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Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:31 03/09/2007
Debate: Commentary

d-markmark: A Flexible Copyright System (FleCS) Proposal

Koichiro HAYASHI (Professor, Keio University)

1. Summary
The copyright system, which has survived emerging copy technologies for several centuries, is now being seriously challenged by digital technology, which enables copying and transmitting materials quite easily and without degradation. Faced with this difficulty, opinions are divided into two camps: one side wants to expand the scope of copyright with more strict enforcement, and the other side expects widening of the public domain by limiting the rights of authors as well as copyright holders. This paper introduces a new scheme dedicated to web site content with d-mark, which is aimed at preserving the author's name as the first priority, while limiting the duration of copyright up to 15 years at the author's discretion. This is an example of "Flexible Copyright Systems (FleCS)", which I will advocate for the future of the copyright system where various kinds of sub-systems are expected to co-exist.

2. Expression Format
mark must be shown as follows;

3. Terms and Conditions to Become a Digital Author

    (1) Any digital author may publish his/her work by uploading such work to web sites with d-mark.
    (2) Such publication must be easily accessible by popular web browsers, and must be retrievable by popular search engines.
    (3) The digital author will have all rights prescribed in the copyright law, but must limit the duration of the right up to 15 years. The author also must choose among the four patterns, namely 0 (become public domain immediately after publication), 5, 10 and 15 years.
    (4) A publication must be kept accessible and retrievable throughout the period of time shown with d-mark. If the initially uploaded site closes, the author must find an alternative site and make it generally known. Otherwise, the author will lose the right.
    (5) The digital author may revise his/her work from time to time, but must indicate the version name every time he/she revises.
    (6) The digital author may set terms and conditions for license, following the format described in Section 2.
    (7) The digital author will lose copyright protection as a normal analogue work once he/she uploads the material concerned on a web site and declares the digital copyright.
    (8) This system will start as a voluntary mechanism at the authors' disposal, but will be usable worldwide. Hopefully this can become one of the Flexible Copyright Systems (FleCS).

4. Advantages for Authors and Users

    (1) A digital author may protect his/her name by using d-mark, which provides the author with publicity effect.
    (2) The author may choose at his/her discretion whether he/she treats the work as analog (normal) or as digital material.
    After he/she chooses the digital treatment, he/she may also choose the duration of the right. Among these choices, he/she may find the best mix for treatment of the material. For example, an unknown author may prefer d-0 for early works in order that his/her work will become popular. But if he/she becomes a well-known author, he/she may return to a more strict protection for his/her later work under the analog (normal) system. Or an author with an out-of-print work may redistribute that work by using d-mark with a short revision.
    (3) Users of a work with d-mark may easily identify the author as well as terms and conditions, which facilitates the exploitation of the work and contributes to the dissemination of information as a whole.

5. Similar Systems and Differences
This proposal is very unique in that it tries to strike a balance between preserving incentive for potential authors (without reward people will not produce much) and the public nature of information (the more disseminated and shared, the higher the value of information). Other systems, however similar, are either incentive-oriented(I)or public goods-oriented (P).

    (1) Ted Nelson's "transcopyright" is basically I.
    (2) Prof. Mori's "super-distribution" is a typical I.
    (3) Free Software Foundation's GPL (General Public License) has given me some good ideas for d-mark, but it is fundamentally P.
    (4) CC-mark proposed by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School is P.
    (5) Prof. Kitagawa's "copymart" is nothing more than a computer-supported analog copyright.

Related sites:
(1) Ted Nelson's "transcopyright"
(2) Prof. Mori's "superdistribution"
(3) Free Software Foundation's "General Public License"
(4) Berkman Center at Harvard Law School's "counter copyright"
(5) Prof. Kitagawa's "copymart"

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