Sunday, December 14, 2008

Intellectual Properties

Masterpieces of the Imagination, brought to you by the Benefits of Liberty and the Property Rights of the Mind.

Time again for my weekly viewing / listening / reading recommendations. (For those of you that have been waiting with bated breath, sorry for the delay. It's been a crazy week.) Enjoy.

For viewing: The Apostle
This 1997 film stars Robert Duvall as a severely flawed Pentecostal preacher searching for redemption. Duvall's genuine and sensitive portrayal of "Sonny's" character challenges the viewer to confront his own soul's gray areas and blind spots. Also written by Duvall.

For listening: If I Could Fly by Joe Satriani
Speaking of "intellectual property," electric guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani is suing Coldplay for copying this song's chorus in their Grammy-nominated "Viva la Vida" (you know, the one from the itunes commercial). Same chords, nearly identical melody--what do you think? At any rate, Satriani is one of the most talented guitarists working today, and this piece is by no means one of his best. After you're finished evaluating the whole plagiarism thing, check out these other numbers simply for their incredible musical prowess: Always with Me, Always with You (yea, I know the video is uber-cheesy); and The Extremist.

For reading: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck can spin a story like no other, his characters are real, and his observations perceptive. This sprawling epic (part biography, part retelling of the Book of Genesis) is also a moving critique of determinism and a defense of the possibility of voluntary moral action.


  1. On a more serious note (no pun intended), music is a big battle ground for intellectual property rights (video as well).

    I don't know the merits (or lack thereof) in the case, but prior cases have upheld a precedent for "sampling" in which short sections of other individuals work could be used in otherwise original material.

    The main battleground for property rights for music and other artistic media is in the realm of piracy. Like any other commodity, the right to own ones work is critical to its continued production.

    From a moral standpoint, I don't see how taking another's ideas is no less theft than taking physical property.

    That said, without knowing the facts of Coldplay vs Satriani, instances of simultaneous discovery (or invention) have occured before. Newton & Leibniz discovered Calculus at the same time - completely independent of each other.