another copyright rant

Mark Helprin has a frustrating article in today’s New York Times: “A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright?” He thinks it’s self evident that ideas (art, music, books) deserve the same protection as real property. Good grief. It seems so naive to me to think that your take is the only one that makes sense. He ends this way:

“No good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property, because no good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.”

This seems like an example of false causality to me. Or at least a false connection.

Admittedly I am on the other side of this discussion, but the free flow of the work of the spirt and the mind is necessary for any artists, musician or thinker (emphasis on “free”) to do their work in the first place. So from my point of view, it’s not “disfavor” to make ideas free. It’s actually “favor.”

I guess we won’t even need the word “reification” anymore. Since in Halpren’s estimation ideas and things are the same thing.

I wonder about the idea that creators own their creations. What exactly have they created? The alphabet they used? No. The language? No. The words? No.  The ideas? The stories? Hmmm. Can’t all stories be reduced to some awful formula like “boy meets girl” “boy loses girl” “boy fights war to get girl back” .
My usual reaction to artists who don’t want to share beauty and truth is that they can keep their little corner on it. There is so much beauty, truth and great stories out there. It’s hard for me to think I’m going to miss one person’s take on life. Especially since I am not thinking of J.S. Bach, Charles Dickens or Charlie Parker.

The idea that people who want to learn more about life and experience art or read books need to be paying an admission charge reduces one of the best things in life to a transaction. It makes ideas not only things but things for sale, commodities.

It’s not that I don’t think creators should have a place to sleep and food to eat and books to read and the internet (some of my basic needs, ahem). I’m a creator for heaven’s sakes. I just think that usually the protections do not end up protecting creators so much as other people’s investments.  By all means, pay the creator. But I always secretly liked the idea of stipend, paying someone to free them up to do what needs to be done.

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