We've discussed in the past how copyright isn't really "property" at all, and trying to compare it to regular property leads to all sorts of confusing problems. Take, for example, this lawsuit, found via Michael Scott
, over who owns the rights to thousands of songs
. The actual mess is a bit complex, but as you read through it, you realize that we're dealing with the emperor's new clothes in the form of copyrights. A bunch of different people are arguing over who owns a totally made up thing, with different people simply claiming to own it, and leaving it for the courts to figure out. Here's just a snippet of the mess (which gets more complex if you read the whole article):
Carbert Music is publisher of more than 150,000 songs from all music genres, including "Back in Black" by AC/DC, "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown and "What a Wonderful World," according to the complaint.
Carbert claims Don Great, who is not a party to this lawsuit, fraudulently registered "thousands" of the Carlin Library's songs in his own name, or in the name of his companies, Don Great Music and Tinseltown Music, or in the name of defendant May-Loo Music....
Five years later, May-Loo sued Great, claiming he had brokered secret business deals on behalf of May-Loo and had mishandled revenue. Great countersued, but a federal jury found awarded Loose and May-Loo $1.9 million in 2004, according to Carbert's complaint.
Carbert says it bought a catalogue of music called the GRH Catalogue from Harrose Music Co. in 2005. Soon afterward, Carlin says, it discovered that Great had falsely registered "many" of the GRH songs to himself, his companies or May-Loo. Great's actions "muddied the chain of title" and kept Carbert from licensing the songs, Carbert says.
With real property, even if there are ownership disputes, they don't get as ridiculously complicated as this. They don't go on for years with multiple people all believing they own the property only to find out later they might not. They don't involve people just declaring they own a piece of property with no one realizing they might not. These are all arguments over "imaginary" property, which isn't property at all. At what point do people realize just how ridiculous this whole structure is?