Saturday, June 22, 2013

Intellectual Property Rights. Are We Milking the Lightbulb?

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember last week when I told you about the cookbook I’m writing? I talked about the memories associated with each recipe. In recollection, A great debate came up so I’m going to ask your opinion.

Part of Dutch oven cooking has always been about sharing. Recipes get passed around and techniques get shared at every event. Ethics, however, have prevented us from taking credit for another person’s work. We passed other people’s recipes around but always gave credit to the creator. In competitions we always put the source on each recipe.

A few years ago, one of our Dutch oven associates called, asking for permission to include one of our recipes in his cookbook. Two things crossed my mind. During that time, we were all making staple bound, recipe sheets (not cookbooks) to pass out. I thought he was talking about one of those. The other thing I thought about, was the ethical code I spoke of. I expected to get credit.

When the bound and published, cookbook came out, there was no credit. We didn’t even get a mention.

Because of that experience, I quit handing out recipes. I’d always planned on doing a cookbook sometime, and I didn’t need any more friends stealing my recipes. Recently, I received an email from a good friend asking for permission to use one of my breakfast recipes in something he was doing. I’m grateful he asked, but I told him no, since I’m going to include it in my own cookbook.

The breakfast recipe I spoke of, as with most of my cookbook are my creations. I want credit and the chance to sell my cookbook.

With that being said, you should know, many of our competition recipes were created from bits and pieces we found in other, non-Dutch oven sources. We adapted and changed each recipe. Now they are ours. I once heard a comment from a famous rock musician, who said: "Every rock and roll song has already been written. Anything new is just a variation of what came before." Such is the case with a lot of recipes and most software, poetry, and even movies.

Which brings us to the point. In the news the other day, a story about litigation over rights to use a certain technology caught my eye. It seems two gaming companies use the Internet to control the use of the games users play. Although users purchase the games and the equipment, one of the companies will not allow users to sell games or equipment to others . . .

Now, wait a minute. I admit I haven’t researched the whole story, but that’s like Ford or Chrysler saying, you can’t resell one of our cars because it will cut into our new car sales. The game developers want to force every user to buy their software.

I agree. Every creator, whether they paint, write, make music, or software, deserves high praise and much more money than they will ever get. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to develop software. It takes years, and a lot of sweat, to write a book. Writing music can be hard, but the creators of all of those media, chose their occupation. Holding readers, listeners, viewers, and users hostage, is not the way to get compensation.

After several years of writing fiction and hoping to make a lot of money, (someday) I learned the facts. I learned that writing, especially in the LDS market will probably never make me a millionaire. Making a living might not happen either. Intellectually, that sucks, but I still choose to write.

How would you feel if while I signed your copy of my book I said, "Now, you can’t lend this out for others to read. They must purchase their own."?

Yes, there are copyright problems in all the creative industries. As a writer, I worry about piracy. I don’t want others stealing my creation and making a profit from that theft. I could sell each book for double the price to make up for the theft. I could keep selling my first book for the same price after my fourth and fifth books are released, or I could be grateful that somebody still wants to buy my first book, and offer to sell it to them for a discount. Piracy will always be a problem and holding honest customers over a barrel will not solve it.

As a writer, I’d like everyone to buy a copy of my book. As a consumer, I bristle when I’m told what I can and cannot do with a product I have purchased. I resent a license that tells me the new software I purchased can only be installed on one computer, even though I own five computers. I wonder about the greed of a company who wants to make a profit on an obsolete operating system that has been superseded at least four times. Shouldn’t some things be relegated to public domain?

Maybe I can make a living on the sell of one book or maybe, I can touch a heart. Microcomputers and the software we use on them have made the world a better place. Recorded music can inspire souls to reach great heights. How can you nit pick and put a price on that? I remember an era when musicians got a thrill out of hearing their song on the radio for the first time. I don’t care if my Dutch oven associate makes a bundle on my recipe, but I do want credit.

What do you think?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


1 comment:

Weaver said...

Good questions, Keith. I agree that the creator should get credit. I'm surprised you didn't challenge that person for nor crediting you.