Why are these words in the public domain?
It is fashionable to say that "information wants to be free". I don't think that is always true - I think that there need to be some secrets. But the old model is broken - copyright is a relic of an antiquated system. Who does it benefit? A few established writers and lots of publishers. The cost is borne by readers and smalltime creatives who can't break into the game. Why wouldn't I want my poems to be widely read? Why would I want to keep them under lock and key (once they are finished)? This runs deeper than debates on particular regulations, items of legislation, PIPA, SOPA etc. Whatever I create from my own mind and release, belongs to all humanity forever.
I don't say that creativity should go unrewarded - just that the model should change. It is already changing. I am happy for anyone to publish my work anywhere they want and however they want. I'm not interested in someone passing my work off as their own - that's fraud. But I'm not going to chain myself to my work and expect my name to go up in lights or credit of some kind to flow back to me from the other end of the world. I might as well tie a brick to my work. If someone decides to publish it - good for them, they are doing me a favour. If they let me know about it, I'll buy a copy. If they want me to come along and read some of it, well they can buy me lunch. If they want me to write a poem for them, then they can buy me dinner. Otherwise I'll look after myself and my poems can look after themselves and do whatever they want, without my permission.
It is now generally agreed that the value of creative output can only be fully realised when that output is accessible to everyone. The sources of creativity need to be valued and protected - the output should be free to be seen and used. Copyright reverses this, giving the reward to whomever owns the rights to the creation, often leaving the original creator without recognition or benefit. There are many examples of the perversities that result from copyright and related laws. The genius of creation is a valuable and precious thing, it must be fostered and protected, so that we may all benefit equally from the fruits of creation. But the way to do this is not through copyright.
I cannot judge the merit of my own work. Perhaps it is worth nothing anyway. Putting it in the 'public domain' might seem like a stunt - well maybe it is at the current time. But in the future, such 'release' to the general public will come to be seen as normal, and copyright will be recognised as the strange aberration from common sense that it really is.
alex watt (inchiki) 2012