The Enlightened Caveman


Intellectual Property and Table Clearing
April 10, 2005, 5:09 pm
Filed under: Business, Hijinks

Original Post (with comments)
Here’s where capitalism and the concept of intellectual property clash. The Time Life folks hit me with a Greatest Soul Ballads ad tonight, and it got me thinking. I’m not really interested in every song on the list, but there are quite a few that I’d love to have on my iPod. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone had a website that provided the songlist for all these great compilations that get advertised on TV? You could just choose the ones you want and buy them for $1.05 – $1.00 goes to iTunes, and Mr. Easy Tunes (can I name a business or what?) keeps a nickel. Nice little money machine, right? Maybe not.

It’s likely, I don’t know (it’s late – I been drinkin), that intellectual property laws could protect these lists so that it would be an infringement to use them without permission (and compensation). And if this is true, isn’t it a bit much? Then what can’t you claim as your own?

Tonight, after guests left, I inaugurated the one object under each arm (a pitcher and beer bottle) and four glasses in each hand clean up maneuver. It was an act of custodial ballet – the objects balanced just so, the glasses drawn together slowly as the grasp of each hand closed, and the deft pivot towards the kitchen. I’ve been around. I worked in restaurants, and I’ve been in surreal late night contests to see who could carry the most glasses, so I won’t say my maneuver was ground breaking. But it was smooth, and most of all, efficient – the table was cleared instantly. Now what if I decided that that move was mine, and that I wanted to legally make it so?

Would it not be a series of ideas or memes (like a list) that were put into action (like selling a compilation album) that elicted a desired outcome – in this case, clearing a table in one fell swoop (like making money)? Of course, I know that folks probably won’t be executing my move for financial compensation any time soon, but what does that matter? Bloggers can’t take copyrighted photos and put them on their blog sites. There’s no money in it for the bloggers, but that’s still out of bounds. So where’s the line? By the logic of list protection and copyrighted photo protection, could I not charge a nickel every time someone executed my maneuver? Seems like I could. (And you can bet I’d enforce it.) Maybe it’s silly. But maybe it’s not.
Any of you bottom dwelling lawyers want to weigh in on this?

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