Sunday, August 22, 2010

Copyright is too long, and other people agree with me

Although it's not specifically mentioned anywhere, most people would assume the contents of this blog are copyrighted, and due to the US Constitution and Congress they'd be right. Since the 1970s, Americans don't need to register their publication with the Library of Congress and use the funky little C symbol. However, I've been asked to waive copyright on some things appearing here, most recently photos of the great Malaysian cartoonist Lat for Wiki Commons, and I've been glad to do so.

However, as these two articles point out, copyright is not an inalienable right but a legal one, and at this point, it's largely warped in the direction of protecting large corporations' intellectual property. Read them both:

A Republic of Letters
New York Times Book Review August 22, 2010
Lewis Hyde draws on the founding fathers for arguments against the privatization of knowledge.

Copycats vs. Copyrights; Does it make sense to legally protect the fashion industry from knockoffs?
Ezra Klein
Washington Post August 22 2010

Fortunately the Fair Use provision should let me exempt out Mr. Klein's salient point for this blog post:

And companies love copyright. They love it so much they persuaded Congress to pass the Sonny Bono Act, which extended individual copyright protections to the life of the author, plus another 70 years; and corporate copyrights to 120 years from creation, or 95 years from publication, whichever is earlier. That’s an absurdly long time, and it belies the original point of patents: does anyone seriously believe that a 40-year-old with a money-making idea is going to hold back because someone can mimic it 20 years after he dies? At a certain point, copyrights stop protecting innovation and begin protecting profits.

Should this blog post be copyrighted at least through 2080? No. The original Constitutional provision of 14 years with a 14 year renewal should be returned to. Let's see some Tea Partyers take up that original construction argument.

I hereby abandon my copyright on this blog post about copyright, not that I imagine anyone will really care.


richardcthompson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richardcthompson said...

Well said!