Did Scott Turow Keep The Copyright On His NY Times Op-Ed About The Importance Of Copyright?

from the questions,-questions dept

We were among many different commentators who mocked the recent op-ed in the NY Times by Authors Guild boss (and best selling novelist) Scott Turow, in which he seemed to suggest that to incentivize the next Shakespeare, the world needs much stronger copyright laws. The day after that op-ed was published, Turow was at the Senate speaking out in favor of censorship in the form of the COICA law. This is somewhat startling, and if you're a member of the Authors Guild, you should be asking serious questions about an organization that supports censorship.

While many people pointed out the hilarious irony of Turow and his colleagues using Shakespeare as an example for stronger copyright laws -- since the Bard lived in an era without any copyright laws, and was famous for directly copying the works of many others -- some others noted a separate bit of irony. In taking to the pages of the NY Times to insist on the importance of copyright for authors, or warning that authors may not have incentives to write any more, some pointed out that the standard NY Times Op-Ed agreement involves handing over your copyright on the Op-Ed to the NY Times to do whatever it wants with it.

And, yet, this still seemed worth it to Mr. Turow. In other words, despite his explicit words talking up the importance of copyright as the key motivator for content creation, his implicit actions suggest he knows quite well that there are many, many other incentives to create, and many people -- including himself -- are willing to create even when they do not retain the copyright on their works. As the author of the above linked article, Wendy Kaminer, notes at the end of her piece:
When editors at the Times publish an op-ed stressing the cultural value of copyright protections, it's probably not your copyrights they have in mind.

Filed Under: copyright, scott turow

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  1. icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), 23 Feb 2011 @ 4:31am

    Logical error

    I kept thinking about this one and it started really bugging me.

    A. The mother of all invention is NOT incentive.
    B. Did history and technology switch Whats In It For Me from What Do I Need?

    I suddenly smell the acrid of matches about to light my feet. So question, is the point here to find incentives or meet our needs? P.S. Happiness is a need.

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