Beware the Ides of March Public Domain


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This meme is intended to be somewhat ironic; there was no sense of  Intellectual Property (IP) in Shakespearian times, and the idea of it being protected to the extent to which it is today must have been laughable. Nevertheless the aim of this meme is to highlight (with sarcasm) the somewhat irrational fear of the public domain in twenty-first century society.

If you weren’t distracted by all the hyperlinks in my first paragraph (or if you were), you’ll hopefully have grasped the idea that society is getting to a borderline ridiculous point when it comes to intellectual property (IP). The notion of intellectual property didn’t happen until the 18th century (the Statute of Anne), which was several centuries after Shakespeare’s time, so believe it or not a time did exist without the word plagiarism.

Despite how chilled the Elizabethans were about the whole ‘copyright’ thing, nowadays the idea of a piece of intellectual property becoming public domain is something of a moral panic. Although IP exists to protect the interests of composers, I still think there should reach a point in time for each IP work, where it becomes public domain in order to harness the creative opportunities for society. At the moment, that point in time is 70 years after the composer’s death (or 120 for a company) but Disney set precedent in over-riding this, so it could potentially reoccur. Personally, I think if the 70 year timeline remains strictly enforced, we kind of get the best of both worlds; enough protection to see the composer hold monopoly rights to his work for the duration of his life and several decades later, and then the work becoming public domain for the benefit of society.

Why should people who descend from, work for or bought from a composer have more rights to a piece of IP than the rest of society?

– Claire


  • see hyperlinks
  • Hubbard, Garnett, Lewis, O’Brien (2016) Essentials of Economics, ch.2, Pearson, Melbourne

9 thoughts on “Beware the Ides of March Public Domain

  1. I loved the use of your hyperlinks in the first paragraph! It was great way to strengthen your point. Speaking of your point I definitely agree with the fact that it’s become a bit of a moral panic for companies or people to claim copyright over everything it’s insane. I want to laugh every time I think about the fine bros wanting to have copyright over reaction videos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankyou!!
    I know, we’ve definitely reached a pretty barbaric point when it comes to copyright. I didn’t really stop to consider it until the lecture, when Ted spoke about the bird noise copyright. Unfortunately, I think things will get worse before they get better – I wonder when we will reach the limit, and what it will be!?


  3. I liked the ironic deployment of hyperlinks Claire, but tend to disagree with your argument in support of IP and the current copyright regime. The IP ‘rights’ regime does not exist to protect the interests of creators, even though that is its advertised purpose, it exists to allow the owners of these monopoly rights [who are very rarely the creators] to exercise complete control over the dissemination of ideas. I strongly recommend reading Michele Boldrin’s and David Levine’s magisterial demolition of the IP regime mythology in their ‘Against Intellectual Monopoly’, which is freely available online:



    1. Thanks Ted 🙂

      I understand and respect your viewpoint on IP rights being used to exert control over ideas. Aside from the argument of the aims of IP, the point I was attempting to make with the IP rights relates to a case study I came across in another subject which showed a correlation between high levels of economic growth and entrepreneurship in countries which have strong IP legislation in comparison to those who don’t, and it concluded that a person or company is more likely to produce intellectual property in places where that IP is going to be protected, rather than where it might not be. This is particularly seen to be an issue in third world countries. Conversely, the site you sent me disagrees and poses a strong and interesting argument against that. I never realised what a strong debate there was on this issue, and I guess I have a lot more research to do! (that’s probably for another blog post though haha)

      Thanks for the comment 🙂


  4. Hey Clare, Your opening sentence is a killer! It’s so true how far people are taking the whole intellectual property argument. Interesting to read a little more about the history of these things, especially how someone as great as Shakespeare never thought about this protection but modern internet sensations (who probably won’t be remembered in even 10 years) are more concerned with it. Definitely agree with harnessing creative opportunities and beneficial outcomes of the 70 years. Great read!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hannah!
      I love your point about the internet sensation whose legacies won’t even last a decade fighting for IP rights, it’s a great contrast with the Shakespeare argument.
      – Claire 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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