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Re: (TFT) Who owns ideas?

On Thu, 16 Jul 1998, J. McGuire wrote:

> IMO, the fact that one had a creative ancestor shouldn't automatically 
> give one the rights to sit back and live off of the rewards of that
> ancestor's work, especially when that means denying the benefit of 
> that work to the rest of the world. 

In principle, I agree with this.  Realistically speaking, however, this
can turn into a complex issue very easily.  What if the creative person
dies suddenly without leaving a will?  What if they were running a 
business which depended upon their creations?  Suppose the creator had
young children?  Does the fact that the creator died without a will mean
that those children should be left without means.  One can get wrapped
around the axle in a hurry with these topics.

> >A number of authors have sued successfully based on movies being 
> >created that (according to the authors) were based on *ideas* from
> >their books. Under strict copyright law, *ideas" cannot be copy-
> >righted, but these suits have been upheld. (Harlan Ellison has won 
> >a couple...)

As you desribe, Ideas cannot be copyrighted - but the *expression* of
the idea can be.  This is probably what the suits were based on.

> Y'know, there is a way around this, at least for the honorable individual
> author. I think I should put it in my will: "To the Public Domain, for the
> perpetual use and enjoyment thereof, I irrevocably grant the rights to all
> of my creative works, excepting only those for which I filed copyright in
> the ten years prior to my death. The latter shall be given to the Public
> Domain in perpetuity on the tenth anniversary of my death."

This is not a bad idea.  :)  

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