SLB's Political Info Page - Monopolies

Intellectual privileges

Patents should only be granted if there is a working physical example. This prevents software patents, business model patents, some obvious patents (i.e. things that are obvious in reality, but written in a confusing fashion), and patents on impossible devices (e.g., anti-gravity drives, time travel devices, etc).

Patents should only be granted where the owner has established clear intent to produce and market the invention in question. Merely suing other companies into the ground does not advance the arts and sciences, as required by the constitution, and should be stopped when possible.

Patents should only be granted on man-made processes, not on processes that occur without human intervention. Thus I could sue someone for stealing some of my carefully bred seeds, but after he buys the seeds I can not force him to keep paying me indefinitely, nor can I prevent him from breeding his own modifications. Although my particular cross breeding was covered by my effort, any breeding he does himself will be covered by his own efforts, and the act of seed reproduction occurs naturally (I can't control it).

Given that the time and cost to distribute a creative work has dropped significantly in the past 200 years, the time for which a copyright is granted should also be reduced. While in 1790 it might have taken over a year and several dollars to distribute a book to the far reaches of the United States, now it takes less than a second at virtually no cost. A single copyright term of 14 years (as per the founders of the United States) should be more than sufficient.

Copyrights (in the sense of authorship) should be non-transferrable. The author may assign exclusive distribution rights to a company, but nothing more. The author may additionally revoke distribution rights at any time (although this may breach/cancel the contract). This is more consistant with historical music distribution rights (where an artist would simply leave the employ of someone he didn't like). This also ensures more favorable terms to the artist, as they will be far more likely to be paid per copy rather than at a flat rate, since they could simply revoke the distribution privileges after being paid a flat rate, unless they were kept happy.

Copyright should be renamed to Distribution Privileges, so that everyone understands that it was never a “right”, and wasn't truly about “copying”.

Copyright should be applied only to commercial distribution. If an individual makes a copy for himself or his friends, it should not be a violation of copyright unless he actually sells the copy.

Copyright/authorship passes to heirs as normal. All distribution rights are automatically revoked upon the author's death (until such time as the copyright is fully expired and the work becomes public domain) unless the heir explicitly authorizes the continuance of such rights. If no heir can be determined, the distribution rights remain revoked.

Other possibilities

Copyright terms be closer to 5 years, perhaps with a single extension by the author. Few consumers are patient enough to wait 5 years just to get something cheaper (especially in the US), and at the same time most 5 year old movies are worthless to most consumers.

Authorship should be non-transferrable. While a copyright should be transferrable (so that an author may sell his copyright to a company which will reproduce the work), actual authorship should not be transferrable. This would (according to the above extension terms) ensure that the copyright returns to the author when it initially expires, so that the author gets properly rewarded (as opposed to the current system, where the author can easily be abused by crafty companies).

Sales that are simply license grants (as most software today claims to be) must be clearly marked “This product is only a limited license, not a sale of goods”.

Intangibles can no longer be licensed. Software, books, movies, etc can only be bought and sold, so that when someone buys a book, they may do with it (the physical or electronic object) whatever they like (object reproduction involves creating a new object, and the new object's commercial distribution is covered by Distribution Privileges).