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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Okiemockbird The Purpose of Copyright (76* d) RE: 'The Purpose of Copyright' 16 Mar 00


Here is a column by Lawrence Lessig about problems with the patent system and the need for limits in patent and copyright law.

Although patent law is not usually of as much concern to musicians as copyright law, we shouldn't completely ignore it, because:

(1) the two legal fields, patent and copyright, are related. A mentality of runaway expansion in the patent field can spill over into the copyright field, and vice versa.

(2) Improvements to musical instruments are sometimes the subject matter of patent. If the PTO becomes too free with granting patents, copying simple, straightforward improvements to guitars, fiddles, bagpipes, or whatever might suck the maker into a legal morass. Obvious improvements are in theory sub-patentable, but in practice if the patent is granted by the PTO, it can be expensive to get the patent invalidated on the grounds of obviousness. Probably the PTO has more experience with musical instruments than with software and business-method patents (the focus of recent controversy) and so is less likely to grant a ridiculous patent to a musical insrument design improvement. But we should still be on our guard.

(3) Because much music is now written, played, transmitted, and discussed by means of computers, software and business-method patents can have a great influence on mudcatters and other web musicians.

T.


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