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jute

Public domain works can now be re-copyrighted

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Jesus Christ... They passed a law saying a corporation can patent a life form, so why not copyright public domain stuff as well. Yeah, two different topics, but just as asinine. They continue to bend backwards for big biz.

jute said:

It seems like a very bad thing to me, but I'm not sure I fully understand the ruling's significance.

I'd like to say money, but I feel they have an anterior notion I'm not picking up.

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To clarify, I'm not sure if it applies to all future public domain works (I could be cynical about the likelihood of future public domain works...) or "just" existing works within a certain range, like the Prokofiev or Stravinsky discussed.

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"The law applied mainly to works first published abroad from 1923 to 1989 that had earlier not been eligible for copyright protection under American law"

Looks to me like the intent is to harmonize US and foreign copyright laws.

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So does this mean I can copyright Christmas carols and demand a dollar for each time its sang?

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I wonder if corporations will use this law to copyright stuff that they didn't create in the first place?

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I don't think that is the purpose of this. It's for people who have rights of authorship to reclaim their copyright. If you didn't create something, you can't claim ownership of its copyright.

It has been quite an anomaly that a work can still be under copyright protection in Europe but public domain in the US. With a very global market nowadays, that causes serious problems, and strongly discourages a company from publishing such a work whether they hold non-US rights or not. If you publish in the US (where it is public domain) and don't hold the rights, then you can't sell abroad. If you hold the rights and publish abroad, then there's nothing to stop your US sales being trashed by a rival (or free online) edition, and copies of that US edition finding their way to your non-US customers. (Indeed, my own company has looked at a few such books and concluded "can/worms/bargepole".) So it makes sense to clear this up.

Of course, when a company has published a work in good faith given that it was public domain, it would be rather galling for them to lose the right to publish if a work becomes subject to copyright once again. You'd hope they wouldn't be unduly punished under this change. I've seen this discussed before somewhere (perhaps when such a change in legislation was being considered), and the thinking was that they'd be treated fairly.

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geo said:

So does this mean I can copyright Christmas carols and demand a dollar for each time its sang?

I don't think so, Tim.

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Danarchy said:

FFFFFFF....I really dislike the whole concept of people owning ideas.

Paging Porsche Monty to the thread!

*grabs a bag of popcorn and settles down to watch the fireworks*

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Eh copyrighting an idea is stupid. Ideas are the easy part. Pitch men in TV get a ton of money for pitching ideas then hire other people to execute the idea.

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Patents are for ideas. Copyright is for creative works recorded in some tangible form.

Patents have to be applied for. Copyright exists as soon as the work is created.

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