Three Years Late: A Lengthy Review of Mark Helprin's Digital Barbarism, Part 2

This is part 2 of multi-part series; things will make more sense if you start at the first post.

Easing into Copyright

The majority of Helprin's book is dedicated to the defense of copyright.  The connections between this topic and the subject of the first post--the acceleration of tranquility--are not obvious at first.

I think that Helprin's own tranquility is disturbed by some modern attitudes toward copyright, namely that more should be accessible to the public.  He appears to be disgusted with the flagrant entitlement and rudeness present in our society, and rightfully so.

Helprin wrote briefly of values in his first chapter, I believe that this work is his attempt to get us to reanalyze our values on the topic of copyright.

The New York Times Article

In 2007, Helprin wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times arguing that the length of copyright should be extended.  The editors chose the inaccurate title, "A Great Idea Lives Forever: Shouldn't Its Copyright?" and all hell broke loose.

Due to the title, many people misread the article (or didn't read) the article and the comments were soon full of public outrage.  Helprin's real argument was that we should extend copyright, but not infinitely  because the constitution is explicit about copyright being a limited term, which he emphasizes repeatedly.  The thrust of his argument is that if people are able to inherent their grandparent's life work as a company, then why can't they inherent their grandparent's life work as a novel?

The public misunderstanding and backlash inspired him to write this manifesto.

Continue to Part 3

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