The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12684   Message #101165
Posted By: Henrik W.
31-Jul-99 - 03:35 PM
Thread Name: Copyright vs. patents
Subject: Copyright vs. patents
Recently there were a few threads on the Mudcat about
music copyright and its legal implications etc. In my
work as an engineer I have sometimes had to work with
patents of different kinds. An interesting thought did
spring to mind: What if the principles behind patent law
were applied to copyright of for instance music?

Patents were introduced in order to encourage people
to publish details of their inventions - the incentive
being that the invention would be protected for a certain
period. Some interesting aspects of the way patents work

1. Only inventions which are not publicly known can be
patented - e.g. if you publish an article describing
your invention then you cannot afterwards apply for a
patent - you have to do it the other way around.

2. You have to pay to keep the patent valid - and the
price will rise with time, so in most cases companies
will only keep up a patent for 5-7 years unless the
patent is crucial to their business.

3. The maximum patent life is of the order of 10 years
- much shorter than the time a musical work is protected
by copyright.

4. Perhaps most interesting: A patent usually only
protects you right to use an invention for commercial
purposes. If I invent a machine that writes folk songs
and get this patented, anyone can - legally - build one,
as long as they do not use it for commercial purposes.
Wouldn't it be nice if the same principle was applied
to music?