Copyrights, they need to change. Once, it was 29 years, that was too long. Then companies like Disney came along and said "We want the copyrights to last longer" Then it was 75 years. Then it became 75 years AFTER death. Now copyright is so bungled, everything is illegal to touch, to edit, even to parody is becoming threatened. How many parodies have you seen taken down on youtube? illegally or legally, its a constant battle between content creators and copyright trolls.
My proposal is thus: * Copyright only lasts 15 years. * Copyright nullifies on death. * Copyright is permissible but not transferable. * If you sign a contract /before/ the work is created saying that said work belongs to another. Then, and only then is the rights transferred. * Group ownership of a copyright, either under a corporate/group lable, or with multiple Signatures. * Copyright Suits can only be executed by the actual owner, and not third parties or people with copy-permissions. * Copy for Parody, learning, teaching, and non-profit is protected as fair use.
In Elaboration: Copyright should be a short duration, 15 years is more than enough time to make money off of your work. And plenty of time to produce another masterpiece.
Once the original creator is dead, the copyright should be nullified, and the material left in the public domain. This allows and enforces innovation instead of sitting on a copyright just to make money off the rights.
Copyrights should not be transferable after the work is created, However permission to copy can be bestowed for an agreed upon time. This allows an author to create a piece, send it to a publisher, get it published. But stops corporations and other persons from buying the rights to another piece of work and strangling the original creator with that contract.
For many companies, ownership of the copyright should be laid down in the contract they sign when joining the company. Say if you are working for a large corporation on the next big software. Your work belongs to the company and you are paid in compensation. If you try to sell that outside of work, you are breaking contract, and breaking the copyrights.
For open source, non-profit, and other group, non-corporate projects, the copyright owner could be a registered group. It might have a president of the group, or a co-op voting system... just so long as they can be proven to be a part of that group and represent its interests. Or the copyright might have multiple names on it, and each one granted equal rights.
Copyright trolls should be thrown on the pyre. They produce nothing and help no one. Lawsuits must be undertaken by the copyright owner. If they sign a contract with a law firm to uphold their interests, that contract is outside of the lawsuit, and the award would go to the owner, not the law firm. If the owner breaks that contract, then of course, they would be sued. And being sued by a law firm is generally bad mojo. Just because you have permission to copy a work, does not give you right to prevent others from copying it. So a publisher cannot sue another publisher, however if the contract stipulated exclusive publishing rights, then they would sue the content creator.
Fair use has been a haven in this dark times, and it should only be expanded. As the Swiss determined, piracy does not hurt the content creators very much if at all. The same amount of money was spent on entertainment, whether they pirated or not, the pirate simply was more entertained than the non pirate. Also, copyright is not theft and should NEVER be treated as theft. Theft implies taking something of which denies the owner, or another person of it. Copying should be permissible for non-profit and education, and parody/criticism. The only one of the 3 that can make money on it, would be parody/criticism, and whether it is or isn't, should be left up to the judge involved.
And that was just my far too wordy 0.02 BTC
oh and as for Patents? Fuck em. File it under copyright law.