File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 124

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2008 15:57:01 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Patent Infringement

I think the problem is that we expect our intellectual property laws  
to be "fair".  They never have been.  As you point out throughout  
much of the nineteenth century and early 20th century US patent laws  
protected US interests- particularly when those interests were  
violating European patent laws.   Thomas Edison was the master of  
this to his favor.

The classic example of our hair brained intellectual property laws is  
the song "Happy Birthday to You". The tune dates from the late 19th  
century, the lyrics from 1912 or before, but because nobody else had  
copyrighted the song, some smart cookie was allowed to copyright it  
in 1935.  It does not go into public domain until 2030, assuming  
copyright protections are not extended.

I think the Hazelle patent on the airplane control happened in the  
same way.  As there was no patent prior to the Hazelle application,  
one was granted.  T

This has got even worse in recent years.  I cannot understand why  
museums can get copyright and trademark protection on antiquities and  
art hundreds if not thousand of years old.  At one point, owners of  
the Empire State building tried to argue that they deserved a  
licensing fee every time the NY skyline appeared in a movie, TV show,  
magazine or other media.  There actually were a few films that  
digitally removed the Empire State building from the skyline to be safe.

And, don't get me started on being able to patent genes and DNA.

One of my favorite memories of college was a playwriting course.   
There was a young man who was obviously very talented, but basically  
turned in crap.  The teacher called him on it.  He said, "everything  
I write in this course becomes the property of the university; so, I  
am writing crap until I graduate."

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