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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  1.  
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    martin Edic, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 8:16pm

    it would be a great effort if any of the stories he released were any good. Frankly this is a publicity stunt by a marginally 'good' writer.
    The stories are pretty poor.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 8:23pm

    I just wish they'd finally release Motherless Brooklyn.

     

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    Foxlake Werbledern, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 9:46pm

    Huh?

    Jonathan who? Lemcham?

     

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    Xanius, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 9:50pm

    What past successes?

    I can't seem to find a single movie on amazon or IMDB that has and relation to his novels or stories...

     

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    Another Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 2:44am

    past successes

    He doesn't have a movie on amazon or IMDB. They haven't come out yet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 6:19am

    So, in other words, an author that no one has heard of is making stipulations that no one cares about. Man, I bet those movie execs are quaking in their boots.

     

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    Wyndle, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 6:31am

    So let's get this straight...

    The average turn-around on a published book being put into a script is 3-5 years and maybe another year or two before the script is picked up for filming... by then his own clause would self-negate and cause his work to be public domain wouldn't it?

     

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    Wizard Prang, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Looking at the Constitution...

    ...surely all movies should go into the public domain.

     

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    Me, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 7:24am

    Now...

    if only J.K. Rowling would do something like this...THAT would have some impact.

     

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    Jason (profile), Mar 15th, 2007 @ 7:25am

    Re: So let's get this straight...

    No, it's 5 years after the movie is made, not after the book is released. or at least that's the impression I got after listening to him on NPR this morning.

     

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  11.  
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    dorpass, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 8:46am

    Re: So let's get this straight...

    Oh come on Wyndle, at least use common sense. How hard is it to understand that it's 5 years after the movie is made/comes out?

     

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    Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 15th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    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.

     

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    teknosapien, Mar 15th, 2007 @ 4:02pm

    Wow

    main stream media meets FOSS

     

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    ghostman, Mar 16th, 2007 @ 9:49am

    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.

     

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    booknerd, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 7:03pm

    I happen to agree with ghostman, Jonathan Lethem is a spectacular writer. Gun, With Occasional Music is one of my all time favorite books.

     

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    gyffes, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 8:17pm

    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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  17.  
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    jeff, Dec 1st, 2008 @ 4:49am

    Re: Lethem rocks

    The average turn-around on a published book being put into a script is 3-5 years and maybe another year or two before the script is picked up for filming... by then his own clause would self-negate and cheap battery cause his work to be public domain wouldn't it?

     

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