2003-12-06Copyright Games (Quack Brainstorm du Jour)
Here's the thing about copyright, for a creator of works. On the one hand, you do want your work to become part of the language of your community. On the other hand, you don't want someone else making money off your work. Copyleft a la OpenContent or Creative Commons is one option. I thought of another one, a crackpot idea, the other night as I was drifting off to sleep. Say you've written a poem. Conceive of it not as a unitary creative work but as a collection, analogous to an anthology. (Under copyright law, a collection is a creative work, derived from but independent of its constituents.) In this case it's a collection of phrases and clauses. Release to the public domain all the constituents of the poem -- newly-coined words, all of your phrases, everything up to simple clauses. But assert copyright over the whole poem as a collection thereof. Your creative effort in collecting, selecting, and arranging these components -- in compunding and subordinating clauses, and in laying them out on the page -- is analogous to that done to assemble, say, an anthology of Elizabethan literature. Then you can go ahead and license the poem out, under Creative Commons license or whatever. Now, how is this an advantage over 'fair use'? Simply this: Other people are more free to reference your work, tie their work into it, argue with it, and so forth; your phrases become touchstones of a little web of ideas; you gain shares of semantic space by being referable in more ways. Yet you retain near-complete control of your work. Simple plagiarism under the old model is still simple plagiarism under this model -- it infringes on what you produced by selecting, arranging, sentence-ifying. But complex, creative quasi-plagiarism -- that is to say, thought and interaction with your work -- is obviously legal and much less worrisome.
A clever fellow has programmed Pac-Man and Space Invaders for Excel. Each pixel of the graphic is shown by one cell of the spreadsheet. I'll be ding-busted.
Tasty Slavic Linguistic stuff
We have for you today ...
- The Lord's Prayer in a variety of Slavic languages, natural and constructed (do not neglect to surf through his home page to the other Lord's Prayer page, which has four kinds of Czech on it!);
- A course in Slavic comparative linguistics, using Russian, Polish, and Serbo-Croatian, that I wish we had here at the Y.