Shane Richmond on copyright

An idea is not property, which is why the term “intellectual property” is so insidious. If I have a car and you take it then I don’t have a car anymore. If I have an idea and you take it, then we both have that idea. Thinking of cultural products as property only helps the companies that have built their business on accumulating rights.

Of course, if you take my idea and use it to make money then my business will suffer and I will have less incentive to have ideas in the future. We need a period of protection for ideas to ensure that creators keep coming up with them because they are vital to our culture. It is, more than anything, part of what makes use human.

But for exactly that reason protection periods should also be kept as short as possible. Once that period has expired, others should be free to reuse, rethink and remix those concepts and incorporate them into their own ideas. That is how every art form has evolved and stayed vibrant. Now more than ever, with the speed of culture accelerated by digital technology, it is imperative that protection periods be shortened.

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