Sunday, August 16, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Eleven

Believe it or not, I'm typing these while sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Babies! room, watching "The Little Mermaid II" with them. I have to be in here to make sure Mr F doesn't get out of his crib. Long story short, my laptop is balanced on a port-a-potty. And yet, I'm still able to come up with great ideas to make the world better, like:

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

You probably didn't think that copyright law was holding the world back, but it is. Copyright laws are among the reasons why some TV shows can't be on DVD, and copyright laws are why you can't post pictures of your little kids dancing to "Let's Go Crazy" or make a Potterpedia without getting slapped with a lawsuit.

And why? Well, for one thing, you have to defend a copyright -- if you let others use it (or so I understand) you can lose it, and as an artist, you don't want to lose your right to make money off your art. (That's what art's all about, anyway.) And for another... well, that's the only reason: Making money. People who create something want to make all the money off that thing, and they don't want their copyright watered down by crummy versions of it, or porn-ified versions of it.

But if you did away with that entirely, artists would make more money. Suppose I was free to use any song I wanted to on my movie soundtrack, if I paid Coldplay a share of the profits, and if I didn't use the song in a negative way. Suppose I could write an eighth Harry Potter book -- and have Harry Potter join Starfleet, provided that J.K. Rowling and Gene Roddenberry's estate got a cut of the dough.

Splitting it 60/40 reduces my incentive to use other people's work -- because I get less than 1/2 the profits -- but still lets me do so if I wanted to. It creates incentive for others to get their work used -- because they get 60% of the loot for doing nothing.

As for the "negative use" part, that's to protect the works. Maybe there are people out there who want to see Naked Batman -- but DC Comics could keep that from happening and collect damages, and it wouldn't be hard to establish rules for what's negative light and what's not, depending on the original work.

Changing copyright laws will only add to the creativity of the world, as everyone's free to tape Major League Broadcast baseball games and show them for their own profit, or make their on "Nancy + Sluggo" t-shirts, or record and release a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (although it seems at times that everyone has recorded and released a version of that song; the only version of it that's missing so far is a reggae version by a reconstituted UB40.) The end result: more stuff that people already love, in new and creative versions, more money for the creators, and more happiness.

Prior entries:

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

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