Benjamin Franklin on Intellectual Property
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,965
    In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand.

    To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces; wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation is particularly explained; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use of them answered and obviated," etc.

    This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov'r. Thomas was so pleas'd with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin'd it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

    An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho' not always with the same success, which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes. The use of these fireplaces in very many houses, both of this and the neighbouring colonies, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the inhabitants. Autobiography, Chapter 10
  • Interesting. Jefferson loathed that clause in the Constitution about patents. We do well to remember the context. In those days, the big movement in the IP world was to take IP away from government, where it had been vested for a century, an in particular with monarchs, and give it to individuals. So there was an anti-monarchical element at work in the Constitution: patents should be belong to creators not Kings. That was the idea. of course it also specifies a short duration. Even Hamilton would be outraged at the current system in which copyright last 70 years after the author's death (!!). The other thing is that IP has been transferred in the 20th century from creators to corporations. Authors have no rights once they sign a publication contract. None. They are chopped liver. So the IP stream went from kings to creators to corporations in the course of modern history. No one today has a greater interest in liberalization than creators.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Why then didn't the CMAA take a lead in this and publish The Parish Book of Chant without a copyright?
  • Well, you will note that the copyright stays with the typesetter, not CMAA

    Not only that, this is the first book of music in the history of the Catholic Church to be made available in total, for free to all people, with no charges or logins and with file sharing capability on two servers. The first. Ever.

    That's not enough?
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    I think that copyright is good when it comes to authors of novels and other kinds of entertainment... I mean, like novels, and poems, and art and other things like that. But people try to patent the weirdest things nowadays. Some people are trying to patent, like, parts of the human genome.

    all right; question. The Parish Book of Chant has a copyright in it. (Copyright 2008 CMAA.) It doesn't say anything about all rights reserved or, only reproduce with permission, or anything like that. So people (I assume) are free to make photocopies and distribute them and do whatever. Change them and then distribute them even. Tell us, CMAA, what does this copyright look like? Is it like the Creative Commons license or even more free than that? I'm guessing you guys don't care if the work is attributed to you, and don't care if derivative works are made... what about using 'em for commercial purposes, like to make a buck?

    I say you should copyleft it all. (
  • Whoops, my mistake. It was Communio that was RR copyright, not PBC.

    The preferred method and my own preference is for Creative Commons Attribution
    See the note at the bottom of Chabanel as an example

    This is all quite advanced stuff at this stage. PBC is effectively CCa, without actually saying so.
  • Again, let me emphasize again that these are difficult topics, and I distrust anyone who claims to have an ironclad fixed (much less "moral") position on questions of IP that are wholly bound up with modern positive law. The topics are in all the journals these days and debated everywhere. There really is no point is blustering about with this or that position. They are hard topics that require lots of thought and discussion.
  • Isn't the entire PBC available on the CMAA website (with a print option) free of charge? Since I have the book, I've never tried to print any of it... but it looks like you can if you wish. That seems to be quite different than, say, a GIA hymnal...
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,955
    Heaven and earth (and especially us DoMs) are eternally grateful to the CMAA for granting us all the PDF of the PBC! May they have the first row in the choir loft of heaven right behind the Seraphim!