This meme is intended to be somewhat ironic; there was no sense of Intellectual Property (IP) in Shakespearian times, and the idea of it being protected to the extent to which it is today must have been laughable. Nevertheless the aim of this meme is to highlight (with sarcasm) the somewhat irrational fear of the public domain in twenty-first century society.
If you weren’t distracted by all the hyperlinks in my first paragraph (or if you were), you’ll hopefully have grasped the idea that society is getting to a borderline ridiculous point when it comes to intellectual property (IP). The notion of intellectual property didn’t happen until the 18th century (the Statute of Anne), which was several centuries after Shakespeare’s time, so believe it or not a time did exist without the word plagiarism.
Despite how chilled the Elizabethans were about the whole ‘copyright’ thing, nowadays the idea of a piece of intellectual property becoming public domain is something of a moral panic. Although IP exists to protect the interests of composers, I still think there should reach a point in time for each IP work, where it becomes public domain in order to harness the creative opportunities for society. At the moment, that point in time is 70 years after the composer’s death (or 120 for a company) but Disney set precedent in over-riding this, so it could potentially reoccur. Personally, I think if the 70 year timeline remains strictly enforced, we kind of get the best of both worlds; enough protection to see the composer hold monopoly rights to his work for the duration of his life and several decades later, and then the work becoming public domain for the benefit of society.
Why should people who descend from, work for or bought from a composer have more rights to a piece of IP than the rest of society?
- see hyperlinks
- Hubbard, Garnett, Lewis, O’Brien (2016) Essentials of Economics, ch.2, Pearson, Melbourne