Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Get over yourself

Lately I have noticed this creative commons licence thing on several blogs, where the blog owners duly promise to hunt you down and gouge your eyes out if you steal any of their fabulous material. I want to say several things here. One being you don't need some creative commons agreement thing to copyright your material. Copyrights are unlike patents in that they do not require filing (you can file for one, but not filing still gives you legal protection). To copyright something, you simply have to put a c in a circle with the year next to it, and then assert the crap out of that.
Second, copyrights only protect expression, not ideas. So if you write a sentence that goes "the dinosaur leapt as soon as he saw the Komodo dragon", you can copyright that, not the idea of dinosaurs leaping at the sight of Komodo dragons in general. This is because if copyrights protected ideas, then only 1/N people would be able to use that idea and not the other N-1, because the one person ran out and copyrighted it first. This check is in place to encourage as much social discourse as possible.
Third, copyrights do not protect book titles or phrases...so no, Donald freaking Trump, you can't actually copyright the phrase "you're fired". Sometimes phrases can be trademarked, for examply the Coca Cola logo. So basically anyone can write a book called Crime and Punishment, and nobody can stop you. The main reason for this is the cost of information. Its really not feasible to know all the people who were actually using a particular phrase that you feel rightfully "belongs" to you.
Okay more on patents and trade secrets later.
My sources for this were The US Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov/ and my Eco Law lectures. I can't believe I'm blogging course material...it is really interesting though.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Creative Commons things aren't really copyright licenses. They say things like whether you can reprint material with or without attribution, and whether you can make derivative works. Their little slogan is "SOME rights reserved." The idea is that material can be shared, copyright laws make less sense in the digital age, etc. etc. and Alex's is basically like "You can steal or modify my work, as you long as you say it came from me." I mean, I don't have one because it's just a blog, and seriously.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like they're trying to make their position more legitimate or legalistic or whatever by putting that creative commons thing up. And the point is that your position is as strong without it.

But a question here...say if I copied some creative commons persons blog verbatim into my own blog, what is creative commons going to do to me? Or the owner of the copied blog? How is this any different from the situation where they don't subscribe to creative commons?

But I agree...its just a blog...these people are taking themselves way too seriously.


8:24 PM  

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