Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Mixed Metaphor of "Orphaned Works"

The idea of an "orphaned work" is that some creative products get separated from any data about who made them or when. Rather than cutting these works off from display or development they could be essentially liberated.  Which is all very well unless it is your work being liberated because you didn't leave a trail of bread crumbs back to your real identity. This whole concept has recently been revived in some suggested changes to UK copyright law.

SMU Central University Libraries /
The thing that bugs me is the contradiction right in the name of "orphan".  This idea comes right from the "data wants to be free" camp.  They argue that no one can own an idea. Everyone should share things freely without worrying about where it comes from. If you share freely, they suggest, gratitude, fame and money just somehow manage to flow back to you.

But on the other hand anyone who doesn't brand, track and monitor their work, assert ownership on a website with great SEO, and hover over it like a paranoid helicopter is deemed to have abandoned it in the snow for the wolves to eat--free for anyone to rescue. In terms of a central metaphor, there seems to be some inconsistency here.

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