Sunday, March 30, 2008

death of the author

Why are copyright terms for individual authors based not on the publication date of their work, but on the death of the author? Maybe the framers of the law had Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton in mind:

He died from a love of poetry

This Guardian article by Marc Abrahams shows how poets tend to die sooner than other writers.

"The numbers tell the story. A poet's life, on average, is about a year shorter than that of a playwright, four years shorter than a novelist's life, and five-and-six-tenths years less than that of a non-fiction specialist."

Thanks to George at Bookninja for this.


Infringer said...

Hi John, this is good. Now you are asking quite blatantly the question you inferred in your last blog post and in several others before. I tried to engage this question there but you did not. Now you have opened it up here.

Alas "Maybe the framers of the law had Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton in mind" does not adequately answer this question.

In fact your example argues against a copyright system based on the life of the author. From your example poets live about 5 years less than non-fiction writers. Any sort of life+ system obviously puts them at a disadvantage over other author. All other things being equal, they and their heirs enjoy about 5 years less copyright protection. If the framers truly were thinking of poets they would have come up with a system that was fairer to the poets. While there may have been many ways to come up with such a system, the simplest would have been a publication date based system. Then all authors would have enjoyed the same amount of copyright regardless of their relative life expectancies.

I respectably await your ad hominem argument. :-)

John said...

I see your sense of humour is as sharply tuned as your rhetorical skill.

This posting is what we in the literary world call "funny." Feel free to argue against whatever gigantic copyright evil you see in it, though. It's not like anything I say can stop you.

Before you do, you might want to have a look through this:

Classical Rhetoric

You'll find the definition of ad hominem on page 91. As you read, try to absorb the meaning. The real meaning, I mean; not the one you want it to be.

Anonymous said...

Interesting link. Thanks, John.

John said...

Yeah, Chris, my favorite part of the article is this:

Kaufman also mentions, in passing, that a 1985 study by a researcher named Koski "found that some Finnish writers used alcohol to stimulate writing".

... to which I respond "Finnish?"... "some?"

Or did you mean the Classical Rhetoric link? Everyone should read that book. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I meant the link in your original posting, but I will go and read the other link, too, now...

Infringer said...

Sorry John, I don't have that book, only my recollection of what I learned in my university philosophy class.

But a quick check through various sites via Google, and I'm satisfied that I've been using the term correctly.

But thanks anyway.