Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 08:18:34 -0400
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From: David Dailey David.P.Dailey@williams.edu
To: Multiple recipients of list
cni-copyright@cni.org
Subject: ever-expanding copyright and concomitant discussion 

Keith Handley kehandley@amherst.edu writes

------
> I'm no copyright expert or lawyer, but maybe that helps in this case. 
> If I buy a new book, I can do anything I want to with it; tear it
> up, give it away, re-sell it, burn it. It is MY property, to do with
> what I want, EXCEPT (due to the Founders' provisions) copy it. Why
> is that? (The same applies to patented things.) It's my property,
> isn't it? I'd say that in copyright, my property rights are being
> taken away.
-------

This reminds me a bit of something that has been passing back and forth across my corpus collossum for the past couple of months: namely that growing copyright law in duration is not sufficient -- it ought to grow in complexity as well.

It is not enough to have a body of law that holds the majority of the citizenry as unwitting offenders. It is not enough to make it extremely difficult for the user of technology to understand how he or she might avoid infringing on someone's cerebral artifacts. We should borrow heavily from the juris prudence of real property and recast all matters cerebral into the terminology of molecular objects.

Ideas could thus be repackaged and resold, but would first undergo title searches. We might define (based on some stroke of brilliance in mensuration theory) a grand topological space of ideas in which proximity is as tightly defined as it is in the world of farms and crops. In such a space, for one to express a new idea which is similar to some predecessor, one would have to seek an easement. Defining the non-molecular analogues of such things as water and mineral rights, poaching, and zoning would all follow suit. For example, in the "neighborhood" of discussions about copyright law, zoning laws could require that to express sarcasm one must first seek a variance.

(apologies to all, I am in the process of buying a house)

David Dailey (ddailey@williams.edu)