As a writer, I’m a fan of copyright. It protects me from people stealing my stories and treating them as their own. However, as a user of the internet. I think copyright and patent laws are to restrictive and byzantine. The resent case between Apple and Samsung brought this subject up. Apple is suing Samsung for a patent violation. From NPR:

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the world of business, where style and design are part of what make a brand like Apple unique, imitation is seen more as a way to confuse customers. Howe says Apple patented designs for its iPhone and iPad tablet.

“They’re things like a flat, clear surface on the front of the product, or a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners,”

Apple is essentially claiming they patented the concept of a handheld rectangular computer. ┬áMy response is, really? Seriously. WTF? ┬áThat’s just dumb. A patent is supposed to protect a new idea. The iPhone wasn’t a new idea. Look at the patent Canon filed in 1993.

The whole idea that you can patent fundamental concept is ludicrous. Like gene patents. Then there are all of those patent troll companies. Things like this have completely subverted the entire purpose of patent law.

Then there is world of copyright, which effects me more directly. Take this story about a blogger who would include images in her blog posts found on Google Images. She received a take down order from the owner of one of the photographs she used asking her to take it down. She complied and then had to pay a ton of money in damages. That is also just stupid.

Linking to a photograph that someone else took shouldn’t be wrong. If you don’t make any money on it and link back to the creator then I fail to see the problem. I’ve included a number of violations on this blog. If anyone asked me to take them down I would certainly comply. But I wouldn’t pay them money. I also wouldn’t expect anyone using one of my book covers on their website to pay me.

Or there is the mess the Oatmeal faced recently. That’s just another example of trying to abuse the legal system to make money. Instead of the system existing to protect people, it’s being twisted. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc are there to protect a creator from their property being stolen and used by someone else for a profit.

Small blogs including an image of something they are talking about? There’s no harm there, especially if they comply with removing it at your request. You certainly don’t get to sue them for money. You also shouldn’t be able to own the idea behind a rectangular hand held device. Someone using your software, your name or logo, sure, those are patent violations. But a patent shouldn’t give you a monopoly on a non-original concept.

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