September 05, 2004


DNA testing made it easy to discover paternity in cases there is doubts.
But there is a case where biotech is of no help and I would like to collect your opinions. Mine is already made, but new arguments could change it. So :

Author MC describe in one of his books a character named MRS, inspired by a real lady, MFT.
A few years later, MFT drops her real name and plan to publish a new book (her third one) using the MRS pseudonym!
This is an excellent marketing movement, as MC is a much more popular author then MFT. But is it legal and/or moral?

Let's leave the legal part to lawyers, they will have an interesting case there.
What are your opinions from the moral point of view.

More details, with the names in extenso for Multiply subscribers

11 Comments: (go down to newest )

  • Blogger Gisela Giardino ::

  • What a delicate thing this is... because the "copyright" thing it is all a subject in itself to be discussed hand in hand with "plagiarism".

    I don´t "believe" in copyright. In terms of authorship. Given its existance, then our teachers should have to charge our parents for trasnmiting their knowledge to us, and at the same time they should had done same with their former teachers, and so forth...

    How can I say that I am the parent of one idea? If we follow Bill´s post at Orkut on imagination and the impossibility (we are discussing that actually) of thinking something we didn´t seen or have in our minds somehow before... I wonder:

    1) I "suddenly" have an idea.
    2) And there is no natural way in me that I can have a thought that doesn´t imply a previous knowledge or perception about that "new" thing in mind.
    3) But yet I say that it is mine and I register it to possibly charge another users, or prohibit it use, or whatever the case...
    4) This is like the guy the Little Prince met in his trip to the Earth. The guys says that he was the "owner" of the stars because nobody proclaimed ownership before. Becuase he counted them all the time (administered) and becuase the could put the stars in the Bank. Of course the little boy asks about that bank thing and he says that to that purpose he wrote in a piece of paper how many stars he had and he put the paper inside a box.

    "I am a Serious man" he repeated like a parrot.

    So in the end the little prince go away saying to himself "Grown ups are definitely weird."

    Therefore I try to point out that even when this lady may not be acting in a politically correct way, the writer unfortunately would be as incorrect ar she is if he went claiming the character´s parentship. This sounds to me more like a lovers´ affair that went up to the public sphere more than a copyrght issue.

    I think that one of the most valuable things about this new eon of information technologies is that the unfair desmeassured profit from ownership of ideas will sooner or later come to an end. And it will all become Mankind patrimony. Which already is, btw, if is it true that we can actually "owe" a thing in this life, even life itself.

    Kiss kiss! =)

    9:06 PM  


  • Blogger OldCola ::

  • Well, our teachers do charge for their work! Either directly (private schools) or via taxes (public schools).
    Anyway, all intellectual property systems include limits in time. Everything falls in the public domain some day and becomes Mankind patrimony, in time.
    Despite the fact that you don't believe in copyrights, you do respect them by citing the authors of the aphorisms you post. It is nice of you to act this way. Even it may seem political correct.

    The Little Prince paradigm is a nice one about "concessions". Its a very old system, going back to babylonians, for temporary attribution of rights to exploit "spaces" and "resources". There is also a temporary limit about them.

    For all cases "protection" is not about eternal ownership, but for temporal exploitation of the "idea" and paying back for the work done. Ideas may popup but creating a character for a book, or verifying and/or adjusting an idea for patent application cost money and time and do make some synapses go dead.
    And it is not about unfair demeasured profit, just about making a living out of it. My first (and unfortunately last) patent selling payed for 2/3 of the university years; provisions from other patents gave me the computer I use to type this.

    11:51 AM  


  • Blogger Gisela Giardino ::

  • Good morning!

    You have a point there OldC, that about thinkers, creators in general... authors, to sum up, need to make a living. Their mental activity becomes profitable by getting royalties from copyright and patents, so to speak. (you can teach and do another lot of things but from the beginning you get a certain amount of money for having dsicovered of invented something).

    And this is plain reality, as it is the "temporary" condition of this rights. You are right about that, too. And I knew all this by the time I posted the prior comment, eventhough it sounds a little naïve now in confrontation with this facts.

    However it is not opposed, maybe my point was not "finished" and your remark points it out. Thanks. I was biased (very angry) by the well known story about music copyrights, licences on software and other sutff of the kind.

    I Tunes, the new music service, give you 1 download of a song for .99 US, k? the recording company, let´s say EMI, SONY, etc, gets about .60 of that amount, the rest it is divided, and the copmposer gets about .20 of those initial .99. Steve knows better than me about this case. I´ve seen the mention of this in his blog.

    I wonder if I wouldn´t be using a legal version of my windows OS (XP) if it costs 30, 40, let´s say 50 US, and not what it costs currently which is for me simply unaffordable.

    Abuse. Always the same. And the question arises, who is first, the hen or the egg? I recognize myself as a respectful and honest person, but I am breaking the Law. A law that defends abusive conducts of the big guys upon the small ones. And authors are never the big guys. Those are the4 publishers in the world of books and paper format information.

    We should revise how society could assure this group of people, so important, the "brains" ot the community, a sustent enough to make their living. Like a pension or something you could claim as your right given your studies, or given the books you wrote or given some exam under a jury. What do you think, mon ami?

    12:45 PM  


  • Blogger Steve Jurvetson ::

  • While copyright has time limits in the U.S., Congress keeps extending them, and this shift of the balance is starving the intellectual commons.

    I think you would like Larry Lessig's book Free Culture (free online). Here is the summary, and links to other derivative works, translations, etc.

    "Lawrence Lessig shows us that while new technologies always lead to new laws, never before have the big cultural monopolists used the fear created by new technologies, specifically the Internet, to shrink the public domain of ideas, even as the same corporations use the same technologies to control more and more what we can and can’t do with culture. As more and more culture becomes digitized, more and more becomes controllable, even as laws are being toughened at the behest of the big media groups. What’s at stake is our freedom—freedom to create, freedom to build, and ultimately, freedom to imagine."

    And the various sympathetic groups, such as:
    * See "Barbie in a Blender" day. =)

    4:52 PM  


  • Blogger OldCola ::

  • Lawrence Lessig's book [ Hardcover | 5.00 x 7.51 in | 348 pages | ISBN 1594200068 | 25 Mar 2004 | The Penguin Press] to buy at any of the proposed sites is the perfect paradigm of somehow innovative commercial activities, with teasers (a common marketing tool) renamed "Free Content" and a whole fuss about Free when anyway you have to pay to get it.
    Let's look one degree deeper in Lawrence attitudes: There is a Creative Common license, the "by-nc" type; attribution and non-commercial use, derivative work being under general copyrights laws. I wonder if The Penguin Press accepted these conditions for the book, I mean "free copy and distribution", as long as there is attribution to the author. Which means that I could make available a pdf files with the scans of the book, and hinder sales.
    Anyway, Lawrence locked down and control his creativity and if you cite him without proper credits you may have to discuss with his lawyer. OK, he isn't BIG MEDIA, but he acts in consequence to preserve paternity and earn money from his work.
    I like that!
    Then visit Freeculture's website. Do you see anywhere a CC license? I didn't found any, thus I suppose they are covered by general copyright laws. I wouldn't take a chance to try copying. All I would do is contact them and point them to this topic :-)

    "barbieinablender" is the perfect paradigm for "once you bought it you can use it as you like", you have to pay first. I do subscribe to such attitudes. Pay first, then use it as you like. In the case I presented above MFT didn't paid for the MRS character, yet.

    Well, if for a philosopher there is a problem about hens and eggs, just call for an expert! The egg comes first, produced by some species who isn't quite a hen yet. The embryo within the egg will be the first hen if it carries the characters defining it as such, somehow differentiating from it's parents.
    There is a starter for almost everything, once the definition of it is clearly given. The same is valid with characters in books.

    Subventions exist to support creativity and innovation. I have been laureate of such concourses promoting innovation and research valorization, twice the last 5 years. But they are handled mostly be incompetent persons, juries are poorly informed on industry's needs, support is most of the time inadequate. I consider that participating in those two concourses is the greatest stupidity I ever done. Little money, big troubles. I am not even proud of it, as I consider the juries as incompetent!
    As often as I can, I dissuade other people from loosing time and effort in those and orient them to more competitive places, where the final jury is "users".

    One thing is sure, I wouldn't like a community to decide if I am a brain or a muscle or any-other part of it's body. I like to feel free to choose my options, even if it cost me a lot.
    But I do claim paternity for my acts and creations.

    12:17 PM  


  • Blogger Steve Jurvetson ::

  • Clear Cola: Did you miss the "Free Content" Tab on Larry's site? The PDF is available there for free, and yes, he had to force the issue with the publisher to be able to do that. He had over 200k free downloads in the first month (more than a "bestseller" typically sells).

    And you can see the CC license from that page as well.

    And there are several "Remixes" for various devices (even the Newton!) and translations.... all done by the community for free.... It will be interesting to compare how many product sales end up happening versus a traditional release of a comparabel product (e.g., his prior two books).

    7:51 PM  


  • Blogger Steve Jurvetson ::

  • That was supposed to "comparable" (I wish we could edit typos here)

    8:02 PM  


  • Blogger Gisela Giardino ::

  • Die hard IV OldCola´s revenge! ;-)

    And yes, Steve, no editing of comments... a problem, really. For me, with this Keylexia I have, is terrible. 8-O

    Oldc, you know what? This thing is sooo delicate that I can tell you that everything you say I could defend it blindly as well as I am saying my words in favor of no copyrights, to say it rapidly.

    I am not "bi" ;) neither want to be at ease with God and the Devil, as we say here, the point is that, your experience is the reality of what happens nowadays, which is, as in almost all aspects of our reality, too imperfect. Is these imperfections, where do you look at them from, which are hens and which are eggs, that makes think that your conception of the whole subject it different to mine.

    I think not. I tend to believe that your is a empiric masculine approach and mine an ideal female one. That´s why I can understand you if I reach my "other side".

    Sorry if I derived the post in a metadiscursive reflection on how were were discussing... Anyway hope you find it interesting.

    Of course the eggs are first!!! Sea Turtles put eggs... and are older than hens. I know someone who witnessed one putting eggs.... really nice. =)

    11:53 PM  


  • Blogger OldCola ::

  • Steve !
    Great news, thank you; now there are plenty of CC tags at the bottom of every page!

    Gigela, if you aren't bi, I do, part of my work is OpenSource and part patent protected. I decided so a long time ago :-D Everybody can live with that ;-)

    7:32 PM  


  • Blogger Eclectic Thinkers ::

  • OLD COLA IS BI!!! Pass it on ...Hihihiii :-)

    Die Hard AND Bi... What an explosive combination!

    I won´t ask anything to Steve. I don´t have such confidence with him...

    10:04 PM  


  • Blogger kasimir-k ::

  • Creativity: take pieces that already exist, and mix them in a novel and intriguing way. The creativity is in both, choosing and mixing the pieces. When creating, you always base your work on something created before by others. If you in your creation rely too much on choices and mixes others have done, instead of choosing and mixing yourself, then you are exploiting them, and that is no good.

    In the case of MC and MFT, I'd say that choosing MRS pseudonym is exactly what creativity is about, picking small but significant pieces. It definitely is not the case of using 2000 hours of work made by someone else instead of working one self those hours. And it's not only marketing move, it's also artistic action; the pseudonym will set MFT's book in a whole new context opening up many possible readings.

    Fed up with vanishing posts of Orkut or Blogger's uneditability? Write you posts in your favourite text editor (splel checker and all!) and once you are happy with it, just copy-n-post it.

    6:09 PM  


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