If you build a calculator and patent the machine design, ok, I understand that.
But if you build a computer program that works like a calculator, people can patent a "system that performs mathematical calculations with a button interface". That's ridiculous, because the patent covers all program designs that fit the definition, not just the program that was developed.
Like the Anon says, you shouldn't be abled to patent an idea. Like Niall says, it's happening right now.
Fuel taxes are very high in Western Europe and here in Uruguay, and I agree with that. Instead of charging for internet sales, the American Congress should tackle the energy issue and raise fuel taxes.
It's just business for them. When executives start to believe that launching an online-only service will be profitable, they will do the switch. It's matter of time, that is, some things will have to change before it happens. Companies will have to change, consumers will have to change, technology will have to change, laws will have to change. (I'm talking from the perspective of company executives and owners, not mine.)
Tim, I love the way you wrote the article. Yes, the content is good too, but it's hard to do tasty stuff out of this subject.
The problem with that definition is that it mixes things. "Literature" is a technical definition of a work (text), just like "photography", "illustration", "audio" and "film". That's how you classify works in such a law: by media.
But "arts" and "science" is another completely different thing: it's subject or intent, just like "entertainment" and "journalism". By that definition, sports films and advertising illustrations don't have author rights.