Jotting down some thoughts on some of the issues we were looking into at the last meeting.
This would be very difficult without some sort of screening and registration process. Because patent applications are subjected to examination before being granted there are comparatively few cases where novelty of an invention is in dispute (especially as such disputes can be resolved by challenging the application prior to grant).
On the whole, moral rights would appear to be compatible with our directions, but the length may be excessive, lasting the life of the author. Attribution isn’t necessarily an issue, but integrity might be.
- Berne Convention (1886)
- UCC Geneva (1952)
- UCC Paris (1957)
- TRIPS (1994)
- WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996).
- ACTA (2011)
- Singapore-Australia (2003)
- Australia-US (2004)
- Thailand-Australia (2004)
- Australia-Chile (2009)
- Malaysia-Australia (2012)
- ASEAN-Au-NZ (2014)
- Korea-Australia (2014)
- China-Australia (2015)
- Japan-Australia (2015)
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (2016)
Some helpful guidance on this comes from Christian Engström and Rick Falkvinge, The Case for Copyright Reform (2012), 82–84:
Wouldn’t it be better to adapt the protection times according to what is reasonable for different categories of works?
This is actually what I (Christian Engström) thought myself … . I … thought it was quite reasonable to have a longer protection time for computer programs, since they quite often continue to be useful long after they were written. Code that I wrote in 1984-86 still runs in production today, and continues to generate income for that company. This is something different than a pop song, which at best is popular for a year or so, before it is forgotten to leave room for new songs. This is what I felt.
But my friend, who has a background as a musician (but is now a copyright lawyer, since that is an easier way to make a living), had the completely opposite opinion. He saw computer programs as something that you upgrade at least every second or third year. Programs older than that would have no commercial value, so it ought to be enough with a quite short protection time for computer programs. Music, on the other hand, could very often live forever, so the protection time for music ought to be much longer. This is what he felt.
And this is how it normally is, my friend, who had had similar discussions with other people, told me. For the kind of works that is closest to your own heart, you would normally find it reasonable to have a longer protection time, but shorter for everything else. This is how most people feel, it appears. …
But if you look at the issue from an investor’s point of view, things become different. The music industry may be very different from the computer software sector, but they have one thing in common. Money is money, regardless of what sector you choose to invest it in.
When an investor makes the decision to invest in a project in any industry – it may be music, lm, computer programs for the mass market, or anything else – he will calculate his business case with a certain time to get a return on his investment. If the project goes according to plan it is supposed to cover its cost and make a profit within x years. If not, it is a failure. …
This is of course even more so in the cultural sector. Who can predict what will be cool and hip two or three years from now, in such a fast moving landscape as culture. Most cultural projects are expected to pay for themselves and make a profit within a year.
By looking at the protection times from an investor’s point of view, we can justify having the same protection time for all works, even though they are different. The purpose of the economic exclusivity part of copyright is to attract investors to the cultural sector. And investors think in the same way regardless of what they are investing in.