I've been a big Jonathan Lethem fan for a while. A friend introduced me to his books a while back, and I've read them all at some point or another. He's an enjoyable and entertaining writer, and I was thrilled when I recently heard about his new Promiscuous Materials project, where he offered up a bunch of random stories he'd written for anyone to adapt, free of charge, however they wanted to do so. In announcing the project, he noted that he was inspired to do so as he was working on an article for Harper's about intellectual property and how it often leads to the opposite result of its intended purpose (to promote the progress of useful arts and science). However, at that time, the Harper's article wasn't yet online. Boing Boing today points us to the incredibly long, but absolutely worthwhile essay on the problems of intellectual property. It touches on everything from plagiarism to copyright to patents and trademarks, and it's wonderfully written and put together. It talks about how all creations are inspired by others and put together in new and different ways, and the idea that you should be able to then stop others from doing so makes almost no sense. It points out how the phrase "copyright" is loaded and not accurate, and how "usemonopoly" is a better term. Of course, despite its length, you need to read to the end of the article, in order to find the real nugget of beauty in the article, which itself was inspired from someone else's idea.
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