[Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

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[Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

James Salsman-2
This came up the other day and someone emailed me off-list suggesting
it wasn't true. Since we've never had a real discussion about it, I
should explain:

> 17 U.S. Code § 203 - Termination of transfers and licenses
> granted by the author
>
> (a) Conditions for Termination.—In the case of any work
> other than a work made for hire, the exclusive or nonexclusive
> grant of a transfer or license of copyright or of any right under
> a copyright, executed by the author on or after January 1, 1978,
> otherwise than by will, is subject to termination under the
> following conditions:
>...
> (3) Termination of the grant may be effected at any time during
> a period of five years beginning at the end of thirty-five years
> from the date of execution of the grant; or, if the grant covers the
> right of publication of the work, the period begins at the end of
> thirty-five years from the date of publication of the work under
> the grant or at the end of forty years from the date of execution
> of the grant, whichever term ends earlier.

So, we still have 19 years, but, we're almost halfway there.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

Joseph Seddon-6
I'm really sorry James... I suspect it may be the fog of my mind brought on
by nighttime, but would it at all be possible for you to provide a little
more context for this thread. :)

Seddon

On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 5:11 AM, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This came up the other day and someone emailed me off-list suggesting
> it wasn't true. Since we've never had a real discussion about it, I
> should explain:
>
> > 17 U.S. Code § 203 - Termination of transfers and licenses
> > granted by the author
> >
> > (a) Conditions for Termination.—In the case of any work
> > other than a work made for hire, the exclusive or nonexclusive
> > grant of a transfer or license of copyright or of any right under
> > a copyright, executed by the author on or after January 1, 1978,
> > otherwise than by will, is subject to termination under the
> > following conditions:
> >...
> > (3) Termination of the grant may be effected at any time during
> > a period of five years beginning at the end of thirty-five years
> > from the date of execution of the grant; or, if the grant covers the
> > right of publication of the work, the period begins at the end of
> > thirty-five years from the date of publication of the work under
> > the grant or at the end of forty years from the date of execution
> > of the grant, whichever term ends earlier.
>
> So, we still have 19 years, but, we're almost halfway there.
>
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--
Seddon

*Advancement Associate (Community Engagement)*
*Wikimedia Foundation*
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

James Salsman-2
>... provide a little more context for this thread

Beginning in 2036, Wikipedia editors will obtain the right to demand
either payment for their contributions, or in the alternative if the
Foundation can't replace their edits with non-infringing
substitutions, between $750 and $150,000 per edit.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

Michael Snow-5
On 2/27/2017 9:24 PM, James Salsman wrote:
>> ... provide a little more context for this thread
> Beginning in 2036, Wikipedia editors will obtain the right to demand
> either payment for their contributions, or in the alternative if the
> Foundation can't replace their edits with non-infringing
> substitutions, between $750 and $150,000 per edit.
I suppose editors always have the right to demand payment for their
contributions if that's what they really want. But as to the idea that
they could further threaten to get statutory damages imposed, I'd advise
that rather than relying on selective quotations from 17 USC 203, they
at least review the entire section. I note that it also provides a
limitation on the effect of termination, specifically that derivative
works prepared before termination may continue to be utilized.

--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

Joseph Seddon-6
There goes my hopes of my pension.

Seddon

On 28 Feb 2017 05:57, "Michael Snow" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 2/27/2017 9:24 PM, James Salsman wrote:
>
>> ... provide a little more context for this thread
>>>
>> Beginning in 2036, Wikipedia editors will obtain the right to demand
>> either payment for their contributions, or in the alternative if the
>> Foundation can't replace their edits with non-infringing
>> substitutions, between $750 and $150,000 per edit.
>>
> I suppose editors always have the right to demand payment for their
> contributions if that's what they really want. But as to the idea that they
> could further threaten to get statutory damages imposed, I'd advise that
> rather than relying on selective quotations from 17 USC 203, they at least
> review the entire section. I note that it also provides a limitation on the
> effect of termination, specifically that derivative works prepared before
> termination may continue to be utilized.
>
> --Michael Snow
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

James Salsman-2
In reply to this post by Michael Snow-5
Michael Snow wrote:
>...
> 17 USC 203 ... provides ... that derivative works prepared before
> termination may continue to be utilized.

I'm not sure if subsequent edits which preserve verbatim text are
derivative works. It's certainly worth figuring out. Section 101 of
the Copyright Act defines "[a] 'derivative work' as a work based upon
one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical
arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version,
sound recording, art reproduction, abridgement, condensation, or any
other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.
"The copyright in a derivative work is independent of, and does not
affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of,
any copyright protection in the preexisting material." 17 U.S.C.
§103(2).

The preexisting material in the original work is part of the
derivative work, but the copyright in the derivative work extends only
to the material contributed by the author of the derivative work, as
distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work. 17
U.S.C. §103(2). The copyright owner of the derivative-work copyright
does not obtain exclusive copyright rights in the preexisting
material.

> There goes my hopes of my pension.

If the year-over-year increase rate at which the Foundation is able to
raise funds stays constant, payment of full "willfully infringing"
damages plus a generous pension for all employees and active editors
would be easily within reach.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

pajz
In reply to this post by James Salsman-2
On 28 February 2017 at 06:11, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > 17 U.S. Code § 203 - Termination of transfers and licenses
> > granted by the author
>

I don't usually post to this list and hope this isn't too off-topic, but,
coincidentally, I've looked into that matter a bit last year as a
tangential issue (from a comparative law perspective). So, I don't know if
you're aware and interested, but there are some articles dealing with this
termination issue under U.S. copyright law in the context of open-content
licenses.

Specifically, I'd refer you to Loren, Building a Reliable Semicommons of
Creative Works, 14 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 271, 318-28 (2007) (arguing that
section 203 is inapplicable to CC licenses under a suggested doctrine of
limited copyright abandonment); Armstrong, Shrinking the Commons, 47 Harv.
J. on Legis. 359, 405-09 (2010) (expressing skepticism as to whether courts
would adopt Professor Loren's approach, suggesting, alternatively, an
analogy to the abandonment provisions of the Patent Act to justify limits
on the termination of open-content licenses); and Greenberg, More than Just
a Formality, 59 UCLA L. Rev. 1028, 1060-63 (2012) (suggesting legislative
action). All three articles are also freely available online (in one case
at least in a pre-publication version), at <https://www.law.berkeley.edu/
files/Loren.pdf>, <http://scholarship.law.uc.edu
/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1146&context=fac_pubs>, and <
http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/59-4-4.pdf>, respectively.

(None of them are touching upon the derivative work issue, which is a
rather Wikimedia-specific consideration. It could arguably not provide a
universal solution to the potential problem, since the availability of a
derivative work is the exception, rather than the norm, even in an
open-content world. I have therefore not looked into this.)

Best,
Patrik
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

James Salsman-2
Patrik wrote:

>... I'd refer you to Loren, Building a Reliable Semicommons of
> Creative Works, 14 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 271, 318-28 (2007) (arguing that
> section 203 is inapplicable to CC licenses under a suggested doctrine of
> limited copyright abandonment); Armstrong, Shrinking the Commons, 47 Harv.
> J. on Legis. 359, 405-09 (2010) (expressing skepticism as to whether courts
> would adopt Professor Loren's approach, suggesting, alternatively, an
> analogy to the abandonment provisions of the Patent Act to justify limits
> on the termination of open-content licenses); and Greenberg, More than Just
> a Formality, 59 UCLA L. Rev. 1028, 1060-63 (2012) (suggesting legislative
> action). All three articles are also freely available online (in one case
> at least in a pre-publication version), at <https://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Loren.pdf>,
> <http://scholarship.law.uc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1146&context=fac_pubs>,
> and <http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/59-4-4.pdf>, respectively.

Here is a potentially more accessible popular treatment, which
directly addresses the motivation for expiring copyright grant terms:
 http://www.kelleydrye.com/publications/articles/1558/_res/id=Files/index=0/1558.pdf

The reason Congress mandated the expiration of copyright grants was
specifically to address the common case of the value of a work far
exceeding the authors' original compensation, for whatever reasons.
Isn't this a very pertinent ethics issue for the Foundation? If the
law of the land is designed to compensate authors' for windfalls in
the value of their effort, do we want to be in support of or opposed
to that goal, and why or why not?

This law review article may be considerably more mainstream than
Professor Loren's:
https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/64395/OSLJ_V48N3_0897.pdf

> (None of them are touching upon the derivative work issue, which is a
> rather Wikimedia-specific consideration. It could arguably not provide a
> universal solution to the potential problem, since the availability of a
> derivative work is the exception, rather than the norm, even in an
> open-content world. I have therefore not looked into this.)
>
> Best,
> Patrik
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