Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Sunday, February 25, 2007

  Keeping copyright accessible

For a while now.... I've been wanting to republish 7 minutes of a wonderful recording of Richard Feynman telling how he got the patents on the nuclear rocket and airplane. If I can't republish it, I'd like to at least use it as part of another non-web-presentation.

Feynman's patent story is seven+ minutes long. Publishing a 30 second snippet under the fair use doctrine wouldn't illustrate the point I was trying to make, but I'll get to that in a second, because in coping with this dilemma I came up with a somewhat new realization in managing copyright.

My guess is, that although Feynman spoke the words in the 1970s and has been consulting with God for over 20 years now, Ralph Leighton owns the tapes, and as they have been remixed and mashed together into at least 3 different recordings that I know of, that they remain very valuable pieces of IP.

I can get already made mp3s of the whole record. Cheap. And I discovered just now from lulu.com, there's more stuff that I haven't heard, and as soon as my cat gets off my lap I look forward to sitting at the feet of Feynman once again.

That gets me to my point of the day, via an odd path. I have zero problem with the copyright owner in this case to license this recording as he sees fit. My problem is that I'd like to find Ralph so I can at LEAST ask a question about a different license, show him my work, and discuss the fee.

I think a world full of anonymous monopolists is a really painful one to live in and create in - thus the requirement that copyrighted materials be registered with the copyright office in pre-1976 law was a darn good one. Copyrighted work needs to be assigned a central tracking number like a patent or a normal piece of property, so that the owners can be tracked down more easily.

Otherwise... everyone ends up stuck in the mire of not knowing who to talk to about anything.

I'm very encouraged by google's patent search. Still, they don't go far enough. I want to know who has the rights to a patent *presently*, so I know who to talk to! Heck, if you were a patent/copyright owner wouldn't you want people to be finding you rather than you suing them?

So, the conclusion I've come to - If you want to be a monopolist on your work, you have to remain reachable! Sublicensors and cross licensors need to be tracked - publically - maybe via some system like the stock market. "Copyright Stock". Tracking a corporation's value with the value of their IP broken out this way ought to be an interesting way to look at things.

One of these days I'll write the article that is so well illustrated by Feynman's patent story, but not today. The recursive irony of the difficulties in using his patent story... which illustrates the point of my own copyright story... ought to give you a belly laugh.... but I can't explain it without you having heard Feynman's patent story. Buy yourself a copy of the whole CD from tuvatrader, to grok why, or a mp3 from Lulu.com.

To add to today's irony - google has lots of patents that refer to Feynman's work - but doesn't have the ones on the nuclear airplane!

Bonus Link: transformative appropriation

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Comments:
well friend, The rocket engine of claim 1 further including a recuperator coupled to said bypass line and to said primary feed line between said pump and said nuclear reactor inlet, the recuperator being adapted to transfer heat from propellant flowing through said bypass line to propellant flowing through said primary feed line.

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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