Thursday, May 24, 2007

Forever Copyright

(via David Berry) The New York Times has published the most misinformed article on the copyfight that I have ever read, and believe me, I have read some humdingers! The premise is simple. Great ideas last forever, right? So, why should not copyright last forever as well? Property rights do not expire when you die, so why should copyright?

I wish I had the time, the talent, and the inclination to give this article its well-deserved thrashing. Perhaps a few ideas will do. To show my contempt, I will even enumerate my criticism in the lowliest format known to man, the bullet point!

  • For the thousandth time, intellectual property does not equate real property. Ideas are intangible, non-rivalrous goods. With ideas, you can have your pie, and eat it too!
  • Repeat after me, copyright was not designed by the framers of the American Constitution. Google "Statute of Anne".
  • When a work goes into the public domain, it is not "expropriated" by the State, it simply is not awarded protection any more.
  • So, your poor starving grandchildren may not be able to profit from your work 70 years after death. They may have to *gasp* find jobs! Or here's a novel idea, they could find lost notes from granddad's works and release a new book under his name!
I better stop before my pancreas goes into over-drive.

Update: Check out Lessig's wiki against Helprin's article.


Nicolas Jondet said...

Helprin's article enraged so many people that Professor Lessig created a wiki against perpetual copyright dedicated to counter the arguments of the article.

John H said...

I'm going straight to my boss and demanding that my employer continue to pay my descendants in perpetuity for the work I am doing now. Failure to do so is nothing less than outright theft and larceny, and incipient socialism (*shudder*).

Andres Guadamuz said...

Thanks for the link Nicolas, I had missed Lessig's wiki note on his blog.

John, the presumption that our descendants are "entitled" to profit from our present work perpetually is absolutely laughable.