Readers, I am about to decamp for a couple of weeks in the wilds of northern Alabama — “wilds” because my mother lives in the country with no internet access and spotty cell-phone signals. I’ll be reduced to sipping refreshing beverages under the pecan trees and watching Canoe Creek drift by. In other words, things could be worse. In the meantime, you might want to compare Ross Douthat’s take on copyright with Cory Doctorow’s. I very much like Ross’s suggestion:

Why not, then, simultaneously extend copyright and narrow its scope? Let the Helprins continue to earn royalties into the distant future, but let adaptations, derivations, parodies and borrowing flower more quickly and completely than the current system allows. Leave the Tolkiens the rights to “The Hobbit”in perpetuity, but not the right to prevent two enterprising film companies from going forward with competing adaptations. Leave the Mitchells the rights to “Gone With the Wind,” but not the right to tie up a would-be parodist in court for years on end because they don’t like what she’s doing to their Scarlett. Leave the Lucas family the right to “Stars Wars,” but not the right to prevent me from writing my own competing version of Anakin Skywalker’s life story.

So how would this affect the book about Holden Caulfield that J. D. Salinger is trying to suppress? And then there’s this: if you ever wanted to disassemble all your books, scan them, use OCR software to identify the text and make it searchable, and then reassemble them all, well, here’s how you do it. Ciao for now.


  1. I am not opposed to extending copyright if there are some additional exemptions put in. But a significant issue is the loss of access to books because of lost ownership. Also there have been at least several studies that have said that there is value in loss of copyright after a period of time. (The debate is how long.) But the studies I have seen seem to agree that no more than 50 years, then virtually all of the income an author can expect has been made (except for the very few books) and new revenue and interest will be generated by releasing the books into public domain.

  2. Kind of funny that in an article seeking to recognize the worth of copyright he doesn't bother to cite the cartoon he quotes in full to begin his article.

    (XKCD #386 – I'd link if TNA would let me).

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