Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Copyright - should we question it?

Coincidently during my writing of the last blog Copyright??? versus Environment. There was an interesting discussion about copyright on slashdot. This led to me looking at the website for an organization I had never heard of called Their objective is exactly what their name suggests, to question copyright -- at least as it exists today.

I have always been bothered about copyright. Here is a statement from the World Trade Organization website "Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time" (emphasis added). NOT!

I am a scientist and if I write an article to most journals, you must sign away the copyright to the journal's publisher. The publisher is not the creator. Then I am explicitly prevented from doing anything else with the article I wrote. I not only do not have an exclusive right, I almost no rights. I find as a writer that attitude repugnant.

I once knew the author of a book on geology. The publisher owned the copyright and gave him 10 cents! for each book sold.

The issue always in the news is about copyright is music. They say "we need to protect our (sic) copyright, so that the musicians get there money". Now, take a good look at your music CD's. Who owns the copyright? The music publishing company, not the musicians.

In 1998, the US extended their copyrights by twenty years under heavy lobbying by major producers. It was even nicknamed the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act" because of the pressure by the Disney Company. It is now the life of the author plus 70 years! (Most countries it is 50 years after the author's death). Some people have even argued it should be forever! Why?, so publishing company can continue to make big profits. Disney is said to make 6 billion dollars a year from holding the copyright on Winnie the Pooh (the author died in 1956).

The bottom line is that there are lots of people are making lots of money off of copyright who show no creativity, while the creative people make little or nothing. It is the damn right time to start questioning copyright.

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