Thursday, August 16, 2007



Thought to be an extinct art form, a music video was seen on VH1 in the early morning hours of August 15, 2007. The song was lousy, the female singer ugly, but it was a music video nonetheless.


Intellectual Public Property

I've been thinking a lot about intellectual property rights. Under current law, copyright is assigned at the moment of creation, and extends for the life of the creator plus 70 years. Additionally, works for hire (such as those contracted by corporations) are copyright for either 95 or 120 years, depending on the circumstance, and whichever is less.

Some time ago, I read about prolific author Noam Chomsky's dodge concerning intellectual property. He assigned all rights to his works to his daughter, so that regardless of the law, after his death his works will remain a money-maker for the Chomskys. I assume they could do this ad-infinitum.

What a rotten, lousy, stinking thing for an anarchistic liberal to do, I say. Aren't libs supposed to be about public good and such? Speaking as an author myself, I'd think any writer would want their works in the public domain sooner rather than later, especially for socialist-minded people. Not so in this case.

The author in me (writer, composer, filmmaker) got to thinking about intellectual property as a whole: what's good policy to protect the author, and promote social literacy?

Certainly, someone who makes their living as an author should bear the fruits of their work. But also, shouldn't the society which created that author gain from it, too?

What I came to is that, of course, US laws on the matter are a mess - overly complicated, rife with loopholes, and favoring commerce over public good. Bear in mind, I'm no socialist by any measure, and even I see there there are limits to everything.

My view is that the law should certainly protect original works made by an individual for the life of that individual. However, that's where it should end. Upon the death of the author, the work should transfer to the public domain, period.

For rights held by corporations, I'm less generous; treatment such as that applied to US patents could be appropriate: Design patents are protected for 14 years. So, any work for hire or work owned by a corporation (this includes literary works and major motion pictures), remains the sole property of the corporation for 14 years, then into the public domain it goes.

I'm not really the socialist I seem to be - quite the contrary. However, I believe that money generated in the media has become obscene, and its time the public got a break.

And just as open source software has been a really good thing for the computer industry, so will this be to elevate the marketplace of ideas, which is the goal, after all.

What do you think?

Zebron and James