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Discussion Questions On Copyrfraud -- Techdirt Book Club

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The Techdirt Book Club book for the month of April is Copyfraud by Jason Mazzone -- discussing how copyright owners often "overclaim" the rights granted to them by copyright.  We published an excerpt from the book earlier this month (part 1 and part 2) and hopefully some of you had a chance to check out the full book.  At this point, we're collecting questions that people can ask Jason, which we'll use to kick off the discussion.  Please place your questions below and vote on everyone else's questions as well!  Thanks.

initiated Apr 19, 2012 in Ask Techdirt by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160

4 Responses

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You talk in the book about how fair use needs clear boundaries to help stop over reaching by copyright holders, but it's sometimes said that fair use not being too specific is also helpful. For example it allows proper consideration of new uses and whether they count as fair (time shifting, sampling), and a broader consideration of the specifics of particular uses. Is it possible by setting clear boundaries, you also create clear limits on what new uses will become fair use, and lose some of the "good" flexbility fair use can have?

You mention at the beginning that you feel what is considered copyrightable or the length of copyright is not the real problem. Do you think that they simply aren't as important, or that without more safeguards against copyfraud that such reforms won't do much good?

Do you think there are any particular laws that have helped significantly increase copyfraud e.g. DMCA notice and takedown?
response added Apr 19, 2012 by modplanman (190 points)   1 3
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Why would people never think that in time a lot of ideas are never going to be similar?

Why are these people using copyright to prevent others to expand on an idea and make it better?

Why do some think a copyright means they own an idea 100 percent "including forms that's slightly similar" when their idea could very well be based on something else they've seen?

Look at it this way 100,000 years from now how many ideas do you think we will have made in our entire history on this planet?

How many of them ideas do you think will be based from something done before?

There is only so much information,ideas,styles and many other things that will be completely original during our existence on earth. As time goes on and the years pass most ideas will be based off of something in the past.
 If I owned a product and was making good money from it I would try to keep making it better myself. However if someone had a better idea to improve and I tried to stop that would not only be morally wrong but supportive of DE-evolution. The idea of trying to hinder the progress of technology is sick.

I love technology as it ever improves over the years and I look forward to see more more progress during my lifetime. I will admit we are a danger to ourselves when it comes to technology. It's sad to see some of the first applications for new technology. Look at nuclear energy for example a excellent technology with a shitload of potential for powering everyone cleanly and due to newer technologies nuclear waste is almost cut down to nothing. That being said the first thing we figured best was to blow people up.

As for the book I can't ask anything directly from it since I'm broke lol. So that's my best based on the subject of it.
response added Apr 19, 2012 by Drew Lee (160 points)   1 1
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I suppose the first question to ask is Why is the system so skewed that copyright violators (or, even, perceived/accused violators) are punished so harshly but copyfraud violators receive little to no punishment?  Download a torrent and you're toast, misclaim copyright and people shrug it off

Whassup with that?
response added Apr 19, 2012 by Bill Waggoner (160 points)   1 1
@ctgreybeard That problem is tied directly to the fact that copyright law over the last 100 years has been written almost entirely from the perspective of the corporate copyright holder. With no input from those who would be targeted by such laws, there was no reason to consider how harmful such lopsided powers can be.
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(I'll say in advance that I'm afraid I have not read the entire book yet - so if this is covered already somewhere, I apologize)

One of the things that annoys me most in the world of copyright is when rightsholders start asserting their rights for moral reasons - choosing whether or not to allow certain uses, or how much to charge for them, based on whether or not they "like" what's being done or who's doing it.

This is of course not the purpose of copyright in the U.S., but it can still be weilded in that way. My question has two parts. One - do you think it's valid to call this a form of "copyfraud" as well? It's not claiming rights you don't have, but it is exercising rights in a way that distorts their purpose.

Two - is there a way to prevent it? Obviously compulsory licenses are one way, but as you say in the book they are not the norm. So assuming rightsholders retain the ability to grant or deny licenses, is there a way copyright law could go beyond simply not granting them moral rights, and actually prevent them from using copyright in that manner? Licensing decisions should be economic, not moral. Similarly, if a defendant argued in court that they were being sued for infringment based entirely on the creator attempting to assert moral rights - essentially applying copyright in a discriminatory fashion - is there any chance they would have a case?
response added Apr 28, 2012 by Leigh Beadon (2,650 points)   5 14 22

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