Let's start off with that simple statement - patents are being misused.
There are some good things about the patent system. The patent term is short, especially when compared with the ever-extended lengths for copyright.
OK, when I said some things, I meant one thing...
Copyright was originally designed to be held by individuals, and used by individuals.
For individuals, litigation is expensive. But for corporations, it's much cheaper.
In a way, you could say copyright's position hasn't changed at all, but that society has shifted around it. That's probably an argument for another day, though - what's important to note is that copyright has an implicit assumption that the owner operates in certainty and at great expense.
That's what prevents routine abuses of copyright. The great expense for the individual.
But corporations don't have that problem, and they have - for some time now - been getting more and more egregious in their abuse of others via copyright law.
Copyright has had a dependably repeating relationship with technology for over a century now.
The relationship goes like this:
It happened with the automatic piano player - "Musicians will go bankrupt! Who will learn musical instruments when the machine can play for them?".
It happened with the radio - "Who will pay for records if they can hear them for free?".
It happened (quite famously) with the video cassette recorder - "Who will pay for films when they can record them from the TV?"
And yet - as in each of the cases I mention there - after incumbents predict the death of their industry, they then they embrace the technology and make MUCH money from it.
Note that examples which allowed more creativity - cheaper cinefilm or video cameras, cheaper home recording, cheaper distribution - don't generate such protests. I'll let you figure out why that is yourself - but if you must have a clue, then it is the words "monopoly" and "distribution".
The Public Domain is where works that aren't subject to intellectual property laws go.
Sometimes, a work is in the public domain because it's not eligible for protection under intellectual property laws. Sometimes, it's there because the period for which is was eligible for protection has expired. And sometimes, it's there because its creator donated it.
Not all regions in the world share the same views or have the same rights for the public domain.
Are you kidding me?
For a couple of years now, I've been more and more disappointed with the way the world's IP laws have been trending. I believe that they are moving away from their original intentions in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways, and that this is increasingly rendering them unfit for purpose.
So I thought I'd write a series of short articles in which I take a positive stance, and say how we can improve them.
Here's the rough outline of what to expect - links will be provided as each one is written:
But before we can dive into the wonders of Copyright and the Public Domain, I would be doing every reader a disservice if I didn't explain my own use of intellectual copyright laws, and then give a very brief overview of intellectual property law's purpose as I see it.