Friday, January 17, 2003

I have to admit I was disappointed with the Eldred decision. Sure, I am what you might euphemistically call an open-source writer, but I do hope to someday make a living at it. I very much look forward to the idea of owning intellectual property. But I also have no problem with it going into the public domain after an appropriate length of time. If you create a good story, then the characters you've created no longer belong entirely to you, they've moved into the collective imagination of the culture. You may have made the toys, but it's time to let somebody else play with them. If I want to parody Mickey Mouse, I should be able to do so without getting sued by a corporation just because that corporation happens to own the rights to something someone else created. Yeah, what about my kids? I'll help 'em out as much as I can while I'm alive, and after I'm dead I'll give them whatever money I have left. But if they want royalties, they should go create some art of their own. Besides, if I write something that has enough of an impact that people are still fighting over the rights for it 50 to 70 years after I'm dead, I'd be tickled pink. My ego is much more important to me than my pocketbook, and that would be a hell of an ego boost.

Then I read these words on Neil Gaiman's blog: "It doesn't bother me personally whether my own work goes into the public domain 50 years or 70 after I die, but a world in which stuff went into the public domain in the USA 20 years before the rest of the world (which has a 70 year expiration) would have been deeply problematic for authors and their estates." Eminently practical, and I can't entirely disagree. I'm still a big fan of public domain stuff, and I still think Disney's evil, but I see his point, and I no longer think the sky is falling.

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