Joining the Uncopyright Revolution
A year and a half ago, Leo Babauta, author the the ZenHabits blog, signed on as a soldier in a revolution — the uncopyright revolution. I came upon this concept only a couple of days ago in a post entitled Grab and Run: The Great Uncopyright Experiment on Mary Jaksch’s Goodlife Zen blog. If you have any interest in copyright matters, I urge you to read both Leo’s and Mary’s posts. They may change your life.
I’ve already discussed copyright on this blog twice this year. In March, I posted an article explaining the basics of copyright law and associated ethics. That post was prompted by the dismay a friend felt after discovering that whole posts from her blog had been pirated and reposted by a woman she had inspired to begin blogging, and whom she considered a friend.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the resulting fiasco after Amazon arbitrarily pulled George Orwell’s works out of all accessible Kindles that had purchased the work. At bottom, that mess resulted from violation of copyright law. Orwell has been dead for nearly sixty years, and his works are in the public domain nearly everywhere else in the world. Animal Farm was written in 1945 and Nineteen Eight-Four in 1949, shortly before his death. You can download the text of either book from the Internet, but not legally in this country.
I won’t go into those legalities other than to say they make me nuts! I think it’s insane that if 49 years after I die, someone picks up something I wrote, finds it inspiring, and wants to share it with the world, they can’t do it, because it's still protected by copyright. Even my kids are likely to be gone by then, maybe even my grandchildren, but my estate is still protected. Whoopee! Who are the winners here?
Furthermore, I have long believed that all inspiration comes from the same Source, and there is nothing exclusive about it. I’ve learned and benefited enormously from the works of others, incorporating their thoughts into my own and building on them. I’ve always believed that I “owe back to the pot” at least to the extent I've been fed from it; that the world will be a richer place if creative people cross-pollinate by freely sharing ideas, even to the extent of copying; and that if I become protective and proprietary about whatever small amount of wisdom I may have accrued, the creative part of my mind will soon be Saharan.
Please do not take this to mean that I advocate copying. The exercise involved in putting your own spin and personal touch on ideas you value helps cement them in your mind and keeps your brain healthy. I don’t even share links to things without adding a few words to explain why I find them valuable. But if you sincerely believe you don’t have any value to add, by all means, pass material along — with a link back, please.
So when I read Mary’s post and tracked back to find Leo’s, I thought Oh yes! That’s IT! I’ll do that too. Like them, I declare my blog Public Domain. As you'll see from the notice in the left sidebar, I've taken that step. You are welcome to copy, adapt, and build on articles found in this blog as you wish. That being done, I hope that if you do copy or adapt from it, you’ll link back and identify the source. Crediting source material publicly affirms your integrity and generates good karma. And I hope you’ll let me know so I can smile with grateful satisfaction, knowing yet more people are finding my work valuable and inspiring.
Write now: about your feelings around copyright and ownership of words and ideas. Do you feel proprietary about your work, or welcome others to share?