Edison Carter wrote:
Copyright should apply to 'commercial distribution' only, I think we all agree on that already. The hard part is defining 'commercial'. If I run a torrent site that lets you download movies for free and it has some advertising on it to pay the hosting costs (or even if I make a profit out of it), is that commercial or not? I prefer a very limited definition; it's only 'commercial' if I charge you money for the content itself eg 99c per download, access at $1 per GB ..
Creative Commons have tried to tackle this one already, and they seem to favor a much broader interpretation;http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Defining_Noncommercial
Do you mean a site like The Pirate Bay that indexes hash codes of files? (Have I got this right?) You don't need to allow receiving advertising money for conveying (or even for linking to copies) for this, right? You only need to allow receiving advertising money for providing hash codes? If I've got this right, then I think disallowing receiving money for conveying as such isn't a problem.
I am wondering if there is a position we could take in between the two, that proposes reforms limiting the reach of copyright, based on an opinion that "copyright is a privilege, not a right" i.e. copyright is there because society allows it as an incentive, NOT because copyright holders 'deserve' it. It follows that we think society wants to allow it to a lesser extent than currently.
Is there another way to have a middle ground like this? is there any actual policy that could do this? rather than just a justification worded in a particular way?
I think the idea of copyright as a moral right depends on copyright being virtually eternal and universal. I think if we can get copyright reduced to expire within a generation and only cover commercial use, then the facade will crumble. I think copyright holders already had copyright terms extended to be virtually eternal before non-commercial copying was really an issue, and they got legal rights over non-commercial copying handed to them on a plate when non-commercial copying became possible. Historical happenstance gave them a free ride this time.
Something that it would be good to change if possible at some stage would be making (commercial) copyright just about requiring a payment (either in the form of money or code) for conveying, not about allowing control more broadly. e.g. with Microsoft: When IBM was shipping OS/2 on their machines, Microsoft refused to licence Windows '95 to them; HP (I think) loaded software on their machines to make them more user friendly, and Microsoft required them to return to a default install; Some OEMs wanted to install Netscape and this was disallowed; etc. (Some of?) these were later deemed anti-competitive through the courts, but it would be far better if copyright let companies just pay their money and then do what they want with the work, rather than having copyright allow full control, and then having to go through the courts to determine which specific instances of control are considered anti-competitive.
Here's another, weaker proposal: (since this is supposed to be about formulating several different proposals)
copyright should cover:
A) in the case of derived works and critiques - only commercial use
B) in the case of copies with no derivations - only commercial use, and noncommercial use on a commercial scale.
"commercial scale" possibly defined as when financial savings dwarf the added convenience, possibly something else.
I notice that the Uppsala Declaration and several pirate parties (including Sweden) suggest copyright shouldn't cover derived works except when they are only slightly different so still essentially the same work. [Edit: Looking at your post again, I guess you're not talking about this?] For me, I can't see how a clear line could be drawn between what is still essentially the same work and what isn't. I think we'd have to say something like if 25% of the work is replaced with 25% new material then we'd consider the work essentially new, and there'd be some point where you had 24% of the work changed, and the full force of copyright would apply, then if you made one more minor change copyright wouldn't apply at all. I think it would be too difficult to judge. We want to legalise non-commercial use anyway, and this would include derivatives. For commercial derivatives I think there's the issue (as above) that copyright holders have a legal right to control rather than payment, so they can ban derivatives, but while I think it would be good to make commercial derivatives possible, I don't think they need to be at no cost.
I think it would probably be less problematic to draw a line between what counts as a commercial scale and what doesn't, but I'd still prefer to avoid this approach (people would have to watch their quotas or something). I think just disallowing receiving money for conveying would be a simpler rule that achieved a satisfactory result.
I think we still need more proposals between "copyright may as well be infinite" and "we want everything for free". What are some categories of non-commercial use which are most important to free up?
I'd say the big issue is P2P, and to legalise this we only need to legalise conveying without receiving money, so I think this is what we should aim for.