Copyright for ever? Never.

The New York Times published an op-ed yesterday. You can read it here.

And below is my response to this op-ed.

Dear NYT,
I read the op-ed “A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright?” by Mark Helprin, published May 20th.
The author makes a statement, and asks a question, at the end of his piece: “Would it not be just and fair for those who try to extract a living from the uncertain arts of writing and composing to be freed from a form of confiscation not visited upon anyone else? The answer is obvious, and transcends even justice.”
However, the answer, is actually quite a stupid one. It’s a stupid, because the question is stupid.
I am the son of a well-published writer, and a grandson of a well-published poet (while they both wrote mainly in Macedonian and Bulgarian, they also have books published in Russia, Germany, and the USA). Last year, I have decided voluntarily, 30 years after the death of my Father, and 19 after the death of my Grandfather to give up “my” copyright. I am now publishing their works under Creative Commons – attribution non-commercial).

I did that for several reasons:
a) I want as many people as possible to read their books, for free
b) They made their money because of skills they have, I want to make my money with the skills I have.
c) Ideas are not like real estates. Unlike land, which can never become more than it is currently on our planet, ideas can multiply, and increase, and become the foundation of new ideas. If I am to limit the access to my father and grandfather’s books, that means I limit the possibility of people to read more than a hundred sonnet crowns, thousands of poems, tens of children stories, history books, memoirs, etc. which probably would never or hardly ever will be published again (my Grandfather’s book, Goli otok – the island of death, published by the Columbia University Press in New York was last sold for $ 350 on Amazon), or even if published, how many people could afford it?
d) I want people not only to read them, but also – if they want – to translate them in other languages.

I don’t know if their ideas and books are great ones, but if I decide to not publish them under Creative Commons, that for sure will be an idea. The same idea would be if I had hundreds of years of copyright, and I keep the books and ideas for me and my family – just like land, as Mr. Helprin suggests. That will not be just an idea. That would be an extremely stupid idea.

Best regards,
etc.

You, my readers, can contribute at prof. Lessig’s wiki.

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4 Responses to Copyright for ever? Never.

  1. Greg London says:

    FYI: If you want people to translate your works to other languages, you will need to allow derivatives, which means you would want to drop the NoDerivatives piece of the CC license.

  2. Fixed – thanks.
    When I published them first, I was not thinking about translation, but today, after reading the article at the New York Times, I decided to change it.

  3. Pingback: Creative Commons Bulgaria » Copyright for ever? Never.

  4. michael says:

    nice and through thinking. copyright forever is funny and real stupid 🙂

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