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Copyright, public domain, and fair use in terms your kids will understand

And not just terms they'll understand, but terms they probably have memorized!

Ok, so this is just plain awesome. Generally speaking I don't like blogging and just linking to something else, but I have to give it to Laura on this one: Disney fairy tales deconstructed (and reconstructed) to explain copyright, public domain, fair use, and a little history of the related laws. It's a parody, it's news, it's criticism, it's small compared to the cited works, it has no commercial impact on Disney's original works, and it is absolutely, 100% brilliant.

Go watch it. Take the five minutes, it's worth it. (If you're like me and using some crazy operating system try the vlc media player).

Now, here's what I have to say. Copyright is a big deal. Trademarks are a big deal. Patents are big deal. And yes in general intellectual property rights are a really big deal. We really need to protect them. Like, really protect them. Without the guarantee of profit from protected intellectual property rights we won't have (much) investment in new music, arts, performance, technology, gadgets, and, perhaps most importantly, drugs. We like music, arts, and gadgets. We need new drugs. But we need old drugs too. And we need them at a reasonable price.

We also need innovation. Patents cannnot be obvious. Cannot. If you allow obvious patents to be granted then people will patent everything just so they can sit around, wait for someone else to invent/produce/market/profit from the idea, and then sue the second party for all their profits. Is that really "beneficial to society". heck no. This is particularly important in the field of software where advances are made quite quickly these days. Many things that weren't obvious become obvious a month later. But regardless of being obvious, many obvious patents are still the basis for a sad number of lawsuits and court cases. Dang.

Fortunately there's a chink in the armor. In the KSR v. Teleflex case (lots of good coverage in the recent posts on patentlyo blog) the Supreme Court said that the obviousness test was a little too weak. That obvious ideas were slipping through.

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