Copyrights & Copirates

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lategamer

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Due to trademark law, they wouldn’t be allowed to advertise it as such. That’s why there’s no Tarzan or Princess of Mars adaptations.

What?

Both Tarzan and PoM are out of copyright. There's just not that many people interested in them (as shown by the 2009 and 2012 PoM movies that most people haven't seen.).

It's similar with War of the Worlds. If you base your work on the original book, you're fine. If you reference anything to the Orson Welles broadcast or the Jeff Wayne rock opera, you're in copyright hell (and Wayne is a bit of an arse - I have first hand experience).

Of course you could use the title. You might have difficulty if you use exactly the same title in the same typeface, but who would? The original book was "Tarzan of the Apes", but Disney's version is "Tarzan". There's a lot of thematic flexibility in what you could use but "Tarzan of the Apes; The Roleplaying Game" would be do-able.
 

Agemegos

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Hmm, I'm not seeing any relation there to the notion ""something about a publisher being able to establish copyright in the works of a dead author"
My mistake. Rather, you expect publishes to pay authors for manuscripts in which the exclusive rights will soon expire.
 

lategamer

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All but the last stories are. However, the rights holders are quick to litigate. They did so a few times, and lost a few times. The last time they went after someone, it was Netflix over the first Enola Holmes movie (because Sherlock showed emotion, something he supposedly doesn't do in most of the original fiction)
The last of the Sherlock Holmes books is out of US copyright in 2022.
 

TristramEvans

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My mistake. Rather, you expect publishes to pay authors for manuscripts in which the exclusive rights will soon expire.

I'm not sure I'd "expect" it, but if that was of value to them, yes. Depending on the popularity of the author, that might be extremely valuable regardless of the limited time frame (for example having the license to publish a Stephen King story a year, or even 6 months, before it entered the public domain)
 

AppleJax

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There's just not that many people interested in them
That’s one reason. Why is that the case, tho? Because the Burroughs Estate hasn’t done enough to keep it in the popular consciousness and because the stories may simply not be relevant to modern audiences.

This is precisely why long copyright terms are detrimental. They ultimately kill copyrighted works that don’t become hugely profitable franchises.

At least that’s my guess. I may be hugely off the mark
 

lategamer

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That’s one reason. Why is that the case, tho? Because the Burroughs Estate hasn’t done enough to keep it in the popular consciousness and because the stories may simply not be relevant to modern audiences.

Well, the Barsoom stuff is probably just a little obscure because we know that there's nothing on Mars. In a way that War of the Worlds retained the collective consciousness because of Jeff Wayne and a couple of movies.

And Tarzan is an interesting story but there's not enough in there for an extended story (without resorting to weird fanfic).

This is precisely why long copyright terms are detrimental. They ultimately kill copyrighted works that don’t become hugely profitable franchises.
At least that’s my guess. I may be hugely off the mark

I think the 70 years/95 years is punitive on creativity - I mean, 70 years after the death of the creator is multiple generations of royalties potentially - or in the case of Burroughs - probably nowhere near what its worth.
 

raniE

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Well, the Barsoom stuff is probably just a little obscure because we know that there's nothing on Mars. In a way that War of the Worlds retained the collective consciousness because of Jeff Wayne and a couple of movies.

And Tarzan is an interesting story but there's not enough in there for an extended story (without resorting to weird fanfic).
There have been a bunch of Tarzan stories though. Both adaptations of the original novels (of which there were many) and continuations in comics etc. FEC86994-3E84-4D6F-90AF-2053BB19443E.png

The Mars books were less successful in other media early on, probably because of the comparable expense. The recent film was simply bad too, in a way not likely to make people interested. Almost every choice they made was wrong. But Tarzan has been going strong for decades.

I think the 70 years/95 years is punitive on creativity - I mean, 70 years after the death of the creator is multiple generations of royalties potentially - or in the case of Burroughs - probably nowhere near what its worth.
 

robertsconley

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Same in the UK. I think the US has longer copyright terms though.
Conan is public domain in part because magazines in which the original stories appeared did not renew their copyright. A similar situation happened with the works of Golden Age sci-fi author H. Beam Piper who wrote Space Viking. Except for his Fuzzies series.

The problem with Conan is keeping clear of the many associated trademarks with the character and the Hyborian Age setting.
 

AppleJax

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Yeah, copyright is punitive especially to orphaned works. Or works that the owner just doesn’t care about.

GOG.com tried to secure the rights to sell the old Dune RTS games, but the Herbert Estate told them “old should stay old.” Ironic and insulting.
 

EmperorNorton

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OK, I would suggest that it is possible to simultaneously hold this view and at the same time recognize that copyright, or control over an IP, is not, in and of itself a form of income, and unrelated to the legacy one leaves to one's children, rather that any inheritance would be of the manner of income generated by the work during the creator's lifetime. But otherwise, we can simply disagree on the notion.
So if someone owned a rental property, and died, should the rental property not pass to their children? Should they no longer gain income from the rent of that property? Why should intellectual property ownership expire on death, but not physical property?

I think we definitely need reworks of IP law, but immediately ending on death is too volatile. What if a man was in the middle of negotiating for movie rights, a huge payday, and the day before signing the deal, he gets hit by a bus. Should his kids make nothing from all that work?

Putting it at a time period of x years after death means that everyone who has those rights knows pretty well when it will end.

Hell, I'd even be fine with X years flat, with no regard to life of the creator. The thing is, having rights that end suddenly and unpredictably would be very difficult to handle.
 

EmperorNorton

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Yeah, copyright is punitive especially to orphaned works. Or works that the owner just doesn’t care about.

GOG.com tried to secure the rights to sell the old Dune RTS games, but the Herbert Estate told them “old should stay old.” Ironic and insulting.
I think abandoned works are definitely something that should be treated differently than currently in print works.
 

TristramEvans

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So if someone owned a rental property, and died, should the rental property not pass to their children? Should they no longer gain income from the rent of that property? Why should intellectual property ownership expire on death, but not physical property?

Your questions are based on assumptions about my views on land ownership, which are both incorrect, and beyond the scope of this discussion
 

EmperorNorton

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Your questions are based on assumptions about my views on land ownership, which are both incorrect, and beyond the scope of this discussion
Ok, then, when your parents die, do you think the government should be allowed to just say "They were only owed what they made when they are alive, now we will take everything they had away and their child/children inherit nothing".
 

TristramEvans

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Ok, then, when your parents die, do you think the government should be allowed to just say "They were only owed what they made when they are alive, now we will take everything they had away and their child/children inherit nothing".

As a blanket statement, no.

Understand that copyright is an illusory concept invented for the benefit of printers, it has no inherent relationship to other forms of wealth.
 

Bunch

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Mostly I would say not immediately at death because it gives potentially a large incentive to kill someone.
 

EmperorNorton

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Mostly I would say not immediately at death because it gives potentially a large incentive to kill someone.
This on top of the comment I made about it being too volatile. I feel like we should know at least a few years in advance that a copyright on something is ending.

Imagine negotiating a deal for a license, closing the deal, paying out the creator, and then the guy dies the next week and suddenly you have 3 competitors for what you are creating who all had to pay zero for the same thing.

Having rights end immediately based on something that can happen at any time just would be unfeasible.
 

lategamer

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Did you mean 2023? His last 2 stories are still under copyright until then in the US
The last book (The Casebook) was published 1927.

Conan Doyle died in 1930 which means many of his earlier copyrights expired in 2000. But it's 95 years after the publication of a work. 2022/23 doesn't make a hairs breadth of difference.
 

TristramEvans

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This on top of the comment I made about it being too volatile. I feel like we should know at least a few years in advance that a copyright on something is ending.

Imagine negotiating a deal for a license, closing the deal, paying out the creator, and then the guy dies the next week and suddenly you have 3 competitors for what you are creating who all had to pay zero for the same thing.

Having rights end immediately based on something that can happen at any time just would be unfeasible.

If you take the PoV of structuring laws around what's most beneficial to companies rather than society, sure
 

Black Leaf

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So if someone owned a rental property, and died, should the rental property not pass to their children? Should they no longer gain income from the rent of that property? Why should intellectual property ownership expire on death, but not physical property?
The flipside of that argument is that royalties after death are nowhere near as highly taxed as inheritance tax.
I think we definitely need reworks of IP law, but immediately ending on death is too volatile. What if a man was in the middle of negotiating for movie rights, a huge payday, and the day before signing the deal, he gets hit by a bus. Should his kids make nothing from all that work?

Putting it at a time period of x years after death means that everyone who has those rights knows pretty well when it will end.

Hell, I'd even be fine with X years flat, with no regard to life of the creator. The thing is, having rights that end suddenly and unpredictably would be very difficult to handle.
I actually think the 1842 act was about right. Life + 7 years or 42 years, whichever is longest. With the proviso for republication rights to be granted if the publisher refuses to make a work available after the author's death. Mind you, that's my preferred ideological reason. As I mentioned above, I think the Berne Life + 50 is pretty much set in stone at the moment.
As a blanket statement, no.

Understand that copyright is an illusory concept invented for the benefit of printers, it has no inherent relationship to other forms of wealth.
As an aside, the Printers absolutely hated the Statute of Anne because it took away their exclusive monopoly on printing.
 

Black Leaf

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Interesting tidbit I found looking up the history of UK copyright law.

The 1911 Act had the last 25 years of copyright as a period where anyone could republish, but had to pay an automatic 10% royalty fee. I actually really like that as a concept.
 

EmperorNorton

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If you take the PoV of structuring laws around what's most beneficial to companies rather than society, sure
Except those exact laws would also devalue the amount creators could get through licensing their works, because the people licensing them would have to consider the possibility of the IP becoming public domain instantaneously and unpredictably.

It would depress the income of creators, discouraging people from creating, which is a net loss for society.
 

TristramEvans

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Interesting tidbit I found looking up the history of UK copyright law.

The 1911 Act had the last 25 years of copyright as a period where anyone could republish, but had to pay an automatic 10% royalty fee. I actually really like that as a concept.

That make me think, actually, I'd probably prefer a legal distinction between the copyright concepts of republishing v derivative works.

Then republishing rights could be separated, and have a longer term IMO, since it doesn't restrict creative endeavours.
 

Toadmaster

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Copyright law is broken and is strangling creativity. Copyright terms are too long. By the time the copyright to TSR products expires in the late 2080s, everyone who played it will have been dead for decades. There will be no one around who knew it existed, much less wants to continue it.

I do not understand why Copyright law diverges so far from patent law (well actually I do, money, copyright / trademark favors those with deep pockets, those same people don't want to pay to use a patent). They both serve a similar purpose, and patent law saw similar shenanigans.

Patent law only provides for 20 years of protection, from the date of acceptance.

S&W bought the rights to Rollin White's patent for a bored through cylinder squashing revolver development for 20 years. S&W did however innovate on their own during this period leaving them in a strong position in the revolver market when the patent expired in 1873. In this case it could be said that the intent of patent law worked although S&W did far better in the deal than Rollin White, although he collected a substantial amount of money from his idea while S&W had to actually make it work.

The Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers similarly used Seldon's 1895 patent on "the automobile" ultimately stifling development of the automobile from 1899-1911, because unlike S&W the patent holders did little with it except to try and milk royalty fees from those who developed their own ideas. The stubbornness of Henry Ford did them in as he refused to pay, and kept them in court for 8 years ultimately winning. He went so far as to build a replica of the car in Seldon's patent (something Seldon never actually did, he only built an engine) showing what a hopelessly out dated concept it was even by 1907. Seldon's patent exclusion was reduced to vehicles closely resembling that in the patent (basically an antiquated gas engine propelling a cart) which nobody was doing by 1900.

The larger issue was the broad aspect of the patent granted, "the automobile" which would haunt the fledging aircraft industry as well. Patent law was eventually revised narrowing the scope of patents as in the industrial age ideas were far more complex.

The Wright Brothers faced a similar problem, they were granted a broad patent for "new and useful Improvements in Flying Machines", which included not only wing warping as they used but a bunch of other tech which they did not use or describe in detail. They won most of their cases against aircraft more complex than their Wright Flyer using ailerons instead of wing warping, but they had some very deep pockets backing their patent (several "robber barons" including Vanderbilt being major investors in the Wright's company). Recent research has found that there was likely a fair bit of corruption by the Wright's attorneys and the Judge in one of the higher profile cases (Curtiss v Wright).

Sadly the Wright Brothers contributed little to the further development of the airplane, their company focusing on patent related law suits rather than design development. Wilber died in 1912, and Orville sold his interest in the company in 1915. Ironically the Wright brothers company would later merge with some of their biggest rivals, first with Glenn Martin's company in 1916 (becoming Wright-Martin), and then later with Glenn Curtis' in 1929 becoming Curtiss-Wright. The Wright Brothers got a sizable fortune from selling their patent, but that is about all they gained. Their fame came from allgedly being the first and Orville managed to make much of that serving in various advisory positions (likely ceremonial for PR rather than functional as no further aviation development seems to be connected to him) until his death in 1948.


Trademark I'm a bit more flexible with, as you obviously can't have people starting up a new Chevrolet Motor Car Company using a funky plus sign for a symbol as they would get confusing for the buying public. Claiming mouse ears alone though does seem a bit of a stretch, along with the whole host of smaller claims so there is definitely room for improvement. I see no reason why unused names logos should remain protected. This is a huge issue with model rail roaders. Rail lines have had significant consolidation over the years so there are hundreds of long defunct rail lines whose logos are of no purpose to the existing rail roads, yet their trademarks are strongly defended to prevent anyone else making a dollar off of them (ie they can still milk some money out of them for use by artists, model train sets, decals, decorative signs etc). You see this to a lessor extent in the aircraft industry with some companies trying to claim trademark over ancient long out of use designs.

I'd say 20-25 years, because that will cover any children you might have, even if you die before they're even born, through their adult lives. Making it a bit longer can also allow creators to cash in on the first nostalgia wave which usually happens around 20-25 years later (although the never-ending 80s nostalgia is really stretching that out). But this might be getting too far into the realm of politics too.

This would be in line with the 20 years provided under patent law.

Same in the UK. I think the US has longer copyright terms though.

Some of the copyright stuff is nothing more than somebody with deep pockets making a claim and out spending all opposition. Conan is one of these. All of Howards works should be public domain as he dies in 1936 with no heirs. Lovecraft died in 1937 but all of his work is pretty solidly in the public domain. The difference is there is a copyright holder with a weak claim on Howards work who will sue anybody that doesn't pay them their extortion licensing fees.

For the record, my preferred Copyright term would be 20 years, renewable every 20 years during the creator's lifetime, with rights non-transferrable

Again this is very much in line with patent law.
 
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Black Leaf

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Except those exact laws would also devalue the amount creators could get through licensing their works, because the people licensing them would have to consider the possibility of the IP becoming public domain instantaneously and unpredictably.

It would depress the income of creators, discouraging people from creating, which is a net loss for society.
Cap license terms at 10 years. This would also have the advantage of making people like the record labels have to renegotiate contracts if any artist has hit the big time.
 

EmperorNorton

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My point being: I don't disagree that copyright is entirely too long, but tying it directly and immediately to something as unpredictable as the authors death makes everything a bit of a crapshoot for everyone involved. And anyone who is risk averse would be unlikely to invest much money into works. Less money invested means less creators.

I would rather see flat # of years or X years after death. It's more predictable for everyone involved, on both sides.

Also are IPs under this system solely owned by one person? What if a work had two authors. Can only one of them hold the IP? And if both can, what is stopping every author adding their kid on as a co-author? And if they can't, you are discouraging collaboration as only one of the two can really make money off the property.
 

TristramEvans

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Except those exact laws would also devalue the amount creators could get through licensing their works, because the people licensing them would have to consider the possibility of the IP becoming public domain instantaneously and unpredictably.

It would depress the income of creators, discouraging people from creating, which is a net loss for society.

well 1) I don't believe that copyright laws encourage or in fact have anything to do with human creativity
and 2) I don't believe that copyright laws should exist for the purposes of facilitating licensing - it is simply something a creator can do, ideally it would not in the majority of cases enter into the equation.
 

EmperorNorton

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well 1) I don't believe that copyright laws encourage or in fact have anything to do with human creativity
and 2) I don't believe that copyright laws should exist for the purposes of facilitating licensing - it is simply something a creator can do, ideally it would not in the majority of cases enter into the equation.
Creatives, outside of a rare few, are already massively underpaid as it is.

The truth of life is that we need money to keep surviving. Creative work is work, and without copyright, there is very little way too make money from it.
 

sharps54

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Cap license terms at 10 years. This would also have the advantage of making people like the record labels have to renegotiate contracts if any artist has hit the big time.
Sadly this would end up meaning that big IP games would probably change hands every 10 years and the older ones would than become oop and the PDFs would no longer be available. Getting the reprints of the WEG Star Wars was a rare exception in the struggle for new gamers to have access to older licensed games.

Sadly I don’t think there is an easy answer to that problem.
 

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My point being: I don't disagree that copyright is entirely too long, but tying it directly and immediately to something as unpredictable as the authors death makes everything a bit of a crapshoot for everyone involved. And anyone who is risk averse would be unlikely to invest much money into works. Less money invested means less creators.

I would rather see flat # of years or X years after death. It's more predictable for everyone involved, on both sides.

Also are IPs under this system solely owned by one person? What if a work had two authors. Can only one of them hold the IP? And if both can, what is stopping every author adding their kid on as a co-author? And if they can't, you are discouraging collaboration as only one of the two can really make money off the property.

Yes flat # of years regardless of life or death makes sense to me, transferrable to heirs. So that unknown writer "one hit wonder" that dies 6 weeks after their book hits the NY times best seller list can leave something to their heirs just as they would have something to work with to support their family while alive.
 

TristramEvans

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My point being: I don't disagree that copyright is entirely too long, but tying it directly and immediately to something as unpredictable as the authors death makes everything a bit of a crapshoot for everyone involved. And anyone who is risk averse would be unlikely to invest much money into works. Less money invested means less creators.

Yes, human mortality is a crapshoot. My intention is not to overcome or compensate for the reality of human mortality.



Also are IPs under this system solely owned by one person? What if a work had two authors. Can only one of them hold the IP? And if both can, what is stopping every author adding their kid on as a co-author?

No, there is not a limit to the number of co-creators under this system, and nothing is to stop a person co-authoring a creation with their kid, if they so chose.
 

Black Leaf

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Sadly this would end up meaning that big IP games would probably change hands every 10 years and the older ones would than become oop and the PDFs would no longer be available. Getting the reprints of the WEG Star Wars was a rare exception in the struggle for new gamers to have access to older licensed games.

Sadly I don’t think there is an easy answer to that problem.
I'm not saying it's an easy answer, but I'd combine it with the Use it or Lose it clause where rights revert to the creator in that case. I generally think it's a lot more reasonable for the creator of a work to decide they don't want it available than for it to fall into disuse because a company doesn't see the profit in putting it out there.
 

Black Leaf

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No, there is not a limit to the number of co-creators under this system, and nothing is to stop a person co-authoring a creation with their kid, if they so chose.
I'm glad you've taken into consideration the cultural importance of My Name is Chezza, Not Pizza.
 

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well 1) I don't believe that copyright laws encourage or in fact have anything to do with human creativity
and 2) I don't believe that copyright laws should exist for the purposes of facilitating licensing - it is simply something a creator can do, ideally it would not in the majority of cases enter into the equation.

That ignores that it often requires far more capital than an average individual has available to do much with their ideas. Lacking copyright protection, how many people have the means to self publish and find an audience. Most people will have to go to a larger company to get their book published, album made, patent developed.
 

TristramEvans

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That ignores that is often requires far more capital than an average individual has available to do much with their ideas. Lacking copyright protection, how many people have the means to self publish and find an audience. Most people will have to go to a larger company to get their book published, album made, patent developed.

I don't agree in current date, current time.
 

TristramEvans

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Creatives, outside of a rare few, are already massively underpaid as it is.

The truth of life is that we need money to keep surviving. Creative work is work, and without copyright, there is very little way too make money from it.

Again, for a full answer to that issue I'd have to go far outside the reach of this discussion. But when it comes to copyright, whatever it's original or stated intention, for the last century it has overwhelmingly been used as a legal bludgeon to screw over and keep money away from creators in favour of corporations. It's very clear whatever the law is intending to do - it's not doing that.
 
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