We’re stuck in a long distance relationship with copyright.



Here’s a thought:

Copyright Laws are putting us in a long-distance relationship situation with media, and hindering creativity.

In a long-distance relationship, what happens is the couple communicate in a superficial way most of the time, and only see each other occasionally as their life/work situations allow. This creates an odd situation where the relationship is stuck in a kind of dating limbo- where the couple don’t see each other enough for the relationship to progress to the get-together stage or the breakup stage. As a result, the relationship lingers on and on, because they never get sick of each other, but aren’t satisfied with the relationship either. It creates a situation where they are constantly hoping that the next meeting will be awesome, remembering the meetups that were awesome, and forgetting all the meetups that sucked. Preventing them from moving on and finding new and possibly better relationships.

Ever-extending copyright laws are doing the same thing to our relationship with media. Instead of letting us fall in and out of love with a media property (like Star Wars), the long-term copyright laws keep us exposed to only a drip-feed of that media property and keep us from getting sick of it. We remember the good times, but not the bad, and keep coming back to it. As a result, a few mega-properties (Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Marvel/DC Superheroes, etc) are able to suck up all the media attention (and money) and hindering the growth of new media sources because they never quite go away.

If we had shorter copyrights, then after a certain point properties would enter the public domain and everyone could make their versions of those media properties, which would have two effects- 1) it would “burn them out” of the collective consciousness through over-saturation and overexposure (everyone would get sick of them and move on), and 2) it would create opportunities for new material to move in and grow, resulting in newer media that suits the current generation and offers new ways of thinking instead of the old stuff being recycled endlessly. (Or, to continue our relationship metaphor- it would force people to break up and find new partners.)

My friend Don often comments that “nothing goes away anymore”, and I think this is a piece of that. Nothing is going away because corporations are extending out franchises and copyright keeps the public from running wild with them and burning them out. You might say that’s just fine, since it keeps the companies in business, but it also prevents them from innovating, since all their energies are focused on the old and not the new. Just like it keeps the public’s attention on the old instead of the new, preventing the innovation which happens every day from rising up into the public’s awareness and changing things for the better (or worse).

Just an idea, anyway.



New Bill in US Congress would send people to jail for 5 years for singing any copyrighted song on Youtube.

You Americans who read this might want to get on this issue. Although they may not have chosen the best mascot, after all, there are people who would pay just to see Justin Bieber sent to prison…

S.978, a new bill in Congress, make it a felony to post videos that contain copyright-infringing music, with up to five years in prison for violators. The clever folks at Fight for the Future have noticed that this law would have put Justin Bieber in jail, since he launched his career by posting videos of himself singing R&B tunes, in violation of copyright. The Free Bieber campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the campaign to fight S.978 and keep posting videos of yourself singing music legal, and they’ve got plenty of info for helping you fight the bill and enlist your friends to do the same.

via Free Bieber: campaign to kill proposed law that would send you to prison for 5 years for singing copyrighted music on YouTube – Boing Boing.

Copyright for Canadian Writers

How do I protect my idea from theft?


In Canada, you automatically hold the copyright to any original work you produce. You can’t copyright an idea or a title; only the written expression of your idea. Someone else might also write a book on jungle cats from outer space but it’s not a problem unless they use your words.


Usually copyright is registered at the time of publication. It is not necessary for you to register before that but although it is not necessary, you can pay to register your copyright with The Copyright Office. For more information check http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrksv/cipo/cp/cp_main-e.html

via The Writers’ Union of Canada : TWUC About Getting Published.

The Evils of Intellectual Property

I highly recommend listening to this lecture.

He makes some interesting points. I thought the point about Fashion was especially interesting, it’s a whole industry that exists without patents or copyrights, yet is extremely vibrant and successful. To my mind, cooking would also be an example of an industry where copyright is pretty much non-existent, and yet the cooking industry flourishes quite nicely.

I didn’t know the Wright Brothers were patent trolls who severely retarded the US aircraft industry to the point where the US had to buy planes from other countries for years.

This makes me think of the story Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson, which is also about the dangers of copyrights and patents to society. You can read it here on his website.

(thanks Rick for the link!)

(this is an audio track, there is no real video with it)

Edit: here’s a video recommended below by Brushmen which expands on the Fashion and Copyright issue: