Read the following quotes and choose the letter that selects the group/person that you think made the comments:

“Privileges extended by copyright law . . . are restrictive and anachronistic in the face of current technologies, and create only the narrowest of circumstances in which making copies is permissible.”

“In the perception of the public, copyright law has a reputation for being overly restrictive. This perception fosters a dismissive attitude toward the law in communities that can hardly be characterized as rogue elements of society.”

(a)    BoingBoing.Net — A online blog dedicated to “Tech Culture and Science”

(b)   Sweden’s Pirate Party — A political party dedicated to reforming the laws related to copyright and patents

(c)    2600 : The Hacker Quarterly — Printed American magazine dealing with hacking and phreaking

(d)   The United States Library of Congress — America’s oldest federal cultural institution, the largest library in the world, and the research arm of Congress

Drum roll please. . .

If you selected (d), you are correct. In a recent 181-page report on sound preservation, the Library of Congress found that “[w]ere copyright law followed to the letter, little audio preservation would be undertaken. Were the law strictly enforced, it would brand virtually all audio preservation as illegal.” These problems with our copyright laws make it “virtually impossible to reconcile [a library’s] responsibility for preserving and making accessible culturally important sound recordings with their obligation to adhere to copyright laws.”

The comprehensive report warns that sound recordings from our history are in grave danger of disappearing. As a result of the physical and legal barriers, only fourteen percent of pre-1965 U.S. recordings are available to the public. The report also warns that there is not a comprehensive program to preserve “born digital” recordings like Podcasts. In addition, the report pointed out that digital media being used today like recordable CDs have much shorter lifetimes than their predecessors like vinyl discs.

After thoroughly addressing the problems that copyright laws create for sound preservation, the report’s authors put on their problem solving hats and offer these five solutions:

(1)    Place pre-1972 U.S. recordings under a single, understandable national law by repealing section 301(c) of Title 17, U.S. Code, the provision that currently keeps pre-1972 recordings under state law until 2067.

(2)    Harmonize the term of coverage for U.S. recordings with that of most foreign countries, i.e., a term of 50 to 75 years.

(3)    Legalize the use of orphan recordings (i.e., those for which no owner can be located).

(4)    Permit and encourage the reissue by third parties of abandoned recordings (i.e., those that remain out of print for extended periods), with appropriate compensation to the copyright owners.

(5)    Change U.S. copyright laws to allow the use of current technology and best practices in the preservation of sound recordings by nonprofit institutions.

If you selected (a),, don’t despair because they have criticized copyright laws here. If you selected (b), Sweden’s Pirate Party, you’re right in that they do not much care for the current copyright laws. If you selected (c), 2600 : The Hacker Quarterly, sleep easy knowing that they do not hold copyright laws in high regard.

Library of Congress

Paul Russell

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One Response to Pop Quiz — Copyright Criticism Style

  1. Pirate says:

    Sweden has a Pirate Party!? Jealous.