Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

A writer’s will

Jerry Stratton, November 25, 2006

Neil Gaiman has decided to start a crusade to convince authors to specifically designate who will hold their copyrights after they die, and Miss Snark has seconded him (which is how I heard of it).

Writing a will has been on my and my friends minds recently. We’ve realized that we really are past forty. And if you read this blog regularly, you know that the ridiculous lengths of copyright terms has been on my mind.

So I will designate in my will not only who will hold the copyrights until they (hah!) run out, but that everything I’ve written will, within five years after I die, be available under the Gnu Simpler Free Documentation License version 1.0 (should it be available).

I’ve added a five-year buffer because I’m a bundle of optimism this morning, and want to give any in-progress projects a chance to settle. The blockbuster movie based on It Isn’t Murder If They’re Yankees will have time to finish and the producers will have time to recoup their investments if I die during filming.

Although seeing what they did to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after Douglas Adams died I may change my mind about that.

If we had reasonable copyrights I wouldn’t have to worry as much: under reasonable copyright terms anything I write would return to the public domain a few years after I died anyway, if it weren’t already there. But we don’t have reasonable copyright terms. Authors releasing their writings back to the public domain early would only encourage poor copyright law.

On the other hand, leaving them under normal copyright restrictions would mean they couldn’t be used by the public for, basically, forever. By releasing my writings under the GNU Simple FDL after I die, anyone will be able to use my writings, as long as they are willing to abide by the terms of the SFDL.

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