Author Jonathan Lethem has been pushing the boundaries of the traditional intellectual property system lately. He wrote a fascinating article about rethinking intellectual property rights... that was more or less entirely plagiarized. He also put up a bunch of his short stories and allowed them to be freely adapted by anyone who wanted to do anything with them. The latest is that he's put restrictions on the movie rights to his latest novel. If anyone wants to make it into a movie, they have to promise to release all the rights to it into the public domain after 5 years. He notes that 5 years should be plenty of time to recoup the value -- and after that, he hopes that by putting it in the public domain, additional creativity will grow from it. Since the commercial value of most movies (and books) are soon after they're released, it's likely that this wouldn't actually impact the real value by very much -- but it will still be interesting to see if movie studios balk at the deal. Either way, it's fascinating watching Lethem use his past successes to garner attention for less draconian copyright measures. His specific experiments may not succeed directly, but it's clear that he's willing to try a few different things to see how well each idea works. It's going to be worth paying attention to these experiments going forward -- whether or not they succeed.
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