Copyright debate in the US

Following on from yesterday’s post about the new copyright promotion body, I noticed this post on Techdirt taking apart Mark Helprin’s article in The New York Times over the weekend titled “A Great Idea Lives Forever, Shouldn’t Its Copyright“.  Helprin makes the analogy between intellectual property and real physical property and it is this starting point that Techdirt believes undermines all his subsequent arguments.

This predictably stirred so much debate that i cannot help but wonder if Helprin was playing devil’s advocate. Some blogs, including this one which candidly admits to not having read the whole Helprin article, suggest that the logical extension of Helprin’s arguments means that all ideas could be copyrighted leading to the clearly ludicrous situation of owing usage fees for doing almost anything:

” If your book is in English, you give to the general English-language fund, and also some specific payments for English’s parent languages based on your vocabulary choices. If you use invented languages derived from real-world languages, you have to pay derivative-work fees for those. If you use any math in your book, there are fees for addition, subtraction, etc. Use of various plot structures, mythic archetypes, and so on are also billable. “

Whatever your stance, it is clear that the copyright debate is here to stay both in the traditional mass media and in the more niche world of blog debate.

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