Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 49267
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2019/05/20 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2008/2/26-3/4 [Reference/Tax] UID:49267 Activity:nil
2/26    Nick Weaver on slashdot
        \_ Holy shit, people still use slashdot?
           \_ Some even use motd!
        \_ This is not totally correct. Maintenance fees are required for
           patents. Similarly, renewal fees plus proof of continued use
           in commerce is required to retain a trademark. There are also
           filing fees for both patents and trademarks. These fees are
           analogous to a "property tax," as that term is used by nweaver.
           Until 1992, the same was somewhat true for copyrights. Before
           the 1992 revision to the Copyright Act, a renewal was required
           for a copyright to enter its 2d term of protection.
           There is also the whole issue of "moral rights" that further
           complicates copyright.
        \_ Unfortunately most of the slashdot crowd's "solutions" to the
           "patent problem" will always result in big companies stealing
           the real inventions of little guys even more than they already
           do today.  The real answer is to grant patents only for things
           truly novel.  Any sort of fee/tax/money based thing will not
           have any effect on Big Company(c) but will crush the little guy
           every time.
           \_ I believe that nweaver's comments were directed more toward
              copyright rather than patent b/c patent terms are limited to
              no more than 20 years from date of issue. Removing automatic
              copyright renewal will remedy neweaver's concerns.
              Re patents - although a stronger novelty or obviousness std
              will help eliminate some "bad" patents, it will not really
              do much to reduce the litigation threat. One key improvement
              (or reform) that is necessary is to increase the number of
              examiners (esp. in software) and to improve retention. Another
              improvement would be to appoint judges with scientific training
              to the Federal Circuit and to districts with heavy patent case
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More Your Rights Online stories If IP Is Property, Where Is the Property Tax? Posted by kdawson on Tuesday February 26, @08:36PM from the making-the-world-safe-for-mickey dept. The article includes arguments from those who believe file sharing is theft and those who strongly disagree. As it points out, the common analogies to theft are often incomplete or inaccurate. The author states, "balancing the interests of content creators against the public's ... is a much more complicated task than erecting a legal barrier to five-fingered discounts." He recognizes that it is not a trivial concept, and that the clamoring from both camps about definitions and moral boundaries will dictate how businesses and users function in the future." Journal The government has all sorts of "innovative" methods of taxation. For the case you mention, I can think of a very simple solution - some sort of "minimum IP tax". As your revenue stream rises from zero, you continue to pay the minimum tax, until the taxation on your revenue stream exceeds that minimum. Then there needs to be a process for releasing content into the public domain, so you can prove it to the Tax Man Plus it may sound biased, but there probably needs to be some sort of "equivalent to public domain" status for open source licenses. After all, the purpose of public domain is to make the IP usable by others as a foundation for further work. But then again, that also means that the government would probably meddle in defining open source licenses, at least for tax purposes. I could readily foresee bsd licenses passing the muster, but perhaps not the GPL, though maybe the LGPL. Remember, one thing the US government *likes* is businesses making money, and if you assume that closing the source is *necessary* to making money, as some very powerful business players do, then the gpl can be considered hostile toward that end. I agree, assessing intellectual property values would be a huge PIA. On the other hand, a simple, flat, renewal fee would have the same effect. Or perhaps a sliding scale, so that the longer you hold a copyright the more expensive it becomes. Copyrights that weren't producing revenues would be released, and Disney could keep Mickey forever. Might not generate the billions in tax revenues that the author envisions, but it would get more works in to the public domain. Homepage No the real question would be how much would you have to pay for that comment you just wrote. It's just that you lose your copyright if you don't pay. Since I don't really care about the value of my slashdot comments, I wouldn't pay and they'd lapse into the public domain. Things like blog comments that have little monetary value to their creators shouldn't be protected indefinitely. Neither should books that their publishers care so little about that they're allowed to go out of print. They should move into the public domain so that other people can make use of them without fear of lawsuit. Journal You're conflating the current system (automatic) with the proposed system (pay tax or get no copyright). Yes, but by doing so he's pointing out one con to such a system. In that system, for instance, modifying and relicensing GPL software to be closed-source would be legal (in fact, encouraged) unless the author of that software paid a copyright fee. Which would probably end with something like our modern-day patent system, where big corporations can easily absorb the copyright fees and be invincible while the smaller "people" it was designed to protect get shafted. You file for something to protect it (new something, copyright, whatever). The only caveat is that if someone wants it from you they can buy the whole damn thing from you for the price you claimed it was worth - UNLESS you immediately raise the value and pay a penalty for undervaluing it. Homepage The only caveat is that if someone wants it from you they can buy the whole damn thing from you for the price you claimed it was worth - UNLESS you immediately raise the value and pay a penalty for undervaluing it. If IP is, in fact, property, then the property holder can choose not to sell their property. Homepage Real property (real estate) has property tax, but no one taxes you for personal property. I am sitting in a chair, no one is going to TAX me on the fact that I own some chair (personal property). Many states have personal property tax, for instance Virginia taxes your car, boat, RV, and things like that every year. However, I don't think the worry is about personally owned IP, but rather corporate. A very large number of business jurisdictions tax businesses based on their owned property. As one property tax official told me in one locale, "if it's necessary to run your business it must be listed, and we tax it." If that's the business attitude of the tax man, I think the editorial is spot on. For example, this comment, it could be considered IP, now should I have to pay essentially a fee on that? Or what about a program I wrote, should I have to pay a tax to license it under say the GPL? What really needs to happen, is lower copyright terms and the abolishment of the "forever copyright" and also, what in the world does the government do with all their copyright fees? Journal Perhaps the solution is some sort of automatic grace period? For instance, anyone can maintain copyright on a work for say a timeperiod of 1-year tax-free, but after that they either have to start ponying up (because it's economically relevant enough to care) or lose the copyright. The problem I foresee is figuring out how to appropriately tax copyrights. Photographers for instance sometimes rely on copyright protection to generate revenue off their work, but since an individual photo realistically generates a fraction of their necessary income they would be paying through the nose in taxes. Whereas a huge company like UMG or Sony could easily afford the taxes on their entire vast catalog if they paid the same rate as say a photographer. The trick is finding a way to do this that leverages huge companies to drop some of their less profitable copyrights without killing the livelihood of individual creators. You can bet he wouldn't have guessed that he would get almost 15 million views - so he would automatically have ceeded his potential copyright into the public domain. Someone else who saw the potential could have stepped in, linked it to all the right sites, and took all the advertising revenue for themselves. This is an issue which will resolve itself just as soon as the internet becomes the main (legitimate) medium for entertainment distribution. At this point all the money currently spent on old media advertising follows the shows to YouTube or whereever they are being distributed. This creates, in effect, a democratic marketplace which rewards creativity; which will allow viral video authors to generate a revenue stream and (if they wish) go mainstream. Homepage Well, it's not quite what I would suggest, but it's far from a terrible idea; in fact it is similar to how we used to do things only a few decades ago. We should have a system of copyright where an author only gets a copyright if he publishes his work, registers for a copyright, deposits a copy of the work, and pays a token fee. And where the copyright only lasts for a few years before the author must renew the copyright (if eligible, depending on the kind of work and the number of times it's been renewed already). We know that this would work well, since it's more or less what US copyright law did up until 1978. We know that the goal of copyright is to serve the public interest by encouraging authors to create works they otherwise would not have created, but having those works minimally protected and in the public domain as rapidly as possible. This serves this goal well, since probably only authors who were encouraged by the availability of copyright would bother to undertake even the very simple steps to procure one. Further, if an author was encouraged by a shorter duration than the maximum allowed, he would likely fail to renew (as usually happened historically), getting that work in the public domain muc...