Should we up and give away AIDS drugs to Africa? For the love of NPR, yes. Of course, we should do this, if anything, as a gesture of good will, so people can stop blowing up our embassies. Oh, there may be medical reasons not to, like the drugs won't work without a proper health care system in place, misuse could create highly resistant HIV strains, and various tired economic arguments all less important than obeying NPR. The role of the patent is to encourage getting something made that would not otherwise get made-new drugs, revolutionary new fabric softeners, informed works of marble and steel. And while it's true Jean Lafitte should not be allowed to trade other people's intellectual property, so he can get fat on green oysters and ham. Neither should Robin Hood be washed out with the bath water. In fact, a five percent rate of uninvestigated theft is the grease that makes our creative society function. That is to say that to rigidly and completely enforce all copyrights would stifle creativity, petrify progress and land me in a jail cell with a six foot four three hundred pound victim of child abuse who sees no reason to break the cycle now.
Should literary copyrights expire with the natural death of the author, or should these rights trickle down? What if Paul McCartney's clone child decides to remove the lyrics to all Beatle's songs and replace them with the theme to Beverly Hills 90210. I believe literary copyrights should expire the moment an author appears on Charlie Rose. What about the library that shuts its doors at the stroke of midnight? Where does this leave the student who begins his essay at twelve o' one—thinking time? Standing in the cold and rain. Fucked. The internet is a twenty-four hour raincoat. Scholars must fight to preserve the right of other scholars to have ready access to copyrighted material.
He who controls the painting controls where it hangs. But if he sells it for postcards and someone else scans the postcards, and then someone else puts those images on their web site, then I say good. Benign reproductions of art should not be illegal but should in fact be demanded. Why? Because a person in far away Africa does not have art museums free on Friday and John Lennon's ghost doing concerts in the park. But perhaps one or two of them have computers. And don't tell me they have other problems to worry about besides securing twenty-four hour access to Jennifer Lopez. Let's let them make that decision. In fact, they would probably have Jennifer Lopez working in a McDonald's where her special skills could flourish. "You want fries with that, nigger?"
4/19/01 Pharmaceutical companies drop S. Africa AIDS drug suit. (Yahoo) [example story]
4/24/01 Music group tries to suppress piracy study (Reuters)
3/24/02 Helms urges more AIDS funds (Yahoo)
We don't know the answer, but we've patented sixteen ways of asking the question.
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