Jonathan Lethem Demands Filmmakers Put Movie Of His Latest Novel In The Public Domain After Five Years

from the pushing-the-boundaries dept

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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Comments on “Jonathan Lethem Demands Filmmakers Put Movie Of His Latest Novel In The Public Domain After Five Years”

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Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Looking at the Constitution...

Unfortunately, the US government has decided that it could have Mickey Mouse, the ultimate symbol of US culture, fall into the public domain. So, now you have copyright that will last longer the life of the person who created the copyright work in the first place. I’m fairly certain that the framers of the US Constitution never intended for heirs to profit from the work of their parents.

ghostman says:

Jonathan Letham is hardly a novelist “no one has heard of”. He’s fondly regarded by the literary set (especially the younger members) and his work generates a lot of buzz. I think it’s great what he’s doing. So what if he doesn’t have Rowling’s clout? He has some clout, and anyway, what he’s doing is positive. Don’t criticize him because you’ve never heard of him.

gyffes (profile) says:

Lethem rocks

Motherless Brooklyn is spectacular; read it in one fast go because I just couldn’t put it down. The concept alone is great: a PI with tourettes in NYC! The execution just gets better.

Yes, this’d have more power if, say, JKRowling would’ve done it, or even Michael Chabon, but to sneer just because you’ve never heard of him is silly.

Wonder if this means he makes his ebooks available w/o DRM…?

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