The luggage full of money had nothing to do with it.
The Republican Study Committee, an influential caucus made up of members of the US House of Representatives, has denied pulling a policy paper calling for a reform of the existing patent system under pressure from lobbyists. The policy paper, entitled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it, looked at …
Won't somebody think of the children? And more importantly all the money their parents shell out to Disney for all the works Walt stole from common story lore? What would happen to the poor Disney shareholders if Mickey ever went into the public domain. Therefore write your representatives and demand eternal copyright because its only fair the great great grandkids should be able to live off their ancestors work gosh darn it.
While it's too easy to go full Tinfoil Hat, and scream "foul play" at the retraction, it is ..interesting.. to see the first official document on the issue of patents and copyright in the US which has honest-to-god actual common sense in it since ...well... decades, was pulled so fast.
Yesbut, that's the wording in the constitution that's used to justify copyright laws as well. If you say "that doesn't apply to copyright", you're basically saying "US copyright laws are unconstitutional in themselves".
(And I don't believe the Supreme Court would agree with you on that.)
"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;"
Might help if you check your sources now and again...
Strictly speaking in the context of the sentence you are correct. But in spirit both pieces are set out in the Constitution and both carefully balanced the needs to compensate inventors/authors with the need for originators to be able to broadly adopt and adapt those ideas. If we went back to the original numbers specified and properly limited patents (I'm in favor of bringing back the requirement for a working model), we'd go a long way toward fixing what has been broken.
The article doesn't mention derivative works, which might be the part of it that causes the most trouble. One path of advance is along the lines of rational evolution, but the increasingly absolute bans on derivative works make it harder and harder to evolve. The alternative is extreme and revolutionary jumps in the dark, which might (or might not) produce some progress on the long run, but they are certainly messy and inefficient and quite often harmful...
Why would it need to?
The world and her dog knows that Big Copyright overwhelmingly supports Democrats. That means that, if there's ever going to be this sort of copyright reform in the USA, it has to come from Republicans, because Dems can't bite the hand that feeds them. So far, so good.
The relationship between Hollywood and Repubs isn't "Here's some money, now shut up". It's more like "Ooh, how interesting. Yes, of course we should have a full and free discussion of these difficult issues. Of course, if my vital interests are under scrutiny I'll have to vastly increase my political spending, and we all know who that money is going to, don't we?
"Oh - you don't want to talk about that after all? That's fine, then."
There is another perspective to consider here. The Republicans are really big on "party discipline". The current state of the party is such that it's starting to look like the communists under Stalin. Members are expected to vote with the collective. The GOP is much better at enforcing this in practice than the Democrats are. Anyone that deviates (including Presidential candidates) gets collectively walloped by all of the relevant media talking heads.
This may have been just far too much academic freedom for the party leadership to handle.
It simply could have been a matter of Darth Vader choking an upstart General Tagge.
"I know some want to point fingers elsewhere, but the simple fact is that we screwed up, we admitted it, and we hope people will now use this opportunity to engage in polite and serious discussion of copyright law," said Brian Straessle from the RSC."
Yes, and Steamboat Willie is in the public domain (Mickey himself is not subject to copyright--he's Trademarked, instead). Somtetimes, I wonder if any of the recent copyright cases cited that specific part of the Constitution where it says "limited", and then used logic to dictate that a term longer than the average human lifetime is practically no limit. Also should be noted that the speed of dissemination has increased so much that current terms are anachronistic. Software patents are only so bad because they're so long. Shrink them down to two or three years and people won't gripe about them so much.
Mickey IS covered by copyright. If he's also covered by trademark, he's got double protection. Most people think it is no coincidence that every time the copyright was about to expire on The Mouse, Congress passed an extension of the time limit and grandfathered existing works into the new coverage. IIRC, this was even a point of contention at the Supreme Court, with one side arguing the limit had become so long as to invalidate the concept of 'limited' in the context of the US Constitution. The Court turned down the argument, but telling said while this decision was binding on the lower courts, that if Congress increased the length of copyright again, lower courts should hear any new cases, even if the arguments didn't change.
Mickey the character is NOT covered by copyright. He's covered by Trademark. IOW, using the likeness of Mickey without Disney's permission (unless it's for something relatively benign like a holiday display) gets the lawyers on you for Trademark Infringement. That's what got people in the past who lampooned the Energizer Bunny.
It's the cartoons and other works the CONTAIN Mickey in them that are protected by Copyright. Steamboat Willie, The Band Concert, Fantasia, etc. are all copyrighted. Using excerpts from them except in Fair Use or with their permission is a Copyright Infringement.
Fortunately this debacle has at least had some lasting benefit: the next time some government wants to sign up to a treaty that restricts a future government from reducing copyright terms we can point out that "even the US Republican party is having a robust debate on reducing copyright terms -- clearly no one should be removing the ability for a future parliament to change the existing terms in any way they wish". The RSC has done us all a massive favour just by raising this as a valid isue for serious debate.
I look forward to using this in my next letter to my MP/MEP about the next ACTA-style stich-up attempt.
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