Readers, I am about to decamp for a couple of weeks in the wilds of northern Alabama — “wilds” because my mother lives in the country with no internet access and spotty cell-phone signals. I’ll be reduced to sipping refreshing beverages under the pecan trees and watching Canoe Creek drift by. In other words, things could be worse.
Why not, then, simultaneously extend copyright and narrow its scope? Let the Helprins continue to earn royalties into the distant future, but let adaptations, derivations, parodies and borrowing flower more quickly and completely than the current system allows. Leave the Tolkiens the rights to “The Hobbit”in perpetuity, but not the right to prevent two enterprising film companies from going forward with competing adaptations. Leave the Mitchells the rights to “Gone With the Wind,” but not the right to tie up a would-be parodist in court for years on end because they don’t like what she’s doing to their Scarlett. Leave the Lucas family the right to “Stars Wars,” but not the right to prevent me from writing my own competing version of Anakin Skywalker’s life story.
So how would this affect the book about Holden Caulfield that J. D. Salinger is trying to suppress?
And then there’s this: if you ever wanted to disassemble all your books, scan them, use OCR software to identify the text and make it searchable, and then reassemble them all, well, here’s how you do it.
Ciao for now.