I have said it before, but I do believe copyright law needs a good shake up, and so I am putting a few of my thoughts down for if/when that ever happens.
Getting too big
One of the big concerns I have is that the big players in copyright (not the artists, but publishers like the BPI, etc) seem to have far too much influence over legislation with not just the Copyright Act but lots of other laws around copyright. The latest moves to make automated filters are just insane! This is not quite as bad as a sort of legal mafia, but it seems wrong for any body or industry to have that much control that they have so many special laws just for their industry. It is a sign things are not right and that alone is a reason to redress some of the copyright laws. Such an industry is not there for the artists but for themselves, they are too big, IMHO.
Artists deserve credit and money!
However, do not get me wrong, the "creative industry" needs something, I am sure, to ensure they are able to do their thing and profit from it. Some protection does seem to me to make some sense, but what exactly is needed, that is the question.
A big issue here is the artists are often not the ones that get the protection in practice, it is the big companies that exploit them that are winning here. So maybe we need a new model?
Copying is not the thing now
The legislation does cover a bit more than just copying (performance, distribution, etc), but the key thing was always "copying", hence the name "copyright". But this is dated, and comes from the days that making a copy of a thing was hard, costly, and done purely for some commercial reasons.
Now, copying is incidental in so many ways. Even if I "own" a legitimate "copy" of something, that "file" may be on a file system using RAID (so two copies) and copied to RAM and to video card and so on. Heck, the "file" may be stored in the cloud where it exists on multiple servers, copied when I access it through network equipment and so on. Amusingly, if I "gave a copy" of such a file to someone on the same "cloud" system that may mean no actual copy being made, simply someone else accessing the same copy - so in that respect a law protecting "copying" is flawed the other way around even!
It is annoying that if I own a record (remember them) I need no end user licence. Copyright law prevents a few things but to listen to that record I need no licence. These days all that incidental copying means normal use means I need a licence, and a licence can include any onerous terms "they" like.
It was recently ruled that the incidental copying in viewing a web page was "out of scope" of copyright, right up to the cache file on the disk of the viewer. There are currently some provisions for incidental copies, but it is not a clear as it could be. Reading a web page was seen as the same as "reading a book" - not any sort of wrongdoing on the part of the person doing the "reading".
I'd like to see actual "copying" to be removed from copyright as a thing. You can still protect the commercial exploitation of a commercial work without trying to pin down "copying" as a protected right. It makes no sense now when copying is so "normal", and cost free that it happens without any thought or cost.
Right to a digital copy instance?
I logically "own" many digital "copies" of lots of films and TV shows on my Apple TV box. That allows me to view these any time I like on various devices and to share with my friends and family to a limited extent.
This is not enshrined in law in any way and not the same as my owning a VHS cassette. There is some law on this, but not quite the same as simply owning property, i.e. owning "a copy". It is contract with Apple. Oddly it lacks the loan and re-sell of a VHS cassette which I think it also needs.
What I would like is a concept in the law that I actually "own" a digital copy instance. That if Apple ever stopped AppleTV I could even receive that as a copy of the movie or some right to allow some other streaming / provider to take on that digital right instance to offer me the means to view that movie in their service.
I'd like a proper property law type ownership that I could sell or loan to someone even.
This is not trivial, I have invested thousands of pounds in these digital instances with Apple. These could all vanish at a whim of Apple if they wished. I need the law to protect those digital rights. Will my kids inherit those rights when I die? That is a serious question!
There are no lost millions of pounds
Please, get real, the idea that everyone that had copied, illegally and/or immorally, some copyright work "would have paid full price for it" and that this adds up to a vast amount of lost revenue is batshit insane, sorry. If it was pay or don't have it, it would be don't have it. There is not some huge pot of money waiting for you if only you can just get the law and technical measures right!
There is a whole world of open source stuff, in various levels of control. GPL, Creative Commons, attribution or not, etc. These manage to exist within copyright frameworks, but maybe copyright law needs to recognise the rights of people to waive some or all of their rights in a formal way to be clear that these schemes are valid, even just to irrevokably commend a work to the "public domain".
70 years, fuck that!
The 70 years is crazy, and even more complex is that it is 70 years from death of author. Working out if something is within copyright is complicated as not always obvious who the author is even if the date of publication or creation is know. Patents are 20, and maybe copyright should be the same, or shorter. Get real here! This is all about commerce, if you have not exploited the shit out of your creative works in 20 years then give up.
One idea is copyright not being automatic, but you have to pay (nominal fee) to register any copyright work to get commercial protection.
I think this may be a winner. I do think things like the moral rights to attribution should perhaps be automatic, and maybe even more than 20 years, but commercial rights - why not have them paid for?
After all, what is a £10 fee to register copyright in a £20mil movies release? Could BPI really complain at having to register copyright?
Of course, what of software that is release regularly - a fee every time? What of my blog - a fee every post? Well, maybe if the moral rights were automatic (attribution) I would simply say what the fuck and not "register" copyright in my blog?
It would make some things simpler even, like the movie industry has massive hassle using any copyright material. Make it registered and 20 years max (paid each year maybe even). That would help them use material as well as offer protection on what they publish.