The Corner

Information Wants to Be Free

The Wall Street Journal today describes how the firms owning trademarks for Dora the Explorer and other characters popular with children are working night and day to prevent kids from having the characters at their birthday parties. This is one more indication, along with music companies suing their customers, of how absurd intellectual property law has become. These kinds of lawsuits are like the epicycles in Ptolemaic astronomy — the last gasp of a dying model. Market dynamics will kill the traditional business model for intellectual property, but it seems like Congress also needs to act, since the whole thing is not part of any natural right to property but simply an artifact of the Constitution (“The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”). It’s not my bailiwick, so I don’t know how the law should be changed, but for starters “limited Times” should become limited again, and not 120 years, so that work enters the public domain a lot sooner.

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