Interesting discussions today in class. Some thoughts and concerns:
I find it quite reasonable to recognize copyright protections for expressions and NOT ideas. If the goal of copyright is to promote and encourage new works and the dissemination of these works, what would affording “exclusivity for a period of time” on an idea even look like? I can imagine a 1984 scenario playing out whereby thought police are invoked to enforce some statutory damages on having contemplated on an idea that had previously been contemplated on .. by anyone… It becomes absurd fast. Protections should only be granted to those individuals contributing to the commons/market place of ideas through expressions; if for no other reason than for lack of feasibility in copyright protecting “ideas”. Far be it from me to speak on the chaos of the modern patent system – perhaps in some other post since the “the tragedy of the commons” was raised and the bigger problem I see in the patent system is the tragedy of the ANTICOMMONS.
Ken raised some issues on the permissibility of mash-ups and extra contributions to the commons through such modification and additions. I like the idea of the copyright modernization act allowing for such things under fair usage; but it doesn’t escape me that such things can easily be abused.
Imagine Joanne Rowling having just finished her final sentence on what could potentially be one of the world’s best selling novel’s “Harry Potter”. Now imagine Tyler-the-lazy-jerk doing little more than copying/mashing up/modifying every iteration of the name “Harry” and any other signals that the character is male. Imagine I modify it to be Harriette. The book may still be wonderfully written (as it’s substantially the work of a good writer), but now it’s in the genre of “homoerotic magical fantasy”. Worse, I may have greater resources through piracy/internet to propagate my version of the book. I may propagate the homoerotic version of the book so adequately that consumers are more likely to associate the story in that particular niche; and Joanne Rowling as a writer within that subculture. At the very least she’ll have lost control of her work and have gained the reputation (that she didn’t intend to have) of being a great homoerotic fantasy fiction writer. At the very worst, I’ll have destroyed any chance she had of being popular amongst her original target audience – young males not interested in reading about “witch…craft…”
I use this as the example because Joanne Rowling used JK Rowling as the author’s name (not having a middle initial) to simply make it ambiguous as to whether she was female; thereby not alienating herself from the overly sexist niche of young males who might have discriminated. The connotation is irrelevant, it could just have easily been modified to be white power literature (simply make Voldemort the only black character…); it’s that the original author loses control with anyone messing with the integrity of the work. Where’d late 90s music sensation “Creed” go? Did someone by chance mash up one of their songs with something a little too Christian Rock? Gain fans from a minority subculture at the cost of everyone else … ?
Imagine someone (or a corporation hired to do such things) doing malicious mash ups to out-compete and over propagate over an authors intent… Imagine having no recourse because the legislator said it was “fair use”.