Don’t Hate the Player

A former lobbyist, writing at the Verge, tries to explain Congress to nerds, and does a pretty good job:

As long as the entertainment industry spends more money in Washington than the tech industry, bad laws like SOPA and PIPA will appear with frightening regularity. The government will seem ignorant and unresponsive to the internet community for as long as the internet community refuses to participate — that’s just how this works.

Congress is a game, and anyone who wants to get something done in government plays. Those who don’t play never accomplish anything. It’s a game of reputation, relationships, back-room deals, and big money. And if you haven’t called or written your representatives, or engaged someone to advocate on your behalf, you’re not even spectating from the bleachers — as far as Congress is concerned, you’re sitting in your car listening to the game on the radio, somewhere in the uncharted Canadian tundra. Meanwhile, special interest groups help decide the batting order, while lobbyists line the bases, waving their pet legislation home.

Getting Congress to listen is not the problem with SOPA or PIPA, because they are listening — to the loudest voices with the most money. […]

It’s notable that the money man himself, Chuck Schumer, as well as his colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, are still co-sponsoring PIPA, while Marco Rubio withdrew his support, along with 10 other Republicans and only two Democrats. Schumer, Gillibrand and the rest are more scared of losing that sweet MPAA cash than they are of their constituents, even when their offices are being picketed and their websites are crashing.

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120 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Schumer and Gillibrand represent NYC — are we sure their particular constituents aren’t on the copy protection side of this issue?

  2. 2
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Which is part of why Citizens United isn’t that big a deal. MPAA, RIAA, Big Pharma and the likes have already bought Congress.

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    He makes it sound like our phone calls without thousands of dollars behind it will make any difference. Hahaha.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Schumer and Gillibrand are more scared of losing that sweet MPAA cash than they are of their constituents, even when their offices are being picketed.

    It’s all about the cash to buy TV spot time.

    That’s what it’s all about.

  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    As long as the entertainment industry spends more money in Washington than the tech industry, bad laws like SOPA and PIPA will appear with frightening regularity.

    Part of problem here is that some in the tech industry want to invoke some kind of fuzzy libertarian invisibility cloak for the InterTubes. I was listening to a tech podcast in which a guest, from edgdgt, was adamant over the idea that the govermnent does not have the right to regulate the InterTubes.

    Idealism v Bags of Money.

  6. 6
    Brandon says:

    Your post presumes that Schumer (a) has shame and (b) would consider doing something if he didn’t need the coin. I have not seen anything to believe that either point is possibly true.

  7. 7
    brent says:

    Whatever the merits of the bill, it has got to be obvious to even the most oblivious that this bill is poison and that there is no way they gain politically or achieve any policy goals by continuing to support this. What could the Dems who are still signing on to this possibly be thinking. They are not going to get this through the house. The president is already backing away from it and the only thing their continued support will guarantee is lost votes. WTF?

  8. 8
    Maude says:

    @Brachiator:
    Does that include child porn?

  9. 9
    KG says:

    @Brachiator: dollars to donuts says the next “campaign finance reform” law includes a provision restricting blog content prior to or after elections. My guess would be something like no commentary 24 months prior to an election, nor 24 months after an election.

  10. 10
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    As they say, “If you wanna play then you gotta pay.”

    Erickkk, Son of Erickkk, has a post up at Redneckstate that listed those they would primary if they didn’t pull their support for the bills. Their up and coming darling, Marco Rubio, was mentioned right at the top of the post.

    I thinks he gots EE’s message, loud and clear. The left needs to get that same message out.

    Loud and clear.

  11. 11
    WyldPirate says:

    It’s all about the Benjamins and will remain that way until the pitchforks come out.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    This is what INFURIATES me about the IT sector. It’s infested with too many libertarian idiots who have no fucking appreciation at all where this entire fucking industry came from:

    Government action.

    Now, the issue of regulation of what is essentially information is a tricky one. The thing is, libertarians tend to look the other way at rentier sorts of actions. They also don’t seem to get that none of this would exist without the actions of the ebil state some 40-50 years back, tossing money into R&D for the space race.

  13. 13
    mistermix says:

    @Baud: There’s a big Internet business presence in NYC (Silicon Alley). I know there were record companies in NYC but haven’t most of them been bought out by LA-based companies?

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    @mistermix: I honestly don’t know. My train of thought was NYC = entertainment = copy protection. I’m sure money is involved too, as it is in all things, but it struck me that the two Democrats you mentioned happened to be from New York.

  15. 15
    KG says:

    in all seriousness, our IP laws do need an overhaul. Because Disney is so desperate to keep copyright protection on their early works, the length of copyrights have been extended to extreme lengths; crippling the public domain.

    And there does need to be a better means of protecting IP, but from what I can tell of these bills, this ain’t the way to do it.

  16. 16
    gex says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That’s the beauty, ain’t it? First, rates are astronomical during campaign season, so they cost more than they normally do. But the money that the media companies throw at Congress comes right back to them just with the ad buys. The anti-consumer legislation is basically free.

  17. 17
    KG says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: there’s a split in libertarian circles on IP. Some think it should be free and public domain and some think it is a legit property right that can/should be protected. I’m in the second camp myself, but I do get where the other side is coming from. They tend to believe open sourcing (public domain) allows for better, faster innovation.

  18. 18
    David Koch says:

    4 years ago, at this time, elite bloggers were fluffing Chris Dodd.

    Markos at GOS said Dodd is “the go-to guy to buck the Washington establishment and be a champion for change.”

    Heh!

    Good times.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Cargo says:

    Is al franken still cosponsoring? That one hurt. but he is a hollywood guy at the end of the day. Hope he likes his one term in office.

  21. 21
    Judas Escargot says:

    Scott Brown’s come out against. Smooth (and risk-free) move on his part, in an environment where younger Republicans are trying to re-brand themselves as champions for civil liberties.

    He does, however, happen to be right on this one.

  22. 22
    lamh35 says:

    The campaign begins I think with the news that the Obama campaign is going on air in some swing states tomorrow I think.

    Here’s one that pertains I think:

    Obama for America 2012 TV AD – The Facts About President Obama’s Energy Record

  23. 23
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Baud: I would love to see how it is playing in California, Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. I like to Maria Cantwell my senator is on the side of angels since she was an ex-software exec.

  24. 24
    PeakVT says:

    I’m going keep on hating the players in this game, if you don’t mind.

  25. 25
    BruinKid says:

    Just called all my representatives in Congress. Both my Senators are co-sponsors, but Feinstein’s office said she’s willing to rework it. Boxer’s office didn’t have any additional information.

    My parents’ Congresswoman, Judy Chu, is unfortunately also a co-sponsor, but the office did say they were receiving a lot of phone calls and she could change her mind. My Congressman, Henry Waxman, is not a co-sponsor, and his office said Waxman has “concerns” over these bills.

  26. 26
    MikeJ says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: People keep saying Patty is for the bill because she receives money from people who work for MS, but I haven’t actually seen anything from her. Have you?

  27. 27
    joel hanes says:

    There is no such thing as IP.

    There are only trademark, trade secret, and copyright.
    The only thing “owned” by the possessors is the right to sue.

    People who use the phrase “intellectual property” are intentionally conflating immaterial ideas with physical things, because they like the way that the law treats physical things.

    But no matter how hard you squint, no matter how much money is spent promoting the idea that the two are in some sense the same, an idea is not a tangible thing.

  28. 28
    MikeJ says:

    BTW, looking at the cosponsors of PIPA on Thomas, it looks like Moran got a brain:
    Sen Moran, Jerry [KS] – 6/23/2011(withdrawn – 6/27/2011)

  29. 29
    Jack the Second says:

    Brands.

    As much as the internet loves to see their old enemies, RIAA and MPAA, behind this, brands – think shoes, clothes, and purses – are backing this legislation hard.

    And NYC is a capital for brands.

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: It’s unfortunate that this issue pits two otherwise fairly solid Democratic constituencies — entertainment and tech — against each other. I think the tech side will win out. The SOPA/PIPA proponents thought no one was paying attention, and they got greedy with the insane enforcement provisions, which helped fuel the backlash.

    They’ll probably shelve the bills this year, and may try to rework it next year with something more reasonable (or reasonable-sounding) with a different name and perhaps with some of the big tech players on board.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Chris Dodd must have a lot of dirt on these people. Looks like the MPAA knew what they were buying when they bought Dodd.

  32. 32
    Keith G says:

    @lamh35: Will President Obama veto SOPA/PIPA if passed?

  33. 33
    hamletta says:

    @Baud: Yeah, my Senators are backing the bills, because of the music industry.

  34. 34
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    an idea is not a tangible thing.

    No, but at least with copyright, once it’s fixed it tangible form, you have rights to it, and not just the right to sue.

    Patents are totally fucked.

  35. 35
    gaz says:

    @MikeJ: I poked around the other day and I couldn’t find anything one way or another.

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    I would love to see how it is playing in California, Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood.

    And that looks to be just about how it’s playing. There are a bunch of representatives who have lined up for it, almost all of whom are from LA county, and a bunch who have lined up against, most of whom are from the Bay Area. Unfortunately, it looks as if our Senators have thrown in with Hollywood rather than Silicon Valley.

  37. 37
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    This is what INFURIATES me about the IT sector. It’s infested with too many libertarian idiots who have no fucking appreciation at all where this entire fucking industry came from

    Very fair point.

    @KG:

    but I do get where the other side is coming from. They tend to believe open sourcing (public domain) allows for better, faster innovation.

    There are two interrelated problems with this view. Some of these people want to act as though the InterTubes is some kind of hobbyist domain, where cool kids play and come up with cool stuff. And yet they are blind to the companies that make tons of money and to any companies desires to protect their business interests. They cite Mozilla as being open source, but ignore the corporate subsidies Mozilla gets.

    I also listened to some techies vehemently reject the notion that access to the InterTubes might be a human right, again on the grounds of keeping the government out. And yet their arguments had a whiff of tech elitism, that the gummit should be kept out not because of any liberty interest, but to keep the tech ignorant masses away, or to keep them from demanding that the InterTubes be used for anything other than games and cool stuff.

  38. 38
    Lojasmo says:

    @Cargo:

    Al will serve as long as he likes. The average Minnesotan cares not at all about this bill.

    He’s going to be fAcing Bachmann, also, too.

  39. 39
    KG says:

    @joel hanes: you forgot patents.

    Intellectual property is actually quite important to make the economy work. You have the right to own your name, that’d be trademark. You have the right to own your words or pictures, that’d be copyright. You have the right to own your design or process, that’d be patent.

    If it wasn’t for trademarks, anyone could create a drink and call it “Coca-cola”; and when that drink started killing people, the blame would likely be directed at the wrong place.

    If it wasn’t for copyright, authors would only be able to make money on one copy of their books/pictures/films.

    If it wasn’t for patents, people who came up with new ways of doing things would never be able to make a buck; since the larger market participants could utilize the economy of scale to do what the creator did first at a much cheaper rate.

    Intellectual property protects consumers, it protects sellers, it protects the market, and it fosters innovation/creativity.

    And it is rightly thought of as a property right. It came out of the same line of reasoning that gave rise to defamation laws. Simply put, the idea is that you have an interest, some would say property right, in your reputation and good name. Allowing others to tarnish your name damages you, so we say you can’t do that.

    ETA: in short, ideas have value, and those who develop them should be able to make a buck off of them before everyone fucks the idea sideways.

  40. 40
    Donut says:

    @mistermix:
    January 18th, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @Baud: There’s a big Internet business presence in NYC (Silicon Alley). I know there were record companies in NYC but haven’t most of them been bought out by LA-based companies?

    I can’t speak to film/TV companies, but record companies I know, and every major label and many of the big indies (including distribution companies) are either headquartered in NYC or might as well be. They are mostly bicoastal that way.

  41. 41
    Brandon says:

    @mistermix: Well, Viacom’s HQ is NYC and I just pulled that from the top of my head and confirmed it on teh Google. Viacom is most famous for posting copyrighted content on YouTube and then suing Google for IP theft, so they have a bit of experience in this game.

  42. 42
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @MikeJ: I haven’t seen anything, but I will look. I don’t she is crazy to take on MS,but money talks.

  43. 43
    KG says:

    @Brachiator: yeah, well, no one ever said that libertarianism didn’t involve a great deal of utopianism.

    Like anything else, there’s a balancing act in this. Fair Use, Public Domain, and Protected Works/Marks have to be accounted for.

  44. 44
    Percysowner says:

    Well this is from Deadline Hollywood

    EXCLUSIVE: Internet sites on their SOPAStrike may be conducting a blackout but Hollywood studios are conducting a boycott. I’ve learned that Hollywood studio chiefs individually and as a group are drawing a line in the sand on the piracy issue with the Obama re-election campaign and refusing to give any more donations.

    They had been donating around 56 million dollars to the Obama Campaign and now many Hollywood moguls are threatening to pull all donations to Obama and the Democratic Party. This is going to take a lot of maneuvering to get through. The big media guns are pulling out all the stops.

  45. 45
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Roger Moore: A shame since both senators are from San Francisco. But then SF either acts like they are Silicon Valley, which is not, or Silicon Valley(Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, etc,etc) is flyover country to LA.

  46. 46
    Origuy says:

    My Congresswoman,Zoe Lofgren, has come out against SOPA.
    She represents CA-16, eastern and southern Silicon Valley. Her homepage has a blackout today.

    Links deleted because WP won’t post this otherwise.

  47. 47
    Raven says:

    The manager of a prominent local band that just disbanded writes furiously about all matter of progressive causes on his facebook. Not a peep on this issue.

  48. 48
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Percysowner:

    They’ll give to the Democrats one way or another, they’re not fuckin morons

  49. 49
    AA+ Bonds says:

    To me this is a non-issue b/c the bill will die in the courts even if it passes

  50. 50

    @KG: Like anything else, there’s a balancing act in this. Fair Use, Public Domain, and Protected Works/Marks have to be accounted for.

    That’s the whole point. It’s too important to let some friggin’ Unforseen Consequences screw the whole thing up. We’ve had way too much hoocoodanode since 2000.

  51. 51
    Brandon says:

    @Percysowner: That doesn’t seem like a very smart negotiating position.

  52. 52
    Brachiator says:

    @Percysowner:

    They had been donating around 56 million dollars to the Obama Campaign and now many Hollywood moguls are threatening to pull all donations to Obama and the Democratic Party. This is going to take a lot of maneuvering to get through. The big media guns are pulling out all the stops.

    And where are they going to spend their money instead? The GOP cant’t gurarantee any better results.

    Today, we had the modest SOPA blackouts. What if Apple, Google and Amazon made deals with indi artists and filmmakers, and stopped selling and advertising all the studios movies and albums?

  53. 53
    MikeJ says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: Hell, I haven’t heard MS take a side, but if they did you would be with the tech companies. Which makes it that much weirder that people point to support from MS as a reason why Murray must be pro PIPA even though she’s not one of the 40 cosponsors.

  54. 54
    Baud says:

    @Percysowner: Where exactly do you get $56 million from? That’s insane.

    And, as others have said, unless they want to give up their influence, they’ll give.

  55. 55
    burnspbesq says:

    @Jack the Second:

    This, in spades. Anything made in China has been counterfeited and the counterfeits can be bought online from websites that are hosted outside the US.

    It’s actually quite amazing that both Wyden and Merkley are now opposed.

  56. 56
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    Markos Moutsolitas(sp) from Daily Kos ripped the Democratic Party a new A-hole on the Keith Olbermann. The Democrats are more scared of Hollywood, and the GOP could be the new hero.

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: Markos criticized the Democrats on Olbermann. I’m shocked.

  58. 58

    OR Sens Merkely and Wyden – against

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @KG:

    The problem is perpetuating these rights for immortal fictional “people”, that is, for corporations.

    Patents, which are the font of all this, were specifically created to have an expiration within the expected lifetime of the creator, an individual human being, in order to encourage innovation, but also to make sure that the patent itself was moved into the public domain after a while to make certain that the innovation continued.

    The current system with immortal fictional “people” having perpetual rights does exactly the opposite.

    Trademarks and copyrights are related, but slightly different. Trademarks should have the most restrictive and wide open protection, for precisely the reason that there should be only one “Coca-Cola” or, for that matter, “Pepsi Cola”.

  60. 60

    An add for my employer showed on this web site…

  61. 61
    Baud says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Patents, which are the font of all this, were specifically created to have an expiration within the expected lifetime of the creator, an individual human being, in order to encourage innovation, but also to make sure that the patent itself was moved into the public domain after a while to make certain that the innovation continued.

    Actually, that’s copyright. Patents have something like a 17 or 20 year life span.

  62. 62
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Patents, which are the font of all this, were specifically created to have an expiration within the expected lifetime of the creator, an individual human being, in order to encourage innovation, but also to make sure that the patent itself was moved into the public domain after a while to make certain that the innovation continued.

    Patents and copyrights are two hugely different areas. You’re mixing things up a bit here.

    Also, too, copyrights span not just the lifetime of the creator, but can fall for some time to the spouse and children.

    There are sad stories of musicians who make crappy deals or sign away the rights to their work when they are young and hungry and in a hurry, never thinking that they might have a family one day.

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    I was referring to expected life span at the time that the patent system was dreamed up, in the 18th century.

    When you have a life expectancy around 50, and you start your career as a master anything around 20, at best, after apprenticeship, 17 to 20 years is close to your entire life.

    Copyright borrowed the template and was specific about lifetime, not an estimate based on life expectancy at the time. Now of course it extends to estates of the creator as well in some cases. See how the Arthur Conan Doyle estate gets antsy about the use of Holmes in other fiction…the Star Trek producers ran into this problem with Data’s Holmes fixation.

  64. 64
    KG says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I studied IP law, but my understanding is that patents are for fixed terms and renewable. The issue has been with copyrights.

    I actually had an idea about dealing with that issue. Basically, I like the idea of a renewable copyright (similar to how patents are renewable). Here’s basically what do for copyrights:

    the original copyright would exist for the life of the author plus 10 years, if a natural person. If a corporation, then we’ll say 35 years. When the copyright is set to expire, it can be renewed, for a fee, for a 10 year period. At the end of that 10 year period, it can be renewed for 5 years, with a substantial fee increase. After the five year renew, it can be renewed again for 2 years, again with a substantial fee increase. After the two year period, it can be renewed annually, the older the copyright, the higher the fee.

    Basically, if Disney wants to spend ten million a year protecting Steamboat Willie, they can. Otherwise, things can fall into the public domain.

    Oh, and I’d also require the work to be published at least twice in the 10 year renewal period, and then once every five years after that. Failure to publish would result in the loss of the copyright.

  65. 65
    jayboat says:

    Apologies for the OT post- anyone else catch the TPM link to the Drudge story about Gnoot’s 2nd wife, Marianne’s interview with ABC?

    Doodoo is about to hit the fan big time.

  66. 66
    gex says:

    @jayboat: I’m a bit disgusted that ABC is thinking of delaying a release so as to not affect the SC primary. News organizations break news, not worry about its effects on a campaign. ABC is backing Newt I guess.

  67. 67
    Raven says:

    @gex: Oh but he’s a newtered grannnnnndfattttther. . .

  68. 68
    Angry DougJ says:

    I’m calling those assholes tomorrow.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gex:

    The NYT made decisions in the past not to release news when they had it because it might…um…affect elections.

    They did it with Bob Packwood, they did it with the deserting coward.

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    @KG:

    the original copyright would exist for the life of the author plus 10 years, if a natural person.

    You would be screwing spouses and children out of their share of the bounty.

  71. 71
    MikeJ says:

    @KG: Patents aren’t renewable, are they?

    The nonsense of software patents is really silly too, but that’s another show.

  72. 72
    liberal says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The thing is, libertarians tend to look the other way at rentier sorts of actions.

    Yah think?

  73. 73
    Mark S. says:

    @jayboat:

    I’m honestly curious what she could possibly say about Newt that we don’t already know? That he’s a heartless douchebag that trades in women like cars? That he’s slightly unethical when it comes to money?

  74. 74
    Gilles de Rais says:

    The man has explained how the game works. He is correct. The tech industry has just had the last chance it’s ever going to get to insure that it is on a level playing field with content providers. It doesn’t even cost that much to get access to the corrupt bastards in Congress, so just fucking pay them already.

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    Why do we perpetuate this medieval nonsense that people are entitled to benefits simply because they married the guy, or are his spawn? They were not the authors. I’ll allow for surviving spouse, but kids? A good example of this shit that is an abomination can be summed up in two words: Luke Russert.

    If everyone is supposed to work for a living, why the fuck do we allow Paris Hilton to exist?

  76. 76
    PurpleGirl says:

    @mistermix: LA-based offices of companies that were originally in NYC.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    why the fuck do we allow Paris Hilton to exist?

    It would be illegal to just kill her.

  78. 78
  79. 79
    jayboat says:

    @Mark S.:
    Yep, he’s all that and a bag of sour grapes. I think the impact of the info coming from someone with intimate details might be a tad more damaging. We can hope.

    Looks like we know what he did today after cancelling the news conference. His daughters have let go a press release about the interview. Wonder who pressured them to do such a thing?

  80. 80
    lamh35 says:

    Sully has a video up of this young Latino college student who somehow got to the front of a Romney rope line and actually shook Romney’s hand and asked him point blank about how he’d vote on the “Dream Act”. Her description of the experience will surprise no one. There is a link to the full video of the student talking to Romney at Sully’s site.

    Why The Latino Vote Matters

  81. 81
    liberal says:

    @KG:

    Intellectual property is actually quite important to make the economy work. You have the right to own your name, that’d be trademark. You have the right to own your words or pictures, that’d be copyright. You have the right to own your design or process, that’d be patent.

    Pure, unadulterated, steaming horseshit.

  82. 82
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Sluts need an idol to aspire to and whores need someone to make them look good?

    Works for me.

  83. 83
    Baud says:

    @Mark S.:

    I’m honestly curious what she could possibly say about Newt that we don’t already know?

    She’s probably say he’s a consummate racist, and we’ll all have egg on our face because that news will catapult him to the nomination.

  84. 84
    Steeplejack says:

    I think U.S. copyrights through most of the 20th century were issued for a fixed term, 28 years, and could be renewed (once) by the original holder. The law was changed somewhat in 1976 and then really fucked up by the Sonny Bono Act in 1998, i.e., copyright until 70 years after the death of the author, unless–get this–the work is a “work for hire” for a corporation, in which case the copyright persists for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter. So once again corporations are more real people than real people are.

  85. 85
    lamh35 says:

    @jayboat: @gex: @Baud:

    it doesn’t matter to us, but it I bet it will matter to the conserv bunch who chose Santorum over Newt and from reports it had a lot to do with his 3 wife situation.

    Since it’s being touted by Drudge (who at this point is the establishment mouthpiece on the internet, it’ s where all his sources are from anyway) then the interview must contain something or might contain something that conserv can use against Newt who’s from all accounts have been showing a “surge” since the debate.

  86. 86
    CaseyL says:

    @MikeJ:

    Patents aren’t renewable, are they?

    I’ve been an intellectual property paralegal for over 15 years, and I can tell you: No. Patents are not renewable past their 20-year term, which is calculated from the initial filing date. (Though I think biotech patents can get an extension of their term, because it can take 7 or more years to get one, which reduces the term of the issued patent to 13 years or less.)

    Now, patent holders do need to pay “maintenance fees” (in the US) or “renewal fees” (in other countries), which terminology can confuse people into thinking patents can be renewed. But the maintenance and renewal fees are paid to keep the patent “alive” during its 20-year term; they do not extend its term past the 20-year mark.

  87. 87
  88. 88
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @CaseyL: I have heard tell of patent-holders modifying their patented item and trying to get the “new” item patented.

  89. 89
    ruemara says:

    @Keith G: No. he won’t veto it. Even though he came out against both with concerns, no he won’t veto it. Plus, we’re going to war with Iran. And there’s no public option. because of Rahm. And wow.

  90. 90
    Mark S. says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Yeah, the Sonny Bono Act was one of the stupidest pieces of legislation ever passed. Well, until they pass another one making copyrights even longer, which they will.

  91. 91
    Nash says:

    . . . what’s galling me about this post and this thread is that everyone seems to be simply shrugging their shoulders.

    “Money runs government? They’re bought? Eh, what else is new . . .”

    Are we *this* beaten down?

  92. 92
    Raven says:

    @Nash: relax

  93. 93
    Gilles de Rais says:

    Are we this beaten down?

    @Nash: Access to Congress has never been free, not in the history of this or for that matter any democracy.

    Acknowledging that is not being “beaten down”, it’s simply being realistic.

  94. 94

    @Omnes Omnibus: Like, say, Lexapro? Patent extenders? Shocking.

  95. 95
    CaseyL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I have heard tell of patent-holders modifying their patented item and trying to get the “new” item patented.

    You might be referring to “continuation,” “continuation-in-part,” or “divisional” patent applications. All start from a previously-filed application and try to get a patent for similar, or at least related, inventions. Filing one of these applications is very standard patent practice, and many of them do go on to become issued patents.

    However – and this is a big ‘however’ – the 20-year term of the patent is calculated from the earliest filing date. The expression used is “earliest priority date,” and means the filing date of the original patent application. In other words, no patent granted on a continuation, etc., patent application will extend more than 20 years from the filing date of its original “parent” patent application.

    It’s possible, also, to try filing a patent application that is similar to an earlier-filed application, but doesn’t claim any relation to that earlier application, in order to try getting the full 20-year term. The problem with that strategy is that the earlier application will almost certainly be cited as “prior art” against the later-filed application, which would keep the later-filed application being granted a patent.

  96. 96
    Kola Noscopy says:

    @David Koch:

    4 years ago, at this time, elite bloggers were fluffing Chris Dodd.

    Four years ago at this time, BJ was all Change We Can Believe In.

  97. 97
    jefft452 says:

    @Brachiator: “You would be screwing spouses and children out of their share of the bounty.”

    What did the spouses and children contribute to the work product?

    IP fanatics always say they support strong IP because the authors should get paid for the work they do
    Fair enough,
    but what they mean is the son of the guy who bought the copyright from the authors grandkids should get paid for the work that the author did

  98. 98
    lol says:

    @Mark S.:

    Even dumber was the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Bono act because it’s still technically a “limited term” even though it keeps being renewed for longer and longer terms.

    Copyright isn’t an intrinsic right. It’s a bargain and part of the bargain is that you give up the content to the public domain after being given a distribution monopoly for a short period of time.

    If Hollywood and the recording industry don’t want to uphold their end of the bargain, I see no reason why I should be obligated to uphold my end of the bargain.

  99. 99
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @lol:

    “The bargain has been altered. Pray I do not alter it further.”

  100. 100

    See, there’s a problem here.

    You don’t go to Congress to get a cushy Congressional seat forever. You go to Congress to burnish your credentials as a lobbyist.

    However much one’s constituents donate or demand, they’re not going to give you a six figure job after you lose your re-election bid.

  101. 101
    Kola Noscopy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Why do we perpetuate this medieval nonsense that people are entitled to benefits simply because they married the guy, or are his spawn? They were not the authors. I’ll allow for surviving spouse, but kids? A good example of this shit that is an abomination can be summed up in two words: Luke Russert.

    This.

  102. 102
    Kola Noscopy says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Sluts need an idol to aspire to and whores need someone to make them look good?

    Misogynist.

  103. 103

    @jefft452:

    IP fanatics always say they support strong IP because the authors should get paid for the work they do
    Fair enough, but what they mean is the son of the guy who bought the copyright from the authors grandkids should get paid for the work that the author did

    This is a distinction without a difference. Extending the copyright past the death of the author *is* paying that author. Whether you like it or not, people are motivated by what they can pass onto their kids or surviving spouse. Knowing that the income stream can be passed on is compensation.

    There are all sorts of reasons to think that this ability should be limited, such as by a limited extension of IP past death or an estate/inheritance tax. But this willful blindness as to the fact that what is going on is compensation of the author is just stupid.

  104. 104
    Nutella says:

    Shorter Verge:

    The tech industry hasn’t bought as many legislators as the entertainment industry therefore entertainment industry will win.

    The system would be more efficient if we just stopped paying the legislators with the taxpayers money and let them sell themselves directly.

  105. 105
    Kola Noscopy says:

    @jefft452:

    What did the spouses and children contribute to the work product? IP fanatics always say they support strong IP because the authors should get paid for the work they do
    Fair enough,but what they mean is the son of the guy who bought the copyright from the authors grandkids should get paid for the work that the author did

    This.

  106. 106
    Ruckus says:

    @Brachiator:
    What if we stopped buying the media products? No TV, DVD, Netflix, radio, movies, concerts, etc.
    Just stopped, even if for one week. What would their income stream look like then? One fiftieth of their income gone. If that didn’t work 2 weeks. Of course the number of babies born 9 months latter might be higher but still.
    You want something done, boycott. Your life may even be better for a while. I can’t stop them from trying to screw my wallet to dust but I can move it to where they can’t get a hold of it.

  107. 107
    jefft452 says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): “Extending the copyright past the death of the author is paying that author….But this willful blindness as to the fact that what is going on is compensation of the author is just stupid.”

    Right, point taken
    “authors should get paid for the work they do” means the exact same thing as “the son of the guy who bought the copyright from the authors grandkids should get paid for the work that the author did”

    If its a choice between you guys and the “information want to be free” nuts, I’ll go with the nuts

  108. 108

    @jefft452: I guess I’ll just chalk you up as having no understanding of human motivations whatsoever.

  109. 109
    jefft452 says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
    In the era before it was decided that Steamboat Willy must never fall into public domain, we had a limited duration copyright schema that somehow failed to discourage creators from creating
    This is one of the few areas where the yellow stripes and dead armadillos who live in the middle of the road are on the side of the angels
    But if I have to choose between the extremes, then I’m going to need a parrot and an eye patch

  110. 110

    @jefft452:

    In the era before it was decided that Steamboat Willy must never fall into public domain, we had a limited duration copyright schema that somehow failed to discourage creators from creating

    I agree, but I fail to see how this has the slightest relevance to anything I said. You seem to have listened to some voices in your head that say that I am in favor of copyright extension. I never said that. All I said is that allowing an author’s heirs to receive payment for his work is paying the author.

    That’s it. End of story. *Anything* else you read into that comment is entirely of your own invention and likely has nothing to do with my actual beliefs.

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Why do we perpetuate this medieval nonsense that people are entitled to benefits simply because they married the guy, or are his spawn? They were not the authors. I’ll allow for surviving spouse, but kids? A good example of this shit that is an abomination can be summed up in two words: Luke Russert.

    I don’t agree with your notion of benefits. You sound almost Randian here, so let’s go the whole hog. Why should any of your earnings go to your spouse and children? A person should be able to take his or her paycheck and spend it all, letting the spouse and kids starve. They can get some of those Newt Gingrich janitorial jobs, or settle for the official liberal safety net.

    This also would render meaningless the struggle for gay marriage. If the earner has the sole rights to benefits, then the claims of anyone else for any reason is pointless.

    As a related aside, I view Paris Hilton as our Tramp Laureate, and respect her efforts. Unlike Lindsay Lohan, who is determined to squander her talents, Paris did her time and works at being a celebrity. I also seem to recall that she is no longer in line to inherit a huge pile of loot.

  112. 112
    jefft452 says:

    @Brachiator: Villago Delenda Est didn’t sound at all randian to me.
    If I hadn’t out lived my wife, she would have continued to get benefits from my pension after I kick the bucket
    All proper and correct
    But it wouldn’t be fair for my pension plan to continue paying out benefits to our grandkids long after I’m gone

    I agree with your take on Paris Hilton. Not an asshole, just plays one on TV, and far more willing to put the effort into her chosen career of being famous for being famous then Sarah Palin or Luke Russert

  113. 113
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    Here’s the thing.

    It’s perfectly understandable that people would want financial security for their children. The question is, why do some people get this financial security that is not earned by their children, but rather is gifted to them? How about sending them to school to learn skills so they can provide their own financial security, the way the proles have to do it?

    Why not take that and spread it around. Give EVERYONE some financial security for their children?

    Why should the uterus you dropped out determine if you get financial security or not?

    Jefferson saw what this mentality did in Europe, and he was appalled. Which is why he worked hard to institute an estate tax that the Rethugs are busy trying to destroy, because they’re actually neofeudalists, who want to give their children a cushy life at the expense of other’s children. Royalties paid on every copy of “I’ve Got you, Babe” to the kids and grandkids of Sonny Bono. Money extracted from the wallets of others for the benefit of the descendants of an artist long since dead.

    One of the drawbacks of this hereditary aristocracy thing is that when the chips are down, your children get hauled before the revolutionary tribunal and are punished for your sins. In a system where privilege is passed down by blood, so is guilt…that’s the downside. Sins of the Father are visited on the children. It’s the check and balance in such a system.

    We rightly are appalled at a system that holds people who never committed the crime guilty of it, but we don’t see the converse…inheriting the old man’s ill gotten gains means you’re tainted with the means used to amass such a fortune. Joseph Kennedy’s grandkids and greatgrandkids are living off the fruits of stock swindles and rum running. Prescott Bush’s kids benefiting from financial deals with the Nazis. The entire Rockefeller clan…well, let’s not go into all the gory details. Vanderbilt. Stanford. Villard. J.P. Morgan. The list goes on and on.

  114. 114

    @jefft452:

    But it wouldn’t be fair for my pension plan to continue paying out benefits to our grandkids long after I’m gone

    No, it wouldn’t, but that’s because what you paid into the fund was based upon actuarial expectency of *your* lifespan. It is perfectly possible for you to buy an annuity that would pay out benefits to your grandkids long after you die. An insurance company would be happy to sell you one, so long as it is priced properly.

    And if you did that, you would be paying your money for something that has value to you. You seem to be unusually thick headed about this.

  115. 115

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Why not take that and spread it around. Give EVERYONE some financial security for their children?

    This is a good question, but it is completely and utterly different from the one being asked, namely whether or not the continuation of copyright past the author’s death constitutes a payment to that author. As I said above, there are perfectly good reasons why we should not allow unlimited benefits to one’s heirs.

    However, there are also damned good reasons why we should allow *some* benefits to be passed on. If it were not allowed, you would create some incredibly perverse incentives, or lack thereof, in the economy. The ability to provide for one’s children is an extremely strong motivating factor in getting people to work. If there were to be a 100% inheritance tax, then you are going to have to restructure large elements of how people are paid.

    Your last paragraph is a complete non-sequitor in this discussion. That some gains are ill-gotten is a good reason to have a regulatory regime that would prevent such gains from being gotten in the first place. It says nothing, in and of itself, as to whether gains, without regard as to the virtue of their provenance, should be allowed to be passed on.

  116. 116
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Yeah jefft! Stop being so think-headed and just accept that JMN is right and you are wrong, because JMN is always right about everything and everyone else is always wrong, if they’re dumb enough to dare disagree with the great and mighty JMN!

    Why, if JMN says that Catholics don’t believe you need to be Catholic to be saved, even if the motherfucking Pope says otherwise, just accept that JMN is right. He’ll spend all goddam night finding the reason he’s right if he has to.

    Of course, in this case his argument is completely off topic, but who cares? JMN is telling your sorry stupid ass that people like to leave money to their descendents, and it’s important that you forget the on-topic point you’re making and acknowledge his off-topic point because he is the great JMN, and you will respect his perfect genius!

    Does it hurt to be such a fucking asshole, JMN? If there’s any justice in this world, it hurts alot. Of course, since we know there is no justice, I don’t doubt that you’re quite comfortable.

  117. 117
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    That some gains are ill-gotten is a good reason to have a regulatory regime that would prevent such gains from being gotten in the first place.

    And you’re using your impressive financial knowledge to press for such a regime, correct? No, of course you’re not. There are wrong people on the internet who need correcting before you can bother yourself with such trifles.

  118. 118
    Pat In Massachusetts says:

    These bills are perfect ways of demonstrating that it does not matter whether the individual is male or female, Republican or Democrat, they all have one thing in common; their vote can be bought, even Al Fucking Franken!

    Bernie Sanders is the only visible exception I see and when he is interviewed on TV he never has a COLLEAGUE standing by his side like Cantor and his Tea Party gang standing with their long faces (because of TERRIBLE Obama)before the cameras. If there are any other politicians like Bernie Sanders who truly cares about everyday Americans, I wish to hell they would come forward. What are they waiting for?

  119. 119
    Lex says:

    Shorter lobbyist: That’s a nice Internet you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.

  120. 120
    Berial says:

    Copyright should NOT be based upon the life of the author. If that were the case then we would be valuing the works of the young over the old, and the earlier works of any given artist over their later works.

    That said, the extension of copyright from it’s original length to up to 120 years is where the public trust was broken. Copyright was created to enrich the public culture by giving a limited monopoly on created works.

    I’m not convinced making damn sure Steamboat Willie never loses it’s copyright protection in my lifetime or my grandkid’s lifetime is a “public good”.

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