-based policy for a long time. A lot of people in my field are trying to uncover what IP laws actually do and what they don’t.”

The takeaway for me is summarised here:

Part of what empirical research can show is how finer-tuned laws might work better. Not all creative industries work the same way—making a major motion picture requires more up-front investment than writing a poem; computer software might have a shorter shelf-life than a bestselling book.

Read that article in full here:

Adventures In Invoicing Your Copyright Violators (via @abesauer, HT @Readinasitting)

Abe Sauer says:

In March, I put together the fourth annual March Madne$$: The School Tuitions Of The NCAA Bracket. A popular piece, I watched as numerous sites reposted the work wholesale and sold ads against it.

That's when I tried something new in the ongoing efforts of writers to get paid on the Internet. Instead of angry emails or cease and desist notes, I just sent invoices to site editors and managers.

His story touches on the hypocrisy of massive copyright-enforcing and -tantrumming media organisations, who blatantly repost, and often reformat, other writers' articles and then sell ads against them.

In a way, too, it touches on sites such as this one, where I ramble a little about other articles I've found, and excerpt small sections. On the one hand, I'm not making any money here, but on the other, I am trying to make Literarium a useful source of writing-related information, hopefully so that when the software comes up you'll take a look at it. So where do we draw the line? I draw the line at copying articles wholesale and spoiling the punchline, but is that enough?

Anyway, do have a read of Abe's attempts to get money out of large companies who simply swiped his work but would never let anyone else do the same.

I wonder if this would work with those ebil e-book pirates. If you sent them a PayPal invoice for $3 for downloading your e-book, I wonder how many of them would be happy (or able) to pay? If someone does try that, please let me know.

Read about Abe's invoicing extravaganza here:

Fair Use (via @jakonrath)

Joe Konrath:

I define "fair use" as: You can do whatever you want with my intellectual property, as long as you're doing it without intending to make money. Once you want to make money from it, get in touch and we'll try to work something out.

This was prompted by a photo and caption he saw on twitter:

"Copyright is fundamental to creative industries, those who believe it's not relevant are mistaken"

I find that interesting on a few levels. And by "interesting" I mean "bullshit".

I agree entirely with Joe here. It's utter bullshit. There are many creative industries, such as the fashion industry and the culinary industry, that do not 'enjoy' copyright protection. They are doing VERY well indeed. Copyright is not fundamental to creative industries in any way, and to claim it is is to be utterly wrong.

In fact let me rephrase it as my own quotable quote: Copyright law is fundamentally antithetical to creative industries, and those who believe it isn't are fundamentally mistaken.

And before anyone starts yelling at me, copyright is distinct from moral rights (ie. the right to be acknowledged as the creator of a work), and certainly isn't a requirement to make money from your art. See, as I said, the entirely copyright free fashion industry.

Read Joe's full piece here:

38 year old content? 5 year old blog post? Let's take down 1.45 million student and teacher blogs. Why? Because DMCA!

More like DMC-Yay! Am I right?

[T]oday, our hosting company, ServerBeach, to whom we pay $6,954.37 every month to host Edublogs, turned off our webservers, without notice, less than 12 hours after issuing us with a DMCA email.

Because one of our teachers, in 2007, had shared a copy of Beck’s Hopelessness Scale with his class, a 20 question list, totalling some 279 words, published in 1974, that Pearson would like you to pay $120 for.

Oh all right then, a little bit of comment... Look. Copyright is out of control. It needs to be fixed (or killed with fire and reborn like a phoenix) or it will destroy the people it pretends to protect (hint: creatives like you and me).

Note that the EduBlogs guys have a solid system in place to remove any identified copyright violating content, and several contact numbers for their host, and removed all access to the offending 5 year old blog post immediately...and...and...

I hope they move their $80,000+ annual server contract somewhere else, not that that will fix the problems with the US copyright enforcement system.

Read it here: