Yet another weird SF fan


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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Storyline Patents and Crackpots

An author is trying to patent a story line. I noticed that the excuses given resemble the rhetoric of crackpot scientists:

[0013] There is currently little motivation for artistic inventors to innovate new plots, themes, and methods of expression. The value of an innovator's copyright, if he in fact embodies his invention in a particular expression (such as a novel or movie) is far less than the value of the invention itself, because the invention umbrellas every possible embodiment. Further, and perhaps more importantly, the value of his copyright depends on his ability as a performer, not as an inventor. An artistic inventor who invents a fantastically original and compelling plot may not be a particularly skilled writer. He may, for example, have a very limited vocabulary and a poor understanding of grammar. Any book he creates will be avoided by any potential buyer who reads the first paragraph, such that the copyright value of his extremely valuable invention is nil. Any Hollywood producer who sees through the book's garbled sentence structure to the excellent and creative plot beneath the surface may steal the only value the book contained: its inventive plot. The producer may then moderately alter the expression of the plot in a subsequent movie--while keeping the plot's essence fully intact--and obtain unearned financial benefit from the inventor's unrewarded hard work and innovation. If there is any evil that the United States patent system ought to prevent, it is this.
In the above paragraph, the potential storyline patenters use two of the commonest tropes of scientific cranks (12 and 15 here):
  • I can't tell anybody the details of my marvelous ideas because the Powers That Be will steal them.

  • I don't know anything about the subject I'm revolutionizing but a True Innovator can ignore minor details.

In any case, ideas are “a dime a dozen” and some people are willing to supply the dimes.

There's also the little matter that the storyline in question isn't that original

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