A Plea for Copyright Repair

The End of History Books [pdf]

TODAY, Apple’s iPad goes on sale, and many see this as a Gutenberg moment, with digital multimedia moving one step closer toward replacing old-fashioned books.

Speaking as an author and editor of illustrated nonfiction, I agree that important change is afoot, but not in the way most people see it. In order for electronic books to live up to their billing, we have to fix a system that is broken: getting permission to use copyrighted material in new work. Either we change the way we deal with copyrights — or works of nonfiction in a multimedia world will become ever more dull and disappointing.

Of course, there’s still going to be grubbing for the most ridiculous things, like this: Maker’s Mark Trademark Wax Seal Is Affirmed

The dripping red wax seal on a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon is not only distinctive, it is now the exclusive legal property of the company that makes it.