Pirate Party UK

Copyright duration

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Pirate Party UK Policy
Copyright duration
Shortening to 5 years with the option to renew for a further 5 years. Closed-source software may not have its copyright renewed in order to support open-source software.
Policy area Copyright
First adopted September 2009
Last changed March 2010

The duration of copyright is the period of time from which copyright becomes active to when it expires.

Contents

Current policy

The Pirate Party UK has a policy of shortening the duration of copyright to 5 years with the option to renew for a further 5 years. Closed-source software may not have its copyright renewed in order to support open-source software.

Debate summary

This section documents internal party debates that have taken place in the policy forums and do not amount to party policy.

Several candidates have emerged for copyright duration.

Five years with no extension

This is suggested by Rick Falkvinge[1] and is current Swedish Pirate Party policy.[2] Most works make the most if not all of their revenue within five years,[3] so in most cases more than five years may be excessive. Also, this option may lead to strong incentive to create new or "up-to-date" material.[citation needed]

On the other hand, it may be seen as too extreme and therefore "hard to sell",[citation needed] and also too short for realistic financial reward, depending on the medium.[citation needed]

Five years with optional five year extension

Most works make the most if not all of their revenue within five years,[3] so in most cases more than five years may be excessive. In a few cases, popular works will remain popular for longer than five years in which case, a five year extension is reasonable.[citation needed]

On the other hand, while this was voted on democratically, the figures appeared to have been chosen arbitrarily,[citation needed] and too short a copyright would dissuade creators from supporting our cause as they would benefit less from their works.[citation needed] Even 10 years may be too short for realistic financial reward, depending on the medium.[citation needed]

Ten years with optional five year extension

Cultural trends "tend to last around 10 years", so this option would give artists a reasonable amount of time to exploit their copyright.[4]

Shortened standard length with optional paid extensions

This option involves granting a standard copyright duration of five or ten years, and then allowing the copyright owner to extend their copyright indefinitely provided that they undertake paid registration.[citation needed] It is suggested that the fees occur periodically every one or five years, the amount determined by income, the duration of the copyright so far, etc.[citation needed]

This method is less radical than a set limit on copyright,[5] as it would allow variable durations provided that creators "pay for the privilege" of copyright.[6] As a result, unprofitable works would not have their copyright extended longer than necessary and it would also encourage creators to put their work in the public domain more quickly and more often.[5] Furthermore, it would result in greater tax revenue for government[7] and is in line with the established government policies of indirect taxation and liberty.[5]

On the other hand, "creative accounting" may be employed,[8] and some works may be kept in copyright longer than necessary,[9] depending on the fee scheme used.

Fourteen years with no extension

This was suggested in a Cambridge University PhD research paper.[10][11] (In actual fact, the paper suggests fifteen years as the optimal duration of copyright, but fourteen years was discussed.)[12] Fourteen years was the original duration of copyright, and so may be more defensible than another duration.[13] However, the duration suggested in the paper is an "initial estimate" that has a "considerable error range".[14]

Different durations for different media

Some media, notably books, can sometimes continue selling for much longer periods than others.[citation needed] To account for this, different media would be subject to different durations as described above.

References

Forum topic Last summarised
5+5 year copyright terms questioned July 16th 2010
Optimal copyright length July 16th 2010
What ar (sic) the reasons behind the proposed copyright length? July 16th 2010
Why I think a 10 year copyright term is too short July 16th 2010
  1. Post "Re: Optimal copyright length" by Jez9999
  2. English language section of the Piratpartiet website
  3. 3.0 3.1 Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Jez9999
  4. Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Cc
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Samgower
  6. Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Samgower
  7. Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Cc
  8. Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by PeterBrett
  9. Post "Re: 5+5 year copyright terms questioned" by Cc
  10. Post "Optimal copyright length" by PeterBrett
  11. Forever minus a day? Some theory and empirics of optimal copyright by Rufus Pollock
  12. Post "Re: Optimal copyright length" by Duke
  13. Post "Re: Optimal copyright length" by edmundrw
  14. Post "Re: Optimal copyright length" by martinbudden

Member votes

September 2009

This vote was held in the forums, receiving a total of 231 votes from members of Pirate Party UK. The median choice was the winner, i.e. the term for which at least 50% voted for that term or shorter.

Option Votes Percent Cumulative
5 years, that's it 43 19% 81% voted longer
7 years, that's it 11 5% 77% voted longer
5 years, optional 5 year extension 79 34% 58% voted this or shorter
10 years, that's it 14 6% 64% voted this or shorter
7 years, optional 7 year extension 21 9% 73% voted this or shorter
14 years, that's it 7 3% 76% voted this or shorter
10 years, optional 10 year extension 21 9% 85% voted this or shorter
20 years, that's it 9 4% 89% voted this or shorter
14 years, optional 14 year extension 13 6% 94% voted this or shorter
28 years, that's it 13 6% 100% of options reached

Additional polls were also held to ask whether to accept the result of this poll, to instead choose abolition, to choose a longer period than 28 years, or on a different basis altogether.

March 2010

As part of the manifesto ratification, this vote ran from March 6th to March 16th, in which 160 of approximately 650 members participated. The question asked was:

We want all copyright durations to be reduced to a fairer length
  • Copyright to be reduced to 5 years for all materials with an optional 5-year extension at the creator's discretion.
  • Copyright duration to be reduced to 5 years for software released without source code.
  • Copyright duration to be reduced to 10 years for software released with source code.

The options and results were:

Option Votes Percent of vote
As above 90 47%
Fixed 10 year term 49 26%
Fixed 10 year term except for software where source isn't supplied where copyright will be 5 years 51 27%

The winner was the option with the largest proportion of votes.


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