posted Oct 04, 2000

What Every American Should Know About Copyright General IP Issues10/4/2000; 3:08:28 PM 'Another point that isn't very well known, that has, in fact, been buried into near complete obscurity is that the copyright owner does not own the work, only the copyright. The work, itself, is owned by no one. Intellectual Property, a very big issue in the modern world, has no owner. You can only own the right to copy a work, not the work itself. The difference between these two points is important, though of little practical value to the average person. The entity with the copyright is the only one who can offer the copies for distribution, or not. Here we arrive at what is known as "The First Sale Doctrine," which governs the ownership of individual copies. The Entertainment Industry and the Software Industry both want you to believe that you don't own the copy of the work that you have purchased. First Sale Doctrine disagrees. Once the copyright owner has been compensated (you paid for the copy) they have no further rights toward that individual copy. As owner of the copy, it is your right to decide what to do with it, with the obvious exception of making further copies....Think about this: under the original copyright law, Star Wars would become public domain in 2005. Old episodes of Bonanza and I Love Lucy would already be public domain. You could legally embroider pictures of Mickey Mouse onto T-shirts and sell them. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" would belong to everyone as would "Gone With the Wind." All of those great Rock 'n' Roll songs from the fifties and sixties would be public and no one could complain no matter how many MP3's you distributed of them. Basically, anything published before 1972 would belong to the people of America. Books, TV, movies, art and music all work through the copyright laws and all of them have been given what nearly amounts to a perpetual monopoly.'

 

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