Copying Writing, Music, Video

Earlier this week, via Twitter:

Cory Doctorow (@doctorow)
That time again: Need to come up with a Guardian column idea. I’ll RT the best /most interesting for next 15 mins. GO!

My reply:

Once you choose to place words/pictures/audio/video/media in the public domain, in whatever form, it then remains public domain. @doctorow

Which, in the confines of the ongoing copyright and intellectual property debate (as if even the notion of the ownership of ideas could tangibly exist in a reasonably sane world) might seem a bit left-field.  But there other ways to consider the situation.

So, imagine the copyright debate not from the perspective of an ‘artist’ of whatever form, whether they be a writer, musician, actor, video producer, etc., but from the position of the super-set that any and all of those groups of people fall into, like everyone else that can’t afford not to work: Workers.

Using the intellectual property and copyright model and applying it to, say, an office job, you could go into work, manage a project or write a report about something over the course of a few months,  then retire for a few years having completed the project.   Perfect!  What about shelf-stackers?  Once a shelf-stacker has stacked a shop’s worth of shelves, surely they should be allowed to take three years off as a reward, while still being paid for their initial outlay of effort?

As a rule workers are not afforded the luxury of several years’ retirement following the completion of a project or task, no matter how long it takes, or how much creativity and effort it requires.  They have to do it all again.  Repeatedly.  Immediately.  Often performing several tasks across more than one project concurrently.

There are two possible resolutions to the seemingly endless copyright debate:   One is that ordinary workers are immediately afforded the same privileges and benefits as worker writers, worker musicians and worker film-makers or, as Glyn Moody suggests, it’s time artists lost their 18th-century sense of entitlement.

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