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Re: arsclist Eldred case
On Wed, 3 Apr 2002, Copeland, Peter wrote:
> Most other countries of the world have extended
> authors' rights to "life-plus-seventy" specifically to nurture writing in
> languages such as these; it is now a requirement of all Berne Convention
> countries. I fear many people may see the action proposed by Jim Farrington
> as constituting (a) the promotion of "globalisation", and (b) supporting
> unfair competition.
Thank you for bringing this up; the significance of international
copyright law in the recent extension of U.S. copyright has generally been
ignored by opponents of the extension. Having said that, I don't
understand why such an extension of copyright is thought to foster the use
of endangered languages. Rather, it seems to me that in those cases broad
public access to earlier writings is even more crucial, while the added
"artistic incentive" of an extra twenty years' copyright protection is
equally small. Speakers of English have a vast selection of public domain
materials freely available to them. Many other language communities do
not, particularly ones in which a substantial written literature did not
exist until the twentieth century. A fair balance between incentives for
creators and a free public domain seems more rather than less important in
such cases. Depriving the Gaelic language community of a usable public
domain hardly strikes me as a blow against linguistic imperialism.
For the present, the Eldred case still doesn't get at the real bugbear of
American copyright for those involved in early sound recording: the lack
of consistency in statutes governing pre-1972 sound recordings from state
to state. A reissue that would be legal in California might not be legal
in Colorado, and vice-versa (their unauthorized duplication statutes use
unrelated standards). It's unfortunate that efforts to bring U.S.
copyright law into line with international standards have never extended
to American sound recordings.
- Patrick Feaster
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