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Implications of the Kookaburra trial?


leander
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The Kookaburra trial in Australia is really worrying. What is plagiarism and what is not?

I have noticed that I unintentionally sometimes write something which is near something I heard a long time ago and had forgotten. What are the new constraints on compositions like "Variations on a theme by xx"?

Have you established your copyright to a tune a chord progression or a fragment when it is published, e.g., on this site?

I am confused and worried. Not because of my own helpless efforts. I would be proud if someone found something worth copying in what I produce. But how do those of you who are professional composers and have to make a living out of it adapt to the new worries. Or perhaps they are not new or not worries?

My career was in mathematical sciences and for text there are fairly clear rules. Sometimes appr. 30 words in sequence without mentioning the source is the limit. But if the source is credited then it is OK to quote. Universities use programs that crawl through millions of texts to check the limits. Will there be a program that does the same for music. Terrible idea.

What will it do to creativity if you have to be afraid that someone sues you all the time?

This is a confused posting because I am confused. Sorry for that.

I hope this is the right group. I joined yesterday and this is my second posting.

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Copyright law is very confusing and I think it's going in the wrong direction. Here's what I've found in relation to U.S. copyright law:

The Copyright Act of 1909 allowed for works to be copyrighted for 28 years from the date of publication. The works could be renewed for one additional 28-year term, and works without a copyright notice were automatically in the public domain. The Copyright Act of 1976 gave protection to published works that lacked a copyright notice and extended the copyright term to the life of the author plus 50 years. In 1998 the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act increased the term from 50 to 70 years after an author's death. Additionally it was decided that works copyrighted in or after 1923 and still under copyright in 1998 would not come into the public domain until 2019! The Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 helped to shape some laws, then the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 made the U.S. a party to the Berne Convention while making the UCC obsolete. What this means for Americans today is that works published in the U.S. before 1923 are in the public domain and works published in 1923 will not enter the public domain until 2019. So, in the U.S. at least, the trend is to increase copyright terms. I think a 70 year extension after an author's death is too much!

In relation to the Men At Work/Kookaburra case, it is ridiculous that Larrikin Music would go after the band for a quote in a flute riff and seek something like 60% in damages. Quotes from copyrighted tunes are used in jazz improv all the time and how stifling to creativity it would be for a copyright holder to sue. But you can't let this worry you when writing new works. If you want to write a theme and variations, go ahead and do so. Write whatever you want. Perform whatever you want in small circles. Be careful about what you publish, though. And if you're making money from whatever you're doing then it is best to understand the copyright laws in your region in case you might be violating a law that's actually enforced. Also don't forget about "fair use," a murky, horribly defined concept that is meant to foster intellectual activity. Clearly we need some reform.

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Such as?

Go to http://lessig.org/ and start reading the books he published. They're free for download online and all of them explain and go into lengthy detail about what's terribly wrong with the way copyright works and what reforms need to be made.

Hell, he was the one who invented the whole concept of creative commons to make an alternative to the old copyright law, etc etc. Which I think is brilliant and probably the best idea anyone has had on the topic.

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Well the point of creative COMMONS is to allow other people to see your stuff. You can explicitly make it so nobody can resell it/alter it and if they distribute it it must be with attribution. But the point is that other people are able to see it, which is what will happen ANYWAY. All the stuff you post here for example is going to get downloaded and copied regardless, and all of that is "copyright infringement." In fact the entire site can be argued allows people to bluntly violate copyright so hardcore that the only reason nobody says anything is that nobody really cares about composers lol.

CC allows for sites like this to have a LEGAL option for people posting their works, and still have a measure of control. After all © is © and even if you choose to not enforce it, infringements happen here every day every minute.

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Guest Bitterduck

The thing I found striking is that the kook trial seems to imply that new owners material have right to profit made before their ownership. I don't know much about the trial, but I do recall that company that sued men at work bought the rights to the song in the 90's, but as we know the song down under came out in the 80's. It just seems like a wtf mate case.

I don't know much about CC, but I do know that it is false dichotomy. When you sit down and think about CC, you are forced to realize that there's nothing within the current copy right laws that says you cannot do what a CC lets you do. The key difference is that within the current system, you have the right to be more restricted with your work. To me, it just seems to make the whole thing needless. If you feel your work is going to be stolen anyway, then feel free to state that a user is free to use your material in way they like as long as you are given credit and it's not resold. I don't particular believe that an entirely new system is needed to say what can be already said

I think most people have problems with the length of a copyright and the copyright act. CC is just one of those around the back "solutions" that don't address the current problems. As long as people use traditional the current system, the length and act problem will remain. It's only through a false and idealistic hope that people seem to believe that one day everyone will just one day switch to CC. With that said, my intuitive approach seems to imply to me that CC as potential to harm small business more so than large corporations. Anyway, the point is that instead of fixing the problem, it attempts to simply show another route. Some may say that that in itself is a solution, but when the existing problem still occurs, I find that hard to believe.

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Again, I strongly recommend reading Lessig's books on the topic, specially on how CC works and what the projections are. There are tons of misunderstandings on how copyright laws work in different countries and what they do and what they don't do. Lessig's books are oriented towards US law and policy, but of course the issues apply everywhere where that type of law is in effect, to different degrees.

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Guest Bitterduck

I've read his books and even been to classes at Harvard and lectures. Most of the stuff he has sounds pretty legit, but it's heavily based on his ideological. Reading his books won't make you understand the entire issue better, just his view of the issue better. It isn't hard to find economist and legal experts who can put up a grand fight against lessig. I mean no disrespect towards him since he is a smart dude. THe problem is that to students and non-academics, he is much smarter than they are and even if they feel he isn't completely right, cannot grasp how he's wrong, so they just assume he's right.

The idea is that he put himself in an arena of supporters where he cannot be wrong, because he tends to attract people who are more inclined to understand and agree with his position. He paints it's the end of the world picture trying to show that somehow a rare event such as copyright lawsuits is on the raise dramatically and shown all copyright holders will breathe down our necks and charge us until we die.

All in all, I recommend reading him because he does provide some good arguments and gives a pretty good round up about what is possible if all goes array. However, it's important to remember he has a very strong political side and his free culture attitude is his main agenda. Remember, when he writes he has a purpose. The purpose isn't to be fair and give you the 411 about the issue, the laws, and both sides. His goal is to fix what he deems wrong, and through his writing influence you to agree.

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Guest Bitterduck

I'm just saying that so you'll stop saying go read Lessig as if it was a magical book to understand everything in an unbias way. Consider my post a warning to those who are unaware of his motives. Not saying motives are bad, nearly every author has them, but his tend to be of a grander scale.

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And I only brought him up as an example of what kind of reforms people are talking about when tokke asked.

I never said that his views were unbiased, I never said that it was a magical book nor that reading it anyone would understand everything. Maybe in your imagination I did, but well whatever.

I wish the new forum also lacked that "show post" bit for people you have on ignore otherwise I wouldn't be replying.

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Guest Bitterduck

And once again, I'm simply here to point out that his reform isn't the same as CC. CC is not completely supported by freeware, while at the same time not reform, but rather a class that is already satisfied within the current legal system. In the US, each attempt by Lessig to reform has been defeated. I don't bring that up to bash him or his ideas, but to show that for CC to be a reform it'll need to be the predominate source of licensing, but as of now, it isn't or can it be because everything CC does is allowed under current laws; the only difference is some rights reserved is used automatically instead of all rights. There's nothing in there that says you cannot use all those rights you own and make it become something that is exactly CC. So i'm just forced to ask, what's the point...

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Guest Bitterduck

Extremely more complicated than that everywhere you go. There's extensions, round about ways. Like anything in the law, there's a way around it, just ask Disney.

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