Thursday, 27 April 2017

World Intellectual Property Day


Today I saw an interesting post by Dan Holloway: We Need to Talk About World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. Have a read. He gives some real examples where IP affects decisions. As an ex-librarian (subject and enquiry desk) I used to come across those and others daily. As a full-time writer I also come across them daily, though often from a slightly different angle.

It's a topic I sometimes blog about or touch upon, as in these posts:

I'll add some examples to Dan's:
  • I hate the way that as writers we self-censor all the time, worrying about mentioning real world places, events and brands.
  • I hate the way that things which should have passed into public domain get their copyright extended because rich corporations can pressure law makers for exceptions and extensions.
  • I hate the way copyright on classic works of art has expired - but you end up not being able to re-use that work because a gallery or museum manages to restrict it.
  • I hate the way that there might be stories and characters in the public domain (fairy tales and so on), yet you have to be careful because companies like Disney may have used those names and stories in works they have then copyrighted and trademarked, meaning you then have to be careful how you use things that should be available to all.
  • I hate the way trademarks are allowed to use and restrict common words (and in some cases images, fonts, colours).
  • I take a photo I want to use - but maybe one of the buildings in it is protected or restricted and I am infringing in some way?
  • I record a video and it shows logos and images in the background, maybe a poster, which is copyright with reproduction forbidden, perhaps exacerbated by music playing from a nearby TV which is also copyrighted.
We easily end up with a minefield of complications that require an (expensive) legal expert to fully understand and navigate. Partly this complex scenario has built up because so many organisations keep campaigning to add yet more piecemeal restrictions, and no-one has an overall view. 

One of the reasons I can't join some organisations (writing or licensing) is because they campaign for even more and tighter copyright laws - which is the opposite of what I want. I can't register with a licensing society (even if I wanted to) because I allow people to do more with my work than their licence would if I signed up, and I don't want to restrict people.

For all these reasons, and more, I would support simpler, clearer, and more open intellectual property laws, with far more cases where things are unequivocally okay. And that's speaking as an author.

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2 comments:

  1. Yes to all of this! In relation to works of art - the Museum of Metropolitan Art recently made all its images free to use which is great

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  2. I remember when I wanted to be able to use a Rossetti sketch, because it was central to a scene in my novel set in the art gallery that hosted it, but they were really unhelpful and refused permission (I think that was "unless you pay lots of money"). I couldn't even understand it, since the copyright must have expired ...

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