Wednesday, March 23, 2005

intellectual property

over the past couple of days the topic of intellectual property rights has come up more often than usual. a friend of mine came across this article about a lawsuit involving a deceased man's email account and his parents' right to access that account. currently, as standard practice, yahoo will delete your email account along with all of it's contents should you happen to die. yahoo claims that it's part of their privacy policy. yahoo agrees to keep the user's account private from third parties trying to access their material--while alive or deceased.

on one hand, it makes complete sense. i might not be thrilled if my mother all of a sudden had access to my email account. my glossy wonder-child image would certainly be tarnished if my she were to read all the sordid details of my personal life and the personal lives of my friends*. i would hate to forever be thought of as the flakey gossip who couldn't handle her liquor--just kidding i can totally handle my liquor.

however, some of my best writing has been done and posted in electronic venues. my best girlfriends and i belong to a yahoo group where the creativity often flows. i wonder what would happen to all my work that is store electronically by yahoo? i certainly wouldn't want my poems and anecdotal stories to be destroyed. some relationships with very close friends have been formed and played out over the internet. our laughter, support, and love is very real despite the electronic venue in which we communicate. do my internet sisters disappear along with my yahoo id?

electronic intellectual property issues are so interesting. as our technologies develop, our standard practices regarding rights continue to evolve. it seems though that things are moving in new, more loosely defined, directions. creative commons, for instance, is a group entirely devoted to the sharing of ip. how great is it to be see all kinds of free music, photography, art, and text? the internet allows us to share these things so effortlessly. it's amazing to have such choice. but, i do wonder about the artists and the creators. where does their paycheck come from when all ytheir creative material is free for the world to use and reproduce as it wishes?personally, i'm still trying to figure out where i stand. i love the idea of creative commons, i'm just not sure i can bring myself to let go of my work so freely.

*this may be obvious, but i don't really have a glossy wonder-child image at all. it's more of a goofy crunch-head wannabe farmer freak image i've got going on here.

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