Day 108

I just read an amusing quote from Stephen Hawking. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what it was as it was accompanied by a note.

The quotes of Stephen Hawking used are protected by copyright owned by the Estate of Professor Stephen Hawking and may not be reproduced without permission.

There is also another note.

STEPHEN HAWKING is a trade mark of, and is used by the Royal Mint under licence from, the acting executors of the Estate of Professor Stephen Hawking.

This is something that has caught my attention before, as I’m not quite sure where it takes us. At what point does someone else called Stephen Hawking lose the right to their own name. Not a great problem for most of them, but if a second Stephen Hawking came along and designed a superior type of wheelchair, what would happen then?

It’s the first time I’ve heard of quotations being copyrighted. Normally we throw quotes around as if they are free to use, and nobody minds. As far a I know you are still allowed to quote excerpts from a work so I’m not sure where these two things square up. It reminds me of J K Rowling when she became rich and famous and started suing people for infringing her copyrights. This was, I felt, strange, as Harry Potter seemed to be a lineal descendent of various boarding school stories and The Worst Witch stories.  It’s a difficult area, but if you draw inspiration from other people, perhaps you should allow people to draw inspiration from you. Like God and the big battalions, the Law seems to be on the side of the people with the expensive lawyers.

I looked up the exact quote on that subject but found it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered. I also, ironically, in view of my previous comments on copyright, found the contents of this link used in a blog post, without attribution.

15 thoughts on “Day 108

  1. jodierichelle

    Ugh, copyright is such a confusing mess. I am a rule follower, and when the rules are so confusing that no one could possibly follow them, I get very discouraged.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Eventually, we will be so tied up in copyright regulations that it won’t be worth writing anything or taking any photographs.

      An example is Artist’s Resale Rights, which now apply for 70 years after the death of the artist.

      If I were to buy a picture, I don’t see why I should have to pay the artist, or the estate of the artist, a commission on the sale – unless they are prepared to pay a percentage of any losses that may be incurred.

      Commission at auction has climbed to ridiculous levels without the addition of extra fees, and, let’s face it, the cost of modem art is already preposterous, without having to pay more.

      Modern life has gone mad.

  2. Laurie Graves

    From my editor days, I seem to remember that writers were allowed to quote 50 words from any given work. As for J. K. Rowling… she certainly hasn’t aged well, has she?


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