[clug] Subject: Re: 'Rip!' on SBS, last Tuesday night

Scott Ferguson prettyfly.productions at gmail.com
Mon Jan 11 06:32:04 MST 2010

An interesting debate/conversation indeed...
It is my (limited) understanding that - copyright is derived from 
"publisher rights" (response to Guttenberg press), patent derived by 
royalty decreed "monopoly rights", and that somewhere along the way 
/*droit d'auteur*/ (author's rights) got lost.
The current "universal" copyright protection acts are less about 
protecting the rights of publishers and patent holders (not 
authors/creators) than protecting the commercial interests of a country 
American history of patent and copyright is somewhat conflicted - 
patenting was originally restricted to manufacturing processes, until 
political pressure to protect American commercial interests brought 
about a change in the ruling preventing the patenting of ideas. The 
original, 1790 (US) Copyright Act established a copyright term of 14 
years; if the author were still living at the end of that period, he 
could renew the copyright for an additional 14 years. What was 
originally protection from verbatim copying of an authors work (as owned 
by the publisher) has been extended to cover the "in the substance, and 
not in the form alone". "That which constitutes the essence and value of 
a literary composition, which represents the results of the author's 
labor and learning". (and from little weasels big weasels grow...).
Another point of annoyance is the current ability to patent nature... 
yes I know, you can't patent nature. Except under the Plant Patents 
Act... If I have a "variation" that produces a different color leaf I 
can patent it (done). As long it is not obviously common in the wild I 
will have no problems arguing it is unique... so you patent a plant that 
has more blue color (anthocyanin(?)). If I grow a wide enough range I 
too can produce the same colored plant - but not without using the same 
mechanism, and surprise, surprise, producing some of the same genetic 
changes. Though my plant is not developed from the patented "unique" 
parts of the plant gene pool it will share the same changes... thus 
breach of patent.
Same with software patents - as there is only a limited number of ways 
to achieve the same things (not infinite ways to skin a cat). This is 
the problem when patenting "ideas" instead of "processes" and 
copyrighting "substance" over precise content.
Anyway... didn't want to hijack the thread but I would like to point out 
that neither copyright nor patent have much to do with "authors" rights. 
Academic publishing being a case in point - publish or perish in some 
institutions, but publishing means surrendering author rights - which 
can lead to problems where subsequent work by the original author can 
breach the rights of the publisher of the original work!!
I have an idea that what is needed is not just a review of patent and 
copyright - but a mechanism designed to protect the authors rights.

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