Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Freedom of expression is dead. No, really.

Yesterday, BBC Radio 4 conducted an interview with a young man whose name I missed. The topic of conversation was copyright, and the extent to which this infringes on freedom of expression.

While at university in Iowa, this young man decided to see how far he could push the envelope on copyright. He started a 'zine called Freedom of Expression and, with a delicious sense of irony, applied for the copyright on the phrase.

For the princely sum of $300, he succeeded. No questions asked.

This meant that he was able to send cease and desist letters to large organisations who dared to use this phrase in their advertising.

One thing he didn't know was that, five years into a copyright's lifespan, the owner needs to submit documentation to keep it "live". Since he failed to do this, the US register of copyrights now includes the entry "Freedom of Expression", and declares it "dead".

So now you know.

It's official.

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