20 April


April 26th, 2008 is the holiday to celebrate the free exchange of ideas, written words, artworks, and other intellectual content. (This is a repost of the RIP day announcement.)

The exchange and retention of complex ideas is one of the key things that distinguishes human behavior. The exchange of written ideas is the basis of our civilization. Today, the free exchange of ideas is being threatened.

Are these things, ideas, writings, art, and music "property"? Not really. Should content creators be rewarded for their efforts? Of course. Is that happening today? No. The system today is broken: most artists, poets, musicians, and novelists do not make significant money from generating creative work.

The concept of intellectual property today, and the mechanisms used to reward its creation, are badly broken. No protection at all would be better for society as a whole than what is in place today. Today's system is an excuse to concentrate control (and revenue) in the hands of a few companies and people, and the expense of social good, intellectual growth, quality or cultural enhancement.

Do something about it!

On April 26th, put something you have created into the public domain. Copy something you own (in most places you can make completely legal copies of your own media for your own use). Do something even more outrageous to state your position. Give out a CD to somebody on the street.

Do you read stuff on the internet all the time? Put up some information on something you know, for other people to use. Put the page in the public domain, or put a CC license on it.


Some lay people are still unaware of the term "Intellectual Property" (IP) which refers to the fact that non-tangible things, like music, inventions and ideas, can be legally protected. Luc Devroye has a provocative piece on his web site about Intellectual Property, and why the implementation is today's society seems to diverge significantly from the principles or ideals that justify it. Luc is a brilliant and very famous academic whose diverse contributions includes fundamental work on probability theory.

April 26, 2008 is also World IP day, as declared by WIPO. One disturbing aspect of the IP landscape today is that many governments have become members of WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization), and WIPO is fairly aggressive about pushing a very protective IP policy. One of the WIPO statues i s that members countries give WIPO ... "such legal capacity as may be necessary for the fulfilment of the Organization's obj ectives and for the exercise of its functions" [wipo convention].

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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