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Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 15 years, 1 month ago

For this site's copyright policy see http://tunings.pbwiki.com/copyright


Copyright law is a mess and everyone knows it


(and it sounds like some think the same about patent law)


If you were to start out to write a legal system for a democracy, there's no way you'd end up with anything like the current system.


On the other hand, if you were just to abandon the current system and put nothing in its place, most people would benefit, including the vast majority of creative artists.


Not surprisingly, there is a general feeling of disquiet about copyright, as evidenced by:



  • The widespread violation of copyright law by otherwise law-abiding people.


There are two beneficiaries of the current law:


  • Unscrupulous or unthinking (or both) lawyers who prosecute copyright cases.


  • Publishing companies who speculate on purchases of copyrightable material.


These publishers, of course, vigorously support the current system. And it had its uses once, when publishing was expensive. But this is no longer the case. Artists nowadays have many outlets apart from publishers, and there is a mad and futile scramble by publishers to maintain their monopolies.



The morality of publishers has never been terribly good. Last century, Dr Ellis Deibler published a Christian song book in Papua New Guinea. He wrote to the publisher of each song, asking for a licence to include it. All wrote back, some asking for a fee (which was paid), a few denying permission and those songs were omitted. The interesting thing is that as Papua New Guinea was not then a signitory to the relevant treaties, no licences were required. Does anyone really believe that not one of those publishers knew this?

Now consider what these publishers would have you believe they do. Many of them exist, so they say, to promote Christian music, and even Christianity. But they knowingly requested and took money to which they had absolutely no right, and in other cases arbitrarily prohibited poor third world churches from singing Christian songs over which they falsely claimed to have control. The mind boggles.

Let's not be too hard on the publishing companies in the story above. It appears to be an accepted (and puzzling) principle of Western law that lying is good unless proven evil. Most disclaimers, for example, are knowingly designed to mislead.

I have in my hand as I read this a legal photocopy of some music I own. It bears in large print the sweeping words photocopying of sheet music is illegal. What utter rubbish. I have every right to photocopy the book I have purchased for the purpose of eliminating the page turns, which is what I have done. Nearly every percussionist in the world plays from their own handwritten or photocopied music (or a bit of both) rather than from the printed score. You must possess the original, but there's then no problem copying it for your own use.

(And even if some music company manages to hoodwink some court somewhere in the world into making it illegal there, is that a good law? The mind boggles. And I'm sure they will try...)

The legal position with regard to deliberate lies like this one is prima facie gone mad. Sure, you should be innocent until proven guilty. But once it has been proven that you knowingly and deliberately lied, this protection should be gone, surely? It should then be a balance of evidence case as to whether or not your deliberate lies caused damage, both in civil and criminal law.

I'm not saying make all lies criminal. I'm just saying make those who lie reasonably accountable for any damage caused by someone else believing their lies. I'd go further and say that part of this is that once it has been established that someone knowingly and deliberately lied, then the onus of proof should not be on the victim to prove that they believed them.

This is pretty radical.

The cynics will of course say that lawyers will never agree to prohibit or punish lying, for the obvious reason...

It would certainly abolish legal practice as we now know it!


More to follow on this!


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4508158.stm An interesting story


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