Skip to comments.Pope troubled by "excessive zeal" over copyright protection
Posted on 10/30/2010 4:05:00 AM PDT by GonzoII
While authors have the right to be recognised and rewarded for their work, the purpose of intellectual property protection is the "promotion of literary, scientific or artistic production and ... inventive activity for the sake of the common good", Vatican officials said.
A delegation of the Holy See told a gathering of the World Intellectual Property Organisation that Pope Benedict is troubled by the "excessive zeal" with which rich countries have been protecting their intellectual property rights, especially when it comes to health care in developing countries, reports the ZeroPaid website.
"On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care," Pope Benedict says in an Encyclical Letter quoted by the delegation at the 48th World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly last month.
The report said copyright holdings have become the bedrock of profits for an array of business interests, multinational corporations like those in the movie and music industry in particular and there has been an increasing push to protect them at all costs, even to the detriment of society and culture.
"The raison d'être of the protection system of intellectual property is the promotion of literary, scientific or artistic production and, generally, of inventive activity for the sake of the 'common good,' said the delegation.
"Thus protection officially attests the right of the author or inventor to recognition of the ownership of his work and to a degree of economic reward. At the same time it serves the cultural and material progress of society as a whole."
Vatican Criticizes Rich Countries' "Excessive Zeal" for Copyright Enforcement (ZeroPaid.com)
Copyright does not cover facts but only a particular expression of those facts. This sounds like something further is afoot, such as nondisclosure agreements.
The author of any copyrighted piece deserves protection, but the length of copyright today is WAY, WAY too long (length of the author's life plus seventy years). Sorry, but copyright was NOT originally set up to provide income to the author's great-grandchildren.
The original US Copyright Act of 1790 allowed for a 14 year period of ownership followed by an additional 14 year renewal if the holder chose to renew it. The original copyright period was, like the Constitution requires, was for a limited time.
I think I essentially agree with him.
“for the sake of the common good””
“Common good” is a catchword term dear tothe agendas of fascists and Communists.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time listening to a pope who doesn’t know the distinction between a copyright (which protects Disney and other producers of written works or performance art) and a patent (which has been wildly successful in encouraging drug companies and medical device manufacturers to constantly innovate and improve their products knowing they can (temporarily) reap the rewards of doing so).
Due to the lengthy regulatory process required to bring drugs to market, the average length of patent protection in the U.S. is only 11-12 years http://www.innovation.org/documents/File/Pharmaceutical_Patents.pdf
In reality, most pharma companies already do provide deep discounts for life-saving drugs sold in poor countries. If we want the supply of new life-saving drugs to continue, the solution to lack of affordability is not to short-sightedly abandon protection of intellectual property, but instead strengthen it.
Think of it this way: poor African countries survived thousands of years without new lifesaving Drug X. The patent system requires them to wait 10-11 years, after which such countries have free access to all the intellectual property underlying Drug X and are free to produce it at no cost to their citizens if so desired.
In contrast, by removing patent protection entirely, such countries may NEVER receive the benefits of this life-saving product, since no one will have the incentive to invest the $1 billion average cost that it takes to bring just 1 new drug to market. Does the Pope really think the world would be better off under the latter arrangement?
” the main Disney cartoon characters (Mouse, Duck, Goofy) should LONG ago have entered the public domain.”
I don’t agree with that. Those characters were designed and launched by the Disney organization. They belong to them. Who is to say that at some arbitrary point in time they should be handed over to “the people”, which more and more is becoming “The Government”.
As in “Peoples’ Republic of China”. “Peoples’ Republic of North Korea”
The pope is a Communist!?
Yeah. The patent protects the huge investment the original drug company had to make to develop the product, non of which the copycat drug makers have to spend.
I have been writing songs and screenplays for years.
It can take years for a an original song to be recorded for commercial distribution. It takes a fair amount of money to produce studio-quality demos to "pitch" songs. I am aware of songs that got no commercial play or distribution for more than ten years after they were first created and copyrighted by creation.
It certainly takes a fortune to produce a feature motion picture from a copyrighted screenplay.
Those who invest a fortune in developing a screenplay deserve an opportunity to recover that investment and make a profit.
The majority of Hollywood motion pictures do not make much money if they even break even. We only hear about the profits of "tent-pole" blockbusters like Toy Story and Spiderman.
Independent, low-budget movies rarely recover their production costs.
Sundance Film Festival receives 5,000 indie films per year and may exhibit 100 of those. The rest of those indie films may or may not ever even be seen ANYWHERE by the public.
Why should the creators be robbed of any chance to earn much from their work which may take years to develop and market?
If you put your heart and soul into a creative work and spend money to bring it to market, why should others be given a green light to steal it?
That is the argument of a communist (Your work, comrade, belongs to the collective).
Then you disagree with the Founding Fathers, who set up patents and copyrights in the first place. NOBODY has eternal ownership of anything, though many think they could and should.
Actually not true. I've published quite a number of scientific papers over the years, all copyrighted. And I hold an extensive number of patents, so I am VERY familiar with the concepts of "intellectual property".
"I have been writing songs and screenplays for years."
And I've been inventing things for "years and years".
"It can take years for a an original song to be recorded for commercial distribution. It takes a fair amount of money to produce studio-quality demos to "pitch" songs. I am aware of songs that got no commercial play or distribution for more than ten years after they were first created and copyrighted by creation."
And the exact same thing applies to patents. It takes a LONG time to commercialization, if ever, and is FAR more costly than copyright, yet a patent, on a real good, lasts only twenty years.
"Why should the creators be robbed of any chance to earn much from their work which may take years to develop and market?"
Nobody is talking about "robbing the creators". I personally think that the author's lifetime is quite sufficient to let the CREATOR earn from their work. What I object to is that the system is set up to grant monopoly rights to people who did NOT create the work.
"That is the argument of a communist (Your work, comrade, belongs to the collective)."
If you make this argument, you are truly ignorant of what the Founding Fathers did with respect to granting a government-enforced MONOPOLY (which is what patents and copyright actually are) on certain rights.
That is the argument of a communist (Your work, comrade, belongs to the collective)
No doubt you were able to create those works using technology for which patents have expired. You were not forced to pay a royalty for the electric light, the keyboard, and the telephone. Your work will be displayed using motion picture or printing press technology that although created by an individual are now available for your free use. You were able to create your work only by mining the "collective" knowledge.
[Payments you make are for the physical manifestation e.g., a particular keyboard, the specific celluloid to strike your print, the paper and printing costs for your particular text. You are not paying to use the design/ideas.]
It is that "collective" knowledge that allows us create new advances. Technological advancement would grind to a halt if every discovery were owned by an individual or cooperation. Inventors would need to run every single experiment or trial through a legal check to insure they were not infringing on another's "intellectual property." It is most likely that every trial would use the work of another for which they would need permission. It is not just a case of cost, such permission could be denied thus stopping future inventive work.
The same problems would apply to creative work. Many modern works have their roots is the classic myths. Should Disney continue to pay royalties to the original writer of the story? Should Shakespeare's descendents continue to receive royalties for (or indeed be able to prohibit the performing of) the Bards's plays?
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
The important words are "limited time" and "exclusive Right." Copyright is a temporary monopoly privilege. All our growth depends on shared knowledge. It requires that we be able to mine a common resource without fear of punishment or need for permission.
Intellectual "property" cannot be degraded by over use. There is no tragedy of the commons. Physical property needs tending by the owner to flourish and remain productive. Physical property will be degraded by over use, and does best with a single caretaker.
I think the "limited time" (and I do mean limited as compared to the "infinity minus 1" proposed by some) strikes a good balance between the rights of creators and the need to share knowledge. Communism fails because it under protects physical property leading to the tragedy of the commons. Current capitalism may fail because it walls off to much knowledge, creating a tragedy of the uncommons (I can't use your knowledge and you can't use mine, so we both lose).
“Then you disagree with the Founding Fathers”
Horrors!!! That’s as bad as being called “racist”.
I just can’t see Warner brothers doing Mickey Mouse.
“The pope is a Communist!?”
I don’t recall saying that. Here’s what I said: Common good is a catchword term dear to the agendas of fascists and communists.”
I’m glad you gave me an opportunity to type it again, without typographical errors.
“Common good is a catchword term dear tothe agendas of fascists and Communists.”
Sure. That’s why we have four “commonwealths” in the USA - we’re a longstanding country of “fascists and Communists”, right?
You know, like the commie Thomas Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: “ but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good.”
And that other commie, John Adams, wrote in 1776: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.”
And don’t even get me started on that arch communist, St. Thomas Aquinas: “Thus, since law is called “most of all” in relation to the common good, no precept concerning action has the nature of law unless it is ordered to the common good.”
Yeah, all commies and fascists!
The incentive to create something that results in financial gain while benefiting society is what built this country to become the leader in the world. If that reward is reduced or eliminated the incentive is taken away. Take away the reward and you destroy the future of creativity. The world has benefited from reward based creativity. To threaten that is to threaten continued benefits.
I personally think that "the author's lifetime OR seventy-five years, whichever is longer" is eminently fair. The actual creator gets the fruit of his labor for as long as he lives, or, if he dies prematurely (Buddy Holly, "The Big Bopper", and many others), he leaves a reasonable legacy to a young wife and children.
Even though people routinely complain about the high price of pharmaceuticals, they actually are a great bargain compared to most other medical care, saving lives at an average cost of only $1,000 per added year of life. This may not seem a great deal to countries whose citizens have to get by on less than $1 a day, but their plight is not the fault or responsibility of pharma manufacturers.
What if we adopted the position that NO technological improvements could be permitted in the industrialized world until/unless such technology were immediately available and affordable to all 6 billion people around the world? We’d all still be subsistence farmers.
The solution to world poverty is free markets and free trade, not heavy-handed prohibitions on innovation (and the companion freedom to buy goods and services that improve our lives) due to misplaced concerns about “fairness.” As John Kennedy once said “Life is unfair.” It’s about time the Barack Obamas of the world learned to deal with it. The Pope would be better served finding a speech-writer who knew a little about basic economics.
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